Poetry Friday: “The Art of Autumn”

(click to enlarge)

After sharing my poem from several years ago last week, I wasn’t planning on digging into the archives again today – but I stumbled upon this little ditty and felt it was appropriate, considering the time of year. Last night we finally had our first frost of the season – only about a month later than normal! – so I suppose it’s time to start thinking apples, pumpkin, and leaf-raking, after all.

Interestingly, even though I wrote this almost exactly 3 years ago in Oct. 2014, I never shared this poem here at Triple-R. It had been written and formatted (and subsequently published) on Carol Varsalona’s blog, Beyond Literacy, as part of her “Finding Fall” gallery. So I thought it was about time it made its debut here!

You may think that today is unlucky, but you’d be quite wrong; Irene Latham is celebrating Friday the 13th by hosting Poetry Friday at her blog, Live Your Poem. And I’m celebrating because a book I wrote is presently on display in a museum…and I’m not even dead yet!

How cool is that??

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I would be remiss if I did not make mention of Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s new book, Poems are Teachers (Heinemann), which just arrived in the world last Friday!

The book is geared to educators, to help them not only teach poetry, but to understand all the things that poetry can teach those who read it: language, perspective, rhythm, etc. For example, my contribution, “Soccer Sides,” uses two halves of a poem to show how a writer can compare and contrast.

I was honored that Amy asked me to include something for the book and am proud to be part of a collection that includes writers like Kwame Alexander, Jane Yolen, David L. Harrison, Jack Prelutsky, Charles Ghigna, and many, MANY others – including lots of folks from the Poetry Friday community.

“Flashlight Night” NEWS:

Imagine you’ve just published your first full-length picture book, and it has received all kinds of national attention and praise. Imagine seeing the original artwork along with your words hanging on a museum wall (see above!). Imagine how exciting and humbling and thrilling that would be.

Now…imagine that book being a potential award-winner!

The annual CYBILS Awards are now accepting nominations for a variety of children’s lit genres like YA, graphic novels, poetry, and picture books – and what do you know – Flashlight Night is one of the many, many books nominated in the Picture Book Category! Thank you so much to Linda Baie for nominating our little book, and many thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy – I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.

Oh, and if you’re wondering where and when the Flashlight Night road tour stops next, here’s my schedule so far. If you’re in the NH area tomorrow, I hope you’ll consider stopping by BAM! in Concord:

  • Oct. 14, 2pm:  Books-A-Million, Concord, NH
  • Oct. 27, 6pm:  Barnes & Noble, Manchester, NH
  • Nov. 1, 12pm:  Concord Hospital Early Childhood Learning Center / Gift Shop, Concord, NH
  • (soon-to-be-confirmed: Toadstool Bookshop, Keene/Peterborough/Milford, NH

I’ll continue updating this as dates are added…and thank you again for your support!

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

“Delicious language…ingenious metamorphoses” – Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“The verse is incantatory…a simple idea that’s engagingly executed” – School Library Journal

An old fashioned, rip-roaring imaginary adventure” – The Horn Book

“[Esenwine and Koehler] don’t just lobby for children to read—they show how readers play” – Publisher’s Weekly

“Imaginative…fantastical” – Booklist

“Favorably recalls Where the Wild Things Are” – Shelf Awareness

“Begs to be read over and over” – Michelle Knott, Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook/Goodreads

“A poetic and engaging journey” – Cynthia Alaniz, Librarian In Cute Shoes

“Illuminates the power of imagination” – Kellee Moye, Unleashing Readers

“Readers will be inspired to…create their own journey” – Alyson Beecher, Kidlit Frenzy

“Beautiful words and stunning illustrations” – Jason Lewis, 5th grade teacher at Tyngsboro Elementary School, Tyngsboro, MA

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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: Autumn inspiration (haiku)

Once again, I need to thank children’s author/poet Laura Purdie Salas for proving the inspiration I needed for a Poetry Friday post!

At Laura’s blog, she regularly shares a poetry prompt feature she calls “15 Words or Less,” in which she posts a picture and solicits short poems from readers, using 15 words or less. With all the hub-bub surrounding Flashlight Night lately, I hadn’t had the time to think about what I was going to post today…but then I came upon Laura’s latest post, and BOOM:  I had two haiku written for her blog and for mine!

One of the haiku I really liked, and tweaked a bit after posting it on her blog. Here’s the photo she shared yesterday, followed by my haiku:

(photo courtesy Laura Purdie Salas, used with permission)

non-consuming fire,
autumn phenomenon stuns;
Nature’s burning bush

– © 2017, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Inspiration is not the only thing you’ll find at Laura’s blog; today, you’ll also find the Poetry Friday roundup, along with her review of Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s new poetry collection, Read! Read! Read! (Boyds Mills Press), which I featured here last week!

(Oh, and get ready:  “Poetry…Cubed!” returns next Friday, with an opportunity for you to win a signed copy of “Flashlight Night!”)

Book signings/readings/appearances:

Wow, is it really almost Saturday? I’m looking forward being part of the local Barnes & Noble Author Event tomorrow, to benefit the Manchester (NH) Library! In fact, I’m visiting a number of bookstores in the New Hampshire area, and while I have the list nailed down, some times and venues are still being worked on.

Here’s what I know, so far:

Sept. 30, 4pm:  Barnes & Noble, Manchester, NH
Oct. 11, 6pm:  Barnes & Noble, Manchester, NH
Oct. 14, 2pm:  Books-A-Million, Concord, NH
Oct. 27, 6pm:  Barnes & Noble, Manchester, NH
Nov. 1, 12pm:  Concord Hospital Gift Shop, Concord, NH

As dates are added, I’ll be sure to let you know when and where I’ll be!

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

“Delicious language…ingenious metamorphoses” – Kirkus Reviews

“The verse is incantatory…a simple idea that’s engagingly executed” – School Library Journal

An old fashioned, rip-roaring imaginary adventure” – The Horn Book

“[Esenwine and Koehler] don’t just lobby for children to read—they show how readers play” – Publisher’s Weekly

“Imaginative…fantastical” – Booklist

“Favorably recalls Where the Wild Things Are” – Shelf Awareness

“Begs to be read over and over” – Michelle Knott, Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook/Goodreads

“A poetic and engaging journey” – Cynthia Alaniz, Librarian In Cute Shoes

“Illuminates the power of imagination” – Kellee Moye, Unleashing Readers

“Readers will be inspired to…create their own journey” – Alyson Beecher, Kidlit Frenzy

“Beautiful words and stunning illustrations” – Jason Lewis, 5th grade teacher at Tyngsboro Elementary School, Tyngsboro, MA

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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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Amusement rides and chainmail socks: What I learned at the state fair, Vol. VI

(click to enlarge)

Ah, yes…fair season is upon us!

Last weekend, I spent four days at the Hopkinton State Fair – the largest fair in New Hampshire –  wandering the grounds reminding people when the cattle pulls start, what stage the hypnotist was on, and where the bathrooms were.

I’m the announcer for the fair, so when you hear a voice on the PA system echoing through the trees, that’s me. It’s a very unique sort of job, and one that’s a heck of a lot of fun, but it does require a lot work; 55 hours in 4 days can wear one down, and I put in less hours than many of the other employees!

But I’m there every year, and every year I learn something new. Which is why I’ve been putting this annual post together for 7 years now…to shed some light on my lessons learned and observations made.  In the past, I’ve become educated on the problems with skimpy clothing, I’ve discovered the most despised candies in the universe, and, like you, have enjoyed more than my fair share of Australian Battered Savs.

What golden nuggets of wisdom did I discern this year? Read on, faithful reader:

  1. When you smell cotton candy at 8:30 in the morning, you know it’s going to be a great day. #Truth
  2. Some people just do not know how to park. Invariably, every year we get fair goers who don’t want to follow the parking pattern or the fair employees who are showing people where to park. These folks inevitably have to move their vehicles one they’re in the gate and as far away from their vehicle as possible. Once such fellow parked his big SUV in a spot that wasn’t a parking space, and ended up blocking the fire department entrance. I spent at least 2 hours paging him over the PA system to move it, and when he finally did, he parked it right beside an agricultural trailer…which he ended up blocking.
    .
  3. Justin and Ryan from Recycled Percussion should not quit their day jobs.
    30 seconds after it started…it was all over for these two. (click to enlarge)

    The band, which formed in a small town 30 minutes from here and is now a top-selling Las Vegas act, played at our fair for the very first time on Labor Day. They’re good guys, and had cancelled many of their shows in order to spend time in Texas helping with relief efforts, but they made the trek up here to put on this one show, and it was terrific. The night before the show, however, Justin and Ryan were given the opportunity to drive in the annual demolition derby…and were both knocked out within 30 seconds!
    .

  4. Timbersports will probably never show up in the Olympics. Everyone was excited that the Axe Women Loggers of Maine were returning for another year. Individuals in the group hold multiple National & International Lumber Jill and Timbersports titles and their shows include demonstrations of axe throwing, cross-cut sawing, standing block chopping, and log rolling…none of which will probably ever end up as an Olympic event. Their spokesperson explained that, in the Olympics, equipment is standardized so that every athlete has a fair opportunity to showcase his/her abilities. In timbersports, one doesn’t have that luxury; if one person’s log happens to have an internal knot, it could not only dull the blade – or even break it – it completely shuts down that athlete. So “luck,” like it or not, can play a huge role in a competitor’s performance, which is a no-go when it comes to the Olympics.
    .

    The throw…


    …nailed it!

    .

  5. Speaking of the Axe Women…they wear chainmail socks. You know chainmail – those tiny links of metal King Arthur’s knights wore to protect themselves under their suits of armor? Well, professional timbersports athletes wear chainmail socks to protect their feet during competitive chopping events, like the one pictured. These ax blades are made of a special metal that is so sharp, one really can shave one’s arms with it – so if it happens to slip and smash into your boot, you’ll still be able to walk away with your toes intact. You might be screaming in agony, but your toes will thank you.  

    (click to enlarge any photo)
  6. Under-the-counter cheese beats over-the-counter cheese. I didn’t know “under-the-counter” cheese was even a thing, and I’ve been going to fairs my entire life! Sold by a family-run establishment known as the Yankee Cheeseman, this particular cheese is an extra-sharp cheddar that’s even sharper than their sharpest, XXXXX sharp cheddar. Aged TEN YEARS, this cheddar is so sharp, when you bite into it, it bites you back. SO. GOOD. The reason it’s called “under-the-counter cheese” is because it’s so sharp, and the texture is often a bit uneven, that many folks who are unfamiliar with it think there’s something wrong with it – so the vendors don’t even put it out on display or offer free samples. You can only buy it if you ask for it…and at $17/pound, it’s worth every penny.
    .
  7. I love playing the national anthem from the grandstand tower.
    (click to enlarge)

    It’s a tradition here the fair that we play the Star-Spangled Banner everyday at noon. It was only until this year that I realized that when I stand to pay respect, remove my hat, and put my hand over my heart…I’m also saluting fries. And that just makes me happy.
    .
    .

  8. False advertising can show up anywhere.
    I spent a good 3 hours inside this place and couldn’t give away my beads to anyone.
    .
    Ripoff.
    .
    By the way, I also learned that a merry-go-round may feature various types of animals in addition to horses. but a carousel can only have horses. Bet you didn’t know that, didja??
    .

So those are this year’s words of wisdom! I’m already looking forward to 2018 – and also looking forward to enjoying at least one or two fairs with the family. But I’ll make sure I park where I’m supposed to.

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By the way, thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who showed up for Flashlight Night‘s national book launch at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA last Thursday and the local release party at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH this past Sunday!

In Cambridge with Carol Gordon Ekster, who also released her new book, “You Know What?”
In Warner, NH! Good crowds both days.

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Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press) hits bookshelves Sept. 19, 2017! 

“The verse is incantatory…a simple idea that’s engagingly executed” – School Library Journal

“Delicious language…ingenious metamorphoses” – Kirkus Reviews

“[Esenwine and Koehler] don’t just lobby for children to read—they show how readers play” – Publisher’s Weekly

“Readers will be inspired to…create their own journey” – Alyson Beecher, Kidlit Frenzy

“Imaginative…fantastical” – Booklist

“An old fashioned, rip-roaring imaginary adventure” – The Horn Book

“Beautiful words and amazing illustrations” – Michelle Knott, Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook/Goodreads

Pre-orders are available now through Barnes & NobleAmazon, or Books-a-Million, or by clicking the image of the cover to the right. Of course, if you prefer, you can always wait til Sept. 19 and purchase it at your favorite local independent bookstore.

Thank you for your support!

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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: “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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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!

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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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: “Handsome Jack”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllWhat happens when you are sifting through computer files of photos from last fall, and stumble on one that makes you think, “Hey, this deserves a poem!” You write the poem, then and there!

Now, the problem with this scenario is that it’s almost 10:30pm and my brain is pretty much toast. But with a few minutes of thought, this came out of my head:

chest-hairHandsome Jack

The ladies love my body
for its rugged, manly size.
They love my smooth complexion
and never-wandering eyes.
My chest hair raises eyebrows,
my swagger gets me cheers –
alas, they leave when they learn
nothing’s ‘tween my ears.

– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

This was the scarecrow I put together for the front of our house last October – and yes, I deliberately gave him chest hair. He seemed to like it. Every year I try to do something different – one year he was a farmer, one year he was a politician – and I’m not sure what I’m doing this year, but I have some ideas!

If you’d like to enjoy more poetry (and much BETTER poetry, I might add), then please visit Catherine at Reading to the Core for today’s Poetry Friday Roundup, where she’s featuring Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s brand-new Grumbles From the Town: Mother-Goose Voices With a Twist (WordSong, 2016)!

house

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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: Autumn haiku, 2016

Having spent my Labor Day Weekend working at the local fair (you can find out how dinosaurs, high-tech saw blades, and “battered savs” all tie into this by checking out this past Tuesday’s post), I’m in a sort of autumn mood…

antique-truck-haiku-graphic
Photo courtesy of Katherine Esenwine, (c) 2012 (Click to enlarge)

I’ve had this photo sitting in my computer files for four years (this was taken in early Oct. 2012), so I’m glad I finally put it to use!

poetryfridaybutton-fulllFor more poetry, be sure to visit Today’s Little Ditty, where Michelle H. Barnes is hosting Poetry Friday with her own contribution to a poetic challenge from the inimitable Jane Yolen!

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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!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post 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!