The Treasury Interviews: Bryn, Emily and Bonnie interview Elizabeth Smither

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We are a group of year 5 and 6 students from Frankley School in New Plymouth. We all like reading and writing. It’s been good to be motivated to write our own poetry by Paula Green and her Poetry Box ideas.
Our favourite parts of our school programme are reading, art and writing.
In our out of school lives:
Bryn likes sport and learns and plays piano, Emily loves being outdoors and close to nature and Bonnie dances and writes.
The best thing about our lives at the moment is that it’s nearly Bryn’s 11th birthday, Bonnie’s dad has moved really close to her ‘My Place’ beach and Emily is liking watching her tadpole’s body changing as it grows.

Elizabeth Smither

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Elizabeth Smither is an award-winning poet, short-story writer and novelist who lives in New Plymouth. She has published numerous books that are much loved in New Zealand. She was the 2002 Te Mata Poet Laureate of New Zealand. She has had a number of children’s poems published in The School Journals.

The Interview

How long have you been writing?

I started writing at primary school where English was my favourite subject.

How old were you when you wrote your first poem? Can you remember what it was about?

I can’t remember my first poem but the first piece of prose I remember writing was about a pet white rabbit.

Is writing your day job?

Yes, but I have lots of breaks and do lots of other things during the day.

Where do you like to go / what do you like to be doing to be inspired to write?

My favourite place to write is in bed, propped up with a big pile of pillows.

Bryn says, “ I like to write because I get to read what I like to read.” Why do you write?

I agree with Bryn. Sometimes you don’t know what you think until you write it down.

Do you live alone? Do you need peace and quiet or can you write with people

around you?

I’m surrounded by family and friends and interruptions don’t bother me. If the phone rings when I am in the middle of writing a poem I think the poem may have needed an interruption at that point.

We have read some of your poems. Do you write books as well?

I have written novels and short stories as well as poems.

Have you achieved an award for your writing?

The Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry in 2008 and an honorary doctorate in Literature from Auckland University.

Do you have any stand-out poems or stories that you have written? What makes one better than another?

No. I am always looking forward to the next poem I am going to write. What’s done is done. The next poem is going to be the best.

Do you have a favourite author?

I love Jane Austen.

Is your work published in other countries?

Yes, in Britain, Australia, America as well as online.

Did all your teachers encourage you to write or was there one in particular who stands out? What made that one special in your memory?

When I was at high school my English teacher, Miss Steuart, told me I should be a writer. I was so excited I jumped up and down on the hockey field like a Maasai warrior.

Thank you for your questions, Bryn, Emily and Bonnie.

What a terrific interview Elizabeth, Bryn, Emily and Bonnie. Thank you! Elizabeth has two lovely poems in A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children with eye-catching similes.

 

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