Poetry at Sharjah International Book Fair 2018

I am really struggling with blog posts these days. It feels there are so many things I need to write in other places – most especially in my stories (LOVE), and the submissions to accompany them (Aaargh!) and blog posts just keep getting pushed to the bottom of the pile …

I do want to share some pics from my second visit to Sharjah – this for the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) which was even bigger than the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival. It was so good to go back again, and, with so many people in attendance, it was amazing to recognise people from my previous visit! It was especially lovely to have children and adults come up, eyes alight and smiles wide and thank me again for my sessions in April. One very busy day saw 50K kids pass through the doors, with a record 2.3million people in attendance over the 10 day event. (Sometimes just getting through the door felt like an achievement.😉)

All my sessions involved poetry – though sometimes it was more about creating than writing. We made jigsaws and tag poems and 3D poetry and poetry wall plaques. I especially loved the school groups that came through in the mornings. These were half-hour sessions, and I was astounded with how much we achieved in such a short space of time! The kids were awesome – so polite, and yet enthusiastic and instantly engaged with their ‘writing’ tasks. We talked and laughed lots – and they often delighted me with their witty way with words. I was also incredibly touched by the feedback from every teacher, who took activities away to use with other groups in their classrooms. And this beautiful comment from one lovely teacher, on finding out I no longer teach, but write fulltime and present at festivals, like SIBF; “It is better, you not working in one school. Now you can share your skills with the world.” 💞

Sharjah was beautiful! The people so wonderfully warm and welcoming. Sharing the adventure with lovely Aussie kidlit creators, Catherine Pelosi, Dee White and Claire Richards made the adventure even more enjoyable. As did the beautiful accommodation. This time I didn’t just see the beach from a passing car – I swam! And it was glorious! (I had planned to write heaps, in gorgeous settings … but talked heaps, instead! Networking … 😉 There truly were lots of discussions about a dreaded synopsis!!) I didn’t get out to the desert this time – or see a single camel… but I did get lovely views over the desert as I was flying out, so it was good to see it in this new perspective.

SIBF18 was another amazing event and adventure, and a delight to be involved! I could be tempted to go back… ☺️

This week I’m in for #PoetryFriday – and you can Live Your Poem and all things poetry at Irene Latham’s blog. Having just had a peep in preparation for linking this post, it would seem as if Irene has been busy in recent weeks, which included the news that her book, ‘Can I Touch Your Hair’, (in partnership with Charles Waters), was announced as a Charolotte Huck Honour Book. How exciting!

Edit: I had meant to include a link to the interview on Sharjah24 News. You can see me in hypo-bunny mode here;

Whirlwind Week of Wonderful

Today is Friday – which makes it a poetry day! … After a whole WEEK of wonderful poetry days!! You can catch the link-up at Reflections on the Teche, where Margaret is hosting us this week. Thank-you Margaret. 🙂

Last night I arrived home from an author tour in and around Melbourne – and I had a blast! Talk about eyes opened. That is one HUGE city! But I covered north and south and centre in a wonderful crammed week of school visits, bookshop workshop, kidlit conference, networking, research, friending and just the teensy-tiniest smidgen of sleeping!

And I ticked a few big boxes! Continue reading

Collating an Anthology – with Kenn Nesbitt

oneminuteOne Minute Till Bedtime is an impressive collection of children’s poetry compiled by former American Children’s Poet Laureate, Kenn Nesbitt. Whilst I wouldn’t encourage my students to drop off to sleep in the middle of class, we have been sneaking a few-more-than-a-few poems into our school days, and I speak from experience when I say this book is a brilliant classroom resource –  because it celebrates the FUN of poetry!

I had a few questions about the process of compiling a poetry collection, and I’m delighted to share Kenn’s insights with you…

Kenn, with One Minute Till Bedtime, you have put together an anthology that touches five countries. How did you know where to start – to draw poets from so far afield?

Kenn NesbittI’ve been writing children’s poetry for more than 20 years, and have met many, many poets during that time. Years ago I started keeping a list ofchildren’s poet I knew, and those I hadn’t met yet. When the opportunity to create this anthology came up, I was able to reach out to nearly 200 published children’s poets. I received submissions from over 160 of them.

What is the breakdown of poets/countries, as included in the book?

There are 132 poets in this collection. 100 of them are from the US, 15 are from Australia*, 13 from the UK, 3 from Canada, and 1 from Italy.

What sort of things (aside from being less than 60 seconds) were you looking for, when making your selections?

I was looking specifically for poems that would evoke an emotion. I am of the opinion that good poetry makes you feel something when you read it, so this was my key criterion in choosing the poems. Additionally, I was interested in poems that I felt were particularly well-written, regardless of style or form.

I love the diversity of the poems. There are some that could be considered almost a risk, going so far out on a limb … and that’s what makes you laugh out loud at the success of the poems. (Like April Haplin Wayland’s, ‘Rolling down the Hill’, and James Carter’s ‘What to Yell When You’re Trapped in the Belly of a Whale’. Delight!)

In addition to sharing the work of so many children’s poets from around the world, I wanted to show the diversity of poetry being written for kids today. That includes concrete poems like these, as well as poetic forms such as pantoums, haiku, abecedarian poems, free verse, humorous rhymes, and more.

How did you decide on the order of the poems, to balance length, type, themes?

With over 140 poems, I thought it would be a good idea to break the book up into sections, each with about 20-30 minutes of reading. This makes a book with seven sections, one for each day of the week, and each with a reading time of less than 30 minutes.

I also decided to begin each section with more realistic poems (e.g., poems about nature, seasons, etc.) and progress toward more imaginative and dreamlike poems, and poems about bedtime and sleeping. The idea here was to somewhat mimic the process of falling asleep.

With this in mind, I selected the actual order by printing out all of the poems and spreading them out on my kitchen table where I could easily see them and shuffle them around. I also wanted to pair poems together so that similar poems could share a common illustration on each two-page spread.

How super-talented and diverse is Christoph Niemann!? I love the quirky extra dimension his illustrations bring to each poem. Were there poems where Christoph submitted more than one possible illustration to consider? Can you give us a short insight into this collaborative process?

I agree. Christoph’s work is so clever and whimsical that you can spend as much time with the illustrations as you do with the poems. There were indeed a few poems where Christoph provided two illustrations for me and my editors to consider. For the most part, though, he worked with the publisher. I didn’t have any direct contact with him during the illustrating of the book, but I did get to see the early sketches and watch as the illustrations progressed.

You yourself have seven poems in the collection. Do you have a favourite amongst your own contributions?

If I had to select just one, it would be “Have I Told You?” I’m also fond of “Whew!,” “How to Fall Asleep,” and “What Do You Dream?”

And finally, what are some of your tips, to make bedtime reading a success?

I think the best thing a parent can do to make bedtime reading a success is to do it consistently as part of a child’s bedtime ritual, beginning at birth. Also, use it as an opportunity for discussion and learning. Children will have lots of questions as you read to them. It’s okay to stop and explain as you go along. This is a great way to expand a child’s vocabulary and their knowledge of the world.

Thank-you so much for the insights, Kenn, and congratulations on a job done exceptionally well!

…oooOOOooo…

* Links to Australian poets in One Minute Till Bedtime

Madness – I’m Sane Again

The Madness Poetry Tournament continues over at Ed DeCaria’s blog – but I am sane again. 😛 I was knocked out of the tournament in Round Four, and seem to have spent the last 36hrs fighting sleep. (Five hours sleep per night isn’t enough for me. Who knew? Who knew sustained suspense could take such a toll?)

You can still follow the madness at Ed’s Think Kid, Think blog – and vote on the remaining two rounds. I’ll be there, voting.

Meanwhile, here is my collection of poems, inspired by the Madness. If you click on the pictures, they will take you direct to the match-up on Ed’s blog. Remembering that each poem had to include a given prompt word… All poetry on this page is Copyright Kathryn Apel, 2012.

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Lorraine Marwood joins us for A Ute Picnic

Today I welcome some special guests to my blog. Firstly we have Lorraine – a poet I greatly admire. Then we have four budding poets – whose work often catches me unawares with its awesomeness. So welcome to Branyon, Poppy, Fletcher and Tara, too.

Lorraine, Congratulations  on this beautiful rustic collection of poetry. I can almost see dust motes dancing across the cover of ‘A Ute Picnic – and other Australian Poems’.

As you know, I share your passion for poetry. And I too love to share that with children! So – for this poetry post I thought I’d feed both our passions and use your poems to inspire some poetic kids I know…

Here’s what they came up with. And they’re very excited to be sharing it with you.
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