Poetry Friday: “OMTB” Blog Tour AND a father-daughter collaboration!

omtb-blog-tour-graphicBy now, you’ve probably heard about Kenn Nesbitt’s new children’s poetry anthology, One Minute Till Bedtime (Little, Brown for Young Readers). It has received numerous positive reviews like THIS ONE and THIS ONE and THIS ONE and was also selected by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the best children’s books of 2016!

I’m very proud to be one of more than 130 poets included in the book, and today, many of the contributors are taking part in a blog tour! (That’s why, in case you’re wondering, I’m sharing my Poetry Friday post a day early!)

But this blog tour is a little different; rather than sharing the poem(s) we have included in the book, we are sharing poems that were submitted, but not selected! You see, when Kenn asked us to send him our poems, we had no idea which ones he’d chooses and which ones he’d pass on…so it seemed like a waste not to give those poems that didn’t make the cut their own opportunity to shine.

Back on Nov. 4, I shared one of my poems that didn’t make it – and today I have another. This one is a lullaby of sorts that I wrote back in the mid-’90’s, before I was even making an effort to become published, but which I have sung for each of my 4 kids, right before bed. The rhyming isn’t perfect, but they all love it – so to me, it’s perfect the way it is.

Little Lullaby

Time to go to sleep,
time to go to sleep.
No more time to play,
no more time to eat.

Time to let your dreams
carry you away,
so rest your weary eyes –
tomorrow’s another day.

– © 1994, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

If you’d like to check out all the other poems from all the other folks taking part in this blog tour, head on over to Jackie Hosking’s blog and you’ll find several poems and all the links to the other blog posts.

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As for Friday itself, that is the day I get to share a new poem with the readers of Penny Parker Klostermann’s blog, as part of her ongoing series, “A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt” – an opportunity for two family members to collaborate on a picture and an accompanying poem.

I’ve already had the pleasure of writing poems based on drawings by my two youngest children, and now I get to share a poem I wrote based on something by one of their two older sisters!

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI hope you’ll take a trip over to Penny’s blog to see it…and be sure to also visit Bridget Magee’s Wee Words for Wee Ones for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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Poetry Friday: “Pumpkin”

If you celebrated Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. yesterday, I hope you enjoyed it! In honor of the holiday, I’m sharing a poem of mine from last year’s 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

I hope you’ll be sure to visit Carol’s Corner for a short review of a new novel in verse, AND today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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Thanksgiving Day: The one blessing we overlook

This post was originally published on Nov. 20, 2013, but between food prep, writing, voiceover work, and chasing after a 3-year-old, my time is extremely limited this week! So I thought it might be appropriate to dust this off and re-post it for any of my followers who hadn’t caught it the first time around. I hope you enjoy your week, whether or not you’re celebrating Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and be grateful…that you have the capacity to be thankful!

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Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. will be here in two days, and everywhere you turn, people are talking, writing, and blogging about all the things they’re thankful for.  I, for one, am growing weary of it.

Now, please don’t get me wrong; it’s good to be grateful.  Indeed, we should be thankful – and display that thankfulness – every day of our lives.  We should reflect upon our blessings on a regular basis and never hesitate to show our appreciation for what we have.

My problem is not so much with the thankfulness; it’s that we’re missing an important reason to be thankful.

The Usual Suspects

Again, please don’t misunderstand me; I’m glad people are thankful for their blessings.  But there are certain blessings that show up on nearly everyone’s lists – our faith(s), our families and friends, our lives, our pets, our homes, our talents.

Some people may be thankful their loved ones made it home safely from being abroad; others may be grateful that they received a year-end bonus, or even have a job at all.

Even the poor and destitute among us may be thankful for things like the warmth of the sun or the kindness of a stranger.

I can say honestly that I am truly, truly, TRULY thankful for all these things…but you probably could have guessed that, even if you had never met me or had never even heard of me or this blog.

These are the blessings that most of humanity celebrates – and the acknowledgement that we should be grateful for these things is rooted in the love, compassion, and empathy that separates our species from the rest of the animal kingdom.

We recognize the importance of both gratitude and thankfulness.

A quick vocabulary lesson

Gratitude and thankfulness are not necessarily interchangeable.

I’m no lexicographer or linguist, but it has always been my understanding that these words had different meanings.  To be thankful means you’re appreciative that something that you wanted came about; to be grateful indicates you are appreciative towards someone or something.

(Any English professors in the house?  Please correct me if I’m wrong!)

The reason it’s important to know the difference is because gratitude is directional; thankfulness is not.  Feed a hungry animal and it may be thankful it received food, but it might not be grateful toward you for feeding it.  I know pet owners will disagree with that – having two dogs and two cats of my own, I’ll admit that some animals probably are grateful to the person taking care of them – but how many of these animals understand what it means to be grateful or thankful?

And therein lies the rationale for my previous statement that our recognition of the importance of both gratitude and thankfulness is one of the important qualities that elevates us above the rest of the animal kingdom.

Little blessings, and the BIG one

As I ponder this, I come to the conclusion that the human condition of feeling gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation is itself a blessing.

Yes, I’m thankful for all those things we talked about earlier.  I’m thankful for my family, our friends, and our pets.  I’m thankful I live in a country that promotes freedom of speech, religion, and personal excellence.  I’m grateful to God and Jesus for their love and sacrifices; I’m grateful to my wife and family for supporting me as a self-employed stay-at-home dad; I’m grateful to Al Gore for creating the internet.

(I’m also thankful – or grateful – to whomever or whatever was responsible for getting my 2-year-old to finally stop waking up at 5am…daylight savings time really screwed up the poor little dude’s internal clock for a couple of weeks!)

But I don’t want to overlook this very important aspect of our humanity; that is, the recognition of the importance of gratitude and thankfulness.

Thankful…for being thankful?

Yes, that is basically what I’m saying.  Chuckle if you’d like.  However, when you actually think about what it means to be thankful for having the comprehension of what gratitude, appreciation, or even indebtedness mean…I hope you will understand why I believe it is so important.

We humans are not simply grateful, or thankful.  We comprehend – and celebrate – the importance of being grateful or thankful.

So this Thanksgiving Day, while we’re giving thanks for all we have, think about why you are thankful.

Think about why you are grateful.

And give thanks that you are.

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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Poetry Friday: “The Best of Today’s Little Ditty!”

If you have spent any amount of time enjoying Poetry Friday, you have probably poetryfridaybutton-fulllcome across the blog of my friend and fellow writer, Michelle H. Barnes, Today’s Little Ditty. What started out as a forum to share her work soon turned into a showcase of interviews, repository of writing advice, and a community of folks sharing their own work.

And today, it becomes a book!

I’m very happy to announce the publication of Michelle’s The Best of Today’s Little Ditty, 2014-2015 – a collection of 75 poems by 55 different folks who have visited her site and contributed poetry over the past 2 years.

I encourage you to visit her website today and find out more about the book and how to get a copy! And in the meantime, I’ll share one of my poems you’ll find inside…this one from a challenge from the inimitable Lee Bennett Hopkins to write a poem about a formative moment in my younger life:

…I write her name in my notebook.

I’m not sure why.
What is it about her eyes,
her lips,
that makes me think
she’s smiling at me
even when she’s turned away?
I write her name in my notebook.
I’m not sure why.
What is it about violets and – is that vanilla? –
that make a girl smell so nice?
I don’t even like vanilla, but still…
I write her name in my notebook.
I’m not sure why.
Why do I crane my neck to watch
as she walks away, yet hide
my face
when she sees me
watching?
What would she say,
what would she do,
if only she knew…

– © 2015 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

(And by the way, HUGE congratulations to Lee for being the newest inductee into the Florida Artists’ Hall of Fame! This was just announced yesterday, and all of us in the children’s poetry community are thrilled!)

Congratulations again, Michelle…on the book, of course, as well as on your blog’s huge success! And speaking of poetry blogs, please stop by Brenda Davis Harsham’s little home on the web, Friendly Fairy Tales, for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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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!
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Poetry Friday: November haiku

Everyone is talking about that big story in the news. You know the one. I’m not sure where this came from, so make of it what you will…

November haiku

Grizzly, wolverine
fight over stag’s warm remains
while the forest burns

– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, I encourage you to visit the one and only Jama Kim Rattigan at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

And I would be remiss not to thank you, veterans, for all you have done for our country. Here in the U.S., today is Veteran’s Day, and the only reason we were able to hold elections this past Tuesday – and the only reason we can protest, cheer, or write about them – is because of the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices of the men and women of our armed forces. So if you are a veteran…thank you.

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Rejection and dejection on a day of election

I received another rejection notice yesterday.

It was from a children’s book publisher I had never contacted before, so I had no idea if or when I’d hear back – or what they’d even think of the particular manuscript I had sent. The rejection was a brief form letter sent via email addressed to “author,” so I knew before I even read it how it was going to end.

Of course, as my right forefinger was sliding over to the ‘delete’ button, I was already thinking about who I might send the manuscript to next. I throw out or delete nearly every rejection letter I get because I figure if I can eliminate the negativity inherent in the situation, I can avoid dejection and concentrate on more positive things.

I’m trying to do that with this election, as well.

Here in the United States, we are voting today for our next president, and the campaigns have been ruthless, relentless, and wearisome. While neither candidate is the one I would have initially preferred to vote for, I know exactly who I’m voting for and will participate in this democratic process because I want to have a say in how my country is governed.

But I will do my utmost to try to be positive, no matter who wins. (Yes, yes, easier said than done, but I’m going to try, at least.)

Just like with my rejection letters, the negativity and dejection that follow an election loss can eat away at a person if he/she doesn’t have a strong defense. And with a race as contentious as this one has been, we cannot afford to add to the contentiousness by being foul and combative.

There’s been far too much of that, already.

We can be upset with the final result, sure – and frustrated and disappointed and exasperated – but ultimately, we’ll all have to dust ourselves off and keep moving forward as best we can, with as much optimism as we can muster.

And right after I vote, I’m sending out another manuscript.

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Poetry Friday: a poem you’ll never read in “One Minute Till Bedtime”

One Minute coverKenn Nesbitt’s new children’s poetry anthology, One Minute Till Bedtime (Little, Brown for Young Readers), is officially out, and I am so excited to be part of such a beautiful, well-received book! (I’ll be signing copies at Books-A-Million in Concord, New Hampshire, tomorrow from 1-3pm, so please stop by if you’re in the area!)

Now, I’ve already told you about the book in previous posts, but today I wanted to share a poem that’s NOT in the book…huh??

You see, when Kenn asked me to contribute a 60-second(ish)-long poem for the book, I had a couple of options: I could write a brand-new poem or two – or send in a couple of poems I had already written but never published. So I did both!

The poem that was selected for inclusion, “A Visit to the Forest,” I had written a few years ago, but never knew what to do with…so I was very happy to learn it was going to find a home within the pages of One Minute Till Bedtime.

However, I also wrote a poem about books and bedtime specifically for the book – which was not selected. So…what to do? I figured I’d share it here, so that you can at least read it while we’re all celebrating the release of the book that it never made it into! Hope you like it…

One More Book

One more book
……….is all I want.
Can you read me one more book?

It won’t take long,
……….I promise.
Please?
I’ll find a short one…
……….let me look!

I don’t want
……….a glass of water.
I don’t need
……….to try to pee.

I won’t be loud
……….or clown around
if you’ll read one more book to me.

I know I need to go to sleep.
I know you’re tired.

……….I am, too.

But one more book is all I’m asking.
Is that something we can do?

You’ve only read
……….nine books so far
and see how little time it took?

So can you read –
please, oh please –

can you read me

……….one
………………..more
…………………………book?
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© 2016, Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

For more poetry, please head on over to Laura Purdie Salas’ blog, Writing the World for Kids, where she is hosting today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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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!
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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)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!