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?

Terse Verse

Okay – so before I start today’s post, I have to say that this is my first day, squeezed into a block by WordPress! Gargh! I really did like my classic editor format, and I have I held out for as long as I can… but recently WordPress overrode my preferences, and we are now all in little boxes.😢 (I hope I can still manage to make my blog and posts LOOK like I’d like!)

Today, (which is Friday… Who knew?!?) I am joining the Poetry Friday rounds with some terse verse. Feel free to add your own in the comments. I think they’re a lot of fun – especially when…

Well, this was a surprise! (Big W Bundaberg)

How lovely that:
1) my son’s friend spotted it
2) his girlfriend modelled it, and
3) my son shared it!
You Look at the Calendar Expecting to See Thursday... But it Says FRIDAY...
Rhyme time. Sublime!

You've Missed Too Many Days and You're Determined to Join the Crew.
Hurry flurry.

You May Have Developed a Form for Times Such as This.
Yo! LaMiPo*. 

But Sometimes You Just Want to Stick to the Rules and Conform to a Form.
Coerce terse verse.

The Sun is Shining Over Green Grassy Paddocks and There's Water in the Dams.
New hue - true blue view.

Edits Come and Edits Go;
Begun. Done.

Sold out. New stock in store. And There are MORE! 
Look! Book nook. (Look! Look!)

The ToDo List is a Never-ever-ever Ending Story
Right! Write light. Write night.

You Know You're Going to Get a Feast of Friday Poets at Jama's.
Troop scoop soup. Whoop! Whoop!

Today’s round-up is hosted by Jama – where you will always find sustenance for the poetry rounds.)

Don’t forget to check out the Progressive Poem too, and see what our Case of Kindness has got up to!

* A short form of the LaMiPoFri. It was brought to my attention that there are last minutes (and poetry) on other days, too. Not just Friday. And I agree!

First post with the blocky-locks is now done.😅

‘The Bird in the Herd’ Resources

It’s Poetry Friday again – and I’ve woken to a slightly drizzling day, so that’s a beautiful thing. Though I’d have liked it to hang around longer!

🐛🦢🐮🐶🐴🤠🌪🚙

I’m delighted to share some fabulous resources to accompany ‘The Bird in the Herd’. As with all my books, you’ll find links on the relevant dropdown under the ‘Books’ tab, above – and they’re on the UQP website. There’s Teachers’ Notes – which are wonderful. (I’m constantly impressed with the quality of UQP’s teacher notes!) And for an extra little bit of fun, Renée and I worked with UQP to put together an Activity Pack, which has turned into a DIY party-pack for a Bird-in-the-Herd-themed party. You’ll find ‘Pin the Bird on the Herd’, rhyming memory, finger puppets,  droving dominoes, five fun facts about cows, some fabulous colouring spreads and MORE! So much fun! (Click the relevant picture to go direct to the resource.)

Last night I took part in Romancing the Stars, an online event across Australia – and Singapore, thanks to Book Links, and the amazing kidlit advocate, Jenny Stubbs. Five minutes to talk about ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ and ‘The Bird in the Herd’ – and then relax and hear other authors and illustrators share the backstory to their picture books. We are all connected by passion and heart. And Zoom!

 

Zoom-zoom;

time flies

when connected

© Kathryn Apel – All rights reserved

 

Hoping you’ve all been surrounded by poetry, picture books and people who feed your passion. I for sure have been thankful for that, these past two weeks of new-book celebrations.

Heidi is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up this week, at my juicy little universe. I’ll be late to do the rounds, as I have a busy-busy weekend ahead. But I look forward to catching up in review. 

 

Poetry Friday Muster!

Welcome to the Poetry Friday Muster. That’s the Australian term for the American cattle round-up, and it seems appropriate, since I’m sharing my droving book that was published this week.

Look! A herd of cows.

There’s a bird in the herd that stalks as it walks, eating slugs and the bugs that the herd stirred. What else can you see as you follow the cheeky bird?

Bright and playful, this rollicking rhyming picture book with gorgeous sun-soaked illustrations will have little ones hootin’ and a-tootin’!

The Bird in the Herd‘ is the book of patience.

1)  I wrote this story 19 years ago – and I blogged about this on release day. It didn’t actually change much during all that time – mostly tweaks to strengthen the rhyme. The title changed the most! Originally called ‘Muster Mayhem’, it was then called ‘No Cows’ for a number of years – before Linda Mitchell referred to it as ‘A Bird in the Herd’ in a blog comment last year … Funnily enough, about a month after that, my editor questioned ‘No Cows’, and suggested something like ‘A Bird in the Herd’. I cannot imagine why I didn’t think of it myself! But I’m so very grateful Linda and Clair did, because, with the slightest of tweaks, it’s perfect!

2)  I met my illustrator, Renée Treml, 9 years ago, and she has been an absolute treasure to work with!

(Renée had just 3 days from when she read the manuscript to when the illustration competition closed – but she did it! “That’s how much I loved the story❤️,” she says.)

3)  Whilst ‘The Bird in the Herd’ is technically my third published picture book (‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ snuck out during December last year) it was in fact one of my first manuscripts, (written more than three years before ‘This is the Mud!’) – and my second picture book acceptance. It was in progress for 5 years. With COVID and potential shipping delays, we sent it to the printers early, so it’s already been in our hot little hands for 5 months!

Patience is a virtue – but it sure does age a body!😂 The book was written for these two little cuties (OK – there are definitely three cuties in that pic!) but alas, those adorable little farm boys only ever had the unillustrated version. This saddens me – but then I remember that, over the years, whenever I read it aloud during a zillion drafts (as you do, because, rhyme) it would draw my youngest from the furtherest reaches of the house, subtly steadily moving closer and closer, until he was pressed up beside me, because the rhythm of the rhyme would catch him every time. This story is woven into the fabric of our family. And one day, these two men might be reading this book to their own children. With pictures!

My friend Kirsty made a comment on Insta about the perseverance and passion invested in this book. I think they’re the two defining traits of a writer! Kirsty’s comment inspired this poem for today. (You will note the grasshopper, above, who also features on every page of the book.)

Renée has two rather adorable graphic novels that are available in America – with very clever titles! Look out for ‘Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery’ and its sequel, ‘Sherlock Bones and the Sea-Creature Feature’.

‘The Bird in the Herd’ is not yet published in America. I’m hoping it wings its way there so you can all see it for yourself. To say I love it is an understatement. It is glorious, from cover to cover. (Click to read some reactions.)

And now, over to you! What has your passion and perseverance produced this week? (Hands up if you’re sneaking in with a lamipofri.😹)

* This post was edited to include the book blurb. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

 

Release Day: The Bird in the Herd

The egret has landed!

 

19 years ago, I wrote a story for my two farm boys. It’s been a process steeped in memories;
* bouncing ideas around the kitchen table with my parents and sister,
* conferencing with my two small boys (my first and cutest editors),
* truth-testing countless versions and illustrations with my hubby, and
* always, the subtle arrival of my youngest whenever I read it aloud, because the rhythm of the rhyme would draw him every time.

The text was used as an illustration prompt at the 2012 CYA Competition – and Renee Treml’s simple, colourful illustrations caught my eye. They were perfect for young children, and highlighted the humour in the story. We met at the same conference, and I loved the backstory to Renée’s entry – but that’s her story to tell!🙃 Needless to say, I have loved sharing this process with Renee! And I cannot say enough how much I appreciate the team at CYA Conference. This is the third book I have had published, as a direct result of that conference! If you are serious about writing for children, you must check it out.

Renée and I worked with a wonderful team at UQP, who brought colour to the text, and offered an extended page count that gave each character their own spread, and allowed the story to fully develop its rhythm, so that it mooches along like a herd of cattle. (How appropriate!)

19 years ago, I noticed a bird in the herd that stalked as it walked past my kitchen window – and I’m so glad that white cattle egret gave wings to this story. Gratitude to everyone who has played a part in getting us to today – release day. Fly little book-bird!💕

Lamipofri: Named and Framed

Today I’m sharing a new form of poetry with you. It’s called a lamipofri. 

 

Framed:

heads alert
eyes watchful
they scent the moment,
hold pause –

then resume;

munching,
mooching,
……..mowing;

distant cattle
and a window into
my morning view.

Very rough draft © Kathryn Apel – all rights reserved.

 

By this point you are probably wondering; What is a lamipofri? It’s a poetry snapshot that’s quickly scribed, to give people an insight into the world around you at a given point in time – that point being the last minute as you’re scrambling for a Poetry Friday poem to post! Hence the name: LAst MInute of a POetry FRIday! The trick with the lamipofri is to pause, take a moment to look around and share that moment with others. But don’t take too long, or the moment will pass!

Next week, I’m hosting Poetry Friday right here! (You have no idea how many times I’ve scared myself, thinking the date has passed me by and I’ve missed it!) There will be no lamipofri next week! The really exciting news is that, between now and next Friday, I have a new picture book launching into the world, published by UQP, with vibrant, joyful illustrations by Renée Treml, and I am sooo looking forward to sharing more about that with you. For today, here is the cover, artwork by Renee and design by Jo Hunt.

Isn’t it glorious? Reason to smile, right there!

Almost 19 years after the first draft was penned, I will be as happy as a calf in rain, to share this with the world! (There is no rain in this book – but there is a calf, with a whole lot of sentiment attached!)

Thank-you to Karen at Karen Edmisten* for hosting us today. If anyone else is ever inspired to write a lamipofri, tag me in. (You’re not too late for today.😉)

Katrina Germein – Goodnight Poem

This week I’m sharing a pre-loved poetry treasure that I found in a local op shop. It’s one that was known to me, because it features my lovely friend, Katrina Germein. I had given a copy to my nieces many years ago – and now I have one for myself. Today I’m sharing Katrina’s poem in the collection, with illustrations by Katharine Lahn.

Goodnight

by Katrina Germein

Goodnight puzzle,
Goodnight chair,
Goodnight train set,
Goodnight bear.

Goodnight hammer,
Goodnight blocks,
Goodnight trousers,
Goodnight socks.

Goodnight bathtub,
Goodnight duck,
Goodnight turtle,
Goodnight truck.

Goodnight fingers,
Goodnight toes,
Goodnight tummy,
Goodnight nose.

Goodnight moonbeam,
Goodnight tree,
Goodnight stars …
and goodnight me.

(Shared with permission)

The book has since been rereleased in hardcover, with new cover and internal artwork by Doris Chang. You’ll find it on the Little Book Press site.

There’s nothing like a snippet of poetry to sing you gently into the weekend. Thanks Katrina, for letting me share, and Jone at Jone Rush MacCulloch, for hosting the Poetry Friday gathering this week. 

Poetry Swap – Thanks Robyn!

Thanks to Tabatha Yeatts‘ Seasonal Poetry Swap, this week I received a parcel in my letterbox from the lovely Robyn Hood Black. What a treat of poetry and gifts it was.

I loved Robyn’s poem, with the clever See Saw title. (It reminds me of a PB that released in Australia last year, ‘I See, I See‘ by Robert Henderson. Definitely worth clicking the link to see it! (I wouldn’t usually link to Amazon – but it has a sample of the inner pages.)) I soon saw that Robyn and I had thought alike when we approached our Poetry Swap this year. I think Margaret Simon is posting my poem to her today – so click across to her blog to see what I mean. (If you visited early, you’ll have blinked and missed it  but it’s there now.😹) AND find the round up for this week’s great Poetry Friday posts! (Thanks for hosting, Margaret!)

But first, enjoy this See Saw, up and down, north and south poem, with Robyn. (And me!🙃)

See Saw

by Robyn Hood Black.
(Shared with permission.)

Winter?

Summer.

Peanut Butter?

Vegemite.

Fiddle?

Didgeridoo.

White-tailed Deer?

Red Kangaroo.

Buddy?

Mate.

Poetry?

Poetry!

 

We speak the same language, Robyn!

I was also delighted by the goodies that Robyn gifted me. After last week’s post, you’re probably not surprised that the Issa translation that resonates best with me is;

first winter rain
the world fills up
with haiku

And I adore the cat bookmark that Robyn found. Complete with cat AND mouse! (And even three fishes.) Savvy Cat took his modelling commission very seriously.

fish and mice
hooked by the
purrrrfect book

Thank-you Robyn. Your poetry parcel was a joy!