Jama Rattigan is hosting Poetry Friday today, and if anyone knows how to create a crowd using food, it’s Jama! She has croissants and chocolate and candied rose petals and raspberry-litchi pate and…well, you’ll just have to stop by and try some.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I announced that a new anthology titled, Trigger Warning: Poetry Saved My Life, had just been made available for sale. I was looking forward to seeing it because I was one of the folks whose poetry had been selected for inclusion…and today, I’ll be sharing that poem here!
More on that in just a little bit…
First, I need to let you know the 9th Annual CYBILS Awards nominations are now OPEN!
The CYBILS, as they are called, are the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, and are announced in February of each year. Two rounds of judges will narrow down all the nominated books for a variety of categories, and will decide which they feel are the best of the best.
But before they can whittle down the list…they need a list! That’s where you come in. Just click visit the CYBILS nominations page and let the judges know which of this year’s books for children and young adults you feel deserve some special recognition. As you’ll see, there are lots of categories, from early readers to young adult speculative fiction to my favourite, poetry!
(We already have some FANTASTIC poetry collections, too – which is going to make this even harder then normal!)
So make sure you log on and get your favourite book nominated - and I’ll keep you posted here about what’s happening!
Speaking of poetry collections, I just received my copy of Irene Latham’s Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Watering Hole yesterday, and it’s as wonderful as I had suspected. Many thanks to Irene as well as to last year’s CYBILS Poetry Award winner, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater for sending it to me – I was lucky enough to be the winner of a giveaway Amy hosted, and I read the book as soon as I opened up the box!
The book contains 15 poems of varying styles – some rhyming, some free verse, some light-hearted, some more serious – all about the various creatures that come to visit a watering hole on the African grasslands. Irene spotlights meerkats, rhinos, lionesses, and black mambas, to name a few, but I think my two favourites are the ones Irene opens and closes with, “To All the Beasts Who Enter Here” and “Says Nightjar to the Stars,” respectively.
Anna Wadham’s illustrations perfectly complement the playful, spontaneous, and stoic nature of the beasts, too – and of Irene’s text. If you haven’t considered picking this up yet, I recommend you do!
Now, then…to my poem! I have to thank award-winning slam poet Zachary Kluckman, the anthologist of Trigger Warning: Poetry Saved My Life, for selecting this poem for inclusion. When I first read what type of book he was putting together and the subject matter – literally, how poetry can save someone’s life – I knew exactly what I was going to write about.
About 25 years ago, a very close friend of mine went through an extremely difficult time in his life…and it nearly destroyed him. Fortunately, he found support from his friends and therapy from writing poetry. I hope you like it. I’ve posted audio of my reading of the poem below (sorry about the big head – I can’t do anything about it!) and of course, if you’d like to read more about how poetry can save lives, be sure to pick up a copy of the book, on sale now!
Coming to Terms
He had to keep quiet.
No one could know of his love, no –
infatuation – for the tall, dark beauty
with whom he shared daily smiles. His thoughts
were his, yet quickly
he became their slave; not uncommon,
of course, as we all succumb
to that numbness, once, at least,
but for his own sake
he had to keep quiet.
None could know, not even
Dark Beauty, who
had no inkling of an unthinkable
courtship, but simply smiled back
as acquaintances do
until one day, in a burst of emotion and discovery,
every passionate detail of his desire
came pouring forth from every pore
in an unintended self-immolation of love and pain.
and cloud of rejection suffocated
and he wished it would
deaden the nerves that allowed him to feel
every word hurled
from Dark Beauty, friends,
parents, the world.
Endless days spent scared and crying
bled into pill-filled nights
that led not to quiet slumber but to weeks
in the ward, safe and distressed. Alone
in his room, with pen
firm between heart and forefinger, line
by line he began to sort through love,
and the realization
he had been lying to himself, thinking
he had to keep quiet.
© Matt Forrest Esenwine, from Trigger Warning: Poetry Saved My Life (Swimming with Elephants Publications, 2014)
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