I Don’t Want a Pet SNAKE!

A ssssshort and sssssharp post today to ssssshare a reading of my poem, ‘I Don’t Want a Pet SNAKE’, published by The School Magazine, Blast Off 4, 2020, illustrated by Christopher Nielsen and read by Geoffrey McSkimming.

Use it to teach persuasive texts… and caution in what you wish for. And read it just for fun!

NSW Education Department planned this resource, using it in a study of alliteration.

To see what Jama’s cooking up for Poetry Friday  (Oooh… There be chocolate!) – and to get all the good links – click across to Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Thanks for hosting this week!

Revising Sonnets

Recently, Linda Mitchell shared a post about sonnets… which brought back some memories, because I have thought a thing or two about sonnets, in my time. I went hunting through my blog to find my first sonnet, and found … more! So – this Poetry Friday I’m sharing my tumultuous relationship with sonnets, quoting snippets (in italics) of my feelings at the time of the original posts.

My goal for Month of Poetry (MoP12) was to write a sonnet, because in other MoPs participants who had written a sonnet spoke as if they’d climbed Mount Everest. I wasted a day on my first attempt. Tried three different sonnets, on suitably learned topics. Failed. Those five strong beats were a syncopated constipated curse. My frustration bubbled over… (Oops…) and resulted in Sonnet: Finito. 

Sonnet: Finito

Sonnet! Away you evil, vile thing!
Your syncopated rhythm drives me NUTS
so go! No ifs or maybes and no buts…
Be gone! No satisfaction do you bring.

If venerable poets like the Bard
could scribble sonnets neither weak or pallid
then why – when I can write a rhyming ballad –
do I write a sonnet marred and deeply scarred?

Rue the wretched resolution made
before I even knew what I resolved.
Quit. And I am instantly absolved…
Persist and you must all try to dissuade.

But wait! The end is nigh. This sonnet writ;
a travesty of poetry and wit.

© Kathryn Apel 2012

But that wasn’t the end of my sonnets. I wanted to wrangle an emotive issue dear to my heart. And I wanted to conquer that iambic pentameter. Once I got through the obligatory three failed attempts, (to write a sonnet, you must first fail three times and quit – and then…) Sonnet: Money Hungry flowed quite easily – in its syncopated, shuffle-footed style. In fact, I wrote three sonnets during the 2012 Month of Poetry – and then another in the March, when I took part in the first Madness tournament.

Sonnet: The Art of Music

To look its best, the cello lies, composed
within a velvet case – the lid snapped closed.
For if it’s played, the golden glow may wear.
Or worse! Show signs of use beyond repair.

The instrument is like a work of art
plucked from the master craftsman’s wooden heart,
then sanded, buffed and polished ’til it glows
and every fingerprint and blemish shows.

But draw the bow and feel the cello thrum,
feel it rumble heart and soul; a mellow hum
that softens silence, as its echo brings
a warmth and depth that flows from wood and strings.

You haven’t scratched the surface if you keep
your cello, or your talent, buried deep.

© Kathryn Apel 2012

In 2013, I wrote a Sonnet to teach kids about persuasive writing. As you do …

NAPLAN: Persuasion

Persuasion is the act of coaxing you
by reasoned argument, to take my view;
You may have never thought it out before
so let me outline what you can’t ignore.

It’s not enough to simply state the case
without evidence. You never will embrace
my viewpoint; may stay sitting on the fence
or worse – supporting those who cause offence.

Three arguments, at least, must be supported
by facts and quotes, as action is exhorted,
and though you might at first oppose my view
my hope is you’ll soon share the views I do.

I’m persuaded that you have by now conceded,
which means, of course, my argument succeeded.

Disclaimer:
I will not stoop to bribe, or to extort,
for there are those who’ll say that you’ve been bought!

© Kathryn Apel 2013

Which prompted me to write to the government of the time, lamenting standardised testing … As you do …!

NAPLAN: Persuade Me

Persuade me that we need a NAPLAN test
to take up time that honestly is best
employed in teaching kids, enthusing them
to learn. Not stressing testing to condemn.

No matter how we all try to downplay
the importance (or the lack) of NAPLAN day,
it cannot be denied that kids are stressed
and yet we still expect they’ll do their best?!

Since when has child development been a race?
It’s Differentiation staff embrace.
Is ‘Teacher’ not an occupation anymore?
Now assessment is so much the greater chore?

A living, breathing child is not defined
by numbers, on a band, that tests assigned.

© Kathryn Apel 2013

In fact, I have written a total of eight sonnets. Which makes me think it may be time to try one more…

You’re probably all clamouring to write a sonnet, now, so I’ll share the advice my friend Di Esmond gave when I first tried;

A sonnet is a wonder of control… 12 lines that puts a case or a challenge which is answered by the couplet, a sort of a summation and tying up of loose threads. It must be like a butterfly lighting on a bush, perfectly delicate and dancing.

Read Di’s full explanation and analysis of the simple sonnet.

Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Michelle Barnes, at Today’s Little Ditty, where you may not find a sonnet – but you will find lots of poetry goodies! I’d love to know, if you try a sonnet of your own – especially if the rhythm gives you as much trouble as it did me! 🙂

NAPLAN? Persuade Me!

NAPLAN: Persuasion

Persuasion is the act of coaxing you
by reasoned argument, to take my view;
You may have never thought it out before
so let me outline what you can’t ignore.

It’s not enough to simply state the case
without evidence. You never will embrace
my viewpoint; may stay sitting on the fence
or worse – supporting those who cause offence.

Three arguments, at least, must be supported
by facts and quotes, as action is exhorted,
and though you might at first oppose my view
my hope is you’ll soon share the views I do.

I’m persuaded that you have by now conceded,
which means, of course, my argument succeeded.

Disclaimer: 
I will not stoop to bribe, or to extort,

for there are those who’ll say that you’ve been bought!

Sonnet* © Kathryn Apel 2013

NAPLAN is upon us this week. Students from Yrs 3/5/7/9 in state and private schools across Australia, will be shut into silence, racing the clock, but not at all stressed, as they seek to demonstrate their knowledge of reading, spelling, grammar and punctuation, writing, and numeracy.

There are some good things about the NAPLAN test. And there are things I would change.

I don’t believe rigid time constraints are conducive to creativity in writing, and am constantly amazed that children can walk into a blank room with no conception of the topic to be addressed, then walk out 40minutes later having planned, written and edited a persuasive text, all the while paying specific attention to; audience, text structure, spelling, punctuation, paragraphing, sentence structure, vocabulary, cohesion, persuasive devices, and ideas. No dictionary allowed! No ability to research. Only rubber, pencil, sharpener and supplied paper and stimulus.

I challenge an adult to sit such a rigorous test – and do well!

I would love to see our Prime Minister, and Minister for Education, sit the Yr 9 NAPLAN tests under the same conditions as students.

(Perhaps they should – and we should publish those results?)

I dread to think how I would crumple and fail under the combined pressures of time, stress and scrutiny – with no access to tools that I would usually employ whilst writing.

To Julia Gillard and Peter Garrett, I say;

NAPLAN: Persuade Me

Persuade me that we need a Naplan test
to take up time that honestly is best
employed in teaching kids, enthusing them
to learn. Not stressing testing to condemn.

No matter how we all try to downplay
the importance (or the lack) of NAPLAN day,
it cannot be denied that kids are stressed
and yet we still expect they’ll do their best?!

Since when has child development been a race?
It’s Differentiation staff embrace.
Is ‘Teacher’ not an occupation anymore?
Now assessment is so much the greater chore?

A living, breathing child is not defined
by numbers, on a band, that tests assigned.

Sonnet* © Kathryn Apel 2013

To the Aussie kids in Years 3/5/7/9 who are undertaking NAPLAN testing this week, I say;

NAPLAN can not change or define who you are. Your parents, caregivers and teachers know you far better than any computer ever could. So don’t stress – just do your best!

.
* You can read more about the poetrics of the sonnet here; http://monthofpoetry.wordpress.com