Poetry Friday: Things to believe in

Earlier this week, as I contemplated what to share for today’s post, I wondered what I should write; something positive, something thoughtful, something funny? Then it occurred to me…I’d already written it!

Last Friday, at Jama’s Alphabet Soup, Jama Rattigan was celebrating her last blog post of the year by asking readers to share a few lines about what they believe in. Folks left a variety of comments, paragraphs, and in a few cases what I’d term prose poetry – listing (quite beautifully) everything from dogs, grass, and ocean waves to the power of words and the spirit of Christmas.

As I thought about it, it seemed to me that sometimes the smallest things in the world can be the most important. So as I wrote down my thoughts, I realized they were – unsurprisingly – written in the form of a poem. I shared my thoughts on her blog, but I felt I should share them here, as well.

Keep in mind, this is not polished – it’s a mere 15-20 minutes of thought and words, so it’s not perfect, but I still felt like it was worth posting:

Little Things

I believe in the power and majesty
of little things;
a grain of sand, spiderweb strand,
one solitary snowflake
alighting on my coat.
I believe in the triumph
of good over evil,
love over heartbreak,
time over wounds.
And I believe all the world
owes its existence to a God
who deemed it necessary
that the living place of humankind
should be more beautiful than ugly,
more loving that hate-filled,
and smaller
than we think it is.

– © 2017, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

I welcome your thoughts! What do YOU believe in? How does that help you deal with life’s frustrations? And on this “almost-eve” of the world’s most important birthday celebration, how do you find peace in your own little part of the Earth?

My friend, writer/blogger Buffy Silverman, is hosting Poetry Friday today at Buffy’s Blog, with a poem about enjoying Christmas day with eggrolls and movies – stop by her blog and you’ll see why!

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Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to purchase personalized signed copies of not only Flashlight Night, but ANY of my books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. 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?)

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Thank you so much to all who have enjoyed “Flashlight Night” enough to write about 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!
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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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Poetry Friday: Welcome to the 2017 Holiday Poetry Party!

Like Frosty says, “Welcome!” Take off your coat, have a seat, and relax – we have plenty to drink, including egg nog, spiced apple cider, and a giant batch of our special Holiday Punch! (Oh, and plenty of Moxie, as well – it is the elixir of the gods, after all)

Pepparkakor, loaded with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.

If you’re feeling a bit peckish, you’ll find numerous tables scattered throughout the rooms, featuring my award-winning homemade chili, maple-glazed scallops wrapped in bacon, homemade spanakopita, Swedish meatballs, roasted pepper-and-olive petite quiches, and freshly-made, authentic French Canadian Tourtière and gorton.

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Chocolate-mint brownie cookies. If a cookie could be a brownie, this is what it would look like!

Oh, I’m sorry – you prefer sweet over savory? We have numerous treats as well, including chocolate-mint brownie cookies, Scandinavian pepparkakor, vegan cranberry-banana bread, double-dipped pretzels, German springerle, tri-chocolate roasted walnut bark, tons of sugar cookies in every shape you can imagine (including flashlights!), my famous pumpkin-rum swirl cheesecake with gingersnap crust, and a vegan chocolate cake with mocha icing you’ll absolutely love.

Once you’ve satisfied your cravings, I do hope you’ll stick around for the poetry we’ll be sharing; you see, David L. Harrison, Joy Acey, and I started up this little shindig a few years ago, and up til now it’s been held at David’s place. But as wonderful as he and Sandy have been as our hosts, we thought it might be nice to move the party around a bit – so this year, it’s here at the ol’ Triple-R.

In advance of our party, I’ve “spruced” up the place a bit (har har, gotta love holiday puns)…

…so please leave a comment to let us know you stopped by – and if you’re so inclined, please include either a couplet about your favorite holiday food or the title of a new picture book you feel needs to be under every child’s tree this year!

Although there is one particular book that is near and dear to my heart (I’m sure you can guess which one that is!), I would like to suggest a few others that are special in different ways, all written by friends of mine from here in the Northeast:  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s Read! Read! Read! (Boyds Mills Press) which was illustrated by my friend Ryan O’Rourke and came out the same day as Flashlight Night, with the same publisher and editor; Elaine Magliaro’s Things to Do (Chronicle), a collection of poetic scenes from nature written with the wonder of a child; Josh Funk’s fun The Case of the Stinky Stench (Sterling), the sequel to Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast; and Carol Gordon Ekster’s You Know What? (Clavis), which celebrated its national book launch alongside Flashlight Night when Carol & I visited Cambridge, MA in September for a kidlit author/illustrator gathering, followed by a presentation/reading/signing at Porter Square Books.

Two other books I would add – and there are some GREAT ones out this year – are Lee Bennett Hopkins’ Traveling the Blue Road (Seagrass Press), a collection of children’s poems about bravery, courage, and how the sea is a metaphor for life’s journey; and my son’s favorite, Drew Daywalt’s The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors (Balzer & Bray) which is extremely creative in its storytelling and hilarious, to boot.

Last – but certainly, definitely never least – is an upcoming book by the gentleman who started this virtual holiday party, David L. Harrison. A Place to Start a Family: Poems About Creatures That Build (Charlesbridge, 2018), David’s latest children’s poetry collection, comes out next month, features 12 poems about animals that build things – nests, tunnels, etc. – and includes back matter that provides more info on each animal and its poem. Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly already love it, so be sure to watch for it when it hits stores in January!

(And speaking of purchasing picture books, there is now an easy way for you to pick up a personalized signed copy of Flashlight Night, online! Details below…)

Home, Sweet Home…

I look forward to reading your couplets and picture book suggestions! Just leave them in the comments for everyone to read and enjoy. I’ll be popping in throughout the day to make sure introductions are made, plates are full, and glasses are filled!

Here’s my couplet, which I came up with while baking with my daughter the other day:

I’ll bake some cookies, make a mess, and then I’ll bake some more!
It takes me twice as long these days; my sous chef’s only four.

Diane Mayr is hosting Poetry Friday today, so I encourage you to swing by her place for a little while, as well, and enjoy all the poetry links and fun at Random Noodling!

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Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to purchase personalized signed copies of not only Flashlight Night, but ANY of my books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. 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?)

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Thank you so much to all who have enjoyed “Flashlight Night” enough to write about 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!
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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!

Poetry Friday: The Winter Poetry Swap, part II!

winter-poetry-swap

Before we get too far, let me first apologize to my Poetry Friday friends, whose blogs I have not been frequenting lately. I really want to check out everyone’s blogs – and try to get to as many as I can – but it’s been a difficult task these past couple of weeks.

You see, I’ve been busy…

Clockwise, from left: Pepparkakor (Scandinavian spice cookie), Sugar cookies, Peanut Blossoms (flourless dough!), Christmas Haystacks (A southern treat made with chow mein noodles, peanuts, and melted butterscotch chips), Chocolate-Peppermint Brownie Cookies (If a brownie was given the chance to be a cookie for one day, this is what it would taste like!), Serinakakor (Scandinavian butter cookie w/almonds), Strawberry-Oatmeal Jumbles,
And that’s not even all of them!
Made about 11 dozen of these, alone…if you don’t count all the ones I tasted in the interest of quality control.

Let’s break this down: 16 dozen pepparkakor, 4 dozen serinakakor, 11 dozen chocolate-peppermint brownie cookies, 8 dozen sugar cookies, 5 1/2 dozen strawberry oatmeal bars, 3 1/2 dozen peanut blossoms, and 3 dozen haystacks. That’s 51 and a half dozen cookies, in case you’re wondering.

And yes, I kept count!

That’s over 600 cookies, baked in less than a week, with a 3-year-old here at the house destroying everything she can get her mitts on. Add in Christmas shopping, decorating, trying to find time to write, and getting my voiceover work done, and…well, as I said, I’ve been busy.

But with the Big Day just days away, all that’s left is cleaning the house, wrapping the remaining presents, and getting food prepped for Sunday – so things are starting to slow down to the relaxed pace that we expect at Christmas.

My family & I will be attending a Christmas Eve-Eve service tonight, then settling in for a nice long weekend. I, for one, cannot wait!

So now, then…the poetry. In last week’s post, I told you about Tabatha Yeatt’s 2016 Winter Poetry Swap, where folks exchange poetry and a gift with others, and I shared the poem that Keri Collins Lewis had written for me.

Today, I’m sharing the poem I wrote for educator, blogger, and poet Margaret Simon! I decided that it might be interesting to read through several of her past blog posts about Christmas and create a found poem from some of the words and phrases I came across. Here’s how it turned out (click to enlarge):

Margaret shared this poem on her blog a couple days ago, so I wanted to share it here, as well. Hope you liked it! For more poetry, head on over to Buffy’s Blog, where Buffy Silverman is hosting Poetry Friday today!

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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!

Poetry Friday: Tabatha Yeatts’ 2016 Winter Poetry Swap!

winter-poetry-swapI rarely, if ever, feature poetry by folks other than myself on Poetry Friday…it’s not a vanity thing, it’s just that I don’t usually share my work on any days other than Fridays, so I like to reserve this day for my own.

Today, though, I’m making an exception, thanks to Tabatha Yeatts and Keri Collins Lewis!

I was happy to once again take part in Tabatha’s annual Winter Poetry Swap, an opportunity to write a poem for someone and have someone else write one for you – and receive a little Christmas gift along with it. No one knows who has our names until a package shows up in the mail from that person!

This year, Keri was given my name; I learned this when a package came to my house with a jar of raw honey from Keri’s own bees, a very nice writer’s notebook, and this poem:

keris-poem
(click to enlarge)

Thank you so much, Keri! I really appreciate it. As for the woman whose name I was given…well, I’m not sure if she’s received her package yet, so I’m keeping mum for now. But I’ll be sure to share the poem once I know she has seen it first!

Speaking of the Winter Poetry Swap, Tabatha is hosting Poetry Friday today at her blog, The Opposite of Indifference – so be sure to stop by and check out all the poetry links – as well as some beautiful shadow box art!

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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!

Cookies vs. Blog

Christmas time’s a-comin’…

This is going to be a short post because I have a number of pressing issues I need to attend to.

Like cookies.

You see, construction work on our house was finally completed this past Sunday ($20,000 worth of ice dam damage from last winter!), and only now can the family and I dive into all our Christmas traditions that we’ve put on hold.

Like cookies!

Yes, I need to get voiceover work done. I have a new picture book manuscript I need to start sending out. I have CYBILS-nominated books I need to read and judge. And the house – especially the upstairs – is in such a state of disruption that it’s hard to find the floor, much less anything else. But I’m determined not to let the important aspects of the holiday slip by.

Like cookies!

Oh, I have cards to send, stockings to hang, gifts to wrap…and a slew of other responsibilities like taking care of the kids while mom’s at work. A guy needs to have his priorities straight, though.

First, we set up the Nativity scene on top of the dining room bureau. This is, of course, what Christmas is all about. Then the outdoor lights went up. Then the 4-foot-tall fake tree was erected in the sun room, since we had no room for a real tree this year.

Pretty much all of that was done before construction began. Unfortunately, we had to put a hold on everything while walls were ripped open, siding was replaced, roofing was redone, and drywall was plastered.

But construction is complete, finally! (New paint and floors are still to come, but we’ll take care of that next year) So it’s time to rejoice in the spirit of the season! The advent wreath is on the table. The shopping is done. Our Christmas mass plans are nailed down.

There’s just one thing that absolutely, positively, needs to be taken care of at this point.

Cookies!

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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!

Poetry Friday: “Candle at Midnight”

Candle at Midnight

ID-10020422 (candle)I light a candle at midnight.
Why?
Now, you can see
a radiant glow –
the smallest of blazes –
deep within
suffocating darkness.
Beyond the
shadows, beyond death,
what remains are
gifts of life:
extinguish the flame,
the scent lingers…
it becomes part of you
with one single breath.
Breathe.
Carry it with you,
your candle at midnight.
Carry it with you.
Breathe.
With one single breath,
it becomes part of you;
the scent lingers.
Extinguish the flame –
gifts of life –
what remains are
shadows. Beyond death,
beyond the
suffocating darkness,
deep within
the smallest of blazes…
a radiant glow.
Now you can see
why
I light a candle at midnight.

© 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine

Buffy Silverman is hosting Poetry Friday…and also has candles on her mind! Visit her blog for all of today’s poetry links.

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Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2Did 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 Next Big Thing!”

Back at the beginning of the year, I talked about how excited I was to be wrapping up my first 5 months of this blog.  Then just a couple of weeks ago, I told you about the Liebster Award that had been passed along to me. Now, I’m excited to be part of something new:

Many thanks to my friend, children’s author and poet Joyce Ray, for inviting me to participate in the online literary blog called THE NEXT BIG THING!

the-next-big-thingIf you’ve not heard of THE NEXT BIG THING, it’s a sort of “chain blog” consisting of a series of questions about works-in-progress and not-yet-published titles. Many national and international writers have participated in it; Joyce did last week, and now it’s my turn!

The nice thing about THE NEXT BIG THING is that it not only provides some extra visibility for the bloggers taking part, but more importantly, it gives readers a glimpse into the working life of a writer. Part of the fun is tagging someone else, so stay tuned to learn who I’ll be tagging at the end of this post!  Some of these questions require some deep thought, so I’ll do my best to answer them…

What is the working title of your book?

“Anticipation: Poems for a Winter’s Night”

Where did the idea come from for the book?

As someone who writes a lot of children’s poetry, one day I noticed I had written 5 or 6 poems about winter…so it occurred to me they should probably be organized into their own collection.  This was in May 2012.  So I decided to try to get the manuscript completed (written, edited, revised, finalized) by September. As it turned out, I was done by Oct. – so I wasn’t too far off!

What genre does your book fall under?

Children’s poetry.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ha! Not sure this question fits, since the book is comprised of 23 poems…but since many are written in first-person, I’d say we could get Sofia Vergara to portray the school bus driver, Adriana Lima to portray the teacher, and Miranda Lambert to portray the person I ask to keep me warm outside.  Of course, this is all assuming my wife won’t mind…so I’m really going out on a limb here.

But hey, it’s Hollywood!

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

“A funny, touching, and magical look at the coldest – yet warmest – season of all.”

Y’know, I just thought that up this minute. I kinda like it!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Hard to say, as I edit poems as I go along; I revisit them, revise them, place them in the manuscript, rearrange them in the manuscript, edit them again, rearrange them again, blah, blah.  The first draft was probably done by late September, then it was just a matter of tweaking a few things here and there.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

It’s very difficult – if not extremely egotistical – for me to compare a manuscript by an unpublished author to books written by some of the best children’s poets in America. So I do this hesitantly and with a great amount humility…but as it’s a winter-themed poetry collection, I’d say it’s similar in tone to Jack Prelutsky’s It’s Snowing! It’s Snowing (2006, Greenwillow) and Douglas Florian’s Winter Eyes (1999, Greenwillow), although the number of silly or funny poems in mine outnumbers theirs.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I wish I knew! I always tell people how much I hate winter – the shovelling, the snow-blowing, the slickness of roads, the ice on your driveway, the cold temperatures, etc., etc. – and yet, it was not a difficult manuscript to put together. I’ve already come up with another two or three winter poems since I finished it, and I haven’t even been trying!  Perhaps I like winter more than I realized. I absolutely love Christmas, so that might have something to do with it.

What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?

I think the diversity of poems. Not only is there a good balance of funny-to-quiet poems, but I used a number of various forms: there’s a villanelle, cinquain, triolet, haiku, tanka, and a couple others, in addition to more conventional forms. One minute you’re laughing about my Valentine’s Day dilemma with Beulah Buford, and the next, you’re sitting quietly by yourself in a school bus on a winter morning, scratching at the frosty window.  I really like the fact that each poem sort of has its own ‘feel.’

When and how will it be published?

Funny, I ask m yself that same question all…the…time.  Being an as-yet-unpublished author (other than having various adult poems published in independent journals over the years), it’s been an uphill climb trying to get my other manuscripts accepted. I’ve only sent this manuscript to one editor so far, who I want to give first-refusal. If she decides to pass, then I’ll let all the other publishing houses and literary agencies fight over the rights and I’ll eventually sign a six-book deal and movie rights with the highest bidder.  At least, that’s how I imagine things will happen.

WHO’S NEXT?

It is my honor to tag and introduce to you Catherine Johnson, who is also currently working on a manuscript…

Catherine is a British ex-pat living in Canada with her family. She writes picture books and poetry and has several poems published, and was a British champion twice in Tae Kwon-Do.  (How cool is that??)  She blogs at http://catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com…so be sure to stop by, and learn about herNEXT BIG THING!”