Stephen Herrick

Steven Herrick

PATIENCE
Today
during Maths
Ms Ginola lost her patience
but we were too scared
to help her find it.

Steven Herrick is one of Australia’s top poets. His new book, A Simple Gift, has been published on the web. To find out more why not visit Steven’s web site (see bottom of this page.) Meanwhile, Steven has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about himself and to share with us some of his poems.

When did you start writing?
I was quite old – 18, I think. I didn’t have a job, and one day I just
sat down and wrote a poem about how love is like a gobstopper! Later I sent it off to a magazine, and they published it, and sent me 5 dollars!
I thought, “this is brilliant!” – so I kept writing.


Why poetry?
Because I can’t write prose! And I liked poetry as a teenager. It was
short – you could read it in one session. It was good for someone with a
limited attention span like me at 18! And also because all my friends
were in rock bands, and I couldn’t sing or play an instrument. So I
decided to get up on stage before they played, and read some of my
poems. It went down a storm so I kept writing, and performing.
I’ve always believed poetry is about words on a page, and words from a
stage (p
ardon the terrible rhyme!)

TANTRUM
yesterday
my sister threw a tantrum
(and it hit me on the head!)

How long does it take you to write a poem, and a book?
It takes me about 3 months to write a book. I write Mon-Fri from 9am to
11am, then I have lunch, then a sleep, then my wife and children come
home and I act like I’ve been working hard all day! I can generally
write two or three poems in that two-hour session. When I’m not writing,
I’m performing in schools – I do that for about 7 months of the year, 3
months to write a book, and the other 2 months I just play with my sons
Jack and Joe when they’re on holiday from school.


You write verse-novels as well. Why?
Because I like poetry that tells a story. And verse-novels allow me to
get into a character and tell the reader all about his life. I like
verse-novels, because it’s often just one or two characters in a story
telling you all their secrets in their own voice, which I think is
really intimate and enjoyable. I love writing verse-novels.

SPRING
It’s Spring.
It’s Spring.
The flowers are smiling
the trees are singing
the birds are
the birds are
the birds are birding!

But the grass is crying
the grass is low
for over in the corner
is my Dad
and he’s about to mow!

Do you travel much?
I do school performance tours for about 8-10 weeks every year around
Australia, which is great fun. Sometimes my wife and the boys come with me, which is like one long holiday! I’ve also performed in Canada, the USA, the UK, and Singapore. I really think I’ve got the best job in the
world.

Do you have a favourite football team?
Actually, I’ve got the second best job in the world. The best job would
be to be a footballer. My fave team is, would you believe, Brighton &
Hove Albion! Although, I have a soft spot for any team with an Australian in it, so I like Man Utd., Middlesborough, and Watford too. I play soccer all year round – in an Over 35 (first division) team during winter. And in summer, I play in a 7-a-side team called “The Marshmallows”.

THE PLANTS

the plants in our house have died

not enough sun
not enough water
not enough fertiliser
not enough love and care

too much thick gravy
too much cold coffee
too much stale beer
too many hanging toys

the plants in our house have died
but what a life they had!

Do you have any interests?
Apart from football and poetry, No. I like watching my sons play
football and cricket, and I coach their teams. I just enjoy sitting in
the backyard with my family.


Where do you live?
In Katoomba – a town in The Blue Mountains, about 100 kms from Sydney, Australia. It’s one of the few cool climate areas in Australia. You can recognize our house because it’s the only house in the town with full-size football goalposts in the backyard.

THE BIG MATCH
Dad and I won tickets
to the big football match
at Stadium Australia.
The Blues versus the Reds.
I was very excited.
I’d never been to a big game before.
We arrived early
and got a really good seat.
Dad bought me a hot dog,
a donut, and a drink.
He told me not to eat it all at once.
So I ate all the hot dog,
drank all the soft-drink
but left a little piece of donut, for later.
The Blue team ran out.
The crowd dressed in blue cheered.
The Red team ran out,
the crowd dressed in Red cheered.
Then the referee ran out,
everyone booed!
A man behind us said
something rude about the referee’s Mum.
When the game started
people jumped to their feet
and I had trouble seeing.
The referee blew his whistle
for a penalty to the Red team.
The man behind us said something
rude about the ref’s Mum again.
I hope the referee has earplugs.
When the Red team scored,
half the people in the stadium cheered,
the other half all moaned, and groaned.
I told Dad it was like being at
a funeral and a wedding at the same time.
At half-time
I finished my donut
and Dad bought me another drink.
The Ground Announcer said
anyone caught running naked across the field
would be arrested and fined by the police.
A minute later
a man ran naked across the field
chased by 12 policeman.
Everyone cheered the man,
and booed the police when they caught him.
Some people said rude things about the policeman’s Mum.
Maybe he and the referee are brothers?
In the second half
the Red team scored again
and some people dressed in blue
started leaving the stadium,
even though the game wasn’t over.
Near the end the referee sent a Blue player
off the field,
“for an early shower” said my Dad.
I wondered what the player had done
that was so good
to get all the hot water before anyone else?
The man behind us said more rude things
about the Referee’s Mum,
then the game was over.
Dad and I walked slowly to the car park
and Dad asked me what I thought
of my first game of football.
I said it was fun,
but that referee
spoiled it by always blowing the whistle
but what can you expect from somebody
who had such a terrible upbringing,
what with his awful Mum.
I also said the highlight was
the man who ran naked across the field.
Dad said he was a “streaker”.
I asked Dad if we could go to a game .
of Streaking next week.

If you’d like to know more about this Aussie poet, to read more of his poems or to find out how to get hold of his books then visit Steven Herrick’s Web site.

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