Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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Archive for the category “poetry”

Poetry Friday: The 2014 CYBILS & Shel Silverstein

Cybils-Logo-2014I’m not sharing an original poem of mine today, because I’m letting a master of wit and humour take the spotlight in honour of the anniversary of his birth. More on that in just a few…

Before I do anything, I need to express my heartfelt gratitude to the folks at the CYBILS Awards for selecting me as a 2nd-round judge for the poetry competition once again. My first year participating in the CYBILS was last year, and it was so much fun (albeit a lot of work), I hoped I would be able to take part a second time…and I am!

The 1st-round judges will review all the books that have been submitted and whittle the list of nominees down to 6 or 7; the 2nd-round judges will then debate the merits of each of these 6 or 7 books to determine the winner. One day in the future, I will not be allowed to be a judge because one of my books will be short-listed. (That’s the plan, anyway) Until then, I’m happy to peruse the books that are up for the award.

To nominate a book – for any category – just log onto the CYBILS webpage between Oct. 1 – 15! Winners will be announced early next year. For now, here’s a list of my fellow poetry judges. Their names are followed by the name of their blogs and their Twitter handles:

First Round:
  .
Kelly Fineman
Writing and Rumination
@kellyfineman
 .
Nancy Bo Flood
The Pirate Tree
  .
Jone Rush MacCulloch
Check It Out
@JoneMac53
  .
@MargaretGSimon
  .
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
The Miss Rumphius Effect
@missrumphius
  .
Sylvia Vardell
Poetry For Children
@SylviaVardell
  .
@BridgetRWilson
  .
        .           
Round Two:
  .
Linda Baie
Teacher Dance
@LBaie
   .
Renee La Tulippe
No Water River
@ReneeMLaTulippe
  .
@terseverser
  .
Laura Shovan
Author Amok
@laurashovan
  .
Matt Forrest Esenwine
Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
@MattForrestVW
  .
For a list of all the judges of all the categories, click HERE!
 
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shel-silverstein

Click to read more of Silverstein’s poetry.

Now, then…it’s time I wished the late, great Shel Silverstein a Happy Birthday! Born on September 25, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois, “Uncle Shelby” would have been 84 years old this week.

Of course, he is remembered by most folks for his classic children’s books like Where the Sidewalk Ends (celebrating its 40th birthday this year), A Light in the Attic, and The Giving Tree (which celebrates its 50th birthday this year). He is also remembered as a cartoonist for “Playboy” magazine. But many folks do NOT know:
  • Shel was a fan of country music and wrote numerous hit songs, including Johnny Cash’s “Boy Named Sue,” Loretta Lynn’s “One’s on the Way” and “Hey Loretta,” Bobby Bare’s “Pour Me Another Tequila, Sheila,” Dr. Hook’s “Cover of the Rolling Stone” and “Queen of the Silver Dollar,” and the Irish Rovers’ classic, “The Unicorn.”
  • In the 1950s, he was stationed in the Army overseas, which is where he first started developing his knack for cartooning.
  • He was a playwright and collaborated with the great David Mamet on more than one occasion.
  • He decided to shave his head bald when he began feeling self-conscious about losing his hair.
  • He was a compulsive writer, and would often jot ideas or sketches down on whatever was available, including his clothes or skin!

I see lists of the best, greatest, most memorable Silverstein poems all the time, but my favourite is often not on those lists for some reason. It’s “The Little Boy and the Old Man,” a short but touching poem, and you can read  it HERE.

So Happy Birthday, Uncle Shelby! For more Poetry Friday fun and links, please visit our friend, Laura Purdie Salas’s blog, Writing the World for Kids, and I’ll close this post with a rare performance – Shel Silverstein singing live on The Johnny Cash Show!
.

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PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: New adult anthology!

trigger-warningTrigger Warning: Poetry Saved My Life is a poetry collection compiled and edited by performance poet Zachary Kluckman of Albuquerque, NM, the 2014 National Poetry Awards Slam Artist of the Year. I’m very pleased and honored to have a poem included in it – and I just received word that the book is available for purchase!

As soon as I learned about the book, I knew I wanted to submit a poem and I knew exactly the story I was going to tell – a true story about a close friend of mine whose life was, indeed, saved by poetry. I hope you like it, and all the other stories, scenes, and vignettes pulled together from all walks of life into this one, single-minded anthology of common ground.

The book is described by the publisher thusly: “Here are the sounds of pleasure heralded against shoulders, the uplifted voices and stark tremolos of those who have survived the turmoil and trembling because they found something so deceptively simple – so heart-wrenchingly real”…as poetry. Click on the link for more info, or click HERE to purchase it!

And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links, info, and fun, head on over to The Poem Farm with Amy Ludwig VanDerwater!

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Too busy writing…to write

So, what does a writer do when he or she is too busy writing to find the time to write?

That is the unusual situation I have found myself in lately.

Edgar-Allan-Poe - WWPD

What Would Poe Do? On second thought, let’s not even go there…

As someone who has been working hard for several years to become published in the world of children’s literature, I have been able to balance my personal life (taking care of the house, taking care of the 2 kids, being a hubby to my beautiful wife, and trying to squeeze in some “me” time where I can) with my professional life (writing poetry and picture books while running my voiceover business).

Well, this year has proven to be my busiest year yet – primarily because my children’s writing is finally getting me somewhere!

In addition to having a poem included in Lee Bennett Hopkins’s upcoming board book anthology, Lullaby & Sweet Kisses (Abrams Appleseed, Spring 2015), I will have three children’s poems in Carol-Ann Hoyte’s anthology, Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food & Agriculture Poems, due early next year; another in an upcoming edition of “Highlights” magazine; and yet another one in an upcoming anthology due next fall.

PLUS…I recently submitted several poems for consideration in another anthology, submitted a half-dozen or so to various magazines, and am in the process of writing more poems for submission to two other anthologies. Oh, and I have three picture book manuscripts I’m currently shopping, as well.

I’m pretty sure these are my children.

Did I mention I’m trying to run a voiceover business?

Or that I have a couple of kids and a wife?

(At least, I think I have two kids. I’ve been so busy lately, my wife might’ve given birth for a third time and just not had the opportunity to fill me in.)

I’m writing this now not to make myself appear any more special or important than anyone else…because I’m really not. Plenty of people around this world do far more than me, do far better work than me, or are much more important than me. My wife, in fact, is one of them. But I am sharing this with you just to give you an idea as to why I may or may not post as regularly (on Tuesdays) as I have been.

I have some really exciting, informative posts I plan on sharing at some point, too – a couple of book reviews, some children’s literature news, some voiceover info – but I just can’t get to any of that until I complete the projects I have before me. As I said, I’ve been working towards the goal of becoming published for years, and now that I’m getting busier and busier, that goal is starting to feel like it may, indeed, be within reach.

I want to try to be consistent with this blog – but ultimately, my children’s writing needs to be written before anything else gets written.

And I have to say, even though it’s a difficult position to be in, it’s one I really don’t mind!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: moon haiku

moon haiku

(click to enlarge)

Alas, I only had my phone with me to take this photo, otherwise I could have probably gotten a better shot. For all of today’s Poetry Friday happenings, be sure to visit our hostess, Renee LaTulippe, at The No Water River!

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Black Sheep”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI didn’t plan on writing about animals for the 3rd week in a row; it just sort of happened that way. Perhaps I’ve had creatures on my mind because I just spent all of last weekend working at the local state fair…and as I mentioned a few days ago, it was once again a big learning experience!

Be that as it may, I present a short little ditty today that wasn’t even written about the fair – but with the animal references, I figured this time of year would be as good as any! It was originally just an exercise, me tossing around some ideas and seeing what I could create…and when it came together, I rather liked it. Hope you do, too!

For more of today’s Poetry Friday offerings, please be sure to visit Laura Shovan at Author Amok!

Black Sheep

Break from the herd.
Take that leap.
Play the dark horse.
Be the black sheep.

- © 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Honeybee”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI didn’t plan on writing a follow-up poem to last Friday’s “Yellow Jacket.”

Then again, I didn’t plan on getting stung a second time, either.

I also didn’t plan on writing three poems about honeybees – but after I wrote the first one, I realized it had potential for Highlights magazine and decided I shouldn’t share it publicly yet. I figured I’d write a second one that I could post here…unfortunately (or rather, fortunately), the second one I felt was very appropriate for the Cricket group of magazines, so that got nixed from my blog, too!

>sigh< Why do I keep making more work for myself??

Honeybee - Image

(click to enlarge)

Getting back to my “inspiration” for these poems, the first sting I got was by a yellow jacket on the fleshy part of the inside of my right arm, between the bicep and triceps. He probably flew off, none the worse for wear, while I went running inside for an ice cube (carrying a 1-yr-old baby, who had been outside with me).

This time around, I was walking barefoot on our lawn – something I rarely do – and stepped on something that shot a searing pain into the second toe of my right foot. It wasn’t as bad a pain as the first time, but painful enough I knew I needed another ice cube! And although I didn’t see what I stepped on, my guess is that it was a honeybee, as many of them are zipping in and around all the clover that covers the yard.

Poor thing probably died, between stinging me and me clobbering it. They’re really not aggressive at all, and only sting when threatened – so it wasn’t the bee’s fault that this giant appendage called my foot came crashing down on his buffet table. I felt I had to write a little something in tribute; little did I know I’d write THREE things in tribute.

All this while I’m trying to finish up a new rhyming picture book manuscript…and live-announcing the Hopkinton State Fair all weekend long (in fact, that’s where I am at this very moment, so I won’t be able to visit many blogs this weekend).  I’m not complaining, mind you – just staggering backwards a bit at the enormity of my workload!

By the way, if you’re looking for more Poetry Friday happenings, check out Jone MacCulloch’s blog, Check It Out! And now, for no particular reason other than because it’s in keeping with the theme of today’s post and is infectiously catchy, I present to you three fellows who started a street-corner group while in college, pretending to be 19th-century singing automatons, and have built it into this…

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

Poetry Friday: “Yellow Jacket”

Yellow Jacket

Yellow jacketResilient defender,
protector,
aggressor
expertly guards
the paper gate
of his empress’ castle
with speed and toxin
while my right arm
burns.

- © 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine

Why, yes, since you asked…this is based on a true story.  >sigh<  On a happier note, the wonderfully talented Irene Latham is our “substitute” host for Poetry Friday today, so please visit her blog, Live Your Poem, for all of today’s links, info, and of course, POETRY!

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

Matt Forrest, Dream-Killer

Sweet, loveable me…destroying dreams?

Alas, it appears so.

I am often asked how one starts a career doing voiceovers or writing children’s books. As someone who has been doing voice work and audio editing for 25+ years, I’m happy to share advice, tips, and some guidance.

As someone who has yet to accomplish the feat of getting a children’s book published, I can only offer a few suggestions – like practice, networking, and critiquing. I have had numerous adult poems published in collections over the years and will soon have about 6 or 7 children’s poems published in various anthologies within the next year or two…but that’s a far cry from getting a book deal.

Be that as it may, much of the advice I give can be applied to either industry – and many more.  The reaction I get after giving the advice is often the same, as well.

Notice I called it an industry

Voiceover work and writing children’s books and poetry are similar in that they are both creative pursuits; however, it’s important to not lose sight of the fact that they are, in fact, industries. Businesses. Professional careers that require all the time, effort, and skill that most other professional careers require.

ID-100232154 (water pipe)

Other than turning off the water, I wouldn’t have a clue as to what to do next.

You wouldn’t decide to become an astronaut on a whim. You wouldn’t think that by buying a socket wrench you can pass yourself off as a car mechanic.

You wouldn’t decide to open a plumbing business simply because you once unclogged a drain in the upstairs bathroom and it seemed like easy money.

Unfortunately, there is something about creative media that makes people think anyone can do it. And to be honest, many people can do it – but don’t really want to.

Or rather, they don’t want to hear about the reality of it.

This is where the dream-killing begins…

The first thing I tell folks who ask me how to get into voiceovers or break into children’s publishing is this: learn about the industry. Read blog posts, seek out professional web pages, and get a feel for what is truly involved. There is more to voiceovers than speaking into a microphone, and there’s more to writing children’s stories than “See Spot Run.”

When I tell these well-meaning people that the industry (either one!) is difficult to break into, they first look at me as if I’m trying to keep them out of a secret club or something. Then when I tell them a few of the things they are actually going to need to do, I get the feeling they think I’m trying to scare them away.

I have to implore them not to misunderstand me – that I’m just trying to be honest and blunt with them.

Blunt honesty, it appears, is not popular.

The frightening facts

Some of the nuggets of advice I offer – while not particularly unique or even insightful – are certainly solid for either industry:

- It may be fun, but it’s work, and you need to treat it as such.
– It’s also enormously competitive. The good news is that most of the other folks in the industry are surprisingly supportive!

- If you want to be a professional, understand what that means and what is expected of you.
- It doesn’t matter if you have a “great voice”; what matters is if you can read well and bring a script to life.
- It doesn’t matter if you love kids; what matters is your ability to write and your willingness to revise, over and over.
- Understand that not everyone can do what you are attempting to do. If it was so easy anyone could do it, everyone would.
- Understand that this is a skill requiring training, perseverance, and talent (not necessarily in that order).
- Understand that rejection is a way of life. There is a very, very high likelihood that you will fail multiple times before you even begin to succeed. You might get passed over dozens of auditions before getting that first gig, and you might send out a hundred manuscripts before an agent or editor thinks you’ve got what it takes.
- Tenacity, perseverance, skill, communication abilities, a thick skin, and a sense of humor are your best friends.
- Egos will get you nowhere.

There are plenty of other industry-specific things I might share when chatting with folks about voiceovers or children’s publishing, but I usually lose them at “enormously competitive.”

I’m really not trying to kill dreams…it just sort of happens

Honestly, I’m not sure how many dreams I’ve killed. I know that many of the folks who have emailed me or spoken to me in person over the last few years are not currently pursuing the vocation they had asked me about in the first place.

SCBWII can only make some broad assumptions.

Either they a) got scared and decided to stick with what they were doing; b) thought I was trying to scare them and decided to do it their own way and failed; or c) are still trying to find the time to be able to engage in an industry as competitive as voiceovers (or children’s writing).

These days, I refer voiceover questions to fellow voice artists like Paul Strikwerda, whose book, Making Money in Your PJs, provides as much insight, advice, and blunt honesty as one can handle, or Dave Courvoisier, author of More Than Just a Voice, a book that details the nuts-and-bolts of the industry like marketing, coaching, and equipment. The professional organization World Voices is good place to learn what being a professional voice talent is all about.

For questions about children’s book publishing, writers like Katie Davis, Julie Hedlund, Tara Lazar, Dr. Patricia Stohr-Hunt, and many, many more are all willing to help teach, guide, and inspire. And of course, there’s always the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), which is a great resource.

So if you happen to be wondering what it takes to get into these industries – or any of the creative arts – don’t let hard work and the fear of rejection stop you from realizing your dreams. Just do the work necessary and plan to stick with it for the long haul.

I’m not really a “Dream-Killer,” after all…just more of a reality-checker.

But hey, if Abe Lincoln can be a Vampire Hunter, why can’t I have an ominous-sounding moniker, as well?

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Baby Girl”

Hard to believe, but my youngest daughter, Phoebe, turns ONE YEAR OLD today! Where have the past 365 days gone??

Phoebe - happy

Phoebe, a pretty darned happy baby at 3 months old. I’m guessing it’s because of the John Deere tractor pajamas.

In celebration, I’m sharing something a little unusual. It’s a poem I wrote for her…but I’m not sure if it’s done. It might be. Can’t tell. I didn’t think it was complete when I  stopped writing it, but perhaps it is. I wanted to write another stanza, perhaps fix the rhymes or make some other changes, but I got stalled and was never able to complete it. Now, after looking at it again, I wonder if these 4 lines are all the poem needs?

Of course, it doesn’t really matter, since I’ll probably continue tinkering with it ’til the day I die – that’s what I do with most of my poems, already, so why should this one be any different?

By the way, in case you’re wondering why I’m not sharing a better or more recent photo of her, it’s because this was the photo that inspired me to start writing the poem. She looked so tiny there, and she was probably at least 10 or 12 pounds! Boy, time doesn’t just fly – it teleports. Oh, and if you’re looking for more poetry, my fellow Poet’s Garage member Heidi Mordhorst is hosting Poetry Friday today at her Juicy Little Universe!

Baby Girl

Enthusiasm boundless,
excitement inexhaustible,
anything is possible
for you, sweet little one.

- © 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

RIP, Robin Williams

Robin W tribute

(click to enlarge)

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