A Verse Off of course!
A Verse Off is what happens when two authors who have books to be released within days of each other, realise there is a common link in verse. One has a novel in free verse, and the other a rhyming picture book.
‘We should get together and celebrate,’ says Kat.
‘Great idea! We could get people to write poems on our blogs’, says Sally.
‘What blog?’ says Kat ‘I’ll have to start one!’
‘They could write free verse to my blog,’ says Sally.
‘And rhyme to mine,’ says Kat.
‘Hmmm… What would we call it?’ says Sally.
‘A verse off of course,’ says Kat.
That explanation should make everything as clear as mud (that’s appropriate!) so let’s put it more simply.
May is a dual celebration with the release of Kathryn Apel’s This is the Mud!, a humorous rhyming picture book, and Sally Murphy’s Pearl Verses the World, a free verse novel. Just look at the pretty covers:
To celebrate, we are inviting blog readers to have some fun by responding – in verse – to some prompts. You can choose your style – either free verse (unrhyming) or rhyming verse. This is your chance to prove that your preferred form is the best. So are you versed in rhyme – or free? May is your chance to find out!
Each Sunday in May we’ll post the prompt on both blogs, http://www.sallymurphy.blogspot.com/ and http://katswhiskers-thewritestuff.blogspot.com/ and invite readers to post their verse responses. If you want to respond in free verse, please post your response on Sally’s blog, and if writing in rhyme, you can post at Kathryn’s blog.
The next day – Monday – we’ll post the verses in a new post for all to see.
On Friday, 8th May we will be holding a special Verse Off – because that’s the day This is the Mud! will be launched.
Here are the rules:
1. There is no ‘right’ answer to the prompt. Be creative.
2. Limit your response to twelve lines (so there is room for everyone’s response)
3. You can respond in either free verse or rhymed verse. If you’d like to do both, post each at the appropriate blog.
4. This is your work, so add your name, and a link to your website or blog, if you’d like.
5. Everyone is a winner! But there is no winner.
Over to you. Write your response to this photo (remember twelve lines or less) and, if it is free verse, post it in the comments section below. If you’d like to respond in rhyme, head over to Kathryn’s blog. Don’t forget to add your name – and link, if you have one. And check back tomorrow to see your poem featured.
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.
Welcome, welcome. Come in and make yourself at home. Fancy a glass of champagne – please, be my guest. Take a canapé, too. This is a celebration, after all.
Why all the hospitality? Glad you asked. See, I’m not JUST a nice person. No, today is a special day, and not just because it’s my Mum’s birthday (though that is, of course, a good reason to celebrate) – but because today, May 1, marks the much awaited (by me) release of my verse novel, Pearl Verses the World. So please raise your glasses, and help me to toast my new book baby.
Now, as well as passing around the virtual champagne, I have lots planned to celebrate Pearl’s release. And, because today is just the first day in Pearl’s life as a book, I am planning not one day, but a whole month of celebrations. I am off on a blog tour, and will also be hosting visitors here on my blog. Together with my friend Kathryn Apel, who also has a book baby being released this month, I’m running a poetry challenge – a verse-off – where you’ll be able to show off your poetry skills either here on my blog, or at Kathryn’s. All this and more, to make May a month of celebration.
But, of course, a party is only a party with lots of guests, so I’m hoping you’ll join me throughout the month to learn more about Pearl Verses the World and to party with me.
For today, you might like to know a little bit about the book. First, feel free to admire the beautiful cover, featuring the delectable artwork of Heather Potter, who has really brought Pearl to life.
Now, more info.
What the Book is About (From the Publisher’s Website)
At school, Pearl feels as though she is in a group of one. Her teacher wants her to write poems that rhyme but Pearl’s poems don’t. At home, however, Pearl feels safe and loved, but her grandmother is slowly fading, and so are Mum and Pearl. When her grandmother eventually passes away, Pearl wants life to go back to the way it was and refuses to talk at the funeral. But she finds the courage to deliver a poem for her grandmother that defies her teacher’s idea of poetry – her poem doesn’t rhyme; it comes from the heart.
And the First Review, which I’m still glowing about, can be read online here.
If you’d like to buy the book, it is available from several online bookstores, including Fishpond – and, hopefully, in a bricks and mortar bookstore or library near you. You may need the publication details, if bychance the book isn’t displayed prominently. So, here goes:
Murphy Sally & Heather Potter (ill) Pearl Verses the World
Walker Books Australia, 2009
ISBN: 9781921150937Australian RRP: $14.95
Still reading? Great. Have some more cyber-bubbles while I tell you what else is happening this month to celebrate Pearl’s release.
First, starting today, I am off on a blog tour.
May 4 Persnickety Snark
May 5 Let’s Have Words
May 6 Just listen Book Reviews
May 8 Write and Read With Dale
May 9 Tales I Tell , where Mabel has challenged me to answer her questions in verse.
May 10 Robyn Opie’s Writing Children’s Books , where I am guest blogging about getting published.
That’s a lot of questions and talking from me, so to take the pressure off me a bit, every Sunday this month visitors to this blog will be challenged to write some words on their own. Kathryn Apel and I will be joining forces to host a verse-off. We’ll be providing visitors to both our blogs with a photo stimulus, and asking you to respond in poetry – either rhymed (which you’ll post at Kathryn’s blog) or unrhymed (which you’ll post here). More details coming this Sunday, May 3. In between times, I have invited some of my poetry-writing friends to drop in and write some guest blogs about poetry. Some will provide poetry writing exercises, others will talk more generally about children’s poetry. The first guest blogger will be Kathryn Apel, who will be here tomorrow.
And if that’s not enough for you, you’ll have to drop by regularly and see what else happens here during May – there’ll be something new every day!
Thanks heaps for dropping by and sharing this special day with me. It’s not every day an author gets to celebrate the release of a new book. Pearl and I thank you for joining in the celebration. Have a lovely May. And happy birthday, Mum.