Poet of the Week: Emily Dodd

 Emily Dodd is the Author of Banana me beautiful (Chipmunka Publishing) 

She is currently living and working in Edinburgh (Scotland) storytelling, delivering Environmental Education, making podcasts and films and writing for BBC Scotland (CBeebies).
Emily has performed her stories to a variety or audiences including live to 1000 children on the Internet through Scottish National Schools intranet Glow (breaking a record) and even to Her Majesty the Queen during the presentation of the Queens Award to the Scottish Seabird Centre.

Emily volunteers as a multimedia journalist for award winning Hyper-local website Greener Leith and as an EdinbuzzSocial Media surgeon (helping community groups with things like facebook and twitter). She received an Inspiring Volunteer Award for her volunteering earlier this year.

Poet on Poetry's Questions for Emily Dodd

1.  What inspires you as a poet?
Thing that surprise me, things that make me smile. The world around me, nature and the outdoors, science. 

2 What advice do you have for other poets?
Write for the sheer pleasure of it. Enjoy it. Go to a writers group and share your work with others. Make space for writing, don't squash it in. Listen to other people, take feedback, seek feedback, thrive on feedback. Don't just write poems, write news articles, write for websites, write for children, write presents for people, keep challenging yourself. Enjoy life, do things that restore your soul, then it will be happy to create.

3.            What prompted you to start writing poetry?
I started as a child, it was just something I did because I enjoyed it. I liked music and reading, rhyme and rhythm and playing with language. I once spoke in rhyme for an entire week, I was 7 or 8. It must have been frustrating for my family. I remember my Dad saying "how many oranges will you eat this month?" (because nothing rhymes with month or orange) but I'd forgotten I was even speaking in rhyme so I just said I'm not sure and he asked me again (he was quite pleased with himself for having come up with a sentence I couldn't respond to in rhyme) so I said maybe two or three a week, why does it matter? It was a Sunday so I must have decided to stop rhyming because it was the end of the week. As far as they new I'd be speaking in rhyme for the rest of my life so they must have been relieved to find it was finally over!

4.            Where do you see yourself going in the future as a poet?
Good question, I've written a few picture books so I'd like to get some of them published. I want to keep writing poems. I'm just about to do a fringe show so I'm getting used to performing poems to adult audiences (I normally work with children). I've also really loved writing for Children's BBC (CBeebies), it's so much fun and I find scripting for that age something that comes naturally, I've been writing educational workshops and shows for 4 - 6 year olds for the last 6 years. I also really enjoy writing stories, songs and poems to teach science so I'd like to do more of that. Finally I'd like to run creative writing workshops with all ages, I've just started doing that. 

5.            What are your favorite poetry journals?
I tend to read poems after recommendations from friends. I have a great book - 'Poem for the day' which has a different poem for each day of the year, I've discovered poets I enjoy like Maya Angelou and Robert Frost. A scottish poet I really enjoy is Gerry Cambridge, he photographs nature and writes poems and adds facts too e.g. head of a common frog. I love the way he's inspired by nature and the science behind it. It's a perfect combination for me. I also really enjoy seeing performance poetry. Recently I've come across Pablo Neruda and his book of questions, brilliant! I still feel I have a lot to discover in terms of poetry so I'd be interested to hear your recommendations.

6. Can you tell us a little about the poems your chose to present today?  What inspired them maybe, or anything else you'd like to say about them.
I noticed you had a request for submissions of wilderness poetry so I submitted 'The Little Oak Tree', I wrote that in the wilderness, it's aimed at children but I think the message behind it is for everyone. And the Oak tree really does support 600 different species. 

Starling my darling is about something suprising me, something I thought was ordinary and was right under my nose but I'd never seen the beauty in it because I'd not stopped long enough to see it. 

Then 'Switch' is all about my change in thinking. 

Emily Dodd's Poetry 

Listen to Emily read her poem Starling, My Darling here

The Little Oak Tree

Once there was a little oak who looked up to the mountains  

Little Oak, who are you, to go and lift your head up to the sky?  
Little Oak, you’ll never make it  
Little Oak, don’t aim so high  
Little Oak, is it really worth it?  
Little Oak, why even try?  

Little Oak, there’s no room for oak trees here  
Little Oak, now please don’t cry  

And all around the oak tree  
Were plants that would stay small  
But little oak looked up and hoped  
That one day he’d be tall  

Little oak learned to sing,   
His song went like this  

Please, let me be, the oak tree, I was made to be  
Please, let me be, let me be myself,   
Please, let me be, the oak tree, I was made to be  
Oh please, encourage me  
Oh please, don’t discourage me  
Oh please, encourage me  

As the years passed   
The Oak Tree kept on singing  

In many years there was a tree   
That stood so strong and tall  
600 creatures lived in it,  
Its song sustained them all  

It went like this:  

Wonderful, beautiful  
There’s only one like you.  
And only one who was made to do 
The things that you can do  

Wonderful, beautiful  
There’s only one like you  
And only one who was made to do  
The things that you will do  

It was a mighty oak tree  
So mighty it could see  
That words of life   
Can change our course  
And alter history  

So listen to the oak tree   
And help others to see  
The wonderful creation  
That they were made to be  

Footnote: I was sat by a little oak on the side of a loch. The oak was surrounded 
by plants of similar height, the mountains were ahead on the other side of the 
loch and the little oak appeared to be looking at them. This was written during a 
solo wilderness period as part of the of the Sirius Wilderness Foundation 
Scholarship in October 2010. 


My energy saving light bulb,
You're my switch to make things right.
You're my graduated, understated, ice cream of de-light.


What you lack in elegance,
You redeem in radiance.
What I lack in eloquence,
You redeem in pounds and pence.


You're my personal sunrise surprise,
My shining light of bright demise.
My world is changed now through your eyes,
To summarise - I love you


Awaken curiosity,
Unveil the eyes of all to see,
The marvel of technology,
In your potential energy.

I crave your luminosity, 
But there are those who do not see...


They do not see your glory,
Blind to your wattage story.

My energy saving light bulb,
Oh why have they forsaken you?
Forgive them, forgive them.
For they know not watt they screw. 

Footnote: Switch won the Communicate Science poetry competition for World 
Book Night in March 2011.  
Switch was part of a Greenerleith special I wrote in January 2011 to try to 
encourage people to consider green new years resolutions, I jumped in the sea 
on new years day to further the cause.  
Finally, Switch featured on the Energy Saving Trust article ‘Lightbulbs, out with 
the old, in with the new’ in January 2011.  

You can follow emily on twitter (@auntyemily), find banana me beautiful on facebook here and read more from emily on her blog or on Greener Leith

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Google+ For Poets

I was slow to warm to Google+.  Like the rest of you, I need another social network like I need a heater in Austin in the summer!  103 in the shade today! I have been reading the articles people post and I just couldn't see the value.  This weekend all of that changed!

Now, I think Google+ has incredible potential for poets.  Let me explain how it works and what is great about it.

Google+ is still in beta, I believe.  That means you still need an invitation to get in.  I will send anyone an invitation that wants one.  Just send me an email and tell me you would like one. Once in, you can begin to populate your Circles with friends,  followers, poets, etc.  The worst part of Google+ is that you have to do this manually with email addresses. You can't just import your Twitter followers or Facebook fans.  I don't even have most of my Followers and Fans email addresses, so it requires each of you seeking me out to be in my circle.

You can choose to put people in whatever circle you want.  One cool feature is you can then send messages and communicate with only one circle or all circles. You can choose who sees what.  You can have a family circle that only sees the pictures of the kids and a poet's circle that sees your poetry, etc. You can only have 5,000 people in each circle.  I think you can have as many circles as you want but I'm not sure about that.

Okay that's cool, but how is it most useful for poet's you ask!  I am so glad you asked!  There is a feature called Hangout where you can have live meetings as long as everyone has a webcam and a microphone on their computer.  Only the people you invite can come and you can control who speaks.  People have to be on Google+ to participate at all and if I am holding the meeting they would have to be in one of my circles.  I could then send them a notice about an upcoming meeting and they could join us live.  They can speak and be seen.

Are you with me yet? How cool is this for a poetry reading worldwide? Poet on Poetry has over 74 countries viewing us and almost 21,000 views. We could have a heck of a Poetry Reading if I can get you guys to migrate over.  If I can have unlimited circles, that means I could have unlimited viewers if they are on Google+ with me.Just read that you can only have 10 people on each viewing so I guess it won't be quite as big as I had hoped! I still plan on hosting poetry readings but it will be limited to 10 people at a time. It would be nice if we could have even 50 or something. Our friends in Egypt, New Zealand, Romania, all over could participate.  I am hoping to host a worldwide Poetry Reading very soon!

My husband and I played with it last night and there are still some bugs, but it's cool.  The biggest drawback right now is the ability to get all of you in my Poetry Reading circle so we can begin!  This is where you come in.  If you are already on Google+ look for Sheree Rabe, not Poet on Poetry, and ask me to put you in my Poetry Circle. If you need an invitation, send me your email and I'll try to get you in.  As soon as we have enough reading poets, we'll schedule our first reading!

Has anyone else come up with creative ways of using Google+?  

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