Ode to a Toothpick

Thanks to Michelle Heidenrich Barnes and Helen Frost, today I am writing an ode to an ordinary object I know … too well. The poem is in response to Today’s Little Ditty’s monthly challenge, where Helen encouraged us to;

Choose an object (a seashell, a hairbrush, a bird nest, a rolling pin). Write five lines about the object, using a different sense in each line (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell). Then ask the object a question, listen for its answer, and write the question, the answer, or both.

Ode to a Toothpick

You made your point
with woody twangs,
divulging a taste of recent indulgences,
your slim figure never gaining an ounce.
Were you pining for the fragrance of the forest
when you planted your
slither of splinter deep in my gums
for near a week?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had a rather pointed jab from a toothpick…?

Today’s Poetry Friday is at Robyn Hood Black’s, Life on the Deckle Edge. Definitely worth a visit! Thanks, Robyn.

Announcing the Winner – and Sharing the Cinquains

Today is the day to announce… the winner of the signed copy of ‘Bully on the Bus’.

Entrants had to write a didactic cinquain on the topic of bullying. There were some fabulous entries. (I confess, I wondered why I ever had this great idea to hold a competition, because picking one winner is always so hard!) Thankfully I had some help judging… because I could never have done it alone!

But first… the entries! (In order of appearance.)

Excessive, cruel
Resist, repel, overcome
Good will overcome evil
(Loris Doessel)

Offensive, nasty
Fight, harass, annoy
Their own worst enemy
(Loris Doessel)

Excessive, cruel
Resist, repel, overcome
Good will overcome evil
(Lois Doessel)

Hurtful, dreadful
Targetting, embarrassing, teasing,
No person deserves it
(Year 4Red SFX)

Mean, cruel
Laughing, hurting, targeting
Making others feel small
(Year 4 White SFX)

Big, cruel
Threatening, scaring, stealing
She wants the power
(Year 4 Blue SFX)

Bullied, small
Sad, helpless, lonely
Always fearful when bullied
(G in Year 4 W – SFX)

Small, calm
Hoping, praying, wishing
Will it ever stop?
(T in Year 4W – SFX)

Stinky, smelly
Pinch, snarl, punch
Menacing act that hurts

Selfish, horrible
Spits, kicks, names
The worse person ever

Fearless, brave
Stand, unite, support
Stop bullies in their tracks

Huge, Meanie
Kicking, shouty, unkind
Attack with road anger

Big, fat
Punch, pick, push
Big bully rude kicks
(JB and KG)

Nasty, rude
Spitting, pushing, pinching
Annoying unkind punching boss
(RF and CE)

Smelly, stupid
Snarls, spits, kicks
Very rude dumb bully
(SB and JB)

Huge, hairy
Pinchy, pushy, picky
The big scary bully
(ES, JS, CB)

Grouchy, mean
Push, hits, pinch
Hurts like burning lava

Intimidating, sneaky
Pushing, lurking, threatening
Stealer of kids lunches

And the winner is…

Bravado, by Loris Doessel.

Offensive, nasty
Fight, harass, annoy
Their own worst enemy
(Loris Doessel)

A tight cinquain that captures the bravado of bullies – who truly are their own worst enemies. Well done, Loris.

But wait! There’s more!

I cannot go past an entry from a Year 3 student. It catches me every time with its controlled creativity – and though there are grammatical errors, I overlook them in my delight of the cinquain. I recognise the simile from ‘Bully on the Bus’ – but also appreciate the cleverness of a young writer who has shaped the words to perfectly fit a new situation.

Grouchy, mean
Push, hits, pinch
Hurts like burning lava

My suggestions would be; change ‘bullies’ to ‘bully’, to be consistent with the singular ‘dragon’ – and change ‘hits’ to ‘hit’ for consistent tense. But keep the magic!

I will contact you both by email, and a signed copy of ‘Bully on the Bus’ will be heading your way.

Thank-you to everyone who shared their fabulous entries. It was wonderful to have your participation, and read your powerful words. There were so many cinquains I marked for their fourth lines, especially; ‘menacing act that hurts’, ‘stealer of kids lunches’, ‘she wants the power’,  ‘making others feel small’, ‘no person deserves it’ – and the unexpectedness of ‘attack with road anger’. You nailed it! And I loved the empowering angle that Louise took with courageous friends.

Bullying. No Way! Day, is next Friday … but we all know bullying is never okay!

Revising Sonnets

Recently, Linda Mitchell shared a post about sonnets… which brought back some memories, because I have thought a thing or two about sonnets, in my time. I went hunting through my blog to find my first sonnet, and found … more! So – this Poetry Friday I’m sharing my tumultuous relationship with sonnets, quoting snippets (in italics) of my feelings at the time of the original posts.

My goal for Month of Poetry (MoP12) was to write a sonnet, because in other MoPs participants who had written a sonnet spoke as if they’d climbed Mount Everest. I wasted a day on my first attempt. Tried three different sonnets, on suitably learned topics. Failed. Those five strong beats were a syncopated constipated curse. My frustration bubbled over… (Oops…) and resulted in Sonnet: Finito. 

Sonnet: Finito

Sonnet! Away you evil, vile thing!
Your syncopated rhythm drives me NUTS
so go! No ifs or maybes and no buts…
Be gone! No satisfaction do you bring.

If venerable poets like the Bard
could scribble sonnets neither weak or pallid
then why – when I can write a rhyming ballad –
do I write a sonnet marred and deeply scarred.

Rue the wretched resolution made
before I even knew what I resolved.
Quit. And I am instantly absolved…
Persist and you must all try to dissuade.

But wait! The end is nigh. This sonnet writ;
a travesty of poetry and wit.

© Kathryn Apel 2012

But that wasn’t the end of my sonnets. I wanted to wrangle an emotive issue dear to my heart. And I wanted to conquer that iambic pentameter. Once I got through the obligatory three failed attempts, (to write a sonnet, you must first fail three times and quit – and then…) Sonnet: Money Hungry flowed quite easily – in its syncopated, shuffle-footed style. In fact, I wrote three sonnets during the 2012 Month of Poetry – and then another in the March, when I took part in the first Madness tournament.

Sonnet: The Art of Music

To look its best, the cello lies, composed
within a velvet case – the lid snapped closed.
For if it’s played, the golden glow may wear.
Or worse! Show signs of use beyond repair.

The instrument is like a work of art
plucked from the master craftsman’s wooden heart,
then sanded, buffed and polished ’til it glows
and every fingerprint and blemish shows.

But draw the bow and feel the cello thrum,
feel it rumble heart and soul; a mellow hum
that softens silence, as its echo brings
a warmth and depth that flows from wood and strings.

You haven’t scratched the surface if you keep
your cello, or your talent, buried deep.

© Kathryn Apel 2012

In 2013, I wrote a Sonnet to teach kids about persuasive writing. As you do …

NAPLAN: Persuasion

Persuasion is the act of coaxing you
by reasoned argument, to take my view;
You may have never thought it out before
so let me outline what you can’t ignore.

It’s not enough to simply state the case
without evidence. You never will embrace
my viewpoint; may stay sitting on the fence
or worse – supporting those who cause offence.

Three arguments, at least, must be supported
by facts and quotes, as action is exhorted,
and though you might at first oppose my view
my hope is you’ll soon share the views I do.

I’m persuaded that you have by now conceded,
which means, of course, my argument succeeded.

I will not stoop to bribe, or to extort,
for there are those who’ll say that you’ve been bought!

© Kathryn Apel 2013

Which prompted me to write to the government of the time, lamenting standardised testing … As you do …!

NAPLAN: Persuade Me

Persuade me that we need a NAPLAN test
to take up time that honestly is best
employed in teaching kids, enthusing them
to learn. Not stressing testing to condemn.

No matter how we all try to downplay
the importance (or the lack) of NAPLAN day,
it cannot be denied that kids are stressed
and yet we still expect they’ll do their best?!

Since when has child development been a race?
It’s Differentiation staff embrace.
Is ‘Teacher’ not an occupation anymore?
Now assessment is so much the greater chore?

A living, breathing child is not defined
by numbers, on a band, that tests assigned.

© Kathryn Apel 2013

In fact, I have written a total of eight sonnets. Which makes me think it may be time to try one more…

You’re probably all clamouring to write a sonnet, now, so I’ll share the advice my friend Di Esmond gave when I first tried;

A sonnet is a wonder of control… 12 lines that puts a case or a challenge which is answered by the couplet, a sort of a summation and tying up of loose threads. It must be like a butterfly lighting on a bush, perfectly delicate and dancing.

Read Di’s full explanation and analysis of the simple sonnet.

Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Michelle Barnes, at Today’s Little Ditty, where you may not find a sonnet – but you will find lots of poetry goodies! I’d love to know, if you try a sonnet of your own – especially if the rhythm gives you as much trouble as it did me! 🙂

Cover Reveal: Too Many Friends

I’m excited-much to share the cover of my upcoming younger reader verse novel with you. It’s less than two months ’til it releases – and I know that time will fly!

Jo Hunt has designed my three verse novel covers. I don’t know how she does it, because each vibrant cover captures the essence of the book, so they’re all different … yet matched. I can only imagine how gorgeous the three books will look side-by-side in real life.

The joyous riot of colour encapsulates the clamour, energy and enthusiasm of Tahnee’s ‘Too Many Friends’.

I love it!


Thank-you so much Jo and my lovely editor, Kristy, who worked together to create a cover that is as tempting and colourful as a pack of jumbo party lollies. You think?


That saying, ‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover’…? It doesn’t apply here! 🙂

Heidi is hosting Poetry Friday this week at My Juicy Little Universe. You should visit and be inspired. But before you go… if you haven’t yet read about my competition for ‘Bullying. No Way!’ Day, click across to find out how your 11 words could win you a signed copy of ‘Bully on the Bus’.


Competition: Bullying. No Way!

BullyCoverOn 17th March it’s Bullying. No Way! Day.

To help spread the message that bullying is never okay, I am giving away a signed copy of ‘Bully on the Bus’. For your chance to win, write a didactic cinquain that fits the theme of bullying. Not sure what a didactic cinquain is? You can read more here.

All you need is 11 words. (But don’t name any bullies!)

Example Cinquain

Click the pic for more info about didactic cinquains.

How to enter:

  1. Entry is open to Australian residents only – kids or adults.
  2. Post your cinquain as a comment below, or as a comment on my Instagram post.
  3. Entries close Wednesday 8th March 2017 – midnight.
  4. Winner announced 10 March 2017.

Judging will be conducted by a panel. Judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

I Don’t Eat My Friends!


My next verse novel is going to the printers on Monday (Yay!) so I thought I’d share a poem from that in celebration of Poetry Friday and all things wonderful… like friends!

I Don’t Eat My Friends!

The kids
in my class
are like a jumbo pack of 
assorted party lollies –
they’re all different,
but I like them 

(I don’t eat my friends!)

Some kids
talk a lot;
tell funny jokes.
Some kids 
ask questions
and listen lots;
ask questions 
and don’t listen at all.
Some kids are bossy
(sometimes too bossy!);
others like
to be told
       what to do –
want you to do it 
       for them.
Some kids are quiet
and always there;
others are quiet 
and always alone.

All my classmates are different, 

but that’s the best thing
      friends …
                and lollies.

© Kathryn Apel

I’m so thankful for the many beautiful friends who sweeten my life, including the wonderful Poetry Friday peeps, who feed my love of words in verse. Thanks to Karen-consumer-of-coffee for hosting us this week and collecting the links at karenedmisten.blogspot.com.au.

‘Too Many Friends’ will be published by UQP in May 2017, and I canNOT wait to share it!

Like Penguins on a Pebbled Cliff

Those Distant Things

Not flying fish,
swimming seals,
dabbling ducks,
or water bugs,
not orca fins,
or my imagination,
but penguins;


Those grey boulders, at the feet of the penguins (top left) are not boulders, but bubbas.

To read more poetry this simmering summer day, pop across and visit Katie at The Logonauts.

Writing-Related Holiday Pics

There were so many reasons to take pics on holidays.

  1. Stunning vistas.
  2. I want to remember this forever.
  3. There could be a story in this …
  4. Sick hubby in isolation is missing all this! (!!!)
  5. Kids at school will love this.
  6. won’t believe this.
  7. I can’t believe I’m doing this!!!!
  8. And many more…

Here are some I took because;

….9.  Books … Words … Writing.
………(I hope I’ve found them all! Be assured I will edit and add them if I haven’t, because… #justso)  Continue reading

Tango Anyone?

I have been absent from PoetryFriday for too long, on account of copy edits, holidays, new school year, and first page proofs. But sneaking in very quickly with this little 1920’s postcard poem, from our recent South American/Antarctic holiday.


Street artist at Montevideo, Uraguay. Photo © Kathryn Apel

I’d love to say more, and include more pics, but these page proofs must get done, and trawling through photos is a mammoth task. (I know. Because I too often fall down that hole.)

Happy PoetryFriday and I hope to be back properly, soon! You will find the full round-up at… beyondliteracylink with Carol Varsalona. Thanks, Carol!