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!”

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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?)

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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

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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

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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!

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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: Collecting found poetry from a poetry collection about collections…that’s not too confounding, is it?

The day my first author copies arrived, I remember thinking, “Wow, things are gettin’ real now!”

First of all, can I just tell you how amazing and surreal it is to realize that it has been precisely TWO YEARS since my debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills & Kane, 2017) arrived in the world? Two years! My little baby was born on Sept. 19, 2017, and I don’t know if two years have ever flown by that quickly in my life. It’s extremely humbling to know that I’ve been able to follow that up with 8 more books between 2018 and 2022…and I couldn’t do any of this without the support of folks like you who have read, reviewed, or shared news about the book. So THANK YOU, very much, everyone!

Well now, it’s been a busy week. Last Friday, my friend Michelle Schaub visited the ol’ Triple-R to celebrate her new poetry collection, Finding Treasure (Charlesbridge, 2019), and we offered a personalized signed copy we would give away to one random winner!

If you’d like to enter the drawing, all you need to do is share a found poem using the words from Michelle’s poem, “Collecting Stars:”

(click to enlarge)

A “found poem” is simply a poem that uses the words from one source – like a magazine, newspaper, book, etc. –  to create a poem. I’ve already had a number of entries pouring in, and the contest is still open until I announce the winner next Friday!

Here are some of the poems readers have shared so far:

haiku

Watch embers glow:
Sparks sparkle, dance, flash, beckon.
Darkness deepens.

– Yvona Fast

.

untitled

darkness deepens
sparks
specks
stars

– Liz Steinglass

.

Untitled

Specks
Stars
A mason jar …
Glow Free

– Vicki Wilke

.
Fill the Darkness

Dance!
Beckon!
Watch!
Glow!
Though it’s hard,
Come,
f l o a t
F
r
e
e …………………………….

– Janet (Fagal) Clare

.

untitled

free
float
flash
It’s hard
to catch
a mason jar
of stars

– Linda Mitchell

.

haiku

streams, dreaming of a
sea roaring, whispering deep,
caress polished shells

– © Damon Dean, 2019

.
untitled

Darkness sparks
a flash,
a starlight dance.
“Come, it’s free to glow!”

– Linda Baie

.
untitled

watch the light specks
flash, dance, glow-
a star mason jar!

– Joyce Ray

.
untitled

Embers of stars,
specks of starlight
float and dance
around and beckon,
Watch–Catch us
when darkness deepens…

– Michelle Kogan

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Finally, my own found poem – and because I never met a challenge I couldn’t pass up, I decided I was going to write one that was rhyming and metrical:

Star Collecting

Darkness deepens, embers glow;
these sparks aren’t mine to keep, I know.
They dance around the yard, and I
watch specks of stars float free.
Goodbye…

– © 2019, Matt F. Esenwine
.

Want to enter the giveaway? You still have time! Just share your found poem in the comments below or email it to me at matt(at)mattforrest(dot)com. As I mentioned last week, your poem doesn’t need to be long, polished – or good! It just needs to include only words from Michelle’s poem, above.

I’ll announce the winner by a random drawing next Fri., Sept. 27, so I hope to see your entry! And by the way, since today is Poetry Friday, be sure to visit Teacher Dance, where Linda Baie is hosting the complete roundup with a spotlight on a new upcoming book by Irene Latham and Charles Waters!

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

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: Michelle Schaub’s “Finding Treasure” interview & GIVEAWAY!

Michelle Schaub, author of Fresh-Picked Poetry, A Day at the Farmers’ Market (Charlesbridge, 2017), has a brand-new collection of poems coming out this Tue., Sept. 17 – about collections!

Michelle and I first met way back in Oct. 2013 at a Highlights poetry workshop. We were both in the very-early stages of our careers at that point, so it’s been interesting to see how our experiences have differed up to this point. And now that she has another new book coming out, I thought it was about time I asked her to visit the ol’ Triple-R!

First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me, Michelle! I have to say, I’m so happy to see you with not one, but TWO poetry collections to your name. Knowing where both of us were six years ago, how would you say your writing – and career – have developed? Are you writing differently, approaching the craft differently?

Thrilled to be here, Matt! And thrilled to follow your writing successes also, especially the recent news about your upcoming book with Charles Ghigna, Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2020). Congratulations! Speaking of “another time,” I can’t believe that Highlights workshop was six years ago! When I headed off to the conference, I was just starting to tinker with a set of poems about farmers’ markets, but I really didn’t know how to put together a poetry collection. In the subsequent year it took me to write and revise Fresh-Picked Poetry, A Day at the Farmers’ Market, I learned a lot, not only about different poetry forms, but about stringing poems together to create a collection with an arc and flow.

What did you learn about children’s poetry early on – either at the workshop or elsewhere – that you feel has been most helpful?

Children’s author David Harrison, who was the guest teacher at the Highlights poetry workshop, was a superb mentor.  He taught me that less is more with children’s poetry. I came to David with these long, detailed poems about farmers’ markets. Brandishing his pen, David deftly slashed unnecessary descriptions but spared strong verbs and specific nouns. He taught me how to make my poems work in tandem with illustrations.

Now about this new book. It’s a poetry collection about collections! How did you come up with the idea, and how did you go about putting the poems and book together?

The idea first arose when I was participating in Tara Lazar’s Storystorm a few years ago.  In this challenge, writers come up with one new picture book idea a day for the entire month of January. Toward the end of the month, running low on ideas, I started looking around my office for any brainstorm sparks. My eyes landed on a row of seashells on my bookshelf. I’d saved them from my grandmother’s shell collection. Hmm, seashells. Collections. What else do people collect? Coins. Keys. Baseball cards. Could I write poems about those things? Would kids even be interested in collection poems?

Then I remembered that my town’s library has collection display windows in the children’s department. When my own children were younger, they signed up to showcase their own prized objects in those windows. The waiting list was two years! Those display windows are still filled each month, and the waiting list is still long. I started noticing that other libraries have collection displays also. This led me to believe that I’d have an audience for poems about the time-honored hobby of collecting.

Michelle also “collects a variety of styles and forms in her collection, as witnessed by this spread, one of my favorites!

I guess every idea has to come from somewhere! So once you knew the subject, how did you figure out how to connect the poems?

When I started writing the poems, I knew I needed something to hold the collection together and entice readers to turn the page. So, I came up with a narrative arc. A child is given a school assignment to bring in something she collects for show and tell. The only problem: she doesn’t collect anything!  The child searches for the perfect collection by consulting family, friends, and neighbors, who share their collections through poems. By the end of the book, the child has discovered the perfect collection. It isn’t “pebbles, shells, or twigs… or quirky whirlygigs,” but it is something that brings her joy. Can you guess? Read the final poem in Finding Treasure to see if you’re right!

People always ask me this question, and it’s impossible to answer…so I’ll ask you! (ha!) Do you have a favorite poem or spread in the book?

That is a tough question! Carmen Saldaña did such an amazing job with the illustrations in Finding Treasure that I’m in love with each spread. However, I think my favorite might be the one for the poem, “Collecting Stars.” In this poem, after searching for a collection all day, the child heads outside to try and collect fireflies. I love how Carmen captured the cozy glow of the fireflies against the starry sky.

That IS a beautiful spread – reminds me of my own yard! Now, I recall you mentioning to me that when doing final revisions for Fresh-Picked Poetry (also from Charlesbridge), a poem about heirloom tomatoes didn’t make the cut. Anything get axed for this book?

There is one poem that didn’t make the cut for Finding Treasure. It was called “Curious Collections,” about strange things people collect. While I was researching ideas for the book, I came across some pretty bizarre collections, like toenail clippings and dust bunnies, which I included in this poem. I thought the illustration for the poem could show the protagonist searching on the internet for collection ideas. Ultimately, my editor at Charlesbridge, Karen Boss, and I decided that we wanted to focus more on collections that were positive and unique, but not strange. So “Curious Collections” was replaced with “The ‘Gist of Collecting,” which is about items that scientists collect in the name of research.

By the way, I’m constantly being asked how to get into children’s publishing…and other than the standard, “practice the craft, learn the market, develop contacts” answer I usually give (which is a pretty concise, honest answer), do you have any words of wisdom you’ve gleaned from the past several years?

Since you started this interview by mentioning Highlights Workshops, I’ll end on that note. I think attending a Highlights Workshop is a phenomenal way to hone your craft and connect with other writers. After all, that’s how we met!

Well, thank you again for visiting, Michelle, I really appreciate it! Oh, and I was very humbled and honored to see you had dedicated the book “To Matt, my treasure.” I opened up the book and saw that and nearly started crying.

Ha, Ha. Yes, the book is dedicated to Matt Schaub. My husband. (Not the football player.) But you are a treasure, too, Matt!

Oh, ok! Well, thank you, anyway – I’ll try not to take it too hard. But I do appreciate you stopping by, and wish you the best! (And if you like Michelle’s book, I have a signed copy to give away…)

What have I been collecting? Well, lately…these.

Since Michelle’s book is about ‘collecting’ things, I thought it might be fun to ‘collect’ some poems from her “Collecting Stars” poem, above! If you want to enter the contest, just leave a found poem here in the comments, or email me your poem at matt(at)mattforrest(dot)com. In case you don’t know, a “found poem” is simply a poem one writes by taking the words from one source and rearranging them into something new. So your poem doesn’t need to be long – or even any good! – it just needs to include only words from Michelle’s poem, above.

You only have 2 weeks to enter, as I’ll announce the winner by a random drawing on Fri. morning, Sept. 27 when I share all the poems here on the blog. The winner receives a PERSONALLY-signed copy of Michelle’s book! How cool is that?? Good luck, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing your poems!

The “Finding Treasure” Blog Tour continues this month:

This Writing Life – Sept. 16
The Grog – Sept. 18
Picture Book Buzz – Sept. 20
Jama’s Alphabet Soup – Sept. 27

ALSO: Be sure to check out Michelle’s brand-new poetry/literacy-focused blog!

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It’s Poetry Friday! Looking for more poetic posts? Then be sure to stop by Laura Purdie Salas’ blog, Writing the World for Kids, where she hosting today’s roundup with a celebration of the release of HER new poetry collection!

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

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: Picture book publishing news AND a Donald Hall tribute

Before we get to today’s poetry offering, I have some big, BIG news to share:

I have another picture book coming out!

(Yes, they spelled my name wrong, but everybody does that)

Not only am I excited that I’ve signed a contract with a publishing company that’s as excited about the book as I am, I’m thrilled that my co-author is non other than Father Goose® himself, Charles Ghigna!

Way back in 2013, Charles shared with me a few stanzas he had written. Were they a poem, or a picture book, or something else? He wasn’t sure what they might be…but he asked for my thoughts and I came up with a concept for a narrative arc and a few stanzas of my own to follow his.

He liked my plan, so I went ahead and completed the first rough draft, then over the course of the next few months we tweaked and edited the manuscript until it was where we wanted it. We had no idea at the time that we would have to send it out to about 25 or so editors before Naomi Krueger at Beaming Books saw my pitch for it on the #PBPitch Twitter event last October.

So be prepared:  you’ll be seeing lots more posts about the development of this book in the months to come. You’ll also be inundated with news about my other upcoming books, as this now brings my total to SEVEN NEW BOOKS due out between 2020-2022!

Consider yourself warned…

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In other news…a big event last night at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord NH!

Image may contain: 12 people, people smiling, text

I was honored to be among the 11 poets who read from the new book, Except for Love: New England Poets Inspired by Donald Hall (Encircle Pub., 2019), which just came out this past June 23, on the one-year anniversary of Hall’s passing. Editor Cynthia Brackett-Vincent also attended and read her favorite Hall poem, which is also one of mine:

Names of Horses

All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding
and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul
sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer,
for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range.

In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields,
dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with oats.
All summer you mowed the grass in meadow and hayfield…

(read the rest of the poem HERE)
.

It’s truly an honor to be part of such a book, with such esteemed folks as Jane Yolen, LR Berger, and many others. I hope you’ll pick up a copy! And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links, please head on over to Poetry for Children, where Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong are hosting the festivities!

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

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!

 

Popular vulgarity, treasure maps, and the invincibility of youth: Observations from the state fair , Vol. VIII

Ah, yes, it’s that time of year again: fair season!

As the official PA announcer for our local state fair, I learn a great deal about life, the world around us, and overly-fattening foods, and try to share these little nuggets of wisdom with you each year. In past blog posts, I’ve shared various enlightening aspects of the fair, from pet camels and poop hats to dinosaur costumes and battered savs. This year, a whole slate of new, surprising things:

  1.  Ice cream’s earliest beginnings date back to pre-Christianity.
    (click to enlarge)

    The fact that both Alexander the Great and Nero Caesar enjoyed a frozen treat now and then somehow imbues their histories with a tad more humanity, don’t you think? I can just imagine the two of them walking down the pathways at the fair, sharing a funnel cake, arguing over whether Hawaiian Ice is superior to a Sno-cone. (It is, in case you’re wondering)

  2. When you spend 4 days doing nothing but walking and talking, your legs will eventually start crying ‘Uncle.’ My wife checked my phone’s Health app at the end of my first day, Friday, and discovered I’d walked 25,000 steps – or, in other words, NINE MILES. In just the first day. Consequently, I ate as much fair food as I wanted and after four days, I had a net weight gain of zero. Score one for the Fried Oreos.
  3. No treasure map is worth this much trouble. The Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean Aerial High Wire Thrill Show balanced and battled atop the high wire, sword-fighting and jumping around, each trying to steal the map from the other. I would’ve said, “Oh, THAT map? The one 50 feet in the air? It’s all yours, my friend, I’m good.”
  4. Accept what is offered to you. This is doubly true when talking about fried dough.

    “All toppings are included in the price, sir.” “In that case, I will take all the toppings, thank you.”
  5. All teenagers believe they are invincible; some, apparently, are. A long-standing tradition here at the fair is the demolition derby, a two-day event that runs both Sat. and Sun. evenings. Contrary to what you may think, there is a great deal of strategy and skill required for driving, and a solid knowledge of how to put the cars together in such a way that they hold together as long as they can while getting smashed to pieces. (One also needs to know how to put them BACK together in time to run a second round!)
    .
    This past weekend, a young fellow who knew his way around cars decided to enter the derby for the very first time. He put his car together according

    You’ve got to admit, that front end looks pretty good, considering it went through TWO heats.

    to all the rules and regulations regarding weight, welds, tire specs, etc., and drove the thing himself. His family and friends teased him a little beforehand, knowing he’d never been in a derby before and knowing he was going up against veteran drivers and crews who had been doing this for 20+ years.

    He beat them all, and took home $2000 and a trophy the size of a small child. Oh, and did I mention he’s only 16 years old?

  6. I want to be a Transformer when I grow up. Or a tree. 
  7. Am I the only one who doesn’t understand why vulgarity is so popular? Everywhere I turned, it seemed, I was being bombarded with T-shirts containing words that start with “F.” I’m all for free speech and free expression, but what kind of thought process goes on inside the brain of someone who decides the very best thing they should wear out in public, in front of hundreds of little children, is a shirt emblazoned with ‘that’ word on it? I mean, I’m not a prude and I’m not trying to censor anyone…but seriously, can’t people censor themselves??
  8. It may be a fun, family-friendly event, but tension can sometimes run high. When I saw this scene up in the grandstand tower, all I could think of was that Willy Wonka quote…

    “The suspense is terrible. I hope it’ll last.”
  9. One can microwave an i-phone for 20 seconds without causing any adverse effects. This was something I inadvertently learned after I had come home from the fair on the third night. I was holding a freshly-made sausage sub, several papers, my sunglasses, and my cellphone all together and needed to set them down. I certainly didn’t want one of the dogs to eat my dinner off the kitchen counter, so I set the sub down in the microwave, since I was going to need to warm it up a bit, and put my papers and glasses aside for tomorrow.
    .
    I turned the microwave on for 20 seconds and when it beeped, I opened up the door – and stared in absolute horror. There, underneath the sub, was my cellphone! In my haste, I’d left it there…and had no idea what to expect. It was a bit hot, and I worried (I wouldn’t say I panicked, really, even though “panicked” is absolutely the most precise word to use) that it was a lost cause and had gone to that great Apple orchard in the sky. But I pressed the button, it turned on, and has been working fine since! Not only that, but the sub was just the right temperature, so it turned out to be a happy ending for all involved. And by “all,” I mean me.

I can’t believe I’ve been announcing for 10 years now, and I still find new things that surprise and astound me. Have you ever been surprised at something you witnessed at the local fair? I’d love to hear about it – leave me a comment!

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

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: “…then again, maybe I should go back for some pizza”

I’m currently busy working at the 104th annual Hopkinton (NH) State Fair, where I have been the announcer for 10 years now! I let folks know what events are taking place, where facilities are, and assist with announcing the demolition derbies Sat. and Sun nights. It’s a long, 60+ hour weekend of talking, walking, and smiling…but I love it. So I thought I’d pull this little gem out of storage, originally published Sept. 7, 2012!

For all the Poetry Friday links, be sure to head on over to Kathryn Apel’s blog, Kat’s Whiskers, where she’s hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with some exciting picture book news (congrats, Kat!) and a review of two Aussie-published verse novels written by friends of hers.

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllYes, the title of the poem is a bit odd, but so is the person who wrote it.  Actually, there’s a reason why I titled it this way…you’ll understand once you get to the end of the poem.

This was written as I was preparing for my duties as the official live announcer for the annual Hopkinton State Fair here in New Hampshire.  It’s one of the largest fairs in the state and takes place during Labor Day Weekend.

I was the announcer for this year’s fair as well, and I’m still recuperating.  It’s not the 60-hours-on-my-feet-for-4-days schedule that gets me; it’s the food!  Between deep-fried pickles/Pop-Tarts,/Oreos/etc., barbecued bison burgers, and roast turkey legs that would give Fred Flintstone a hernia, it’s a fair-foodie’s dream-come-true.  My annual favourite?  A loaded baked potato with chili, bacon, cheese, broccoli, sour cream, chives, salsa, and jalapenos.

I tell them to hold the butter because I really don’t need the fat.

“…then again, maybe I should go back for some pizza”

I love the fair, but most of all, the food is hard to beat –
it’s barely 2pm, and yet I’ve had so much to eat!
I started with a burger, had a corn dog and some fries,
and then hot buttered popcorn in a box of massive size.

I feasted on the fried dough, ate a funnel cake or three,
and downed as many deep-fried foods as there could ever be.
Of course I needed ice cream, so I stopped to have a scoop;
I even scarfed a giant, cheesy bread bowl full of soup!

Ate cotton candy, caramel apples, schnitzel on a stick.
I polished off a pulled pork sub entirely too quick.
I’ve eaten all the sausage my poor stomach will allow;
so really…all I want…
is just a garden salad now…

© 2011, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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

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: Remembering Lee Bennett Hopkins

Lee Bennett Hopkins, 1938 – 2019

Whenever someone passes away, people always say they are shocked and saddened to hear the news. In the case of the passing of children’s poet/anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins, “shocked” and “saddened” are only the beginning for me. I would not be where I am, were it not for Lee’s kindness, encouragement, and guidance.

Lee was not just a writer or poetry anthologist (although he did end up in the Guinness Book for the number of children’s poetry anthologies he created); he was a friend, a mentor, and a supporter. When I attended my first SCBWI conference back in 2010, SCBWI founder Lin Oliver told me I should get in touch with Lee, since she knew I wrote poetry.

(click to enlarge)

One thing led to another, and we eventually connected online. He loved my writing and offered to assist me in my quest to develop a career in children’s literature, specifically, poetry. He published my first paid children’s poem, “First Tooth,” from Lullaby & Kisses Sweet (Abrams, 2015), and requested poems for five other anthologies, three of which have not even been released yet. Sad, that he won’t get to see the fruits of his labors – or the praise his next anthology is already receiving.

He also introduced me to my Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills & Kane, 2017) editor, Rebecca Davis, who initially passed on two poetry manuscripts I sent but immediately snatched up Flashlight.  As soon as my author copies arrived, I signed one to Lee and mailed it to him; he was touched and said he was proud to own a copy, which made my month!

But the really special, wonderful thing about Lee was…my story isn’t really all that unusual! Over the decades, he helped dozens and dozens of folks in much the same way. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Charles Waters, and a host of others – authors and editors alike – can all share similar stories about Lee’s grace, encouragement, and his desire for perfection in one’s writing.

2017 Florida Artists Hall of Fame, L-R: Don Felder, Billy Dean, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Jim Stafford

I’ll always remember a poem I was trying to write for an upcoming poetry anthology that had a math focus. Lee asked me to write a poem about fractions, which I did…but he didn’t like it. So I rewrote it and he still disliked it. I tried a third, same reaction. So I wrote a fourth poem, and this time he didn’t dislike it – he hated it! (sigh…)

Finally, after several weeks, I sent him a fifth poem – very different from the others – and he loved it. I ended up speaking to him on the phone a few months later about the project and joked that the next time he decides to create a math-based anthology, I’ll have to write a poem about the poetry anthologist who only liked one-fifth of my poems! He howled, and got a kick out of that.

I’ll always be grateful to Lee for his constant support and guidance. I was fortunate to publish one of his last interviews here at my blog just a month and a half ago, in celebration of the release of his new anthology, I Am Someone Else (Charlesbridge, 2019).

I do regret that he will not see the anthology I was working on myself, which he was helping me with, and which we had just discussed a couple of months prior to his death. It’s my sincere hope that this anthology will eventually see the light of day, because he loved the concept and subject matter. Fingers crossed I can do Lee justice.

Since it IS Poetry Friday, a number of Lee’s friends and fellow writers wanted to remember him in the most appropriate way we could:  by writing poems inspired by Lee or including a line from one of his poems.

In my case, I spent some time looking through several of his anthologies and came across one line in particular from his poem “Titanic,” from his Travelling the Blue Road: Poems of the Sea (Seagrass Press, 2018) anthology. The phrase, “You will forever remember me” kept speaking to me, as if it was Lee writing about himself rather than the fated ocean liner.

So with that line as a starting point, I crafted a short reverso poem (a poetic form our mutual friend, poet Marilyn Singer, has perfected) in Lee’s voice:

(click to enlarge)

We will, indeed, forever remember you, my friend.

For those who don’t know, Lee’s friends always referred to him as “the Dear One,” because that was how he would address us in correspondence…and anyone who knew him knew he was, without question, a dear one. We’ll always miss you, Lee.

If you’d like to see what others in the kidlitosphere are doing to remember Lee, please head over to The Poem Farm, where Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup. And if you’d care to learn more about the man and the legacy he leaves behind, I encourage you to read this beautiful obituary from Publisher’s Weekly.

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

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: Long Sands Anniversary

Last week, I shared the poem I wrote for my wife as part of my wedding vows 11 years ago. Today, I’m sharing a brand-new poem I wrote with her in mind.

(click to enlarge)

This poem, written as a cherita with an extra stanza, as a way of remembering all the times we’ve walked along the shoreline of Long Sands Beach in York, Maine – our home-away-from-home. Our happy place. Some people buy their wives diamond rings for their anniversary; I write poems. But hey, it’s her own fault – she knew this going in, ha!

For more poetry, please visit Christie at Wondering and Wandering, who’s celebrating trees with classic poems from David McCord and Mary Oliver as well as some originals!

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AVAILABLE NOW!

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

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!