Poetry Friday: “Construction People” preview! (and an NCTE review!)

One of the highlights of my 4-day visit to the National Council of Teachers of English annual convention in Baltimore (aka, #NCTE19) was getting to spend some time with my friends at Boyds Mills & Kane, the publisher of Flashlight Night and many of the poetry anthologies of which I’ve been a part.

In addition to poets Nikki Grimes, Georgia Heard, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Laura Purdie Salas, and many others, I finally had a chance to catch up with marketing manager Kerry McManus, who has been invaluable in helping promote my book for the past 3 years. I also got to say hello again to my Flashlight Night editor, Rebecca Davis, who surprised me with something…

I think my first words were, “We have a book! It’s a real book!!”

Construction People, the follow-up to 2018’s popular School People, is one of the late Lee Bennett Hopkins’ final poetry anthologies; Hopkins passed away in August and left about a half-dozen projects in various states of progress, including this one. I was told he had seen the F&Gs (folded & gathered) like the one above, but never had a chance to hold the bound, finished product in his hands. I know he would have been as proud of his book as we, the contributors, are of being part of it – it’s already received a starred review from Kirkus!

How I end up in books with luminaries like Pat Lewis and Charles Ghigna is still a mystery…but a happy mystery!
All pages © 2020 Wordsong/Boyds Mills & Kane, all rights reserved (click to enlarge)

I’ll be sharing more selections and news about the book a few months from now, along with my poem (a villanelle, for you poetry geeks out there) in its entirety when it is officially released on March 17. But you don’t need to wait – you can pre-order now!

At the Boyds Mills & Kane exhibit booth: a tribute to the inimitable Dear One, Lee Bennett Hopkins.
After all these years…I’m finally face-to-face with Nikki Grimes!
Laura Purdie Salas helped guide me through the ins and outs of the crazy-busy NCTE schedule. (And she helped keep me fed, too, which is always a plus)

Another highlight of my trip – indeed, the initial reason I decided to go – was a poetry workshop I presented together with Heidi Mordhorst, Mary Lee Hahn, Laura Purdie Salas, and Liz Steinglass, who organized the workshop. What a weekend! I’ve never presented a workshop at a conference I’d never attended before…but there’s a first time for everything, they say, and this was mine.

To backtrack just a bit, the night I arrived, author/poet/blogger Laura Shovan gathered a bunch of Poetry Friday folks together at a local restaurant and we filled up half the place:

Back row, L-R: Heidi Mordhorst, Christie Wyman, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Kathryn Apel, Tabatha Yeatts, Janet Fagal, Yours Truly. Front row, L-R: Carol Varsalona, Irene Latham, Laura Purdie Salas, Laura Shovan (photo courtesy Laura Purdie Salas)

The next day, Friday, the day of our workshop, more of us got together at a local sandwich shop (because all we apparently live for is eating and writing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that):

L-R: Tim Kulp, Linda Kulp, Marcie Flinchum Atkins, David L. Harrison, Liz Steinglass, Yours Truly, Irene Latham, Kathryn Apel. (photo courtesy Laura Purdie Salas)

And of course, I couldn’t travel all the way to my original hometown of Baltimore without making a little side trip to visit a certain poet:


If you’re looking for more poetry, then be sure to head over to today’s Poetry Friday roundup, where Tanita S. Davis is hosting the festivities at her blog, [fiction, instead of lies]!

Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!


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, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)


Thank you to everyone for your support!


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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

27 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “Construction People” preview! (and an NCTE review!)

  1. Kay Mcgriff

    Thanks for sharing these highlights from NCTE. It looks like it was fabulous! I wish I could have sat in on your workshop and enjoyed the company and lunch and dinner. Congrats on the anthology, too.


  2. lindabaie

    I’m looking forward to Construction People, Matt, and am glad you had a great time at NCTE! It is special to go and meet those we’ve known online.


  3. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

    What a great time you must have had rubbing elbows with poetry people and catching your first glimpse at CONSTRUCTION PEOPLE. A veritable fun-for-all… except maybe for Poe. He probably slept through it. 😉


  4. Love the trip down memory lane. So much fun to be had at NCTE this year. Loved finally meeting up at our PF family dinner. I’ll keep an eye out for your next visit to Porter Square Books or elsewhere nearby! Be well and warm! — Christie


  5. Michelle Kogan

    What a fun and rich blog post Matt, thanks for taking us along with all your photos and tid bits from the conference! Congrats on the forthcoming book. I especially liked the pics at the end with Edgar Allan Poe.


  6. Pingback: Poetry Friday: My very first poetry collection…from 40 years ago – Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

  7. How wonderful to put your thoughts on paper, Matt. I still have to write one on meeting all my poetry friends. Congratulations on all the good things that have happened and all those that will continue to come your way in 2020, Matt.


  8. Pingback: Poetry Friday: Looking back at 2019 and welcoming 2020 with CYBILS Awards finalists! – Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.