Rainy Day Poetry – And Good News!

In February, the Poetry Sisters wrote Exquisite Corpse poems – and invited us to take part. And I did – but never got around to posting! (Story of my life, this year.🤦‍♀️) But during my travels around the North Burnett recently, I brought the exquisite corpse into Poetry Pep-up sessions. They were a great warm-up/ice-breaker activity. We were taken by the way different punctuation can produce different results; and the variety of visual images the same words inspired amongst participants – which was inspiration in itself, for further poetry. Here are some related to rain, which was in abundance at the time. All of them could be punctuated differently – and I’m not even sure that this is my preferred punctuation. 🙂 (You may have other interpretations?)

Pitter like soft feathers; mist falls. Happy thunder. Slip-bright truck-water.

Plop! Like a scout’s whistle, slippery trees, wading; cold tanks … floods.

Swoosh. Trickle like a treat, constant river splash. Quickly shelter. Verandah.

Over. As heavy as golf balls, washy river rattling melancholy chimney-skipping.

A drip hits the tin roof like splattering stones. Sombre castle; puddling, pattering, umbrella splatter.

Wooosh! I jump like a kangaroo; joyous. Puddle-melting, slippery-cloud gumboots.

Swoosh. As heavy as rocks; dark rainbow, dancing, exploring spit-creeks.

Churning like butter; pelting, swirling cool rainbow.

Clear gumboots. Runny wet puddle-drop.

(I was wanting to encourage playful use of onomatopoeia and creative similes – which you will recognise as the start point for these poems.)

Thanks to Karen aKaren Edmisten* who is hosting Poetry Friday today. I’m sure it will be raining creativity!

Oh – but before I go, I must also share the surprising joy I had this week, with the inclusion of ‘Miss Understood’ on the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards Shortlist. I had not expected that delightful bit of news in the same month that it released! (But I’ll take it.💕🐺💕)

Wolfish Grins – Miss Understood

This week saw the release of Miss Understood. She’s my ninth book – and my second release in 2022. (And that is something that still makes me smile, inside and out!)

It’s been so much fun letting this little wolf loose on the world. This is my most sophisticated picture book to date, with lots of piggy puns in a carefully crafted rapping rhyme. Beau’s stellar illustrations, coupled with Rebecca Young’s vision, and Hannah Janzen’s design work, blow me away. (Much like a house of straw, actually). I am so proud of this picture book. It has been a fantabulously fun experience creating it and I am loving sharing it with kids. And adults too! (Because it turns out I’m not the only adult who loves the interplay between text, art and design. It is been garnering praise wherever I’ve shared it. Copies are disappearing fast!)

Miss Understood is a Scholastic Press book from Scholastic Australia. At this stage it’s only available in Australia and New Zealand. I sure hope that changes!

You can find ideas for classroom (and home) use here; Download Teacher’s Notes. But actually, just read it for the fun!

And don’t let that little skunk pass unnoticed…

And adore the endpapers!

💕🐺💕

I’m the wolf, Miss Understood.
You think I’m bad, but I am good.
Those Little Pigs told you a porker —
made it sound like I’m a stalker!

Is the wolf really as BIG and BAD as she seems? Or is she just . . . misunderstood? An irresistible story about being accepted for who you really are.

Over the next two weeks I will be out-and-about doing Storytime readings and conducting Poetry Pep-ups for teens and adults around the North Burnett Region. Check your local libraries for times and locations. You can be sure Miss Understood will be sharing her version of the Three Little Pigs there.

Jama is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday round-up at Jama’s Alphabet Soup. I am fairly confident Jama will not be wolfing pea and yam soup, like those hambones in Miss Understood.🤭

Busy in Brissy

Today’s blog post is coming to you from Busy-Brissy, where I have been loving the chance to connect with readers of all ages – and writing buddies, too. (Though I’ve also missed catching up with a couple, thanks Covid.😿)

Thank-you St Johns Year 7, and St Peters Yr 5 for the warm welcome and wonderful interactions with staff and students. (The snails and I appreciated it!)

At St Peters, every child had read at least one of my verse novels. (And some kids had read three!) Any author event is special, and I love that there are always standout moments in each session – but when kids have read so many of your works, they really understand how you tick… and their questions – their thirst for information! – reflect that. I started the session asking them what they like about verse novels… and they gushed wisdom. I wish I could recall word-for-word the beautiful ways they expressed their appreciation. I can’t. One gem; ‘I love how your words make pictures. You make me feel like I’ve stepped into the story.’ Their insights have filled my cup and reignited my passion.

 

Gems of Wisdom
(Inspired by students)

shape poetry
and imagery
draw readers
into the story

less words
all story

eyes follow
words;
placement places
(and paces)
readers
on the page

can’t miss

the feelings

Draft © Kathryn Apel

Following the third session on my second day, someone commented that I must be exhausted – but I was not! I was energised. I love the chance to share a passion for poetry with kids. (And I’m rather delighted that kids are as fascinated as I am, by snails.)

It was wonderful to meet the librarian who has written the (excellent!) Teachers’ Notes for my UQP books, Christina Wheeler. I’ve always said that if I was the teacher, using my books in the classroom, I would do exactly what Christina has done with my books in the Teachers’ Notes. (I just didn’t know it was Christina until recently.🙃)

And then it was just a hop, skip and jump to meet my publisher Clair Hume and publicist, Jean at UQP. (Wish we’d grabbed a pic, too!)

As if that wasn’t ticking enough boxes, I then got to follow it all up with cuppa and cake with one of my faves, the darling of Brisbane, Samantha Wheeler.

On Saturday, I start school holiday sessions with Brisbane Libraries, including; Toowong, Garden City, Ashgrove, Carindale, Holland Park, Mt Ommaney, Brisbane Square & West End. (Also Helensvale on the Gold Coast.) Bookings are essential, through relevant libraries, and sessions vary – so check to see what is offered, if you live in Brisbane. (Saturday session; Toowong (PB reading/farm themes) and Garden City (teens poetry workshop).

Aside from all this wonderful creative cup-filling, I have been filling my car with prayers (and thanksgiving) as I navigate city traffic in my beautiful little blue Rav. (I cannot tell you how many hours I have stressed this, over recent months!)

Staying Car-lm

Car navigation system
as clear as the confusion
of criss-crossing
carriageways.

Recalculating…

Heidi at my juicy little universe is hosting the Poetry Friday community this week. I look forward to popping in and out during my travels over the coming week – though I may not get to comment much, sorry. I will be on the hop – in that little blue Rav.💙 Stay safe!

Poetry Friday Round-up – Release Week

I cannot believe it is the first week in March already – and yet, here we are, with storms and floods ravaging large areas on the south-east coast of Australia and Ukraine digging deep to show incredible fortitude in the face of aggression. My heart has been heavy. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)

And in amongst this turbulence, What Snail Knows slipped quietly into Australian bookshops – followed by beautiful, detailed reviews and so much love. I hadn’t expected such a response – and I am incredibly thankful for those who have taken the time to share. Here’s a little snippet from some of them. (Click the reviewer’s name to read each review in its entirety.) 

💗 Kim Yeoman: I am in awe once again of Kathryn Apel’s skill in weaving together similes, metaphors, alliteration, imagery, rhyme and shape poetry with compassion and creativity to tell Lucy’s story.

💗 Lamont: Lucy is a character that you will fall in love with from the start. This story will be thoroughly enjoyed by junior to middle primary level readers.

💗 Sandy Bigna: This beautifully constructed verse novel for younger readers gently illuminates themes of loneliness, belonging, kindness, friendship and family. It will both break your heart and make you smile. Highly recommended for your 7+ reader.

💗 Barbara Braxton: A most poignant verse novel… a potent story of loneliness, friendship, acceptance, and building and connecting with community.

Mandy Foots light pencil artwork bring Snail and Lucy to life.

To coincide with release week, I was interviewed on the Australian Alphabet Soup blog, so if you’re intrigued about the answer to any of these questions, click the pic to read more.

Australian readers can also leave a comment on UQP’s Facebook or Instagram giveaway posts for your chance to win a copy of the book.

And don’t forget to leave your links below, for the Poetry Friday round-up.

I’m looking forward to catching you all on the rounds.

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Speedy Snails!

Yay and hurray, there was speedy Snail mail in my letterbox this week – advance copies of my March release, What Snail Knows. (You can pre-order your copy here.) And, with the perfect prop, there were just a few photos snapped to mark the occasion. 🙂 (Snail has been waiting and waiting for her day of fame and she was keen to make the most of it! No other snails have had a look in.)

Excuse my damp and rumpled dress. It started drizzling at the letterbox, and I had to walk 1km clutching my parcel – so very grateful it was sent Express, because not only did it arrive super-fast, (Yay for speedy snails!) but it also had plastic packaging to protect it!😅

Here are some fave Snail pics, to mark the occasion. You can be pretty sure more will make an appearance, somewhere.

No new poetry today – but What Snail Knows is a verse novel! A companion story to Too Many Friends – this from the perspective of Lucy. The quiet one, who’s always alone… (So beautifully illustrated by Mandy Foot.)

Lucy and Dad move a lot, so it’s hard to make friends.

Lucy’s glad she has Snail, the perfect pet for a lonely girl. If only she had her own shell to hide in every time she started at a new school.

But this place is different. She likes her teacher, Miss Darling. She likes her classmates, especially Tahnee. She even likes Mei-hui’s van park, where she lives with Dad and Snail. This place feels like home. Can she convince her dad to stay?

If you are missing snail poems, you’ll find a selection of mine here

Or perhaps you’d enjoy this prompt, here to write your own snail (or other pet) poem. Perfect for kids, with their delayed start for school!

Talking of snails… the lovely Irene Latham has her own snail story releasing shortly; Snail’s Ark. (Yes! You definitely need that yellow dress, Irene!) Today Irene is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-up at Live Your Poem. How perfect is that?

 

Nothing… 😶

I’m rather delighted to share another short poem published on the  Dirigible Balloon this week. Contrary to what you might think, it’s a poem where I have nothing to say. Intrigued? You can read (and hear) more here.

I’m also excited to say that I’ve had a sneak peek at the new Australian verse novel resource that a small team of us have been working on – and it is amazing! I’m so excited that it is almost ready to unveil for the world. I’ve always known Australia has a rich history in verse novels, and appreciated the support of my publisher, UQP, who are so much a part of that rich history, but who knew that we (Australia) have published so many for children!

Here is an interesting fact I learnt this week, in a blog post by Steven Herrick on the release of his new novel, ‘How to Repaint a Life’. Steven writes;

I’d like to acknowledge Leonie Tyle and UQP, who twenty-five years ago had the courage to release the first verse novel for young adults ever published in Australia. They followed this a few years later with the first verse novel for children ever published. Both were happily written by me.

You can read Steven’s full blog post here; https://poetryfootballtravel.blogspot.com

Catherine at Reading to the Core has the Poetry Friday round-up for today. And I have lads home at intervals over the weekend, and a plan to enjoy our short time together again. But I will look to catching up with your posts, even if I don’t get to comment much this week. Whatever your weekend involves, I hope it is wonderful!

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?

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

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