Progressive Poem – Day 28

The Progressive Poem is here!

Before I share my thoughts … and my line … I have to apologise for my silence. I caught the first two weeks, but then dropped out of the loop for ten days as I was presenting poetry workshops and book readings at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, in the United Arab Emirates. I am still resetting my body clock, but I hope to get back and read/comment on the missed posts.

This is the second year I’ve been involved in the Progressive Poem, organised by the lovely Irene Latham. This year we were asked to record our thoughts in response to Line One, Day One, contributed by Elizabeth Steinglass. Continue reading


Progressive Poem – Kat’s Contribution

It’s National Poetry Month in the USofA, and I’m taking part in a progressive poem – where we each write one line (one person per day for the course of the month) to create a collaborative kids’ poem. This is my first year taking part and it’s been fascinating, watching each line drip-feed through the interwebs – wondering where I might land and testing ideas as possibilities for when it would be my turn. I thought the wordplay and crisp sounds from Heidi, Tabatha, Dori and Michelle were building to a surprise rhyme from Diane – a rhyme that I could perhaps build upon in my line …

But I clicked on Diane’s blog and found – yes – a surprise! A diversion. A breather. A most unexpected change of pace …

And no rhyme.

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges, sometimes, need sandpaper…

Where to from here? I played around …  rumples unscrumpledsmoothing, soothing, rasping grasping, splintered words, stone/hone… and then found a line that built on Diane’s matched pair, but kept the medieval mood of the earlier stanza.

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour* … 

 * I’m guessing ‘vapour’ will soon condense to American spelling. 😉

Tomorrow our lovely organiser Irene will pick up the pen and write the line to follow mine, and I sit back to relax and enjoy the poem that everyone pieces together.

Dates in April (American-time)

1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at blog-a- penny-and- her-jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There’s No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

(Inter)National Poetry Month – Progressive Poem

April is (Inter)National Poetry Month of April, and I am taking part in a progressive poem organised by Irene Latham. Over the month, we’ll each write a line (on our designated day) to create one collaborative poem. Dates are set by an American calendar, with Heidi kicking us off today, with this humdinger of a line;

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges–

Tabatha is now in a dither (make me giggle) – but I’m sure her line will sing, tomorrow.

All the blog links are below for you to follow along. You’re welcome to check back here for my contribution on 6th April (American-time).


1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at blog-a- penny-and- her-jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There’s No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids Continue reading

The Poem that Didn’t Make the Cut

This week around the interwebs, poets are posting their poems that didn’t make it into the One Minute Till Bedtime collection, released by Little, Brown in the US on the 1st of November.

The poem I subbed (with American spelling and all!) was Mommy’s Shadow. But to be completely honest with you, it was actually written as Daddy’s Shadow – and like My Dad (which did make it into the anthology) was inspired by my young sons and their interactions with their Dad, who, of course, they doted on! I’d tucked both poems away for many years… But because I was already submitting a Dad-poem for consideration, I tweaked the shadow, to complete the set. Which left me in a bit of a pickle for this non-minute poem… because I still prefer Daddy’s Shadow. So – that’s what I’m posting here.

Daddy’s ShadowDaddy's Shadows.jpg

My Daddy has a shadow
and it follows him about.
It’s the perfect little helper,
there isn’t any doubt.
If Daddy’s in the garden,
then his shadow potters through.
While Daddy’s washing up the car,
his shadow splashes too!
When Daddy’s feeling lazy
and just wants to have a rest …
He’s lucky I’m his shadow
‘cause I’m always full of zest!

© Kathryn Apel.
All rights reserved.

You can read  about Kenn’s process to selecting and arranging the poems – with links to the 15 Australian poets included – on my previous blog post; Collating an Anthology – with Kenn Nesbitt. You can read more non-poems at, and on the Poetry Friday link-up, collated by Bridget at Wee Words for Wee Ones.

Collating an Anthology – with Kenn Nesbitt

oneminuteOne Minute Till Bedtime is an impressive collection of children’s poetry compiled by former American Children’s Poet Laureate, Kenn Nesbitt. Whilst I wouldn’t encourage my students to drop off to sleep in the middle of class, we have been sneaking a few-more-than-a-few poems into our school days, and I speak from experience when I say this book is a brilliant classroom resource –  because it celebrates the FUN of poetry!

I had a few questions about the process of compiling a poetry collection, and I’m delighted to share Kenn’s insights with you…

Kenn, with One Minute Till Bedtime, you have put together an anthology that touches five countries. How did you know where to start – to draw poets from so far afield?

Kenn NesbittI’ve been writing children’s poetry for more than 20 years, and have met many, many poets during that time. Years ago I started keeping a list ofchildren’s poet I knew, and those I hadn’t met yet. When the opportunity to create this anthology came up, I was able to reach out to nearly 200 published children’s poets. I received submissions from over 160 of them.

What is the breakdown of poets/countries, as included in the book?

There are 132 poets in this collection. 100 of them are from the US, 15 are from Australia*, 13 from the UK, 3 from Canada, and 1 from Italy.

What sort of things (aside from being less than 60 seconds) were you looking for, when making your selections?

I was looking specifically for poems that would evoke an emotion. I am of the opinion that good poetry makes you feel something when you read it, so this was my key criterion in choosing the poems. Additionally, I was interested in poems that I felt were particularly well-written, regardless of style or form.

I love the diversity of the poems. There are some that could be considered almost a risk, going so far out on a limb … and that’s what makes you laugh out loud at the success of the poems. (Like April Haplin Wayland’s, ‘Rolling down the Hill’, and James Carter’s ‘What to Yell When You’re Trapped in the Belly of a Whale’. Delight!)

In addition to sharing the work of so many children’s poets from around the world, I wanted to show the diversity of poetry being written for kids today. That includes concrete poems like these, as well as poetic forms such as pantoums, haiku, abecedarian poems, free verse, humorous rhymes, and more.

How did you decide on the order of the poems, to balance length, type, themes?

With over 140 poems, I thought it would be a good idea to break the book up into sections, each with about 20-30 minutes of reading. This makes a book with seven sections, one for each day of the week, and each with a reading time of less than 30 minutes.

I also decided to begin each section with more realistic poems (e.g., poems about nature, seasons, etc.) and progress toward more imaginative and dreamlike poems, and poems about bedtime and sleeping. The idea here was to somewhat mimic the process of falling asleep.

With this in mind, I selected the actual order by printing out all of the poems and spreading them out on my kitchen table where I could easily see them and shuffle them around. I also wanted to pair poems together so that similar poems could share a common illustration on each two-page spread.

How super-talented and diverse is Christoph Niemann!? I love the quirky extra dimension his illustrations bring to each poem. Were there poems where Christoph submitted more than one possible illustration to consider? Can you give us a short insight into this collaborative process?

I agree. Christoph’s work is so clever and whimsical that you can spend as much time with the illustrations as you do with the poems. There were indeed a few poems where Christoph provided two illustrations for me and my editors to consider. For the most part, though, he worked with the publisher. I didn’t have any direct contact with him during the illustrating of the book, but I did get to see the early sketches and watch as the illustrations progressed.

You yourself have seven poems in the collection. Do you have a favourite amongst your own contributions?

If I had to select just one, it would be “Have I Told You?” I’m also fond of “Whew!,” “How to Fall Asleep,” and “What Do You Dream?”

And finally, what are some of your tips, to make bedtime reading a success?

I think the best thing a parent can do to make bedtime reading a success is to do it consistently as part of a child’s bedtime ritual, beginning at birth. Also, use it as an opportunity for discussion and learning. Children will have lots of questions as you read to them. It’s okay to stop and explain as you go along. This is a great way to expand a child’s vocabulary and their knowledge of the world.

Thank-you so much for the insights, Kenn, and congratulations on a job done exceptionally well!


* Links to Australian poets in One Minute Till Bedtime

Celebrating Australia – with Lorraine Marwood

Lorraine Marwood is one of Australia’s great poets. It is always a privilege to read her works, and enlightening to hear her insights. With the release of Lorraine’s new book, ‘Celebrating Australia – a year in poetry’, I asked Lorraine what brings a collection of poems together – looking at the challenge of variety in poems, balanced with editorial expectations. This is Lorraine’s fourth poetry collection for children, so I think she’s well qualified to answer that question. 🙂  Continue reading

Introducing a Character… Toby

-Users-KatApel-Desktop-Screenshots 2015-02-06 at 5.36.25 pm

Wise and wonderful Wendy Orr, tagged me for a blog post about one of my characters. She followed it up with that evil laugh – but when I skipped across and checked out her blog post on Nim, I was quite excited to be asked. What a great way to get a bit of perspective on your character! (Be sure to read Wendy’s post for lots of fascinating insights into Nim.)

But here I am. I’m ‘It’.  Continue reading

Sneak Peek – What I’m Writing

I’ve been tagged again – this time by talented picture book author and beautiful, supportive friend, Katrina Germein.

The challenge is to share 7 lines from page 7 or 77 of a current WiP. Then tag other writers to continue the game.

Here’s 7 lines from page 7 of my current WIP – another verse novel.


My hand hurts and the
harder I try the more
those blue lines
squeeze my letters
out of                         place
.           out of
.                        shApE.


Now to tag the next writers to share a sneak-peek of their work…

1) Adam Byatt , 2) Rebecca Newman and 3) Samantha Wheeler.

Looking forward to seeing where you’re all at with your current WIPs! (And congrats Sam, on your beautiful new UQP book, Spud & Charli. xx)

Tagged – Blog Tour

I’ve been tagged and today I’m ‘it’ in the Author Process blog tour. My friend Chris Bell caught me, and I confess to being a little surprised that she could drag herself away from her research long enough to answer the questions last week… and play tag too! (I think that’s how she caught me. Unawares. 😛 )

Chris BellChris Bell is a historical writer and she loves research – so much so that occasionally she forgets she’s supposed to be writing, as she journeys back to life a century or two ago. She’s currently working on a YA historical novel set in convict Tasmania. Chris has written over thirty published books for children, including picture story, chapter and YA. Her contemporary YA novel, Jumping Through Hoops, won the CYA Published Author Prize 2011 and was longlisted in the international 2012 Mslexia Writing for Children Competition. Next month, she’s excited to be heading to Katoomba to take up a Varuna Retreat Fellowship to work on her YA novel. That’s exciting, Chris! I’m sure you’ll enjoy being pampered and inspired.

You can read more about Chris as she takes you from Hook to Book at – including her post last Monday, where she talked about her writing process.

But now I’m ‘it’, so today I get to answer four questions about my writing process. Here goes…

1. What am I working on?

I’m currently working with the lovely Michele from UQP, putting final finishing touches on Bully on the Bus, my verse novel for younger readers, which is coming out in July. This is my first verse novel, and it’s a story that carries a huge chunk of my heart, so it’s all very exciting!

During the Month of Poetry in January, I started a new verse novel (my third) – something completely different for me, as it’s YA. I’m equal parts inspired and nervous. The story drew an encouraging response from participants in the MoP, so I’m hoping I can sustain it! That’s where the nerves come in …

And of course, there’s always a couple of picture books in the mix, too. Though they have taken a bit of a back seat in the last 12months, as I’ve worked on three different verse novels…

2. How does my work differ from others in my genre?


The rural flavour that comes across in much of my writing would be one signature trait. It’s subtly there in a lot of my writing – a background to the story, not THE story.

In my rhyming work, I think it would be the integrity of rhythm and rhyme. That tenacious desire to get it right  – not compromise with near rhymes and forced rhythms. The tricky bit is to be true to good poetry, but not at the expense of story. Sometimes I get it right, and other times … Well, I’m still working on those stories!

3. Why do I write what I write?

Lots of my picture books are purely for fun – the enjoyment of playing with words and story in a lively reading experience.

Both bogged!

The rural-ness comes into my writing because that’s what I know. I was born and bred on a farm, and then married a grazier … which does not mean I’m a farmer by any stretch, because cattle and horses still scare me witless. BUT – I am surrounded by farming stories from my hubby and sons. So much inspiration. (So much that can go wrong!) And it’s good for Australian farm kids to see themselves in stories, too.

More recently, I’ve been exploring the verse novel format, and these have all been emotive heart-stories that leave me feeling vulnerable – but also filled with hope. These stories are really resonating with others, giving them words they might not otherwise have been able to share.

4.  How does my writing process work?

I am not a planned or methodical writer. I usually jump in and write and then when I’ve found my rhythm/voice, I step back and think about where that story could go, and start to jot down possible scenarios – adding to this as the story unfolds.

The writing process can be a little fraught with tension along the way – with doubts in both my ability and the story – but the euphoria when things click perfectly into place is unmatched. And no-one is ever more surprised than ME!

Because I’ve spent so long writing picture books, I tend to get speed wobbles when I’m working on longer projects. I usually hit my first bump at 600wrds. Last year I surprised myself with my Bully edits, writing 2000 words in less than two weeks. I never knew I could do that! It was very empowering when I started writing my YA verse novel – which will require so many more words than anything I’ve ever written.

When I’m on a writing roll, my tweets stream out – and you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m procrastinating or distracted – when in reality I’m actually writing HEAPS, and just letting off a little bit of creative steam. Crazy, I know. But it seems to be the way it is.

I’m also a very polished draft-writer, which I think comes from writing so much in rhyme – when you need to get it right, before you progress, or the whole direction of the story could unexpectedly change. I can’t write a sloppy first draft, no matter what I write – and some days I may only write 100 words a day – but they’re generally GOOD words. I know you’re supposed to switch the internal editor off and just write … but I haven’t found that switch, yet!

Now it’s time for me to get snappy on my toes, and tag some authors to be ‘it’ next week…

Lorraine MarwoodLorraine Marwood is an author I have enormous respect for, but we’ve never met – though we’ve corresponded for 5 years. Lorraine writes poetry but also writes stories too. She has just written her sixth book for Walker – which will come out in 2015. Her verse novel ‘Star Jumps’ won the inaugural children’s literature section of the Prime Minister’s awards in 2010 – and I (Kat) remember the excitement of that day well! Lorraine takes lots of writing workshops using her own poetry techniques. She loves polishing the ordinary into something extraordinary. Lorraine lives in Bendigo with her husband and new puppy and often babysits one (or more) of her seven grandchildren.

Kaylene WestKayleen West is an online buddy who I met  more recently, via twitter. Kayleen’s childhood dream was to write and illustrate for children. But first she ventured into a career of an exhibiting fine artist, where her work won many awards and now hangs in private and corporate collections, in the Australian Embassy in Ireland, and in Australian government collections. Kayleen returned to her original passion in 2009. She is now the author/illustrator of the picture books, ‘Without Me?’ and ‘Adoptive Father’, and has illustrated the soon-to-be-released ‘Better than a Superhero’, written by Belinda Francis.  Kayleen is working on two more picture books for 2014 publication. She also writes content and illustrates for editorials. See more of Kayleen’s work at;

Sandra PeutSandra Peut is one of the lovely writers I meet up with on an irregular regular basis, sharing writing sessions and chit-chat at the Bundaberg Library. Sandra began writing stories for her school friends when she was a young girl. Growing up she was a voracious reader, with friends and family describing her as always having her face buried in a book. Her first novel, ‘Blue Freedom’, received third place in the 2009 Rose & Crown New Novels competition, and was subsequently published by Sunpenny Publishing in 2010. It was also shortlisted for the 2011 Caleb Awards. Her second novel, ‘The Guardian’ (a YA paranormal romance) is in the final stages of editing. Watch her website for more details; 

And now, it’s over to you, girls. You’re ‘it’!

Guest Author – Michelle D Evans

MichelleEvansI first met Michelle Dennis Evans through #pblitchat – a twitter-based chat I co-convened at the time, for those who loved or created picture books. Michelle has also been a participant in January Month of Poetry, which I co-ordinate each year – and we continue to interact on Twitter. Michelle has recently indie-published her YA Contemporary novel, Spiralling Out of Control – her first published work. Exciting times!

Given our connection through both poetry and picture books (and the fact that they’re the focus of my blog), I thought I’d ask some questions that stem from these commonalities.

But firstly, welcome Michelle, and congratulations on the release of Spiralling Out of Control. I imagine it has been a busy and exciting week for you, launching Stephanie’s story into the world.

Hello!!! I’m so excited to be here and not just chatting on Twitter or frantically punching out another poem in MoP! And, oh boy, yes! This week has been crazy, daunting, exciting and fun.

Has your experience in writing poetry and picture books influenced how you approach your novel writing?

Absolutely. The discipline needed to write concisely in picture books is also needed in novels. And when I found I just couldn’t get the beginning of my novel to work – I wrote a poem… and that poem is now the intro to Spiralling Out of Control. In fact, I have included several poems throughout this novel. Poems help me get my head around how the characters are really feeling.

Poetry and picture books are both genres that are very often read aloud. Do you read your YA writing aloud during the writing or editing process? How is this beneficial?

Yeah, I would probably read my manuscript out aloud at least three times -once while I’m making sure the story works, then a couple of times when proofreading. I pick up so much more when I read word for word out loud, and I also listen for some kind of natural rhythm to my sentences and paragraphs.

Picture books are very visual – the epitome of show, don’t tell – with illustrations to bring a character to life. While writing Spiralling Out of Control, how did you bring your characters to life and keep them real in your mind – so this could then be portrayed through your words?

I do keep a notepad in front of me with a page of notes and a very messy mind map to help me remember the basic details. I guess I keep the characters alive because I know their personality and their actions and reactions flow from my knowledge who they are.  When I first drafted Spiralling Out of Control, I distanced myself from the main character Stephanie, because what she goes through is quite painful, but with each revision I understood her more, loved her more and found myself wanting to rescue her.

Given our shared Month of Poetry history, I think it’s only fitting to ask you to write a poem (any form, any length) in some way inspired by Stephanie’s story.  It may be one you’ve included in the book, it may be something completely new…  but it has to be a poem.  (The taskmaster is here. :P)

So, I wrote this when I was in Stephanie’s head…


Get Me Out Of Here


The music pounding in my head

This place too wretched to find a friend

I’ll never ever find my place

I’ll never ever show my face

I’ll let this music blow my mind

It’s loud and fierce to steal the time

I know and want too much now

I won’t find it in this town


Just let me head south

Words stuck in my mouth

I want to scream

I scream in my dreams

I want to yell at you

Don’t tell me what to do

How could you misplace me?

I tell you and you don’t see

I’ll show you that I can

I’ll go and live with my friend

I’ll rule my own life

I’ll keep out of strife

Play this music

To hide my emotion

I don’t want your attention

Get me out of here

Never leaving is my fear

To you I have nothing to give

I want out, I want to live


There’s a lot of anger and angst in Stephanie’s voice there, Michelle. A real cry for help…

Where can people buy Spiralling out of Control and read more of Stephanie’s story? Is it only available electronically, or is it also available in book form – or is that something that is coming soon?

At this point in time Spiralling Out of Control is only available as an ebook.

At only $1.99 you can buy one for yourself and a couple for your friends… hehehe

Purchase via my website or through Amazon.

Thank you so much for having me here on your blog, allowing me to share a poem and promote my novel today Kat. I can’t wait to hang out with you again in January with MoP … I have another verse novel idea bouncing around in my mind…

Thanks for visiting, Michelle – and for reminding me how fast January is approaching. 😉 All the very best with your writing endeavours, and new book promotions. Enjoy!