Poetry Friday: Postcard Poetry from First Grade, AND The 2020 Progressive Poem audio recording

Happy Poetry Friday! I was planning to share my annual recording of this year’s Progressive Poem today, but then a little poetry showed up in my mailbox, and I knew I had to share that, as well…

Every year, retired teacher/writer/blogger Jone MacCulloch sends out postcards from students at her local school to authors, bloggers, and anyone else who would like one. Each postcard has a poem written by one of the students, and this year I received some poetic lines from Tucker:

(click to enlarge)

Mischievous and cuddly:  exactly how I’d want a pet shark! You’ll notice Tucker’s repetition of the first line underscores their love of the subject….nice work, Tucker! And thank you, Jone, for sending this to me – I love reading kids’ attempts at poetry and seeing what’s important to them and how they phrase their thoughts.

With National Poetry Month now well behind us, the annual Progressive Poem has been completed and I wanted to share my annual reading of the poem. Begun several years ago by poet/author/blogger Irene Latham, the poem is a way for the Poetry Friday family and other kidlit bloggers to join together and create a crowd-sourced poem. One person writes one line, another adds another line, until the poem is completed April 30.

You can view the finished poem at Michelle Kogan’s blog and find all the contributors at the following links:

1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, at deo writer
4 Liz Steinglass at Elizabeth Steinglass
6 Kay McGriff at A Journey Through The Pages
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
28 Jessica Big at TBD
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan at Michelle Kogan


2020 Progressive Poem

Sweet violets shimmy, daffodils sway
along the wiregrass path to the lake.
I carry a rucksack of tasty cakes
and a banjo passed down from my gram.

I follow the tracks of deer and raccoon
and echo the call of a wandering loon.
A whispering breeze joins in our song
and night melts into a rose gold dawn.

Deep into nature’s embrace, I fold.
Promise of spring helps shake the cold.
Hints of sun lightly dapple the trees
calling out the sleepy bees.

Leaf-litter crackles…I pause. Twig snaps.
I gasp! Shudder! Breathe out. Relax…
as a whitetail doe comes into view.
She shifts and spotted fawns debut.

We freeze. My green eyes and her brown
Meet and lock. Time slows down.
I scatter the cakes, backing away
Safely exiting this strange ballet.

I continue the path that winds down to the lake.
Missing my breakfast for beauty’s sake.
But wait, what’s that delicious smell?
Something familiar, I know so well.

It’s a campfire. I follow my nose. I see
a circle of friends waving at me.
I free up my banjo, quicken my pace
Find a place to sit and gaze into space.

Then my fingers pick out the old, old tune
of rejoicing together under an amber moon…


If you’re looking for more poetry, my friend Michelle H. Barnes is hosting the  Poetry Friday roundup today at her blog, Today’s Little Ditty – with a spotlight on Nikki Grimes’ new picture book, Southwest Sunrise (Bloomsbury)!


Coming Aug. 18, 2020! Pre-orders are available!


I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.


What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!


I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them: books from folks like Diana Murray, Corey Rosen Schwartz, Lori Degman, Michelle Schaub, nancy Castaldo, and many others. I’m very proud to be part of this group of dedicated, talented writers.


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!

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23 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Postcard Poetry from First Grade, AND The 2020 Progressive Poem audio recording

  1. Linda Mitchell

    Beautiful reading of the poem. I loved it!
    And, Tucker’s shark poem is wonderful. It brings back a very specific memory of my little guys at that age. Sigh.


  2. lindabaie

    I just read Laura Salas’ poem about a whale & now sharks! The ocean calls! Your reading is wonderful, Matt. A part of April that I loved is good to remember. Thank you!


  3. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

    A beautiful reading, as always, Matt! And I’d have to agree with you—mischievous and cuddly does sound like everything I’d want in a shark… or a shark boy, for that matter. 🙂


  4. Janet F.

    Thanks for this post of celebration. Celebrating beginning poets and their postcards along with more seasoned ones who work together to create a poem each April. This year’s is a delight and I enjoyed your reading. It’s a story filled with lyric and clear scenes. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all rejoice together and share our love of poetry? Thanks, Matt.


  5. haitiruth

    Thanks for Tucker’s poem, and for the annual tradition of your performance of the poem! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com


  6. Matt, I closed my eyes while you read lulled by your voice and the wonderful reading. Images popped into my head and before I knew it the poem ended. Thank you for that special treat and also for sharing Tucker’s poem.


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