Speak Love

I wrote this golden shovel last year on Day Five of the Poetry Pep-Up – but I’d already shared my ‘How Do You Like to go Up in a Swing’. I wasn’t sure this was finished, so I didn’t share it… and forgot about it, until I stumbled on it this week.

With distance, I can say it is finished. Sharing it today – because we can never have enough sweet words.

Speak Love

Speak with eyes of love
so that your heart is
soft in your mouth. Be patient;
chew words like wax until warm and
brimming with sweet honey for humankind.

© Kathryn Apel 2021 - All rights reserved 
Strike line; Love is patient and kind.  1 Corinthians 13:4a.

Denise is hosting the Poetry Friday link collection this week at Dare to Care. Thanks, Denise.

I’ve been engaged in some wonderful poetry discussion on Twitter in recent days, about the value of poetry – and the age-old conundrum of poetry being a hard market to crack. Neal Zetter pointed me to his recent blog post, outlining his plan to make poetry more visible – starting with the bookshops. Worth a read! 🙂

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!!💖)

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?

Book Trailer – The Bird in the Herd

A quick post for me this week. I’ll use my words in the comments as I do the rounds of Poetry Friday.

The Bird was to spread its wings at the Brisbane Ekka, starting this weekend – and this trailer was made in preparation for that. Alas, you know what I’m going to say… COVID and cancellations go hand-in-hand. I’m so disappointed for everyone who has poured so much work into Ekka prep. It was so close! BUT – I am very much in favour of the lockdowns that help to bring outbreaks under control again. And I’m thankful to everyone who follows directives.

I’m not sorry I had some motivation to make this trailer. Hoping it will give all those who are in lockdown a breath of country air and goodness.🐮 A hoot and a toot to you!🤠 (You’ll also find it on the relevant pages under the Books and the Kids’ Stuff tabs – if you’re ever looking for it in the future.)

Mary Lee is hosting us this week – with a beautiful villanelle inspired by a wonderful clunker line by Linda Mitchell. Do click across and read it! I know many teachers who it would resonate with. But it’s not just for teachers.

PoETry Friday – #petpicpoem

Welcome! Yes – Poetry Friday is coming to you from Downunder, again. While you have come to share your Poetry Friday links I thought I would share pics and poems of my pets. We are down to five pets in this house; one cat and four snails. (It’s the first time in more than 10 years that we haven’t had guinea pigs.) Hubby keeps telling me, no more pets. But the snails slipped under his radar – and they are the easiest pets! (And besides – they’re a writing resource!😹)

Why snails? We don’t get snails at our house. In years past, the boys always rescued them in their hoards from the side of the road, during flood season. They were like living treasure. But I didn’t know you could keep a snail for a pet… until I wrote one into Too Many Friends (UQP 2017). (For sure, we’d have had pet snails before this, if I’d known!)

KatApel_Snail'sPace

Last year I wrote a companion verse novel to Too Mandy Friends, (due March 2022) telling Lucy’s story. Since Snail is a big part of Lucy’s story, I had to learn more about snails – and especially, keeping snails as pets. In April I was helping my hubby extract a bogged buggy… and there were snails everywhere on the creek bank. Like, thousands! I was astounded. I very nearly brought one home with me… and later regretted that I hadn’t, because when I dived into edits on Lucy’s verse novel, I’d been asked to include more details about Snail! Two nights later we were going for a ride (🚴‍♀️), and I spied some smaller snails at our grid – much more suited for pet snails. I found one with similar colouration to Snail. Thing1 and Thing2 were so-named, because they were of a similar (smaller) size. And then there was Tiny. Smaller than a pea! (Clearly T1 and T2 are different types of snails, because they are no longer a similar size. T1 (and Snail) have grown heaps, and T2 (and Tiny) have not. (Tiny is still smaller than a pea.💚)

8FDF5F89-660D-477C-B865-43C51D3CEA23_1_105_c

T2 is also less adventurous than the other three – which is why he missed a ride on the snail train that they got going on a recent rainy day… 

KatApel_RainTrain

And then we have SavvyCat. And another ‘moving’ poem (or two) inspired by a pic I took on a walk to the mailbox last week. If ever a picture speaks a thousand words, it’s this! Savvy was a reluctant participant in this walk – though he came, on his own accord. Every photo captured his disgruntled face and twitching tail.

When we got to the letterbox and he heard the cars whizzing past on the road, he found his quick-sticks and led the way home again for atleast 100metres. (Then lagged and nagged for the next 900m.😹)

Do you poeticise your pets? They’re wonderful inspiration. Handy photography subjects, too. And we know them, so well!

FOR THE KIDS!

If you’re at home for lockdown (and even if you’re not!) you can capture your pet in picture and poetry. You don’t need any special editing programs. This is just done in Word.

  1. Open a blank Word document.
  2. Insert your pet picture.
  3. Insert a text box. (You may need to right-click and Wrap Text > In Front of Text.)
  4. Write your poem in the text box and format it so it is easy to read.
  5. When you’re happy with your layout, snap a screenshot.
  6. If you can share it on Instagram, use the hashtag #petpicpoem – and feel free to tag me; @Kat.Apel.

It’s that easy! (Your #petpicpoem would also look fabulous printed on canvas, on your wall! #justsayin) If you don’t have a pet – you could poeticise a backyard/balcony bird, or a lounge lizard. Even a bug!

If you’re wanting some more poetry inspiration, join us on the Poetry Friday rounds by clicking the link below. If for some reason the linky isn’t working (It has been clashing with my WordPress blocks (Aren’t we all!🤦‍♀️)) then this link should get you across. InLinkz Poetry Friday Link-up

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
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More Presentations… and a Holiday!

I blogged earlier in the week about ‘Celebrating Our Stories‘, a speaking tour I ran with the support of the Gladstone Region Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF). A wonderful added bonus was the opportunity to speak at a number of other community and school events whilst I was on tour. And many of these included poetry!😻 I presented a professional development for early years educators in the Gladstone Region, titled, ‘Poetry Through Play’ – ran a poetry workshop for the Gladstone Region Home Schooling Network – with parents and kids, which was rather special, and ran additional workshops/author talks at a number of schools where we were ‘Celebrating Our Stories’. AND  I have more school bookings as a result. That is for sure something to smile about!

In Calliope I followed up with a talk about characters with Year 2. ‘Too Many Friends’ is set in a Year Two class – and there are some very different characters in that book – who are quite recognisable as classmates in most schools I visit. The kids’ faces lit up when they heard about the push/pull toys, and saw the coconut helicopter that inspired ‘Chop Chop’ in the book. They were learning about push/pull toys in Science – and recognised force in action in an instant. (The Year Two teacher in me smiled gleefully, because there is a reason this story was set in a Year Two class!) Even more trippy… Sara, the lovely librarian at Calliope, was in my Year 2/3 class for almost two years, many, many (MANY!🤫) years ago. The Sara, in ‘Too Many Friends’? Well – she isn’t this Sara, but this Sara did inspire her name. To see her so active in her role as community librarian was super-special. (Pic here.)

To round off some busy months, I presented at the Capricorn Coast Writers Festival, in Yeppoon. Gorgeous location – on the beach! It was wonderful to be on a panel with Dr Anita Heiss and Allison Tait, both powerhouses within the Australian kidlit scene, talking about Crafting Stories for Children. I then got to do Storytime at the library – the first time I’ve shared all three of my picture books! (‘The Bird in the Herd’ had to be ordered in three times in the lead-up to the festival, because the lovely local/festival bookshop, Hannah Jones, kept selling out – in advance of the festival!💙)

My final session at the CCWF was poetry workshop for adult writers.  I always love poetry workshops – but this workshop had a special feel to it, and by the end of the session, they had formed their own poetry group! Last weekend they sent me a pic from the first get-together. My heart…

By this time, my head was spinning from juggling everything, so hubby and I took time off in a rooftop tent in Central Queensland, in the middle of winter. We spent 2 nights in Byfield National Park, before heading across to Emerald, stopping at Blackdown Tablelands along the way. I took far too many pictures for my blog (far too many pictures for Instagram, even) – but do pop across to Insta, where you can sample a squidge in a five-part Rooftop Tent in Retrospect. (Or click on the links in the poem titles below.)

There were some breathtaking views, and stunning landscapes.

Byfield National Park

it never rains,
but it pours -
when home is a rooftop tent

thunder and lightning
is frightening;
nowhere to hide

camping is fun!
carried away
by the mozzies


Blackdown Tablelands

bump-bump-bump-bump
slow and steady
on rusty rutted roads

on top of the world
surrounded by trees -
and thunder

now planning
a camping expedition
in drought-affected home paddocks


Minerva National Park

c-c-c-c-anvas on c-c-c-car is
c-c-c-c-cool;
until you're c-c-c-c-old to the bone


© Kathryn Apel - All rights reserved.

I should add, that the rain definitely didn’t dampen our spirits. We loved our rooftop tent – and I was ready for some laughs, after the busyness of previous months. For those vistas, I’d do it all again!

And now, I look forward to hearing about what all my Poetry Friday friends have been up to. I have missed this community! Find the link-up, and more poetry Reflections on the Teche. Thanks, Margaret! 

Celebrating Our Stories

The last months have disappeared in a blur, as I pitched, prepared and then presented ‘Celebrating Our Stories’ for kids around the Gladstone Region. This is the first time I have co-ordinated a tour across 10 different venues – and I learnt lots in the process. (Next time I do this, it will be easier!🙃)

It has been so good to be sharing my passion for poetry and story again. I took a break after talking myself out of a voice on my American schools tour, in November 2019. (Gah! So long ago!!!) Six months became 18months, thanks to ‘Rona, and end of last year I struggled with the lack of face-to-face kid-interaction. Even though I’d had my most productive year as an author – signed more contracts, wrote more, and had more works in progress than ever before – I struggled to ‘feel’ like an author, because I wasn’t sharing the journey with kids. I was a teacher before I was an author – and there’s a reason for that. I love working with kids!

Celebrating Our Stories was a series of talks celebrating the release of our picture book, ‘The Bird in the Herd’, with kids in the Gladstone region, but also valuing regional stories and encouraging kids to share their stories – in words or in artwork. Victorian-based illustrator of ‘The Bird in the Herd’, Renée Treml, joined us via Zoom (or video, if an area didn’t have reliable internet) and the technology worked! We all learnt so much from Renée, who is not just a talented illustrator, but a lovely person. I am hoping we get to work together again – on books and presentations!

Our region is so diverse; dirt roads and sneaky bends, tea tree forests and open flats, shaded creeks and salt, sand and surf, grazing land, industry, ports and tourism. How fortunate I was to experience it in my meandering to different venues. And wonderful to visit city schools with their buzz of activity, and the softer hum of country schools in rustic settings. But always, attentive, interactive kids, and appreciative, engaged educators. Every session was different – but wonderful!

The Gladstone Region Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) is a Queensland Government and Gladstone Regional Council partnership to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland – and I am so grateful for their investment in our project. I also appreciate the assistance of Wendy Barker and Di Paddick, who supported my wrangling with the grant application, and Councillors Glenn Churchill and Chris Cameron who joined us for a Celebrating Our Story session, along with State Member for Burnett, Mr Stephen Bennett. Thank-you also to the regional librarians who supported by offering space and materials, or liaised with local schools to utilise their space – and to schools and parents who partnered with us, and have given permission to share these beautiful pics!  

Meeting Mary Lee

For those of you who don’t follow the Poetry Friday loop, this week one of our Poetry Friday crew is retiring, after 37 years in the classroom. Wow. That’s a lot of passion and creativity – and kids inspired!

Mary Lee’s friend and blog partner, Franki Sibberson, invited us to help celebrate Mary Lee’s dedication with a Mary Lee-themed round of Poetry Friday posts!

Meeting Mary Lee

March Madness sparked our 'meeting'
And if I'm correct in 
Recalling your bio,
You didn't call yourself a poet.

Let's be clear;
Even then you were a poet!
Even moreso now.

How time flies to NCTE 2019;
Amid a sea of faces, you
Happened past, and I knew – 
Not a stranger; "Mary Lee!"

katmargaretmarylee

NCTE 2021, after that magical moment of recognition and meeting IRL – with the lovely Margaret Simon in the middle.

Congratulations, Mary Lee. Hoping this last day in the classroom is wonderful beyond all imagining, and you embark on this new stanza of your poem with many more memories to cherish.

Christie Wyman at Wondering And Wandering is hosting the roundup today. You’ll find lots to celebrate (and that’s not just poetry!) on her blog. 🥳

So Much Good Stuff!

Life is busy but rich with blessings, of late. 

I recently went through the herculean process of completing a grant application to organise and present ‘Celebrating Our Stories’ at 10 different venues within the Gladstone Region – and I am thrilled to say I have been successful. I am so thankful to the Gladstone Regional Council and the Queensland Government for this opportunity to inspire young readers to value their stories, while also celebrating ‘The Bird in the Herd’. (And we will have fun with that!) I’m especially excited to bring illustrator Renée Treml to the Gladstone Region – all be it via Zoom. The tour kicks off this coming Wednesday, at Miriam Vale, and will take place across 4 weeks. In addition to the RADF-funded activities, there are also opportunities for schools (Primary or Secondary) within the region to book an author event – either a presentation, or a poetry workshop. If you’re here because this interests you, you’ll find more information on my Appearances page. Drop me a message there.

KatApel_PictorialAs if that wasn’t keeping me busy enough, I was asked to conduct an online poetry PD for a NSW school, who are currently writing a 5 week poetry unit to run across all Primary classes. (How exciting and awesome is that! I would SO be sending my kids to that school!) I’ve presented lots of different poetry workshops online – and lots of intensive poetry professional development sessions for teachers face-to-face – but this is my first time presenting the teacher-intensive session online – which required a complete overhaul in how I did things! But it was worth it. The group was wonderful to work with, and even though we were distant, and there were 50 educators in the one room – we were still able to connect, and bounce idea (and words) around the room. As is often the way, there were quite a number of teachers in the room who initially expressed reservations about poetry, but by the end they were enthusiastic and appreciative. And the feedback from the school since has been wonderful. “You were amazing inspiring and have changed the mindset of our staff.” I’m so glad they enjoyed it, because I was buzzing all night. It was SO GOOD to be seeped in poetry again, and sharing my passion with a group of educators – who are now going out to spread their newfound enthusiasm throughout their school. What a privilege to invest in their poetry journey. I’m excited for what they’re going to produce in the coming weeks, both as curriculum, and then as poetry in the classrooms.🎉

Librarium Reading ClubAND – now I’ve created new material for an online presentation, I’m keen to do it again! (Just sayin’.😉) If your school is keen to pep-up its writing with some poetry, either online or in person, please do get in touch! (That Appearances page I mentioned earlier… You can find more information there.😺)

By way of delightful surprise… I also discovered this podcast, shared on the International Day Against Bullying. They’ve been using ‘Bully on the Bus’ in their English language classes, and “Students in 1st and 2nd year CSE have prepared a programme after their Librarium Reading Club, where they read Bully on the Bus, a book of poems by Kathryn Apel.” Click across to hear the podcast, with the poetry reading starting at 1:14. I was rather chuffed to discover Bully used in this new context. 

I’m going to end this post with a new-to-me Shel Silverstein poem, from ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’. Such clever layout, with words tangled in the ridiculous long legs (only two of them!) of this absurd looking turtle. What an unexpected poem it is! (I may know something about long legs. Though mine don’t pack away quite as neatly as a turtle’s does.) I do love the fact that it just ever-so-slightly spills onto the preceding page… and that’s okay. Because poetry is meant to be savoured! (This poem, inspired me to hunt up my turtle photo (above) and carve out a moment in rhyme…)

Irene is hosting us for Poetry Friday this week at Live Your Poem. What joy! Click across to be inspired by more poetry posts – and have a fabulous week!

First Public Reading of ‘The Bird in the Herd’

PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT: This week I took part in my first in-person, in real life, live (how many different ways can I capture the momentousness!😹) AUTHOR EVENT since my book tour in America in November 2019. Prior to Tuesday, my last in-person speaking engagement was a school presentation with Irene Latham and Laura Shovan, in Scaggsville, Maryland – and then the fabulous fun time shared with so many of you Poetry Friday friends at NCTE, in Baltimore.

But Tuesday, that all changed. And my day exceeded all expectations!!

What better place to share the first reading of this Australian grazing story than at BeefAustralia, in Rockhampton – the Beef Capital of Australia? I went to Beef to read our Aussie grazing picture book in the Kids’ Zone. (Yay!)

Then… I was asked to speak with Paul Cullin on ABC Capricornia, live from Beef (Cool!) …

And THEN (Yowzers!) I got to share our new book with the Prime Minister of Australia. And get the photos to boot! 

And from that, (Snowball!) I was interviewed by the Morning Bulletin … 

Talk about a busy day of networking! We did also get to check out some of the cattle yards and drone technology that my husband was keen to see. 

And yes, midst all that excitement, I did share ‘The Bird in the Herd’ with the kids! (Photos shared with school’s permission – thanks to my wonderful snap-happy hubby for grabbing these.) There are more pics, and a short video snippet on my Instagram page, here.

Happy, happy me! It is such a joy to be connecting with people and sharing my love of words again – but most especially, to be sharing it with kids!

A terse verse to capture the moment:

What Do You Get When You Share Your Latest Book with the Prime Minister?

Leader reader.

That’s me for today. Now flap fly and flurry over to wee words for wee ones where Bridget is collecting the Poetry Friday roundup. Apologies in advance, because I don’t know how many comments I can leave this weekend. The next 6 weeks are busy-busy-busy, and I’m just trying to keep head and body connected – and feathers, too!