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.

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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. 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 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. Travel and accommodation costs are massively reduced! Enquire below to secure your place, and inspire your staff and students in the new school year. Other enquiries also welcome.

More information: Author Talks

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Horsepower

Kicking off Text As Art

It’s Friday. Time for some poetry love – though I do hope you can love poetry every day of the week!

Today I’m sharing a solage – (and a rush of memories) and two snippets of news.

First the news… I was thrilled to hear that my poem ‘Big Blue Whale‘ is being used in a 7th Grade English second language text book, with Norwegian publisher Gyldendal Undervisning. Can’t wait to see it in its new print home! And exciting to have my first poem published in Norway. I’ll share pics when I see it! Until then, Yay! 

And… I’m also excited to be involved with Bundaberg Creative Regions’ Text As Art project, running throughout August (writing) and September (creating), for an October installation and 2-week display. Watch this space for more information, because I can all-but guarantee that I will be writing…. poetry! #anditwillbeFUN 🙂

Now, the poetry; a solage.

And doesn’t nostalgia bubble with that photo! So many beloved people – in a pic taken well before I knew them. And the house where I grew up in in the background (where my parents still live) and the tree that dripped sparkly green/silver/pink shimmer-berries with a distinctive aroma that I am smelling as I type this post. (Don’t ask me what it’s called because I couldn’t tell you – and the tree is long gone.)

The little ‘hut’ behind that tree was the cream room, where (full) cream cans were stored, stirred twice a day, and collected every 2 or 3 days for delivery to the butter factory. Not refrigerated, but cool (still is!) with strategic windows and thick, lined walls for insulation. (It has since been a chook pen and bird aviary – and now houses gardening tools, etc.)

The above photo features my dad, and aunt and uncles, and three of their Melbourne cousins. I love it! But an even older treasure is the photo below, which features my twinkle-eyed, larrikin Grandan and his siblings, minus his youngest brother. (I so wish he was in this pic, too!)

That sweet little girl in the middle, is the mother of the cousins of the first pic. She also was born in the same house, and bred on the same farm… and came back often to visit during my years growing up, always climbing ‘The Rocks’ on the hill behind our house, to look down on the vista of the farm and neighbourhood. You can spy her in the pic below, making the trek at the age of 95. This much-loved lady turned 100 earlier this month.

FYI: There are no photos of my siblings and I lined up like cylinders in a car engine, astride a horse. Fortunately, necessity didn’t involve ‘horse’power for our trip to school, because whilst I was (until the age of 18 ) frequently required to muster, or mind cattle on the road, this grazier’s wife who’s scared of cows is also scared of … horses! (Particularly when my brother was involved.)

Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Katie at The Logonauts. Thanks, Katie. Meanwhile, I’m still smiling at all the macaroni cheese poems that surfaced last week – annatto and all! Who knows what treasures you’ll discover on the Poetry Friday rounds this week.

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Hairy Huntsman Spider – Repost

This week I’m cheating and linking back to one of my earlier bush poetry posts. I don’t feel like I’m cheating readers though, because Hairy Huntsman Spider is one of my better bush poems – and overseas readers will get a glimpse of an iconic Australian creature. And there are pictures. Big, scary pics… (Well – there was last time I looked – but it’s not a page I’m ever keen to revisit because #worstfear so I’m just going to assume they’re still there.)

But first… Don’t forget to visit Diane at Random Noodling for the full Poetry Friday round-up – where you are more likely to discover curiosities, than creepy-crawlies.

And without further ado, I’ll link you across to Hairy Huntsman Spider!

Click the postcard to read the full poem. (Beware. Bigger, scarier spider pictures in the linked post. This one’s a baby.)

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The Bowerbird – a poem

I was scrolling through the Instagram feed yesterday when this brightly colourful post by imagination.mama caught my eye;

Cue the memories! Because I might know a think about that… In fact, I may have even written a poem or two when my boys were in preschool.

For my international Poetry Friday friends, bowerbirds are endemic to Australia and Papua New Guinea. There are a number of varieties, but I’ll link you to Graeme Chapman‘s page of photos – where you can see pics of the male Satin Bowerbird and his collection of blue treasures. And David Attenborough’s BBC video, showing the elaborate bower created. (It’s astonishing!)

A lot of years have passed since that poem was written… but not much has changed. The bowerbirds still make something out of nothing – and I can’t regret it! Having seen the benefits of creativity and problem-solving throughout the years, and the complexity of the projects they now undertake, I am quick to extol the virtues of creative play and recycled projects at a very young age. If there is one thing I did well as a mother, it was to feed my bowerbirds! And I’m thrilled that kids are starting to be inspired to play and be creative, through my author visits.

‘You said to go home and make things with boxes… so we did!’

To squeeze more poetry into your weekend, be sure to visit Heidi at her juicy little universe, where you’ll find the full round-up of the links. Thanks, Heidi!

KidLitVic – Chapter / Middle Grade / Young Adult

Sharing notes on Chapter, Middle Grade and Young Adult, taken at KidLitVic 2017.

Chapter & Middle Grade Panel

Panel:  Paul Collins (Ford St), Jane Pearson (Text), Clare Forster (Agent – Curtis Brown), Suzanne O’Sullivan (Lothian Hachette)

  • Write with passion first. Then think about the age of your main character/protagonist.
  • Consensus seems to be that once the reader reaches the 10yo mark, they’re reaching for YA. (Is YA really written with 10yo readers in mind?)
  • Clare Forster looks at story, characters, voice, subject – the edge authors might have. Most importantly the big picture of the author’s career – not a book.
  • Series is potentially a means to sell more books – so has that selling point for Marketing. ‘When kids find something they love, they’re really keen for more and more.’ (Jane Pearson)
  • A major publisher can really push the marketing behind a series – but for smaller publishers it is more of a risk.
  • Clare Forster – Always remember the investment made by the publisher.
  • No matter how fantastic your idea, the thing is always your ability to write it. (Suzanne)
  • What’s unique. What captures your imagination? Your heart?
  • Series Proposal – What publishers expect to receive as a minimum before they can make the decision.
    1) Full manuscript for first book
    2) Outlines of subsequent books. (A second written book would be great – but not essential.)
    3) Jane Pearson would add that a projection of timeline is also good. To ensure that books will capture their market. Readers are growing up. May grow out of the market if the books don’t roll out in a timely fashion. In six months, good books can be forgotten.

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KidLitVic – Illustration & Picture Books

Sharing notes on Illustration and Picture Books, taken at KidLitVic 2017.

Illustration Panel

Panel: Melissa Keil (Five Mile Press), Michelle Madden (Penguin), Sarah Mummé (Lake Press), Christina Pase (Windy Hollow)

  • Postcards (at conferences, etc) are lovely. But a link is always a good thing to forward on to others. Need to be able to show it around – at acquisitions, etc. Digital is great.
  • Greeting cards are a way to get your work out there.
  • Michelle loves to see loads of stuff. Consistency is huge – to develop a character and be consistent across the pages. It’s good to see what you can do – different styles (as long as it is strong, and done well) – but consistency is important.
  • Melissa: Colour palette, characterisation, line-work – something that’s really unique.
    A vaiety of styles for a range of products.
  • Sarah: It’s very personal
    May fight for it, if she can see potential, with a really good brief, and a little bit of work.
  • Christina – literary picture books
    If she really loves it – or has something to fill the brief.
    Likes to know/see if they can draw people – because that’s a really difficult thing! (Show them in all different poses and emotions, in your portfolio.)
    Technical skills are vital during the process – to see an illustration from the back angle. Or from a different character’s perspective. It’s almost like illustrators are working with a film screen, not a flat piece of paper.

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