Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

Archive for the month “December, 2012”

Poetry Friday: “With her, at midnight”

For my final Poetry Friday post of the year, I’m sharing a fairly new poem that I completed just a few weeks ago.  I wrote this for my wife, Jen, and since it describes a muggy, summer evening, I thought it might help to melt some of the heavy, wet snow that fell in this part of the country yesterday.

This is a tanka, pretty much the only surviving form of waka, a term that once encompassed many forms of Japanese poetry.  You may notice that the first three lines are similar to a haiku, with their 5-7-5 syllabic structure; however, haikus are a relatively new form of poetry, having been developed in the 19th century (haikus were borne of the original hokku form, which dates to the 1600s, but waka forms go back to the 6th century).

By the way, this week I learned that the Japanese word haijin means a crippled person, or a haiku poet.  Figures.

So now that your history and vocab lessons are over, on to the poetry!  And be sure to stop by Carol’s Corner, where you’ll find the complete Poetry Friday round-up.

.

With her, at midnight

Within the warm, thick
soup of night clouds and orchids,
breaths heavy as air
silence jealous crickets, stars
glisten our damp, moonlit skin.

- © 2012 Matt Forrest Esenwine

Poetry Friday: Christmas cookies – and “Christmas Cookies”

For today’s edition of Poetry Friday, I had first thought I would simply refer folks to the adult poem I posted this past Tuesday.  It then occurred to me that, although I’m proud of the poem and the reasons for its inspiration, it might be a bit too depressing to lead into the joyous Christmas weekend.  Nothing against depression, mind you – poets like me thrive on it, of course - but I’m not the kind of morose individual who is constantly in a state of perpetual melancholy, so I decided a swing in the opposite direction for today might be appropos.

Around here, I do most of the baking; doubly-so this time of year.  My wife is a great cook, but she knows that if I weren’t doing what I’m doing, I’d probably be a chef somewhere.  Or a sous-chef.  Or a line cook.  Or just prepping salads at Ho-Jo’s.  Fact is, I love to cook, so the holidays give me all the reasons in the world to go overboard in the kitchen.

In the past two weeks, I’ve made 3 gallons of chili, a batch of homemade ham and potato cream soup, 5 different types of muffins, 6 different types of cookies, and a pumpkin-rum swirled cheesecake with a gingersnap-pecan crust.

This is all in addition to normal day-to-day cooking.

Did I mention I love this time of year??

Anyway, I thought I’d share a recipe for a traditional Swedish spice cookie called pepparkakor…along with a poem about Christmas cookies.  First, the recipe…these are cookies I bake every year, and although the recipe should make about 4 dozen cookies (depending on how big your cookie cutters are), I usually have to make two batches because I give so many away!

If you like gingersnaps, you’ll love these.

In Sweden, animal shapes are often used, but I use whatever I’m in the mood for.  Pepparkakor are so simple to make, they’re a great cookie to bake with your kids; you almost can’t screw them up!  In fact, my 2-year-old loves to help me cook, and it takes a small army and an act of Congress to get him away from the batter long enough for me to cut them out.

Ingredients
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter (salted or unsalted), softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (dark or light)
1/4 cup molasses (dark corn syrup will do, but molasses is better)
1 T. each ground cinnamon and ground ginger
2 t. ground nutmeg
2 t. ground cloves
and heck – while you’re at it, throw in some allspice, if you’ve got it!
1 t. baking soda
1 T. orange zest (optional)
2 T. cream or milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup white chocolate, for decorating

Directions
In a large bowl, beat all ingredients – except the cream and flour – together with an electric mixer.
On low speed, mix in the cream, then flour, just until well blended (dough should be slightly crumbly, but even-coloured).
Wrap dough and chill until firm enough to roll, at least 30 minutes, but can also be stored overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
On a lightly-floured surface, roll dough out in small batches to about an 1/8-inch thickness and cut using cookie cutters.
Place at least an inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets (this is where I LOVE parchment paper) and bake 5-7 minutes, depending on their size, until firm.
Let rest for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To decorate, simply melt the white chocolate in the microwave or double-boiler and dip portions of the top of each cookie; top with sprinkles, if you’d like.
Let stand at room temp to harden, and enjoy!

So there’s my traditional Swedish Christmas cookie, direct from the old country.

(Full disclosure: like many Americans, I’m a mutt: Swedish, German, Scottish, and English – with a weeeeeee bit of French you’d have to travel back nearly 300 years to get to.  So although the ‘old country’ is Sweden today, it might be a different country tomorrow.)

On to the poetry…

Unlike the other poems I post here, that have been revised, edited, revised, critiqued, revised, revised, revised, revised…this is only a second draft.  I don’t think it flows as well as it could, and I’m not sure if the last line has the punch of a typical poem of mine, so it probably has plenty of work ahead of itself – but considering the occasion, it was the obvious one to feature.  Hope you like it (such as it is), and be sure to pop over to My Juicy Little Universe for all the Poetry Friday offerings!

Christmas Cookies

When Christmastime is getting close,
We grab the cookie sheets
And dad and I start baking
My favourite kinds of treats!

We fill our bowls with flour and eggs,
We mix and stir and beat;
I try to hide the little bites
Of batter that I eat.

We cut out shapes of every kind
And cover them with sprinkles;
I make a tree of red and green
With one big star that twinkles.

Then put the cookies in the oven,
Let them slowly bake…
Before they’re done, I’m asking dad
What others we can make!

- © 2012 Matt Forrest Esenwine

Merry Christmas!

“Where Will You Be?”

I’ve been avoiding making any comments online about the Sandy Hook school tragedy because I figured there was not much more that I could add to the discussion.  Everyone is shocked.  Everyone is sad.  Everyone is asking ‘why’…so I left it alone and kept my thoughts to myself.
.
But then late Sunday night, I sat down in front of my computer and started banging out words…and somehow a poem was created.  It’s one of those that just sort of wrote itself – and I thought I’d share it for today’s post.  This was inspired by the events that unfolded not only in Connecticut, but also in China, where a man wielding a knife wounded 22 school children that same day.
.
Hopefully, each of you who reads the poem will take away a little something different from it.
.

Where Will You Be?

When dusk falls,
where will you be?
Each morning
on my own,
waking,
I barely stand.
For, if alone
now
as I am
always, every day,
so I shall remain –
waiting, watching, crying.
Faith faltering,
the sad miracle of hope
leaves me
a barren soul
swollen
like a bloated belly.

Do you hear me?   Can you see?

Like a bloated belly
swollen,
a barren soul
leaves me
the sad miracle of hope:
faith faltering,
waiting, watching, crying.
So I shall remain
always, every day,
as I am
now.
For, if alone
I barely stand
waking
on my own
each morning…
where will you be
when dusk falls?

- © 2012 Matt Forrest Esenwine

Poetry Friday: “Not So Easy”

Ornaments 2Before we get to today’s poem, I need to congratulate someone!  Last Friday, I offered two New Hampshire-made, handcrafted milkweed pod Christmas ornaments to anyone who wanted them, just for visiting my blog and reading the poem I was featuring, “Christmas Tree, Three.”  The poem is from my winter-themed children’s poetry collection, Anticipation: Poems for a Winter’s Night, and I appreciate all the comments and feedback I received – not just for that particular poem, but for all my postings.

So, as a little “Thank You,” I thought it might be nice to have a giveaway in time for Christmas.  And by a purely random drawing, the winner is…

Joy Frelinger!  Joy is a children’s poet and performance artist from Arizona, and the ornaments should add a little touch of New England to her southwest decor.  Congratulations, Joy, and thank you so much for visiting my blog!  (If anyone is interested in purchasing one of these ornaments, just send an email to Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com and let me know!  They’re $8 each, plus $2 for shipping)

Now then…today’s poem is one of the first ones I wrote for my winter collection.  The last few poems I’ve featured here have been what many in the kid lit industry would call ‘quiet’ poems – that is, they’re more serious and introspective than silly or funny.  I’d like to think this sort of bridges that gap…but I’ll let you decide!  And be sure to check out all the Poetry Friday offerings at Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup!

Not So Easy

A few have hit my forehead and a bunch have slammed my chin,
A couple dozen nailed my nose – and even gotten in.
I’ve had so many in my eyes I now can barely blink;
Catching snowflakes on your tongue is harder than you’d think.

- © 2012 Matt Forrest Esenwine

Of businessmen and fishermen…

If you’re a writer, chances are you have a pretty good idea of who your characters are before you start writing.  Of course, they often change as you develop them, and sometimes they can surprise you.  Learning about your characters can be fun, inspiring, and satisfying,

If you’re a writer, that is.

If, on the other hand, you are a voiceover artist, characters who change and surprise you are not always a good thing.

Character evolution vs. script evolution

It’s expected that certain characters will grow and develop over the course of a story, a book, or a script.  It’s what makes them likeable, unlikeable, heroes, antiheroes, human or inhuman.  However, characters who change with each revision of a script are something else entirely.

I recently auditioned for the role of a businessman for an audiobook.  He was a middle-aged, money-crunching fellow, not particularly fond of his wife, but unwilling to leave her because of the financial toll a divorce would take.  He was one of several characters who, over the course of the book, went through various emotional changes and emerged as different people than they were initially.

That was all well and good.  Little did I know how much development this character was going to go through.

“Who am I, again?”

When I was told I got the part, the producer was thrilled that I really captured the personality of this fellow, especially on one audition take.  He said there were just a few lines he’d like me to redo, and that he’d be in touch with the complete script.

When I received the script, the producer had quite a few revision suggestions for me; more than I had expected, knowing how much he had liked what I had already done, but I didn’t think much of it.  Revisions are part of the business.  I read my lines and sent them back to him within a couple of days.

This time, the producer seemed surprised at how quickly I turned the audio around (how fast I got his audio back to him, for you non-industry types).  He told me he hadn’t anticipated me doing all the lines yet, as they were still editing the final version of the script.

Wait…what?

If it’s an audiobook, what kind of ‘script editing’ needs to be done?

But besides the fact that I went and read my lines that he sent – lines that I apparently wasn’t supposed to read yet – I was told that the character didn’t seem gruff enough,  As a commercial fisherman, he should have a bruskness about him I wasn’t capturing.

Okay…hang on.  Last I knew, he was a businessman.

So I redid all my lines again with a little more roughness to my voice, and emailed the audio.  You know how they say third time’s the charm?  Well, the producer emailed me back and said he just didn’t feel like I was right for the role.  He agreed to pay me for the work I did, but after I received the payment, we parted ways.

Know what you want

I went from being the perfect voice to the worst voice, and there was nothing I could do about it.  If it seems like I’m bitter or upset, I’m honestly not; these sorts of things come with the territory of doing narration and voice-acting.  Sometimes you get picked, sometimes you don’t, sometimes things just don’t work out.  It is what it is.

But in this case, the character went from being an unloving businessman to a gruff fisherman…not via character development, but by a script that was never nailed down.  If you are a voice-seeker – a director, producer, rights-holder – please, on behalf of voice actors everywhere, know your characters before you start looking for people to bring them to life.  Don’t hire someone to voice a schoolgirl and then turn them away because they’re not sultry.  Don’t get upset when the guy voicing a car mechanic can’t sound like Morgan Freeman.

It’s like asking Cousin Eddie to do Shakespeare.

This goes for straight narrations, too.  If you’re not sure if you want a young woman or a middle-aged man or a senior citizen to voice a particular project, poor saps like me have no idea if we’re a suitable match.  What it boils down to is,  if you don’t know what you’re looking for, we don’t know, either.  The audiobook producers could have saved themselves and yours truly a lot of work and time by knowing what they wanted in the first place.

I never learned how that audiobook came out.  I hope they found someone who could do the fisherman character justice.

For all I know, they could still be revising the script.

Poetry Friday: “Christmas Tree, Three”

Today, I’m doing something I’ve never done before:  offering a free gift!

A couple of weeks ago, I featured “Naked,” the first poem in my winter-themed poetry collection.  This week, I’m spotlighting another poem from the collection – and since it’s getting close to that “time of year,” this is one of two Christmas poems in it!  And let me just say right now, that anyone who thinks haikus are easy to write…has never written a really good haiku.  This is the only haiku in the collection, yet it went through more revisions than most of the other 22 poems.

I hope it’s one of those ‘really good haikus’ I was just talking about.  ;)

And oh, yes…the free gift I mentioned?  In the spirit of giving, I’m offering TWO New Hampshire-made, handcrafted milkweed pod Christmas ornaments – a $16 value – to one lucky person.  Just leave a note in the comments section below, letting me know if you’d like to be in the drawing, and I’ll draw one name at random on Wednesday, December 12!  I’ll announce the winner in my Friday, December 14, blog post.  (and if you’d like to purchase one for $8/ea., just drop me an email)

These really are quite beautiful, if I do say so myself…click on them, and you can see them enlarged:

 .

So here’s today’s three-part haiku; hope you like it.  And be sure to check out all the Poetry Friday happenings with Robyn Hood Black!

Christmas Tree, Three
(haiku)

Country Christmas tree
tall and green, tinseled in light,
welcomes us inside.

City Christmas tree
in store-bought white, warmly shines
a mother’s sweet smile.

Island Christmas tree
with outstretched leaves, holds seashells
like father’s soft palm.

- © 2012 Matt Forrest Esenwine

If the voiceover industry was like dog breeding…

Now there’s a contender for oddest blog post title of the year, wouldn’t you say?  Trust me, you don’t need to be a voice artist OR a dog-lover to hopefully glean a little something out of this…

As some of you might now, if you follow me on Facebook, my family and I welcomed a new member of the family to our home this past weekend.  Rosie, a 6-month-old Great Pyrenees-Boxer, walked into the house and within hours was acting like she had lived here all of her short life.  She’s a sweetheart, too; very friendly, very loving, very playful, very…big.  Forty-five pounds already, and we’ve still got 6 more months to go before she’s a grown-up!

We love her.

But we almost didn’t find out about her.  My wife, who is the most ‘dog person-y’ person you could ever meet, is actually allergic to them, so we had considered buying a purebred MH900027334 (poodle)Standard Poodle.  Standard Poodles don’t shed, are hypo-allergenic, are great with children, and – despite the frou-frou connotations they carry – can almost look manly when their fur isn’t trimmed to look like they just walked through a styrofoam ball factory.

The fastest way to lose a customer

The reason I’m telling you this is because of the attitude we received from the Standard Poodle breeder.  Now, we are conscientious, loving people who have had cats and dogs our entire lives, and who care for them as if they’re family – because they ARE family.  We’re also the types of folks who consistently bring home strays or shelter-pets; however, we felt that due to my wife’s allergy, we could justify spending the hundreds of dollars it might require to purchase a purebred.

Imagine, then, our surprise when my wife emailed the breeder to get more information – and was basically told in a reply email that the breeder was too busy to talk, that she had all the information on her website (which we had already viewed), and suggested we ‘Friend’ her on Facebook – which my wife had already done.  But, of course, a person that busy probably doesn’t have time to sweat little details like that.

Wow, great way to entice customers, huh?

So this got me thinking how preposterous it would be, if people in other industries treated their potential customers and clients the way this woman does.  The following are actual  excerpts from the breeder’s email (slightly edited for punctuation and grammar – she might make thousands of dollars with every litter of pups, but she ain’t no Rhodes scholar) along with my imagined version of a voiceover artist saying the same thing.  Really, though, anyone saying these things in any industry is preposterous; perhaps you’ll see a parallel within your own industry.

It began when my wife askedif we can speak with the breeder to learn a bit more about her & her dogs:
.
Breeder:  “Right now, time to just chat on the phone is not usually possible… My life and the work of taking good care of my poodles and their pups limits any telephone time severely.”
Voice artist:   “Right now, time to just chat on the phone is not usually possible… My life and work of reading scripts limits time to engage in human contact severely.”
.
Breeder:  “I love email, which I can fit into an over-scheduled, hectic life.”
Voice artist:   “I love email, which helps me avoid having to speak directly to people who want to give me money.  Because, you know, my life is over-scheduled and hectic, unlike the boring, humdrum existence you lead.”
.
Breeder: “I would suggest you check out our website and read all the text pages.  Also go over our Face Book page (Ed. note: yes, she spelled it as TWO SEPARATE WORDS) and check out all the pictures, albums and posts from puppy owners.”
Voice artist:  “Here’s what you do:  stop bugging me and go visit my website.  And don’t just visit the home page – read all the text pages and listen to all the demos, like a good little customer.  That way you don’t keep asking me questions I’ve already answered on my website.  I mean, GAWD – the whole reason I set up the website in the first place was so I wouldn’t have to interact with you.”
.
Breeder:  “I will have some open days in early December if you would like to visit.  We do have to go by appointments.  Because of the work load here, I can see just one family per day at 1pm.
Voice artist:  “Let’s see…it’s mid-November now, so how about we deal with each other a month from now?  Your Christmas Sale commercial script can wait, right?  Of course, it’ll have to – did I mention how agonizingly busy I am??  Why don’t we plan to meet December 27th at 1:35pm.  That’s not a suggestion.”
.
Breeder:  “In lieu of an application, I love to see an email telling me all about you, your family, your home and most importantly, who will be at home and available to raise a new baby??   Poodles just do not develop well left home all alone…they need to be raised by someone’s side, much like you would do with a human child.”
Voice artist:  “You want to sign a contract?  Hold on, there, Sparky – what makes you think I even want to voice your script?  In addition to the homework I’ve already assigned (visiting my website, reading all the text and listening to all the demos, viewing my Face Book page), I’d like you to write an essay explaining why you think you deserve the privilege of working with me.  Tell me about yourself, your company, and most importantly, what your commercial is about.  I don’t voice commercials for just anyone you know, so I really need to know if you’re worth my time.”
.

When my wife very politely emailed the breeder back to say she wanted to speak with her directly because of her concern about the quality of care the dogs were receiving at the breeder’s, to get a sense of the personality of the breeder, and to be sure the place was not just a “puppy mill”…she never received a reply.  We figure there are three possible reasons.  Either:  a) my wife insulted the breeder by insinuating that it was a puppy mill (which she was not); b) she insulted the breeder because the breeder IS a puppy mill; or c) the breeder is just so damn busy, remember?

Lessons learned

Can you imagine telling a prospective customer or client these things?  I understand it’s a farm and they’re busy and all of that.  But we’re all busy.  If we don’t take care to pay attention to what we say to others and how we say it – customers or not – our smug, negative attitudes will cost us.  And I don’t just mean monetarily.

Remember, whether you’re selling dogs, doing voiceowork, or waiting tables…a little friendliness and consideration can go a long way.  Haughtiness and impatience can go a long way, too – but in the wrong direction.

Rosie, courtesy Lonestar Pyrs & Paws-North

My wife and I know not all dog breeders are like this woman; there are some fine, wonderful places raising and selling purebred dogs.  It definitely pays to do your homework, though.  (Although it shouldn’t be assigned by the other person)  Thanks to this breeder’s arrogance, we did some more searching and found out about a terrific organization called Lone Star Pyrs & Paws Rescue, a non-profit rescue group dedicated to Great Pyrenees dogs.  Our Rosie, the only one in the litter without her breed’s trademark long fur, was the runt of the litter and the last to be adopted.

We’re glad she waited for us.

We’re tremendously grateful to the group for getting us in touch with our new family member.  We’re also so grateful to the poodle breeder for turning us away, I’m thinking of thanking her personally.

By email, of course.

Post Navigation

Laura Purdie Salas

writing the world for kids

Eat This Poem

a literary food blog

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

The Drawer Of M. M. Socks

Stories - Tall and Short for the Tall and Short

Catherine Johnson

Poems for kids of all ages and dreamers everywhere

You've Got Your Hands Full

Just another WordPress.com site

Jama's Alphabet Soup

an eclectic feast of food, fiction and folderol

Creative Writing with the Crimson League

Creative Writing Tips and Authorial Support from Fantasy Writer Victoria Grefer

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

The blog of children's author Tara Lazar

Julie True Kingsley's Blog

Musings on really nothing...

Dave Courvoisier's Blog

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

sharon abra hanen

children's literature, poetry, & other creative magical stuff

crackles of speech.............. poems for all ages................... by steven withrow

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

J.S. Gilbert

Copywriting, Advertising Creative, Voice Over Talent and a few surprises

The Poem Farm

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

DAN O’DAY TALKS ABOUT RADIO

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,185 other followers

%d bloggers like this: