Poetry Friday: Welcome to the 2018 Holiday Poetry Party!

Just got it made yesterday…whew! Now, to work on painting that trim…

Has a year already passed, since we celebrated last?

Indeed!

So thank you for stopping by! If you are unaware, the Holiday Poetry Party is a little shindig that David L. HarrisonJoy Acey, and I started up a number of years ago. It started off on David’s blog, but in the interest of spreading the love, we thought it might be fun to switch things up a bit and hold it over here at the ol’ Triple-R for awhile. Although it looks and feels a lot like Christmas here in New Hampshire – with snow, evergreens, and single-digit overnight temps – Joy lives in Hawaii, so I have to admit I am a bit jealous!

Our version of an Advent wreath!

I have plenty of food (although I haven’t yet begun my cookie-baking marathon of 600-800 cookies yet), so please make yourself comfortable and grab a drink or something to snack on! For starters, I have bleu cheese-and-grape canapes, herbed goat cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto, and classic French roasted pepper and black olive tartlettes.

On the side table, you’ll find a crudité platter, crackers & cheese, and my homemade hummus variety sampler featuring traditional lemon, black bean & lime, ginger-wasabi edamame hummus, and a spicy carrot-apricot hummus. There’s also a giant Crock-pot full of the heartiest vegan chili you’ve ever tasted, along with vegan banana-cranberry bread, vegan Parker House rolls, and a giant glazed ham  – which is probably not vegan.

Oh, and we have poetry! I received my Winter Poetry Swap poem and gift from the incredibly talented Margaret Simon – who teaches AND is a published poet – and had to share what she sent me: a hand-painted Moleskin notebook with her poem inside! (click either image to enlarge)

As I read her poem, I immediately noticed lines that sounded familiar…for good reason. She did for me what I did for her, a couple of years ago:  took a look at past blog posts and created a found poem with lines she pulled from them!

What a perfectly thoughtful gift. I especially love how she weaves in lines like The Poetry of US and “adventure lingers” (from Flashlight Night) so seamlessly. Thank you, Margaret!  (and thank you also for the magnet inside!) I’m eager to share the poem I wrote for my secret recipient, but I’m holding off until I know she has received the package – so hopefully I’ll be able to post it here next week.

I do hope you enjoy your visit here at my little home on the web. By the way, if you’re wondering where some of the decorations came from, you have my parents to thank. I mentioned earlier this week that I made more “discoveries” in the attic of my childhood home – but those weren’t the only holiday treasures discovered…no, not at all!

  

From left: hand-blown, hand-painted glass ornaments my father purchased while stationed in the Army in Germany in the early ’50’s; Christmas decorations I made when I was still in elementary school; paper snowflakes I made for them while – I think – I was in college.

And this only scratches the surface! There were at least 5 more boxes of assorted glass ornaments, two boxes of ’70’s-era plastic decorations and tinsel, a carton of lights and lighted decorations, and…

I told my wife we would never need to buy wrapping paper or ribbon ever again, for the rest of our lives. I wasn’t kidding. I didn’t take photos of the other box of bows or the other box of paper!

Enjoy your stay, and before you go, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what 2018 has meant for you, and what you’re looking forward to in 2019 – so please leave a comment! (If it rhymes, even better!) And for all of today’s poetry links and fun, be sure to stop by Laura Shovan’s blog, where she is hosting Poetry Friday!

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The perfect gift for an author or illustrator: A kind review!

That’s right! If you can’t afford a book or already have one you enjoy, a positive review on places like Amazon or Goodreads is a huge benefit to authors and illustrators. So if you have a few spare minutes, won’t you consider sharing your thoughts with the rest of the world? We appreciate it!

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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!

=========================================================

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!

More treasures from the attic

A couple of years ago, I discovered all sorts of ancient artifacts in my parents’ attic, dating back to my childhood years. These relics included things like my very first typewriter, my 1st-grade lunchbox, and journals I kept for my high school English classes.

Well, as it turned out, my folks did NOT sell the house as they were initially thinking they would – so I was back there today, sorting through the more than 40+ years of stuff they’ve accumulated. And what did I find this time?

Picture books from the ’50s and ’60s, which I don’t ever recall seeing before…which makes me wonder why they were in the attic in the first place! Many of these were published by Golden Press (home of Little Golden Books), Whitman Publishing (which is still around, although they no longer publish children’s books), and Platt & Munk, which is no longer in business. (If the name Platt & Munk sounds familiar, it’s probably because they published several of Tasha Tudor’s books)

I do remember loving The Drum Book and Little Red Riding Hood:

  

Little Red Riding Hood was particularly engaging, because it had moving character illustrations beneath cellophane pages; as you opened the spread, the characters would move, so the reader could make them move back-and-forth by opening and closing the spread. This was one of many of these types of books published by Child Guidance Books, and although there is no publication date on the book, my best guess is mid-’60s to early ’70s.

And then there were the classics…

I pray that Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever (Golden Books, 1963) never goes out of print…it was as fascinating for me as it has been for my kids, even though they never got to read one of the originals, like this one, which is unfortunately falling apart. Who doesn’t love watching Lowly Worm riding around in his apple car, or Gold Bug in his pencil car?

By the way, I hope you’ll join me this Friday here at the ol’ Triple-R for our annual Holiday Poetry Party! This is a virtual event that began at children’s poet David Harrison’s home on the web several years ago with me, David, and Joy Acey, and has since moved over here.

It’s an informal gathering, so feel free to show up in your sweats and jammies if you’re so inclined – and if you’d care to bring a bite to eat or beverage, please let us know!

I also plan to share 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. There’s a cool story behind why Margaret wrote what she did, so I’ll share that here. And I hope to share the poem I wrote soon, once I know the person I sent it to has received it.

Oh, yes – and as a first-round judge of the annual CYBILS Awards‘ Poetry category, I’m racing against time to read as many of the 60 or so nominated books as possible, and narrow the list down to a shortlist of SEVEN! There are five I’m pretty sure are going to stay on my list…but that could change once I finish all my reading. The final list that all the judges decide upon will then be forwarded to the second-round panelists, who determine the winner early next year.

I hope you’ll stop by Friday for our party! I’ll be looking forward to learning your favorite children’s books from the past year, so start thinking about which ones caught your attention and stood out from the pack!

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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!

=========================================================

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!

Poetry Friday: Shroom-ku!

In an effort to encourage her Facebook followers to engage in some creative writing, author Jane Yolen recently shared a time-lapse video post of toadstools sprouting. It was beautiful, amazing – and, indeed, inspiring. So I thought I’d share the haiku I wrote as my response to the challenge…

flames burst forth, spatter
dull forest floors; flowers, sprites
claim undue credit
.
– © 2018 Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved
.

By the way, I have been neglect in mentioning that I am once again a first-round judge of the annual CYBILS Awards‘ Poetry category! This means that not only am I charged with narrowing down the 60 or so nominated books down to a shortlist of SEVEN…but I also have to find the time to read as many of those books as I can. So if you wonder why I haven’t been making the rounds on Poetry Friday as much as I usually do, it’s simply because time is so precious and scarce these days.

Speaking of neglecting to mention things…I’m also taking part in Tabatha Yeatts‘ annual Winter Poetry Swap, a sort of poetic Secret Santa type of thing, in which Tabatha gives each participant the name of another, and that person has to write a poem for the person and send it to him or her, often with a small gift. I’ll share the poem I wrote here, once I know the person I sent it to has received it – probably next week.

And speaking of Poetry Friday…for more poetry, be sure to visit Liz Steinglass’ blog for today’s complete roundup!

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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!

=========================================================

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!

Poetry Prompt: “Deep, deep…” an iambic pentameter poetry prompt

You may recall that I spent a week at a Highlights Foundation poetry workshop back in October with Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Georgia heard, and a wonderful crew of writers yearning to learn more about children’s poetry. During that week, attendees were given a variety of poetry prompts to fire up our brains and imaginations, including Popsicle sticks, paint swatches, and poetic forms like concrete poetry and iambic pentameter.

The latter is where this week’s poem comes from!

One day we were discussing iambic pentameter, a meter with which I’ve become very comfortable writing since I discovered it in high school English class. Rebecca and Georgia suggested we take a 35-40 minute break to get some fresh air outside…and find something to write about, in iambic pentameter. (For a brief overview of this type of meter, click here)

We were tasked with writing a couplet – but when I saw the large stone wall outside the main building (The Barn, as they call it), I didn’t feel a couplet would be quite enough to do it justice. So I just started writing – and by the time we were called to share our work, I had completed eight lines. As with most poetry prompts, it’s neither polished nor perfect…but I’m sharing it because, as I’ve said here before, all poetry needs to start from somewhere, and the important thing about writing is that you DO IT. Remember my mantra: #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading!

(click to enlarge)

I spiffed it up a bit with a photo of a stone wall on my own property, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is much more that I could do with this poem to improve it (edit some words out, add more internal rhyme, etc.), but for what it is, I like it, and will probably not be tackling any revisions anytime soon.

For all of today’s Poetry Friday links, head on over to Carol’s Corner for the complete Poetry Friday roundup and a review of K.A. Holt’s Knockout (Chronicle, 2018)!

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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!

=========================================================

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!

Poetry Friday: Popsicle Poetry returns!

Last month, I shared an example of a poetry prompt I was given at the recent Highlights Foundation poetry workshop I had attended. A few words were written on a Popsicle stick, and I had to come up with a poem using those words. After posting the poem both here and on Instagram, I decided to keep doing it as a way to practice thinking creatively.

So today, I thought I’d share a couple of the short poems I’ve written in response to this prompt – to give you an idea of what one can do with just a couple of words and a few minutes. (all poems © 2018 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved)

(click to enlarge)

Keep in mind, these are not highly-polished, award-winning pieces of literary genius; I rarely spend more than 15-20 minutes on any of them, because they are simply a means to fire up the brain cells and get those synapses closing. Perhaps, if I discover something useful within these poems, I might decide to buff and polish – but I’m worrying about any of that at this point.

(click to enlarge)

Many folks ask me why I share poems that aren’t perfect here, and I always explain that I feel that it’s worth showing that we all have to start somewhere, with some sort of germ of an idea, with mistakes and errors, before we can begin striving for perfection…which rarely comes. (By the way, I do not write the words – that defeats the purpose of being spontaneous – so I ask my wife, son, or whoever might be around to jot down a short phrase on the stick, and then I jump to it!)

(click to enlarge)

I must admit, I did spend a little more time on that last one than I usually do – perhaps 25-30 minutes – because the reverso form, popularized by the incredible Marilyn Singer, is so difficult and I was having too much fun. By the way, if you’re wondering how much my wife is loving winter, just look at the first and third prompts she gave me, as a hint to turn up the thermostat! Thanks also to my 8-year-old, who gave me prompt #2. What would I do without my family?

For more poetry – far more polished and publishable! – head on over to Live Your Poem, where Irene Latham is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with a review AND GIVEAWAY of Laura Purdie Salas’ beautiful new book, Lion of the Sky (Millbrook, April 2019).

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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!

=========================================================

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!

Poetry Friday: “Pumpkin”

poetryfridaybutton-fulll(This post was originally published in 2016, but since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I thought I should probably dust it off and share it again!)

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In honor of Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., I’m sharing a poem of mine from the new children’s poetry anthology, Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food & Agriculture Poems by Carol-Ann Hoyte:

Dear Tomato cover“Pumpkin”

Planted seeds.
Ground was dry.
Watered well and wished for pie.
Thanksgiving came,
I cleaned my plate!

Gourd things come to those who wait.

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

I hope you’ll be sure to visit Teacher Dance, where Linda Baie is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with a new book from Rosemary Wells (yes, that Rosemary Wells!) AND a giveaway!

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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!

=========================================================

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!

Poetry Friday: A Paint Swatch Poetry Prompt

If you’ve been paying any kind of attention to this blog the past couple of weeks, you know how inspiring my visit to the Highlights poetry workshop was. And you’ve probably seen a couple of the short “practice poems” I wrote while I was there, using writing prompts like #PopsiclePoetry and The Word Garden.

Well, I’m not through yet!

Today I’m sharing a little light verse I wrote as part of a writing prompt using paint swatches – you know, those colored cards you get from hardware stores that show the name of the paint and what it looks like when dry? In this case, attendees were handed a random card and asked to write a poem using either the name of the paint or the color itself as inspiration.

Always eager to tackle a challenge head-on, I opted for…both. The paint, named “Bamboo,” was a light, creamy-chocolate brown, with hints of gray. Keep in mind, these poems were for inspiration and practice, so I only had about 15 minutes or so to write them. These are not polished, perfect pieces of poetic preeminence; rather, they are quick, unpolished responses to writing prompts.

The first poem that came to mind was based on the name:

Bamboo

One day I brought the jungle home
and laid it on the  floor.
Smooth and firm beneath my feet,
I vowed to find some more:
a chair, a table, window blinds,
outside to the veranda.
I marvel at its beauty, but
feel sorry for the panda.

– © 2018 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

I was running out of time, so my second poem, based on the color itself, was even shorter:

Life

Cappuccino, latte, chai,
tall or extra-venti –
I’m happy when my cup is full
but sad because it’s empty.

– 2018 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

I have to say, this was really a fun prompt! So try some #PaintSwatchPoetry yourself sometime, and see what comes of it. You can find more poetry (much more polished, too, I might add) at Today’s Little Ditty, where Michelle H. Barnes is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup! But go easy on her, as it’s the Friday after the U.S. elections and she might still be a bit…umm…jittery. 😉

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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!

=========================================================

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!

Poetry Friday: Found Poetry from The Word Garden

I told you I was going to share the little stone-poem I put together at the Highlights Foundation poetry workshop I attended a couple weeks ago…and today I’m keeping my word.

Now, first of all, if you have not had a chance to read my ‘review’ of the workshop that I posted on Tuesday, I hope you will take some time to read it. Not only will you better understand what the Highlights workshops are like and why I highly recommend them, but you will hopefully better understand how this poem came about.

As I mentioned in that post, there are hundreds of smooth stones in a small garden near the main building known as The Barn, and each stone has a different word carved on it. These stones are available for visitors to play with and create short phrases and “micro poems” (click to enlarge):

 

Aside from the fact that this is a really cool idea in and of itself, what makes it even more special is that each of these stones is a river rock taken from the creek that runs through the property…the very creek you see displayed in my blog’s header, above.

So while I was there with the other workshop attendees, I saw a few stones that caught my attention and began scouting around for others that I might be able to use. I would think of an idea, not find a stone with the word I needed, but then would find another stone with a word I hadn’t thought of, and then would need to figure out how to get those word stones to work with each other.

After 10 or 15 minutes, I had come up with something I liked:

As you can see, even when crafting poems with rocks, enjambment plays a crucial role in my process. In my mind, emphasis and pacing are just as important as the words themselves. (click to enlarge)

So there you go! Nothing too elaborate or earth-shaking, just a little wordplay to conjure up some imagery and exercise that imagination. If you’re looking for more substantive poetry, I encourage you to visit Jama Rattigan at Jama’s Alphabet Soup, where you’ll find a virtual pre-election rally underway – along with today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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BOOK SIGNING THIS SUNDAY!

I’ll be spending some time with my DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR co-author, Deborah Bruss, this Sunday afternoon in Warner, NH to celebrate the Book Birthday of her new book, GOOD MORNING, SNOWPLOW! We’ll both be there starting at 2pm signing books including DINOSAUR, FLASHLIGHT NIGHT, SCHOOL PEOPLE, and the new National Geographic book, THE POETRY OF US.

And to make the event even cooler, the town’s road agent will be on hand to chat with kids about snowplows…AND he’ll bring one of the town’s snowplows with him so the kids can climb inside! (Cool, right???)

Hope you’ll join us, if you’re in the area! Details here!

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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!

=========================================================

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!

Inspiration, observation, and the joy of grown-up marshmallows: a look back at a Highlights Foundation poetry workshop

Two weeks ago, I spent 5 days living, breathing, and eating children’s poetry (and writing it, too, for that matter) at the Highlights Foundation’s “The Craft and Heart of Children’s Poetry” workshop in the tiny little town of Milanville, PA. I had previously attended a similar workshop with David L. Harrison back in 2013, and had been wanting to attend another ever since.

It took me five years to return, but the wait was well worth it!

Georgia Heard, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Yours Truly, and Rebbeca Davis. (click to enlarge)

The workshop’s faculty were the highly-esteemed Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard, who discussed poetic devices like form, voice, and rhythm and offered critiques of our writing samples. They also used several writing prompts to encourage attendees to practice writing, thinking, and observing. (You can learn more about one of those writing prompts – and my response – HERE)

In addition to Rebecca and Georgia, we were joined by Boyds Mills Press/Wordsong editor Rebecca Davis, who was my editor for Flashlight Night. Rebecca spoke to our group about poetry publishing and even offered some critiques. Also on hand was poet/author Carole Boston Weatherford, who offered insight into writing poetry in different voices, and Lee Bennett Hopkins, who chatted via Skype about his poetry anthologies and the state of children’s poetry in today’s market.

A few other highlights:

(har, har – get it? Highlights?? Ok, I’ll stop.) 

My residence for 5 days. Couldn’t ask for anything coszier!

Everything is included in your tuition: the workshop, room, meals, snacks…everything. You might stay in one of the cabins, like I did, or they may put you up in the Lodge nearby. All of the workshops and meals are held inside The Barn, a large facility recently built when the old farmhouse next door, the former residence of Highlights for Children magazine’s creators Garry and Caroline Myers, became too small to handle all of the folks attending the plethora of workshops.

Heck, there were almost 20 of us there, and they have workshops running throughout the year!

 

Just a handful of some of the cabins. (photo courtesy of Jone MacCulloch)
Want to attend a session? Head to The Barn. Joining your friends for a meal? Head to The Barn. Need a computer or printer? Head to The Barn. Wake up at 2am and decide you’re in the mood for some ice cream, Doritos, and a cold beer? Yep…head to The Barn! They’ve got you covered.

The Word Garden: You may have visited a rock garden before, but you’ve never been to this kind of rock garden…where stones are waiting in piles for you to dream up poetry with them!

 

Thoughtful…creative…perhaps a tad unbalanced. These are a few of the “poems” we discovered when we arrived – but with hundreds of rocks available, we wasted no time creating our own. (I’ll share mine in an upcoming Poetry Friday post) And if you’d like to learn more about how you can support The Word Garden, click HERE.

Photo courtesy of Georgia Heard. (Click to enlarge)

The Haiku Poet-tree: One of our exercises was to write a haiku on a small slip of paper. We then proceeded outside the Barn to read them and then hang each on the nearby tree, where we could peruse them throughout the week. (Or until the rain decided we had read enough)

S’Mores Night: Ah yes, it just wouldn’t be an October Foundation workshop without a campfire and s’mores. We gathered around a small outdoor fireplace adjacent to the Barn and roasted marshmallows – and I shared my “secret” for grown-up marshmallows: after you place yours on the roasting stick, dip it in a high-alcohol liqueur like Grand Marnier or a spiced rum for 10-15 seconds, then hold it over the flames. It will immediately flare up as the alcohol burns off, and you’re left with the essence of the liqueur on your marshmallow. You’re welcome!

You can’t tell the family members from the employees: I get the impression that everyone who works for Highlights approaches their job as if they are part of a large family – which, in actually, they are…kind of. Many of the grandkids and great-grandkids of the original founders continue their family’s legacy by working there, but even the non-familial employees behave as though they have as much at stake in their job as the owners. Friendly, professional, helpful; honestly, there are giant corporate function facilities that could learn a lot about customer service by watching the Highlights cook and waitstaff serve a meal.

A Visit to ‘Highlights’: This was definitely a highlight of the workshop (har, har – there I go again, “highlight!” I crack myself up.) One afternoon, we drove 20 minutes south of The Barn to Honesdale, PA, to visit with the folks who publish ‘Highlights for Children’ and its related publications, as well as book imprints Boyds Mills Press, Wordsong, and Calkins Creek.

How surreal is it to see one’s book on a bookcase that includes titles by Jane Yolen, Nikki Grimes, David Harrison, and J. Patrick Lewis, among others? Pretty darned, I’ll tell you that.

I had not been to the office since my previous workshop in 2013, so I had never before met in-person with people like Allison Kane, who has purchased poems of mine for the magazine, or Cherie Matthews, assistant editor for Boyds Mills Press, with whom I’ve corresponded for nearly 3 years via email.

I was deeply honored when one of my fellow attendees, Kerry Cramer, asked if he could get a photo of the two of us. I was so happy he liked my book so much, I didn’t know what else to say but, “sure!” Thanks for your support, Kerry!

One of the coolest things you’ll spy in the building is a genuine dinosaur skull that once belonged to T-Rex’s bigger cousin, Giganotosaurus. For some reason, I neglected to snap a picture of this incredible artifact…but trust me, it’s there. (And really, if you visit the office, it would be very difficult for you to miss it)

We were afforded the opportunity to meet with many of the folks who put the magazines together, and learned a little bit about ‘Highlights’ humble beginnings – from its inception in 1946 to its book imprints to its newest innovations, like teething-proof covers for ‘Hello,’ their newest magazine for the very youngest readers. One thing I learned from the tour is that the editors of ‘Highlights’ magazines respond to EVERY SINGLE letter or email they receive from children. How many are we talking? This many…

(click to enlarge)

And just before we left to head back to the Barn, I had to get one last pic:

Cheryl Matthews, who has done as much for ‘Flashlight Night”‘s success as anyone, took time for a quick photo op with one of her fans.

I have to tell you, the Highlights Foundation workshops are unlike any workshops you’ve ever been to. There is the educational component, of course; but what sets these workshops apart from all others is everything that goes along with the education: time allowed for relaxing, meandering, napping, writing, contemplating, snacking.

Learn more about the Foundation, their workshops (which range from poetry to novel writing to non-fiction to illustration and everything in-between), and what they do, please visit their website. The workshops are worth every penny, and they even offer scholarships to those who qualify! And if you have any questions about my experiences there, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments or email me!

Our poetry crew, each holding a stone we chose from the Word Garden. (photo courtesy of the Highlights Foundation; click to enlarge)

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BOOK SIGNING!

I’m looking forward to spending some time with my DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR co-author, Deborah Bruss, this Sunday afternoon in Warner, NH to celebrate the Book Birthday of her new book, GOOD MORNING, SNOWPLOW! We’ll both be there signing our books, including DINOSAUR, FLASHLIGHT NIGHT, SCHOOL PEOPLE, and the new National Geographic book, THE POETRY OF US.

Hope you’ll join us, if you’re in the area! Details here!

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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!

=========================================================

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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Popsicle poetry!

It has been quite the busy week for Yours Truly…

I got back home last Thursday night from the Highlights Foundation writer’s workshop I had attended in Pennsylvania; the following day I began revising a couple of manuscripts before sending them back out again in search of a home; I’ve since sent out 4 picture book submissions and one poetry anthology proposal; I finally created an Instagram account (so let’s follow each other!); yesterday I participated in #PBPitch on Twitter; and all week long I’ve been struggling with putting together a math-related poem for a new upcoming anthology.

Oh, and taking care of my two kids, which of course is a job in and of itself.

Two kids, that is, who both started taking karate lessons this week.

Oy.

The Highlights poetry crew!

So today, I’m sharing a short little ditty that I wrote while at the aforementioned Highlights workshop, which focused on children’s poetry. The workshop leaders, Rebecca Kai Dottlich and Georgia Heard, discussed a variety of topics – poetic form, voice, rhythm, etc. – and offered several writing prompts to help attendees practice not only writing, but thinking and observing, which is crucial to the writing process.

One of those writing prompts involved Popsicle sticks, which Rebecca passed out to us and suggested writing a poem using whatever phrase was written on the stick. My phrase had an ellipses at the end, which led me to think the obvious response would include the phrase somewhere in the middle or end of the poem; I, however, always on the lookout for the non-obvious angle, decided to use the phrase as the very first line (and title, too, for that matter):

(click to enlarge)

This was a quick, 10-minute exercise, so I couldn’t spend a lot of time on it. But once I had it written, I rather liked its brevity; plus, starting with “and” and making liberal use of ellipses tends to give it a stream-of-consciousness feel, almost as if they are separate, punchy little thoughts that tie together (similar to the way we process thought, actually).

For more poetry, please head over to A Journey Through the Pages, where Kay McGriff is holding down the Poetry Friday roundup with a “sunrise conversation” and all of today’s poetry links!

=========================================================

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!

=========================================================

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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!