Today, sisters Marg Gibbs and Kim Roberts are visiting to talk about their beautiful new poetry book, Tomorrow Land, and the challenges they faced creating it.
“I am passionate about poetry. For me, it’s music in words, a flutter in the heart and a calming space that offers a second and third reading. It can be a stepping stone into writing a story.
Tomorrow Land’s poems for children is my first collaboration with my sister Kim. I believed that the two of us could channel our strengths and skills as teachers to come up with this book, Kim’s background as a primary teacher/ librarian and me as a secondary teacher.
The wonder of poetry is the playful combination of words and feelings. Tomorrow Land is based on time chapters or themes, six altogether. Before, First, Next, Now, Always and Last. Kim and I wrote poems to suit these sequences based on what if? time, space, imaginative places, journeys, and a sprinkle of magic.
The trickiest thing was ensuring a balance of poems in the table of contents. We overcame this by rearranging the different poems and changing a couple of titles, My Magic Finger and Magic Treehouse became The Treehouse. We also had two What if poems, so altered that. Structuring the poems involved careful layout. Our styles are different.
The most challenging thing about being an author is the never-ending ideas that come to me; choosing the best ones and letting go of some. I overcome this by brainstorming with others, including my sister, who will edit and suggest a new approach. Sometimes I need to walk away from an idea for a time.
What has kept me going is the passion, drive, and pleasure I receive in sharing words with others to foster reading and curiosity about the world. In the back of my mind and heart are my grandchildren. They are tomorrow’s generation, and this makes me happy.”
“Poetry is something that I’ve written all my life. It’s short, precise and is like a little package that you open up when you read. If I can’t write a poem in an hour or two, it’s just not there. Everyday life inspires me, so for many years my poems were about my 4 boys. They included their dad, their friends and events like holidays and birthday parties. A concise memory to treasure forever.
As a teacher in the Primary school, I’d make up funny ones about a particular teacher having a birthday or having a baby. These often turned into songs sung in the staffroom. As a librarian, I love reading aloud to children, using my voice and expression to tell the story. It is easy to know the mood of the book, even for older children. Connection is the key. Each student connects in a different way and question time is rewarding.
The hardest thing about writing this book of poems was believing in my style. My sister writes differently and sometimes I thought maybe this isn’t good enough. To overcome this fear, I read my poem in the mirror and saw my own enjoyment. That was enough.
Being an author is easy. We are all authors. Believing your work is worthy for the public eye and for someone to pay for it is more challenging. Marg and I were fortunate enough to self publish. I think if you pour your heart into something, and it gets rejected, that can put you off trying again.
Tomorrow Land is full of poems to make you think and wonder. The illustrations also highlight this play with words. This experience was given to me by my sister after I had a stroke 8 months ago. It gave me the purpose I needed to navigate a difficult time in my life. The printed books arrived today on my doorstep. What a joy it was to hold one in my hand and know that some child will soon be discovering fresh ideas. Some mother or father, some Granny or Pop, will lie at night, like I do with my grandson and share a beautiful memory.”