Poetry Friday: The 2016 Progressive Poem (Audio!)

Irene Latham‘s annual Progressive Poem wrapped up last weekend – but I couldn’t let pass the opportunity to share it in full!

2016 Kidlit Progressive PoemIf you are unaware of what I’m talking about, allow me to explain: during the month of April, different writers took turns adding a line to the poem each day – and Donna from Mainely Write put the bow on it last Saturday in pure, unexpected poetic style!

As I have done the last few years, I recorded the poem and am sharing it here; the text follows. Forgive me for my allergies…it’s not quite as good as I’d like it to be, but spring in New England is rough on me. (and please also forgive the giant head – I have no control over how big WordPress makes the link graphics!)

West Wind Dreams of Taking Shape (or, Thoughts Take Flight)

A squall of hawk wings stirs the sky.
A hummingbird holds and then hies.
“If I could fly, I’d choose to be
Sailing through a forest of poet-trees.”
A cast of crabs engraves the sand
Delighting a child’s outstretched hand.
“If I could breathe under the sea,
I’d dive, I’d dip, I’d dance with glee.”
A clump of crocuses craves the sun.
Kites soar while joyful dogs run.
“I sing to spring, to budding green,
to all of life – seen and unseen.”
Wee whispers drift from cloud to ear
and finally reach one divining seer
who looks up from her perch and beams —
“West Wind is dreaming May, it seems.”
Golden wings open and gleam
as I greet the prancing team.
“Gliding aside with lyrical speed,
I’d ride Pegasus to Ganymede.”
To a pied pocket, the zephyr returns.
Blowing soft words the seer discerns
“from earthbound voyage to dreamy night,
The time is now.  I give you flight!”
Yet I fear I am no kite or bird –
I lift!  The world below me blurred
by tears of joy.  I spiral high,
“I hum, I dive, I dip, I hive!”
“Behold, Spring is but a dance away!”
I grasp my pen, then capture this day.

If you’re interested, you can find all the folks who participated in the 2016 Progressive Poem at the following blog spots:

April

1 Laura at Writing the World for Kids

2 Joy at Joy Acey

3 Doraine at Dori Reads

4 Diane at Random Noodling

5 Penny at A Penny and Her Jots

6 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink

7 Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass

8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem

9 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

10 Pat at Writer on a Horse

11 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog

12 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty

13 Linda at TeacherDance

14 Jone at Deo Writer

15 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

16 Violet at Violet Nesdoly

17 Kim at Flukeprints

18 Irene at Live Your Poem

19 Charles at Charles Waters Poetry

20 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town

21 Jan at Bookseedstudio

22 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

23 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page

24 Amy at The Poem Farm

25 Mark at Jackett Writes

26 Renee at No Water River

27 Mary Lee at Poetrepository

28 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

29 Sheila at Sheila Renfro

30 Donna at Mainely Write

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllIf you’re looking for more poetry, you’re in luck! Sylvia Vardell is hosting Poetry Friday today, so head on over to her place for the complete list of links along with a special Mother’s Day celebration!

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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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A favour…

I have a quick favour to ask you. It won’t take long, unless you enjoy it.

Before we get to that, I need to explain why I haven’t been around much lately…

First, it’s been an another insanely busy week (I know, I’ve said that before, but I really mean it this time!) I recently wrapped up a marathon radio commercial production project for a good client of mine, American Cottage Rugs. I recorded the owner interview-style, sorted through the 45-55 minutes of her audio, and ended up producing 27 – yes, 27 – radio commercials. Whew!

Plus, I have been trying to finish up a picture book manuscript and get some new Cybils-Logo-2015-Round-Lgquery letters sent out to potential publishers – and I’ve got two other books AND a poetry collection I need to work on. I’m also in the process of tracking down at least five dozen young adult and middle-grade graphic novels (that’s right, I said five dozen!) as part of my responsibilities as a 1st-round panelist for the CYBILS Awards.

My wife and I are also attempting to get several rooms in our house moved and emptied in advance of a) winter and b) major construction work to repair ice dam damage we received last winter. The downstairs playroom will become our bedroom, our bedroom will become our 2-year-old’s room, and her room (the nursery) will become my long-awaited “real” studio. (My current studio is a side room near a common area upstairs – it’s ok, but not ideal)

Oh, and did I mention my wife and I have only been getting 2-3 hours of sleep each night for the past week? It seems our daughter is apparently suffering from something called “separation anxiety” – which means it takes us 2-3 hours to get her to fall asleep, and when she wakes up 3 or 4 times during the course of the night, it’s almost impossible to get her back to sleep. Oy.

Matt Tea 1Anyway, somehow in the midst of all this I managed to finally get my website updated – and this is where you come in! If you have the time and interest, I’d love for you to check it out and see what you think. The biggest change is the landing page, which allows the viewer the option of choosing my voiceover site or my children’s writer site.

If you’ve ever had the uncontrollable urge to learn more about me, your dreams have come true, right HERE! Thanks in advance, and I hope you’re enjoying these cool, colorful autumn days!

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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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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)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

FaffCamp is back!

If you are a voice talent, voice actor, voice artist, voiceover professional – heck, whatever you call yourself – you should know about FaffCamp! It’s a professional development conference organized by the same folks who orchestrate the hugely popular “un-conference,” FaffCon – and it’s a tremendous opportunity to network, learn, and be inspired in a fun, relaxed setting.

There are two ‘tracks,’ so to speak – one for seasoned pros and one for those who are just starting to get into the voiceover industry – so there really is something for everyone. Even if you work with, hire, or produce voiceover pros, you’ll probably find something of interest at this conference: ad agencies, eLearning providers, and even copywriters are encouraged to come check it out!

faffcamp-patch-logo-faffcon_225x200

 March 19-22, 2015 – San Antonio, TX

If you’re interested, don’t delay! Registration closes July 11 – and since it’s being done Kickstarter-style, if they don’t get enough registrants to break even by that date, they’ll have to cancel the event. So click the image above for all the details, and don’t miss Faff Camp II!

– Matt

Poetry Friday: The 2014 Progressive Poem is complete (with audio!)

2014kidlit_progpoemI want to again thank the wonderful Irene Latham for organizing this year’s 2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem…it turned out beautifully, considering each of its 30 lines was written by a different person!  This year, it started off with Charles Waters’ opening line:

Sitting on a rock, airing out my feelings to the universe

…and then meandered throughout the kidlitosphere blog by blog, finally concluding thusly, courtesy of Tara Smith:

For now my dreams dance along with a gentle blue eyed friend.

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI’m proud to have been a part of the Progressive Poem (having added line #8). Because reading a poem and hearing a poem can leave one with different impressions and feelings, I offered to record a reading of the poem and share it here with readers and fellow bloggers. Fellow writer and blogger Renee LaTulippe will also be recording a reading of the poem – so it will be interesting to see how (or IF) the male perspective differs from a female one.  I’ll be sure to share the link of her recording, once it’s available.

You can read the entire poem HERE, and be sure to check out all the other Poetry Friday happenings at Jama Rattigan’s place – she has a beautiful tribute to her mom, plus enough strawberry shortcake and tea for everyone!

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UPDATE! Renee has recorded her reading of the poem, too! Check out her version here:

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CRIME POETRY: Yours Truly was featured this week!

If you had a chance to catch my interview with crime poetry editor/poet Gerald So a couple weeks ago, you’ll recall we discussed crime poetry, what it  is and what he’s been doing over at The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly.  I’m proud that he liked a poem I submitted enough to share it with his readers as this week’s featured poem!

To read the poem, “To the Accused,” as well as hear me reading it, click HERE…I hope you like it!

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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!

“To the Accused:” New poem published online

I’m posting this short blog entry a day early this week, as I wanted to let you know that The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly has published a new poem of mine on their website! It’s titled, “To the Accused,” and will be featured on the home page all this week.

If you had a chance to catch my interview with crime poetry editor/poet Gerald So a couple weeks ago, you know what crime poetry is and what he’s been doing over at The 5-2.  I’m proud that he liked my poem enough to share it with his readers.

To read my poem as well as hear me reading it, click HERE…I hope you like it!

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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!

National Poetry Month: Thinking Like a Poet

I get asked many questions many times by many folks…all about the same subject:

NPM-2005-White“Isn’t poetry hard to write?”

“When did you start writing poetry?”

“Why do you write poetry?”

…and so forth. The answers, while simple, could be more elaborate if I wanted to take the time: Yes; almost forever ago; and because I have no other choice.

It’s not that I don’t want to take the time to offer more detailed responses; it’s just that most people aren’t really looking for that. It’s like when the cashier at the grocery store asks, “How are you?” She’s expecting a nice, short, “Good” so she can continue on about her duties. If you respond with, “Well, my dog died, I lost my job, and I just found out my wife is cheating on me with someone from the NSA…want to hear about it?” chances are, she’ll drop the eggs on the floor and not know what to do.

Better to keep the answers safe and simple, and not throw any curveballs.

But since this is my final blog post for National Poetry Month, I thought perhaps I could expand on some of my answers and try to explain – especially to non-poetry types – why poetry is not some sort of worthless academic pursuit and can actually be beneficial in your life.

Thinking like a poet: how?

First of all, it helps to think like a poet. Understanding poetry means understanding that there is always much more to life than just…life. By that, I mean, everything you see, touch, or experience is much more than what it appears to be.

coffee-mate_creamerA nonfiction writer friend once asked me to help her think like a poet. She wanted her writing to be less dry and a bit more creative and lyrical. So as an exercise, I placed a small, empty, white plastic coffee creamer cup on the table and asked her to make a list of everything that came to mind. Not just adjectives describing the cup, but every word, phrase, or vision that popped in her head – even if it didn’t make sense. I did the same, and timed us both for 2 minutes.

When we were done, we compared lists. She had words like ‘white,’ ‘drink,’ ’round,’ ‘striated,’ etc. Although we shared some of these obvious descriptors, mine were generally a bit more…imaginative:

‘Upside-down top hat.’

‘Cup runneth over.’

‘A White Hole. ‘ (Instead of a Black Hole.)

The exercise demonstrated that while she saw things as they were, I saw things as they could be. Just that one lesson opened her eyes as to how a creative type such as a poet views the world: with imagination, curiosity, and an open-mindedness that allows us to believe anything can be more than it seems. Indeed, there is more to nearly everything than meets the eye – and if you are willing to take the time to observe long enough, you can begin to view life through a poet’s eyes.

Thinking like a poet: why?

This is where things can get really interesting. I’ve found, over the years, that having a poet’s thought process allows me to conceive ideas from angles that others may not see.

This has been especially useful in radio copy writing, believe it or not. On more than one occasion, I have had to come up with commercial scripts that are unique, attention-getting, and most importantly – relatable to the listener. While different copy writers use different means to find an emotional connection with the listener for the product or service about which they are writing, I find that thinking like a poet (e.g., trying to find connections and imagery others might not see) has served me well.

Not that thinking like a poet means you have to rhyme – I’m primarily talking about thinking more creatively and making unusual connections – but let me share an example of how poetry really did work in my favour. A local restaurant needed to let people know they existed – their location, while prime, was at a 4-way intersection and easy to miss. But it was a small, family-style restaurant that, at first blush, did not appear to offer anything out of the ordinary.

What to do?

Now, normally I absolutely detest rhyming commercials. You know the ones…they always sound amateurish and dumb, and are a total tune-out. But I knew I could write a good one – and if I did it right, it would be ear-catching, memorable, and successful at getting its message across to listeners. The following commercial was written out of a need for listeners to know who the client was, where they were located, and what they offered:

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Note two important things about why this commercial worked and most rhyming commercials don’t: One, I kept the lines metrical. I was very careful about keeping the script flowing and fun – too many words per line (or the wrong words) and the commercial would just collapse under its own weight. The other thing I did was refrain from using “easy” rhymes. I could have written a line that ended with “toast” and rhymed it with “most,” or used “steak” and “bake.” but that would have made the commercial sound cheesy and predictable – which I definitely did not want.

The unusual rhymes and bouncy cadence of the verse is what made the commercial work, in my opinion – and although any person could write a rhyming commercial, without the skill of writing metrically and knowing how to rhyme effectively, the commercial would not have been as humourous or, more importantly, as effective.

Image courtesy of suphakit73 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thinking like a poet: when?

All the time! The more you start to actively think about the things around you – from your home and family to things as simple as the car you drive, the road you travel on, or the food you eat – the more you’ll start becoming aware of all the possibilities for inspiration there are out there.

Think about possibilities, think about similarities and differences, think about “what if!”

“What would a picture of my kids look like, if I couldn’t include their faces?”

“A home with no windows or doors is like a _____.”

“If I could take this elevator anywhere, where would I go?”

“Why might a pencil be considered a religious talisman?”

“What if crows were a different colour?”

Yes, these are pretty random questions – but they can be examples of ways of thinking beyond what is comfortable and concrete. Question why an apple is red, but not because of any botanical reason. Imagine what love would look like if it could be held in your hand.

Wonder to yourself how to describe music to a deaf person or a sunset to someone who has been blind from birth.

Think about that little coffee creamer cup, and see what you can create out of it in two minutes. You might surprise yourself!

Poetry = Life

For me, I’ve always enjoyed the rhythm and rhyme of words and the imagery a writer can create – whether it is via a poem, short story, or other form of writing. Poetry, though, is a perfect vehicle for showcasing compact vignettes of emotion, enlightenment, pain, and all sorts of fascinating aspects of humanity. The poet takes a scene, feeling, or object and distills it down to it’s essence – and sometimes goes even beyond that, to create new associations with other scenes and feelings the reader had never before connected

I started reading picture books of poetry as a child, and began writing poetry in earnest in high school. Since then, I’ve written poetry and songs throughout my life because I have a compulsion to do so. Most writers will tell you the same thing, too – that they write because they have this urge inside, this burning desire to get something in their head out on paper.

Poetry can be quite hard to write, but also immensely fulfilling. Even short, 3-line haiku poems, which might seem simple, are much more complex than they may seem. Sort of like humans.

And come to think of it, that observation might make a good poem.

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2014kidlit_progpoemOnly TWO DAYS remain to poet Irene Latham’s 2014 Progressive Poem! Each day throughout the month of April, a different poet has added a line to the poem, and we are very close to completing our journey!

Today it heads over to Ruth at There is No Such Thing As a God-Forsaken Town, but here is the complete list of contributors:

1 Charles at Poetry Time
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Donna at Mainely Write
4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
5 Carrie at Story Patch
6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
7 Pat at Writer on a Horse
8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
9 Diane at Random Noodling
10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
11 Linda at Write Time
12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
13 Janet at Live Your Poem
14 Deborah at Show–Not Tell
15 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Julie at The Drift Record
20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
21 Renee at No Water River
22 Laura at Author Amok
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Linda at TeacherDance
25 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
27 Kate at Live Your Poem
28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
30 Tara at A Teaching Life

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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!

 

 

The difference between high rates and low rates: it’s not money

My baby!Well, sure, a $500 commercial and a $50 commercial may have a difference of $450…but that’s only a small part of the story.

If you are a business that seeks professional creative talent (voiceovers, graphic art, anything) on a regular or even semi-regular basis, you should remember there is much more to a quoted rate than just dollars. In fact, dollars are merely a sign of underlying value – or lack thereof.

That’s not to say that the more expensive a service is, the better it is; we can certainly all point to circumstances that prove otherwise. There is something to be said, though, about what makes up a rate, what goes into it, and what needs to be removed in order to make that rate lower.

Behind the scenes of voiceovers

I’ve heard many folks claim – falsely – that voice work is easy because you just ‘speak into a mic.’ How hard can it be, they say, you’re just reading!  These people don’t understand the importance of tone, timing, inflection, energy, and dozens of other factors that go into voicing a script in order to make the most of that script.

They don’t realize the necessity of reading a script before recording and correcting typos, misspellings, and punctuation and grammar errors.  They don’t understand why a line might need to be recorded two or three times and then edited together to make it sound like one line. They certainly have no idea what ambience, mouth noise, plosives, sibilance, proximity effect, or a noise floor are.

And they probably don’t care.

But you know what? If you hire someone to voice a corporate video, on-hold messaging, or some other project, you don’t need to know these things, so you really don’t need to care.

That’s why professionals like me exist – because we DO know these things and we DO care!  More on this in just a minute…

Voiceovers and photography – the easiest jobs in the world

ID-100111925 (photographer)Last weekend, I was speaking to a professional photographer who has been working in the business for a couple years and is still trying to build up her portfolio. She told me what she normally charges for certain projects, which is slightly less than average, and then followed it up – almost sheepishly – with why she felt justified charging those rates.

“People just don’t know all the work that goes into it!” she said, exasperated.  Just one on-location event, she explained, requires time spent prepping the schedule, knowing who to take pictures of and when, who they want the pictures taken with, what activities during the course of this event need to be captured, and any other bits of pertinent information.

Then there’s culling the hundreds of photos taken to pull the best ones, editing and touching up those pictures, and making sure every photo she sends to her client looks as good as possible. And of course, the gas driving to and from events, the cost of her equipment and materials, and the fact that she actually needs to make a bit of a profit to keep doing it.

She said when she quotes a few hundred dollars per hour, some people will scoff at the cost.  Others who do hire her will often be calling her up the next day, wondering where their photos are.

“They think I’m just there, taking pictures – they don’t realize everything else that’s involved!”

I told her I knew exactly what she meant.

Lower rate = less services?

Getting back to why professionals like my photographer friend and me exist…it’s because we worry about the details that others don’t.  As I thought about all the things I provide under the umbrella of my rates, it occurred to me that if I was going to lower my rates considerably, I would need to forego some of the services I provide. Otherwise, I would be working, working, working non-stop for less and less money.

Personally, I didn’t like that option.

If I charge $300 for a 15-minute corporate video narration, I’m going to provide script prep (checking for errors, stressed lines, etc.); I’ll record the audio on professional equipment at the sample and bit rates requested; I’ll edit mistakes, clicks, and plosives (those annoying ‘pops’ when someone utters a word starting with “P”); I’ll sweeten the audio, if requested, with EQ, compression, or delay effects; I’ll mix it all down and send it to you in the audio file format of your choice (.wav, .mp3, .aiff, etc.); and with the exception of long-form narration, I can usually have it back to you in less than 36 hours.

All for $300.  I’d say that’s a pretty fair price.

ID-10067032 (dollar sign - broken)Due diligence and buyer’s remorse

So when I see another voice talent charging only $50 or so for the same thing, I have to wonder what it is that I’m providing that he or she is not. What part of the service is being dropped or diminished, so that the talent can make such a low rate profitable? Do they not have the time or experience to be able to prep a script? Are they not using professional equipment? Do they even know the difference between sample rates and bit rates?

Do they care??

More importantly, do you care whether or not they care?

If you do…research who you are hiring, and don’t hire on price alone. If you come across someone with a rate that seems high to you, spend some time thinking about all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into a rate like that, and then compare that to the super-low rate your found on one of those quick-and-easy freelance websites.

Perhaps you’ll find someone who does a great job and you’ll get a great deal. Perhaps, instead, you’ll wish someone else had done it.

Or worst of all…perhaps someone else will need to do it.

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid 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!  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 , Facebook, Pinterest, and SoundCloud!