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Archive for the category “poetry”

Poetry Friday: “Pirate Dreams”

This will be my last blog post of the month, as the family is packing up and heading off to my remote office starting tomorrow:

You can’t see my desk, chair, microphone, or reference books because they’re just out of frame, an hour away.

 

Yes, it’s that time of year again when we head off to York Beach, Maine – just over the border, but a million miles from home. In fact, I wasn’t able to post anything earlier this week because I’ve been so busy trying to get us ready for the trip while wrapping up a big radio commercial project I completed for the New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters and simultaneously writing query letters and a new picture book manuscript.

Believe me, if anyone needs a vacation around here, it’s me!

Cleo - 17 years old

Happy birthday, Cleopatra. You’ve earned your spot on the bed.

But before I get to today’s Poetry Friday offering, first things first: I need to share a photo of the lovely lady about whom I wrote last week. She just turned 17 years old, and I surprised a lot of folks with that last line.

Cleo has enjoyed a long life of mousing, playing, and generally keeping us all in line…and I worry if she’ll make it to 18. If she doesn’t, we’ll probably find her either on the bed or in the bathtub – her two favourite spots. (What is it with cats and bathrooms??)

Now, then, for today’s poem: something I wrote last year, shortly after we got back from our first trip to York Beach. Interestingly, the poem has less to do with York Beach and more to do with my own memories of visiting the local shoreline as a child two or three times each summer.

Pirate Dreams

The first seashell
I ever found
on my own
still whispers to me
when I hold it to my ear.

The pinwheel
Mom bought
at that candy shop
where you could watch them
make salt water taffy
all day, still spins
like a shiny new motor.

And above my head,
atop my bed, The Jolly Roger –
that faded black plastic flag
I won at the arcade
down by the boardwalk –
flies proudly.

…….It’s been a long time
…….since we’ve been to the beach,
…….but Dad says
…….this year might be the year.

…….Already
…….I can taste the salty air,
…….smell seaweed drying
…….under hazy sun,
…….and feel hot sand
.. ….slipping between toes.

Until then,
I’ll let my seashell –
the first one I ever found
on my own –
lull me to sleep
while my pinwheel motor
spins and spins
with The Jolly Roger
flying high.

© 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

poetryfridaybutton-fulllYou’ll find all of today’s Poetry Friday links at A Year of Reading, so be sure to check out Mary Lee’s review of a new farm animal picture book, along with lots and lots of poetry! Enjoy the rest of your June…I’ll be back on Independence Day Eve, July 3rd!

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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on 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: “On Her 17th Birthday”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllA little poem I wrote last night for a very, very special lady.
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On Her 17th Birthday

Her youth was spent aloof and free,
the queen of her own destiny.
Now frail and thin, she barely hears –
hasn’t caught a mouse in years.

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Jama Rattigan is hosting Poetry Friday today, and you know what that means:  snacks! Well, of course, plenty of poetry links, too – but you can always count on snacks when Jama is blogging, and today she has Blueberry Crumb Bars…so head on over before they’re all gone!

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SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)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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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on 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: “Early Riser”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllA few weeks ago, poet/author Laura Purdie Salas offered up a photo of a seagull on a statue as a poetry prompt on her “15 Words-or-Less” blog post. I responded with a short free verse poem…and it has been on my mind quite a bit lately.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve decided to use it as part of a larger project, if it’s because the family is gearing up for another summer excursion to Maine and I have the Long Sands of York Beach on my brain, or if it’s because I simply like the way it turned out. Probably all three.

So I’ve fleshed it out just a bit and am sharing it with you today! And if you missed it, I’d love for you to check out this past Tuesday’s post about poetry videos and the incredible voiceovers that the poets themselves provided for the videos.

Oh, and since it’s Friday, be sure to visit my friend and fellow Poet’s Garage member Buffy Silverman’s blog for all of today’s Poetry Friday links and hi jinks!

Early riser

Sea mist swirls across the shoreline;
single seagull seizes a current
……..and rides, suspended
in a headwind.

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

 

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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on 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!

The Art of Poetry Voiceovers

If you think you don’t like poetry – hang on a second. I just might change your mind in a few minutes.

ID-10084724 (Mic)Anyone who has read this blog more than once or twice probably knows by now that in addition to being a voice artist, I also write quite a bit of poetry. Most of it is for children, although I do write quite a bit of adult-themed poetry, as well.

So when I was considering what to write about for today’s post, I had the thought that it might be nice to combine the two.

But how to do that? I decided to simply take a moment and share what I think are some really great examples of poetry voiceovers done by non-voiceover professionals – that is, poems read by the poets themselves. And not just “poetry readings,” but true voiceovers, designed for production with video.

There are some truly astounding examples out there of poetry and voice work coming together.

Take, for instance, this short poem by poet/author Freya Manfred, who has written six books of poetry as well as a memoir about her life as the daughter of novelist Frederick Manfred:

She has such a calm, reassuring, knowledgeable-sounding voice…I imagine her narrating the next National Geographic documentary. (and yes, that’s a compliment!)

Then there’s this captivating and moving video by Canadian poet Shane Koyczan, which has garnered more than 16 million views in a little over 2 years:

Prefer something a little more understated? The following poem by Minneapolis poet/lawyer Tim Nolan is a bit more cerebral than the previous two, and features a drier – yet still effective – voiceover:

Finally, I have to share the young-guy-next-door, tell-it-like-it-is style delivery of poet and artist Todd Boss. Like fellow Minnesotan Nolan, Todd is an extremely creative fellow; he not only has two books of poetry out, but also writes poetry on commission and creates ingenious works of poetic art for pubic display. My thanks to friend, poet Steven Withrow, for sharing this video:

In their own ways, each of these folks brings poetry to life in different ways – through their unique words, of course, but also via their unique vocalizations of those words. One stressed word here, an unstressed syllable there, a too-short pause at the wrong moment…could create an entirely different mood, or worse, lose the connection created with the listener.

Professional voice work does, indeed, require an understanding of words, emotions, and sounds…and these poets, although not professional voice actors, obviously have a solid grasp on how best to relate their words from the printed page to a listener’s ear. I hope you enjoyed these, and hope you find others you will love on your own!

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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!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the link up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on 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: 4 Poems in 4 Days

Poetry_Friday logoYou may have noticed that poetry has making the rounds on Facebook. Last week, I was tagged by my Lullaby & Kisses Sweet page-spread mate Heidi E.Y. Stemple to share 4 poems in 4 days. By accepting this challenge, I also had to “tag” four friends (Steven Withrow, Renee LaTulippe, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, and Joy Acey) to do the same.

Now, the poems could be originals or previously published by me or someone else – but since I thought writing a new one each day was more of a challenge, that’s what I decided to do. Taking the theme of springtime in the forest, I decided on four different poems, four different forms, four different days. Then life got in the way.

I spent most of my weekend driving between cities to help my ailing parents, one of whom is in a nursing home and one of whom was in the hospital. So as it turned out, I ended up sharing three new poems, and had to pull a previously-written one from a couple years ago, which had been based on a prompt from author/poet David L. Harrison:

…..Forest Dawn
……..(lanturne)

………….Sun
……..and thrush
warm the woods;
..help shake off cold
………….dew

.

New Hampshire, Spring (tanka)

Drone bees search a queen;
tom turkey struts the treeline
white-tailed buck defends
while sparrow sings a ballad.
All woodland, looking for love.

.

May in New England (light verse)

The weather gods are crazy –
they must be drunk or lost –
was 83 degrees today,
tonight we’re getting frost.

.

– all poems © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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The Old Man and the Rain

The old man stares through window glass;
another rainy day.
He tries to catch a glimpse of sun,
but all he sees is grey.

He says a secret, silent prayer
to wish the rain away.
Although the man has work to do,
the boy would like to play.

.
– © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche is hosting Poetry Friday today, so head on over for all the links, poetry, and info on new prompts and writing challenges!

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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!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on 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 is here – with AWESOME news!

poetryfridaybutton-fulllA town-wide brownout that fried my computer.

A family of four battling the worst cold we’ve had in years, simultaneously.

Parents in ill health.

Such are the tribulations I’ve been dealing with over the past two weeks, which is why my blogging has been at a minimum. I apologize for being nearly invisible lately! Fortunately, the computer is back up & running (thank you, Dell tech support!) after hours and hours of re-installs, the family is starting to get over our illness, and my folks seem to be fairly stable…so I’m thrilled that I can finally make the announcement:

I’ve got a book deal!!

It is a pleasure and an honour to announce that I have signed a contract with Boyd’s Mills Press (one of Highlights magazine’s book publishing divisions) to publish my very first full-length picture book, Flashlight Night! I’m also very proud to have the wonderful and highly-esteemed Rebecca Davis as my editor…and now that the manuscript is approved and we can move forward, we’ve been discussing possible illustrators. A few have come to mind, so we’re hopeful one of them will work out!

boyds logo

What is Flashlight Night about? Well, let’s just say it’s a poetic adventure that’s not what it seems. I’ll tell you more as we get closer to publication, which we hope will be in 2017. Keep checking back here for updated posts!

(Now then, if you’ll allow me to pull myself off the ceiling, I’d like to share today’s Poetry Friday poem…!)

This is a tanka – a Japanese form that is similar to haiku but is two lines longer and actually predates the haiku – and was written rather quickly (about half an hour) as part of a Facebook challenge. I was tagged to share four poems in four days by Heidi E.Y. Stemple, the daughter of Jane Yolen and a fine author/poet in her own right, with the requirement that I share each one on my Facebook wall.

Now, I didn’t have to write four new poems, I just had to share four poems – so I simply could have posted some of my favourites of other writers. But that would have been too easy! Instead, I borrowed Heidi’s plan to write four poems about spring on her farm and decided to write four poems about springtime in the woods. The first one I wrote I shared on my wall yesterday (Thursday) morning; the one I’m sharing today is the second of four. Hope you like it:

New Hampshire, Spring

Drone bees search a queen;
tom turkey struts the treeline
white-tailed buck defends
while sparrow sings a ballad.
All woodland, looking for love.

– © Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2015

What will I write tomorrow? No idea! But feel free to connect with me on Facebook (or Twitter, Pinterest, or anywhere else you may find me) and we can keep up with each other!

As you probably know from the title of this post, I’m hosting Poetry Friday today – so please leave your links in the comments and I’ll update the post throughout the day. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone is up to!

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Laura Shovan shares an excerpt from a new medical poetry anthology (yes, you heard right!) at Author Amok.

Robyn Hood Black provides a recap of a meeting of the Haiku Society of America and a short review of a book of author Jack Kerouac’s haikus at Life on the Deckle Edge. (Kerouac wrote haiku? Who knew??)

Fellow Granite Stater Diane Mayr recaps her time spent – and a poem written! – at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival at Random Noodling; meanwhile, over at Kurious Kitty, a touching Mary Oliver poem pays tribute to one of Diane’s co-workers.

Laura Purdie Salas find inspiration for her “poetryaction” series of poems from Jamie Swenson’s book, If You Were a Dog, at Writing the World for Kids.

What does Pompeii know? Linda Baie shares a poem about that exact question! It was written by a 5th-grade student, and you can see it at Teacher Dance.

Tara at A Teaching Life shares a poem by Gregory Djanikian that seems to speak to all those affected by the end of the school year – the students that are leaving, as well as the teachers that are saying goodbye.

Over at A Year of Reading, Mary Lee Hahn also says goodbye to another school year with her original poem.

In the “Haiku Garden” of Today’s Little Ditty, Michelle H. Barnes features a haiku by award-winning writer Loree Griffin Burns.

I love to hear about young children writing – and Jone MacCulloch recently received a poem from a first-grader, which she shares at Check It Out.

Sally Murphy spent three days at a young writers’ festival and was poetically inspired!

Donna Smith is very proud of a 2nd-grader she’s been working with, who just wrote her very first poems! She shares them both, along with two original poems of hers, at Mainely Write.

Penny Parker Klosterman features another familial collaboration – this time, it’s Julie Rowan-Zoch and her son, Aaron with a funny springtime poem. (although it’s not really that funny for the main character!)

Have you ever “doodled while you listened?” That’s what Heidi Mordhorst is doing over at My Juicy Little Universe, as she shares a page from her writer’s notebook.

If you’re a fan of nursery rhymes, be sure to check out Irene Latham’s review of the new anthology, Over the Hills and Far Away, at Live Your Poem.

It’s Chalkabration time at Reflections on the Teche, where Margaret Gibson Simon shares some poems in chalk that her students wrote just as the school year was coming to a close.

Keri Collins Lewis accepted a poetry challenge from Nikki Grimes and shares her success at Keri Recommends.

This Sunday is Bob Dylan’s birthday, and Jama Kim Rattigan is celebrating with all things Bob…and a meatball recipe! (Yes, there IS a connection) Visit Jama’s Alphabet Soup for the details.

There’s still no water at the No Water River…but there IS Douglas Florian! Renee LaTulippe interviews the author/poet/artist/illustrator/all-around good guy about his brand-new book, How to Draw a Dragon.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater shares an original poem about writing at The Poem Farm – and is hoping you’ll share your notebooks!

What do Edwin Markham and Mark Knopfler have in common? Aside from the obvious “mark”s in their names, they have Tabatha Yeatts – who shares some words of wisdom from these two gentlemen at The Opposite of Indifference!

At There is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town, Ruth is gearing up for her daughter’s last day of high school and shares a poem from the Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School.

Catherine Johnson is celebrating Armadillo Day (ok, that’s a made-up thing, but they  SHOULD have its own day, shouldn’t they?) with poems by Eric Ode and Douglas Florian, and her original artwork.

Fats Suela shares two poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, one of the world’s most popular and influential poets (and a favorite of author/poet Kwame Alexander). Head on over to Gathering Books for the poems as well as background info on Nye and her writing.

At Dori Reads, Doraine Bennett reviews Susan Van Hecke’s Under the Freedom Tree and also shares a poem from it.

Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry is a new book out by Vern Klousky, and Lorie Ann Grover shares a snippet from the book at ReaderTotz.

Lorie Ann also shares an original haiku at her blog, On Point.

Holly Thompson interviews Margarita Engle in Sylvia Vardell’s latest Poet-to-Poet interview series…check it out at Poetry for Children.

You can also visit Holly’s blog, Hatbooks, to read more about her interview!

Little Willow shares a piece from Martha Brockenbrough’s novel, The Game of Love and Death, at her blog, Bildungsroman.

Last but certainly never least, Joy Acey is in the middle of the same “4 poems in 4 days” Facebook challenge that I’m a part of, and she already has two poems up on her blog, Poetry for Kids Joy.

THIS JUST IN! Carol Varsalona is discussing inspiration, process, and notebooks at Beyond Literacy, as she takes part in Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s “Sharing Our Notebooks” project.

ALSO JUST IN! At Pleasures from the Page, Ramona is enjoying several poetry books by Barbara Esbensen and shares one of Esbensen’s poems – just in time for the end of the school year.

 

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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!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on 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: Student poetry inspired by mine!

Poetry_Friday logoYou’ve got to love how inspiration breeds inspiration.

Back in February, my friend and fellow Poet’s Garage member Michelle H. Barnes interviewed children’s author/poet David Elliott and shared his poem, “Dear Orangutan” from his book, In the Wild (Candlewick, 2013). Following the interview, David challenged Michelle’s readers to write a “letter poem;” that is, a poem written like a letter to someone (or something).

Several such poems were submitted, including this one by Yours Truly:

Dear Dad,

I’m having trouble fitting in.
I feel unhappy in my skin.
The kids at school all call me names;
they carry torches bright with flames.
Teachers chase me through the rooms
with pitchforks, clubs, and wooden brooms.
When I say, “Hi,” the parents flee.
It’s almost like they’re scared of me.
Sorry, I don’t mean to whine.

Love,
your son,
Jack Frankenstein

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine

Well…imagine my surprise when I received an email from fellow writer/blogger Tabatha Yeatts, who informed me that students at her daughter’s middle school had a National Poetry Month project where kids could “respond” to poems that were posted in the halls (my poem being one of them). She shared with me two of the poems she thought were the best, and so – with parental permission – I’m sharing them here!

Dear Jack
by Emily Sologuren, 8th grade
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Dear Jack,
You’re not the only one who knows that feeling
when everyone sees you as unappealing —
I too went through that, you know
Other kids pointing at me wherever I go
Because I was different with an outlandish plan
When they saw my experiment, they just snickered and ran
Yet I continued my experiment, while also being shunned
And created you, Jack, my wonderful son
So be who you are and don’t be so sad.
With all my love, your scientist Dad
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Dear Son
by Emily F., 8th grade
 .
Dear Son,
Don’t let those mean kids get you down,
Don’t let them chase you through the town.
The fact that you don’t look the same,
Serves them no right to call you names.
If you just embrace who you really are,
Then trust me kid, you will go far.
There will be someone who loves your persona,
After all, Shrek found his Fiona.
And if kids make fun, I recommend
That they don’t deserve to be your friend.
So if the times get real bad,
And you’re feeling real sad,
Just remember that you are beautiful no matter what they say,
Because baby, you were born that way.
After all, you are my son, and you are mine.
Your creator, your father, your friend,
Dr. Frankenstein
.

Pretty darned good, I’d say! Wow, these kids have some talent. I’m so honoured and humbled that something I wrote provided inspiration for someone. It is my sincere hope that someone reading these students’ poems will likewise be inspired, and keep the circle intact!

By the way, Poetry Friday is being hosted by Diane Mayr at Random Noodling this week, so make sure you head on over for all the poetry, links and…inspiration, of course!

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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!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on 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: “Black Dragon”

Poetry_Friday logoI need to thank Jama Kim Rattigan again for featuring me – along with many of my fellow writers – as one of her “HotTEAs of Children’s Poetry” last week! That was definitely a first…

One of the things Jama asked each of us was to share a poem about tea, if we happened to have one. Well, I DID just so happen to have a poem about a specific type of tea, which I shared on her blog post. The question (which has yet to be answered correctly) is: to what type of tea am I referring?

Black Dragon

Steam-breathed beast
touches light the ginger flower;
savors third steeping

© 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine

Matt Tea 1I provide three distinct clues in this little haiku, to help you solve the riddle. If you think you know, please share your thoughts in the comments section, and I’ll let you know if you’re correct!

By the way, my friend and fellow Poet’s Garage member Michelle H. Barnes is today’s Poetry Friday hostess, so be sure to visit her blog, Today’s Little Ditty, for all the links and info! Also, in case you missed it, I encourage you to check out this past Tuesday’s post about writing, networking, and really expensive scallops.

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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!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on 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!

Crayons, scallops, and truth: What I learned at ‪#‎NESCBWI15

NESCBWI15 logoAnother NE-SCBWI (New England Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) Conference is in the history books, and as always, it was an exciting, fun, information-packed smorgasbord of opportunity!

One of the biggest benefits of the conference is the networking – agents, editors, and fellow writers all converge on this one location and get to meet, chat, and dine with each other, which is worth the price of admission in and of itself. The varied workshops and high-profile speakers are also huge draws, of course. And this year, I had an additional reason to attend: The Marguerite W. Davol Picture Book Critique Scholarship for pre-published authors!

As I explained in a previous post, I was awarded this honor based on a manuscript I submitted last year, and the judges felt it was strong enough to deserve some special recognition, which was very humbling. I’m so proud of that manuscript!

So as you can see, I had plenty of reasons to want to attend; by its very nature, the conference is immensely educational, but I wanted to share a few choice tidbits of wisdom gleaned from the experience. This list is by no means exhaustive, and even what you read here is a fraction of a fraction of what transpired:


1)
 Working on your craft is the only way to succeed. Beekle
And don’t do it for any other reason than because you’re passionate about it! 2015 Caldecott Award Winner Dan Santat was the Saturday morning Keynote Speaker, and his tremendous talent (and dry wit) kept the audience on the edge of their seats. The author/illustrator also revealed a revelation he had a few years ago, while watching the TV Show, “Mad Men:” one does not need to like a character to like a story; one simply needs to understand the character(s).

2) I have a good voice for middle grade. One editor in attendance mentioned this to me following a quick story synopsis I scribbled down during a workshop session. I’ve written poetry, poetry collections, short stories, and picture books…but never anything long enough to require more than one chapter! I’m going to need to think about that.

3) Scallops are expensive. Well, I kind of knew that already anyway, but that fact became abundantly clear to me Friday night, when a small group of us left the conference center and dined at a nearby Mediterranean restaurant. I order a $13 scallop appetizer and received…two scallops. Two. As in, one…and then just one more. Admittedly, they were quite good – but I’m not sure they were 13-dollars-good.

4) Be True. This was actually the title of author Jo Knowles’ Saturday evening Keynote Speech, and a very moving, inspirational speech it was. Jo related her own story of a young, shy girl who wanted to be a writer, lessons coverwho credited the SCBWI as well as (and even more so) one special teacher with helping her achieve success.

Regarding her first YA novel, Lessons from a Dead Girl, she learned that the book just wasn’t ready until it was true. Until her characters, the story line, everything felt true…the manuscript went nowhere. So one of the most important questions a writer should ask themselves is, “Is it true yet?”

5) Understanding Common Core Standards for English Language Arts is not as hard as it seems. My thanks to fellow NE-SCBWI member Michelle Cusolito for an informative workshop geared towards helping authors doing school visits. Learn more by joining her Facebook group!

6) If you don’t take the crayons out of the box…nothing happens. Australian children’s writer, animal expert, musician, and 2010 SCBWI Member of the Year Christopher Cheng was the Sunday morning Keynote Speaker, and shared this nugget. He’s right – if you want to create something, you have to take action!

That doesn’t just mean one needs to write; it means one needs to be aware. In his view, “everything has a purpose” and it is up to the writer to determine what that purpose is and the extent of its usefulness. He didn’t explicitly state that this mentality translates to the concept of “mindfulness”…but as a writer myself, I’d say it certainly does!

Poetry Panel, from left: Heidi EY Stemple. Leslie Bulion, Richard Michelson, Jane Yolen

7) Book marketing just took a new, creative turn for the better. While chatting with author and fellow New Englander Julie True Kingsley, she told me about a new start-up venture she is involved in: BizzieMe.com. If you are an author and want to bring your book into the digital age via interactive games and video, I encourage you to check it out! A reader scans your book cover into their smartphone or tablet, and can immediately start interacting. Very cool stuff.

8a) Reluctant readers aren’t really “reluctant” – they just haven’t been given books that interest them yet. CrossoverThis is something else that didn’t come as a surprise, really, but it was something important of which to take note. Boys and girls share many interests, and it’s important to not try to pigeonhole boys with our preconceptions of what they will like.

During Newbery Award-winning author Kwame Alexander‘s writing workshop – as well as his Saturday lunchtime speech – he reminded those in attendance to take advantage of opportunities that come your way. “Say YES!” was his takeaway message, and his words on authenticity echoed Chris Cheng’s and Jo Knowles’.

8b) What a difference a year makes! Those were the words uttered by poet and artist Richard Michelson while we were chatting during a book signing. Richard and I were admiring the long line that led to Kwame’s table, and Richard remarked that he had been with Kwame at a signing last year and no one knew who he was…but now thanks to The Crossover, he was the hit of the weekend!

Heidi & Me - spread-mates

Heidi EY Stemple and I, with her poem on the left and mine on the right!

9) If you’re going to a conference that fellow writers will also be attending, bring books with you! I couldn’t believe I left copies of Lullaby & Kisses Sweet, The Crossover, and others at home! After I had arrived, my absent-mindedness dawned on me. Heidi Stemple, with whom I share a spread in Lullaby, knows this.

After a poetry panel discussion with her, Jane Yolen (her mom), Leslie Bulion, and Richard Michelson, we chatted and I signed her copy. I’ll probably have to wait until next year’s conference to see her again and have her sign mine!

10) Monsters are a euphemism for disability. I had never considered this before, but author Tim Weed made an excellent point during his workshop on image systems in middle grade an YA fiction. The creature with the hunch, the creature with the strange face, the creature who can’t speak…all find their origins from the same place.

11) Networking is as important as attending the workshops.

Me, Deb, Janet, Craig (NESCBWI)

From left: Craig Munson, Janet Costa Bates, Yours Truly, and Deb Blake Dempsey

This is not something I learned – it’s something I preach! If you have ever considered attending an SCBWI conference, I highly encourage you to do so. I wouldn’t be at this stage of my career had it not been for networking, saying hi, chatting with people, striking up conversations, listening to what fellow attendees are talking about. Yes, I’ve learned a lot from the workshops – but it was one simple, short, casual conversation that started me on the way towards publication.

Will I see you there next year? The dates are already set for 2016: April 29 – May 1. If there’s another SCBWI conference closer to you, by all means, register! And for more info on where to find local SCBWI chapters or critique groups, log on to http://www.SCBWI.org. Hope to see you at one someday!

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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!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on 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: The 2015 Progressive Poem concludes here!

National-Poetry-Month-Logo (2015)
I’m sharing my Poetry Friday post a day early this year, because I’m very happy to once again be part of Irene Latham’s annual Progressive Poem! Each day, a different person has added a line to a poem that has been growing and growing over the course of the month…and it culminates today, here!

2015ProgressivePoemI’ve been excited – and a bit anxious – about the fact that it’s up to me to write that last line. Honestly, there was only one way I felt I could go with it, so hopefully you’ll like it. I’ve been following the poem’s development, from a woman walking along the shoreline, to growing fins and sliding down into the water, to making a discovery, to — well, just read it, and you’ll see!

(I’ve also added a title, which it was lacking, but if anyone prefers something else, feel free to change it!)

Due to popular demand (well, ok…Irene was the only one who asked, but she IS popular), I recorded an audio version of the poem, so you can read along if you’d like:

“Ocean Dreams”
(The 2015 Poetry Friday Progressive Poem)

She lives without a net, walking along the alluvium of the delta.
Shoes swing over her shoulder,
on her bare feet stick jeweled flecks of dark mica.
Hands faster than fish swing at the ends of bare brown arms.
Her hair flows, snows in wild wind
as she digs in the indigo varnished handbag,
pulls out her grandmother’s oval cuffed bracelet,
strokes the turquoise stones,
and steps through the curved doorway.
Tripping on her tail she slips hair first down the slide…splash!
She glides past glossy water hyacinth to shimmer with a school of shad,
listens to the ibises roosting in the trees of the cypress swamp
an echo of Grandmother’s words, still fresh in her windswept memory;
Born from the oyster, expect the pearl. 
Reach for the rainbow reflection on the smallest dewdrop.
The surface glistens, a shadow slips above her head, a paddle dips
she reaches, seizes. She’s electric energy and turquoise eyes.
Lifted high, she gulps strange air – stares clearly into
 Green pirogue, crawfish trap,
startled fisherman with turquoise eyes, twins of her own, riveted on her wrist–
She’s swifter than a dolphin, slipping away,
leaving him only a handful of memories of his own grandmother’s counsel:
Watch for her. You’ll have but one chance to 
determine—to decide.
Garner wisdom from the water and from the pearl of the past.
In a quicksilver flash, an arc of resolution, he leaps
into the shimmering water
where hidden sentries restrain any pursuit
and the bitter taste of impulse rushes into his lungs.
Her flipper flutters his weathered toes – Pearl’s signal –
Stop struggling. The Sentinels will escort you
He stills, closes his eyes,
takes an uncharacteristic breath of…water!
Released, he swims, chasing the glimmer of the bracelet
Gran gave the daughter who reveled in waves.
Straining for fading incandescence, flecks of silver,
his eyes and hands clasp cold silt,
flakes of sharp shale seething through fingers – crimson palms stinging.
A sea change ripples his shuddering back.
With a force summoned from the depths, her charged turquoise eyes unsuffer his heart
And holding out her hand to him, she knows. He knows. She speaks,
as his hand curls ’round her bracelet-clad wrist,
“Papa, just a little longer in the pool! One more time down the slide! Please!”
He nods; she won’t be his little mermaid much longer.

So there you go – a wrap-up to our heroine’s whirlwind adventure! You can see how the 2015 Progressive Poem progressed from Day One at the following locations:

1 Jone at Check it Out
2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog
6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson
8 Irene at Live Your Poem
9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
10 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
11 Kim at Flukeprints
12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine at DoriReads
14 Renee at No Water River
15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
17 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
19 Linda at Teacher Dance
20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots
21 Tara at A Teaching Life
22 Pat at Writer on a Horse
23 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference
26 Brian at Walk the Walk
27 Jan at Bookseedstudio
28 Amy at The Poem Farm
29 Donna at Mainely Write
30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

There’s so much going on today!  I’m very honored that Jama Rattigan has conferred upon me and fellow writer Greg Pincus the title of HotTEA…and you can learn more about what that means at her blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup! (I’ve never been a HotTEA before – or a hottie, or even haughty – so this is all quite new to me) I also share an original haiku about a specific type of tea…can you figure out which one?
 .
By the way, today is Poem in Your Pocket Day – AND Poetry Friday is at Mary Lee Hahn’s A Year of Reading this week, so you’ll find plenty of poetry there, starting bright & early Friday morning!
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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid 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!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on 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!

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