Speak Love

I wrote this golden shovel last year on Day Five of the Poetry Pep-Up – but I’d already shared my ‘How Do You Like to go Up in a Swing’. I wasn’t sure this was finished, so I didn’t share it… and forgot about it, until I stumbled on it this week.

With distance, I can say it is finished. Sharing it today – because we can never have enough sweet words.

Speak Love

Speak with eyes of love
so that your heart is
soft in your mouth. Be patient;
chew words like wax until warm and
brimming with sweet honey for humankind.

© Kathryn Apel 2021 - All rights reserved 
Strike line; Love is patient and kind.  1 Corinthians 13:4a.

Denise is hosting the Poetry Friday link collection this week at Dare to Care. Thanks, Denise.

I’ve been engaged in some wonderful poetry discussion on Twitter in recent days, about the value of poetry – and the age-old conundrum of poetry being a hard market to crack. Neal Zetter pointed me to his recent blog post, outlining his plan to make poetry more visible – starting with the bookshops. Worth a read! 🙂

Relearning the Past

Many years ago I studied Mandarin Chinese as part of my teaching degree. It was my first chance to learn a language, and I loved it – not just learning a language, but learning such a meticulous, neat and very beautiful language. For someone who was never neat at handwriting (still am not!) I was obsessive with tracing characters and learning stroke order – spent hours every day, which was reflected in my precise characters, and my grades. I loved it! Unfortunately, we started our specialisation with two years left of our degree – sufficient for most languages, but to pass the proficiency test required to teach Mandarin, you needed the third year of study. (Mandarin is a very tricky language, because of those characters , and too, voice intonation that affects meaning.)

I always planned to finish my language studies externally, but life was busy (I loved classroom teaching … then mothering … and writing) and sadly I never did finish that third year of language study. Worse! As the years passed, I forgot much of what I had learnt – and loved!

When I spied this poetry collection a number of years ago, I had to have it. 300 Gems of Classical Chinese Poetry. I am so glad it includes both characters and Pinyin – because I definitely need the Pinyin to help with pronunciation and inflection. I see characters and I know I should know them – but I don’t. (How can a brain forget so much!)

Today, I was just going to share a poem with you from the book. A little gem…

Farewell Town
Fan Yun (451 – 503)

East and west of the Farewell Town
People part, going up and down.
When I left, like flowers fell snow;
Now I come, like snow, flowers blow.

Post done!

But then I got a little carried away, and this happened…

It’s very short. And simple! (Simplicity is key – because I’m hoping it avoids grammatical errors.) But I did it. A poem. In Chinese. (You’re right – the rhyme got lost in translation. And I am quite okay with that!) I was reliant on online resources*. (I have since hunted up my much-loved Chinese-English dictionary!!) But maybe I can tease my brain into remembering more… And what better way than through poetry. So much to love about that!

Something else I love… During the recent ‘Celebrating Our Stories’ tour, I met up with a former Yr 2 student who I taught almost (🙊) 25 years ago. She recalled that one of her favourite things was the unit where I incorporated my Chinese studies into our classroom – teaching them how to talk about their family. And then and there, with no rehearsal, she started speaking the family phrases we had learnt … with perfect intonation.🤯 I was astounded that she had retained something so precise from all those years ago! My 💓…

我很高兴。
Wǒ hěn gāo xīng 。

*Resources I found helpful;
duckduckgo – Chinese English Dictionary
chineseconverter.com/en/convert/chinese-to-pinyin
thepurelanguage.com

Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect is hosting Poetry Friday this week, with a moving poem about grief.

Post Script: Oooops. I scheduled this post on Tuesday… and then I remembered some of you talking about DuoLingo last week (I’m looking at you Mary Lee, et al.) and thought I might check it out – see if it would help with relearning Chinese… And it does! (Translation: Kat fell down a very big hole! I may be starting to remember more than I realised… Chinese conversations are rolling through my head. Mandarin is still addictive!!💖)

What a Snail Knows – and What it Doesn’t!

Last week the Poetry Friday crew were sharing What the _______ Knows poems, thanks to a Poetry Peeps challenge – but because I’ve been erratic with my Poetry Friday posts, I was behind, and missed it. I loved the prompt – and felt a double connection to it, because my next younger reader verse (releasing March 2022) is called, ‘What Snail Knows’. (Readers of ‘Too Many Friends’ might remember Lucy, a very quiet little character from that book who had a pet snail… that looks like a snail… called Snail. Well – this is Lucy’s story. And Snail’s.)

The topic of my poem is therefore pretty obvious. The outcome of my first poem (the second one here) is not! (I broke form with one line – and then the title, too – because I’m pretty sure the average snail does NOT know this! Nor do I speak from experience on the matter – since I. Could. Not.)

What a Snail Knows

What does a snail know?
Don’t be like a garden worm.
Put your foot down, then stand firm!
Snails glide – but earthworms squirm.

What does a snail know?
Wonder sets your eyes on stalks,
so take the t-i-m-e to have a gawk.
Sssslowly ssssslide. Don’t run. Or walk.

      🌱        🐌_________

What a Snail Does NOT Know

What does a snail know?
The freshest seedlings taste sublime,
To munch a morsel is no crime –
unless they track your trail of slime!

What does a snail not know?
When simmered with a splash of lime,
or sautéed with a sprig of thyme,
it’s said that snails taste sublime!

© Kathryn Apel 2021 – All rights reserved.

Spoiler alert: Snail does not meet with thyme or lime in my verse novel!

In other news… I was recently interviewed for the Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) seasonal magazine, ‘Ruth’. The Spring edition with the three-page article about my writing journey – especially in relation to ‘The Bird in the Herd’, is out now! I wasn’t familiar with the magazine – but having seen it, I’m impressed. It has lovely, thick paperstock and feels (and sounds) quite edible. Such a great variety of articles, too. Very real! Not a gossip magazine.

AND in a lovely snail-mail day… ‘Bully on the Bus’ went to reprint again, and I am actually quite chuffed about this – because I was looking at the imprint page, and there’s a lot to like about that!

Heidi has the Poetry Friday link-up this week – so make like a snail and slide across to my juicy little universe for some tasty morsels. (Or some stalky-gawks.)

Tetractys Stacks Up

Yesterday I commented to my husband that one of the poetry forms that brings me the most joy would have to be the tetractys. It’s just the right balance of challenge and choice. Form and freedom. Rhyme – or not. I often rue the fact that I don’t write enough just-for-fun-poetry these days, and I miss it. (!) The tetractys that prompted my comments wasn’t just for fun… but it was fun to write. And that’s when I realised that I was smiling – and breathing a little easier. And it’s always that way when I play with the tetractys. Those interlocking patterns unlock my jumble of things-to-do.

So – just for the joy of it, here is a tetractys that I did write just for fun, and just for friends. YOU!

stressed?
inhale
poetry;
you can count on 
fingers, toes and friends to keep you upbeat.💕

© Kathryn Apel 2021 - All rights reserved.

It’s appropriate that Elizabeth is hosting us at Unexpected Intersections this week. You’ll find more poetry goodness there – shared amongst friends.

Join us on 14th September, when Australia Reads. You can go anywhere, with a book! Books take you places. Where will you be when Australia Reads?

Book Trailer – The Bird in the Herd

A quick post for me this week. I’ll use my words in the comments as I do the rounds of Poetry Friday.

The Bird was to spread its wings at the Brisbane Ekka, starting this weekend – and this trailer was made in preparation for that. Alas, you know what I’m going to say… COVID and cancellations go hand-in-hand. I’m so disappointed for everyone who has poured so much work into Ekka prep. It was so close! BUT – I am very much in favour of the lockdowns that help to bring outbreaks under control again. And I’m thankful to everyone who follows directives.

I’m not sorry I had some motivation to make this trailer. Hoping it will give all those who are in lockdown a breath of country air and goodness.🐮 A hoot and a toot to you!🤠 (You’ll also find it on the relevant pages under the Books and the Kids’ Stuff tabs – if you’re ever looking for it in the future.)

Mary Lee is hosting us this week – with a beautiful villanelle inspired by a wonderful clunker line by Linda Mitchell. Do click across and read it! I know many teachers who it would resonate with. But it’s not just for teachers.

PoETry Friday – #petpicpoem

Welcome! Yes – Poetry Friday is coming to you from Downunder, again. While you have come to share your Poetry Friday links I thought I would share pics and poems of my pets. We are down to five pets in this house; one cat and four snails. (It’s the first time in more than 10 years that we haven’t had guinea pigs.) Hubby keeps telling me, no more pets. But the snails slipped under his radar – and they are the easiest pets! (And besides – they’re a writing resource!😹)

Why snails? We don’t get snails at our house. In years past, the boys always rescued them in their hoards from the side of the road, during flood season. They were like living treasure. But I didn’t know you could keep a snail for a pet… until I wrote one into Too Many Friends (UQP 2017). (For sure, we’d have had pet snails before this, if I’d known!)

KatApel_Snail'sPace

Last year I wrote a companion verse novel to Too Mandy Friends, (due March 2022) telling Lucy’s story. Since Snail is a big part of Lucy’s story, I had to learn more about snails – and especially, keeping snails as pets. In April I was helping my hubby extract a bogged buggy… and there were snails everywhere on the creek bank. Like, thousands! I was astounded. I very nearly brought one home with me… and later regretted that I hadn’t, because when I dived into edits on Lucy’s verse novel, I’d been asked to include more details about Snail! Two nights later we were going for a ride (🚴‍♀️), and I spied some smaller snails at our grid – much more suited for pet snails. I found one with similar colouration to Snail. Thing1 and Thing2 were so-named, because they were of a similar (smaller) size. And then there was Tiny. Smaller than a pea! (Clearly T1 and T2 are different types of snails, because they are no longer a similar size. T1 (and Snail) have grown heaps, and T2 (and Tiny) have not. (Tiny is still smaller than a pea.💚)

8FDF5F89-660D-477C-B865-43C51D3CEA23_1_105_c

T2 is also less adventurous than the other three – which is why he missed a ride on the snail train that they got going on a recent rainy day… 

KatApel_RainTrain

And then we have SavvyCat. And another ‘moving’ poem (or two) inspired by a pic I took on a walk to the mailbox last week. If ever a picture speaks a thousand words, it’s this! Savvy was a reluctant participant in this walk – though he came, on his own accord. Every photo captured his disgruntled face and twitching tail.

When we got to the letterbox and he heard the cars whizzing past on the road, he found his quick-sticks and led the way home again for atleast 100metres. (Then lagged and nagged for the next 900m.😹)

Do you poeticise your pets? They’re wonderful inspiration. Handy photography subjects, too. And we know them, so well!

FOR THE KIDS!

If you’re at home for lockdown (and even if you’re not!) you can capture your pet in picture and poetry. You don’t need any special editing programs. This is just done in Word.

  1. Open a blank Word document.
  2. Insert your pet picture.
  3. Insert a text box. (You may need to right-click and Wrap Text > In Front of Text.)
  4. Write your poem in the text box and format it so it is easy to read.
  5. When you’re happy with your layout, snap a screenshot.
  6. If you can share it on Instagram, use the hashtag #petpicpoem – and feel free to tag me; @Kat.Apel.

It’s that easy! (Your #petpicpoem would also look fabulous printed on canvas, on your wall! #justsayin) If you don’t have a pet – you could poeticise a backyard/balcony bird, or a lounge lizard. Even a bug!

If you’re wanting some more poetry inspiration, join us on the Poetry Friday rounds by clicking the link below. If for some reason the linky isn’t working (It has been clashing with my WordPress blocks (Aren’t we all!🤦‍♀️)) then this link should get you across. InLinkz Poetry Friday Link-up

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=a8b40ada7693d64e5923

FriYay! Good News.

It’s Friday again. The wheel spins so fast! But it’s so good to be here with poetry friends again. Because that wheels spins so fast, I’m going to jump right in with a little story and some good news.

My Dad told me recently he had a confession to make; he was a bit embarrassed by ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’. Half the words are either ‘up’ or ‘down’. One could maybe even question the skill required to write that. It wasn’t a judgement. And I was quite okay with my dad’s confusion. (My parents are both hugely supportive of my writing!)

After recovering from my laughter, I explained that the book was written to support reading in the first five years of a child’s life. We worked hard to match text and art to that brief. (I’d spent long hours deliberating the other half the words in the text!) But I truly could understand his confusion and embarrassment. Because it IS a very simple text! And yet, in that simplicity, and pared with the adorable illustrations by Janet Turner, so much about life on the farm on a rainy day (Oh the joy!) has been conveyed.

SpeechPath01

Click on the pic to read the full shortlist.

I’ve joked and said I’m therefore rather chuffed by this shortlisting. Because now Dad can hold his head high again!!😹 But in truth, I’m rather chuffed, fullstop. And I’m so proud of the team that got our book onto this list; the @statelibraryqld, whose wonderful initiative has landed a number of titles on the shortlist. And my lovely illustrator, Janet Turner (so exciting for your first picture book!) and editor @kristybushnell, who has played a significant part in so many of books – and same too, the talented designer, Jo Hunt.💕 

And I’m very thankful for the judges and speech pathology professionals who have poured their time and knowledge into reading and compiling this shortlist. Thank-you, Speech Pathology Australia.

My mantra in teaching – in life –  has always been; ‘Do less best.’ I kind of like that it also applies to writing, too. Be economical and deliberate with your word choice. Make every word count! And that there is poetry and picture books, in a nutshell. 🙂

Hoping your Friday is YAY! I’m sure it will be if you join us on the Poetry Friday rounds – with links being gathered by the lovely Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone. Thanks, Molly! Next week, when the wheel whirls round, you’ll find the round-up here!😺

 

More Presentations… and a Holiday!

I blogged earlier in the week about ‘Celebrating Our Stories‘, a speaking tour I ran with the support of the Gladstone Region Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF). A wonderful added bonus was the opportunity to speak at a number of other community and school events whilst I was on tour. And many of these included poetry!😻 I presented a professional development for early years educators in the Gladstone Region, titled, ‘Poetry Through Play’ – ran a poetry workshop for the Gladstone Region Home Schooling Network – with parents and kids, which was rather special, and ran additional workshops/author talks at a number of schools where we were ‘Celebrating Our Stories’. AND  I have more school bookings as a result. That is for sure something to smile about!

In Calliope I followed up with a talk about characters with Year 2. ‘Too Many Friends’ is set in a Year Two class – and there are some very different characters in that book – who are quite recognisable as classmates in most schools I visit. The kids’ faces lit up when they heard about the push/pull toys, and saw the coconut helicopter that inspired ‘Chop Chop’ in the book. They were learning about push/pull toys in Science – and recognised force in action in an instant. (The Year Two teacher in me smiled gleefully, because there is a reason this story was set in a Year Two class!) Even more trippy… Sara, the lovely librarian at Calliope, was in my Year 2/3 class for almost two years, many, many (MANY!🤫) years ago. The Sara, in ‘Too Many Friends’? Well – she isn’t this Sara, but this Sara did inspire her name. To see her so active in her role as community librarian was super-special. (Pic here.)

To round off some busy months, I presented at the Capricorn Coast Writers Festival, in Yeppoon. Gorgeous location – on the beach! It was wonderful to be on a panel with Dr Anita Heiss and Allison Tait, both powerhouses within the Australian kidlit scene, talking about Crafting Stories for Children. I then got to do Storytime at the library – the first time I’ve shared all three of my picture books! (‘The Bird in the Herd’ had to be ordered in three times in the lead-up to the festival, because the lovely local/festival bookshop, Hannah Jones, kept selling out – in advance of the festival!💙)

My final session at the CCWF was poetry workshop for adult writers.  I always love poetry workshops – but this workshop had a special feel to it, and by the end of the session, they had formed their own poetry group! Last weekend they sent me a pic from the first get-together. My heart…

By this time, my head was spinning from juggling everything, so hubby and I took time off in a rooftop tent in Central Queensland, in the middle of winter. We spent 2 nights in Byfield National Park, before heading across to Emerald, stopping at Blackdown Tablelands along the way. I took far too many pictures for my blog (far too many pictures for Instagram, even) – but do pop across to Insta, where you can sample a squidge in a five-part Rooftop Tent in Retrospect. (Or click on the links in the poem titles below.)

There were some breathtaking views, and stunning landscapes.

Byfield National Park

it never rains,
but it pours -
when home is a rooftop tent

thunder and lightning
is frightening;
nowhere to hide

camping is fun!
carried away
by the mozzies


Blackdown Tablelands

bump-bump-bump-bump
slow and steady
on rusty rutted roads

on top of the world
surrounded by trees -
and thunder

now planning
a camping expedition
in drought-affected home paddocks


Minerva National Park

c-c-c-c-anvas on c-c-c-car is
c-c-c-c-cool;
until you're c-c-c-c-old to the bone


© Kathryn Apel - All rights reserved.

I should add, that the rain definitely didn’t dampen our spirits. We loved our rooftop tent – and I was ready for some laughs, after the busyness of previous months. For those vistas, I’d do it all again!

And now, I look forward to hearing about what all my Poetry Friday friends have been up to. I have missed this community! Find the link-up, and more poetry Reflections on the Teche. Thanks, Margaret! 

Celebrating Our Stories

The last months have disappeared in a blur, as I pitched, prepared and then presented ‘Celebrating Our Stories’ for kids around the Gladstone Region. This is the first time I have co-ordinated a tour across 10 different venues – and I learnt lots in the process. (Next time I do this, it will be easier!🙃)

It has been so good to be sharing my passion for poetry and story again. I took a break after talking myself out of a voice on my American schools tour, in November 2019. (Gah! So long ago!!!) Six months became 18months, thanks to ‘Rona, and end of last year I struggled with the lack of face-to-face kid-interaction. Even though I’d had my most productive year as an author – signed more contracts, wrote more, and had more works in progress than ever before – I struggled to ‘feel’ like an author, because I wasn’t sharing the journey with kids. I was a teacher before I was an author – and there’s a reason for that. I love working with kids!

Celebrating Our Stories was a series of talks celebrating the release of our picture book, ‘The Bird in the Herd’, with kids in the Gladstone region, but also valuing regional stories and encouraging kids to share their stories – in words or in artwork. Victorian-based illustrator of ‘The Bird in the Herd’, Renée Treml, joined us via Zoom (or video, if an area didn’t have reliable internet) and the technology worked! We all learnt so much from Renée, who is not just a talented illustrator, but a lovely person. I am hoping we get to work together again – on books and presentations!

Our region is so diverse; dirt roads and sneaky bends, tea tree forests and open flats, shaded creeks and salt, sand and surf, grazing land, industry, ports and tourism. How fortunate I was to experience it in my meandering to different venues. And wonderful to visit city schools with their buzz of activity, and the softer hum of country schools in rustic settings. But always, attentive, interactive kids, and appreciative, engaged educators. Every session was different – but wonderful!

The Gladstone Region Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) is a Queensland Government and Gladstone Regional Council partnership to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland – and I am so grateful for their investment in our project. I also appreciate the assistance of Wendy Barker and Di Paddick, who supported my wrangling with the grant application, and Councillors Glenn Churchill and Chris Cameron who joined us for a Celebrating Our Story session, along with State Member for Burnett, Mr Stephen Bennett. Thank-you also to the regional librarians who supported by offering space and materials, or liaised with local schools to utilise their space – and to schools and parents who partnered with us, and have given permission to share these beautiful pics!  

Meeting Mary Lee

For those of you who don’t follow the Poetry Friday loop, this week one of our Poetry Friday crew is retiring, after 37 years in the classroom. Wow. That’s a lot of passion and creativity – and kids inspired!

Mary Lee’s friend and blog partner, Franki Sibberson, invited us to help celebrate Mary Lee’s dedication with a Mary Lee-themed round of Poetry Friday posts!

Meeting Mary Lee

March Madness sparked our 'meeting'
And if I'm correct in 
Recalling your bio,
You didn't call yourself a poet.

Let's be clear;
Even then you were a poet!
Even moreso now.

How time flies to NCTE 2019;
Amid a sea of faces, you
Happened past, and I knew – 
Not a stranger; "Mary Lee!"

katmargaretmarylee

NCTE 2021, after that magical moment of recognition and meeting IRL – with the lovely Margaret Simon in the middle.

Congratulations, Mary Lee. Hoping this last day in the classroom is wonderful beyond all imagining, and you embark on this new stanza of your poem with many more memories to cherish.

Christie Wyman at Wondering And Wandering is hosting the roundup today. You’ll find lots to celebrate (and that’s not just poetry!) on her blog. 🥳