Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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

Poetry Friday: My “Poetry…Cubed!” entry

National-Poetry-Month-Logo (2015)

It’s Poetry Friday, and today’s roundup can be found at Robyn Hood Black’s little corner of the web, Life on the Deckle Edge. Robyn shares a brief interview with Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, the creative team behind The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations from Pomelo Books, of which Robyn and I are both contributors.

Poetry Cubed logoThis past Tuesday, I shared a new poetry challenge…and I’m looking forward to seeing what you can come up with! If you missed it, it’s my take on the Food Network show, “Chopped!” But instead of using surprise ingredients from a basket to create a meal, you need to use three photo prompts to create ONE fantastic poem!

(Get all the details HERE!)

Before we go any further…here are the three images (Feel free to click any of the images to enlarge them):

theatre seat (Katie)Flowers & BeeMonster Truck

So the challenge is to craft a poem utilizing all three of these images – either via imagery, reference, or even perhaps something abstract. Here’s a first draft of my poem, which I wrote Thursday afternoon:

Date Night

The movie had already started
when I walked in.
Opening credits were rolling
as cold sweat dropped
from a wax-paper cup and streamed
along the back of my hand,
onto the floor.
I found a seat
far in the back
near the door
so as not to bring attention to myself
as the one interrupting
The Monster Lies.

Alone in my row,
I groused about missing the previews
and first scene,
wishing I’d had the time
to settle in a little
closer
to the screen.
Below me, teens on first dates
and married couples out
for a night without kids
dotted the auditorium
in parallel lines
like so many flower heads
waiting to be picked.

Inches from the corner of my eye,
cold sweat dropped
from a wax-paper cup
onto the back of a hand.
As I looked up, she smiled
and found a seat
between the door
and me
so as not to bring attention
to herself. I offered
some popcorn, glad she hadn’t
had the time
to settle in a little
closer
to the screen.

– © Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2015

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Full disclosure: Now that I’m done editing this post, this is actually a second draft – writers of poetry just can’t stop tinkering! Think you can create an appetizing poem out of these three ingredients? I’ll bet you can.

Remember, the winners will be chosen at random – so don’t worry about whether you think the poem is good enough or not – the point is to just have fun and stretch your skills a little bit!

Email your poems to Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com, and I’ll share them all on Tue., April 28! (You can refresh your memory about the rules HERE)

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Irene Latham’s annual Progressive Poem continues to grow! Each day, a different person adds a line to the poem – and today, that person is my fellow Poet’s Garage member, Buffy Silverman. Then on April 30, it’ll be my turn to add the final line!

You can see how the 2015 Progressive Poem has been developing at the following blog spots:

2015ProgressivePoem1 Jone at Check it Out
2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog
6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson
8 Irene at Live Your Poem
9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
10 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
11 Kim at Flukeprints
12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine at DoriReads
14 Renee at No Water River
15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
17 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
19 Linda at Teacher Dance
20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots
21 Tara at A Teaching Life
22 Pat at Writer on a Horse
23 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference
26 Brian at Walk the Walk
27 Jan at Bookseedstudio
28 Amy at The Poem Farm
29 Donna at Mainely Write
30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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Poetry_Friday logoDid 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!

National Poetry Month: Poetry Cubed (Contest!)

Poetry Cubed logoWe’re almost halfway through National Poetry Month, so I thought it was time to get rolling with a 2-week contest I’m holding here in my little corner of the web. I’m hoping this will be fun for everyone who participates…and I have some special books to offer as prizes!

If you’ve ever spent more than 5 minutes watching The Food Network, chances are you have seen the hugely popular show, “Chopped!” In this reality-TV game show, four chefs battle each other by trying to create the best dishes they can using specific ingredients given to them in a special basket.

For example, for the first round, the chefs might have to create appetizers using pickled eggs, lemongrass, artichokes, and jelly beans. No, I’m not kidding; the ingredients are very often that bizarre. The dishes are critiqued by a panel of judges and the chef with the least appealing dish drops out; the three remaining chefs then move on to round two, the last two move on to round three, and the final chef gets to claim victory.

So for this contest, I’ve taken the basic premise of the TV show and applied it to poetry – but without the dejected countenances and broken dreams. I call it “Poetry…Cubed!” Here’s how it works:

  • Use the 3 images (“cubed,” get it??) below as inspiration to write a poem. (simple so far, yes?)
  • The poem can be any form, any number of lines, rhyming or not. (also simple, yes?)
  • The only hitch is that you need to include a reference to all three images in the poem – either via concrete imagery or something more abstract. (Heck, it’s poetry, so feel free to stretch the boundaries!)
  • Then email your poem to me at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com and I’ll share them here on Tue., April 28. Out of all the poems entered, two lucky writers will be chosen at random to receive their choice of the brand-new Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books) or the self-help book Psychoetry: Lessons in Poetic Parenting by Brian P. Wohlmuth, whom I interviewed last week.

PFAC-front-cover-Nov-30-WEB-jpeg-705x1030Brian-Psychoetry coverKeep in mind, I can only format poems to a small degree – so if possible, try to refrain from lots of unusual breaks and text placement. I’ll do my best to format your poem per your wishes, but WordPress will only allow me to do so much; blogging platforms aren’t known for being particularly poetry-friendly!

Now…without any further ado…here are your three images:

theatre seat (Katie)Flowers & BeeMonster Truck

A theatre, a bee and flowers, and a toy monster truck. (Feel free to click any of the images to enlarge them) Think you can make something delicious out of these three ingredients? I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

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Irene Latham’s annual Progressive Poem continues to grow! A different writer adds a line each day, and today it’s Renee LaTulippe’s turn to lead our heroine on her journey. Then on April 30, Yours Truly will add the final line. No pressure at all…

You can follow the 2015 Progressive Poem at the following blog spots:

2015ProgressivePoem1 Jone at Check it Out
2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog
6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson
8 Irene at Live Your Poem
9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
10 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
11 Kim at Flukeprints
12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine at DoriReads
14 Renee at No Water River
15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
17 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
19 Linda at Teacher Dance
20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots
21 Tara at A Teaching Life
22 Pat at Writer on a Horse
23 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference
26 Brian at Walk the Walk
27 Jan at Bookseedstudio
28 Amy at The Poem Farm
29 Donna at Mainely Write
30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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National-Poetry-Month-Logo (2015)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: “Broken”

National-Poetry-Month-Logo (2015)Today’s Poetry Friday roundup is at Laura Purdie Salas’ Writing the World for Kids – so I do hope you’ll stop by and check out all the links as well as her many tips on how to encourage children to appreciate poetry when reading to them!

(And if you didn’t get a chance to read my post from this past Tuesday about “Psychoetry” – I encourage you to learn more!)

I’m taking a break from children’s poetry this time around and sharing something for the grown-ups…my newest poem, a senryu. Hope you like it!

Broken graphic REV

Click to enlarge (© 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved)

By the way, Irene Latham’s annual Progressive Poem is growing by leaps and bounds! A different writer adds a line each day, and on April 30 we’ll see where it ends when Yours Truly caps it off with the final line.

You can follow the 2015 Progressive Poem at the following blog spots:

2015ProgressivePoem1 Jone at Check it Out
2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog
6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson
8 Irene at Live Your Poem
9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
10 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
11 Kim at Flukeprints
12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine at DoriReads
14 Renee at No Water River
15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
17 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
19 Linda at Teacher Dance
20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots
21 Tara at A Teaching Life
22 Pat at Writer on a Horse
23 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference
26 Brian at Walk the Walk
27 Jan at Bookseedstudio
28 Amy at The Poem Farm
29 Donna at Mainely Write
30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

National Poetry Month: What is “Psychoetry?”

National-Poetry-Month-Logo (2015)April is fully underway, which means National Poetry Month is, too – and today I thought I’d share an interview with someone who has taken poetry into an area it hasn’t – officially – been before!

We all know that reading and writing poetry often can be therapeutic for folks who are going through tough times; but what if a licensed mental health professional was to incorporate poetry into his sessions and use it as a way to help people come to terms with the problems they’re dealing with?

Brian P. Wohlmuth is just such as person. He has written a book called Psychoetry: Lessons in Poetic Parenting and joins us today to chat about this intriguing concept.

Thanks for taking the time to be with us  today, Brian. First of all, what exactly is Psychoetry, and how did you come to develop it?

Brian-Psychoetry coverPsychoetry is the marriage of Psychology & Poetry.  As a clinician, I found myself regularly empathizing with children who had unceremoniously stumbled into one or more universal “potholes of childhood.” Although the provision of empathy is a common and essential therapeutic practice, I frequently encountered parents who were operating at a deficit.

Subsequently, the concept for a book that both enhances parental attunement and the ability to administer empathetic appreciation literally unfolded right in front of my face. My childhood exposure to Mother Goose/Dr. Seuss and The Beatle’s lyrics gave birth to the idea of using rhyme as a method of delivery.

What is the benefit of using poetry as that ‘method of delivery’ for your counseling lessons?

It seems to me that rhyme has a tendency to be internalized. Much like a song or lyric that can remain in your head forever, I believe a poem can generate an outcome of similar permanence. The introduction of poetry about psychology is intended to enliven those childhood experiences that reside within each and every adult. When accompanied by pictures and informative narratives, the illumination of forgotten  memories can help establish a common ground that allows parent and child to strive forward together.

Here’s an example”

EXCLUSION

Together with my classmates
against the school yard wall

Recess has just started
it’s time to “dodge the ball”

Scott and Jerry pick as captains
because they are the best

Team members must be chosen
First good players
then the rest . . .

Dave and Randy, they’re selected
Cindy, Greg, and Jenny

Another name that isn’t mine
Slow Todd and clumsy Benny

Large Freddie is a popular choice
cheered by a collective groan

Take me please,
the invisible man
I now stand all alone

What kind of reactions have you had to your Psychoetry? Have you been able to quantify any results?

The reaction to Psychoetry has been extremely positive. I have been a guest on three radio programs in 2015, and look forward to honoring invitations extended for April and May. As a general rule, each respective host has recognized Psychoetry’s content to be informative, and found the combination of Psychology & Poetry to make for an enjoyable read. I have also received feedback suggesting that after revisiting the “universal potholes of childhood” contained in Psychoetry, some parents have actually been the benefactors of a corrective emotional experience(s).

It must be noted, that as of this writing, no evidenced based research quantifying the efficacy of the Psychoetry Method has been gathered.

What types of issues do parents most often discuss with you, and how has poetry helped you to help them?

In my presentations to parenting groups, as well as those who seek private consultation, I find that many parents have allowed their children to become “LARGE AND IN CHARGE.” There are many names assigned to such a phenomenon, such as Entitlement, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or Omnipotent Grandiosity. The latter describes a child who has taken up residence in the center of the universe, and has not been adequately taught/informed that there is a world beyond his or her egocentric position. Subsequently, the poems “PA” and “Just Say No,” introduce OPTIMAL FRUSTRATION (frustration in manageable doses)  as the catalyst which gradually engenders a shift from “ME-NESS” to “WE-NESS.” To simplify, and as I write in the book, “A YES IS FOR FUN, but A NO IS WHAT YOU GROW FROM.”

You cover a number of parenting issues in your book – from familial ties and positive reinforcement to doctor visits and the first day of school – and you have a poem for each of these! Are there any poems that seem to have a greater impact than others?

Included in Psychoetry is a poem entitled E = MC2,  which acquaints the reader to the concept of parenting as energy. Basically, it encourages parents to understand that “SOME OF THEIR BEST LIVING WILL BE DONE BY THOSE THEY LEAVE BEHIND,” and invites them to impart energy (parenting practices) that will compliment rather than complicate the development of their child.

The counseling topics that appear in Psychoetry encompass the DROOL to SCHOOL age periods of development. Those issues which accompany the SCHOOL to NOBODY’S FOOL (young adulthood) transition, are awaiting to be poetically addressed.

How long have you been writing and have you written any other poetry besides Psychoetry?

I began writing poetry about 20 years ago, which is when I came up with the idea to combine Psychology and Poetry. I had never written before, but with cautious optimism, I gave it a try. After making a list of the various “potholes,” I began to imagine how they would occur, the circumstances behind their occurrence, and the feeling(s) which might accompany each occurrence. Without previous experience, I had no indication of whether or not I was capable of writing anything worthy of publication.

My uncertainty was replaced by a quiet sense of confidence when Fox Television approached me to do a therapeutic news segment on the effects of being the last one chosen. The poem, “Exclusion,” was used as the backbone for the story, and Psychoetry was put into motion!

Are all your poems geared towards therapy and human relations?

After finishing the essentials for Psychoetry, I attempted to expand upon my creative process. Although I remain dumbfounded to this day, I began to generate poems which were oriented toward Spirituality, and/or Higher Love. What follows are two of my initial post-Psychoetry creations. The first, “Vision,” had the good fortune to be published (in braille) by the John Milton Society For The Blind (Discovery, Oct. – Dec 2000, Volume 1) and appear around the world. The second, “Behold His Mighty Hand, percolated to consciousness as the first of its kind, and thusly, is my personal favorite.

VISION

I overheard the blind girl say,
“he guided me again today.”
Although she felt no form, nor face,
she recognized his warm embrace.
Her tiny voice rang crystal clear,
“It’s faith,” she said, “that brings him near.”
As if to see she turned around
and placed one hand upon the ground.
She told her mom, “he made all this,”
then lovingly blew God a kiss.

 

BEHOLD HIS MIGHTY HAND

Time had been canceled
My forever was death
As eternity dawned
I inhaled one last breath
Then matter of factly
she announced like I knew,
“It’s a quarter till Heaven
and 15 minutes from you”

Surrounded by warmth
I did not understand
In the brilliance of light
she extended her hand
And lifting me upward
she said, “Lord what a view . . .
It’s a quarter till Heaven
and 15 minutes from you.”

I thought to myself,
“these are magical things,
A halo cast sunshine
upon glorious wings”
She softly confided,
“we touch only a few . . .
It’s a quarter till Heaven
and 15 minutes from you.”

Beyond what she called
“The Celestial Whole”
She explained she had come
to enlighten my soul
And she echoed the words,
“what is written is true . . .
It’s a quarter till Heaven
and 15 minutes from you.”

Her message was clear
as she bid me farewell
From within we create
either Heaven or Hell
Now each moment on Earth
is HER work that I do . . .
“It’s a quarter to Heaven
and 15 minutes from you.”

(all poems © Brian P. Wohlmuth and used with permission)

If someone wants to find out more about Psychoetry, what should they do?

Please feel free to inquire about Psychoetry at parentingwithpoetry.com!

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2015ProgressivePoemI’m very happy to once again be part of Irene Latham’s annual Progressive Poem! Each day, a different person adds their line to a poem that grows and grows over the course of the month…until it culminates April 30 with the final, closing line.

I’m excited – and a bit anxious – about the fact that it will be up to me to write that last line!

You can see how the poem looks so far at Catherine Johnson’s blog today…and then follow the 2015 Progressive Poem at the following locations:

1 Jone at Check it Out
2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog
6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson
8 Irene at Live Your Poem
9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
10 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
11 Kim at Flukeprints
12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine at DoriReads
14 Renee at No Water River
15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
17 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
19 Linda at Teacher Dance
20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots
21 Tara at A Teaching Life
22 Pat at Writer on a Horse
23 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference
26 Brian at Walk the Walk
27 Jan at Bookseedstudio
28 Amy at The Poem Farm
29 Donna at Mainely Write
30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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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: “Had I”

Hard to believe, but National Poetry Month is upon us already – welcome to April! Amy Ludwig VanDerwater gets Poetry Friday rolling for this momentous month by hosting today at her blog, The Poem Farm, so be sure to visit for all the links and high jinks!

National-Poetry-Month-Logo (2015)

I have a lot planned for this month, including an interview, teaching suggestions, and a contest…and I’m also very happy to once again be part of Irene Latham’s Progressive Poem 2015. (more on that, below)

mmpoetry-2015-rd6-gargoyles-vs-catatonic-1024x537

Click to see the final two poems!

First up: In case you have not been following my blog this month (ha ha, of COURSE you’ve been following the blog, I’m kidding!) the #MMPoetry 2015 tournament FINALS just wrapped up at Ed DeCaria’s Think, Kid, Think.

Buffy Silverman and Randi Sonenshine were the only two authletes remaining, and each was tasked with writing a children’s poem utilizing the words they were given: “gargoyles” and “catatonic,” respectively. It was a tight race, but my Poet’s Garage critique partner ended up victorious – so congratulations, Buffy!

As for me, I fell out of the running in the first round, but gained a new poem, nonetheless. The word I was given was “wherewithal” and I chose to go with a classic, old-fashioned sort of sensibility:

Had I

Had I the money – I would have bought a toy.
Had I a toy – I might have had some fun.
Had I some fun – I’d be a happy boy.
Alas, of all these things, I have not one.

Had I the wherewithal to grab a broom
and had the sense to do what Father said,
I would have swept the floor and cleaned my room –
with my allowance waiting, on my bed.

– © Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2015

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2015ProgressivePoemALSO: Irene Latham’s annual Progressive Poem got underway this past Wednesday, April 1! Each day, a different person adds their line to a poem that grows and grows over the course of the month…until it culminates April 30 with the final, closing line.

I’m excited – and a bit anxious – about the fact that I’ll be capping off the poem on that date!

You can follow Irene at her blog HERE and follow the 2015 Progressive Poem at the following blogs:

1 Jone at Check it Out
2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog
6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson
8 Irene at Live Your Poem
9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
10 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
11 Kim at Flukeprints
12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine at DoriReads
14 Renee at No Water River
15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
17 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
19 Linda at Teacher Dance
20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots
21 Tara at A Teaching Life
22 Pat at Writer on a Horse
23 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference
26 Brian at Walk the Walk
27 Jan at Bookseedstudio
28 Amy at The Poem Farm
29 Donna at Mainely Write
30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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Poetry_Friday logoDid 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!

If you don’t have anything nice to say…post it on the internet

ID-100107463 (man screaming)Republicans and Democrats. Conservatives and Liberals. Religious and non-religious.

Carnivores and vegetarians.

It seems like everywhere I look online these days, everyone is upset with everyone else. One person shares a political post on their Facebook page, and pretty soon everyone of their friends and even people they’ve never met are commenting with their own laser-accurate opinions.

Friendships have even been lost over these sorts of things, when rival ideologies lead to heated arguments.

Why?

1) The human condition

Throughout history, we as a species have always striven to make our lives better. Although this is a good thing, it also means we can often be very opinionated; we want our friends, our country, our world to know how we think things could be better.

And the internet, with its ease of use for sharing, spreading, and arguing about opinions, amplifies our desire – and ability – to do just that.

Too many of us, I think, feel that every news story we read, every photo that is shared, and every comment that is posted deserves or requires our 2-cents.

I fall into that narcissistic trap, as well. Often, I’ll see something that I begin to comment on, but then I stop and think, “Does anyone really care??” And very often, the answer is, “no.”

2) Ease of anonymity

It used to be that if you had a disagreement with someone, you told them face-to-face. Now, you can hide behind a screen name and an avatar and say whatever you want to people you’ve never even met.

You can do it wherever you are, whenever the urge hits you. Thanks to smartphones, tablets, and laptops, you don’t even need to stop and think about what you’re going to say before you say it.

It’s that narcissism thing again; that feeling of superiority over anyone who disagrees with you. Being opinionated isn’t necessarily bad, but when decency is thrown out the window in order to pummel readers with your ranting, four-letter-word-drenched tirade, it borders on cyber-bullying.

And no matter how poorly-written, it’s usually done with a condescending tone of super-intellect. We’ve all seen those.

3) Loss of manners

Not to turn this into a post about longing for the good-ol’-days, but there really is something to be said about the loss of decency and manners among our population.

Strangers call other strangers names, readers jump to conclusions without facts, random people make wild accusations without anything to support them. And when people who disagree then jump into the fray – the intensity level increases.

Part of this loss of respect (probably a good part) is attributable to the first two items on this list. The internet has amplified the human desire of opinion-making while exacerbating the ease with which to  do it.

THREE EXAMPLES

  • Over the weekend, a high schooler in the state was accused by his school of writing something threatening on a bathroom wall. His mother defended him, claiming there was no basis for the accusations. An audio recording of the meeting in the principal’s office was made public, and the preponderance of 4-letter-words uttered by the kid did nothing to sway the opinions of the readers who were commenting on the online article.
  • A mother and two daughters were found dead inside a home in an upscale residential community nearby. The husband, who owned a gun store, had been charged with assault once a few years ago, but the wife had dropped the charges. Now, readers of the online news story – who are all apparently either criminal psychologists or forensic specialists – are putting their own pieces together as to what happened.
  • A woman who runs a very successful food blog often shares vegan and vegetarian recipes, even though she has never claimed to be a vegan. She once shared a recipe and asked readers to chime in with their thoughts on the subject – and the hatred she received spewing forth from vegans who felt she was a “fraud” and was being hypocritical was absolutely stunning.

In each of these cases, people lost all sense of decency and reverted to their most spiteful, smug, and arrogant selves.

ID-10091147 (woman w-tablet)

No matter where you are…an opinion is waiting to be shared.

Readers who knew nothing at all about the teenager or his family were already convicting him – saying he deserves what he gets and that his mother could never admit “her baby” had done something wrong. Granted, the office recording was rather unflattering, but who are we to say who did what and what happened? I felt bad for him, in a way, when I read some of his comments telling people to stop talking trash about his mother. He told them they knew nothing about him or his family – and he was right.

In the second story, readers were commenting that because the husband owned a gun store, he obviously was dangerous; that even though his assault charge had been dropped, he obviously was a time bomb; that because he was the one who called police, he obviously was guilty. Again I ask, who are we to say such things?

And the third story is a prime example of people trying to be so self-righteous that they end up offending people who might actually agree with them! My wife, who showed me the post, is a vegan with vegetarian leanings (I say that because she does, on occasion, eat honey and locally-raised chicken eggs from a farm two miles down the road) and she was appalled at how many vegans were skewering the poor blogger – calling her names, insulting her, and being absolutely disagreeable.

If vegans refrain from animal products because they are trying to be kind, loving, and compassionate to other living beings – these folks were anything but kind, loving, and compassionate.

Just because you have a right to say something…

Here in the United States, our country’s Constitution states we have the freedom to speak, the freedom to write, and many other freedoms we enjoy.

But with freedom, comes limits. As the old saying goes, just because we have a right to free speech, doesn’t mean we have the right to yell, “FIRE!” in a crowded theatre. One of those commenting on the blogger’s site even claimed, “Hey, she told us she wanted our opinion!” An opinion is one thing; how it is expressed is something else entirely.

I can’t help but think of the other old saying, “Just because you have a right to say something, doesn’t mean you should say it.” However, I would take it one step further, and add, “Just because you have an opinion, doesn’t mean you need to share it.”

I’m not saying we shouldn’t share our opinion now and then – but it’s probably not a bad idea to stop and ask yourself if it’s an opinion worth sharing. Do you have enough facts? Do you have any facts? Can you make your point without resorting to name-calling and four-letter-words?

If so…then I’m all ears!

By the way, if you have an extra 7 minutes, check out THIS VIDEO and learn how a thought can replicate itself like a germ throughout the internet – it’s a very cool concept!

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mmpoetry2015-logo-mainI would be remiss if I did not mention that the #MMPoetry 2015 tournament FINALS are underway at Ed DeCaria’s Think, Kid, Think – only TWO authletes remain, and are tasked with coming up with a winning children’s poem based on the sort-of-random-but-not-really word they were given!  Learn more HERE!

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2015ProgressivePoemALSO: Irene Latham’s annual Progressive Poem gets underway tomorrow, April 1, in honor of National Poetry Month! Writers and bloggers from all over will be chiming in each day to add their line to a poem that grows and grows over the course of the month…until it culminates April 30 with the final, closing line.

(This year, that line will be written by Yours Truly – no pressure.)

Catch up with Irene at her blog HERE, and then begin following the 2015 Progressive Poem with Jone MacCulloch (who gets to start us off with the opening line!) at Check It Out!

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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 Anthology for Celebrations: my contribution!

poetryfridaybutton-fulllThe last couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing some poems I wrote that didn’t make it into the newly-released Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books). Today, I’m sharing the poem that DID make it in!

The latest in the Poetry Friday Anthology series just came out on March 14 (Super Pi Day!) and I’m so happy to be a part of it. PFAC-front-cover-Nov-30-WEB-jpeg-705x1030Published in two versions (a student edition with illustrations and a teacher’s edition with additional information on poetry and lesson planning), the book is comprised of 156 poems in English with a Spanish translation for each poem.

That’s a lot of poetry in one book!

Mine was written in honor of National Cereal Day, which was March 7. Here are both versions of the poem:

Picky Eater

I love my Fruit Loops,
love my Trix,
love Cheerios
and even Kix.
I really like
my Apple Jacks –
but please don’t give me
Sugar Smacks,
or stars or squares or flakes                    
you’ve found –
I only eat, you see,
what’s round.

 

Exigente Para Comer

Me encantan mis Fruit Loops,
Me encantan mis Trix,
Me encantan los Cheerios
y hasta los Kix.
Y también me gustan
mis Apple Jacks –
pero, por favor
no me des Sugar Smacks,
ni estrellitas, ni cuadritos                    
ni copitos encontrados –
solo como
lo redondo.

– © Pomelo Books, 2015, all rights reserved (Note: cereal brand names are trademarks owned by their companies)

mmpoetry2015-logo-mainBe sure to “check out” the complete Poetry Friday roundup at Ms. Mac’s place, Check It Out! Also, please “check out” the #MMPoetry 2015 tournament that is coming down to the wire at Ed DeCaria’s Think, Kid, Think – only FOUR authletes remain, and Yours Truly is not feeling very happy about having to vote for two of his four friends and not for the other two!

Now, if you don’t mind, there are still a couple of puddles outside that need jumping-into…have a great weekend!
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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!

The necessity of splashing in puddles

My 5-year-old son and his 19-month-old sister couldn’t stand being inside the other day. (truth be told, I couldn’t stand them being inside, either) Temps have been getting a bit warmer lately – even though tonight’s overnight temp is expected to be in the single digits F – and I really can’t blame them for wanting to go outside.

The problem is, there’s not much to DO, this time of year. When we had tons of snow during the winter, it was usually so bitterly cold I didn’t dare bring them out for more than a few minutes. Now that temps have moderated, all we have is hard, frozen snow that will break your back if you fall on it and pathways of grassy mud.

Can’t play on the snow, can’t play in the mud.

Boring.

But I dressed them in their snow pants and coats and boots and such and let them go outside, anyway, figuring they’d at least get some fresh air for a little while. They ended up (once again) teaching me a valuable lesson.

It’s only a big deal if you make it a big deal

That’s a rule of thumb I learned back when I was first learning about promotions, particularly radio promotions. You can take the simplest, blandest concept and, with enough excitement and hype, turn it into a big deal.

In this case, the kids taught me that what I thought was a big deal…really wasn’t.

Kids being kids, they are adept at finding all sorts of things to play with that aren’t toys – sticks, stones, snow shovels – and the one thing little Babycakes discovered was a puddle on the edge of our dirt driveway.

To her, it was the most amazing, awesomest thing, ever.

And I almost killed her joy.

Letting go of “grown-up” mentality

Grey & Phoebe - puddleWe grown-ups really have a knack for putting the kibosh on our kids’ fun. It’s something I try to counter by using childlike perspective when I write…but actually putting it into practice isn’t always as easy as I’d like it to be.

You see, my first reaction was to tell her “no,” pick her up out of the puddle, and set her onto our gravel walkway. Which is what I did.

Grey & Phoebe - puddle 2Independent-minded little lady that she is, she immediately turned around and walked right back into the puddle, splashing her feet and flailing her arms in a chaotic, quasi-dance I can only describe as Fred-Astaire-meets-the-Ministry-of-Silly-Walks.

I was just about to tell her no again when I stopped myself. What was I doing? She had winter boots, snow pants, a coat, and mittens. Who cared if she splashed in the puddle???

It was fun, after all – there was no harm being done to anything or anyone – and I could think of no good reason to not let her have her fun.

If one gets to do it, they all have to do it

Her 5-year-old brother, upon seeing what was going on, had to jump in the fray. I watched the two of them, their faces lit up with smiles and love and streaks of wet earth – and couldn’t help but join in.

So there we were, on the edge of the driveway, splashing away…and I can only imagine what the folks driving past our house were thinking:

“Ridiculous waste of time.”

“Such silly, immature behaviour.”

“I wish I could do that.”

They soon tired of it, though, and moved on to other areas around the house – but I was glad I had the opportunity to splash in the mud with them. It got me thinking how often I, or even we as a society, make a big deal out of small things.

It’s only a big deal if you make it a big deal

My son likes to play with kitchen utensils like the spatulas, whisks, and ladles. I once started to get upset with him because he was just making more dirty dishes for me – but then it occurred to me, who cares? Is it that big a deal? No.

My daughter doesn’t eat sandwiches like normal human beings (granted, she’s not yet 2), and instead prefers to separate each piece of bread and then eat them face-forward, like eating a pizza top-down, starting with the toppings and working your way down to the crust. I’ve attempted to stop her – but again, who cares? Is it that big a deal? No! Heck, at least she’s eating it.

And how many times have we stopped what we were doing to leave a comment on a Facebook wall or online news story, when we really didn’t need to? I’ve come to the realization that my opinion about most things doesn’t matter to anyone, so I’m not going to waste my time sharing it.

I’ve mentioned before here that, when you’re an adult, it’s difficult to not be a grown-up. But I’m trying. So I have to throw a few extra clothes in the washing machine, or load a few extra utensils in the dishwasher. None of it is a big deal, unless I make it a big deal.

Oh, and it look like the kids are finally asleep now. I need to go.

There’s a puddle outside with my name on it.

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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: “No-Moon Day”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI’m continuing to celebrate the release of the newest Poetry Friday Anthology, The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations, which just became available a week ago, with another one of my poems that didn’t make it!

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

While I’m very proud that my poem for National Cereal Day, “Picky Eater,” DID make the cut, I figured my poems that weren’t so fortunate might never see the light of day – so what better reason to share them, right?

Diwali (also called Deepavali) is the 5-day-long Indian festival of lights, one of the biggest and most important festivals for Hindus. Spiritually, it recognizes the victory of light over darkness – which is why it coincides with the day of the new moon (known as the “darkest night”) during the Hindu month of Kartika, between late October and early November (this year, it falls on Nov. 11).

In The Poetry Friday Anthology for CelebrationsUma Krishnaswami shares a touching, autobiographical poem titled, “Deepavali Sounds,” and it’s one of the many reasons I hope you’ll enjoy this book! Here is my take on the festival:

No-Moon Day

Set the candles,
light the lamps!
May Peace and Joy come soon,
and drive away the darkness
of the day without a moon.

– © Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2014

mmpoetry2015-logo-mainInteresting that Hinduism, Christianity, and Judaism all have major celebrations revolving around the same light/darkness theme, all around the same time of year, isn’t it? You can learn more about Diwali HERE, and for today’s complete Poetry Friday round-up, head on over to Reading to the Core, where Catherine Flynn is holding down the fort.

Also, be sure to check out the Madness that is the #MMPoetry competition over at Ed DeCaria’s place, Think Kid, Think! Log on and vote for your favorite poems!

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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!

Coming to terms with self-doubt (but wait – have I REALLY come to terms with self-doubt?)

Being a creative type, while liberating, has its pitfalls. One of those is self-doubt – and I’ve got it bad.

At least, I think I do.

The problem is, when you’re your own boss, you make the rules. In a normal type of self-employment, that’s to be expected. In my voiceover business, for example, I audition for gigs, I record scripts, I produce commercials, I correspond with clients, and I’m done. Granted, there’s a bit of creativity in there, but usually I’m voicing scripts the way the client wants, not the way I want. That’s fine.

But when it comes to writing…we’re talking a whole different situation.

Being objective in a subjective career

"What if?"Writing requires you to come up with an idea, debate the merits and pitfalls of said idea, write a story, essay, poem, song, etc. utilizing that idea, and then revise what has been written so many times that you begin to wonder if any of it was ever a very good idea to begin with.

Neuroses, anyone?

Seriously, I’ve always been my own worst critic and do a pretty decent job of self-directed revisions, but now that I’m on the verge of possibly making a career out of children’s writing, I’m writing much more than I ever did; consequently, I’m much more critical of my writing than I ever have been.

It’s a good thing, don’t get me wrong…but being new to this, I’m still trying to get a feel for where and when I can stop.

“The self-doubt runs strong in this one…”

I write a poem and feel pretty good about it. I go back to it a day later and change a line. Later that same day I change a word.

The next day, I change another word and delete two.

Two days after that, I make another tweak.

By the end of the week, I’m wondering if it’s really done at all, or if I’m just being ridiculously picky and need to send it out. Then I change a word. A year later, all bets are off as to how many changes the poor thing will have to endure.

And that’s just one poem. When it comes to picture books…

The bigger the project, the more uncertainty

ID-100181950 (glasses-book)“Is that the best title?”

“Is the concept original?”

“Is it too wordy?”

“Did I already use that word?”

“Should I use a different word?”

“What’s another word I could use?”

“Is this even sellable?” 

And it goes on. You can probably see why writers are a bit of a different breed.

Coming to terms

I remember asking the illustrious Tomie dePaola about self-doubt a few years ago. I told him that most of the time, I write a poem or story that I like, that gets edited and revised to the point where I’m pretty happy with it. But every so often, I’ll write something that truly amazes me, that surprises me, that makes me question how I even managed to write such a thing.

“This is incredible,” I’d think to myself. “I don’t know how I did it…but this is really, really good. It’s so good, I can’t imagine I’ll ever be able to write anything as good as this! This thing right here is probably the last really good thing I’ll ever write…oh, no!” 

Then I’d come up with something new within a week or two.

So I asked Tomie if he ever felt this way, if he ever had strong self-doubt…and if so, what he did about it. His response?

“First of all, you need to have a drink!” he said.

He agreed, though, that we all tend to view our creations like concerned parents – a “what-if-our-baby-isn’t-ready-for-the-world” sort of mentality – and that it’s natural. But once you’ve been doing it for as long as Tomie has, you become a little more comfortable with your decisions.

It’s all about experience – as is the case in any industry – and having only been in this industry five years or so, I’m still learning. I suppose that once I have (or rather, IF I have) a half-dozen books under my belt, the self-doubt will fade and I’ll start to feel a little more confident in my ability to know what’s going to work and what’s not.

At least, I hope that’s true.

I think I need a drink.

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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!

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