The Door to The North, Juliet McLachlan, Steele Roberts, 2013
In a month when we are exploring the way poems can sound good (and all kinds of other things) it is a treat to be able to tell you about a new book out.
Steele Roberts have published a book of poems, A Door to the North, written by Juliet McLachlan when she was a child (she is still young!). Juliet has already been published in anthologies and her local newspaper, The Press. On the back of the book, I read that she also likes ‘dancing, music, karate, circus skills and debating’ (how many of these can sneak into the pen of the poet?).
The book reminded me of Laura Ranger’s collection, Laura’s Poems, that she had published when she was child. I don’t want to start comparing these two books too much as they are quite different, but I can tell both young poets had a passion for words, for playing with words, for seeing where words led them. Like Laura, Juliet has clustered poems in age brackets: 5/6, 7/8, 9/ 10, 11. Both books light up a joy in words.
Juliet’s poems show how simple writing can shine in lots of different ways. Her poems don’t rhyme and they hardly ever use similes or metaphors (that’s not to say you shouldn’t as fabulous poems do!). Juliet’s poems do have a great sense of rhythm. I love the words on the ends of the lines and the way she mixes up the number of words on the line.
Juliet has listened to each line and the way it sounds. I love these: ‘the clouds shadow/ over / the land.’ What is surprising with this, is the way ‘shadow’ is unexpected — the word catches you by surprise and it sounds good (and it also helps paint a picture of what the poets sees).
As you might imagine over a long priod of time there are lots of different topics: mum, peace, the stars, the weather, camouflage, trying to escape having a shower.
Poems for Juliet, from an early age to the more sophisticated poems, are a place to wonder. She thinks about things, yet the poems still hold onto simplicity. Looking into one of her poems isn’t like looking into a muddy stream but a clear pool where you too can ponder.
Congratulations Juliet on this fine debut. I look forward to se where your passion for words leads you next.
I have kindly been granted permission to post one of Juliet’s poems, ‘How to tell a story.’ This poem was written when she was 7 or 8. This is a great example of Juliet’s skill with rhythm and choice of words on the ends of lines. I love the way it shows how poems can tell little stories too, but not quite like in story books! Wonderful!
How to tell a story
© Juliet McLachlan
I don’t have a spare book to give away, but I am inviting you to write a poem using Juliet’s title. Play with how your poem sounds but do what ever you like! It can be very different from Juliet’s poem. I will post my favourites and have a book prize for one young poet.
Send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, age, year, name of school. You may include your teacher’s name and email address.
Deadline: Monday February 24th