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! 🙂

What a Snail Knows – and What it Doesn’t!

Last week the Poetry Friday crew were sharing What the _______ Knows poems, thanks to a Poetry Peeps challenge – but because I’ve been erratic with my Poetry Friday posts, I was behind, and missed it. I loved the prompt – and felt a double connection to it, because my next younger reader verse (releasing March 2022) is called, ‘What Snail Knows’. (Readers of ‘Too Many Friends’ might remember Lucy, a very quiet little character from that book who had a pet snail… that looks like a snail… called Snail. Well – this is Lucy’s story. And Snail’s.)

The topic of my poem is therefore pretty obvious. The outcome of my first poem (the second one here) is not! (I broke form with one line – and then the title, too – because I’m pretty sure the average snail does NOT know this! Nor do I speak from experience on the matter – since I. Could. Not.)

What a Snail Knows

What does a snail know?
Don’t be like a garden worm.
Put your foot down, then stand firm!
Snails glide – but earthworms squirm.

What does a snail know?
Wonder sets your eyes on stalks,
so take the t-i-m-e to have a gawk.
Sssslowly ssssslide. Don’t run. Or walk.

      🌱        🐌_________

What a Snail Does NOT Know

What does a snail know?
The freshest seedlings taste sublime,
To munch a morsel is no crime –
unless they track your trail of slime!

What does a snail not know?
When simmered with a splash of lime,
or sautéed with a sprig of thyme,
it’s said that snails taste sublime!

© Kathryn Apel 2021 – All rights reserved.

Spoiler alert: Snail does not meet with thyme or lime in my verse novel!

In other news… I was recently interviewed for the Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) seasonal magazine, ‘Ruth’. The Spring edition with the three-page article about my writing journey – especially in relation to ‘The Bird in the Herd’, is out now! I wasn’t familiar with the magazine – but having seen it, I’m impressed. It has lovely, thick paperstock and feels (and sounds) quite edible. Such a great variety of articles, too. Very real! Not a gossip magazine.

AND in a lovely snail-mail day… ‘Bully on the Bus’ went to reprint again, and I am actually quite chuffed about this – because I was looking at the imprint page, and there’s a lot to like about that!

Heidi has the Poetry Friday link-up this week – so make like a snail and slide across to my juicy little universe for some tasty morsels. (Or some stalky-gawks.)

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?

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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FriYay! Good News.

It’s Friday again. The wheel spins so fast! But it’s so good to be here with poetry friends again. Because that wheels spins so fast, I’m going to jump right in with a little story and some good news.

My Dad told me recently he had a confession to make; he was a bit embarrassed by ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’. Half the words are either ‘up’ or ‘down’. One could maybe even question the skill required to write that. It wasn’t a judgement. And I was quite okay with my dad’s confusion. (My parents are both hugely supportive of my writing!)

After recovering from my laughter, I explained that the book was written to support reading in the first five years of a child’s life. We worked hard to match text and art to that brief. (I’d spent long hours deliberating the other half the words in the text!) But I truly could understand his confusion and embarrassment. Because it IS a very simple text! And yet, in that simplicity, and pared with the adorable illustrations by Janet Turner, so much about life on the farm on a rainy day (Oh the joy!) has been conveyed.

SpeechPath01

Click on the pic to read the full shortlist.

I’ve joked and said I’m therefore rather chuffed by this shortlisting. Because now Dad can hold his head high again!!😹 But in truth, I’m rather chuffed, fullstop. And I’m so proud of the team that got our book onto this list; the @statelibraryqld, whose wonderful initiative has landed a number of titles on the shortlist. And my lovely illustrator, Janet Turner (so exciting for your first picture book!) and editor @kristybushnell, who has played a significant part in so many of books – and same too, the talented designer, Jo Hunt.💕 

And I’m very thankful for the judges and speech pathology professionals who have poured their time and knowledge into reading and compiling this shortlist. Thank-you, Speech Pathology Australia.

My mantra in teaching – in life –  has always been; ‘Do less best.’ I kind of like that it also applies to writing, too. Be economical and deliberate with your word choice. Make every word count! And that there is poetry and picture books, in a nutshell. 🙂

Hoping your Friday is YAY! I’m sure it will be if you join us on the Poetry Friday rounds – with links being gathered by the lovely Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone. Thanks, Molly! Next week, when the wheel whirls round, you’ll find the round-up here!😺

 

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!  

Release Day: The Bird in the Herd

The egret has landed!

 

19 years ago, I wrote a story for my two farm boys. It’s been a process steeped in memories;
* bouncing ideas around the kitchen table with my parents and sister,
* conferencing with my two small boys (my first and cutest editors),
* truth-testing countless versions and illustrations with my hubby, and
* always, the subtle arrival of my youngest whenever I read it aloud, because the rhythm of the rhyme would draw him every time.

The text was used as an illustration prompt at the 2012 CYA Competition – and Renee Treml’s simple, colourful illustrations caught my eye. They were perfect for young children, and highlighted the humour in the story. We met at the same conference, and I loved the backstory to Renée’s entry – but that’s her story to tell!🙃 Needless to say, I have loved sharing this process with Renee! And I cannot say enough how much I appreciate the team at CYA Conference. This is the third book I have had published, as a direct result of that conference! If you are serious about writing for children, you must check it out.

Renée and I worked with a wonderful team at UQP, who brought colour to the text, and offered an extended page count that gave each character their own spread, and allowed the story to fully develop its rhythm, so that it mooches along like a herd of cattle. (How appropriate!)

19 years ago, I noticed a bird in the herd that stalked as it walked past my kitchen window – and I’m so glad that white cattle egret gave wings to this story. Gratitude to everyone who has played a part in getting us to today – release day. Fly little book-bird!💕

Rain Refrains – From Seasons Past

Hello world. It’s a new year – and I’m praying for a deluge to wash the slate clean and fill desperately dry dams. We had 60mm to close-out 2020, which refreshed soul and soil and put a green tint across the land. But numerous dams were bone dry, and our big dam is at a 50+ year record low, so we need a sustained bucketing to impact on their water level.

In years past, January has been a Month of Poetry (and I’m currently wondering how I missed that this year…🤷‍♀️) so for today’s post, I have been scouring my previous MoP collections looking for a build-up of rain refrains. Prepare to be inundated.🌦

All poems are copyright Kathryn Apel, all rights reserved.

——

six-legged scavengers stream
across kitchen benches
flowing to the food

——

croaky croak
of frog with frog
in throat

——

moon shines through clouds
still waters whisper
rain dance

——

Clouds

like an octopus
clouds salty depths,
inky puffs swirl across
a sea of stars
swallowing the moon and
shrouding the shadowy landscape
in a pool of
black

——

Storm Clouds on the Horizon

The neighbours upstairs are throwing
the furniture around,
stomping and tromping
voices rumbling in agitation,
shattering the stifling stillness
of a summer afternoon.
Sparks fly
as they thunder and roar,
shaking the building
with their tempest.

——

rain
tiptoes,
whispers hush;
chirruping frog
gargles droplets as
clouds razzle troops to fall
faster, heavier, louder
until gargling frog
is swallowed in a
crescendo of
pummelling
rain, rain
rain

——

——

mizzling drizzling scene
as nature washes clean;
shower

——

a landscape
in watercolours;
reflection

——

rain trains
streaming past
plane windows

——

if I had time
I could watch
the grass grow

——

still water
trees cast off leaves
and skinny dip

——

⛈ Bring it on! 🌧I’m keen to see our dam like this again (overflowing with abundant birdlife!) – and to celebrate ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ in appropriate style! (Though I am smiling at this lovely review on Reading Time.)

Sylvia is hosting Poetry Friday this week at Poetry for Children. I find myself wondering what poems children will be seeking after the events of this week. Poems of hope? Dark poems that reflect their fears? Poems prompting laughter? Gems of kindness and empathy? Poems of healing? Perhaps they will write their voice for generations and seasons to come.

Up and Down on a Rainy Day – New Book!

This week I was thrilled to celebrate the online release of my second picture book – more than eleven and a half years since my first. (How thankful I am for verse novels in between. And more picture books in progress!)

‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ is a simple concept book for the very young, delightfully illustrated by Janet Turner and published by State Library of Queensland in the Stories For Little Queenslanders series. The adorable illustrations capture some of my best memories of rainy day play with our boys.

Stories for Little Queenslanders is a First Five Forever initiative, bringing fun, high-quality picture books full of familiar local places and animals to Queensland kids and their families…stories inspired by people and communities around Queensland. As a teacher, I have seen first-hand how parents who read and interact with their children, set them on a positive path through their schooling. It doesn’t matter how much education parents have had, or what their careers are – if they spend time reading with their kids, it shows! I’m thrilled to have a story selected in this new project that promotes Queensland stories – and the joy (and value!) of reading together during the early years. Cue the warm and snuggly (sometimes wriggly) memories of reading with our farm boys.

The project was birthed during COVID, and was a whirlwind ride to completion. But if there was one thing we needed during COVID it was a creative purpose! I’m thankful to have had this exciting project bubbling away. And to work with such a wonderful team. State Library has created a wealth of content to support the book – and the series. There’s online readings, audio books and digital version to download. There’s even a digital flip-book. As with all my books, I’m collating links in the dropdown tab of this site. Click on Books and scroll down to ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day‘.

Activity booklet

Click to download.

Books in the series are available in all Queensland Public Libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres – and there are very limited hardcover editions available for sale at the State Library Shop.

Today, I’m uploading ‘Play by the Book: Up and Down on a Rainy Day‘ – a booklet with 16 different activities to engage young children and enhance the reading experience of ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’. (Think water-play, mud and fun! Also puppets, drama and colour.) These activities have been prepared with the support of Regional Arts Development Fund, Bundaberg Regional Council and Arts Queensland. I am so thankful for their support of creatives at all times, and especially during this difficult year!

2020 has been challenging, but I am incredibly thankful for this project. And I’m so excited to finally be able to share the news! It didn’t rain on the day it arrived in my letterbox. It didn’t rain on launch day. (We had 20mm in a cracker thunderstorm the day before, though.⚡️) When we get our downpour, you can be assured that I will be UP and down, celebrating!😅

This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted by Buffy Silverman – another kidlit poet who loves getting outdoors. Thanks, Buffy!

ping-pong ping-pong
even frogs
sing in the shower

© Kathryn Apel
🌧
🐸