Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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Archive for the tag “death”

RIP, Robin Williams

Robin W tribute

(click to enlarge)

On life, death, and all that stuff in-between

It’s interesting how some things come full-circle.

I attended the funeral for the father of my best friend in college this weekend. As I sat there in the very last church pew, I listened as the priest spoke about all the things this father, grandfather, husband, and friend would never do again: tend to his garden, prune his fruit trees, play with his grandchildren.

A sad occasion, obviously…so I surprised myself when this :15 TV commercial featuring The Most Interesting Man in the World popped into my head:

There really is no better time than now to start beefing up your obituary – and as this concept settled into my brain, I began thinking of all the things I’d like to accomplish before I pass.

Not a “bucket list” of what I want to do, necessarily, but what I want to accomplish. And to me, those are two different things.

How will I be remembered? Will I even be?

There are plenty of things I’d like to do: visit a foreign country, sing in a band, resume playing with my indoor soccer league. Things I’d like to accomplish are a bit more difficult, because they require more time and effort and are harder to define in concrete terms: be a good father and husband, make a positive difference to someone through my poetry, land a national animation voiceover gig my kids would be proud of.

These kinds of accomplishments are not the kinds of things you go out and just do, and check off your list. They require time, patience, and wisdom…and although I have plenty of the first two, that last one I have found to be the most elusive.

I try to be a good father and hubby – spending time with the kids, teaching them, supporting them, supporting and loving their mom. I keep working to make inroads to get my children’s writing published, not just because it’s my vocation and I’d like it to be a career, but because I genuinely feel that someone, somewhere might benefit from it. Perhaps that’s unrealistic, perhaps that’s egotistical…I don’t think it is, but it’s what I feel nonetheless.

Working hard and taking chances

My baby!As for that voiceover gig, I’ll keep plugging away with that, too. I’ve voiced enough commercials, corporate videos, and other random projects…so a national animated voiceover project – while still a longshot – is an attainable goal if I don’t give up.

And I don’t!

If I come across an audition for a project that is not right for me (deep movie-trailer voice guy is one of ‘em!), I skip it. But if I see something that I’m not sure if I’m right for – but could be – I’ll probably go for it and see how it sounds. How else does one grow and develop their skills if one doesn’t take chances?

How does one “beef up the obituary” – or the resume, for that matter – without a little extra perspiration?

Whatever you do in life, you’re not going to get any better or go any further if you don’t push yourself. Even if there are a hundred other voice actors competing for the gig, what have you got to lose? Even if your manuscript has received 50 rejection slips from agents and editors, the next one you send to might be the one who loves it! Whether I succeed or fail depends entirely on whether or not I give up, and believe me…I’ve failed so much that success just has to be around the corner!

(At least, that’s what I tell myself.)

TMIMITW took a chance!

Well, actually it wasn’t The Most Interesting Man in the World who took a chance – it was Jonathan Goldsmith, the Jewish, Bronx-raised actor who portrays him.

As I mentioned early in this post, things have a way of coming full-circle sometimes, and this is one of them. As I searched for the commercial online, thinking about those 15 seconds of wisdom the Dos Equis’ copywriters had shared about beefing up one’s obituary, I stumbled upon a recent blog post about how Goldsmith was cast as the company’s Latino pitchman.

If you don’t think you have a chance of scoring a big sale, nailing a big gig, or even winning a lottery…think about the odds that Goldsmith faced as a new York City Jew auditioning against 499 Latinos!

That’s right – out of 500 actors, he was chosen. And if the casting director had picked anyone else, The Most Interesting Man in the World would not be the man we know today.

It pays to take chances. And you only have NOW to take them. Tomorrow might not get here.

Better get busy.

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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!

 

 

 

Crime and Poetry revisited

As part of my month-long celebration of National Poetry Month this past April, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gerald So, webmaster and editor of the Poems on Crime blog, The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly.

5-2-V1-Cover-165It was enlightening, to say the least, learning about this unusual genre of poetry and reading some of the poems that had been published both there as well as in So’s previous eBook series, The Lineup: Poems on Crime.  The different styles of poetry, the unique voices of those writing it, and the varied crimes that served as material for these poems serve to bring poetry to a new audience.

I hoped my interview, likewise, would help bring the poetry audience to the genre.

Having said this, it’s my pleasure to share with you one of my poems that was accepted for publication in The 5-2.  Entitled “Flight,” the poem is a short vignette of ‘flight’ that has been suddenly…stopped. You’ll see what I mean when you read it HERE.

A little different from my children’s poetry, yes?  Hope you liked it, though.  I encourage you to check out my interview with So if you hadn’t had a chance to read it yet – and I’ll be back this  Friday, June 7, with my weekly Poetry Friday offering!

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Did you like this post? Find anything interesting somewhere in this blog? Want to keep abreast of my posts?  Then please consider subscribing via the links over here on the right! (I usually only post twice a week, on Tue. and Fri., so you won’t be inundated with emails every day!)  You can also follow me via Twitter or on Facebook.

A Sad Way to Begin National Poetry Month

Sunday Eve coverIn honour of National Poetry Month, I’m planning on featuring poetry in all of my April blog posts (each Tue. and Fri.).  I’ll be spotlighting a different poem of mine each friday for Poetry Friday, as I always do, but each Tuesday I’ll also have some poetry news or information to share.

I had some fun plans for today. I was going to offer some ideas about how you can get kids involved in enjoying and creating poetry, involving books and cookies and magazines and scissors…but all that will have to wait.

New Hampshire has lost its poet laureate.

Walter E. Butts (Sept. 12, 1944 – March 31, 2013)

Butts succumbed to his battle with cancer on Easter Sunday at the age of 68.

He spent most of his life in the northeast, living in New York for years, organizing poetry readings and open mics, before moving to Boston, Mass. and then eventually to NH, where he was most recently professor of English at Hesser College.  He also taught a low-residency Creative Writing Program at Goddard College in Vermont.

Butts was a prolific poet, publishing eleven books and chapbooks.  The most recent is Cathedral of Nervous Horses, a collection of new and collected poems from previous books, which was published last September by Hobblebush Books of Milford, NH. His poems were also featured in numerous independent literary journals, as well, like The Atlanta Review, The Saranac Review, and The Fourth River.

Of life and death, family and friends

Butts drew inspiration from his memories growing up in the small town of Le Roy, New York:  the deaths of his parents, the questionable friends he hung out with, and the gritty yet beautiful scenes of a working-class community all figure prominently in his work. Take, for instance, his recounting of the loss of three family members and the touching honesty with which he tells the story, in “Inheritence,” from The Required Dance (Igneus Press, 1990). After noting that he was only eight years old when his uncle died and nine when the family dog was buried…he jumps ahead ten years and recalls the sight of his father lying on the floor, too weak to get up. It was at this point, he tells us, he was truly afraid:

I watched him at the hospital,
his frail body curled
like a fetus, and realized
he was going back, and I wanted
to take hold of those shrunken hands
and lead him there myself.

(© Walter E. Butts)

But like he so often did, he did not dwell on the negatives of the difficulties associated with these sad moments; instead, he would look for a positive way to continue on. In this case, after describing the emotional pain and turmoil his mother went through dealing with his father’s death, he concludes the poem with the realization that, “I understood, I was now the man she loved.”

Butts Cathedral coverCathedral of Nervous Horses: New & Selected Poems (Hobblebush Books, 2012)

Upon receiving the poet laureate nomination almost exactly 4 years ago, Butts said, “I really believe that poetry, in many, many ways, is the literary form that we
have that is closest to expressing the human condition, the human spirit.” (New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, March, 2009) 

I encourage you to pick up a copy of Cathedral.  While some of the poems are new, most are from previously-published collections, so it is a great introduction to Butts’ work.  His term as our state’s poet laureate was to continue until 2014; there has been no word on whether someone will be chosen to fill the vacancy.

On a happier note, because it is National Poetry Month, I’m pleased to be participating in Irene Latham’s 2013 ‘Progressive Poem’ at Live Your Poem – a poem that started with one blogger April 1 and will travel from blog to blog each day, with each blogger adding a new line to the poem. Prog poem 2013 graphic(By the end of the month, we’ll have a completed poem!)

Today’s tagged poet is Joy Acey - and I’ll be adding the third line to the poem tomorrow, April 3 – so please check back, and follow along with all the bloggers!

April
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Joy Acey
Matt Forrest Esenwine
Jone MacCulloch
Doraine Bennett
Gayle Krause
Janet Fagal
Julie Larios
Carrie Finison
10  Linda Baie
11  Margaret Simon
12  Linda Kulp
13  Catherine Johnson
14  Heidi Mordhorst
15  Mary Lee Hahn
16  Liz Steinglass
17  Renee LaTulippe
18  Penny Klostermann
19  Irene Latham
20  Buffy Silverman
21  Tabatha Yeatts
22  Laura Shovan
23  Joanna Marple
24  Katya Czaja
25  Diane Mayr
26  Robyn Hood Black
27  Ruth Hersey
28  Laura Purdie Salas
29  Denise Mortensen
30  April Halprin Wayland

Poetry Friday: “Francis and the Saint”

When I’m not writing children’s poetry, writing advertising copy, or writing my blog, I’m writing adult poetry.  Sorry, those two words together – “adult poetry” – just sound weird…but I just don’t know how else to differentiate it from all my children’s poetry.  In last Friday’s post, I made reference to poets being stereotypically sullen and depressed, and while this doesn’t really describe Yours Truly, I do like to put on my Serious Hat now and then and write poems for an older crowd.

This happens to be one of those poems.

It’s a very personal poem (of course, they all are, aren’t they?) – because I wrote it about my wife’s paternal grandfather, Francis.  She and I were very close to him, and we asked if he would be the Best Man at our wedding in August 2008.  He accepted, but unfortunately passed away that spring, before he was able to fulfill his duties.  A deeply religious man, a devout Catholic, he felt a strong connection to his patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi, and he always believed that my wife and I found each other because of his prayers.

Considering the crushing emotional difficulties she and I had gone through with our respective divorces, and the fact that we stumbled upon each other so quickly and strongly, we had every reason to believe it, as well.

Imagine the irony, then, that this poem – written two years after Francis’ death – would end up being published by St. Francis College’s Assisi: Online Journal of Arts & Letters.

Sometimes, things just have a way of working out.

Francis and the Saint

Grandfather loved his birds.
They weren’t really his, of course –
flying to him from the trees and bushes,
out of the sky above, from behind
houses
lining the cobblestone,
and in-between
awnings and light posts.

Alighting upon his shoulder
or a finger or two
never outstretched
nor enticing,
they must have sensed
safety, security,
calmness of mind.

He attributed that to his namesake
the deacon,
the patron saint
the one who gave what he had
built what he could
and became rich in poverty.

And now, as grandfather’s birds
return to him
this final time
from behind the clouds
and rain-soaked pillars,
sparrow, robin, wren
descend,
perch upon his bed
and grandfather
in quiet requiescence
smiles.

- © 2010 Matt Forrest Esenwine

If you’d like, you can view the entire issue which includes my poem here.  And Poetry Friday hostess Violet Nesdoly has today’s complete roundup!

Poetry Friday: “Purgatory”

I have to thank David L. Harrison for this posting.  Last week in his blog, he posted a new poem (you can read it here) which reminded me of one I had written a few years ago about the same subject.  It got me thinking about how and why we view things the way we do…

A group of one hundred people could all witness the same thing simultaneously – a tree, a sunset, a rock, a catastrophe – and each one would see it, feel it, and remember it differently (I’ve written a number of poems about this concept, actually).  A perfect example of this is to take a classroom of children outside to view something mundane like the lawn or the sky – nothing too exciting or stimulating – then bring them inside and ask them to write down one word that describes what they saw.  You’ll get very different answers because each child views life through their own thoughts, interests, and personalities.  We all do.

That’s what’s so great about poetry!

One person can look at a leaf caught in a spiderweb and think stand-up comedy (like David did) while another can look at the same thing and think death (hence, the title of MY poem).

So here it is; it’s a bit more prosaic than most of my poetry, but I wanted to relate the experience as a story as much as a poem.  There’s a distinct narrative I wanted to get across, and even though I wrote it for adults, I wanted younger readers who may happen upon it to be able to understand the gist of what I was saying.

This was published last autumn in the Licking River Review, and now, a year later, with fall fast approaching, I suppose it’s the perfect time to ‘resurrect’ it.  Hope you like it!  And if you want to see more Poetry Friday posts, you can find the complete roundup at Random Noodling!

Purgatory

On its gentle descent to the grave,
a lone maple leaf
found itself
suddenly suspended,
ensnared
in a spiderweb.

Caught halfway
between life and death
it hung,
contemplating
a tenuous existence.

Not wanting to complete
the journey
downward,
the leaf was satisfied
to accept this fate.

Better,
it thought,
than the alternative –
dirt
and rain
and thick-treaded soles.

But as the days grew shorter
the weeks grew long;
and the leaf
dry and brittle with age
watched
longingly
as friends and family passed.

Unexpectedly
a burst of wind
loosed the grasp of the web;
the leaf
now free to fall,
eagerly
descended in anticipation
and finally
happily
found rest.

- Matt Forrest Esenwine

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