Poetry Friday: “Construction People” preview! (and an NCTE review!)

One of the highlights of my 4-day visit to the National Council of Teachers of English annual convention in Baltimore (aka, #NCTE19) was getting to spend some time with my friends at Boyds Mills & Kane, the publisher of Flashlight Night and many of the poetry anthologies of which I’ve been a part.

In addition to poets Nikki Grimes, Georgia Heard, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Laura Purdie Salas, and many others, I finally had a chance to catch up with marketing manager Kerry McManus, who has been invaluable in helping promote my book for the past 3 years. I also got to say hello again to my Flashlight Night editor, Rebecca Davis, who surprised me with something…

I think my first words were, “We have a book! It’s a real book!!”

Construction People, the follow-up to 2018’s popular School People, is one of the late Lee Bennett Hopkins’ final poetry anthologies; Hopkins passed away in August and left about a half-dozen projects in various states of progress, including this one. I was told he had seen the F&Gs (folded & gathered) like the one above, but never had a chance to hold the bound, finished product in his hands. I know he would have been as proud of his book as we, the contributors, are of being part of it.

How I end up in books with luminaries like Pat Lewis and Charles Ghigna is still a mystery…but a happy mystery!

rebe– All pages © 2020 Wordsong/Boyds Mills & Kane, all rights reserved (click to enlarge)I’ll be sharing more selections and news about the book a few months from now, along with my poem (a villanelle, for you poetry geeks out there) in its entirety when it is officially released on March 17. But you don’t need to wait – you can pre-order now!

At the Boyds Mills & Kane exhibit booth: a tribute to the inimitable Dear One, Lee Bennett Hopkins.
After all these years…I’m finally face-to-face with Nikki Grimes!
Laura Purdie Salas helped guide me through the ins and outs of the crazy-busy NCTE schedule. (And she helped keep me fed, too, which is always a plus)

Another highlight of my trip – indeed, the initial reason I decided to go – was a poetry workshop I presented together with Heidi Mordhorst, Mary Lee Hahn, Laura Purdie Salas, and Liz Steinglass, who organized the workshop. What a weekend! I’ve never presented a workshop at a conference I’d never attended before…but there’s a first time for everything, they say, and this was mine.

To backtrack just a bit, the night I arrived, author/poet/blogger Laura Shovan gathered a bunch of Poetry Friday folks together at a local restaurant and we filled up half the place:

Back row, L-R: Heidi Mordhorst, Christie Wyman, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Kathryn Apel, Tabatha Yeatts, Janet Fagal, Yours Truly. Front row, L-R: Carol Varsalona, Irene Latham, Laura Purdie Salas, Laura Shovan (photo courtesy Laura Purdie Salas)

The next day, Friday, the day of our workshop, more of us got together at a local sandwich shop (because all we apparently live for is eating and writing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that):

L-R: Tim Kulp, Linda Kulp, Marcie Flinchum Atkins, David L. Harrison, Liz Steinglass, Yours Truly, Irene Latham, Kathryn Apel. (photo courtesy Laura Purdie Salas)

And of course, I couldn’t travel all the way to my original hometown of Baltimore without making a little side trip to visit a certain poet:

   

If you’re looking for more poetry, then be sure to head over to today’s Poetry Friday roundup, where Tanita S. Davis is hosting the festivities at her blog, [fiction, instead of lies]!

Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “She Keeps Me from My Sleep” – plus #NCTE19!

I’m so thrilled to be at this year’s National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference in Baltimore right now! This is my first year at NCTE (and the first time I’ve back back in my birth city since 1996), and I’m very excited to be an official representative for Flashlight Night‘s publisher, Boyds Mills & Kane.

As I’ve been preparing, I’ve been looking through many of my old files…and came upon this poem, which I wrote 10 years ago. There are some lines/words I could tweak – but I like what I did here, so I’m sharing it in all its unedited, unpolished glory…
.

She Keeps Me From My Sleep

My head, precariously balanced
sandbag on a spine;

ears deadened, mute screaming
silence of a heartbeat;

eyes sting, dry as a river rock
water flows over and over
time, erodes away.

Fingers falter, fail to write
words I fail to find; dumb and blind,
I gain no peace.

– © 2009 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

.

For more poetry, I hope you’ll visit Rebecca Herzog at Sloth Reads, where she’s hosting today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup. And if you are here at NCTE, I hope you’ll say hi! Here’s my schedule:

Friday, 7-7:45am, Grand Ballroom I & III:

FIRST-TIMERS’ WELCOME! Having never been to NCTE before, I suppose this is probably an important thing to attend, yes?

Friday, 3:30-4:45 pm, Room #315:

I’ll be co-presenting “Wonder as a Way In: Teaching Reading and Writing Poetry through Inquiry” – a poetry workshop with authors and educators Laura Purdie Salas, Liz Steinglass, Heidi Mordhorst, and Mary Lee Hahn. We’ll share activities designed to approach reading, writing, and appreciating poetry through the process of inquiry.

Saturday, 9:30-10:30 am, Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor, Atrium, Level 2, Nonfiction Children’s Book Salon:

An “unofficial” session, thisis an opportunity to grab a coffee and talk nonfiction (picture books, middle grade, and YA) with Lerner and Chronicle editors Carol Hinz, Melissa Manlove, and Shaina Olmanson.

Saturday, 12:30-2:30pm, Children’s Book Awards Luncheon:

I’ll be hosting one of Boyds Mills & Kane’s tables, so I’m very eager to meet and hang out with so many writer and teacher friends! (Plus, I’ll have copies of Flashlight Night on hand!)

Sunday, 7-8:45am, Children’s Literature Assembly (CLA) Breakfast:

Caldecott Honor author/illustrator Yuyi Morales will be discussing her work, including her newest book, Soñadores / Dreamers (Holiday House, 2018).

And of course, I’ll be popping in and out of sessions here and there and trying to spend as much time with my writer and educator friends as possible. If you do see me, please stop and say hello! (Hint: I’ll be sporting my winter beard, so if you come across a fellow who looks like The Most Interesting Man in the World’s balder, less-interesting brother…that’s probably me)

Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


   

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “The Best of Today’s Little Ditty,” volume 3 – and gearing up for NCTE!

My friend and fellow writer/blogger Michelle H. Barnes not only loves to read and write children’s poetry…she devotes a significant amount of her time promoting it via her blog, Today’s Little Ditty. Each month, Michelle features different children’s authors and poets who challenge her readers with writing poetry in a variety of ways, and every couple of years she compiles the best poems into a poetry anthology.

And the latest edition is out now!

As Michelle explains in her own blog post, a “ditty committee” of 12 readers, writers, and bloggers (including Yours Truly) reviewed more than 500 poems written during 2017 and 2018. We whittled the list down to 96 poems by 57 different poets – and they’re all in here for you to read and enjoy.

I am pleased to learn I have three poems included in the book; one is my response to a challenge by Jane Yolen and J. Patrick Lewis to write an “epitaph poem” following their visit to Michelle’s blog

© 2018, Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

.

I was also pleased to learn from Michelle that she is including SEVEN poems that resulted from the challenge my Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (POW! Kids Books, 2018) co-author, Deborah Bruss, and I put forth to her readers! (You can learn more about that challenge HERE.)

So congratulations again to Michelle! I hope you’ll stop by her blog post today to check out more details on this brand-new book, and be sure to pick up a copy and show your support for children’s poetry. And since Michelle is hosting Poetry Friday today, you can check out all the links to all the children’s poetry posts out there in the kidlitosphere!

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If you’re planning to attend this year’s National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference in my original hometown of Baltimore, I hope you’ll say hi! This will be my first year at NCTE (and the first time I’ve back back in my birth city since 1996!), and I’m very excited to be an official representative for Flashlight Night‘s publisher, Boyds Mills & Kane. Here’s my schedule:

Friday, 7-7:45am, Grand Ballroom I & III:

FIRST-TIMERS’ WELCOME! Having never been to NCTE before, I suppose this is probably an important thing to attend, yes?

Friday, 3:30-4:45 pm, Room #315:

I’ll be co-presenting “Wonder as a Way In: Teaching Reading and Writing Poetry through Inquiry” – a poetry workshop with authors and educators Laura Purdie Salas, Liz Steinglass, Heidi Mordhorst, and Mary Lee Hahn. We’ll share activities designed to approach reading, writing, and appreciating poetry through the process of inquiry.

Saturday, 9:30-10:30 am, Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor, Atrium, Level 2, Nonfiction Children’s Book Salon:

An “unofficial” session, thisis an opportunity to grab a coffee and talk nonfiction (picture books, middle grade, and YA) with Lerner and Chronicle editors Carol Hinz, Melissa Manlove, and Shaina Olmanson.

Saturday, 12:30-2:30pm, Children’s Book Awards Luncheon:

I’ll be hosting one of Boyds Mills & Kane’s tables, so I’m very eager to meet and hang out with so many writer and teacher friends! (Plus, I’ll have copies of Flashlight Night on hand!)

Sunday, 7-8:45am, Children’s Literature Assembly (CLA) Breakfast:

Caldecott Honor author/illustrator Yuyi Morales will be discussing her work, including her newest book, Soñadores / Dreamers (Holiday House, 2018).

And of course, I’ll be popping in and out of sessions here and there and trying to spend as much time with my writer and educator friends as possible. If you do see me, please stop and say hello! (Hint: I’ll be sporting my winter beard, so if you come across a fellow who looks like The Most Interesting Man in the World’s balder, less-interesting brother…that’s probably me)

Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


   

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “The Art of Autumn”

This post was originally published two years ago, in 2017, while the poem itself had initially been shared on Carol Varsalona’s blog, Beyond Literacy, as part of her “Finding Fall” gallery, back in 2014. So today, with trees nearly bare and some light snow in the forecast, I thought I’d share it once again…

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(click to enlarge)

Will you be attending this year’s National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference? in Baltimore? If so, I hope you’ll say hi if you see me! This will be my first year at NCTE, and I’m very excited to be an official representative for Flashlight Night‘s publisher, Boyds Mills & Kane. Friday afternoon, I’ll be co-presenting “Wonder as a Way In: Teaching Reading and Writing Poetry through Inquiry” – a poetry workshop with authors and educators Laura Purdie Salas, Liz Steinglass, Heidi Mordhorst, and Mary Lee Hahn. We will share activities designed to approach reading, writing, and appreciating poetry through the process of inquiry.

Then Saturday, I’m honored to host one of Boyds Mills & Kane’s tables at the Children’s Book Awards Luncheon, so I’m very eager to meet and hang out with so many writer and teacher friends!

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, be sure to visit my friend and fellow NCTE presenter, Irene Latham, at her blog, Live Your Poem!

Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Mummy Problems”

It may be the day after Halloween, but here at the ol’ Triple-R we’re going to continue celebrating a little longer…with some help from my friend Michelle H. Barnes! Yesterday, Michelle shared a brief little “ditty” I wrote as a response to a writing challenge on her blog, Today’s Little Ditty.

You think you’ve got problems? Imagine how mummies feel, with all those wrappings and loose ends; staggering around half-dead ain’t as easy as it looks, y’know. If you’d like to gain some insight and empathy into what frightens mummies, click HERE!

Will you be attending this year’s National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference? in Baltimore? If so, I hope you’ll say hi if you see me! This will be my first year there, and I’m very excited to be co-hosting one of Boyds Mills & Kane’s tables at the Children’s Book Awards Luncheon on Saturday. Representing Flashlight Night‘s publisher is a tremendous honor for me.

Also, the day before the luncheon, I’ll be co-presenting “Wonder as a Way In: Teaching Reading and Writing Poetry through Inquiry” – a poetry workshop with authors and educators mummiLaura Purdie Salas, Liz Steinglass, Heidi Mordhorst, and Mary Lee Hahn – so I’m very eager to meet and hang out with so many writer and teacher friends!

Looking for more poetry? Tabatha Yeatts is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, The Opposite of Indifference, along with info on how to design your own writing retreat and her annual Winter Poetry Swap!

Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “October Daybreak”

(click to enlarge)

You may have seen this photo a week or so ago when I shared it on Instagram and Facebook…I took it around 6:30 one morning as the sun was just starting to break through the trees that line the field across the road from our house. I loved watching the ebb and flow of the dense fog, as if it was my own personal cloud. I knew at some point I’d have to write a poem about it.

Today, I did!

And by the way, I’m very excited to share the news that I’ll be one of the authors Boyds Mills & Kane is sponsoring for one of their tables at the NCTE Conference’s Children’s Book Awards Luncheon next month! This year is my first attending The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference, so I’m thrilled to not only be able to go, but to be able to represent Flashlight Night‘s publisher.

And the day before the luncheon, I’ll be presenting a poetry-focused workshop with authors and educators Laura Purdie Salas, Liz Steinglass, Heidi Mordhorst, and Mary Lee Hahn – so you can imagine how eager I am to hang out in my birth city of Baltimore with so many writer and teacher friends!

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, head over to Karen Edmisten’s blog , where she is also celebrating October with a poem by Helen Hunt Jackson.

Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Willow Brook haiku

(click to enlarge)

As soon as I saw this photo my wife had taken of the brook that runs behind our property (alternately known as Willow Brook or Tory Brook), I knew I had to write something to go along with it. I hope you’re enjoying your autumn…it’s hard to believe we’re already nearly a month into the season already!

For more poetry, be sure to check out today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup at Alphabet Soup, where Jama is spotlighting the newest book from my Once Upon Another Time collaborator, the wonderful Charles Ghigna – aka, Father Goose®!

(more details coming soon!)
Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Jack’s Lament”

This post was originally published almost exactly 5 years ago, on Oct. 17, 2014. I’m in the process of working on two picture book manuscripts – one brand-new and one a significant revision – all while polishing poems for an upcoming anthology AND trying to get my childhood home ready to sell, now that my folks are in a nursing home. (Whew!) So time has been at a premium lately. I hope you enjoy this blast from the past!

And oh, by the way… CYBILS Awards nominations are open! I’m very excited to once again be a first-round judge for the Poetry category and have already begun sorting through some of the nominated books to see which ones I’ve read and which are new to me. There are a number of different categories, so please click the link and nominate your favorite children’s books of this past year!

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllI admit it, I’ve been on a zeno binge.

The zeno is a new poetic form created by former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, and if you have not heard about it, you can find all the details about how it was created at poet/author Michelle H. Barnes’ blog – in fact, she’s hosting Poetry Friday today!

You can see the zeno I wrote for last week’s Poetry Friday post HERE. As for today’s offering…

Jacks Lament (image)
(click to enlarge)

Catherine Flynn is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup, so head on over to her blog, Reading to the Core, where she is “re-making the world!”

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: interview with “Wild in the Streets” author/poet Marilyn Singer

Wow, it seems like everyone I know has new poetry collections out this fall! Last month, I featured my friend Michelle Schaub and her new book, and this week I get to spotlight the incredibly talented Marilyn Singer, whose new book, Wild in the Streets (Quarto Publishing) came out on the exact same day, Sept. 17!

Marilyn has published over one hundred books for children and young adults, from poetry to picture books to novels, and has received nearly as many awards, including the 2015 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t invited her here yet, so I thought it was about high time I did so!

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You just celebrated the big day yesterday, and so I’m grateful you had the time to stop by and chat. When I realized I had never featured any of your books here, I decided I needed to fix that immediately! I’m thrilled that we get to talk about two of my favorite subjects:  animals and poetry.

Marilyn in her office. If you look closely, you’ll notice she has a few books.

Thank YOU, Matt, for inviting me! I love animals and poetry, too.

It’s a beautiful book – in both text and visuals! People always ask me, “How did you get the idea for this book?” or, “What made you want to write this book?” But just ‘getting’ an idea is not as important as the more crucial question: Why did you feel you needed to write this book?

That is an interesting question. If need comes out of desire, then that’s how I end up writing books. I find that I have such a desire to learn about a subject, to tell a story, to explore aspects of a topic, etc., that I need to write a book. Sometimes I need to write it in prose, other times in verse.

As far as Wild in the Streets goes, my desire to write it started quite a long time ago. I am interested in pretty much all the things that animals do. One of those major things is adaptation to environments. I wrote a previous poetry book entitled A Strange Place to Call Home (Chronicle, 2015), illustrated by Ed Young, about animals living in risky habitats. One of the poems in it is about foxes in the city. That reignited my desire to do an entire book about urban animals.

We humans who live in urban environments often don’t realize which non-human beings are our neighbors and how our expansion into their habitats has caused them to live in ours. I’m usually on the side of animals, so when folks talk about pests in the city or about strange neighbors, I feel the need to get people to learn about these critters and to see how we’re responsible for them living there.

The book includes not only free verse poems, but more structured forms like haiku, a villanelle, a cinquain, even a sonnet. So how do you approach the writing process? That is, when you started out, did you know how you wanted the book to be organized, that you wanted to include multiple poetic forms, non-fiction sidebars, etc.?

Originally, I was going to write a prose nonfiction book about animals in American cities. An editor suggested I go global, which struck me as a good idea. But that was before the internet, and it was really difficult doing research. There were few books and articles I was able to find and snail mailing people in cities around the world for information was a slow process. When the internet became widely available, it was much easier to find this material.

Because I love to write poetry, I eventually realized that poems featuring these animals would make the book fun to create, as well as unique. A Strange Place to Call Home included a variety of poetry forms and I felt that that would be a good way to go in this book. I enjoy challenging myself to write in these different forms and I know that teachers and librarians like books that feature them. I did not plan out which critter would be featured in which form — I just let that happen after doing the research and choosing the animal.

From the start, I intended to include prose sidebars (although I initially thought they’d be back matter) to give more information on each animal and city, as well as a bibliography/webography, a glossary, and an introduction. Again, I believe that these are really important tools for educators, and I think readers appreciate them, too.

An example of a cinquain. © 2019 Quarto Publishing; all rights reserved, used with permission. (Click to enlarge)

I noticed you just couldn’t resist including a reverso! Of course, butterflies were a perfect subject for that form, considering their symmetry. Having mastered the form, do you feel reversos are easier to write than when you first started creating them? 

Nope, they aren’t easier to write now. Well, some may be easier — and some a lot harder. It depends on the topic and whether or not I’m in a games-playing head because writing reversos is like playing and solving a game. As some people may know, a reverso is one poem with two halves. The second half reverses the lines of the first, with changes in just punctuation and capitalization. But that’s not the only thing a reverso must do. That second half has to say something different from the first half.

I just finished a collection of reversos based on classic children’s books, which I hope will be published, and it was not easy to write at all! I not only had to revisit all the books and think about what I wanted each poem to say about them, but I had to ensure that the second half did indeed say something different from the first half. Whew!

When most of us think of wild animals roaming a city, we tend to think of things like honeybees, snakes, and opossums – all of which are included in your book. But some of the animals you feature, like wild boars and monitor lizards, were a bit of a shock! What surprised you while you were writing this?

I knew about the boars a while ago and I can’t remember when I found out about the monitor lizards, but I was surprised by a number of the city animals I later came across, especially the river crabs under Trajan’s Forum in Rome, the hyenas in Harar, Ethiopia, and — although lots of folks already knew about them before I did — the Sika deer roaming the streets of Nara, Japan. I really enjoyed the surprises!

An example of a sonnet. © 2019 Quarto Publishing; all rights reserved, used with permission. (Click to enlarge)

As anyone who writes poetry knows, a collection always starts out with a poem or two that for various reasons don’t end up in the book. Can you share with us a poem you wanted to include that didn’t make the cut?

Actually, only one poem didn’t make the cut. My publisher felt that folks wouldn’t want to read about squirrels and rats. I set the poem in NYC, where I live, but switched to peregrine falcons here for the final draft. Here’s the poem that got axed:

Well, as much as I like squirrels, peregrine falcons are one of my favorite birds, so no complaints here! Marilyn, you are one of the most prolific children’s poets out there these days; what is your writing routine (if you have one), and what other projects are you working on?

I don’t have a set routine. I generally write or think about writing most days, except the weekends. When I’m in the thick of a project, especially poetry, I can work on stuff all day (and night). Other times, I go shopping. 😉

I have two other books coming out this fall:  Gulp, Gobble (Simon Spotlight), illustrated by Kathryn Durst, a short rhymed book about how animals eat, and Who Named Their Pony Macaroni? Poems about Pets in the White House (Disney-Hyperion), illustrated by Ryan McAmis. Next spring, Follow the Recipe: Poems about Imagination, Celebration, and Cake (Dial), illustrated by Marjorie Priceman will be out, as well as Bug Dipping, Bug Sipping (Simon Spotlight), illustrated by Lucy Semple. And next fall, I have a picture book, Best Day Ever!, about a dog and a kid, coming out from Clarion and illustrated by Leah Nixon Fitzgerald.

Right now, I’m working on a middle-grade novel—a ghost story—and the aforementioned reversos. And I’m judging a dog writers’ contest!

(And that right there, friends, is how one defines “prolific!”) Well, good luck with this book, as well as everything you have upcoming! And thank you so much for spending a few minutes chatting!

Many thanks for these great questions, as well as your wonderful writing!

Thank you, Marilyn! I always appreciate your kind words and support – in fact, I have an unusual animal-themed collection I’m subbing right now, so if it gets picked up, you’ll be one of the first to know! By the way, will I see you at NCTE this year?

I won’t be at NCTE this year. I am working on an idea for a panel for 2020. Wish me luck!

Good luck, indeed! I’m sure the NCTE folks will love to hear what you have planned. Thanks again, Marilyn, and have a great weekend!

(More details on this coming soon!)

It’s Poetry Friday, which means there are a lot more poetry-related posts throughout the kidlitosphere! Be sure to head over to Library Matters, where Cheriee Weichel is hosting today’s complete roundup.

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Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: We have a winner! Finding poetic treasures within “Finding Treasure”…

Before we get to all the found poetry that’s been pouring in – and before we announce our winner of a free book! – I have some exciting news to share…

Click the cover to vote!

Thursday afternoon I was astounded to learn that Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills & Kane, 2017) has been shortlisted as a finalist for the New Hampshire Literary Awards – and voting for the Reader’s Choice Awards ends in TWO DAYS, Sat. night Sept. 28, at midnight! So if you’re a NH resident and you feel my little book is worthy, I’d appreciate you clicking THIS LINK and voting. Thank you!

It really is an honor simply to be included on a list with other Granite State authors and poets like Eric Pinder, Jessica Purdy, former NH Poet Laureate Patricia Fargnoli, and fellow BM&K author Sandra Neil Wallace. So please vote for your favorites!

Now, then…

Two weeks ago, I spotlighted Michelle Schaub and her brand-new poetry collection, Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections (Charlesbridge, 2019) – and offered a PERSONALLY-SIGNED COPY to one lucky winner.

And boy, oh boy, a lot of people are hoping to be that lucky winner!

All one needed to do to enter the giveaway was share a found poem based her poem, “Collecting Stars:”

A “found poem” is simply a poem that uses the words from one source – like a magazine, newspaper, book, etc. –  to create a poem. So in this case, readers took the words from Michelle’s poem and re-created them into new poems of their own. I shared several of the poems last Friday, so here are the newest ones:

Around the Yard

flashes in darkness
the dance of starlight
floats free

– Kathy Mazurowski

.

untitled

sparks dance
and beckon
embers glow
sparks float
free
good-bye

– Kathleen L. Armstrong

.

Embers

Specks of light
spark and dance
I watch them float free
when darkness deepens

– Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

.

untitled

darkness deepens
purple sky
sparks of starlight
way up high

sky festooned with
dancing light
colors pulsing
dazzling sight

– Cheriee Weichel

.

Star Collecting *

They come
When darkness deepens
A reminder to share

My own
Sparks of starlight
With tender care

Absorb, release them
to the night

Heart-carry
into morning’s light.

– Linda Trott Dickman

* (Matt’s note: while not a ‘found poem’ by definition, it still gets an “A” and an entry!)

.
untitled

Come fill a mason jar
Come so

To catch and watch
The darkness glow…

I know it’s hard
It’s free, though…

– © Karen Eastlund, 2019

.

and because this has been such a fun exercise, another one from Yours Truly…
.

Captured

Specks of light dance and glow;
beckon,
…..come!

The yard, a jar they fill.

Stars catch us…
and watch.

– © 2019, Matt F. Esenwine

.

According to the trusty Random.org website, our completely randomly-selected winner is…

LINDA BAIE!

Congratulations, Linda! Thanks so much for submitting your poem last week, and I’ll be sure to get your book in the mail asap. In the meantime, if anyone is still looking for more poetry (and who isn’t?) Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link has today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

The “Finding Treasure” Blog Tour concludes today at Jama’s Alphabet Soup!  ALSO: Be sure to check out Michelle’s brand-new poetry/literacy-focused blog!

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!