Poetry Friday: Gearing up for #PoetryOutLoud with Gwendolyn Brooks – and “I Am Today” in Korean?!?

Tonight’s the night!

I will once again be a performance judge for the Poetry Out Loud New Hampshire State Finals at the NH Statehouse in Concord. Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation competition among high school students, and the winners of the state regional finals are meeting this evening to find out who is the best in the state!

So today I wanted to share another poem from the Poetry Out Loud catalog, this time by the incredibly gifted poet Gwendolyn Brooks who, at 33 yars of age, became the first black writer to receive the Pulitzer Prize in 1950.

In addition to her poetry for adults, she also published a collection of poems about (and for) children in 1956, titled Bronzeville Boys and Girls. It was titled as such because it was more or less a follow-up companion book (well, sort of) to her highly-acclaimed A Street in Bronzeville, which had been published in 1945.

Think about that for just a minute. A woman. Who was black. Writing for children. Being published in the ’50’s. When you consider how rare it was in that culture for someone like Brooks, with so much against her, to be published and receive that amount of recognition – well, it was something pretty special.

Fortunately, Poetry Out Loud offers several of Brooks’ poems for students to choose, including this gem:


a song in the front yard

I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life.
I want a peek at the back
Where it’s rough and untended and hungry weed grows.
A girl gets sick of a rose.

I want to go in the back yard now
And maybe down the alley,
To where the charity children play… (continue reading HERE)

– © 1963 Gwendolyn Brooks

In other news…I have a Korean translation of one of my books!

How cool is this?? Last year, the publisher of I Am Today, POW! Kids Books, hired a Korean company to pick some of their books to translate and market overseas, and mine was selected as one they felt would be successful. I have no idea how the rhymes would translate to another language, but I’m dying to track down a copy and find out!

For today’s Poetry Friday roundup head on over to my friend Laura Purie Salas’ little home on the web, Small Reads for Brighter Days, where she is celebrating her multiple pring book releases and gearing up for National Poetry Month by “digging” for poems!


I’m booking author visits for the 2023 winter/spring semester!

I love chatting with elementary and middle school classes about writing: why poetry is fun to read and write, the importance of revision, and how one’s imagination and creativity can lead to a fantastic career! My presentations are tailored to fit the needs of the classes and students’ ages. One day I might be sharing details of how a picture book like Flashlight Night (Astra Young Readers, 2017) was created; the next, I’ll be discussing dinosaur breath or origami sea turtles!

Student presentations include:

  • The Making of a Picture Book
  • How a Child Saved a Book
  • “Once Upon Another Time”
  • The Most Imporant Thing about Writing Poetry
  • “I Am Today”
  • “A Beginner’s Guide to Being Human”

Adult presentations include:

  • The Making of a Picture Book
  • The Most Important Thing about Writing Poetry
  • Free Yourself with Free Verse
  • Tight Language, Loose Narratives: Crafting a Non-Traditional Picture Book

Learn more at MattForrest.com!

If you or someone you know might be interested in having me visit your school, library, or other organization, please email me
at matt(at)mattforrest(dot)com!


(The Little Fig, LLC, 2023)

Order a PERSONALLY-SIGNED copy of this or or ANY of my books
from my local independent bookstore!


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

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click here to view all my books and to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (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!




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16 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Gearing up for #PoetryOutLoud with Gwendolyn Brooks – and “I Am Today” in Korean?!?

  1. Matt, congratulations on your Korean translation! That would be fascinating to read it (alongside a Korean reader, for me). Gwendolyn Brooks is one of my favorite authors. I remember her from books I read when I was younger and when I first started teaching, she was one of a few poets of color in my students’ anthologies. “The Boy Died in My Alley” is one of my favorite poems of hers.


  2. lindabaie

    Congratulations for that new translation, Matt. Oh, how I’d love to hear the person give that Brooks’ poem out loud. You’re going to have fun tonight! I think “A girl gets sick of a rose” says it all!


  3. Wow–love the Brooks poem you shared. So much there of the yearning for non-safety. And that humor of selling the gate–ha! Congratulations on the Korean edition! My Can Be… books are rhyming, and they were all translated into multiple other languages, mostly Asian ones. They no longer rhymed, but were (at least in the couple I could get friends to read for me) expressed lyrically. What a wonder, to think of your book bridging across the ocean! So happy for you.


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