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!  

So Much Good Stuff!

Life is busy but rich with blessings, of late. 

I recently went through the herculean process of completing a grant application to organise and present ‘Celebrating Our Stories’ at 10 different venues within the Gladstone Region – and I am thrilled to say I have been successful. I am so thankful to the Gladstone Regional Council and the Queensland Government for this opportunity to inspire young readers to value their stories, while also celebrating ‘The Bird in the Herd’. (And we will have fun with that!) I’m especially excited to bring illustrator Renée Treml to the Gladstone Region – all be it via Zoom. The tour kicks off this coming Wednesday, at Miriam Vale, and will take place across 4 weeks. In addition to the RADF-funded activities, there are also opportunities for schools (Primary or Secondary) within the region to book an author event – either a presentation, or a poetry workshop. If you’re here because this interests you, you’ll find more information on my Appearances page. Drop me a message there.

KatApel_PictorialAs if that wasn’t keeping me busy enough, I was asked to conduct an online poetry PD for a NSW school, who are currently writing a 5 week poetry unit to run across all Primary classes. (How exciting and awesome is that! I would SO be sending my kids to that school!) I’ve presented lots of different poetry workshops online – and lots of intensive poetry professional development sessions for teachers face-to-face – but this is my first time presenting the teacher-intensive session online – which required a complete overhaul in how I did things! But it was worth it. The group was wonderful to work with, and even though we were distant, and there were 50 educators in the one room – we were still able to connect, and bounce idea (and words) around the room. As is often the way, there were quite a number of teachers in the room who initially expressed reservations about poetry, but by the end they were enthusiastic and appreciative. And the feedback from the school since has been wonderful. “You were amazing inspiring and have changed the mindset of our staff.” I’m so glad they enjoyed it, because I was buzzing all night. It was SO GOOD to be seeped in poetry again, and sharing my passion with a group of educators – who are now going out to spread their newfound enthusiasm throughout their school. What a privilege to invest in their poetry journey. I’m excited for what they’re going to produce in the coming weeks, both as curriculum, and then as poetry in the classrooms.🎉

Librarium Reading ClubAND – now I’ve created new material for an online presentation, I’m keen to do it again! (Just sayin’.😉) If your school is keen to pep-up its writing with some poetry, either online or in person, please do get in touch! (That Appearances page I mentioned earlier… You can find more information there.😺)

By way of delightful surprise… I also discovered this podcast, shared on the International Day Against Bullying. They’ve been using ‘Bully on the Bus’ in their English language classes, and “Students in 1st and 2nd year CSE have prepared a programme after their Librarium Reading Club, where they read Bully on the Bus, a book of poems by Kathryn Apel.” Click across to hear the podcast, with the poetry reading starting at 1:14. I was rather chuffed to discover Bully used in this new context. 

I’m going to end this post with a new-to-me Shel Silverstein poem, from ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’. Such clever layout, with words tangled in the ridiculous long legs (only two of them!) of this absurd looking turtle. What an unexpected poem it is! (I may know something about long legs. Though mine don’t pack away quite as neatly as a turtle’s does.) I do love the fact that it just ever-so-slightly spills onto the preceding page… and that’s okay. Because poetry is meant to be savoured! (This poem, inspired me to hunt up my turtle photo (above) and carve out a moment in rhyme…)

Irene is hosting us for Poetry Friday this week at Live Your Poem. What joy! Click across to be inspired by more poetry posts – and have a fabulous week!

Net-A-Story

Earlier in this busy term I was involved with Net-A-Story, an online writing and mentoring program run in conjunction with the Curtis Coast Literary Carnviale (CCLC).  30 groups of students in Yrs 5 – 9 from across our region were involved in the project, involving both state and private schools. I wrote Chapter One – a story starter to get them going, then the school groups got busy writing the next chapters in the story. Each school contributed one chapter, before it was passed on to the next school. (There were five schools in each group, and we ended with six very different stories that all developed from my one chapter, below.)

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