Poetry Friday: Welcome to the 2017 Holiday Poetry Party!

Like Frosty says, “Welcome!” Take off your coat, have a seat, and relax – we have plenty to drink, including egg nog, spiced apple cider, and a giant batch of our special Holiday Punch! (Oh, and plenty of Moxie, as well – it is the elixir of the gods, after all)

Pepparkakor, loaded with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.

If you’re feeling a bit peckish, you’ll find numerous tables scattered throughout the rooms, featuring my award-winning homemade chili, maple-glazed scallops wrapped in bacon, homemade spanakopita, Swedish meatballs, roasted pepper-and-olive petite quiches, and freshly-made, authentic French Canadian Tourtière and gorton.


Chocolate-mint brownie cookies. If a cookie could be a brownie, this is what it would look like!

Oh, I’m sorry – you prefer sweet over savory? We have numerous treats as well, including chocolate-mint brownie cookies, Scandinavian pepparkakor, vegan cranberry-banana bread, double-dipped pretzels, German springerle, tri-chocolate roasted walnut bark, tons of sugar cookies in every shape you can imagine (including flashlights!), my famous pumpkin-rum swirl cheesecake with gingersnap crust, and a vegan chocolate cake with mocha icing you’ll absolutely love.

Once you’ve satisfied your cravings, I do hope you’ll stick around for the poetry we’ll be sharing; you see, David L. Harrison, Joy Acey, and I started up this little shindig a few years ago, and up til now it’s been held at David’s place. But as wonderful as he and Sandy have been as our hosts, we thought it might be nice to move the party around a bit – so this year, it’s here at the ol’ Triple-R.

In advance of our party, I’ve “spruced” up the place a bit (har har, gotta love holiday puns)…

…so please leave a comment to let us know you stopped by – and if you’re so inclined, please include either a couplet about your favorite holiday food or the title of a new picture book you feel needs to be under every child’s tree this year!

Although there is one particular book that is near and dear to my heart (I’m sure you can guess which one that is!), I would like to suggest a few others that are special in different ways, all written by friends of mine from here in the Northeast:  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s Read! Read! Read! (Boyds Mills Press) which was illustrated by my friend Ryan O’Rourke and came out the same day as Flashlight Night, with the same publisher and editor; Elaine Magliaro’s Things to Do (Chronicle), a collection of poetic scenes from nature written with the wonder of a child; Josh Funk’s fun The Case of the Stinky Stench (Sterling), the sequel to Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast; and Carol Gordon Ekster’s You Know What? (Clavis), which celebrated its national book launch alongside Flashlight Night when Carol & I visited Cambridge, MA in September for a kidlit author/illustrator gathering, followed by a presentation/reading/signing at Porter Square Books.

Two other books I would add – and there are some GREAT ones out this year – are Lee Bennett Hopkins’ Traveling the Blue Road (Seagrass Press), a collection of children’s poems about bravery, courage, and how the sea is a metaphor for life’s journey; and my son’s favorite, Drew Daywalt’s The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors (Balzer & Bray) which is extremely creative in its storytelling and hilarious, to boot.

Last – but certainly, definitely never least – is an upcoming book by the gentleman who started this virtual holiday party, David L. Harrison. A Place to Start a Family: Poems About Creatures That Build (Charlesbridge, 2018), David’s latest children’s poetry collection, comes out next month, features 12 poems about animals that build things – nests, tunnels, etc. – and includes back matter that provides more info on each animal and its poem. Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly already love it, so be sure to watch for it when it hits stores in January!

(And speaking of purchasing picture books, there is now an easy way for you to pick up a personalized signed copy of Flashlight Night, online! Details below…)

Home, Sweet Home…

I look forward to reading your couplets and picture book suggestions! Just leave them in the comments for everyone to read and enjoy. I’ll be popping in throughout the day to make sure introductions are made, plates are full, and glasses are filled!

Here’s my couplet, which I came up with while baking with my daughter the other day:

I’ll bake some cookies, make a mess, and then I’ll bake some more!
It takes me twice as long these days; my sous chef’s only four.

Diane Mayr is hosting Poetry Friday today, so I encourage you to swing by her place for a little while, as well, and enjoy all the poetry links and fun at Random Noodling!


Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to purchase personalized signed copies of not only Flashlight Night, but ANY of my books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. 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 so much to all who have enjoyed “Flashlight Night” enough to write about it:


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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97 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Welcome to the 2017 Holiday Poetry Party!

  1. Hey Matt, I’m here early I forgot my ugly Christmas sweater so I’ll just dash home to get it.
    Good thing I’ll be riding in a one reindeer sleigh.
    I finally got my tree up today and I had fond thoughts of you when I put the two ornaments you sent to me on the little cook pine tree I have on my lanai.

    At Christmas time
    for a treat
    your eggnog sure
    can’t be beat.

    The eggs are frothy
    the burbon’s sweet
    cream is whippy
    I’ll have mine neat.

    There are bells and lights and three brown reindeer on surfboards on my Christmas sweater.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Dang, I wanted to be first cause I can’t stay long. Too much to do, so little time. In fact an actual (ie real live)party to get ready for with WMIG the Western Mass Illustrator’s Guild annual Christmas party. I’m bringing wine.

    But here I will bring whine.

    Oh Man, It’s Poets’ Virtual Christmas Again

    I haven’t rhymed Yule
    I’m not that motley fool,

    I haven’t lit the tree,
    Though candles on menorah

    I haven’t wrapped the presents
    Or stuffed and baked the pheasants

    Or sent a holiday card
    Or shoveled snow from yard

    I haven’t uncorked wine,

    Set down a poetic line

    Yet I can drop in here and say:
    Have a happy poets day.

    xxxJane Yolen

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hey Jane,
      So great to see you here. I like your whine, but I’m more interested in the wine. Is it red or white?
      Did you wear a Christmas sweater with a dinosaur as the decorated tree? (Couldn’t have a dinosaur menorah)


      1. How does a dinosaur celebrate Hannukah? Does he throw a dreidel across the floor? Does he eat ten latkes and then demand more? No, he says a short blessing and lights the first light, then eats one sufganiyot before saying good night…

        (sorry, Jane, I just had to!)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. davidlharrison

    Hey Matt! Hi Joy! Good to see you both!

    Matt, your place looks great. Thanks for all the preparations. Your place wonderful!

    My compliments to you and your sous chef. I can’t keep my hands out of these chocolate-mint brownie cookies! Wow! I brought sliders. They just came off the grill at my house so they’re still warm. I’ll set them by the oven in case they need a little booster shot of heat now and then. And here’s my couplet, a triplet actually.

    Sometimes I wish
    I had a little fish
    Upon a little dish.

    I wrote it when I was six.

    So let’s party!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, David – for stopping by as well as for starting up this little tradition in the first place! I can’t wait to try a slider. And I must say, your poem was much better than MY 6-year-old poem (or was I 8?)…something about a goat on a boat being swallowed down someone’s throat. Absolutely horrible, but at least I stuck with it – whew!

      Here, have some of Joy’s egg nog!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. My couplets for Dec. 15, 2017
    Knitted jellyfish & sewn alligator float on a tree of pink
    Sunny SandyLand serves pineapple juice for a Christmas drink

    The pie’s pecan as you may guess with one surprising hiccup
    The goo that teases the treat together is Vermont maple syrup!

    A Pleasant Poetry Friday Party to everyone, especially party planners
    Matt, Joy & David. Matt your treats & titles look & sound divine.
    So eager to much on the flashlight sugar cookies.

    Joy – I imagine Hawaii’s Christmas has a similar sunny feel as Florida’s
    Jane – your lines make me smile – you are a Light

    David – you know your little fish is a dish of the Florida gulf islands!

    Sooner or later today I expect to have a batch of
    Christmas images from hereabouts
    posted at Bookseedstudio.
    Lots to enjoy this Friday & this Poetry Party sets the jolly tone – appreciations!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: things to believe in + a holiday blog break | Jama's Alphabet Soup

  6. lindabaie

    Thanks, Matt for fabulous hosting. Your sprucing up’s quite fine.
    Hi to David, Joy, Jane, and Jan, inspiring me to rhyme.

    It is a pleasure to share a treasure
    gifted to me in the past.
    A fruitcake’s nice, please have a slice;
    just wash it down real fast!

    It is fun to have a party greeting me this am. Those
    brownie mint cookies are what I would have first, Matt.
    And then I just might munch right through all the snacks.
    Good to have so much goodness in the world,
    especially poetry!

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I’ve yet to find a fruitcake I can stand, although my wife claims her aunt’s is the best ever, ever. I will say, I have enjoyed whiskey cake, made with lots of butter and chocolate chips – now THAT was good!


      1. lindabaie

        Thanks, Jan. The rhyme was meant to be fun and not too negative, and I actually do love a good slice of some fruitcake if it’s filled with that yummy fruit and has whipped cream on top.


  7. Hello Matt, David and Joy! This is such a lovely place!
    Sorry if I seem coy, I’m not accustomed to this space.
    I brought with me an appetite for food and great stories.
    The festive mood is just right to celebrate the glory
    of working toward the writing of functional poetic form. (Which I completely missed here! Please forgive me- I blame it on the rum).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stressed? Anxious? Feeling glum?
      Winter frost has left you numb?
      Figgy pudding tastes more like plum?
      Forget your woes and have some rum!

      Thank you for making an appearance, Janine..we all appreciate it! And be sure to have something to eat before tackling the rum…;)


  8. brynstrudwick

    So sorry I couldn’t make it this year. I flew over from the U.K. and then couldn’t find the new address. Never could navigate. Seasonal greeting to everyone! Have a great virtual party.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You know how to throw a party, Matt! Sorry I’m talking with my mouth full, but those scallops! Dang.

    The advent calendar has many open doors —
    I feel a little panic as I open one more…

    Just a little panic! I probably have time for a slice of cheesecake before I go. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Tabatha! Over the years I have received numerous compliments about those scallops, so you’re completely forgiven for speaking with your mouthful; at this point I have learned to read lips, and most of them usually say, “may I have another scallop, please?” 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Diane Mayr

    You had me at scallops “wrapped in bacon,” but I better hurry before Tabatha gets them all!

    A little nostalgia from me:

    Christmas eve
    soup of dried mushrooms sent
    from the old country

    Liked by 3 people

    1. No worries, Diane, I have three more batches in the oven ready to come out! In the meantime, have a little more holiday punch! Speaking of wild mushrooms, a friend of mine discovered a massive quantity of black chanterelles in the woods on his property, so he collected enough to share with us – let me tell you, you have never eaten and on the lips until you’ve had one black trumpets!


    1. I just finished two of them, and they were perfectly cooked! Not many people can get a perfect medium – brown on the outside with a nice reddish-pink center- but you my friend, handle that grill with a masters’ touch. And the combination of applewood bacon, sharp cheddar, and barbecue sauce totally completes it.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Joyce Ray

    Matt, what a wonderful idea – a virtual holiday party. Thanks to David, Joy and you for this tradition. Do you really have all that scrumptious food at your home right now? I may be one of the few here who could be at your door in a half hour! After admiring the greenery around your home highlighted by all our crusty white snow, I’d head right for the spanakopita and that luscious sounding pumpkin-rum swirl cheesecake.

    I’m enjoying the offerings shared by your guests, who will be grateful I’m not sharing the sneezes picked up at a visit to our toddler granddaughter last weekend. However, I’m still savoring that connection, so here’s my couplet.

    A Santa outing, snow persons, rolling sugar cookies –
    sweet gifts of a visit to granddaughter Emily’s.

    Happy Chanukah, Joyeux Noel, Happy Holidays to all in this special community.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so happy to know you decided to join us, Joyce – and while we don’t have all of these items at our house right now, you can bet we will in the upcoming next week or two, because all of these items are standard Esenwine fare for the holidays! (Oh, and flourless Hersheys kisses peanut blossoms, too!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They’re really good, Joyce. Here’s the recipe – just 4 ingredients!

        2 cups peanut butter
        1 1/2 cups gran. sugar
        2 large eggs
        a bag of milk chocolate kisses

        Blend 1st 3 ingredients together; dough will be sticky. With floured or oiled hands, roll tablespoon-sized pieces of dough into balls (a little over an inch in diameter) and place an inch and a half apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 12-14 minutes at 350 until cookies look dry and are slightly cracked. Remove from over, place a kiss in the center of each, and let cool for a couple minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.


  12. Wow! What a party. Love your sprucey decorations and all the sweet and savory treats. Where do I begin? So far, I’ve noshed on the Swedish meatballs and petite quiches . . . and what’s this? Sliders?!! Exceptionally tasty, I can tell a good poet made them. 🙂

    BTW, do you like my elf costume? Wore it specially.

    I will have to pace myself with the cookies (how did you know dipped pretzels are one of my absolute faves?). I may have to share my couplet a little later, can’t poeticize with my mouth full.

    Another sip of spiced cider, please.

    Thanks and Merry Merry!!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Schnapps! I had a dog named Schnapps. He was a Schnauzer and lived a long and happy life…oh, look at this I think it’s a fruitcake…or a cute doorstop. My dear host, Matt, could you point out the powder room for me please, my nose is a little shiny.


  14. davidlharrison

    Matt, this is a swell party. I’m afraid I’ve spoiled my appetite for this evening and don’t know how to explain it to Sandy. I’ll check back later to see who else has dropped in. Thank you so much for hosting this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Cory

    Sorry to be dropping by SO late, Matt. I got L O S T “near the long-forgotten trail where the woods are deep” so I had to navigate the NIGHT by FLASHLIGHT. What an adventure it was!.
    All the walking made me so hungry that I was forced to eat the cake I made for the party. SORRY!
    But it sounds like you had a great party with lots of good food and lots of friends dropping by.

    If you have a moment, Matt, would you please sign my copy of your book.
    Congratulations on your wonderful book and thank you for hosting this party.
    I promise to arrive earlier next time.


    1. First of all, Cory, never apologize for eating cake!

      Second, you are not late at all – in fact, you’re just in time for the second round of dessert, which Fruits of the Forest pie, Dutch apple pie, vegan pumpkin pie, my homemade apple-cinnamon-raisin bread pudding, and salted chocolate chip cutouts! Please, help yourself – there’s whipped cream the fridge, if you’d like some.

      And third, if you really would like me to sign your copy of “Flashlight Night,” I’d be happy to do so – just shoot me an email with your mailing address and who I should make it out to, and I’ll send you a signed bookplate. Like the old saying goes, it’s the next best thing to being there!

      Thank you for coming, Cory, and have a nice weekend.


  16. Was Jama going to play the piano for Christmas carols? I’ll go get my ukulele and strum along.
    Shall we start with Jingle Bells?

    Dashing through the snow,
    I want you all to know,
    Brrrrr it’s cold in here,
    pass ’round the Christmas cheer.


    1. I’m not sure we could come up with a better way to close out the party, Brenda – thank you! I do hope folks will continue to op in over the course of the weekend, but thank you for the nice little poetic benediction. I do hope you’ll help yourself to some coffee, tea, egg nog, or mulled cider before you turn in.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m going to bed early in the hopes I can lose my virus in time to take my daughter to her art class tomorrow. Then I have to visit my son, whose robotics team was invited to states. Then I have to pick up my other son who is singing in a holiday concert. My head is spinning. Perhaps a little cider, then ZZZZs for sure. I hope your adorable sous chef lets you lick the spoon. 🙂


  17. Hey ho– wish I had more time to join in the festivities. What a fun gathering! I’ve been reading and rereading and rereading picture books like crazy this year, but I’m not allowed to comment on ANY or post about any favorites. But I’m already looking forward to next year’s books! Meanwhile, wishing everyone happy holiday moments with loved ones and a bit of time to do absolutely nothing if at all possible!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well thank you for stopping by, Sylvia! I understand the position you’re in – and appreciate all you do for Children’s lit, and especially children’s poetry. Please help yourself to an hors d’oeuvre or dessert, and have a wonderful holiday season, as well!


  18. Oh, Joy, I have pulled out all of my old music and we can strum up Mele Kalikimaka and move into Coconut Willy as an ukulele duet. I use a soprano, what about you?

    Matt, such a great party, I’m having such fun!
    Perhaps just the tiniest little bit more of rum…

    David, I see you there checking the oven, were you looking for more scallops? I think they’re gone, but there are some crumbles of quiche left on the serving dish. Better yet, here are Swedish meatballs which I could toss across the table…open wide! (What Sandy doesn’t see didn’t really happen, agreed?)

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Karen Eastlund

    Talk about being late to the party!!!! I apologize, Matt! I do have an excuse of sorts…. I ended up having to have a root canal today… you can’t make this stuff up. But… I see it has been quite the party, and I also see that Cory has been promised a signed book plate. I’d love one also, if you could. I’ll send the email shortly.
    Now… how about a quiet glass of wine and one of those Christmas cookies? Are there any left? I brought you a sample of some macaroons that my hubby made today. They have fresh strawberry pieces in them, and they are yummy.
    Best wishes to all of you who are still hanging around. Have a very happy, healthy and safe holiday. Thanks for hosting, Matt. I just wish I could have remembered earlier. Duh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Karen – and fortunately, at a virtual party like this, it can go one for YEARS. 😉 I love your macaroons – and I’ll be happy to send you a bookplate! I’ll keep my eyes open for your email. Have a good weekend, and try to get some rest!


  20. Hey Matt,
    It is getting late here and I wanted to thank youfor a great party. I enjoyed all the zfood and beverages. I had fun singing the Christmas carols. And thanks for letting me hog the fireplace. I’m just not a snow person.


  21. davidlharrison

    Matt, congratulations on a fine party. I think we did the right thing by passing this around. After you’ve done it for a while, perhaps someone else will volunteer to play host. Pardon my reach but I think I’ll just have that last scallop. Boy oh boy are they good!


    1. Thanks so much, David, and feel free to have that last scallop – I have some shrimp cocktail I’ll be setting out for any guests who arrive later today. Looking forward to getting together again next year…although I’m sure we’ll be chatting long before then! Have a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. The party seems to be winding way down;
    guests are ‘farewelling’ and pulling their keys
    to jump in their cars heading home to their towns
    much like the wind carries falling fall leaves.
    All enjoyed chatting and making the rounds.

    I really would like to sing that ol’ tune
    thanking our host for this wonderful fun.
    Good thing my voice can’t be heard in this room
    after two days of gluttonous eating and rum
    my head is thumping and I’m ready to swoon.

    I think I shall say my thank you and goodbye. My apology, if it is necessary, for anything I have said or done to embarrass myself or another. I cleaned up the Swedish meat ball splatters on your sofa table and gathered the plates left around. I really must go now, so…
    Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For someone who says she’s had a bit too much rum, you can certainly put some poetic lines together quite nicely, Janine! Thank you so much for visiting, and I’ll make sure no one sees the photos I took of you dancing with the lampshade on your head…that’ll be our little secret 😉


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