Verandah is a literary and visual art journal published in Melbourne, Australia. Founded as a student-run publication, the first issue launched in 1986. Originally situated beneath the shade of the vast verandah’s surrounding Victoria College, a place in which the journal takes its namesake. The publication puts emphasis on new and emerging writers and fosters creative talent and skill. It honours the work of Deakin University students, but also calls for submissions from across international writers and poets. The journal also gives out prizes according to category. The Matthew Rocca Poetry Prize was named after a dedicated student of Deakin, who unfortunately passed away during a year of study, his parent’s have fossilised his love of poetry within this prize.

2013 will mark its 28th year in print and editors are currently seeking submissions of short literature and poetry for publication later this year. Your closing date is June 1. We are honoured to extend this invitation to Metre Maid readers and look forward to reading your submissions. Submission fees are fed back into the publication at no profit to the University or volunteer staff.

For guidelines, check out

This years editors are Hayley Ryan-Elliot, Jonathan Lawrence, Kyah Horrocks, Lauren Hawkins and Leizl Bermejo



Hello, Dear Reader! We’re so glad you’re here.

We believe in mermaids.  None of this manatee-on-a-rock business. (Art by Chris Giles.)

We believe in mermaids. None of this manatee-on-a-rock business. (Art by Chris Giles.)

Welcome to National Poetry Month at Throughout the month, we’ll be bringing in various perspectives on poetry from some of our favorite poets and poetry lovers. From the very beginning, one of the goals here at Metre Maids has been to make poetry fun again. To make it as accessible and exciting as it is literary and cultural. (Not that there’s anything wrong with literary and cultural, you know, but sometimes those words can seem synonymous with “dusty” and “snooty,” which we totally don’t think fit with poetry.)

With this in mind, we invite you to join us in celebrating poetry this month. Enjoy the guest posts, leave our writers some comments, and write some poetry of your own!


The Metre Maids

Kristin, Amber, Broede, Chris, Helen, Chauncy, and Sarah

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It’s the launch party for my teen poetry collection Dog at the End of the World in three days, and a terrible thought has struck me:

I’m going to have to mingle.

Now, I’m sure there was a point in my life where I had social skills, (mostly chatting up graduate students at English faculty events,) but I have no idea how to start a conversation with a stranger if I can’t open with “soooo, tell me about your thesis…”

At this party I’m meant to be the centre of attention: creative, witty, intelligent, engaging. I’m meant to have something to say for myself. I am in terrible trouble.

I tried googling “social skills for poets”, hoping that some helpful person had written a website dedicated to this exact topic. I’m sure I can’t be the only poet out there who doesn’t know how to function in reality. But apparently it’s too niche even for the internet. Read more…

Welcome to the second edition of Ask a Twitter Poet.  This week I was thinking about how often water comes up in my writing.  Maybe because I’m from New England, grew up on the coast, and then lived in New York city before moving to Texas where, well, we’re basically landlocked.  I dream a lot about water, too — last night I had version #34695467y of the recurring dream where my bathroom is flooding.  And so often dreams like this get incorporated into my work.

So I thought I’d ask what other folks find as recurring topics in their work.  Not abstractions like love or politics or the meaning of life, but straight up, concrete images: birds, sand, trees, breakfast cereal. Below are some of the answers I got on The Twitterz:

Read more…

Welcome to what I hope will become a regular feature here at Metre Maids.  My plan is to regularly ask Twitter a question via the @MetreMaids account (if you don’t already follow us, get on that!) and cross my fingers for some good, creative, and interesting answers.  This week I’ve been thinking a lot about my journals — the volumes and volumes of writings that I’ve kept from my teenage and college years and the volumes I have yet to write — and what a great asset they’ve been to me as a writer.  I thought I’d ask what other folks thought of as their best poetry tool.  Below are some of the answers I got on The Twitterz.

Read more…

When my freaky teenaged friends and I got too old to go on kids’ writing courses we started organising our own. At first we hired youth hostels and dragged in authors to teach us stuff, with limited success. This culminated in the year we spent an entire week watching Doctor Horrible’s sing-along blog on repeat and the lead organiser had a breakdown halfway down the stairs. No one did any writing.

We had a rethink. We decided in future we’d teach ourselves.


Awesome things about KWE 2012!

1. Five participants, five totally different sessions.

Self-teaching works for a few reasons: it’s cheaper than hiring someone, it means everyone is terrified of delivering their own session so they actually listen to everyone else, and as everyone knows different stuff you get LOADS of variety.

Here is this year’s selection:

(i) Surrealism and cut up poetry
(ii) Reimagining Shakespeare – as a Disney movie! or a rap song!
(iii) Fractals – putting texts through sets of rules until they become meaningless
(iv) Characterisation – creating characters based on superficial objects then imagining they are totally different people from how they appear
(v) Exploring the Cumbrian countryside and totally experiencing Wordsworth’s Romantic Sublime. Read more…

This is probably a great segue from Sarah’s piece on Exquisite Corpse, going from collaborative word vomit to then, editing and refining. In the beginning, writing is simply about itself. But it’s also about the way a poem looks at you and this is just as important as looking at a poem. Both are essentially the same deal but you need both for the poem succeed on some aesthetic level. The poem is innately a printed thing, so it serves us best when it’s looking good. If a poem were a person, it would need to be clothed, buttons done up properly and pants on the right way. Sometimes poetry comes out in a kilt and other times it comes out in a towel and sometimes it’s just not pretty. What I’m getting at, really, is that it’s important to have style, or to at least grasp style. You need to know what works and what doesn’t.  Poetry is also a lot like many other things, including eating. You need to expand your palate to know what you like and what you don’t. So read widely. Read all the things. Discover what you connect with and why and then put that into yourself, I assure you it’ll come out in your work.

I think the pull of poetry lies in separation of stanzas; the way lines break and give more than just their intended meaning. Not only this, but the way that you can utilise a poem’s shape, space and landscape to reflect imagery. I prefer terms typography or white space, but this style is also referred to as concrete poetry. Read more…

I quested into the darkest recesses of twitter for something like verse. Now, I like twitter. But the results, friends, were disappointing….

**— 2  stars
Five retweets, twelve favourites. I don’t like the juxtaposition of ‘under’ and ‘over’, side by side. It might have been deliberate or it might have been clumsy inattention to detail, I couldn’t say. The only imagery is the ‘rip-current’. I don’t know much about the muse. I dislike any “the [concrete noun] of [abstract noun]” phrase except in comedy. 

***– 3 stars
With no retweets or favourites, this poem is much more interesting from the point of view of imagery, although I can’t imagine why there would be cotton in a smoky mouth nor  how cotton or salt relate to the original potholed street.  Read more…

I also drew whale-eating-jellyfish to keep myself sane in the dark days.

I also drew whale-eating-jellyfish to keep myself sane in the dark days.

It’s quite simple: Today is May 4th and I am on poem 28.

Assuming I write two more poems in the next few days, I will have done NaPoWriMo five times. By “done” I mean I’ll have written 30 poems, in quick succession, with no regard for their quality, around April-kind-of-time in five separate years. A NaPuritan might say this doesn’t count. They might decree I have to write exactly one poem, every day, thirty days running starting April 1st, or it isn’t NaPo. Someone a little less hardcore might say that I should, at least, wind up by April 30th. And if that floats their boat then I wish them a good voyage.

But I don’t think it matters. It would matter if, come May 1st, all the grist dropped out of my mill and I a stopped writing. It would matter if, among the wasted days of poetic incontinence, I failed to indulge in an occasional verse orgy. But I’m easygoing. And poetically libidinous. And I don’t mind dragging the affair out.

Embarrassment is part and parcel of the NaPoWriMo business. This year I indulged in love poetry and angst like I never did this as a teen. Obviously I was making up for lost time. For instance:


I don’t just want you to be here

Art by Chris Giles of My Beautiful Paintings

I want to make you be here, tie you
to a string round my wrist and drag you,
not like a puppy,
but like an angry rabbit.


If you always head east, head west,
just drive. Turn up the hi-fi
and try not to think.

You’re thinking.
Don’t think, just keep breathing and blinking,
you’re thinking, you’re thinking, don’t think.

No, don’t blush for me, I’ll own my own inadequacies.

But that’s not all! No, this year I wrote about twitterxkcddinosaur comicsGotye covers and cat videos. I wrote lovingly of the arcane Gloucestershire tradition of cheese rolling, a sport so dangerous it was banned (but has that stopped the free cheese rolling spirits of Gloucester? NEVER).

These are natives of Gloucester chasing a cheese that is rolling down a hill.

These are natives of Gloucester chasing a cheese that is rolling down a hill.

This year I sat on the carpet with my mother at 1:38am watching a storm and discussing matricide, then wrote a poem about sitting on the carpet with my mother at 1:38am watching a storm and discussing matricide. This is how it starts:


I sat on the bedroom carpet
with my mother
discussing matricide.

It continues like this -

A mirth of matricides? she said,
a perpetuation of matricides
would that work?

A legacy of matricides, I remarked.

And concludes,

We were waiting for the lightning
to strike the church opposite,
for the cat to squeal and run for the towel basket,
for grandma to pass on.

So now you know.

(Actually I quite like that one. I guess I’m just lucky enough to have a mum who is insane.)

In all honesty I’ve written reams of total gibberish this month. But I’ve never been one to cling desperately to a dead poem in the hope that a wizard will come along with a spell to make it live. I don’t mind writing a bit of dross to get to the good stuff. Actually most of my best poems I’ve typed hurriedly in a moment of procrastination or in a lunch break, thinking they were awful. It’s only later, sometimes months later, I look back and realise they’ve got something worth redeeming. The poems I labour over always come out laboured.

I expect NaPoWriMo isn’t for everyone. I expect I am exactly the sort of person NaPoWriMo is for. The type of person who gets bored easily; who constantly wants to start the next project, and not worry about perfecting the last one; a goal-orientated workaholic; and the type of writer who only has two settings when it comes to editing, tweak and overhaul.

I will leave you with an inspired piece from day 3:

Pirates! Three of them
on the fo’castle
doing a jig:
knees up knees up
clink hi ho!
Not interested in a
whale like me.

1. Which writer pulls you out of your personal coma?
Diana Wynne Jones is always my go-to writer. DWJ writes plots that are compelling but intricate, in a style that is flawless yet invisible. You get dragged through effortlessly and you don’t feel cheap at the end because putting all the plot’s pieces together is usually quite difficult. She writes a sci-fi fantasy crossover, marketed at children and suitable for any age, and I wish I had written every one of her books. When I’m feeling comatose I read Fire and Hemlock or Howl’s Moving Castle, and remind myself I’m not as good as Diana Wynne Jones yet.

2. Who were you reading when you first started writing?
Who are you reading now?
When I first started writing it was Richard Adams’ Watership Down, which still makes me cry. My first “novel” was a heavily influenced cat version, six strays journeying to the big city. By the time I was 12, my favourite book was Fleabag and the Ring Fire (another cat) though when I attended a creative course at 13 it took me some time to realise that the teacher was Fleabag’s author, Beth Webb. These days I still read kid’s books, but I’m also pretty savvy on British classics, and I enjoy Meg Rosoff, Angela Carter, Iain Banks, Terry Pratchett and anyone who knows how to balance the serious with the absurd.

3. If your poems could come from a piece of anatomy, which part and how would they get out?
I think in my finger and toenails. I’d have 20 on the go at the same time, some of them growing quickly, some slow and very brief. 10 would be out in the open collecting life experiences (opening things, plucking things, scratching things), the other 10 would be very private and eccentric. When they grew long enough, I would chop each nail off and that would be a poem. If they grew too long they would break themselves off in protest.

4. If I came to visit you in the UK, for a week, where would you take me?  What would we do?
I’d probably try to dazzle you with History. Stone Henge, the Uffington White Horse, which is a chalk horse in a hillside beside a 3000-year old castle mound, and Wayland’s Smithy, a 5000 year old long barrow dedicated to the ancient smith god. We could go into Oxford to view students in silly gowns, see shrunken heads in the Pitt Rivers museum, and eat incredible scrambled eggs at Combibos coffee shop. And we’d have to have a proper afternoon cream tea, possibly in a Berkeley teashop after a tour of the castle and butterfly gardens.

5. Take us through a few of your publication credits? What was your first publishing experience like?
 My first poem ‘I’m trying to get to sleep’ was published when I was 9, in an anthology of poetry by Gloucestershire kids to celebrate the millennium. They sent me a proof, and they’d got a comma wrong, and I sent it back corrected in bold black pen. I’m still proud of that poem; my sense of metre was impeccable.

More recently I’ve been published in Polluto, the Poetry Society Onlineetcetera, and Gloom Cupboard.  My flashfic ‘Rob Meets Pterodactyl’ is included in the Divertir anthology Under The Stairs.

6. What lit magazine do you most want to see yourself in?  And what lit mags do you always admire from afar?
I would love to see myself in Poetry, the Poetry Foundation’s magazine. Perhaps that’s aiming rather high? Magma and Granta are also on the hit list.

Art by Chris Giles of My Beautiful Paintings

7.  Tell us more about your teaching and creative writing courses?|
This weekend Lucinda Murray and I taught a course about twisted fairy tale poetry to 8-11 year-olds. This involved taking nine little girls to a witch’s cottage, introducing them to a jet black wolf in the woods, and indoctrinating them in the basics of feminism. It’s amazing their parents let them come. I do this sort of thing every couple of months, often at Kilve Court. Teenaged victims have been forced to ritually sacrifice flower pots to Sappho, write poems using fragments of poisonous lead slag, and listen to me bang on about Anglo-Saxon etymology for hours.

8. Aliens are invading Earth and only poetry can save us. But how?
Few people know that Sylvia Plath was from outer space, or that her thematic imagery is in fact an intricate code. She came to earth to warn us, but was forced to self-destruct when her human husband discovered her cosmic origin and threatened to out her. When the aliens of Sylvia’s home-world finally reach earth, two children studying Plath for some boring exams realise that the alien’s spaceships and messages have bizarre parallels in Plath’s poetry. The answer is there in verse, if only they have time to decode it….

9. What do you have planned for next few months? Publications, projects?
One big publication! DOG AT THE END OF THE WORLD is a collection of middle-grade to teen poems published by March Hamilton later this year. I’m posting sneaky previews on my own blog. And one big project! The Writing Circus is a roving creative writing course for kids and teens travelling between libraries and community centres and lead by myself and Beth Webb and it’s going to be super.

10. What is your favourite monument and why?
The Vimy Monument in France. I’m pretty sure it makes me a terrible person, but I like all the tragic, long-haired, naked men.