Poetry Friday: Seasonal haiku

poetryfridaybutton-fulllHere’s something brand-new I wanted to share: it’s another poem I’m considering including in my Autumn-themed collection.

I tend to title all my poems, including my haiku – which is technically a no-no, as haiku are not supposed to be titled. So I’m gritting my teeth here, trying not to tell you the title is “Protector.”

Dang.

Oh well, try to forget the title and just enjoy the poem, if you can now…and be sure to visit Katya at Write. Sketch. Repeat. for the complete Poetry Friday roundup!
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Winter’s first snowfall
arrives just in time to catch
Autumn’s last leaf.

– © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid 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!  To 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: “Problem Solved”

Funny how inspiration can come from anywhere and turn into anything.

poetryfridaybutton-fulllTake this poem, for example. My daughter, Katherine, was about a half-mile down the road from our house, walking home from school one day.  She was looking down, fiddling with her iPod, but when she raised her head she discovered a bull moose standing in front of her, a mere 15 feet away.

One could say she was a wee bit surprised. Fortunately, she didn’t stare at him (that can make them think you’re challenging them, and they’ll charge) and he simply walked right on past her and into the woods. She breathed a huge sigh of relief – and told us the news as soon as she got home.

The idea of meeting a moose so randomly like that stuck in my head for a few days, and eventually came out as this. Not sure what I’ll ever do with it – but I hope you like it! And for more delicious Poetry Friday offerings, be sure to visit Jama’s Alphabet Soup for the complete banquet of info and links!

“Problem Solved”

On a bike ride to school one day who should I meet
but a moose on the opposite side,
and he seemed rather tired when he stopped and inquired
if I’d possibly give him a ride.

Well, I tried to oblige, but because of his size
there was not enough room on the seat.
So we then both agreed and decided that he’d
take the pedals and I’d use my feet.

– © 2010, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid 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!  To 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!

Are you doing your best – or everything else?

Yesterday, I read an article about McDonald’s Corp. that got me thinking about how I approach my voiceover business – and life in general.

ID-100188772 (burger)It appears that the burger chain is losing customers. Why? Because people aren’t eating burgers anymore? Nope. Because people are eating healthier these days? Not really.

The reason Mickey D’s is losing customers – particularly at lunch – is because they have been working aggressively at building up their beverage offerings to compete with Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks.  The article explains that while the fast food giant has been creating multiple beverage stations, hot and cold coffees, latte’s, frappés, milkshakes, and smoothies…beverages are not the reason McDonald’s core customers patronize them.  In other words…

Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks are not your competition, McDonald’s.

Know your competition

It should come as no surprise to anyone (other than the company’s execs, apparently) that McDonald’s’ competition is other burger joints:  Burger King, which is offering the Angry Whopper, BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich, and sweet potato fries; Wendy’s, which has a huge hit with their Pretzel Bun Burger; or even Taco Bell and their Doritos tacos. What new product is McDonald’s promoting right now?

Chicken wings.

News flash: KFC is not your competition, either, folks.

So what does this mean to the rest of us?

Know your strengths

Whether you’re a restaurateur, a salesperson, a voice artist, or a writer – whatever you do for a living – you have to know your strengths.  You need to know what it is you do best and who it is you need to do it for; otherwise, you’ll be trying to attract the wrong customers and giving the customers you do get a likely inferior product. (Did I mention McDonald’s is serving chicken wings?)

Personally, I would love to voice movie trailers. Unfortunately for me, my voice lacks the gritty, hard-edged quality that most movie trailer voice actors have. So I’m content to voice commercials, corporate narration, and on-hold messaging. Having started out acting, I have voiced a number of characters over the years – from a pre-Colonial American soldier to a lumbering, digital super-villain – so I’m happy to lend my talents to documentaries, museum recordings, and audio dramas.

But movie trailers…I’m just not seeing it happening.

DSCF2068 (Mic - Katie)That’s ok, though, because I’m not wasting my time auditioning for gigs I have no chance of winning. Being a voice actor, children’s writer, and stay-at-home dad to two kids under the age of 4, time is precious to me.

Trying to make myself appear to be something I’m not by offering something I’m not 100% capable of doing well does a disservice to the prospective client as well as to myself.

Know your limits

When I was younger, I auditioned for everything: trailers, audio books, TV commercials. I never sent in auditions I thought were sub-par, but looking back on it now I realize many of those auditions were probably tossed after 5 seconds of listening; I just wasn’t cut out for many of those gigs!

Likewise, as a children’s writer, I specialize in poetry. I like the compact, succinct little vignettes and stories that poetry allows me to create.  I’ve written about a half-dozen picture book manuscripts, but for now, I do not see myself writing any middle-grade novels or YA (Young Adult) fiction.

For one thing, I can’t imagine being able to sit still long enough to write that many pages just to get my story out. For another, I don’t think I’d be able to keep the plot, characters, or settings straight.  Some people have told me writing poetry is a lot harder than writing a chapter book. I have no idea if that is true.

I also have no intention of finding out!

Know when to stretch yourself

When I say we need to play to our strengths, I’m not implying that we shouldn’t step outside our comfort zone(s) now and then. Otherwise, how would we grow?

There’s nothing wrong with testing the waters now and then.  If you’re a voice actor, try auditioning for a role that might be a stretch, if you think you can pull it off. If you’re a prose writer, see what happens if you try to write some poetry. Maybe it’ll be awful…maybe it won’t be half bad. But at least you’ve pushed yourself and can learn from the experience.

It’s when you start spending an inordinate amount of time outside your area of expertise that things may start to falter.  It’s great to develop new clients and new things to offer…but not at the expense of losing your old clients.

Unless you don’t mind losing your old clients.

Sometimes growth requires pruning

ID-10079994 (cellphone)Just like cutting the branches off a large tree helps it to grow and be healthy, the same might be said about your business.

Verizon, which started off as a landline telephone company, realized there were less headaches and more money in wireless communications. So they eventually sold all their landline services and became a strictly wireless provider. In this case, they expanded what they were doing, realized there was a more profitable way of doing it, and totally changed the focus of the company.

But you’ll notice, they didn’t start selling computers, TVs, and all sorts of other equipment. They continued offering phone service – just a different type of phone service.

They knew their strength was communications service, not communication devices – and they knew their competition was AT&T and Sprint, not Apple and Samsung.

Assessing my life

As previously mentioned, I’m a voice actor, children’s writer, and stay-at-home dad. I’m also a husband, neighbor, friend, indoor soccer player, and parishioner. How am doing with these? I’m not sure.

There’s more I could do to build up my business. I don’t write as much as I’d like. I never feel like I spend enough time with the family – even though I’m with the kids all day long. And those other responsibilities? I wish I could be better at those, too.

Sure, it’s a juggling act. But it’s also a juggling act I created myself. I do the best I can, and if the day comes when I find I’m just not fulfilling my obligations in one of those areas, something will have to go.  I can tell you, it certainly won’t be the family.

For now, I’m doing my best, playing to my strengths.  If I ever get to the point where I’m not doing my best, I’ll need to reassess my life.

Although, for the record, I still don’t see any movie trailers or chapter books in my future!

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid 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!  To 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: “Thoughts of the Falconer”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllAs I was perusing some of my older writings, I stumbled upon a Creative Writing class assignment from back when I was a senior in college. I read it and couldn’t remember if it was the 2nd or 3rd Elizabethan sonnet I had ever written…but I knew it was definitely one of the first few.  I also knew I wanted to feature it here.

One can tell this was written by a person who was still learning – the language is extremely formal and there are many things that could probably be changed – but for what it is (or was), I like it.  It certainly helped me to learn and grow as a writer of poetry by helping me utilize imagery and metaphor and alliteration and such, so for that I owe the poem a debt of gratitude.  It was also an experiment with an original rhyme scheme; it strays from the standard a-b-a-b of a typical Elizabethan, but again, it was a learning process and a college class assignment, so try to cut me some slack. 😉

Today, Diane Mayr is hosting Poetry Friday at Random Noodling, and is also in a bit of a reflective mood – although her memory goes back 40 years! Visit her blog and find out more!

“Thoughts of the Falconer”

Away, young fearless guardian of sky;
Your graceful wings shall steal the summer blue
In search of perfect prey.  Yet, as you fly
The dignity you hold with peerless pride
Is carried full and strong, embodies you,
The falcon; strength and spirit strictly tied.
An open world is yours to claim anew
From rocky cliffs to meadows warm and green,
But for that honour, savage winds you ride
To breast – confront – your feral foe unseen;
The hood removed, you sense the urge inside
And with no hesitation you are gone.
Though years may pass and fainter be my sight
I shall fore’er admire the falcon’s flight.

– © Matt Forrest Esenwine, Dec. 15, 1988

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid 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!  To 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 importance of being earnest…enough to advertise

Most dictionaries would probably define “earnest” as “serious in effort” or “sincerely passionate.”  If someone is earnest in what he or she is doing, they put their full heart, body, and soul into it. Which is why, if you’re trying to motivate people to take a specific action, it’s important to tell them.

I felt like I needed to post a short reminder about the importance of advertising, following a conversation I had with a political candidate over the weekend.

ID-10021920 (Times Square)
Hey, wait a sec – did I just see an advertisement?

If you have a great message and no one hears it…does it make a sound?  I’ve written about the subject before, but if you missed that previous post, my main point is, if you want others to know what you’re doing – you have to let them know.

That should be obvious, but unfortunately, it’s not always so.

Political season gears up

Over the weekend, I had a wonderful opportunity to chat with a political candidate during a meet-and-greet sponsored at the business of one of my clients.  She was in the early stages of the campaign – just starting to reach out and let folks know who she is and what she stands for – but was very well-spoken, friendly, and knowledgeable.

The attendees and I talked with her about what she believed, what she thought she could accomplish, and why she was running. Each time she was asked a question, she responded with a direct answer and was unapologetic for her beliefs.

I was surprised that a person this comfortable with public speaking had not run for office before.

And then she told me…she had.

You ran for what? When??

I was shocked to learn she had run for another political office a mere three years ago.  I stay pretty well-informed about our government and political issues, so it came as quite a surprise that she had run a campaign for an election that featured at least two other candidates – and although I remembered both of their names, hers did not ring a bell at all.

I told her I apologized for not remembering her, and half-joked about the importance of advertising…but the fact is, it’s not even close to a joke.

Of course, campaign fund-raising is important, and it can be very difficult to do any kind of promotion without a significant budget these days. Campaigns have to deal with a lot of quirks that normal businesses do not, such as having to raise vast amounts of cash in a short time for the express purpose of advertising; having to pay radio, TV, and newspapers in advance, before any advertisements or commercials can run; and trying to grow as quickly as possible, rather than being able to take a longer, more measured approach.

But the fact is, you won’t get the results you’re looking for – whether it’s an increase in widget sales, customer volume, or an election win – unless you advertise.

If you’re not advertising, you’re keeping it a secret.

shutterstock_134415755 (blurred lights)
There are a million messages out there. Is yours getting lost?

How do you plan to let potential customers or constituents know what you can do for them? How do you plan to showcase services, products, benefits?

If you’re not budgeting for it, how do you expect to get the word out?

Next time you’re reading the local newspaper, try this:  search through the pages quickly and make a mental note of what types of ads you saw. Then flip through it again and pay attention to all the ads, and see if any new ones pop out at you. Finally, flip through it a third time and scan each and every page until you find an advertisement you didn’t notice the first two times.

Then ask yourself, how many people who weren’t diligently scanning the paper missed that ad?  How many people do you think actually saw it and were moved to action?  Was it money well-spent?

It’s not about money; well, ok, it is

Yes, money helps buy commercials and advertisements…but actual “advertising” is more than that. It’s word-of-mouth, it’s meet-and-greets, it’s press releases, it’s phone calls with news directors and show producers, it’s talking to everyone and anyone who’ll lend an ear.

ID-10039778 (stand out in crowd)
It’s great that you’re different. But if no one knows, does it really matter?

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure to help businesses spread their message and grow, and I know for a fact that if they weren’t online, on the radio, or on social media, they wouldn’t be where they are now. Money will buy you the number of ads you’ll need, but the real value is in the message itself – what it says about you or your business, how it portrays you, and how your business can help the people you’re trying to reach out to.

So don’t let that message go unheard or unseen.  Advertise.

The people who hear about you today will become your customers – or, in some cases, your constituents – tomorrow.

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid 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!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “After the Harvest”

Sometimes, you just need to quit while you’re ahead.

About a month ago, I wrote a poem, shared it with several folks who write & critique poetry all the time, and received all kinds of feedback. Some of it was good; some of it was contradictory.  The reactions varied from “incredible” to “confusing” – so I went back and completely rewrote it, paring it down by 50%, removing what I thought were the problem areas, and even going through a half-dozen different titles. After all, it’s a fine line between poetic ambiguity and utter befuddlement, and I wanted to make sure I was not engaging in the latter,

I then showed both poems to a completely different group of equally astute people, who resoundingly preferred the original.

>sigh<

That’s why I say, feedback is great, but ultimately it’s the poet’s poem – and eventually you need to just stand by your convictions and hope for the best. Having said that, I hope you like it! The first version is the original, which I prefer, and the second is the revision. I do thank ALL the folks who read it and provided their thoughts – even if I didn’t use their suggestions, their feedback was valuable to me.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts.  And for all of today’s Poetry Friday offerings, make sure you stop by Teacher Dance and say hi to Linda Baie!
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“After the Harvest”

Past cornstalk stumps and pumpkin patch
and corners unexplored,
they plowed through hedges, crops, and grass
to reap a fine reward.
Tender treasures offered up
were quickly snatched away
‘til soon the field could yield no more
and night turned into day.

Then hastily, they disappeared
on fleeting, little feet
to feast upon the fortunes gained –
their plunder now complete.
The only things they left behind,
those swift and hungry souls,
were rows and rows where nothing grows
and empty candy bowls.
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“Scavengers”

Past cornstalk stumps and pumpkin patch
they plowed through hedges door by door,
for tender treasures offered up
until the field could yield no more.
Then all at once they disappeared,
those swift and hungry little souls
who left behind a barren stretch
of rows of empty candy bowls.

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– both poems © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid 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!  To 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!