Kristin Martin Interview: Head in the Clouds
Updated: Sep 21, 2022
Kristin Martin is a South Australian poet with two published books of poetry to her name. We asked her a few questions about what she likes to read and what inspires her poetry. To learn more about Kristin, visit her website, Poems for Kids at: http://kristinmartin.net
Of follow her on Instagram: kristinmartin_poet
What’ya Reading Kristin?
I’ve just finished reading Jaclyn Moriaty’s 4th book in her middle grade Kingdoms and Empires series; The Astonishing Chronicles of Oscar from Elsewhere. I adore everything that Jaclyn writes and love her sense of humour and her playfulness with words. I read a couple of my favourite picture books to my students (year 1s) in the last week of school: Dougal the Garbage Dump Bear by Matt Dray, and Bamboozled by David Legge. Now that it’s school holidays I’m starting on my very large to-be-read pile. The first I’ve picked up is a young adult novel, The Ghost Squad by Sophie Masson. I can hardly put it down!
Which poem do you think first influenced your love of poetry and will stay with you for life?
The first poetry book I read, or had read to me, was When We Were Very Young by A A Milne. My favourite poem was ‘Halfway Down’, about a child sitting on the stairs. When I read it again a few years ago I realised how much it had influenced my poetry.
You love micro-photography. What’s the most amazing thing you’ve learnt since looking closer at plants and insects?
I love finding insects in my garden and watching their behaviour. I’ve realised that I have at least 3 species of native bees in my garden; until a year ago I didn’t know I had any! My favourite discovery has been blue-banded bees and observing the males sleeping by holding onto a stem with their mouth.
What is the most memorable response a child has given to your poetry?
I can’t remember one in particular, but my website, Poems for Kids (kristinmartin.net) is a Children’s University Learning Destination, so I often have children writing to me about my poems. I always enjoy reading their comments and replying.
What is your most annoying habit while working on a poem?
When I write rhyming poems, I count syllables on my fingers while saying the line in my head. So my most annoying habit (according to my family) would be not listening to them when they’re talking to me, while obviously counting syllables.
You’ve recently signed a deal for your first picture book. Firstly, is it poetic. Secondly, would you rather the illustrator tried to recreate what you visualised while writing, or would you prefer to see what they imagined while reading it?
I recently signed the contract for my first picture book with MidnightSun Publishing. Yes, it does rhyme, and while I have some ideas of what I’d like the pictures to look like, I’m happy to see what the illustrator comes up with. MidnightSun publish beautiful picture books, so I trust them.
What is the most common theme of your poems?
My children’s poetry book, To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme? (Glimmer Press) contains poems about nature, and that is the most common theme of all my poems. More specifically, it’s clouds. I love clouds and they seem to inspire me to write all sorts of poems.
How do you think poetry allows a writer to express their ideas differently to other forms of writing? What can other writers learn from this artform?
Poetry gives you freedom to express your ideas anyway you like. I love that poets can break the rules of the English language (though I do love grammar rules!), and play with words and form. I think other writers can learn playfulness from poetry.
If you could have a musician put one of your poems to music, who would you want it to be?
I am not particularly musical (though I do love to sing with my students as they don’t complain about my singing), but I love the idea of someone putting my poems to music. I would be happy with anyone doing it!
If you wanted children to read one book of poetry in their lives, which one would you suggest?
I don’t have a favourite poetry book, but there are lots of wonderful children’s poetry anthologies. They are great to read as they have a variety of poets.
Who is your favourite poet?
I love lots of poets! There is no way that I could name just one. Two of my favourite Adelaide poets are Alys Jackson and Rachael Mead.
Can you recite a short poem or section that you’ve written and love, but you know will never be published because it doesn’t fit in with any others?
It’s not exactly short, and who knows if it will ever be published, but here’s a sonnet I’m very fond of that has never appeared anywhere other than in a word document on my laptop.
A Sonnet for Sunny Days
Those sunny days I force myself to write,
the words I choose revolt and run away.
And if I call them back, they start to fight
and leave their spite in scenes they’re made to stay.
These words that spar and argue on the page
then lose their joy and spontaneity.
They change their form and fill themselves with rage.
I’m left with gloom when what I’d planned was glee.
I do not like these harsh and woeful words
that pepper all my bright and lively tales.
I want my rhymes to soar like agile birds
and dive to depths of wise and worldly whales.
So when the sun is out, I walk instead,
then perfect words just leap into my head.
by Kristin Martin