Poetry Friday: New York Public Library news AND #PoetryCubed challenge continues with FIVE new poems!

Jane Yolen. Margarita Engle. Laura Purdie Salas. Nikki Grimes.


What do all these folks have in common? They all have books selected by the NY Public Library as one of the Best Books of 2017!

No one is more shocked than Yours Truly that my name is on a list that includes the names of those first four amazing folks. But I’m so happy that the NY Public Library loved Flashlight Night enough to include it – it’s quite an honor! If you want to see the complete list, click HERE.

I’m also pretty excited that Flashlight Night is now #3 on Amazon’s list of Best Selling children’s books about Libraries & Reading:

Thomas the Train, Llama Llama, and a little ol’ book called Flashlight Night…pretty cool, I have to say! So thank you, if you have purchased a copy!


In other news, #PoetryCubed has returned! This is an opportunity to have some fun writing – and possibly win a signed copy of Flashlight Night! And if you’ve ever seen “Chopped!” on The Food Network, then you already know how this works…

#PoetryCubed is based on the TV show, where chefs compete by creating dishes using specific – and sometimes outlandish – ingredients. (Feel free to check out this post for a more detailed explanation)

For #PoetryCubed!, I’ve applied the premise of the TV show to poetry! Here’s how it works:

  • Use the 3 images below as inspiration to write a poem. (1 poem, to the 3rd power – “cubed!”)
  • The poem can be any form, any genre, any number of lines, rhyming or not. And most importantly…it also doesn’t have to be very good! This is about having fun, so no pressure allowed! Remember my mantra: #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading.
  • Make sure you include a reference to all three images in the poem – either via concrete imagery or something more abstract.
  • Email your poem to me at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com and I’ll share them here throughout the month of November. Out of all the poems submitted, one lucky writer will be chosen at random to receive a signed copy of Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press), just in time for holiday gift-giving!

Here are the three images (click on any to enlarge):


This week we’ll start off with something from Heidi Mordhorst, who somehow managed to fit all three images into a 4-line list poem – while attending the NCTE CONFERENCE this weekend in Missouri:

beacons in the darkness:
mariner’s lighthouse
traveler’s headlights
hangover’s cure

– © 2017 Heidi Mordhorst, all rights reserved

Thank you, Heidi! Now get back to those workshops!

Our second entry comes from Brenda Davis Harsham, who gets extra credit (but, alas, no extra contest entries) for including Flashlight Night in her poem:


Flashlight Finds

Some use their lights to find truth,
reading under blankets, riding word kites,
or they escape pain along dark shores,
down dark roads, disappearing in the night,
but I search for something else, magic and mighty.
Peanut blossoms, snickerdoodles, tea cakes,
sugar cookies, gingerbread girls, lemon curls:
the Christmas baking was finished tonight.
I know they are hidden, but I follow my nose.
Round, frosted, powdery, they are my
truth, my escape, my forbidden treat.
Who wants to stray far from home
when Christmas smells so sweet?

– © 2017 Brenda Davis Harsham, all rights reserved


Next up is Kathy Mazurowski…with another haiku! It’s so great to see folks getting so much imagery into just 3 lines:
Quaint island cottage
sparkles in clear sunshine, but
spotlight on pastries.
– © 2017 Kathleen Mazurowski, all rights reserved


Longtime blog follower and fellow Highlights workshop alum Karen Eastlund shared the following thoughtful scene…

Afternoon on Rainy Lake

The haze brought a sense of the surreal
The world in shades of gray
Yet infused by light
The sun glazed
The surface of the water
Warping and distorting with each new wave

Far away
On a small rocky outcrop
A social gathering
Gulls, pelicans, geese
I could hear their raucous calls
Inviting me

I floated out
Entranced by the birds
Their colorless bodies
Just above water’s surface
Winging to and fro
Like souls of the dead

Such a sense of calm
Wonderful and eerie
The great flapping birds
The sun
The rocky shore
The lake itself, huge and lapping
All mysteriously bathed
In silvery light
A confection of nature

– © 2017 Karen Eastlund, all rights reserved

And last but not least, our friend from Down Under, children’s author Sally Murphy, shares her response to the challenge:

Late night quest
To slay sugar cravings.
Headlights search for an open store
Bakery sign
Like a beacon
On a stormy sea.

– © 2017 Sally Murphy, all rights reserved

A bakery is like a beacon on a stormy sea…truer words never spoken, Sally!

The Poetry Friday roundup can be found at Carol’s Corner today, so try to shake off that Thanksgiving turkey coma and enjoy all the poetry links and fun!


The “Flashlight Night” road tour continues!

If you’re wondering where I’ll be and when I’ll be there, here’s my updated schedule – and yes, next weekend is going to be BUSY:

  • Dec. 2, 12pm: Barnes & Noble, Peabody, MA
  • Dec. 3, 11am: Barnes & Noble, Newington, NH
  • (soon-to-be-confirmed): Concord Hospital Gift Shop, Concord, NH
  • (early 2018): Barnes & Noble, Nashua, NH

I’ll continue revising this as dates are added or times are changed…so please check my FB page for any last-minute updates!



Thank you so much to all who have enjoyed “Flashlight Night” enough to write about it:

“Delicious language…ingenious metamorphoses” – Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“The verse is incantatory…a simple idea that’s engagingly executed” – School Library Journal

An old fashioned, rip-roaring imaginary adventure” – The Horn Book

“[Esenwine and Koehler] don’t just lobby for children to read—they show how readers play” – Publisher’s Weekly

“Imaginative…fantastical” – Booklist

“Favorably recalls Where the Wild Things Are” – Shelf Awareness

“Readers, you must share ‘Flashlight Night’…as often as you can” – Margie Myers-Culver, Librarian’s Quest

“Begs to be read over and over” – Michelle Knott, Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook/Goodreads

“A poetic and engaging journey” – Cynthia Alaniz, Librarian In Cute Shoes

“Illuminates the power of imagination” – Kellee Moye, Unleashing Readers

“Readers will be inspired to…create their own journey” – Alyson Beecher, Kidlit Frenzy

“Beautiful words and stunning illustrations” – Jason Lewis, 5th grade teacher at Tyngsboro Elementary School, Tyngsboro, MA


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20 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: New York Public Library news AND #PoetryCubed challenge continues with FIVE new poems!

  1. lindabaie

    Congrats again on Flashlight Night making it onto those lists, but I am not surprised! It’s another fun round of your cube contest too, Matt. I did send one, but perhaps you didn’t get it? Have a good rest of the holiday weekend.


    1. Thank you, Linda – and yes, I did get your entry! I’m sorry, I just realized I never replied back to you, but I’ll be sharing it next Friday, when we wrap this all up. (And I love the sense of family you weave into your poem…looking forward to posting it!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love what the poets have done here… LOVE. the sea and sweets is quite a winning combination. 🙂 Thank you for the signed bookplates — you are helping with my gift-giving. And congrats on the book’s continued success. Enjoy every moment!


  3. Swell to have such great recognition, Matt! I found Flashlight Night in the new book section of my tiny local library–not exactly the same as NYPublic Library recognition, but with their small budget, it’s something!


  4. Woo hoo! Congratulations on all the good Flashlight news! I am loving all the poems in response to the poetry cubed challenge. Such creativity! And, I made your chocolate chip cookies (shared over an Jama’s Alphabet Soup awhile back) for Thanksgiving, and they were a hit!


  5. Pingback: Poetry Friday: More #PoetryCubed entries AND we have a winner! – Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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