Wednesday 13 April 2022

A Slice of Cake With... Frank Prem

Today I am delighted to have a slice of cake with poet Frank Prem.

Frank has been a storytelling poet for forty years. When not writing or reading his poetry to an audience, he fills his time by working as a psychiatric nurse.

He has been published in magazines, e-zines and anthologies, in Australia and in a number of other countries, and has both performed and recorded his work as 'spoken word'.

He and his wife live in the beautiful township of Beechworth in northeast Victoria (Australia).

What kind of books do you write?

I write exclusively in free-form poetry, but within that, I cover a lot of different areas and fields.

For instance, I have written and published two collections that are memoirs - one of growing up in the 1960s and 70s in rural Victoria, Australia (Small Town Kid), and another about my lifetime association with Psychiatry, from a childhood haunting the lunatic asylum where my parents worked, and through a long career as a psychiatric nurse (The New Asylum).

Other collections have dealt with natural disaster (Devil In The Wind), literary works from the past (A Love Poetry Trilogy), and children’s picture books (The Beechworth Bakery Bears).

I enjoy allowing an idea take control of my creative processes and direct me where it will. Next year I expect to release a collection about the sole survivor of take-off on a journey through the galaxy (The Cielonaut), incorporating sixty or so images taken from the NASA database.

I am very excited about that.

Can you describe your writing why?

I have written poetry all my life, from school days. It has become a part of me. I often think about the old saying that by the time you have put 10,000 hours of effort into any field, you will be an expert.

I have a theory about that. I believe that the more I pursue my craft, the more my mind responds in the sense of brain plasticity. Now, I believe I’ve reached a point where I think in poems and my poems are my thoughts on paper.

The poetry and I are one.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

It is very difficult to choose among children, Claire, but I’ll try.

I think that in recent times, the book that I have most enjoyed writing and putting together was one titled Sheep On The Somme. This book has used images taken during the first world war - predominantly from the Western Front and Australian troops - and I have written poem-stories in response to each.

The images are starkly powerful and evocative.

The poem that comes to mind in response to this question is one titled ‘glutton’. It is a long poem, so I’ll just provide the beginning.


I live
in a hole
in the ground

I share it
with a rat
and some lice
that think they own me

we have reached
an agreement
a compromise
about the food

I eat
from soggy ration packs
the lice
from me

the rat
will not discuss
his cuisine
or culinary treasures . . .

Tell us about your latest project

My very latest project is actually a sequel. It is my very first sequel and it had never occurred to me that I would write one. The book is a picture book of some 70 pages, and suitable for the 0 - 12 year old age group, but written for any reader, really. It is called ‘Waiting For Frank-Bear’, and probably needs a little explanation.

My profession is psychiatric nursing and my shifts often start at seven o’clock in the morning. I like to start the day by having a coffee before work in the local bakery. 

A while ago I discovered that I had established - without realising it - a relationship with the Teddy Bears sold as merchandise in the bakery. I took pictures and ended up writing a little book of their stories called ‘The Beechworth Bakery Bears’. I consider this to be an accidental children’s book.

Recently, I found there was another story to tell, which dealt with the way in which the Bears coped with the effects of Covid 19 lockdowns (we have had six, where I live) and changes in the shop. For example, far less customers inside, no sitting down, mandatory masks and mandatory sign-ins.

At the same time, my own presence in the Bakery was minimised because I was not able to continue my early morning practice. Hence the new book - Waiting For Frank-Bear.

Waiting For Frank-Bearis out in hardback, paperback and ebook. 

The Beechworth Bakery Bears are more than items of merchandise. They have very real individual character about them and are very rewarding to get to know. Of course, they would love to be purchased and given a home away from the Bakery.

What is your favourite cake?

This is another tricky question, Claire.

My wife Leanne and I were discussing our ‘good old days’ the other night, when we would get out an oven tray and assemble a massive sticky date pudding. It was a wonderful creation and we would eat our way through it over a few days.

Young and foolish, and couldn’t possibly do that now!

Instead, I’m going to nominate uncooked cheesecake as my favourite cake. I just love the creaminess of it, with either strawberry or passionfruit topping.

Mmm Hmm! I want some, now.

Connect with Frank here:

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours through Kofi and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find out more about her books on her website Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. Never miss out on future posts by following me


  1. Hi CLaire.

    Thank you so much for hosting me for a slice of cake.


    I'll share the post over at my place.



    1. You're very welcome Frank - a lovely choice :)