#WriteLikeNoOneIsReading

ID-10052692 (books)If you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking, allow me to answer you now:

No, I can’t believe I’m promoting a hashtag, either. More on that in a few…

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with elementary and middle school school classes about writing: what poetry is, how to write it, how to use one’s imagination to create, etc.

Depending on the grade and competency level of the classes, I tailor my presentations to fit the needs of the teachers and students. Sometimes the sessions tend to focus on questions/answers, while some are more hands-on, where we actually create poetry and get into the nuts and bolts of what poetry is all about.

But whether I’m sharing details of how I became a writer and voice artist in an informational setting or helping teachers (and students) with Common Core Anchor Standards for Writing 3, 4 & 5 – the three most apropos, in my estimation, for poetry – there is one common theme that always seems to be present.

The Fear of Creation

Some people relish the idea of making something out of nothing, and are eager to share their handiwork with the world. Others stop dead in their tracks when confronted with the task.

Most folks, I think, fall in-between; that is, the idea of creating is appealing, entertaining, or intriguing, but the act of actually sharing what they create gives them pause.

I’m here to tell you…it doesn’t matter.

Children, for example, tend to have tremendous imaginations, and when they are allowed to indulge those imaginations, all sorts of fun, crazy, wild things can happen. But even at a young age, not all kids want others to know what they are up to.

This puts a clamp on their burgeoning imagination.

What to do?

Create like no one cares

IMG_9242
At the Highlights Foundation in Boyd’s Mills, Pennsylvania, even the stones want you to create.

While I admit it’s nice to think that someone out there cares about what you have created, my point is that if you can create for the sake of creativity itself, you open yourself up to all kinds of possibilities.

No one thinks twice about the wisdom of “dancing like no one is watching” and feeling free and confident enough in yourself to let the music and rhythm of a song carry you away for a few minutes, with complete disregard for anyone who may see you. But what about the confidence needed to create a poem, story, or painting?

The fact is, you don’t need any confidence to create! True, you might need a whole lot of confidence to share what you’ve created with someone else – but that’s getting ahead of yourself. First and foremost, you need to create…then worry about whether or not it will see the light of day.

#WriteLikeNoOneIsReading

That is why I started this hashtag. I’ve used this phrase many times in helping people, especially kids, to realize they don’t need to share anything they create! And now that I find myself sharing more and more of what I create – via books, blogs, critique groups, and other venues – I think it’s important for aspiring writers (and all creators) to understand what’s really important in their development.

To create!

Write for yourself first – don’t write with an anticipation or expectation of trying to impress others. I know I’m not the first person in the world to make known this truth, but I would like to try to spread the message.

So over the next few days, weeks, months…if you happen to share some writing news either of yourself or someone you know via Facebook or Twitter, and you feel this hashtag is appropriate, please use it. I would love to see it begin trending, even for just a few hours, because that would encourage even more folks to investigate what the hashtag means and hopefully encourage more people to write – to create something out of nothing.

As I said before, one does not need confidence to create. One does not even need talent! However, one does need to start somewhere, and writing something no one will ever see – a journal entry, a poem, a story – is a good first step.

Sometimes, writing something no one will ever read can be cathartic, therapeutic, or even simply amusing.

And sometimes, just knowing that no one needs to see what you have written is all it takes to write something wonderful.

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Poetry Friday: Accepting a challenge to go back in time

Poetry_Friday logoEarlier this month, friend and fellow poet/blogger Michelle H. Barnes spotlighted the illustrious Lee Bennett Hopkins and his latest children’s anthology, Jumping Off Library Shelves (WordSong, 2015).

As she does each month, Michelle asked her celebrity guest to issue a “Ditty of the Month Club Challenge” – that is, a poetry prompt to encourage readers to submit their own original poems. In this case, Lee asked readers to take a look back at their own life’s history and write a “ME” poem, a poem about one specific moment in their life that changed them in some way.

Always up for a challenge, I submitted mine and it is now posted on her blog! The poem is titled “…I write her name in my notebook.” and it captures a scene that is apparently reminiscent to many other folks besides myself – I had no idea there were others feeling and doing the same things I was! So please check it out HERE and let me know if you, too, were one of those hopeless romantics.

And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links, head over to the one and only Sylvia Vardell’s Poetry for Children!

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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)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

The playground of LIFE: We’re doing it wrong

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the playground lately. Actually, I’ve been spending a lot of time at a LOT of playgrounds lately.

If my 5-year-old son is a ball of energy, then his 2-year-old sister is a quasar. Kids their age know no bounds when it comes to the amount of fun and exercise they can cram into one day.

So as a stay-at-home dad, I try to do as much as I can with them, going to parks and playgrounds at least twice a week, and sometimes more. Not only is it obviously good for them -but the long, sustained nap that follows (for my daughter, at least) means I’ll be able to get a solid 2-3 hours of work done in the afternoon!

Ever the observer, though, I have discovered that playgrounds, for all their enticing equipment and happy colours, are fooling our children. They may be fun to swing and slide and play and run, but they are not doing our children any favours when it comes to learning about the reality of life that awaits them when they get older. Consider the following…

  1. Slides. Go up the steps and coast all the way down. Sure, it’s fun – but isn’t climbing up a slippery incline while others are speeding downward, ready to take you out, a better analogy for adulthood?
    slide 2
  2. Swings. You go forward and back, forward and back, each time rising a little bit higher and higher! Yet no matter how hard you pump, no matter how high you get…inertia and gravity keep trying to slow you down.
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  3. Jungle Gym. Climb and hang and crawl through spaces while maneuvering through obstacles, perilous heights, and other climbers as you attempt to make it from point A to point B. Anyone who’s worked in Corporate America can see this analogy a mile away.
  4. Photo courtesy of Bluegrass Playgrounds, Inc.

    Merry-Go-Round. My two older daughters used to love this at one of the parks we frequented; grab hold of the bars, run fast to get the merry-go-round spinning, and then jump on and enjoy the ride! Which is all well and good until you try to get off – sorry, son, you’re stuck on this ride until it lets you get off.
    .

  5. See-Saw (Teeter-Totter). Another perfect adult-life analogy: The person you’re playing with goes up, up, up – the lower you go! Which means the only way you can go up…is when the other person is all the way down.

See what I mean? What are our playgrounds teaching our children???

Then again…I suppose it’s all in the way one looks at it. Slides teach our kids that if they are willing to climb all the way to the top, that there will be an enjoyable – if fleeting – reward for them.

Swings show them that the harder they work, the faster and higher they’ll go (even if they never really make it into orbit, as many probably wish). Jungle gyms teach them how to navigate life’s journey, merry-go-rounds encourage them to take those intimidating leaps off the spinning wheel and try something else – or even get the wheel to go faster.

And see-saws are all about teamwork. I’ll help you go up, then you’ll help me go up, and by working together we can accomplish our goal.  Even if that goal is to simply kill time goofing off for an afternoon.

So I guess it IS all a matter of mindset and attitude, isn’t it? Yes, I do see now that playgrounds are actively teaching our youngsters all sorts of wonderful life lessons! Perspective is, indeed, important.

Childlike perspective, at that.

And one of these days, I swear I’m going to launch myself into orbit.

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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: A new poem, a new anthology, and a new CYBILS category for me

Poetry_Friday logoWow, it’s been quite a busy week! This past Saturday, Carol Varsalona published her “Summer Splashings Gallery” – a huge collection of poetry and photographs celebrating the season that is winding down. I’m very happy my poem, “Stonewall County Summer,” is included. Please check it out, along with all the others!

Then this past Tuesday, I shared some revelations and affirmations from the local state fair, where I wrapped up a live-announcing gig during Labor Day Weekend. 55 hours over 4 days…one can learn a lot during that time, and I did, as I do every year!

The next day, on  Wednesday, look what showed up at my doorstep:

My contributor copy arrived!

This beautiful book hits shelves about a month from now, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it. This is the fifth and final book of 2015 in which one can find my poetry, and what a great way to wrap up the year!

Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-SmI’m also very excited to be a CYBILS judge once again. This year, I’ll be a first-round judge for the Graphic Novel category, which is a change of pace for me, as I have judged poetry for the past 2 years. I would have loved to have judged poetry again, but was concerned that one or two of the anthologies to which I’ve contributed might get nominated – and I wouldn’t have wanted to create a conflict of interest. A number of quality poetry collections came out this past year, so I’ll be eager to see which ones make the cut!

By the way, friend and fellow poet Michelle H. Barnes is hosting Poetry Friday today at Today’s Little Ditty – so stop on by and check out all the poetry links!

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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!
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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)
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What I learned at the state fair, Vol. IV

IMG_1562It’s that time of year again! It’s fair season…and that means a wealth of knowledge and enlightenment for Yours Truly.

As you may know, I am the live announcer for one of the local state fairs, which means I spend 12+ hours each day wandering the fairgrounds, reminding attendees of all the events taking place: 4-H Sheep show is coming up at 10am in the Hood Arena! Be amazed by the Hypnosis and Magic of Marko, with 3 shows today at 5, 7, and 9pm! If you’re looking for the restrooms, they are easy to find…

Well, you get the idea. Anyway, each year I am amazed at all the things I learn and affirmations I encounter. The first year, I mourned the loss of patriotism. I have also written about giant robot dinosaurs and the most despised candies in the universe.

Last year, I shared the best time to smell the fair. (And yes, there IS a “best time!”)

This year’s fair, which took place Labor Day weekend, was no different in its ability to educate and enlighten. Here are my Top Ten tidbits:

1) There is STILL no better single food item at the fair than the loaded baked potato.

Heaven on a plate, folks. Heaven. On. A. Plate.

Yes, I love the deep-fried Oreos, giant glazed donuts, and steak ‘n cheese subs (the latter two of which you can get combined, by the way – steak ‘n cheese on a donut!?! Seriously!)…but there is nothing at all like this potato, which features chili, cheese, bacon, broccoli, salsa, sour cream, and jalapenos all piled on top of one enormous spud.
It cost me $13 and every bite was worth it.

2) If you are good at doing one job, be prepared to do every job that is similar to that first job. I am a voice artist and have experience doing recorded voice work (commercials, narration, etc.) as well as live announcing, such as what I do for the fair. However, when the announcer for the tractor pull didn’t show up, guess who was pressed into service? And when there was no announcer for the super-modified tractor/truck pull, guess who got the call? And when the fair needed someone to announce the daily parade that meandered through the fairgrounds, guess who was tagged? After a 55-hour weekend, my voice was crying Uncle.

3) Environmentalists hate tractor pulls.

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IMG_9672 IMG_0117
I haven’t actually talked to any environmentalists about this because they’re still coughing, but it’s a good hunch.

4) Environmentalists also hate demolition derbies.

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Again, just a hunch.

5) A lot of people in this world do not walk straight. This probably seems like an odd sort of observation, but on more than one occasion I found myself in back of a person I started to walk past, only to have him/her veer in front of me. I would then attempt to cut over to the other side to pass them, only to have them veer back in the other direction. These were not drunk fair-goers, either – they were just drifters, sort of like that car in front of you on the interstate that you’re not quite sure if you should pass or just keep a safe distance behind.

6) Anything can be a breakfast food. One day I overheard a gentleman say to his wife, “Yes!! Turkey legs! Right over there!” at which point he quickened his pace in the direction of said turkey legs. Now, this scene wouldn’t be all that unusual except for the fact that this was at 9:30 in the morning. Not that I’m judging, by the way. I’ve eaten chili, lasagna, and General Tso’s Chicken for breakfast – so it’s nice to have the validation.

7) Hornets are bad-ass.

No. Fear.

8) Kids can have the most adult conversations if you let them. Two young boys, who couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 years old, were walking among the animal exhibits, near the pigs and cattle. One said, “I could never kill an animal!” The other replied, “You EAT animals!” The first one retorted, “Yeah, but they should be allowed to live!” To which the second one responded, “Well, then, you’ll need to find something else to eat.” Right or wrong, carnivore or vegan, these two friends continued their conversation down the path as I turned and walked in another direction. I would love to have known how this little debate ended.

IMG_03739) Concepts like conservation and environmentalism are totally lost on some people. After watching a demonstration on wildlife conservation at the state Fish & Game Dept.’s building, the ground was littered with flyers from the demonstration. Irony at its worst.

10) The best new fair food item is not something you may be able to order at your local fair. That’s because this is a unique offering by one of our fair’s longtime vendors and supporters, Pat’s Apple Crisp & Cider Donuts. What did they do, and why is it better than anything you’ll taste all season long? Take a look:

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That’s a warm cider donut topped with French Vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, cinnamon/apple streusel, and whipped cream. If the loaded baked potato is Heaven on a plate, this is your halo.

You’ll notice I started and ended my list with food. Because really, that’s the best way to enjoy a fair, isn’t it? I hope to eat consume devour learn more at some of the fairs I’ll be attending with my family.

Have you ever had an unusual learning experience at your local fair? I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to share your story in the comments, below.

And remember, when it comes to eating fair food…you can only eat so much. PACE YOURSELF!

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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!
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Poetry Friday: “Fata Cumulonimbus”

 

(click to enlarge)

Robyn Hood Black has today’s Poetry Friday roundup, so be sure to head on over and see what the poets are doing for today and specifically for 9/11!

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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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)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

I’ve “Caught” my “Breath!”

Last week I told you about a new book coming out by Laura Purdie Salas, titled Catch Your Breath: Writing Poignant Poetry, and I said I couldn’t wait to see it, as I had a poem included in it.

Well, guess what just showed up in my mailbox!

Catch Your Breath arrived

Laura has done an outstanding job breaking down poetic theory and elements into easy-to-read language, dedicating a short chapter to each including rhyming, poetic forms, alliteration/internal rhyme, and even some help on getting published.

Throughout the book, sample poems help to elucidate the lessons. For instance, one of the two poems of mine Laura includes is a haiku I wrote a few years ago (originally published by the Young Adult Review Network) that Laura used as an example of alliteration:

Sparrow sweetly sings
melancholy melody;
her mate, on the ground.

– © 2011 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Another poem of mine can be found under the “Sharing Your Work” chapter, and is >ahem< a “found” poem! Culled from various voiceover websites, I originally shared this last spring during National Poetry Month:

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, all rights reserved

Catch Your Breath coverWritten with young women and girls in mind, but suitable for anyone, Catch Your Breath: Writing Poignant Poetry is a handy reference tool for those learning the craft of poetry.

Poets whose work you’ll find inside this book include J. Patrick Lewis, Kate Coombs, David Harrison, Marilyn Singer, Nikki Grimes, Amy Ludwing VanDerwater, Diane Mayr, and even Emily Dickenson, among others. My thanks to Laura for allowing me to be part of this!

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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!
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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)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!