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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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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Revelations from the state fair, Vol. V

hsflogo-lg

Every Labor Day Weekend, I spend Friday through Monday working at the local state fair as the PA announcer, a position that requires not just a lot of talking, but a lot of walking and a whole lot of preparation.

It’s one of the most fun jobs I’ve had in my life, and I look forward to it every year. One minute I’m heading over to one of the small stage areas to double-check times or check out an act I hadn’t seen before; the next, I’m inside the administration building chowing down on a loaded baked potato piled high with every ingredient known to mankind.

(Trust me, when it comes to fair food, one needs to pace oneself.)

As has been tradition here at Triple R, I always share some of the things I’ve learned from each fair, because it’s not just an enjoyable work experience – it’s a learning experience, to boot. In the past, I’ve learned the most despised candies in the universe;  why environmentalists hate truck pulls; and even the best time to “smell” the fair.

So what nuggets of wisdom did I glean this year?

  1. The threat of a hurricane drives up Friday attendance. There was a lot of talk about whether or not Hermine would make it to the New Hampshire coast, and when. We were anticipating getting hit Sunday and Monday, the latter half of the fair, which is why I think our Friday ticket numbers were off the charts. As it turned out, Hermine never even made it, and we had a stupendous weekend all four days!
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  2. sandtasticSand used for sand sculptures is not normal beach sand. As Sandtastic Sand Sculpture Company’s sculptor (pictured) explained to me, the sand they use is comprised of faceted grains, which help the sand to wedge together and stick to itself. Conversely, beach sand is worn smooth from being tossed in the water and therefore is much more difficult to work with.
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  3. Speaking of sculpting…chainsaw sculptors use specially-designed chainsaws. I was chatting with Ben Risney, whose chainsaw
    risney-1
    (Click to enlarge)

    carvings are masterful, when he told me that some of his smaller chainsaws are custom-designed, industrial-grade. His larger saws are standard chainsaws, but the smaller ones, like the one pictured, have an angled bar and run at twice the RPMs of a normal chainsaw. The primary benefit of using a saw with such high RPMs is that the cuts are so smooth, he rarely needs to sand the sculptures once they’re completed! You can see Ben in action and more of his handiwork HERE.
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  4. “Battered Savs??” Who knew? corn-dogs
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  5. Some folks take their fried foods way more seriously than others. I was walking along a pathway when I overheard two young women chatting behind me. The conversation went something like this:
    “So, so sad.”
    “Yes, it is.”
    “Such a sad situation.”
    “Things like that just shouldn’t happen.”
    It was at that moment I realized they were talking about a piece of fried dough that lay on the ground; perfectly elliptical, not one bite had been taken out of it. I shed a tear, as well.
    .
  6. Saw blades are high-tech pieces of equipment. One of the many attractions at the fair this year were the Axe Women: Loggers of Maine, featuring championship women loggers competing in axe throwing, log rolling, cross-cut sawing, and a number of other events. I learned that their crosscut saw (bottom photo) is made in New Zealand of a special metal alloy that is strong and smooth – but is extremely sensitive to moisture; in fact, if the blade is not kept properly oiled, under very humid conditions it will start rusting within 30 minutes.
    axe-2  axe-1
    axe-3
    .
  7. Deep-fried pickle chips are superior to deep-fried pickle spears. This is not a decision I came to haphazardly; I spent a number of years researching the merits of each. You’re welcome.
    .
  8. dino-2 Dinosaur costumes are a lot heavier than they look. Really high-quality costumes, I should say. I had an opportunity to chat with John and Chance Bloom and their family, who run (among other things) a business called Dinosaur Xperience – which brings a walking, talking T-Rex right to your event.
    Chance told me the lifelike suit is 80-100 pounds, and contains a metal cage around the  head and thorax, which allows for

    dino-1
    Yes, even dinos need ID.

    electronically-controlled motion and sound. She can tolerate about 30-40 minutes inside the outfit before she needs to get indoors to cool off and re-hydrate…so thank goodness her husband and their 4 kids are all part of the act, helping her!

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Well, I hope you enjoyed this little review. It’s amazing the things one can learn at the fair – and spending so much time at this one allows me ample opportunity to discover things I might never notice otherwise. And for writers, learning and observing is crucial!

Until next time, have a good week! (and seriously, let me know your thoughts on the deep-fried pickles!)

risney-3
Some examples of Ben Risney’s work, which were featured around the fairgrounds.

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National Poetry Month: “Young Adult Review Network” Poetry Contest Results!

national-poetry-month 2016

Me?

One of my poems?

One of the winners of a national poetry contest??? 

It began on World Poetry Day, March 21…the good folks at the Young Adult Review Network (YARN) began accepting submissions for a poetry contest they called “Enchanted Spaces and Places,” using the hashtag #EnchantedYARN.

Inspired by Margarita Engle’s award-winning memoir, Enchanted Air (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015), the editors at YARN invited writers to submit poems about their own enchanted places – where they have lived, visited, or even spaces they hold inside their hearts. (You can learn more about the contest HERE)

The poems were all judged by Margarita herself, who I have to imagine must have been worn out from entries pouring in from all over the world! Entries were judged blind (that is, names were not attached to the poems while judging), so Margarita had no idea who had written the poems while she was reading them.

She had no idea mine was one of them…

And the winners are:

Winner: London Shah, “Desi Donations” 
Runner-up:
Cynthia Grady, “Early Morning”
Runner-up: My poem, “Last Autumn!”

You can read YARN’s complete post HERE, along with all three winning poems. I hope you’ll check them out, because I’m very honored to be in such good company with these two other poets! Many thanks to Margarita for all her hard work, and to everyone who entered the contest – because ultimately, the important thing isn’t winning, so much as it is the writing. Remember what I always say, #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading!

Although in cases like this, it’s nice when they DO read!

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2016 Kidlit Progressive PoemDon’t forget: Irene Latham’s 2016 Progressive Poem continues today as poet/blogger Renee M. LaTulippe adds her contribution, so be sure to stop by the No Water River and see how it’s coming along!

You can follow 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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Poetry Friday: Autumn haiku

I know, we’re in the middle of winter…so what am I doing, you ask?

This poem originally appeared on Carol Varsalona’s blog, Beyond Literacy, a few days after Christmas – and although I hope you had a chance to check out all the contributors’ works, I wanted to showcase the poem here, as well. The photo has been going around the internet for awhile, so I wish I knew to whom it should be attributed; I must thank them for the inspiration!

(click to enlarge)

Again, you can view all the poems and photos in Carol’s gallery HERE, and please leave a comment so she knows you visited. And for more poetry and links, please visit Keri at Keri Recommends for today’s 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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Autumn’s Palette, unveiled!

Since we’re still in the midst of the holidays, I’m still on a small pseudo-hiatus. The family spent Christmas together last week – which is why I was absent from the Poetry Friday festivities -and this week is just as busy!

New Year’s Eve is, of course, this Friday…our first big storm of the season is upon us as I write this…my son turns 6 years old TODAY…and since he’s home from school this week due to the holiday break, we’re spending some extra time together. But there is one thing I wanted to make sure I shared with you:

Carol Varsalona’s “Autumn Palette” is live! The children’s educator/writer has pulled together a huge assortment of children’s poetry and photos celebrating that most colourful of seasons, and it’s now available for viewing. Two of my poems are included, and I hope you like them.

Children’s writers and poets from all over share their thoughts on autumn and each poem is paired with a photo, creating a giant gallery of ekphrastic wonder! (and if you don’t know what that is, look it up!)

You can find the gallery HERE – so please check it out, and leave a comment so Carol knows you visited. She’d love to hear from you! Enjoy your holidays, enjoy your first days of winter, and enjoy the beauty of fall with Carol’s “Autumn Palette!”

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Poetry Friday: “Poetry…Cubed”, Round 2!

Poetry Cubed logoHard to believe, but National Poetry Month was half a year ago, when I introduced a little writing contest I called “Poetry…Cubed.”  So, 6 months later, I think it’s time to bring it back and have some more fun!

First, a recap, in case you don’t know how this works: On The Food Network show, “Chopped,” chefs compete against each other by trying to create the best dishes they can using specific ingredients given to them in a special basket. They have no idea what’s in those baskets until they open them on the spot.

For the first round, they might have to create appetizers using, for example, pig knuckles, lima beans, and cocoa. The dishes are critiqued by a panel of judges, the chef with the least appealing dish gets ‘chopped,’ and the three remaining chefs then move on to the entree round, which might consist of geoduck, durian, and Good ‘n Plenty.

The final two move on to desserts, and the last chef standing wins.

For the contest I’m presenting here, I’ve taken the basic premise of the TV show and removed the anxiety…I call it “Poetry…Cubed!” Here’s how it works:

  • Use the 3 images (“cubed!”) below as inspiration to write a poem.
  • The poem can be any form, any number of lines, rhyming or not.
  • The only hitch is that you need to include a reference to all three images in the poem – either via concrete imagery or something more abstract.
  • Ornaments
    (click to enlarge)

    Then email your poem to me at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com before Nov. 30 and I’ll share them all here throughout the month! Out of all the poems entered, ONE lucky writer will be chosen at random to receive his/her choice of:

I’ll post all the poems and announce the winner on Fri., Dec. 4!

Keep in mind, I can only format poems to a small degree – so if possible, try to refrain from lots of unusual breaks and text placement. I’ll do my best to format your poem per your wishes, but WordPress will only allow me to do so much; blogging platforms aren’t known for being particularly poetry-friendly!

Ready? Here are your three images:

 IMG_0637 

Think you can make something delicious out of these ingredients? Feel free to click any of the images to enlarge them, and remember: your poems can use concrete references or abstract references; they’re poems, after all, so be creative!

To get things started, here’s a simple stanza I came up with:

Her, in November

Love’s seeds burst open
on the vine
as autumn plays its games;
the fire, ’tis sweet,
but once lit, none
dare try contain the flames.

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI only spent 15-20 minutes on that, so I’m sure you can come up with something better! I look forward to seeing it! Keep in mind, your poem doesn’t have to be the best, it just has to have a reference to each of the three photos – the winner will be chosen at random.

And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links and fun, please visit Katya at Write. Sketch, Repeat.!

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