But, right here right now, I am delighted to welcome my first guest blogger for the month. Kathryn Apel is not only a fellow writer and friend, but also shares a special day with me – because yesterday, whist I was busy celebrating the release of Pearl Verses the World, Kathryn was celebrating the release of her first picture book, This is the Mud. So, it was fitting that I invite Kathryn to be my first guest blogger in this month of guests and celebrations. Over to Kathryn:
Firstly, a huge thankyou to Sally, who is not only sharing the excitement of a of a May book release, but has also invited me to share the experiences on her blog during this merry month of May. And I’m really looking forward to some poetic justice in our combined Verse Off, starting on Sunday. Check into either of our blogs for details then – because this one’s for you!
Secondly, congratulations Sally, on the release of Pearl Verses the World!!! It looks like a beautiful ‘heart’ story and I am really looking forward to adding it to my collection and savouring the story, richly told in poetic verse. I know I’ve said it before, but I have to say it here again… I love that title!! So very cryptically, cleverly done. It’s a pearl.
I love writing poetry! The discipline that comes from good poetry enhances all forms of writing. After all, poetry develops the art of saying less, best.
Cinquains are beaut to start young poets off. But they hone the skills of adult writers too.
Cinquains have a few, simple rules that teach you to make every word count! Cut out needless words like ‘a’, ‘the’ and… ‘and’! Don’t repeat a word.
There are a couple of different formats for a cinquain, but this is one I like.
Line One: One noun
Line Two: Two adjectives
Line Three: Three verbs
Line Four: Four-word phrase
Line Five: A different noun
That’s right – just 11 words. But those few words create vivid pictures – often with sound effects too!
tilts, glides, toots
snaking across the country
screech, dance, quarrel
raucous, rainbow nectar collectors
(Commended in Yellow Moon, 2005)
Choose a subject and write to sharpen the reader’s perception. Play around with abstract connections then tie them together with a twist. It’s amazing how far 11 words can go.
gapes, swills, consumes
fatal fish roller coaster
(Winner in Yellow Moon, 2006)
The following cinquain planning and draft sheet is one I’ve developed for classroom use. It makes students think about the subject before they start to compose the cinquain – so they have a bank of images and words to play with when it comes time to craft the poem.
I can’t write about poetry without talking about rhyme – especially since May is my month for Mud!
Sometimes writing rhyming poetry ties my head in knots and I feel like my skull will crack with the effort of finding the ‘perfect word’. Other times words spill out so fast that my fingers fly across the keys in a euphoric rush, and the poem literally writes itself.
This is the Mud! was one of those effortless efforts. It was written in about an hour, with very little to edit afterwards. Everything just seemed to fall into place – so much so, I was too embarrassed to show any of my usual writing buddies, because there was no skill in it.
It’s just as well I shared it with my boys, because a year later, my then six year-old chose This is the Mud! as my entry to the inaugural CYA preschool picture book manuscript competition, which it won, and from there, went on to publication. It was my first book contract. The breakthrough – at last!
Richly illustrated by Warren Crossett, This is the Mud! will be on sale in bookstores around Australia from 7th May. It is a gorgeous picture book for our Aussie kids, featuring a beautiful, beefy red cow, and loads of mud, muck, mess and mayhem!
That’s the dirt on This is the Mud! – just add water.
For a short form poetry discipline with a rhyming base, I have a lot of fun with the solage, developed by Australian poet, Cameron M. Semmens. Once again, this is great for classroom use – especially upper primary or secondary, where kids are sharp and witty.
The solage has three lines in an AAB rhyme scheme. The third line is a humorous twist on lines 1&2 – usually only one word. The solage is so short and simple, it’s a joke!
I haven’t met
the teacher’s pet…
Girls giggle –
The recorder band
broke – then fanned;
I don’t understand cricket,
with bails on the wicket –
The Big Cat Show
pranced in a row…
I hope you have some fun with these. Sharpen your pencil and your wits so you can pare back your poetry and reveal – a pearl!
Kathryn Apel (All poems used © Kathryn Apel)
Thanks for coming, Kathryn. Follow these links to learn more about Kat.