An Eye for Beauty

This month Michelle Heidenrich Barnes has the spotlight on Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group.

Poetry and lyrical language can help to take a nonfiction topic that might not be inherently interesting to certain kids (or adults) and offer them new ways to understand and appreciate it.

I recommend you skip across for a read, because it’s in-depth, insightful and inspiring. Thank-you so much to Michelle and Carol for sharing.

The challenge for the month on Today’s Little Ditty (as a result of that post) is; write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

© Kathryn Apel – All rights reserved.

After the rain the summer night rings with a cacophonous chorus of courting creatures – but it was only recently that I learnt that the particularly mellow/melodic burble that both delights and drives me a little crazy (keeping me wired when I’m trying to relax into sleep…) is … the invasive cane toad! And who knew, until peeping at this pic, that toads have such a jewel of an eye? An eye for beauty? In the eye of the beholder?

I also didn’t know, until recently, that America shares Australia’s problem with the cane toad, following it’s introduction (there too) for control of cane beetles. And here I thought we were alone in that silly mistake.

Jane the Raincity Librarian will be singing her own sweet songs this week, hosting the Poetry Friday round-up and celebrating the recent release of her picture book, ‘Wild One’.

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Singing in the Rain

Water reaches to the canopy of a large gum tree – in our paddock! #notariver

After being inundated with rain (we had 18 1/2 inches – almost 500mm – in 3 days) and being unexpectedly flood-bound (but not flooded!) – my week disappeared in a gush!

But I’m singing in the rain today (err… it’s actually fine and sunny…) because – what a shock! – my name and my words are currently up on billboards around Brisbane, with thanks to @qldwriters. I never ever dreamt of that happening!  (For my overseas #PoetryFriday peeps, Brisbane is the capital of my home state, Queensland.)

I’m a long way from Brisbane, so can’t see any in real life, but (YaY!) they have goacam – so I can see it, in real time! (You can too, at; http://www.goacam.com.) Below are some screenshots I’ve snapped. I’d LOVE to see any pics that folks living in Brisbane might happen to catch!

Proof that no writing is ever wasted – my #8wordstory is a reworked haiku from my first ever Month of Poetry – which was in fact a Month of Haiku.

Leigh Ann at A Day in the Life is collecting the #PoetryFriday links for today. I’m sure there will be a flood of good stuff to have you singing like a frog! 🐸

 

 

Writing on the Rocks

The last month, I’ve been alternating between polishing (and submitting) picture books, and writing poetry. I’m busily at work on my Antarctic historical verse novel – trying new poetic forms and realising all over again how beneficial poetry is for writing. Truly seriously, if you are a principal, literacy coach, or classroom teacher (if you value writing muscle and creativity), you NEED poetry in your classrooms. Regularly! I know I say it often – but after an extended period of time fashioning facts into strict poetic forms I’m going to say it again – nothing builds writing muscle better than poetry. Nothing sparks creativity, wordplay and experimentation with literary devices better than poetry. It’s a challenge. It’s invigorating and rewarding. It’s valuable. It’s FUN!

Why aren’t we encouraging and enabling more kids to write more poetry?

Why do we clutter their curriculum with so many persuasives that kids can’t even be persuaded to want to WRITE!?  Everything feels so prescribed. Actually, I had a little rant about something similar on Twitter last week. So maybe I should just combine the two, and do the job properly! In the hope that someone who writes curriculum might one day stumble on my blog, I’m just going to include a couple of the tweets here…

To illustrate my point, about the muscle, creativity and economy of poetry, I’ll include a little snippet from my Antarctic WIP. And a picture. From Antarctica… (Any excuse to revisit Antarctica!!)

The poem is a tetractys, (or in this case, a double tetractys) and follows a specific syllable count.

Line 1 – 1 syllable
Line 2 – 2 syllables
Line 3 – 3 syllables
Line 4 – 4 syllables
Line 5 – 10 syllables

The double tetractys reverses the syllable count in the second half. A tetractys  can rhyme. Often mine do – but in this one I was focused on the facts and wordplay. And so many details! (Read more about the tetractys.)

The process. Early versions of a tetractys draft – though I know there were many other combinations that don’t seem to be in my document. #Ooops  There are ERRORS in the above, btw. Can you spot them?

The portion of text that shaped the poem.

Current version (after three days of tweaks) – which I can’t guarantee won’t change… but I’m feeling pretty chuffed with!

Dark
hill slope,
blinding snow,
slick, too-smooth ice,
frozen obstacle course and push-pull squalls.
Do not snuff the lantern! Record results.
Face and fingers
frostbitten;
wind has
teeth.

Tetractys © Kathryn Apel 2017 – All rights reserved

Different bay, different season, different era, different character, but… Antarctica! (So that’s okay – right?) #breakingalltherules

There are so many different forms of poetry – something for every reader, writer and situation. Some forms have ‘rules’, like the tetractys, while others offer freedom. Poetry is a wealth of creativity just waiting to be unleashed!

Irene will help you Live Your Poem (Yay!) as she collects the links for the #PoetryFriday round-up today. Thanks, Irene. Whether you’re a reader, a writer, an educator or a student, (anyone, really) I’m sure you’ll find good stuff there!

Text As Art Takes to the Streets

The big and exciting news is that Text as Art, produced by Creative Regions, went live last weekend (right before Bundaberg was inundated with over 300mm of rain in 24hrs for the wettest October on record – in just one day!) Fortunately, the artworks survived – and look fantabulous!! I took 120 photos in my wandering mid-week – but of course I can’t show them all, here. (Or anywhere, for that matter.) But I will share some. There is also the conundrum – how best to showcase the project – yet leave it so that there is more to uncover for those who can visit in person. ALSO (big part of it) there is the fact that, when I started to do a collage for each of the collaborations, it took forAGES! So – you just get this. And if you want to see more, (or bigger pics) check out #textasart on Instagram – or my kat.apel insta-page. Meanwhile, I give you … this little piggy!

And a little glimpse at the full collection… that does not do it justice. 😦 (You would need the words, for a start…)

The ephemeral artwork will be on display until 16th October. A huge congratulations to Trudie Leigo (project curator) and all the talented writers and artitsts (listed below – writer, then artist) involved in the project. I wish I could showcase every aspect of your wonderful word/ks – and the stories behind the inspirations. It has been such fun to be involved with this projects – which has certainly enhanced our city’s streets, and exceeded any expectations I had. Job very well done!

1. National Australia Bank – Kat Apel & Adrienne Williams
2. School of Arts – Lonnie Toy & Marlies Oakley
3. Brick wall adjacent to School of Arts/driveway – Sam Ephraims & Jay Feather
4. Bundaberg Regional Council – Jake Thompson & Taylor Klassen
5. Bundaberg Regional Council/Civic Centre fronting Buss Park – Jo Williams & Judith Bohm-Parr
6. Tree located in nature strip between Buss Park & Moncrieff – Jassy Watson & Lynda Vertigan
7. Burnett Mary Regional Group – Annette Tyson & Paul Perry
8. Moncrieff Entertainment Centre – Wendy Davis & Michelle Pacey
9. Civic Arcade floor (157 Bourbong St) – Cheryl Ratcliffe & Jeremy Kiraly
10. Telstra Exchange – Jenny Gilbertson & Julie Hylands

This weekend I’m attending a workshop on Transmedia Storytelling, at Bundaberg WriteFest (another Crush Festival event) and I’m a part of the Writing in the Regions panel. The Crush Festival activities continue next week, a highlight being the Great Gelato Groove, where there will be words… and gelato at Allowishus (So Delicious!) … which basically means that you’re all so jealous! Yes? 😉

Violet at Violet Nesdoly | Poems has our PoetryFriday round-up this week. My little corner of the world has been blessed by rain, words, art and joy, but it has been another horrific week in America, and that will surely shape a lot of blog posts this round. I know I am not alone in my incomprehension. Not just from the unspeakable act itself, but the very fact that after all these too-oft repeated events, the laws don’t change. I just can’t…

I would not buy
my boys
toy guns;
point
and shoot
is not a game;
life is not
to be toyed with.

© Kathryn Apel

 I cannot leave this post there, so I’ll share this old friend, with a new voice, that appeared in my tweet-stream yesterday, courtesy of Martha Mihalick.

Peace.

My Shadow – and A Rock

I recently borrowed ‘My Shadow’ from the library – a picture book version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem that I adored as a child. (Anyone else?) For some reason, it was very hard to find the illustrator’s name (?) but I finally did – low on the back cover. Robert Louis Stevenson (who was credited on front cover and title page, as well as back cover) did such a splendid job on the poem, so many years ago – but Sara Sanchez did a fabulous job illustrating it!

I especially love what Sara Sanchez did with the so-tricky last page. 🙂

This blog is a quick shoutout to Sara Sanchez! And of course, the master, Robert Louis Stevenson.

My Shadow

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.
The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
Read more at PoetryFoundation

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Day 251

Watch Day 251 of 365 Days of Reading (video version).

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Laura is hosting Poetry Friday this week. And what a thrill I had recently when I was walking through my small-town library and discovered this!

What a gorgeous book! Who knew the humble rock could be so many things? Personally, I love the food grinder. 🙂 I’m so thrilled that someone on the other side of the world threw a rock … and it landed in my library. Just perfect.

Needless to say, I love my local libraries! (Yes – I love them so much, I have multiple. :P) Happy Poetry Friday!

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Abecedarian – Tree to be…

Each month, Michelle puts out a poetry challenge on Today’s Little Ditty. And this month was no exception. Write an Abecedarian poem, which is an acrostic-type poem working through the alphabet – in alphabetical order.

Usually life is so busy, the month has whisked past before I get to try the challenge – but this month, I was prepared! Perhaps I cheated – because in truth, this one was all-but written. 🙂

Abecedarian: Abby & Callan – Tree to Be…

Abby sprawled on the bed,
as thoughts wafted adrift in her head,
bemused at how she would fill her day
bereft of friends. Some holiday!
Callan slouched through the door –
slumped on the floor.
‘D’ya think they’d let us
drive the ol’ dunger – get us
escape from nowhere,
even if it’s just around … here and there?’
‘Forget it,’ Abby groaned,
‘Fat chance of anything fun,’ she moaned.
‘Grandma’s house is so boring, and she
gets all uptight and uppity.
How she imagines we’re going to get hurt –
her hovering ever alert …
It’s driving me insane!
I’d rather live and bear the pain.’
‘Just for another two days, Abbs. No
jape. Things’ll settle when we’re home, you know.’
‘Kinda too late by then,’ Abby said –
Kicking the end of her bed.
‘Lucky us. Let loose right in time for school.
Like that’s so cool.’
Memory tickled and Abby stilled …
‘Maybe I’ve got an idea,’ she whispered, thrilled.
‘Never say,’ Callan praised,
nudging his sis, eyebrows raised
‘Out with it. What’s
on your mind. I hope you’ve got lots
planned because I’m in!’
Possibilities were explored therein.
Quiet voices.
Quick words exploring choices.
Rather than risk being busted they
relocated outside. ‘What do you say?’
‘So long as no-one gets hurt
something tells me they won’t kick up dirt.’
They wandered along the dusty track,
talking it all out, before heading back.
Under the old fig tree, Callan paused, peered
up, inspecting thickly muscled branches that disappeared …
Vaulting into the canopy, Callan looked down from his
vantage point. ‘C’mon up, Abby. This is
what we’ve been imagining, only better by far!’
‘Wait for me,’ Abby grunted, scrambling up, ‘Ah,’
Excitement was thick. ‘Don’t slip!’ Callan warned, ‘Or you’ll be
X-rayed and in a cast so fast – and pity help me!’
‘You see if you can stop me now,
Yes, I’m free as a bird on a bough.’
‘Zilch can touch us,’ Callan smiled, ‘This is our
zone. Tree to be… The fun starts now!’

© Kathryn Apel – All rights reserved.

Tree to be…

Needless to say, I’ve taken the Abecedarian and tweaked the form to suit me – so there’s two lines for each letter, and a touch of rhyme.

The poem itself was not inspired by my life – other than that leafy escape ending. There was a tree at my Grandparents’ – and Grandma would have had fits if she knew how some of us (not me!) balanced along branches and onto the roof of the house. For me, it was enough to be clinging like a limpet, inching my way across to the concrete tank… a favourite spot with the cousins when we were all fortunate enough to be there together. (I had the best cousins!)

My boys had the old fig tree down the track in our house paddock, that featured in an earlier ‘Tree to be…‘ post – along with their WIP treehouse.

The tree pictured in today’s post is one of the locations for the Text As Art project I’m involved with, for the upcoming Crush Festival. It’s found in the main street of Bundaberg – but with careful angling, all things city could be concealed. 😛

Amy is hosting Poetry Friday this week at The Poem Farm, where you’ll find links to all sorts of poetry goodness. Thanks for hosting, Amy. And congratulations on your new book, ‘READ! READ! READ!’. It’s school holidays here in Queensland – the perfect time to climb trees… and READ!

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Calling Home – Calling Memories

Adrienne Williams is an artist in the Bundaberg-region who I met recently through my involvement in the Text as Art project –  a part of WriteFest and the 2017 Crush Festival. Adrienne is in fact going to be creating the art from a portion of the text I have written – but that’s another story! (Click on the links if you’re wanting to know more.)

The framed artwork above Adrienne is three-dimensional, with intricate paper cutouts. Exquisite!

Adrienne’s collection, ‘Calling Home‘ is currently on display at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery (BRAG), accompanied by Andy Wilson’s soundscape. ‘The Vault’, is the perfect space for this immersive, surround-sound visual feast. Stunning!

Enter another world…

Enter ‘The Vault’ and you will experience a soundscape of the Subantarctic, including penguins (cue the memories!) skuas, seals and other native wildlife, and art of different sizes and dimensions, inspired by the penguins (individually and collectively) and the megaherbs of the Subantarctic region. There is so much to take in, and the grey-scale pallet is perfect – as are the select 3D pieces, with intricate cut-work.

Elephant seal greeting. You too can sit with the seals.

There are also seals! Yes – large as life real-deal elephant seal beanbags that you can nestle into, kick back and absorb the experience.

BRAG is running ‘Get Inked‘ – a kids’ holiday workshop with Adrienne, on 21st September. (Bookings are essential.)  But meantime, I thought a little bit of poetry might be nice… Adrienne’s penguins were just crying out for some shape poetry wordplay.

Calling home: no cable, data, or credit needed.

I had so much fun with these! They’re inspired by the image in the background of Adrienne’s photos, above. A modified version may even work its way into one of two projects I’m working on at the moment… which is a lovely little bonus! (They were just the impetus I needed to dive back into my Antarctic verse novel. Yay!)

I’m a little kicking-self here, because Michelle Barnes is hosting Poetry Friday this week, and I’d have loved to post my Abecedarian poem, since that’s the challenge she’s running on Today’s Little Ditty this month – but I really wanted to get Adrienne’s post in  today, before her workshop – so… no Abecedarian this week. I’ll have that here for you next week.

Meanwhile, Bundy peeps, you have until 22 October to get into the Art Gallery and be transported to the Subantarctic. Don’t miss this opportunity!

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Going Places With Books

It’s Book Week in Australia. A celebration of children’s books and children INTO books, as we ‘Escape to Everywhere’. Here are some things that had me smiling this week.

Bundaberg Library kicked of Book Week with a hugely popular celebration of books. Wonderful to see parents engaging with their kids in the rich and creative activities. Kudos to Bundaberg Library staff and volunteers!

I was Quiz Master at the Inaugural Year 9/10 Readers Cup event, hosted by Gin Gin High School. Mrs Glenda George did a great job instigating and organising this. Congratulations to James Nash High School, Gympie, who took home the medallions. Winners were grinners – so that means all teams were winners! #smilesallround

The quickest of quick lunchtime poetry workshops (20mins) – was met with much enthusiasm – and wonderful results!

Enjoyed a morning of reading and book talk with kids at Coral Coast Christian School. Spot-on observations about bullying and friendships – and the importance of kind words. Lovely kids and staff.

Talked poetry with kids at Clermont State School via Blackboard online. Technology is a great thing – though truth be told, I much prefer engaging with kids face-to-face to gauge their reactions and understanding. But this was a wonderful way to make a poetry assessment task *real* for kids, as we analysed some of my poems, identifying purpose, audience and literary devices employed. Great bunch of kids – and teachers!

Received a letter from a book character – in REAL LIFE! I was delighted to hear from Tahnee-in-Year-Two (like Tahnee in Too Many Friends) from Western Australia – and her Mum and Dad! Thanks to a ‘darling’ teacher for connecting us.

So of course I had to send some friends to Tahnee-in-Year-Two; a friend charm, a shape poem, and a template to write her own – and one for a friend, of course!

Met with my Text as Art buddy, Adrienne Williams, to chat about possibilities for our collaborative art installation as part of Crush Festival/Write Fest 2017. (Loving the retro gallery walls in our pic.) The #TextAsArt project will be on display in the Bundaberg city precinct, Bourbong St, for the first two weeks in October. Yay!

I’m sure I’ve missed something – but I’ve probably consumed enough of your time (and megs!) already. Hoping that you’ve enjoyed a snippet of my week and my world – and even caught a glimpse or two of my words. The week of wonderful will close on Saturday, with Let’s Go ‘Boating’ Under the Bridge, a free community event which promises to be interactive, imaginative and a whole lot of fun, inspired by the book, ‘Who Sank the Boat’, by Pamela Allen. More information at widebaykids.com.au. If you live anywhere near Bundaberg, you should be there!

How wonderful to celebrate a love of books and story with others. And a love of poetry! It’s Poetry Friday worldwide, and Jone’s collecting links so Check It Out! (Thanks, Jone.) Next week it’s my turn to host the #PoetryFriday round-up. Eeeep! Guess I’d better make sure I get that linky thing working – and hope to see you here, then! 🙂

I knew I would forget something… and I did! How could I forget this exciting news?!

I’m thrilled to share that I’ve been awarded a May Gibbs Literature Trust Creative Time Fellowship in 2018 – to spend 1 month in Adelaide working on some poetry projects. Sooooo excited about this! I’ll be sneaking in just before the winter freeze. (I hope!!) Huge thank-you to the MGLT for their faith in my projects.

Mr Ferris Wheel – National Science Week

Inspired by National Science Week, I’m sharing a found poem, taken from the picture book, ‘Mr Ferris and His Wheel’ – a book that I borrowed as much for my late-teenaged sons as for myself. They’re both so busy with studies at the moment that a picture book is about all they have time for! (And we have always loved a good scientific picture book.)

“Before TV and the internet, people from around the globe gathered at World’s Fairs to share their different ways of life and new technologies.”

What grand events the World’s Fairs must have been! It made me a little envious of the days…

Mr Ferris Wheel

World’s Fair;
America to impress 
              the world.

Mechanical engineer
George Ferris
had 
      an idea
           a dazzle
                 an invention.


Construction chief:
                    “It would collapse.”

George:
        “You are an architect, sir.
        I am an engineer.”


        Dynamite.
Quicksand.
        Digging.
Solid ground
deep into the earth.


Trains chugged 100,000 parts.

Monster wheel had to spin;
elegant passenger cars
the size of a living room.

Two thousand tons of steel

                            up, up, UP.

Glimpses of faraway states!

Perfect escape was
                      fifty cents.

                Magical.

             Ferris Wheel.

This was a fascinating read into the skepticism that surrounded the birth of the Ferris wheel. And the success anyway! Without any financial assistance from fair organisers (convinced of its failure, but finding no better alternatives) and bankers (who ‘laughed him into the street’), 34 year-old George Ferris used his own savings, and with the support of a few wealthy investors, financed the monstrosity himself.

IMG_7648.jpg

I could share all sorts of interesting snippets with you, but where would I start… and where would I finish!? Instead I will say that you should just read the book yourself! And absorb the varied coloured pallets of the illustrations, that take you back to another time and magical place…

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My son’s favourite line of the book?

 “You are an architect, sir. I am an engineer.”

(There may be some bias in son’s preference. 😉 )

I have missed (in more ways than one!) Poetry Friday for some weeks now. It’s good to be back and posting! I’ll be checking out the links shared on Kay’s blog; http://kaymcgriff.edublogs.org. You can too!

TItile: Mr Ferris and His Wheel
Author: Kathryn Gibbs Davis
Illustrator: Gilbert Ford
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 978-0-547-95922-1

PS  Did I mention that I’m scared of heights? The slow and steady, creaky-freaky Ferris wheel is my least-favourite ride of the Show!

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Bookings Open – 2018

Poetry inspires creativity and builds writing muscles that flex across all curriculum areas and genres. A passionate and diverse poet and children’s author, I have an ever-increasing bag of tricks to share with your staff and students – primary and secondary. If your school is considering an author visit, register your interest below.

Student poetry workshops involve fun activities that enable wordplay – and success for all students.

Staff poetry workshop equip teachers with easy take-away activities to use in their classrooms – across curriculum areas and grades.

A Celebration of Friends incorporates activities inspired by ‘Too Many Friends’, blending DIY toys with creative wordplay. Make a palm snake, create a paper chain of poetry friends, power a plane with words, or create a triple twirl word swirl.

During author talks, I share what inspired and shaped my stories, and how I turn reality into fiction. Content varies dependent on the age group, touching on topics of bullying, friendship, sibling rivalry, sporting excellence, identity, self-worth, rural living, a glimpse at Antarctica, and creative things kids can do without a TV!

As a trained teacher and former literacy co-ordinator, working in a P-10 context, I am familiar with the demands of the Australian Curriculum, and the NAPLAN Reading and Writing assessment tasks. My goal is to engage students to play with words and be creative!

I have five days available in Brisbane, February 12 – 17, 2018. ASA Rates for Author Visits are set to rise for 2018 – so book before December 2017 to secure your visit at current prices.

Complete the form below to to express your interest, and inspire your staff and students in the new school year. Other enquiries also welcome. 

More information: Author Talks

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