National Poetry Month: Thinking Like a Poet

I get asked many questions many times by many folks…all about the same subject:

NPM-2005-White“Isn’t poetry hard to write?”

“When did you start writing poetry?”

“Why do you write poetry?”

…and so forth. The answers, while simple, could be more elaborate if I wanted to take the time: Yes; almost forever ago; and because I have no other choice.

It’s not that I don’t want to take the time to offer more detailed responses; it’s just that most people aren’t really looking for that. It’s like when the cashier at the grocery store asks, “How are you?” She’s expecting a nice, short, “Good” so she can continue on about her duties. If you respond with, “Well, my dog died, I lost my job, and I just found out my wife is cheating on me with someone from the NSA…want to hear about it?” chances are, she’ll drop the eggs on the floor and not know what to do.

Better to keep the answers safe and simple, and not throw any curveballs.

But since this is my final blog post for National Poetry Month, I thought perhaps I could expand on some of my answers and try to explain – especially to non-poetry types – why poetry is not some sort of worthless academic pursuit and can actually be beneficial in your life.

Thinking like a poet: how?

First of all, it helps to think like a poet. Understanding poetry means understanding that there is always much more to life than just…life. By that, I mean, everything you see, touch, or experience is much more than what it appears to be.

coffee-mate_creamerA nonfiction writer friend once asked me to help her think like a poet. She wanted her writing to be less dry and a bit more creative and lyrical. So as an exercise, I placed a small, empty, white plastic coffee creamer cup on the table and asked her to make a list of everything that came to mind. Not just adjectives describing the cup, but every word, phrase, or vision that popped in her head – even if it didn’t make sense. I did the same, and timed us both for 2 minutes.

When we were done, we compared lists. She had words like ‘white,’ ‘drink,’ ’round,’ ‘striated,’ etc. Although we shared some of these obvious descriptors, mine were generally a bit more…imaginative:

‘Upside-down top hat.’

‘Cup runneth over.’

‘A White Hole. ‘ (Instead of a Black Hole.)

The exercise demonstrated that while she saw things as they were, I saw things as they could be. Just that one lesson opened her eyes as to how a creative type such as a poet views the world: with imagination, curiosity, and an open-mindedness that allows us to believe anything can be more than it seems. Indeed, there is more to nearly everything than meets the eye – and if you are willing to take the time to observe long enough, you can begin to view life through a poet’s eyes.

Thinking like a poet: why?

This is where things can get really interesting. I’ve found, over the years, that having a poet’s thought process allows me to conceive ideas from angles that others may not see.

This has been especially useful in radio copy writing, believe it or not. On more than one occasion, I have had to come up with commercial scripts that are unique, attention-getting, and most importantly – relatable to the listener. While different copy writers use different means to find an emotional connection with the listener for the product or service about which they are writing, I find that thinking like a poet (e.g., trying to find connections and imagery others might not see) has served me well.

Not that thinking like a poet means you have to rhyme – I’m primarily talking about thinking more creatively and making unusual connections – but let me share an example of how poetry really did work in my favour. A local restaurant needed to let people know they existed – their location, while prime, was at a 4-way intersection and easy to miss. But it was a small, family-style restaurant that, at first blush, did not appear to offer anything out of the ordinary.

What to do?

Now, normally I absolutely detest rhyming commercials. You know the ones…they always sound amateurish and dumb, and are a total tune-out. But I knew I could write a good one – and if I did it right, it would be ear-catching, memorable, and successful at getting its message across to listeners. The following commercial was written out of a need for listeners to know who the client was, where they were located, and what they offered:

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Note two important things about why this commercial worked and most rhyming commercials don’t: One, I kept the lines metrical. I was very careful about keeping the script flowing and fun – too many words per line (or the wrong words) and the commercial would just collapse under its own weight. The other thing I did was refrain from using “easy” rhymes. I could have written a line that ended with “toast” and rhymed it with “most,” or used “steak” and “bake.” but that would have made the commercial sound cheesy and predictable – which I definitely did not want.

The unusual rhymes and bouncy cadence of the verse is what made the commercial work, in my opinion – and although any person could write a rhyming commercial, without the skill of writing metrically and knowing how to rhyme effectively, the commercial would not have been as humourous or, more importantly, as effective.

Image courtesy of suphakit73 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thinking like a poet: when?

All the time! The more you start to actively think about the things around you – from your home and family to things as simple as the car you drive, the road you travel on, or the food you eat – the more you’ll start becoming aware of all the possibilities for inspiration there are out there.

Think about possibilities, think about similarities and differences, think about “what if!”

“What would a picture of my kids look like, if I couldn’t include their faces?”

“A home with no windows or doors is like a _____.”

“If I could take this elevator anywhere, where would I go?”

“Why might a pencil be considered a religious talisman?”

“What if crows were a different colour?”

Yes, these are pretty random questions – but they can be examples of ways of thinking beyond what is comfortable and concrete. Question why an apple is red, but not because of any botanical reason. Imagine what love would look like if it could be held in your hand.

Wonder to yourself how to describe music to a deaf person or a sunset to someone who has been blind from birth.

Think about that little coffee creamer cup, and see what you can create out of it in two minutes. You might surprise yourself!

Poetry = Life

For me, I’ve always enjoyed the rhythm and rhyme of words and the imagery a writer can create – whether it is via a poem, short story, or other form of writing. Poetry, though, is a perfect vehicle for showcasing compact vignettes of emotion, enlightenment, pain, and all sorts of fascinating aspects of humanity. The poet takes a scene, feeling, or object and distills it down to it’s essence – and sometimes goes even beyond that, to create new associations with other scenes and feelings the reader had never before connected

I started reading picture books of poetry as a child, and began writing poetry in earnest in high school. Since then, I’ve written poetry and songs throughout my life because I have a compulsion to do so. Most writers will tell you the same thing, too – that they write because they have this urge inside, this burning desire to get something in their head out on paper.

Poetry can be quite hard to write, but also immensely fulfilling. Even short, 3-line haiku poems, which might seem simple, are much more complex than they may seem. Sort of like humans.

And come to think of it, that observation might make a good poem.

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2014kidlit_progpoemOnly TWO DAYS remain to poet Irene Latham’s 2014 Progressive Poem! Each day throughout the month of April, a different poet has added a line to the poem, and we are very close to completing our journey!

Today it heads over to Ruth at There is No Such Thing As a God-Forsaken Town, but here is the complete list of contributors:

1 Charles at Poetry Time
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Donna at Mainely Write
4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
5 Carrie at Story Patch
6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
7 Pat at Writer on a Horse
8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
9 Diane at Random Noodling
10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
11 Linda at Write Time
12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
13 Janet at Live Your Poem
14 Deborah at Show–Not Tell
15 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Julie at The Drift Record
20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
21 Renee at No Water River
22 Laura at Author Amok
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Linda at TeacherDance
25 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
27 Kate at Live Your Poem
28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
30 Tara at A Teaching Life

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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: The poetry of Vladimir K.

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI love poetry. but this week has been so busy due to National Poetry Month, I’m kind of glad it only comes along once a year! Earlier this week, I guest-blogged at Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo blog (Rhyming Picture Book Month) and on Wednesday I spent some time catching up with crime poetry editor/poet Gerald So. Now that’s it’s Friday, I can relax and take a breather…but not for long, of course, as we have one more week to go!

Today I’m sharing a very special poem. This is actually a Poetry Friday first for me and my blog: I’m sharing a poem that I did not write. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever shared a poem I didn’t write. But today needs to be different.

Today’s poem was written by someone I don’t know.

Yesterday I received a postcard in the mail from an aspiring poet at Silver Star Elementary School in Vancouver, Washington. I don’t know if I received it because yesterday was Poetry in Your Pocket Day or if it was a National Poetry Month school project – but the postcard indicated it was part of the Silver Star Poetry Project – so whatever the reason, I’m glad I received it!

The poem is quite good, too, for a 5th-grader: it uses metaphor, simile, active imagery, and a bit of a twist ending. Without any further ado…allow me to present the poetry of Vladimir K.:

Silver Star Poetry Project
click to enlarge

I’m really quite touched that someone at Silver Star Elementary thought enough of me to suggest to Vladimir he send this. Whether it was because the folks there recognized my love of poetry, were impressed by the poetry I’ve written and shared here, or perhaps because they needed to send one more poem out and everyone else had already been taken…I appreciate it.

Thank you so much for sending this, Vlad! (Can I call you Vlad?) Keep up the good work, and I hope to see more of your poetry in the coming years!

If any of my Poetry Friday friends received postcards from other Silver Star students, I’d love to hear about it! And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links – as well as a directory of imaginary poems – please visit Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference!

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2014kidlit_progpoemThere are only a few days left to poet Irene Latham’s 2014 Progressive Poem! Throughout the month of April, a different poet has added a line to the poem each day, and in just FIVE days the poem will be completed!  Today it heads over to Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty, but you can follow along by checking in with each of the following contributors:

1 Charles at Poetry Time
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Donna at Mainely Write
4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
5 Carrie at Story Patch
6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
7 Pat at Writer on a Horse
8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
9 Diane at Random Noodling
10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
11 Linda at Write Time
12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
13 Janet at Live Your Poem
14 Deborah at Show–Not Tell
15 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Julie at The Drift Record
20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
21 Renee at No Water River
22 Laura at Author Amok
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Linda at TeacherDance
25 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
27 Kate at Live Your Poem
28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
30 Tara at A Teaching Life

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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!

 

 

National Poetry Month: Catching up with crime poetry editor Gerald So

NPM-2005-WhiteFresh from making an appearance yesterday at Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo event (Rhyming Picture Book Month), today I’m doing a 180-degree turn and interviewing writer and poet Gerald So, the editor of the 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly. All month long, Gerald is hosting the “30 Days of the 5-2” blog tour which features poetry, discussions, and other info each day of the week – including this interview!

If you were around last April, you may recall I interviewed Gerald last year as part of my National Poetry Month celebration, so I thought it would be interesting to check in with him a year later and see how things have been progressing. You may not think crime and poetry have much to do with each other…but read a few of the poems that Gerald has published on his site as well as in one of his eBooks, and you just might change your mind!

First…a little bit about him:

Gerald So-Think-160Robert B. Parker’s Spenser stoked So’s interest in crime fiction and poetry in 1993, while So was a student at Hofstra University.  He helped found Hofstra’s literary magazine, Font, earned his M.A. in Creative Writing from Queens College/CUNY, and taught English at Hofstra for six years before turning to writing full time.

A member of the Academy of American Poets, his poems have appeared in Nerve Cowboy, Barbaric Yawp, Defenestration, Yellow Mama, Gutter Eloquence Magazine, and other provocatively-named venues.  So has served as Short Mystery Fiction Society president (2008-’10) and Thrilling Detective fiction editor (2001-’09). After developing the online crime poetry journal, The Lineup, he published an ebook of his own poetry, We Might Have.

His personal blog is My Life Called So.

So Gerald, get us up to speed as to how The 5-2 has been going over the past year: have there been any changes, or any new writers you’ve discovered? And how has the response been to The 5-2 eBook you published last year?

It’s hard for me to consider the whole year at a glance. Now 2/3 through its third year, I build up the site week by week, so most of the writers are new to me. Publishing this often, the site has a chance to change along with the world, the kind of change we don’t realize at the time, but that is clear when we look back.

I’m pleased with the response to the ebooks. It’s important to me that poetry have a place in ebooks along with prose.

What makes a good “crime poem?” What is it that you look for?

I leave myself open to each poet’s take on crime. I look for evidence of crime driving a poet inevitably to write. I don’t see strong poems as similar in any particular way except powerful execution. Weak poems, on the other hand, fail in their execution.

Has the subject matter changed over the past year or so? Do people tend to write more about fictional events, or real life?

Again, I’m less aware of gradual change, but I consciously try to bear witness to life with the site. I like all kinds of poems, but my favorite deal with real life.

What kind of response do you get from folks who are just discovering the 5-2? Are they shocked at the genre of “crime poetry,” or do they appreciate it for what it is?

Some are surprised. Some don’t get it, but that’s true of any creative writing. Every reader interprets and responds to it differently. That’s part of its value.

30Days52-2014-128ltWhat do you think is the most unusual or surprising thing that people discover about crime poetry?

I think people are surprised how well they can, unfortunately, relate to it. Who among us has never been, or felt, wronged?

You told us last year that the genre is growing…how far has it come, and where do you see it heading?

That’s another difficult question to answer from my week-to-week perspective, but I do hope poetry about crime is more accepted each day.

Would you mind sharing one of your poems?

Here’s one first published on the website Lunatic Chameleon in July 2005:

“Four Minutes”

I stopped breathing
for four minutes at
four hours old,
cutting oxygen to my brain
and sapping strength from
half my body:
not so much I’d never walk
or run or write, but enough
so I couldn’t catch the kids
who called me “retard”
and bloody them
until they stopped.

– Gerald So, all rights reserved
published with permission from the author

Wow, talk about packing an emotional punch! Thanks so much for sharing that, Gerald – and for your time. I’m looking forward to seeing what new poems you publish in the coming year! (And for those of you interested, I’m honored that a new poem of mine, “To the Accused,” will be published on the 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly two weeks from now, May 5-11. I’ll be sure to share the link once it’s up!)

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2014kidlit_progpoemRemember, Irene Latham’s 2014 Progressive Poem continues all month long! A different poet adds a line to the poem each day, and pretty soon we’ll have a complete poem!  Today it heads over to Amy at The Poem Farm, but you can follow along by checking in with each of the following contributors:

1 Charles at Poetry Time
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Donna at Mainely Write
4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
5 Carrie at Story Patch
6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
7 Pat at Writer on a Horse
8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
9 Diane at Random Noodling
10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
11 Linda at Write Time
12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
13 Janet at Live Your Poem
14 Deborah at Show–Not Tell
15 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Julie at The Drift Record
20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
21 Renee at No Water River
22 Laura at Author Amok
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Linda at TeacherDance
25 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
27 Kate at Live Your Poem
28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
30 Tara at A Teaching Life

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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!

 

RhyPiBoMo and the benefits of collaboration

You might think I’m here – but you’d be wrong!

RhyPiBoMo badgeI’m actually guest-blogging today at Angie Karcher’s blog, as part of a month-long celebration of National Poetry Month! Angie has created RhyPiBoMO (short for Rhyming Picture Book Month) as a way to get people motivated to write for children.

Earlier this year, I completed a collaboration project with a fellow picture book author, and the manuscript we’ve written would have never come to fruition without the two of us hammering things out, writing and editing, and sharing back-and-forth via Google Drive.

When two people with complimentary talents take an interest in something…awesome things can happen! Find out more HERE at Angie’s place, and be sure to check back here periodically throughout the month of April as the National Poetry Month celebration continues!

You can see the complete schedule for all of Angie’s guest bloggers on this calendar:

RhyPiBoMo calendar - updated
Click to enlarge, to see all of Angie’s guest bloggers this month!

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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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National Poetry Month: How voiceover websites helped me write poetry

NPM-2005-WhiteI’m not usually a big fan of “found poetry.” That is, poetry created by words and lines lifted from other sources – books, magazines, advertisements. I feel like the poet needs to hunt for the message through others’ words, rather than writing the poet’s own message through his/her own words.

However, I’ve learned that the more I attempt to write found poetry, the more I enjoy the hunt!

The other day, I was thinking about what to write for today’s blog post. Since this is National Poetry Month, I knew I wanted to write about poetry (all my posts this month deal with poetry in one form or another) but I wasn’t sure what angle to take. I had been feeling bad about not being able to write as much as I’d like due to my recuperation from ACL surgery – being on crutches, I’m a lot slower at taking care of the kids than I used to be – and I also felt a little guilty for not writing more about voiceover work, as I often do.

Then it occurred to me:  do both!

How to find “found poetry”

I decided I would write a found poem using material I culled from voiceover websites. Now, to those of you who don’t write poetry, that may seem like a rather odd idea. But writers know good material and inspiration can come from anywhere at anytime…and sure enough, it wasn’t long before I realized I might be onto something.

After simply Googling “voiceover,” I started searching through the first couple of pages of results, opening up webpages and copying sections of text I thought could be potentially useful.

I read, I searched, I compiled.

Eventually, I had a list of lines and phrases that seemed to have some common associations, beyond the obvious ‘voiceover’ theme; associations with which all of us as humans might be able to identify.

My definition of good found poetry

I think one of the reasons I don’t often like found poetry is because it only makes sense, or can only be fully appreciated, if the reader knows it’s found poetry. In other words, the lines of a found poem might not be as strong as if they been originally written from the mind of the poet.

With found poetry, the poet is at the mercy of the lines he/she uses – and often I wonder if the found poems I come across would be able to stand on their own merits, had they not been “found.” Maybe this is crazy talk, but in my mind, found poetry should read just as smoothly, as intelligently, and as originally as any other poetry.

Which brings me to my found poem. Is it as smooth, intelligent, or original as something I would have crafted out of thin air? I don’t know – I suppose that’s for you to decide. But I think I was able to capture something beyond a repetition of lines, beyond an amalgam of disparate thoughts, and certainly beyond voiceover.

But like I said….I’ll let you be the judge of that.
.

Voice

Expressing unspoken thoughts
and burning desire,
a voice that is not part of the narrative
pauses for a breath;
the essential commands
and
extreme situations
still seem confusing.
Don’t get discouraged.
Slow down,
evaluate your work,
and take your time
through talent,
steely focus,
and faith
to change the world.

© 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine


Not that you need to know this, but just as background information, each line of this poem is a different line from the text of one of the websites I visited:  Wikipedia.com, Voice123.com, Apple.com, Voices.com, Merriam-webster.com, IMDB.com, and webaim.com.

Why not try it yourself? Look through a magazine and pull lines from the articles or advertisements. Scan your library and see if the titles of the books lend themselves to a few poetic lines (some folks refer to this as “book spine poetry’).

Poetry is, after all, all around us – and is waiting to be found!

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2014kidlit_progpoemNational Poetry Month is keeping me extra-busy! Irene Latham’s 2014 Progressive Poem is continuing full-steam ahead…a different poet adds a line to the poem each day, and by the end of April we’ll have a complete poem!

Last week, I added my line and today the poem heads to Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy. You can follow along by checking in with each of the following contributors:

1 Charles at Poetry Time
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Donna at Mainely Write
4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
5 Carrie at Story Patch
6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
7 Pat at Writer on a Horse
8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
9 Diane at Random Noodling
10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
11 Linda at Write Time
12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
13 Janet at Live Your Poem
14 Deborah at Show–Not Tell
15 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Julie at The Drift Record
20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
21 Renee at No Water River
22 Laura at Author Amok
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Linda at TeacherDance
25 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
27 Kate at Live Your Poem
28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
30 Tara at A Teaching Life

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RhyPiBoMo banner

I’m very happy to be part of Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo event this month (Rhyming Picture Book Month). All month, she’s encouraging writers to create rhyming picture books and I’ll be guest blogging on April 26, discussing the benefits of collaboration – so please be sure to join me then!

To see all the posts and learn more, click the calendar below for the daily schedule:
RhyPiBoMo calendar - updated

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30Days52-2014-128ltThe day after I guest-blog at Angie’s, I’ll be interviewing writer and poet Gerald So, the editor of the 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly. I interviewed Gerald last year as part of my National Poetry Month celebration, and I thought it might be nice to check in with him a year later to see how things have been progressing.

You may not think crime and poetry have much to do with each other…but read a few of the poems that Gerald has published on his site as well as in one of his eBooks, and you just might change your mind.

I’m also honored that Gerald has chosen a poem of mine to publish in May, so I’ll be sure to share that link once it is posted!

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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: “Mistaken Identity” and other Poetry Month happenings

NPM-2005-WhiteNational Poetry Month continues, and there’s so much going on in the Kidlitosphere it’s hard to keep track of it all. Blog posts come and blog posts go, and I try to read as many as I can…but there’s just no way I can get to all of them. One post I’m glad I didn’t miss helped me write today’s poem.

Earlier this week at The Miss Rumphius Effect, former National Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis shared a new poetic form he calls the “homophoem,” a poem designed with homophones in mind. (If you don’t know what a homophone is. it’s two or more words that share the same sound, like ate and eight or carrot and carat) The concept is that the last word in the poem is a homophone which acts as the ‘twist’ of the poem.

Kate Coombs and Charles Waters both wrote some incredible poems for the challenge, which they shared on the blog, and this is my contribution:

poetryfridaybutton-fulllMistaken Identity
(A conversation in two voices)

No bull,
I’m not a cow,
it’s true –
I don’t eat hay,
I have no moo.

But what about
your horns and hooves,
and all the grass
you like to chew?

My parents
have two horns –
they do!
They both
have hooves
and eat grass, too!

Are you an ox?
A yak? A ewe?
Please tell me!
Give me just a clue!

Who am I?
Why, I am zebu!

Zebu?
Zebu?!?

 I never gnu.
.

© 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine

But wait, there’s more! Michelle Heindenrich Barnes is celebrating her blog’s FIRST birthday by hosting Poetry Friday today at Today’s Little Ditty, so head on over to get all the links and info – and maybe some cake and ice cream before it’s gone!

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2014kidlit_progpoem Have you been following Irene Latham’s 2014 Progressive Poem? As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, a different poet adds a line to the poem each day, and by the end of April we’ll have a complete, crowd-sourced poem!

This past Tuesday, I added my line, and today the poem heads to Linda Kulp at Write Time. You can follow along by checking in with each of the contributors, listed below!

1 Charles at Poetry Time
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Donna at Mainely Write
4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
5 Carrie at Story Patch
6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
7 Pat at Writer on a Horse
8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
9 Diane at Random Noodling
10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
11 Linda at Write Time
12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
13 Janet at Live Your Poem
14 Deborah at Show–Not Tell
15 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Julie at The Drift Record
20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
21 Renee at No Water River
22 Laura at Author Amok
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Linda at TeacherDance
25 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
27 Kate at Live Your Poem
28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
30 Tara at A Teaching Life

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#MMPoetry – we have a winner!

MMPoetry2014_logo_full

If you haven’t checked out all the children’s poems that have been produced in just the past couple weeks, you can still log on and see all the incredible poetry that has been created this month.

Just last night, the polls closed on the final matchup between J.J. Close and Samuel “The Lunchbox Doodler” Kent – and congratulations to Samuel for winning the tournament! Click the graphic and you can read both poems!

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RhyPiBoMo banner

I’m very happy to be part of Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo event this month (Rhyming Picture Book Month). All month, she’s encouraging writers to create rhyming picture books (and she’s assembled a team so large and decorated, I have no idea what I’m doing amongst them!) I’ll be guest blogging on April 26, discussing the benefits of collaboration – so please be sure to join me then!

To see all the posts and learn more, click the calendar below for the daily schedule:
RhyPiBoMo calendar - updated

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The day after I guest-blog at Angie’s, I’ll be interviewing writer and poet Gerald So, the editor of the 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly. (I know – quite a segue going from kidlit to poems about crime!)

30Days52-2014-128ltI interviewed Gerald last year as part of my National Poetry Month celebration, and I thought it might be nice to check in with him a year later to see how things have been progressing. You may not think crime and poetry have much to do with each other…but read a few of the poems that Gerald has published on his site as well as in one of his eBooks, and you just might change your mind.

I’m also honored that Gerald has chosen a poem of mine to publish in May, so I’ll be sure to share that link once it is posted!

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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!

National Poetry Month: The 2014 Progressive Poem!

2014kidlit_progpoemAs a blogger and children’s writer, it’s hard to celebrate National Poetry Month while laid up recuperating from ACL reconstruction. One might think that I have all the time in the world, since I can’t really do anything – but the fact of the matter is, the 4-year-old and 7-month-old take up almost ALL my time.

I’ve only just begun to feel comfortable enough sitting at my desk to be able to work, so running and managing the nuts and bolts of my voiceover business comes before blogging, unfortunately. Hopefully, once I’m off crutches next week and can start walking and exercising and rehabbing, I’ll have more time for the fun stuff.

Today, though, is definitely fun! It’s my turn to take part in Irene Latham’s 2014 Progressive Poem! As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, a different poet adds a line to the poem each day, and by the end of April we’ll have a complete poem written by 30 different people. Talk about crowd-sourcing!

Anyway, Pat Weaver, the Writer on a Horse, added her line to the poem yesterday, and today I get to add to this literary wonder. Here’s the poem, so far, with my line added at the end:

Sitting on a rock, airing out my feelings to the universe
Acting like a peacock, only making matters that much worse;
Should I trumpet like an elephant emoting to the moon,
Or just ignore the warnings written in the rune?
Those stars can’t seal my future; it’s not inscribed in stone.
The possibilities are endless! Who could have known?
Gathering courage, spiral like an eagle after prey

Then gird my wings for whirlwind gales in realms far, far away.

If I recall correctly, I think this is the first year the poem has rhymed – which makes for a tougher assignment, of course. A writer should want to maintain the integrity of the poem without falling into a singsong kind of rhythm or letting the rhyme take over the mood or emotion of the poem itself. Hopefully I fulfilled my duty. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes – you can follow along, too, by checking in with each of the contributors, listed below!

1 Charles at Poetry Time
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Donna at Mainely Write
4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
5 Carrie at Story Patch
6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
7 Pat at Writer on a Horse
8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
9 Diane at Random Noodling
10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
11 Linda at Write Time
12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
13 Janet at Live Your Poem
14 Deborah at Show–Not Tell
15 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Julie at The Drift Record
20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
21 Renee at No Water River
22 Laura at Author Amok
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Linda at TeacherDance
25 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
27 Kate at Live Your Poem
28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
30 Tara at A Teaching Life

Best wishes to Diane Mayr, who will add her line tomorrow!

NPM-2005-White

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#MMPoetry – we have a winner!

MMPoetry2014_logo_full

If you haven’t checked out all the children’s poems that have been produced in just the past couple weeks, you can still log on and see all the incredible poetry that has been created this month. Just last night, the polls closed on the final matchup between J.J. Close and Samuel “The Lunchbox Doodler” Kent – and congratulations to Samuel for winning the tournament! Click the graphic and you can read both poems!

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

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!