Our class is made up of 16 Year 7 girls at St Margaret’s College in Christchurch. We combine English and Social Science (ENSS) so that means we have the same teacher for 10 periods a week. We think we are fairly typical Year 7 girls because we like … yummy food (butter chicken, sushi, McDonald’s, pies, chocolate, Subway, ice cream to name a few), books (such as Divergent, The Dark Blue 100 Ride Bus Ticket, The Hunger Games series), sport (horse riding, netball, swimming, water polo, hockey, athletics, basketball, squash, climbing and touch rugby), subjects at school (LUNCH, PE/Health, ENSS, Art, Speech and Drama, Performing Arts, RE). We also love Margaret Mahy, Roald Dahl, lots of singers and actors and of course technology!
Maria (pronounced Mariah) McMillan lives on the Kapiti Coast of New Zealand. She grew up surrounded by books and loved reading. When she was seven she was given an anthology of poetry and this was the beginning of her love of poetry. Maria is conscious of all the injustice in the world and said she “would prefer to write bad important poems than good trivial ones.”
1. What is your favourite type of poem to write?
I like writing poems that start with a big question or an interesting idea and then the poem tries to prove it or disprove it. Maybe it starts with an outrageous statement and then the poem defends that statement.
2. Does it usually take you long to write a poem?
Sometimes I write the first draft of a poem in one sitting so it might be an hour or so. But I almost always have to go back to it at least once to edit it. I’ll spend a long time changing words around, or the order of the lines. I’ll read the poem out loud to myself a lot to help me understand when the lines sound awkward and when they sound like I want them to. I add things and take things away and then add them back in in a different way. Some poems take ages, I need to sneak up to them over and over again, trying to get them to behave the way I want them to.
3. Do you have any pets?
We have a tabby kitten called Tuesday. One Tuesday someone found him crying and abandoned in a park near where we live and rescued him. The next Tuesday our family met him and brought him home so we think Tuesday is a lucky name for him.
4. Do you like curry, if so what is your favourite type?
I love curry. I would happily eat curry every day. I go through phases. I like Palak Paneer a lot at the moment. It has lovely blobs of creamy cheese which offset the curry sauce perfectly.
5. Do you have any children? If so, what are their names and are they writers? Is anyone else in your family a writer?
I have a daughter called Abbie who is eight, and a daughter called Lily who is five. Abbie writes stories now and wants to be a children’s book writer and illustrator when she grows up. Abbie and her friend Sophie have written comic books about a Pig and a Koala. My Dad is also a writer. He was a newspaper journalist for many years, and has written lots about international relations – how different countries behave to one another and why.
6. What is your favourite type of chocolate?
I think Whittaker’s Dark Peppermint Chocolate is really good.
7. If you were a celebrity who would you be?
Hmm, tricky, who do you suggest?
8. What is your favourite colour?
Greeny-blue, but sometimes blue-y green. I go into shops and try to look at things or clothes in other colours but almost always what I really want is the blue one.
9. Did you like English when you were at school?
I had a horrible time at my first high school so I didn’t like much of anything there. Some of my teachers were pretty dull too. If anyone should have had a good time in English it was me because I loved reading and writing. In my last year of high school though I swapped schools and my English teacher, Helen Leahy, was just fantastic. She had us reading lots of contemporary New Zealand women writers, and I got all inspired again.
10. Do you ever write poems about people you know?
I write lots of poems about people I know. Only the nice and interesting ones though otherwise I might get in trouble. The title of my poem in the book “I know just about everything now I know” was an actual quote from my niece Bridget. She said it when she was four and was about to start school. She didn’t know what they’d teach her because she knew everything already. She is twenty now!
Thank you for a fabulous interview Maria and St Margaret’s girls. Maria’s poem in the Treasury is a very cool list poem of things you might know. It is a great idea for a poem and I might use it on Poetry Box.