Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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

Available TODAY! “Lullaby and Kisses Sweet”

I’ve been telling you about this for awhile, and the day has finally arrived…the very first children’s book I was selected to contribute to is on sale today!

Lullabye coverLullaby and Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby is officially out now – in stores and everywhere. This book is unlike most others out there – it is a board book for young children 0-5, yet it is also a poetry anthology comprised of 30 poems by various writers such as Jane Yolen, J. Patrick Lewis, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Charles Ghigna, X.J. Kennedy, David L. Harrison, Marilyn Singer, Laura Purdie Salas, and many others including…little ol’ me.

It feels weird to say that.

I have to thank the wonderful and inimitable Lee Bennett Hopkins, who came up with the concept and compiled the poems for the book. He even contributes a couple of poems, too. And Alyssa Nassner’s cute baby- and toddler-friendly illustrations are the perfect complement to the text.

So today I wanted to share a couple of things: a short interview with Lee as well as the poem I contribute to the project. Before we get to Lee’s interview, though, congratulations are in order.

logo-scbwiLast week, The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) announced they had teamed up with Lee to create the SCBWI Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award which, according to the SCBWI, “recognizes and encourages the publication of an excellent book of poetry or anthology for children and/or young adults” and will be awarded every three years.

(for more information about the award click HERE or click the SCBWI logo)

A lifelong supporter and cheerleader for children’s poetry, Lee has already helped establish two other awards: the annual Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, presented by Penn State University, and the Lee Bennett Hopkins/International Reading Association Promising Poet Award, presented every three years by the International Reading Association (now the International Literacy Association).

LBH BEST PHOTO

Lee Bennett Hopkins

He’s also received his fair share of awards, including the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Poetry for Children in 2009 and the SCBWI’s 1996 Golden Kite Award for his poetry collection, Been to Yesterdays. And with over 120 books under his belt, it was a matter of time before the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records named him “the most prolific anthologist of poetry for children.”

So now without any further ado…let’s get to our interview!

Lee, thank you so much for asking me to contribute a poem to this incredible project. Being a board book anthology makes this book a rather rare sort of species in the world of children’s literature; how did you come up with the concept of creating a poetry collection for very young children?

I have always maintained that poetry should become part of a child’s psyche as soon as they are born – if not before! Lullabies sung by mothers and fathers, kisses sweet given to newborns are as natural as breathing. Why not create a collection for the young that deals with topics they are becoming familiar with – Family, Food, Firsts, Play, Bedtime? A verse such as your “First Tooth” is not only right on for this age group, it is fun, filled with childlike surprise, wonderment.

Well, I’m glad you liked it enough to include it! For my readers, here is my poem from the book, along a sweet little gem from Heidi Stemple:

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Reprinted with permission; all rights reserved. (Click to enlarge)

 

Having already edited so many anthologies before, you are intimately aware of what it takes to put a poetry collection together – but I wonder if there were any unusual steps you needed to take with this particular project? How did the creation of this book differ from others?

LULLABY AND KISSES SWEET began with a definite set of guidelines. Every poem in the collection was especially commissioned by a host of well-known poets as well as introducing new voices, giving many a chance to become published for the first time.  Each verse had to be eight lines or under, had to rhyme and had to have that “I” moment as children awaken to what is going on in their world around them. Realizing what it is to have a grandma take one’s hand, experiencing disappointment as one’s tower of blocks suddenly crash to the floor, a plea for the sound of words as a child asks to be read to again and again.

I have done about 120 collections for all ages. LULLABY… is the first, quite huge board book I’ve ever done.

Tell me about your collaborators – your editor and illustrator.

Working long and hard for several years with a wondrous editor, Tamar Brazis at Abrams, helped shape the book and its conceptual development from the very beginning to the final bound pages. A next important phase after the completion of the manuscript was that of illustration.

It was decided that Alyssa Nassner would do the book featuring anthropomorphic characters — bunnies, bears, tigers, kittens. And she pulled it all off in a most charming, child-friendly, loving way.

Following that line of thought, did you encounter any surprises – such obstacles or poetic perspectives – along the way?

I am always impressed with the hard work, the diligence, poets put into their writing. Many poems were written, edited by me, rewritten and oft time re-re-rewritten. Those who work with me know I have a definite philosophy about what I want to give to our youth. I detest ‘bathroom humor’, light verse that says nothing. Each poem in LULLABY… has been crafted to bring strong self-concept to a child.

A general question for you: What is perfect about children’s poetry these days, what is missing, and what is there too much of?

I wish there was more Poetry with a capital P. There is too much light verse that goes nowhere, straining to be silly. The sidewalk ended a long time ago and very well with the brilliance of Shel Silverstein. It will take giant steps to widen the pathway!

I wish there were more anthologies being published for all ages. There are fewer and fewer. In 2014 we saw two; in 2015 we’ll be lucky to see four – and three of them are mine. We need more diversity, more voice within the genre.

I wish editors would publish books of poetry by a single author on a variety of themes rather than on one subject. Past collections by masters such as Myra Cohn Livingston, Eve Merriam, Lilian Moore, et. al., didn’t have to have one theme. They offered a smorgasbord of work and it was all delicious fare.

I have to agree. Books by folks like Silverstein and Dorothy Aldis, who greatly influenced me, were rarely one-theme books. Are you at liberty to let readers in on any news about future projects?

Forthcoming in Fall is JUMPING OFF LIBRARY SHELVES: A BOOK OF POEMS, illustrated by Jane Manning (Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press), my heartfelt tribute to libraries, librarians, storytellers and books. A stellar roster of poets are included such as X. J. Kennedy, Nikki Grimes, Jane Yolen, Alice Schertle, as well as never-before-published works.

Another major work will appear this Fall if the book stays on schedule.

Finally, I have to ask…what keeps Lee Bennett Hopkins going?

What doesn’t keep me going? I am interested in everything from idiotic politicians’ points-of views to hunting for purple clothing — from finding a good restaurant to searching for a thrilling theatrical experience.

Then there is that thing called ‘poetry’. Damn it sometimes. It envelopes me — my life, my heart. It is food, drink, manna, stuff that makes life worth living.  I live to pass the poetry…that stuff with the capital “P”.

Lullabye coverAnd we get to share in that love of poetry with you, Lee! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat.

Remember, Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby is on sale now at your favourite bookstore and online, so I do hope you’ll pick up a copy and enjoy it. For a young child’s birthday or even a baby shower – this makes a perfect gift! Thanks again to Lee for believing in me and giving me my first “big break,” and thank you to all of you who take time out of your busy days to read this blog…I appreciate your support, 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: “Dear Tomato” anthology is available now!

Dear Tomato coverI am thrilled to be able to finally say I am a published children’s author! Three poems of mine were selected for inclusion in Carol-Ann Hoyte‘s new children’s anthology, Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems - and it officially went on sale on Amazon this past Monday!

Dear Tomato… features over 50 poems by 34 poets from around the globe. The poems vary greatly in form and style – some are structured forms, some are free verse, some are humorous, others are a little more serious – but they all share an agricultural theme.

And while Carol-Ann worked at sorting through and editing all the poems, her collaborator, photographer Norie Wasserman, provided the black-and-white photographs that accompany the text.

Speaking of text…here’s one of the three poems I contributed:

Fair is Fair
(a lesson in Fair Trade)

Mother’s coffee,
Father’s tea,
Sister’s cocoa…
all might be
a farmer’s only
chance to give
his family
a chance to live.

© 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

I hope you’ll pick up a copy! Although it’s only available via Amazon right now, it should be more widely available within the next month or two.

poetryfridaybutton-fulllBy the way, I need to make you aware of two other brand-new books due out very soon:

Laura Purdie Salas’ third and final edition of her “…Can Be…” series, titled A Rock Can Be… (Millbrook Press) comes out this weekend! It hits bookshelves this Sunday, March 1, and you can read my complete review of it HERE.

Lullabye coverThe very first children’s book I was contacted to be part of comes out this Tuesday, March 3! Lullaby & Kisses Sweet is a board book anthology for young children, 0-5 years, and I couldn’t be happier about working with the wonderful and highly esteemed Lee Bennett Hopkins. For Tuesday’s blog post, I’ll be sharing more info about the book, my page from it, and a short interview with Lee – so be sure to stop back then!

But wait – there’s more!

mmpoetry2015-bracket-rd1-startI also want to let you know about this year’s March Madness Poetry 2015 Competition! Once again, Ed DeCaria at Think Kid, Think has put together this annual friendly event which not only stimulates the minds and creative juices of those of us taking part – but helps to bring a little poetic excitement to the classroom, as well!

What’s that? You’d like your classroom to join in the Madness? Then find out more and sign up today! The insanity begins soon, so be sure to follow Ed and his blog on Twitter or Facebook – or just stay close here, as I’ll be providing updates throughout the month!

Whew, I’m worn out! That’s it for now. Writer/poet/blogger Heidi Mordhorst is hosting Poetry Friday at her blog, My Juicy Little Universe, so head on over for all of today’s poetic links and info!

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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!

Review: “A Rock Can Be…”

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted any new blog entries – save for my Poetry Friday posts – and for that I apologize. My wife and I have been dealing with family problems (ailing, elderly parents), house problems (now that the new $8000 furnace/boiler and $2000 electrical panel are installed, there are ice dams on our roof), and vehicle problems (last Friday, the left rear tire flew off my truck while my wife was driving home – not good).

And of course, here in New England, we’ve been getting major snowstorms every week, which means snow blowing, shoveling, and school cancellations…and until 2 days ago, I was doing it without a snow blower, since ours was in the repair shop.

There has also been some good news, though:  I’ve written two new picture book manuscripts in the past month, which has taken quite a bit of my time, and I also received some FANTASTIC news a few weeks ago that I’m dying to share with you. I can’t say anything yet, but it’ll be a big announcement when I do!

rcb coverSo for today, I wanted to share some other big news…a new children’s book hitting stores this Sunday, March 1!

Wait – has it been a year already? Last April I reviewed author/poet Laura Purdie Salas’ book, Water Can Be… as part of my National Poetry Month celebration, and now here it is 11 months later and she has another book in her series!

Salas’ new book, A Rock Can Be… (Millbrook Press) follows the same concept as Water in that it takes a very simple subject and poetically expounds on it…but she does it with such aplomb you almost don’t realize how deceptively insightful her observations are.

Starting with the idea that every rock has a story to tell, Salas begins, “A rock can be… / tall mountain/ park fountain / dinosaur bone / stepping stone…” and goes on to include volcanoes, phosphorescence, architecture, skipping stones, and many more instances of rocks being more than just “rocks.”

For instance…

rcb_sparkling_ring

 

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(click images to enlarge)

 

As I mentioned in my Water Can Be… review last April, it takes skill, patience, and a creative mind to write simply – and Salas has what it takes. It’s also nice to see illustrator Violeta Dabija, whose artistry can be seen on the previous two books in the series, is back to perfectly complement the text with vivid colour and textured illustrations.

In the back of the book readers can learn more about the rocks and images of which Salas makes note – such as stepping stones, flint, and even the moon. A glossary also helps younger readers to understand some of the imagery and concepts throughout the book.

A delightful read!

NEXT WEEK: Two days after A Rock Can Be… hits bookshelves, the first children’s book I have ever had the pleasure of being part of comes out! Lullaby & Kisses Sweet (Abrams Appleseed) is an unusual book – it’s a poetry anthology in board book form, designed for very young children up to the age of 5.

Lullabye coverI am extremely proud to have worked with the one and only Lee Bennett Hopkins, who edited the book, and to be included in a book that also features poems by such luminaries as Jane Yolen, J. Patrick Lewis, Charles Ghigna, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, David L. Harrison, X.J. Kennedy, Marilyn Singer, and many others. (Salas also contributed a poem, “Spaghetti,” to the collection)

As a first-ever publication, I couldn’t be more thrilled. To learn more about the book, check out this brief review from Publisher’s Weekly! (And once you read it, you’ll see why I’m more than happy to share the link!)

The day it goes on sale, Tue., March 3, I’ll be sharing a special interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins here on my blog. We’ll be talking about how the concept for the book came about, his thoughts on children’s poetry these days, and a couple of new projects he’s working on, so I hope you’ll stop back!

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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: “Snow Blowing”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllSharing my newest poem today – something a little bit autobiographical that I plan on including in my winter-themed collection:

Snow Blowing

Dad likes to clear snow at night.
He says there’s something special about
being outside, by yourself
in the dark and cold
with nothing but the vrum, vrum, vrum
of the snow-blower
chewing up everything in its path
and shooting it skyward
like a winter volcano
erupting in a graceful arch
of snow and ice.

“You get a lot of thinkin’ done,”
Dad says.
“Just you and the machine
and one job to do.”

“It’s a certain kind of peaceful,”
he says.
“Clears your mind.”

I don’t really understand
how working so hard
in the dark and cold,
pushing, pulling,
angling, arching,
a lone light leading his way,
can be peaceful.
It seems like such…

…work.

But maybe I’ll learn
what Dad means
next winter,
when we get the snow-blower
and both go outside
together
to clear snow at night.

© 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Linda Baie is hosting Poetry Friday at her blog, Teacher Dance, so head on over and check out all the links and poetry!

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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: So much poetry to go around!

(Warm up your pointer finger; there’s a lot of clicking ahead…!)

I usually share a different poem here each week, but I realized yesterday that I’ve been sharing so many poems on other folks’ blogs lately that perhaps I should share their links, instead!

Poetry_Friday logoSo that’s what I’m doing today.
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A question that children’s writers often discuss is the value of writing prompts; that is, suggestions or tidbits of inspiration offered to writers in order to help spur their creativity. Some people aren’t a big fan of prompts, and prefer to write based on their own personal inspiration.
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I, on the other hand, enjoy prompts, even if I don’t often have time for them. I don’t need the inspiration, really – I have 4 different book ideas I’m trying to juggle right now along with several poems I need to write – but prompts force me to try something new.
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Perhaps it’s writing in a poetic form with which I’m unfamiliar. Maybe it’s coming up with a poem about a subject about which I know very little. Sometimes it’s just a fun challenge.
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But ultimately, prompts make a writer think on his/her feet – sort of like Whose Line Is It, Anyway? for the literary crowd. I’ve learned that one of the things that sets amateur writers apart from professionals is that amateurs wait for inspiration to strike, while professionals make their own inspiration.
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While I used to be in the former category, I have enough publishing credits under my belt to feel comfortable placing myself in the newbie section of the latter. I also am growing adept at being able to write a solid, publishable poem within a day or so of being given a topic – which for me, was a huge leap. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I couldn’t have gotten to this point without prompts.
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That said, it’s been a busy week for me! Just this past Wednesday on her blog, Michelle H. Barnes shared a poem of mine based on a writing challenge from author/poet David Elliott. Based on his poem, “Dear Orangutan,” readers were challenged to write a poem based on the construct of a letter…and suffice it to say, I took an unusual path.
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Elsewhere around the interwebs…
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-  I found myself writing a short little poem on Laura Purdie Salas’ blog yesterday; she shared a photo with a poem she wrote about it and asked her readers to do the same, in 15 Words Or Less (a fun weekly feature on her blog).
-  Jane Yolen and I shared “candle” poems on David L. Harrison’s blog this past Monday, as part of his “Word of the Month” challenge. (You can read all of this month’s poems, written by some very talented folks, HERE)
-  Two days later on David’s blog, a number of us joined in a little poetry game and shared poems based on a single vowel sound.
-  And going back to last Poetry Friday, Feb. 6, educator/poet Laura Shovan shared one of my poems on her blog – a rather short one, I admit – as part of her month-long Sound Poem Project. Each day during February, she offers a different sound clip as inspiration, and since I had suggested the sound of a theremin, I felt writing a couple lines about one was the least I could do! You can read my poem along with many others HERE.
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Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2As I said, I’ve been kinda busy.
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But wait, there’s more! Cathy Mere is celebrating Poetry Friday by handling the hostess duties today – so please check out her blog, Merely Day by Day, for all of today’s pre-Valentine links and hi-jinx! Have a good weekend, and stay tuned for news about the CYBILS Awards winners…coming soon!
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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: “After the Storm”

It’s taken me 2 and a half-years of blogging, but I have finally determined one of life’s truths: I just can’t keep track of which poems I share here.

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI’m usually pretty good about not re-posting poems, but it’s a miracle I don’t re-post more than I do. (I think I’ve only done it a couple of times…hard tellin’, not knowin’)

Having said that, I thought I’d share a little ditty I put together a couple years ago which I’d been saving for use in a winter-themed poetry collection. I’m still working on that collection, however, the theme has taken a bit of a turn, so I doubt I’ll be including this – hence, I’m posting it here for you to enjoy!

(Although I shouldn’t be so presumptive. I mean, who knows if you’ll enjoy it? Who am I am to assume you’ll enjoy it? If you don’t enjoy it, that will be precious time you’ve lost, and…well, maybe I should stop worrying.)

Anyway, I thought it would be appropriate, considering the winter season we’ve been having. (and considering I couldn’t tell if I’d shared it before!) For today’s complete and unfettered Poetry Friday roundup, please visit the one and only Liz Steinglass!

After the Storm

Shovel, shovel, shovel, shovel,

shovel, shovel, shovel, shovel,

shovel, shovel, shovel, shovel,

 .

only just begun…

  .

shovel, shovel, shovel, shovel,

shovel, shovel, shovel, shovel,

shovel, shovel, shovel, shovel,

  .

wind is cold and blowing…

  .

shovel, shovel, shovel, shovel,

shovel, shovel, shovel, shovel,

shovel, shovel, shovel, shovel,

  .

glad it’s almost done…

  .

shovel, shovel, shovel, shovel,

shovel, shovel, shovel, shovel,

shovel, shovel, shovel, shovel,

  .

What?!?

  .

  .

  .

.

.

I think it’s snowing!

© 2012, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2Did 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: “What the Snow Clouds Know” / Rod McKuen / PFA

Before I get to today’s poem, first let me take a moment to offer my condolences for the family of Rod McKuen, poet, songwriter, and “accidental hipster,” as he was sometimes referred to.

poetryfridaybutton-fulllMcKuen came to prominence in the ’60’s and ’70’s, and although critics generally had a negative view of his work, the populace had a different opinion. An honest, earnest writer, he captured the attention of many folks who didn’t even think they liked poetry – and that popularity helped him become one of the top-selling poets of our time.

In addition to releasing many poetry collections, he also had a hand in writing hit songs for Frank Sinatra (“Love’s Been Good to Me” and Terry Jacks (“Seasons in the Sun,” a reworking of a French song) and was nominated for two Academy Awards for his musical work on the film, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” and the animated feature, “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.”

In his poem, “Age is Better,” McKuen compares his life as a young man to his life as an older fellow – and touches a few nerves:

I have been young,
…………..a fresh faced sprout,
with agile legs, a muscled arm and smile
to charm the world I went through
……..in a rush to get a little older, sooner.

Catching my reflection while passing past
………………….a looking glass not long ago
I discovered I was older, even old. There was
no sudden melancholy or regret, and yet
some sadness in the wonder that it happened
…………………………..while I wasn’t watching…

(read the poem in its entirety HERE)

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PFAC-front-cover-Nov-30-WEB-jpeg-705x1030

115 poets, 156 poems – in English AND Spanish – and somehow I was selected to be a part of it: it’s the latest Poetry Friday Anthology! Writers and educators Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell have once again put together an amazing collection of poems for students, teachers, and anyone who appreciates children’s poetry. Be watching for it in late March-early April! (for more info, just click the graphic)

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Cybils-Logo-2014I’ve been busy the past couple of weeks – revising a picture book manuscript, completing a new picture book manuscript, working on poems for yet another manuscript, and reading all the poetry collections nominated for this year’s CYBILS Awards.

As a 2nd-round judge, it’s a joy to be able to catch up on all the tremendous writing that has been published over the past year – but it’s a lot of work!  I’ll be updating you on the status of the awards as we get closer to making the final announcement.

Somehow, in the midst of all this – and while taking care of my wife, who’s getting over the flu – I managed to accept Michelle H. Barnes’ poetry challenge to write a “Deeper Wisdom” poem at her blog, Today’s Little Ditty. Being the shrewd kind of multi-tasker that I am, I used her challenge as an opportunity to write another poem for the collection I’m working on! (Kill two birds, right?)

So I invite you to head on over to her blog and check out TODAY’S POST, where she wraps up the challenge! You can see my take on Joyce Sidman’s “Deeper Wisdom” form along with many others. And for all of today’s Poetry Friday offerings, check out Paul W. Hankins’ blog, These 4 Corners!

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Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2Did 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: “Night Beacon”

Poetry_Friday logoThere may not be much snow on the ground, but it’s cold and icy – and definitely winter! This poem came to me while driving home one evening, looking at the houses in the area. I may include it in my winter collection, as I’m still in the process of revising it and I could use a couple more.

By the way, Poetry Friday is being hosted today by Tara Smith at A Teaching Life – so head on over and check out all the links! And if you missed my post from this past Tuesday, I would love to share with you the details on how my 5-year-old son saved me from the tragedy of becoming a grown-up…it was a close call!

Night Beacon

The old farmhouse
porch light
reflects off fresh ice,
a lighthouse
on motionless sea.

© 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2Did 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!

The day I almost became a grown-up

One of the many ways my wife – and many others – describe me is that I’m like a big kid. When I play with my kids outside, they roll on top of me – then I roll on top of them. When I rake leaves, I make extra-big piles to jump in. I love science fiction and comic book movies and dinosaur movies and – well, frankly, any movie that involves explosions, special effects, and machines and creatures not currently existing on our planet.

(Yes, I cried at the end of “The Notebook,” but everyone does that, so it doesn’t count.)

So imagine my shock when I realized I was acting like a grown-up today.

…and to think it happened at Chuck E. Cheese

Grey - Chuck E Cheese

Saving the world from undead pirate zombies is a team effort.

We had been invited to meet some friends at the local kid-centric pizza/arcade/house of adrenaline, and since our son had never been my wife and I decided to go.

Now, the last time I was there (at least 12 years ago), my older daughters were not even in their teens and half the place was a giant jungle gym, with big hanging tubes and all kinds of fun things to climb on. The other half was an arcade and food area, along with a small stage featuring an animatronic Chuck E. Cheese that, fortunately, has never been turned on when I’ve been there.

Today, though, it was about 75-percent arcade, 20-percent food, and maybe 5-percent (at best) involved any kind of physical activity. What had happened?

Times change, I suppose. So we bought some tokens and looked around for some games to play. Many were boring; the exciting ones, of course, involved driving cars as fast as possible or saving the world from Decepticons or dinosaurs or undead pirates. My son spent nearly the entire time learning to drive courtesy of the fine folks at the Fast & the Furious driving academy.

The Dodge Viper and the moment of truth

These racing games require far more skill that a 5-year-old possesses – or at least, more than MY 5-year-old possesses. We have no game system at the house, so he’s never played a video game before. Controlling a joystick was a totally new experience for him; trying to drive was – well, it was a wild ride, let’s say that.

I had to help him choose his location (Maui), his vehicle (Dodge Viper SRT-10), its color (cherry red), and an upgrade (nitrous oxide – yeah, baby!)…but I also had to push the gas pedal since he couldn’t reach it. And I had to help him steer.

That last part was where I went wrong.

As I stood there beside him, straining to reach the accelerator with my foot from a standing position, I found myself trying to keep him on the road. He’d steer wildly from left to right and right to left and left to right – then stay there on the far right and nail just about every tree, rock, guardrail, bridge abutment, and convenience store he could.

I’d pull him back onto the road only to watch him go ricocheting from one car to another, flipping over, doing 360s in the middle of tunnels and careening off mountainsides then winding up back on the side of the road, picking off telephone poles like he was mowing a lawn.

“Stop, Daddy! Let me do it!” he kept saying.

“But you keep hitting all these things on the side, bub!” I’d explain.

“You’re not letting me steer!”

“I’m trying to, but you keep hitting things and knocking things over!”

I was starting to get frustrated when he finally replied,

“I know!!”

Oh…you mean, you meant to do that…

Just like a few years ago, when he was nearly 3 and I was walking with him along the dirt road near our house, and he kept deliberately pushing his baby stroller into the ruts – I had completely misunderstood the objective.

Back then, he wasn’t trying to get the stroller from point A to point B in the smoothest, most effective way; he was having fun driving it through the ruts. Today, the point of the racing game wasn’t to pass all the other cars; it was to have fun, effectively driving through ruts again.

When I realized this, I immediately took my hand from the steering wheel and pushed the accelerator to the floor.

“You go ahead, buddy,” I said. “You’re doing a great job of knocking down everything in sight.”

He smiled, never taking his eyes off the screen. “Yes, I am!” he beamed.

I may be an adult, but fortunately, my son saved me once again from becoming an all-too-serious, no-fun grown-up. As I write this, it occurs to me he has also taught me a valuable life lesson: You don’t always need to pass all the other cars; sometimes you just need to drive through some ruts and mow down a few road signs.

And push the accelerator to the floor when you do it.

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Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2Did 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: Wry-ku? What’s a wry-ku?

Poetry_Friday logo

Once again, I find myself too busy writing to write! I was unable to get this past Tuesday’s post up in time – partly due to my schedule and partly due to a major computer issue the folks at McAfee have spent two days trying to fix, to no avail – but I hope to share that post next week.

Until then, allow me to share with you something I call a “wry-ku”: my attempt at breathing a little humour into a traditionally serious and very un-funny poetic form. It’s a silly name for a poem that is structured like a haiku, but contains a bit of a wry or ironic twist.

Will it become as popular as some of J. Patrick Lewis’ unique poetic creations, like careerhymes and zenos? Who knows…but I hope you like them! And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links and hi-jinx, be sure to visit the lovely and talented Irene Latham at Live Your Poem!

it’s not as cold now
as she was two weeks ago
January thaw
.

no circumference
of this heavy, orange gourd
we need pumpkin pi
.

if jealousy stings,
best keep a safe distance, son…
she’s a beekeeper
 .

all poems © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine

===================================================================

Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2Did 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!

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