Poetry Friday: National Flashlight Day, “A Better Christmas,” & the 2018 Winter Poetry Swap

Happy “National Flashlight Day!”

In honor of the holiday, I’m going to do a little light reading…

From “Flashlight Night” (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), all rights reserved, reprinted with permission. (click to enlarge)

Yes, National Flashlight Day is really a thing – celebrated annually on the day of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. (Hence, a good reason to celebrate flashlights) So why not join me, and pull out your favorite flashlight-related book and join the celebration??

The 2018 Winter Poetry Swap

Last Friday, I shared the poem I received from Margaret Simon as part of Tabatha Yeatts‘ annual Winter Poetry Swap. Tabatha randomly gave Margaret my name, so Margaret had to write a poem for me and sent it with a small gift. Today, I’m excited to share the poem I wrote for Donna Smith of Mainely Write fame! Tabatha gave me Donna’s name, so I needed to come up with a poem for her…but it didn’t take me long to decide what to do.

As I did for Margaret a couple of years ago, I spent a fair amount of time combing through past Christmas posts from Donna’s blog, culling some of the choice lines I thought I might be able to use – and once I had completed that, I wrote a found poem using those words and phrases. I then used a photo of our outdoor Christmas tree here at our house as a backdrop and created this:

(click to enlarge)

The 2018 CYBILS Awards

In addition to getting presents wrapped, Christmas cookies made, and visiting a local elementary school today, I am a first-round judge of the annual CYBILS Awards‘ Poetry category. I’ve therefore been trying to read as many of the 48 nominated books as possible in order to narrow the list down to a shortlist of SEVEN! After much deliberation, we’ve finally done it – with a nice mix of poetry styles and genres – and are sending off the list to the second-round panelists, who determine the winner early next year. As soon as the list becomes official and is posted on the CYBILS website, I’ll be sure to share the news here!

Looking for more poetry? You’re in luck! Buffy Silverman is hosting today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, so head on over to her blog for all the links and fun!


Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. 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 to everyone for your support!


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21 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: National Flashlight Day, “A Better Christmas,” & the 2018 Winter Poetry Swap

  1. lindabaie

    Such a perfect poem for Donna, Matt. I love the ‘scraps of Christmas’, something I guess we all collect. And “flashlight day”, perfect for you & your book. Flashlights really are interesting to kids. I recently got a new tiny one for my handbag & Imogene loves to get it out & play with it. We still love your book, too! Happiest of Christmases to you & the family!


  2. I agree that you’ve captured Donna’s voice and style in a lovely complimentary way. This poem is a sweet gift. You give me ideas for writing a new poem, too! I would love to know if the entire poem is found? It’s pretty neat that you were able to cobble it together. Happy National Flashlight Day! So happy that there’s lots to celebrate…even when it’s dark. Great post today. Love all the cookie photos you are posting. You are so patient getting them to look just right.


  3. laurashovan222

    I’m looking forward to hearing about the Cybils poetry finalists. Thanks for judging, Matt!

    I love your line “Time, a gift to others.” So true!


  4. Happy Flashlight Day to you and glad to hear that you are Cybilling away up there. What fun! I gave books to my class, as always, and found this one in the school stash which I gave to a kid who had written a lovely personal narrative about camping with his family–not yours, not Lizi Boyd’s, another one that’s not coming up when I search.

    Your found poem is lovely.


  5. Happy Flashlight Day! Who knew? Although with that full moon, the flashlights may not have been necessary. What a magical gift for Donna, and a lovely tribute to her own words. That’s one way of using someone’s words for them, rather than against them…just lovely. I can imagine the judging for CYBILS must have been difficult, but exciting.


  6. Fascinated with your baking talents, Matt-I come from a long line of bakers so I created some new cookies this year that were a hit. Congratulations on sharing the honors for National Flashlight Day. I had to miss the Winter Poetry Swap amidst many this holiday but I do like what you presented Donna with. I am sure she enjoyed the poem. I am backtracking because I missed PF last week. I had to spend every moment I had with my grandbaby in VA since I had not seen her for over 2 months.


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