Poetry Friday Round-up and Katch-up!

Have you every got so far behind in your blogging that you just don’t know how to get back on board?

That’s me. These past months. Months that have been so busy… with so much good stuff to blog about, and yet, so little time! I kept delaying… thinking I’d play catch-up – but the gathering momentum just made it harder and harder… until I was buried under overwhelm!

Fast forward to last weekend. When my calendar reminder popped up; HOST Poetry Friday. For a moment there I had dreadful panic, thinking that it was the Friday just passed! But fortunately it was not… It’s today! And you are here! 🙂 WELCOME!

This post isn’t a big catch-up post – though I do hope it starts the ball rolling. And if it doesn’t, I’m fine with that. But here are a couple of inter-related highlights that I thought you might enjoy…

Early August: Presenting in person at StoryArts Festival Ipswich with illustrator of ‘The Bird in the Herd’, Renee Treml. (Also chatting about possible future collaborations…🤫 ) This was so much fun – and having time to hang out with Renee for 5 days was awesome! Click the pic for more snaps. We only presented together on the Monday. All other sessions were individual – and a whole lot of awesome, too!

StoryArts Festival is a rather large festival that runs over 7 days, with about 30 kidlit creators in attendance – many staying onsite in a lovely old mansion. Think, school camp, for creatives! It was soooo much fun – and there are numerous posts on my Insta, to give you more of an idea… Presenting in a cellar was a highlight! (And yes, those bold sections are links to more pics and info on my Instagram page.🙃)

Viewing Tales and Trails, which was opened, coincidentally, while I was in Ipswich. Click the pic to read/see more of this on Instagram. I am totally in love with this project! Kudos to Ipswich Children’s Library. Yes, that is illustrator Janet Turner and I with our book, ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ (Photo credit Lyle Radford) which is now a walk-through garden installation at The Rail Workshop Museum – a gorgeous, rustic (and lush!) location! And yes, the text is in braille, too!  So amazing.

Both of my 2022 releases continue to be well received, and I have loved sharing them at author events. (Though these pictures don’t capture either of them!) You can read snippets of some fantabulous reviews under the relevant Books tabs; ‘What Snail Knows‘, and ‘Miss Understood‘. They make my heart sing!

More recently, I’ve been working on some picture books projects – and productivity has been high! This past week I’ve finished two rhyming picture books that are now polished and on submission. (They have been in progress for some months – hence the quick turnaround. It is not always like this!) The chance to chat with other creators – and with young readers (!) at recent author events was just the boost I needed to push both projects through to completion, and I am very excited about them both!

In amongst all this, I had my final two poetry swaps, generously organised by Tabatha Yeatts. Poetry swaps are the perfect excuse to play with words and creativity – for fun! I love them!

It’s been a delight watching Mary Lee Hahn embrace retirement, and her zest for many (and varied) pursuits. With ‘a stitch in time’ in mind, I settled on a nonet for Mary Lee, celebrating her rapidly developing embroidery skills.

Mandala artwork by Mary Lee Hahn. Poetry © Kathryn Apel.

In pure poetry, I received this stitched haiku from Mary Lee, in return.💙 I’m so very happy to fly the Aussie flag!

My poem for Donna came right down to the wire. But with Donna’s appreciation for floral photography, I decided to pick a little splash of colour – and then focused on the little things. I snuck in two…

What have you all been up to? Please, do share via the comments – and also via the Inlinkz party. I’m preparing to fall down a rabbit hole as I play catch-up, not just on this Poetry Friday round, but also skipping back through previous weeks, too! 

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Sunny Side Up – Opposite Friends

This morning I was surprised by joy in my inbox. Margaret Simon was my PoetrySwap giver for this first round (when I was giving to Margaret, in return!🙃) and her joyful praise poem brought sunshine and smiles into my week.

Thank-you so much for these beautiful, encouraging words, Margaret. Hugging this poem to my heart. And thank-you Tabatha, for once again gifting us poetry; a reason to write, and a joy to receive.

I also wanted to share the link to an Aussie poet who experienced international success this week. I have not read Peter Ramm’s work yet – but I will be hunting it down. I love the backstory to his success. (Until 2016, he had not written a poem since high school.) Click across and read; The small town with a big potato that inspired a global poetry win.

Poetry Friday this week is hosted byCatherine at Reading to the Core. Hoping you all have a fabulous weekend!

Rainy Day Poetry – And Good News!

In February, the Poetry Sisters wrote Exquisite Corpse poems – and invited us to take part. And I did – but never got around to posting! (Story of my life, this year.🤦‍♀️) But during my travels around the North Burnett recently, I brought the exquisite corpse into Poetry Pep-up sessions. They were a great warm-up/ice-breaker activity. We were taken by the way different punctuation can produce different results; and the variety of visual images the same words inspired amongst participants – which was inspiration in itself, for further poetry. Here are some related to rain, which was in abundance at the time. All of them could be punctuated differently – and I’m not even sure that this is my preferred punctuation. 🙂 (You may have other interpretations?)

Pitter like soft feathers; mist falls. Happy thunder. Slip-bright truck-water.

Plop! Like a scout’s whistle, slippery trees, wading; cold tanks … floods.

Swoosh. Trickle like a treat, constant river splash. Quickly shelter. Verandah.

Over. As heavy as golf balls, washy river rattling melancholy chimney-skipping.

A drip hits the tin roof like splattering stones. Sombre castle; puddling, pattering, umbrella splatter.

Wooosh! I jump like a kangaroo; joyous. Puddle-melting, slippery-cloud gumboots.

Swoosh. As heavy as rocks; dark rainbow, dancing, exploring spit-creeks.

Churning like butter; pelting, swirling cool rainbow.

Clear gumboots. Runny wet puddle-drop.

(I was wanting to encourage playful use of onomatopoeia and creative similes – which you will recognise as the start point for these poems.)

Thanks to Karen aKaren Edmisten* who is hosting Poetry Friday today. I’m sure it will be raining creativity!

Oh – but before I go, I must also share the surprising joy I had this week, with the inclusion of ‘Miss Understood’ on the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards Shortlist. I had not expected that delightful bit of news in the same month that it released! (But I’ll take it.💕🐺💕)

Celebrating Miss Understood – Arooooooo!

What a thrill it was to celebrate the release of Miss Understood in the North Burnett Region, including launch celebrations with kids and staff – and my parents, too – at St Joseph’s Catholic School in Gayndah.

I’ve been very excited for the arrival of this book, because I kind of figured it would be a fun read aloud – but even I hadn’t realised how much scope there was. If you get into character and let go of inhibitions, it is a howl! (Especially when kids get into character, too, and start to see things from the wolf’s perspective (that would be, Miss Understood’s) – or in some cases, remaining loyal to those little stinkers and their porkie-pies.

It’s so much fun reading this book to kids! Who am I kidding??!? I love reading this book to anyone!!!🤭 (My brother scored a reading in his workplace last week. Now he knows how I expect him to read it. And he’s been practising.😹)

I must commend Beau Wylie on his choice of outfit for Miss Understood. She has great taste – and I rather like to emulate her!🐺 The touch of pink in both my 2022 books was also a gift and dressing for author events has been a delight.💕

🐺 Megan Daley (YKNR Podcast): I really, really enjoyed ‘Miss Understood’. It’s a fractured fairytale. It’s poetry. It’s full of puns. It’s got this wonderful beat and rhythm to it. It’s fantastic. A really, really clever little book.

🐺 What’s the Story Rory (Reading with a Chance of Tacos podcast): ‘I judged the book by its cover and I automatically knew I was going to love it – and the cover really lived up to the story… Really clever rhyme. Beautiful illustrations. Absolute joy to read… A brilliant book.’

Incidentally, it was also great to share The Bird in the Herd in an area where so many kids knew what a drover was! Prior to this, in the 14months since release day, during visits to schools and libraries in country and city locations, I have had one child who knew about drovers. (Yet every child can tell you about cowboys! And we don’t even HAVE cowboys in Australia. Aside from football teams.) Drovers are such an important part of our Australian heritage – and are still in operation today. (And not just in the North Burnett.) Yet Australian kids know more about their American counterparts.🤦‍♀️ This is why Australian kids need Australian farming stories!

I am for sure looking forward to more author events in the near future – and sharing Miss Understood with kids of all ages and sizes. Though there will always be something special about that reading at St Joseph’s, with my parents in the room. Dad was a pig farmer, so we grew up surrounded by pigs, their smells – and the puns! (There were even three kids in our family.🐷🐷🐷) Though I cannot recommend pigs in wedding photos…

Poetry Friday this week is with the lovely Linda at A Word Edgewise. Correct me if I’m wrong, Linda – but I am pretty sure that Miss Understood was one of those stories we shared at your dining room table… 

Photo credits (and thanks) to St Joseph’s, North Burnett News, and staff at North Burnett Regional Council libraries. Photos shared with permission.

Busy in Brissy

Today’s blog post is coming to you from Busy-Brissy, where I have been loving the chance to connect with readers of all ages – and writing buddies, too. (Though I’ve also missed catching up with a couple, thanks Covid.😿)

Thank-you St Johns Year 7, and St Peters Yr 5 for the warm welcome and wonderful interactions with staff and students. (The snails and I appreciated it!)

At St Peters, every child had read at least one of my verse novels. (And some kids had read three!) Any author event is special, and I love that there are always standout moments in each session – but when kids have read so many of your works, they really understand how you tick… and their questions – their thirst for information! – reflect that. I started the session asking them what they like about verse novels… and they gushed wisdom. I wish I could recall word-for-word the beautiful ways they expressed their appreciation. I can’t. One gem; ‘I love how your words make pictures. You make me feel like I’ve stepped into the story.’ Their insights have filled my cup and reignited my passion.

 

Gems of Wisdom
(Inspired by students)

shape poetry
and imagery
draw readers
into the story

less words
all story

eyes follow
words;
placement places
(and paces)
readers
on the page

can’t miss

the feelings

Draft © Kathryn Apel

Following the third session on my second day, someone commented that I must be exhausted – but I was not! I was energised. I love the chance to share a passion for poetry with kids. (And I’m rather delighted that kids are as fascinated as I am, by snails.)

It was wonderful to meet the librarian who has written the (excellent!) Teachers’ Notes for my UQP books, Christina Wheeler. I’ve always said that if I was the teacher, using my books in the classroom, I would do exactly what Christina has done with my books in the Teachers’ Notes. (I just didn’t know it was Christina until recently.🙃)

And then it was just a hop, skip and jump to meet my publisher Clair Hume and publicist, Jean at UQP. (Wish we’d grabbed a pic, too!)

As if that wasn’t ticking enough boxes, I then got to follow it all up with cuppa and cake with one of my faves, the darling of Brisbane, Samantha Wheeler.

On Saturday, I start school holiday sessions with Brisbane Libraries, including; Toowong, Garden City, Ashgrove, Carindale, Holland Park, Mt Ommaney, Brisbane Square & West End. (Also Helensvale on the Gold Coast.) Bookings are essential, through relevant libraries, and sessions vary – so check to see what is offered, if you live in Brisbane. (Saturday session; Toowong (PB reading/farm themes) and Garden City (teens poetry workshop).

Aside from all this wonderful creative cup-filling, I have been filling my car with prayers (and thanksgiving) as I navigate city traffic in my beautiful little blue Rav. (I cannot tell you how many hours I have stressed this, over recent months!)

Staying Car-lm

Car navigation system
as clear as the confusion
of criss-crossing
carriageways.

Recalculating…

Heidi at my juicy little universe is hosting the Poetry Friday community this week. I look forward to popping in and out during my travels over the coming week – though I may not get to comment much, sorry. I will be on the hop – in that little blue Rav.💙 Stay safe!

Poetry Friday Round-up – Release Week

I cannot believe it is the first week in March already – and yet, here we are, with storms and floods ravaging large areas on the south-east coast of Australia and Ukraine digging deep to show incredible fortitude in the face of aggression. My heart has been heavy. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)

And in amongst this turbulence, What Snail Knows slipped quietly into Australian bookshops – followed by beautiful, detailed reviews and so much love. I hadn’t expected such a response – and I am incredibly thankful for those who have taken the time to share. Here’s a little snippet from some of them. (Click the reviewer’s name to read each review in its entirety.) 

💗 Kim Yeoman: I am in awe once again of Kathryn Apel’s skill in weaving together similes, metaphors, alliteration, imagery, rhyme and shape poetry with compassion and creativity to tell Lucy’s story.

💗 Lamont: Lucy is a character that you will fall in love with from the start. This story will be thoroughly enjoyed by junior to middle primary level readers.

💗 Sandy Bigna: This beautifully constructed verse novel for younger readers gently illuminates themes of loneliness, belonging, kindness, friendship and family. It will both break your heart and make you smile. Highly recommended for your 7+ reader.

💗 Barbara Braxton: A most poignant verse novel… a potent story of loneliness, friendship, acceptance, and building and connecting with community.

Mandy Foots light pencil artwork bring Snail and Lucy to life.

To coincide with release week, I was interviewed on the Australian Alphabet Soup blog, so if you’re intrigued about the answer to any of these questions, click the pic to read more.

Australian readers can also leave a comment on UQP’s Facebook or Instagram giveaway posts for your chance to win a copy of the book.

And don’t forget to leave your links below, for the Poetry Friday round-up.

I’m looking forward to catching you all on the rounds.

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Tickled Pink! (Pantone 212)

My goodness. The last few weeks have been rather a fizz of festivity. So many lovely things happening. Advance readers’ copies of ‘What Snail Knows’ have snuck out in the snail mail… And people are starting to say beautiful things. The first two reviewers ‘devoured’ it. (Which sort-of surprised me, since it is a gentle story. Surprised, but delighted me.)

💗 Allayne Webster; Just devoured this beautiful junior fiction…And oh my heartstrings.

💗 Megan Daley; ‘What Snail Knows’ is verse novel greatness and is full of such heart and soul that I had to devour it in one sitting.

💗 It scored a 5⭐️ review from Momo; ‘there is a raw emotional edge to this book. Your heart will break for Lucy but it will soar when you read about the kindness she encounters … This book is a perfect package.’

💗 Mr7 from @cec_loves_to_read, when asked if he liked it; ‘Yes, it was really good, I liked it, quite a lot actually, it was very good.’ His mum had some lovely things to say, too, including; ‘Highly, highly recommended.’

Is it possible for a heart to burst with too much happiness? Because there was more! This week we shared the cover for my upcoming picture book, Miss Understood.

This will be my first book published with Scholastic – who was the first publisher I submitted to… 20 years ago!

Reading the manuscript with Beau Wylie’s pencil illustrations had me laughing out loud the first time I saw them. I love his use of perspective. It’s a little outrageous and just perfect!

And then they added text to the pages… Oh my.

Tweaking and perfecting this book with the lovely Beck Young and Hannah Janzen (book designer) was such fun. The book is going to look a treat! (I have endpaper love.😻)

I am all the anticipation!

And look how pretty they look, side-by-side.💕

Laura Purdie Salas is hosting the Poetry Fridays Round-up at Small Reads for Brighter Days. Laura too is sharing new book joy. (Yay!) Pop across and read for yourself.

Wonder (of wonders, I am here!)

I’m becoming reacquainted with my computer after a break through the Christmas/New Year period. There are so many things I could post – but I just can’t yet pull those thoughts together, so for today, I’m keeping it simple with a poem (right) inspired by a moment of wonder I experienced this week.

My last post mentioned snail eggs. Well – I have since hatched four clutches of snails! But the tiny snails that hatched this week were a complete surprise – and so small, they almost escaped notice! There aren’t many – but I spotted T2 busily laying more eggs today…

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There are more bubba snail pictures on my Instagram page – and lots of other things, too, actually. 🙂 (I’m still basking in the beauty of yesterday’s sunset.) Click the montage to go directly and you’ll see I didn’t completely fall off the face of the earth, even though my blog was quiet.

And there are more poems on the Poetry Friday round-up, which you’ll find (with a jewel of a pomegranate poem) at https://ayearofreading.org.

Thanks Mary Lee for hosting the Poetry Friday crew this week. I made it! (Just…)

So Much Happening!

The past weeks have been huge here. Life has been huge – so many emotions. Including the overwhelming joy and wonder of rain! (That happened last Friday – and I am still rejoicing.)

watercolour landscape;
a new canvas
reflects the sky

© Kathryn Apel – All rights reserved

During all that, I’ve been super-busy with final page proofs for my upcoming verse novel 🐌 – and cover design, internal spreads, and final pages for my next picture book🐺, releasing May 2022. What a (busy!) joy it has been to be bouncing between two such very different books. One sweet, gentle, heartfelt free verse. The other a jaunty rhyming picture book with humour and heart. (There will be a cover reveal coming soon for the picture book! Cannot wait to share it with you.) I’m thankful for all the wonderful people I get to work with in publishing, (or who work behind the scenes bringing their skills and passion to the project) and for the friendships I have developed. I truly am blessed and love this writing life!

You are all familiar with my pet snails – that I’ve had for more than 8 months now. I got them during the first week of edits for ‘What Snail Knows’. Which is why one of them is called Snail – for Lucy’s Snail in the book. (I was looking at pics today and am rather gobsmacked by how much Snail and T1 have grown in that time!) This week, on the day I sent my last little tweaks for Final Pages… this ⬇️⬇️⬇️ happened!

And I am all amazement!

Snail eggs! Baby snails are coming… 😮 Snail’s baby snails! 😲 I will keep you posted!!

To cap off a very busy week of all the feelings… Many, many years ago I wrote a poem for a class of Superkids. There have been soooo many Superkids since that time, but how lovely to see that the poem is still powering on! Click the pic below to watch the video.

My post is late – because… busy week!😜 But not too late to link into the Poetry Friday round-up, hosted by Michelle at Michelle Kogan. And not too late to squeeze one more thing into the busyness. I’ve a book event tomorrow morning, at the new Bundaberg Book Boutique! Hoping to see lots of Bundaberg kids there for a reading of ‘The Bird in the Herd’, and activities.

Have a great weekend, whatever you are doing!