Singing in the Rain

Water reaches to the canopy of a large gum tree – in our paddock! #notariver

After being inundated with rain (we had 18 1/2 inches – almost 500mm – in 3 days) and being unexpectedly flood-bound (but not flooded!) – my week disappeared in a gush!

But I’m singing in the rain today (err… it’s actually fine and sunny…) because – what a shock! – my name and my words are currently up on billboards around Brisbane, with thanks to @qldwriters. I never ever dreamt of that happening!  (For my overseas #PoetryFriday peeps, Brisbane is the capital of my home state, Queensland.)

I’m a long way from Brisbane, so can’t see any in real life, but (YaY!) they have goacam – so I can see it, in real time! (You can too, at; http://www.goacam.com.) Below are some screenshots I’ve snapped. I’d LOVE to see any pics that folks living in Brisbane might happen to catch!

Proof that no writing is ever wasted – my #8wordstory is a reworked haiku from my first ever Month of Poetry – which was in fact a Month of Haiku.

Leigh Ann at A Day in the Life is collecting the #PoetryFriday links for today. I’m sure there will be a flood of good stuff to have you singing like a frog! 🐸

 

 

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Writing on the Rocks

The last month, I’ve been alternating between polishing (and submitting) picture books, and writing poetry. I’m busily at work on my Antarctic historical verse novel – trying new poetic forms and realising all over again how beneficial poetry is for writing. Truly seriously, if you are a principal, literacy coach, or classroom teacher (if you value writing muscle and creativity), you NEED poetry in your classrooms. Regularly! I know I say it often – but after an extended period of time fashioning facts into strict poetic forms I’m going to say it again – nothing builds writing muscle better than poetry. Nothing sparks creativity, wordplay and experimentation with literary devices better than poetry. It’s a challenge. It’s invigorating and rewarding. It’s valuable. It’s FUN!

Why aren’t we encouraging and enabling more kids to write more poetry?

Why do we clutter their curriculum with so many persuasives that kids can’t even be persuaded to want to WRITE!?  Everything feels so prescribed. Actually, I had a little rant about something similar on Twitter last week. So maybe I should just combine the two, and do the job properly! In the hope that someone who writes curriculum might one day stumble on my blog, I’m just going to include a couple of the tweets here…

To illustrate my point, about the muscle, creativity and economy of poetry, I’ll include a little snippet from my Antarctic WIP. And a picture. From Antarctica… (Any excuse to revisit Antarctica!!)

The poem is a tetractys, (or in this case, a double tetractys) and follows a specific syllable count.

Line 1 – 1 syllable
Line 2 – 2 syllables
Line 3 – 3 syllables
Line 4 – 4 syllables
Line 5 – 10 syllables

The double tetractys reverses the syllable count in the second half. A tetractys  can rhyme. Often mine do – but in this one I was focused on the facts and wordplay. And so many details! (Read more about the tetractys.)

The process. Early versions of a tetractys draft – though I know there were many other combinations that don’t seem to be in my document. #Ooops  There are ERRORS in the above, btw. Can you spot them?

The portion of text that shaped the poem.

Current version (after three days of tweaks) – which I can’t guarantee won’t change… but I’m feeling pretty chuffed with!

Dark
hill slope,
blinding snow,
slick, too-smooth ice,
frozen obstacle course and push-pull squalls.
Do not snuff the lantern! Record results.
Face and fingers
frostbitten;
wind has
teeth.

Tetractys © Kathryn Apel 2017 – All rights reserved

Different bay, different season, different era, different character, but… Antarctica! (So that’s okay – right?) #breakingalltherules

There are so many different forms of poetry – something for every reader, writer and situation. Some forms have ‘rules’, like the tetractys, while others offer freedom. Poetry is a wealth of creativity just waiting to be unleashed!

Irene will help you Live Your Poem (Yay!) as she collects the links for the #PoetryFriday round-up today. Thanks, Irene. Whether you’re a reader, a writer, an educator or a student, (anyone, really) I’m sure you’ll find good stuff there!

Quoting the Kids

A little child shall lead them – up the garden path!

I toyed with posting these poems for last week’s play-based learning post… until I remembered my dress-ups poem and Soapy Sid. But these were too cute to keep – so why not share them this week, instead? Poems inspired by gorgeous things my boys have said.

 

Sowing Seeds to Bake Buns

A four year-old was castigating Mother on her waste,
when throwing out the sesame seeds, in her clean-up haste.
He grabbed the bread roll packet and retrieved it from the bin,
still scolding, as he hunted for a pot to put them in.

His mother patiently explained, “We cannot plant these seeds.”
But laddie was intent upon his propagation deeds.
“Well how will we get more buns then?” the boy wanted to know.
“We won’t have more fresh buns if we don’t plant the seeds to grow!”

 

Toadstool in a Tutu

The little girl up on the stage, all dressed in glossy white,
was twirling on her slippered toes and prancing with delight.
Her tutu wasn’t made of tulle, all ruched with gathering,
but satin, stretched across a hoop – a flat and skinny thing.

A young boy in the audience was clearly quite entranced,
but baffled by the rigid skirt that quivered as she danced.
This mystery he had to solve, before it drove him mad…
“Is she a mushroom, or a toadstool?” asked the puzzled lad.

 

Tuna Schooner

I like shopping trips with my son.
He turns mundane chores into fun!
When buying tinned tuna
that featured a schooner
he cried, “There’s a boat in this one!”

 

The Editor

my boy edits
paper planes
the cubby house
a construction project
and a poem

he edits everything
that needs fixing
because mum is
a writer

Poetry © Kathryn Apel
All rights reserved

Matt Forrest Esenwine will be shining a flashlight on Poetry Friday this week, so click across to https://mattforrest.wordpress.com to share your links and light up your night (and day) with poetry. 🙂

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Poetry Friday – Child’s Play

Welcome to the Poetry Friday Round-up. This is my first time hosting the Poetry Friday crew – and using a linky widget – so I sure am hoping it’s going to work first go!

Last week I posted some pics and collages from my experiences of Book Week in Australia. I mentioned that I was off to enjoy Boating Under the Bridge on the Saturday, so I’ll kickstart today’s blog with a collage from that day, because it was brilliant! So much free play stemming from a picture book that I’ve loved as both a mum and teacher, ‘Who Sank the Boat?’, by Pamela Allen.

A whole crowd of kids and carers spent a busy morning creating their own fun with simple and effective resources. It was just like #thegoodolddays #wheniwasakid and #kidswerekids. (Actually, it brought back more memories from when my boys were little, and building countless cubby houses, in trees, and from tin – and anything else they could find. And so much play!)

If you are a parent, carer or early-years educator in the Bundaberg region, get involved with the First Five Forever program, link in with Wide Bay Kids, and get yourself into your local library, because these three organisations, with the support of a whole lot of other community groups, are going to make a HUGE difference in the literacy and creativity of our up-and-coming generations! I was super impressed! Play matters – and these groups foster the fun of play-based learning, and recognise the crucial role of parents in that play. You can find more information on the Wide Bay Kids website – or ask at the Bundaberg Library. And get ready to have a whole lot of FUN with your kids!

I’d been planning to share a poem about my little nook of the world, but I’m realising it’s probably the perfect post to follow with a poem about creativity and play…

If I Dress-up.

Pirate02When I let my thoughts go crazy
then I can be anyone!
There’s no need to buy a costume,
just dress-up and have some fun.

With my stripy shirt in tatters
and my faded denim shorts,
I could wear a pirate’s eye patch
as I swish a sword of sorts.

IMG_5096

If I stuff Mum’s old brown stockings
and make goggle ping-pong eyes,
I could go and scare Miss Muffet
in my spidery disguise.

With my parka and Dad’s helmet,
winter gloves and sunnies too,
I would safely look quite speedy
just like racing drivers do.IMG_5171

If I use a bit of face paint,
make a wand and glitter wings,
I can flutter as a fairy
as I sprinkle joy on things.

If I grab my board, and swimmers,
and then smear my lips with zinc
I would only need a wave to
be a surfer, don’t you think?IMG_5155

When I let my thoughts go crazy
then I can be anyone!
There’s no need to buy a costume,
just dress-up and have some fun.

© Kathryn Apel
First published in Comet Magazine; Issue 4 2006
All rights reserved.

And I know I’ve shared Soapy Sid before on Poetry Friday, but… #play #creativity #imagination #hereheisagain And there were pirates Boating Under the Bridge.

© Kathryn Apel
First published in Comet Magazine; Issue 3 2006
All rights reserved.

Maybe you, too, have a poem to share about creative play? Or a particular play-based memory from your childhood – or special moments with your children? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Now, let’s see how I go with creating and inserting this widget (child’s play! 😉 ) so you can share the links to your inspiring poetry posts. Have a great weekend, and enjoy the wordplay!

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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.

IMG_7648.jpg

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…

IMG_7652.jpg

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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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!

Seasonal Rewind

For Poetry Friday, I’m revisiting a post from 2015. My week in Melbourne has had me thinking a lot about Autumn. We only have two seasons where I live in Queensland; Summer and Winter – and for a few weeks they wrangle back and forth; summer/winter/hot/cold…

But Melbourne… It was all gorgeous warm tones, brisk breezes and crunchy Autumn delights. All those photos of bare branches and golden mounds of leaves that fill Instagram have taken on a whole new meaning, and lovely sensory sentimentality… since Melbourne!

At the release of Lorraine Marwood’s poetry collection, ‘Celebrating Australia’ we were challenged to write a poem using Lorraine’s seasonal poem, ‘Autumn’ as the mentor text.

Autumn

Autumn is loud crushing sounds
a foot scuffing rap-tapping shuffle.
One day a light dusting
of pathway obstruction
by week’s end a whole mound
of slip, slide, crunch, crackle. 
<read the full poem here>

© Lorraine Marwood

I wrote about our switchy-changy summer-winter Queensland Autumn.

A Queensland Autumn

Autumn is ummmm … undecided;
a clinking of coat hangers shuffled.
One day huffing and hissing
of sunshine’s sizzle,
by week’s end a leafy pom-pom pizzazz
of swish, sway, rah-rah rustling.

Autumn is heat-haze blown away.
a shuffling of summer winter outlooks.
One day a brilliance; searing sharp contrast
of sun-baked vibrance,
by week’s end a festive carnival crowd
of mismatched, multi-hued, musty winter woolies.

© Kathryn Apel

It didn’t really turn out how I’d like, and I’d thought to write anotherie (better one) this week, snap-shotting the Melbourne leaves. But… I can’t like it either! I think I just need to let the words write the poem – not the structure. (I’ll have to come back to it.)

Thank-you Mary Lee for collecting our Poetry Friday links at A Year of Reading. You can read more about Lorraine’s poetry collection here – and mayhaps be inspired to write your own seasonal poem. Alas, Autumn is now huddled in a rustic orange blanket fringed with silver. Winter wind has whisked the warmth away!

Too Many Friends – Book Trailer

On Monday, my new verse novel is released – so this past week I’ve been busily behind the scenes doing things for that. And the ‘thing’ that took the most time, was the book trailer. After two full days of staring at my screen (Did someone say perfectionist…?) I am almost at the stage of needing glasses to see through my (new) glasses…

BUT… I have a book trailer!

Do you want to SEE it???

(Correct answer is YES! Because want to share it with you!)

 

My lovely editor Kristy had the idea for the gorgeous chapter headers (there are more!) throughout the book, and the amazing Jo Hunt excelled herself, going above and beyond anything Kristy and I had even dared to dream. Let this be my very heartfelt thank-you to you both! Aside from looking gorgeous in the book, they made my job with the trailer so much easier! (Or was it harder, deciding which images to use…?)

‘Too Many Friends’ goes on sale Monday, 1st May, but I heard from a teacher-librarian friend yesterday, who had attended a Professional Development in Melbourne, where it was ‘highly recommended’ by The Kids’ Bookshop. Kim bought a copy and read it last night, and her feedback was beautiful;

Such a gift for observing & capturing children’s thoughts/ feelings with yr exquisite use of words So much goodness in this book!😍 (@kimyeo)

Poetry Friday this week is being hosted on Teaching Authors, so be sure to skip across and collect the links and be inspired by all the wonderful ways you too can play with words in poetry. A special thank-you to Heidi Mordhorst and her creative class, who last week inspired me with their poems for two voices, which prompted another poem for my Antarctic WIP. (That’s a whole other kind of wonderful-good.)

As for me? I’m on a countdown to Monday… 😀

Title: Too Many Friends
Publisher: UQP
ISBN: 978 0 7022 5976 0
RRP: $14.95

I Don’t Eat My Friends!

friends

My next verse novel is going to the printers on Monday (Yay!) so I thought I’d share a poem from that in celebration of Poetry Friday and all things wonderful… like friends!

I Don’t Eat My Friends!

The kids
in my class
are like a jumbo pack of 
assorted party lollies –
they’re all different,
but I like them 
                all.

(I don’t eat my friends!)

Some kids
talk a lot;
others
tell funny jokes.
Some kids 
ask questions
and listen lots;
others
ask questions 
and don’t listen at all.
Some kids are bossy
(sometimes too bossy!);
others like
to be told
       what to do –
want you to do it 
       for them.
Some kids are quiet
and always there;
others are quiet 
and always alone.

All my classmates are different, 

but that’s the best thing
about
      friends …
                and lollies.


© Kathryn Apel

I’m so thankful for the many beautiful friends who sweeten my life, including the wonderful Poetry Friday peeps, who feed my love of words in verse. Thanks to Karen-consumer-of-coffee for hosting us this week and collecting the links at karenedmisten.blogspot.com.au.

‘Too Many Friends’ will be published by UQP in May 2017, and I canNOT wait to share it!

Like Penguins on a Pebbled Cliff

Those Distant Things

Not flying fish,
swimming seals,
dabbling ducks,
or water bugs,
not orca fins,
boulders,
pebbles,
or my imagination,
but penguins;
  porpoising,
    paddling,
      plunging,
        posturing,
          primping,
            plumping
              penguins!

penguins02

Those grey boulders, at the feet of the penguins (top left) are not boulders, but bubbas.

To read more poetry this simmering summer day, pop across and visit Katie at The Logonauts.