Poetry Friday: “Construction People” preview! (and an NCTE review!)

One of the highlights of my 4-day visit to the National Council of Teachers of English annual convention in Baltimore (aka, #NCTE19) was getting to spend some time with my friends at Boyds Mills & Kane, the publisher of Flashlight Night and many of the poetry anthologies of which I’ve been a part.

In addition to poets Nikki Grimes, Georgia Heard, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Laura Purdie Salas, and many others, I finally had a chance to catch up with marketing manager Kerry McManus, who has been invaluable in helping promote my book for the past 3 years. I also got to say hello again to my Flashlight Night editor, Rebecca Davis, who surprised me with something…

I think my first words were, “We have a book! It’s a real book!!”

Construction People, the follow-up to 2018’s popular School People, is one of the late Lee Bennett Hopkins’ final poetry anthologies; Hopkins passed away in August and left about a half-dozen projects in various states of progress, including this one. I was told he had seen the F&Gs (folded & gathered) like the one above, but never had a chance to hold the bound, finished product in his hands. I know he would have been as proud of his book as we, the contributors, are of being part of it.

How I end up in books with luminaries like Pat Lewis and Charles Ghigna is still a mystery…but a happy mystery!

rebe– All pages © 2020 Wordsong/Boyds Mills & Kane, all rights reserved (click to enlarge)I’ll be sharing more selections and news about the book a few months from now, along with my poem (a villanelle, for you poetry geeks out there) in its entirety when it is officially released on March 17. But you don’t need to wait – you can pre-order now!

At the Boyds Mills & Kane exhibit booth: a tribute to the inimitable Dear One, Lee Bennett Hopkins.
After all these years…I’m finally face-to-face with Nikki Grimes!
Laura Purdie Salas helped guide me through the ins and outs of the crazy-busy NCTE schedule. (And she helped keep me fed, too, which is always a plus)

Another highlight of my trip – indeed, the initial reason I decided to go – was a poetry workshop I presented together with Heidi Mordhorst, Mary Lee Hahn, Laura Purdie Salas, and Liz Steinglass, who organized the workshop. What a weekend! I’ve never presented a workshop at a conference I’d never attended before…but there’s a first time for everything, they say, and this was mine.

To backtrack just a bit, the night I arrived, author/poet/blogger Laura Shovan gathered a bunch of Poetry Friday folks together at a local restaurant and we filled up half the place:

Back row, L-R: Heidi Mordhorst, Christie Wyman, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Kathryn Apel, Tabatha Yeatts, Janet Fagal, Yours Truly. Front row, L-R: Carol Varsalona, Irene Latham, Laura Purdie Salas, Laura Shovan (photo courtesy Laura Purdie Salas)

The next day, Friday, the day of our workshop, more of us got together at a local sandwich shop (because all we apparently live for is eating and writing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that):

L-R: Tim Kulp, Linda Kulp, Marcie Flinchum Atkins, David L. Harrison, Liz Steinglass, Yours Truly, Irene Latham, Kathryn Apel. (photo courtesy Laura Purdie Salas)

And of course, I couldn’t travel all the way to my original hometown of Baltimore without making a little side trip to visit a certain poet:

   

If you’re looking for more poetry, then be sure to head over to today’s Poetry Friday roundup, where Tanita S. Davis is hosting the festivities at her blog, [fiction, instead of lies]!

Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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 once or twice a week – usually 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, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “The Best of Today’s Little Ditty,” volume 3 – and gearing up for NCTE!

My friend and fellow writer/blogger Michelle H. Barnes not only loves to read and write children’s poetry…she devotes a significant amount of her time promoting it via her blog, Today’s Little Ditty. Each month, Michelle features different children’s authors and poets who challenge her readers with writing poetry in a variety of ways, and every couple of years she compiles the best poems into a poetry anthology.

And the latest edition is out now!

As Michelle explains in her own blog post, a “ditty committee” of 12 readers, writers, and bloggers (including Yours Truly) reviewed more than 500 poems written during 2017 and 2018. We whittled the list down to 96 poems by 57 different poets – and they’re all in here for you to read and enjoy.

I am pleased to learn I have three poems included in the book; one is my response to a challenge by Jane Yolen and J. Patrick Lewis to write an “epitaph poem” following their visit to Michelle’s blog

© 2018, Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

.

I was also pleased to learn from Michelle that she is including SEVEN poems that resulted from the challenge my Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (POW! Kids Books, 2018) co-author, Deborah Bruss, and I put forth to her readers! (You can learn more about that challenge HERE.)

So congratulations again to Michelle! I hope you’ll stop by her blog post today to check out more details on this brand-new book, and be sure to pick up a copy and show your support for children’s poetry. And since Michelle is hosting Poetry Friday today, you can check out all the links to all the children’s poetry posts out there in the kidlitosphere!

=========================================================

If you’re planning to attend this year’s National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference in my original hometown of Baltimore, I hope you’ll say hi! This will be my first year at NCTE (and the first time I’ve back back in my birth city since 1996!), and I’m very excited to be an official representative for Flashlight Night‘s publisher, Boyds Mills & Kane. Here’s my schedule:

Friday, 7-7:45am, Grand Ballroom I & III:

FIRST-TIMERS’ WELCOME! Having never been to NCTE before, I suppose this is probably an important thing to attend, yes?

Friday, 3:30-4:45 pm, Room #315:

I’ll be co-presenting “Wonder as a Way In: Teaching Reading and Writing Poetry through Inquiry” – a poetry workshop with authors and educators Laura Purdie Salas, Liz Steinglass, Heidi Mordhorst, and Mary Lee Hahn. We’ll share activities designed to approach reading, writing, and appreciating poetry through the process of inquiry.

Saturday, 9:30-10:30 am, Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor, Atrium, Level 2, Nonfiction Children’s Book Salon:

An “unofficial” session, thisis an opportunity to grab a coffee and talk nonfiction (picture books, middle grade, and YA) with Lerner and Chronicle editors Carol Hinz, Melissa Manlove, and Shaina Olmanson.

Saturday, 12:30-2:30pm, Children’s Book Awards Luncheon:

I’ll be hosting one of Boyds Mills & Kane’s tables, so I’m very eager to meet and hang out with so many writer and teacher friends! (Plus, I’ll have copies of Flashlight Night on hand!)

Sunday, 7-8:45am, Children’s Literature Assembly (CLA) Breakfast:

Caldecott Honor author/illustrator Yuyi Morales will be discussing her work, including her newest book, Soñadores / Dreamers (Holiday House, 2018).

And of course, I’ll be popping in and out of sessions here and there and trying to spend as much time with my writer and educator friends as possible. If you do see me, please stop and say hello! (Hint: I’ll be sporting my winter beard, so if you come across a fellow who looks like The Most Interesting Man in the World’s balder, less-interesting brother…that’s probably me)

Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


   

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. 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?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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 once or twice a week – usually 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, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: We have a winner! Finding poetic treasures within “Finding Treasure”…

Before we get to all the found poetry that’s been pouring in – and before we announce our winner of a free book! – I have some exciting news to share…

Click the cover to vote!

Thursday afternoon I was astounded to learn that Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills & Kane, 2017) has been shortlisted as a finalist for the New Hampshire Literary Awards – and voting for the Reader’s Choice Awards ends in TWO DAYS, Sat. night Sept. 28, at midnight! So if you’re a NH resident and you feel my little book is worthy, I’d appreciate you clicking THIS LINK and voting. Thank you!

It really is an honor simply to be included on a list with other Granite State authors and poets like Eric Pinder, Jessica Purdy, former NH Poet Laureate Patricia Fargnoli, and fellow BM&K author Sandra Neil Wallace. So please vote for your favorites!

Now, then…

Two weeks ago, I spotlighted Michelle Schaub and her brand-new poetry collection, Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections (Charlesbridge, 2019) – and offered a PERSONALLY-SIGNED COPY to one lucky winner.

And boy, oh boy, a lot of people are hoping to be that lucky winner!

All one needed to do to enter the giveaway was share a found poem based her poem, “Collecting Stars:”

A “found poem” is simply a poem that uses the words from one source – like a magazine, newspaper, book, etc. –  to create a poem. So in this case, readers took the words from Michelle’s poem and re-created them into new poems of their own. I shared several of the poems last Friday, so here are the newest ones:

Around the Yard

flashes in darkness
the dance of starlight
floats free

– Kathy Mazurowski

.

untitled

sparks dance
and beckon
embers glow
sparks float
free
good-bye

– Kathleen L. Armstrong

.

Embers

Specks of light
spark and dance
I watch them float free
when darkness deepens

– Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

.

untitled

darkness deepens
purple sky
sparks of starlight
way up high

sky festooned with
dancing light
colors pulsing
dazzling sight

– Cheriee Weichel

.

Star Collecting *

They come
When darkness deepens
A reminder to share

My own
Sparks of starlight
With tender care

Absorb, release them
to the night

Heart-carry
into morning’s light.

– Linda Trott Dickman

* (Matt’s note: while not a ‘found poem’ by definition, it still gets an “A” and an entry!)

.
untitled

Come fill a mason jar
Come so

To catch and watch
The darkness glow…

I know it’s hard
It’s free, though…

– © Karen Eastlund, 2019

.

and because this has been such a fun exercise, another one from Yours Truly…
.

Captured

Specks of light dance and glow;
beckon,
…..come!

The yard, a jar they fill.

Stars catch us…
and watch.

– © 2019, Matt F. Esenwine

.

According to the trusty Random.org website, our completely randomly-selected winner is…

LINDA BAIE!

Congratulations, Linda! Thanks so much for submitting your poem last week, and I’ll be sure to get your book in the mail asap. In the meantime, if anyone is still looking for more poetry (and who isn’t?) Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link has today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

The “Finding Treasure” Blog Tour concludes today at Jama’s Alphabet Soup!  ALSO: Be sure to check out Michelle’s brand-new poetry/literacy-focused blog!

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. 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?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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 once or twice a week – usually 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, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Michelle Schaub’s “Finding Treasure” interview & GIVEAWAY!

Michelle Schaub, author of Fresh-Picked Poetry, A Day at the Farmers’ Market (Charlesbridge, 2017), has a brand-new collection of poems coming out this Tue., Sept. 17 – about collections!

Michelle and I first met way back in Oct. 2013 at a Highlights poetry workshop. We were both in the very-early stages of our careers at that point, so it’s been interesting to see how our experiences have differed up to this point. And now that she has another new book coming out, I thought it was about time I asked her to visit the ol’ Triple-R!

First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me, Michelle! I have to say, I’m so happy to see you with not one, but TWO poetry collections to your name. Knowing where both of us were six years ago, how would you say your writing – and career – have developed? Are you writing differently, approaching the craft differently?

Thrilled to be here, Matt! And thrilled to follow your writing successes also, especially the recent news about your upcoming book with Charles Ghigna, Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2020). Congratulations! Speaking of “another time,” I can’t believe that Highlights workshop was six years ago! When I headed off to the conference, I was just starting to tinker with a set of poems about farmers’ markets, but I really didn’t know how to put together a poetry collection. In the subsequent year it took me to write and revise Fresh-Picked Poetry, A Day at the Farmers’ Market, I learned a lot, not only about different poetry forms, but about stringing poems together to create a collection with an arc and flow.

What did you learn about children’s poetry early on – either at the workshop or elsewhere – that you feel has been most helpful?

Children’s author David Harrison, who was the guest teacher at the Highlights poetry workshop, was a superb mentor.  He taught me that less is more with children’s poetry. I came to David with these long, detailed poems about farmers’ markets. Brandishing his pen, David deftly slashed unnecessary descriptions but spared strong verbs and specific nouns. He taught me how to make my poems work in tandem with illustrations.

Now about this new book. It’s a poetry collection about collections! How did you come up with the idea, and how did you go about putting the poems and book together?

The idea first arose when I was participating in Tara Lazar’s Storystorm a few years ago.  In this challenge, writers come up with one new picture book idea a day for the entire month of January. Toward the end of the month, running low on ideas, I started looking around my office for any brainstorm sparks. My eyes landed on a row of seashells on my bookshelf. I’d saved them from my grandmother’s shell collection. Hmm, seashells. Collections. What else do people collect? Coins. Keys. Baseball cards. Could I write poems about those things? Would kids even be interested in collection poems?

Then I remembered that my town’s library has collection display windows in the children’s department. When my own children were younger, they signed up to showcase their own prized objects in those windows. The waiting list was two years! Those display windows are still filled each month, and the waiting list is still long. I started noticing that other libraries have collection displays also. This led me to believe that I’d have an audience for poems about the time-honored hobby of collecting.

Michelle also “collects a variety of styles and forms in her collection, as witnessed by this spread, one of my favorites!

I guess every idea has to come from somewhere! So once you knew the subject, how did you figure out how to connect the poems?

When I started writing the poems, I knew I needed something to hold the collection together and entice readers to turn the page. So, I came up with a narrative arc. A child is given a school assignment to bring in something she collects for show and tell. The only problem: she doesn’t collect anything!  The child searches for the perfect collection by consulting family, friends, and neighbors, who share their collections through poems. By the end of the book, the child has discovered the perfect collection. It isn’t “pebbles, shells, or twigs… or quirky whirlygigs,” but it is something that brings her joy. Can you guess? Read the final poem in Finding Treasure to see if you’re right!

People always ask me this question, and it’s impossible to answer…so I’ll ask you! (ha!) Do you have a favorite poem or spread in the book?

That is a tough question! Carmen Saldaña did such an amazing job with the illustrations in Finding Treasure that I’m in love with each spread. However, I think my favorite might be the one for the poem, “Collecting Stars.” In this poem, after searching for a collection all day, the child heads outside to try and collect fireflies. I love how Carmen captured the cozy glow of the fireflies against the starry sky.

That IS a beautiful spread – reminds me of my own yard! Now, I recall you mentioning to me that when doing final revisions for Fresh-Picked Poetry (also from Charlesbridge), a poem about heirloom tomatoes didn’t make the cut. Anything get axed for this book?

There is one poem that didn’t make the cut for Finding Treasure. It was called “Curious Collections,” about strange things people collect. While I was researching ideas for the book, I came across some pretty bizarre collections, like toenail clippings and dust bunnies, which I included in this poem. I thought the illustration for the poem could show the protagonist searching on the internet for collection ideas. Ultimately, my editor at Charlesbridge, Karen Boss, and I decided that we wanted to focus more on collections that were positive and unique, but not strange. So “Curious Collections” was replaced with “The ‘Gist of Collecting,” which is about items that scientists collect in the name of research.

By the way, I’m constantly being asked how to get into children’s publishing…and other than the standard, “practice the craft, learn the market, develop contacts” answer I usually give (which is a pretty concise, honest answer), do you have any words of wisdom you’ve gleaned from the past several years?

Since you started this interview by mentioning Highlights Workshops, I’ll end on that note. I think attending a Highlights Workshop is a phenomenal way to hone your craft and connect with other writers. After all, that’s how we met!

Well, thank you again for visiting, Michelle, I really appreciate it! Oh, and I was very humbled and honored to see you had dedicated the book “To Matt, my treasure.” I opened up the book and saw that and nearly started crying.

Ha, Ha. Yes, the book is dedicated to Matt Schaub. My husband. (Not the football player.) But you are a treasure, too, Matt!

Oh, ok! Well, thank you, anyway – I’ll try not to take it too hard. But I do appreciate you stopping by, and wish you the best! (And if you like Michelle’s book, I have a signed copy to give away…)

What have I been collecting? Well, lately…these.

Since Michelle’s book is about ‘collecting’ things, I thought it might be fun to ‘collect’ some poems from her “Collecting Stars” poem, above! If you want to enter the contest, just leave a found poem here in the comments, or email me your poem at matt(at)mattforrest(dot)com. In case you don’t know, a “found poem” is simply a poem one writes by taking the words from one source and rearranging them into something new. So your poem doesn’t need to be long – or even any good! – it just needs to include only words from Michelle’s poem, above.

You only have 2 weeks to enter, as I’ll announce the winner by a random drawing on Fri. morning, Sept. 27 when I share all the poems here on the blog. The winner receives a PERSONALLY-signed copy of Michelle’s book! How cool is that?? Good luck, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing your poems!

The “Finding Treasure” Blog Tour continues this month:

This Writing Life – Sept. 16
The Grog – Sept. 18
Picture Book Buzz – Sept. 20
Jama’s Alphabet Soup – Sept. 27

ALSO: Be sure to check out Michelle’s brand-new poetry/literacy-focused blog!

.

It’s Poetry Friday! Looking for more poetic posts? Then be sure to stop by Laura Purdie Salas’ blog, Writing the World for Kids, where she hosting today’s roundup with a celebration of the release of HER new poetry collection!

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. 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?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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 once or twice a week – usually 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, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

Popular vulgarity, treasure maps, and the invincibility of youth: Observations from the state fair , Vol. VIII

Ah, yes, it’s that time of year again: fair season!

As the official PA announcer for our local state fair, I learn a great deal about life, the world around us, and overly-fattening foods, and try to share these little nuggets of wisdom with you each year. In past blog posts, I’ve shared various enlightening aspects of the fair, from pet camels and poop hats to dinosaur costumes and battered savs. This year, a whole slate of new, surprising things:

  1.  Ice cream’s earliest beginnings date back to pre-Christianity.
    (click to enlarge)

    The fact that both Alexander the Great and Nero Caesar enjoyed a frozen treat now and then somehow imbues their histories with a tad more humanity, don’t you think? I can just imagine the two of them walking down the pathways at the fair, sharing a funnel cake, arguing over whether Hawaiian Ice is superior to a Sno-cone. (It is, in case you’re wondering)

  2. When you spend 4 days doing nothing but walking and talking, your legs will eventually start crying ‘Uncle.’ My wife checked my phone’s Health app at the end of my first day, Friday, and discovered I’d walked 25,000 steps – or, in other words, NINE MILES. In just the first day. Consequently, I ate as much fair food as I wanted and after four days, I had a net weight gain of zero. Score one for the Fried Oreos.
  3. No treasure map is worth this much trouble. The Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean Aerial High Wire Thrill Show balanced and battled atop the high wire, sword-fighting and jumping around, each trying to steal the map from the other. I would’ve said, “Oh, THAT map? The one 50 feet in the air? It’s all yours, my friend, I’m good.”
  4. Accept what is offered to you. This is doubly true when talking about fried dough.

    “All toppings are included in the price, sir.” “In that case, I will take all the toppings, thank you.”
  5. All teenagers believe they are invincible; some, apparently, are. A long-standing tradition here at the fair is the demolition derby, a two-day event that runs both Sat. and Sun. evenings. Contrary to what you may think, there is a great deal of strategy and skill required for driving, and a solid knowledge of how to put the cars together in such a way that they hold together as long as they can while getting smashed to pieces. (One also needs to know how to put them BACK together in time to run a second round!)
    .
    This past weekend, a young fellow who knew his way around cars decided to enter the derby for the very first time. He put his car together according

    You’ve got to admit, that front end looks pretty good, considering it went through TWO heats.

    to all the rules and regulations regarding weight, welds, tire specs, etc., and drove the thing himself. His family and friends teased him a little beforehand, knowing he’d never been in a derby before and knowing he was going up against veteran drivers and crews who had been doing this for 20+ years.

    He beat them all, and took home $2000 and a trophy the size of a small child. Oh, and did I mention he’s only 16 years old?

  6. I want to be a Transformer when I grow up. Or a tree. 
  7. Am I the only one who doesn’t understand why vulgarity is so popular? Everywhere I turned, it seemed, I was being bombarded with T-shirts containing words that start with “F.” I’m all for free speech and free expression, but what kind of thought process goes on inside the brain of someone who decides the very best thing they should wear out in public, in front of hundreds of little children, is a shirt emblazoned with ‘that’ word on it? I mean, I’m not a prude and I’m not trying to censor anyone…but seriously, can’t people censor themselves??
  8. It may be a fun, family-friendly event, but tension can sometimes run high. When I saw this scene up in the grandstand tower, all I could think of was that Willy Wonka quote…

    “The suspense is terrible. I hope it’ll last.”
  9. One can microwave an i-phone for 20 seconds without causing any adverse effects. This was something I inadvertently learned after I had come home from the fair on the third night. I was holding a freshly-made sausage sub, several papers, my sunglasses, and my cellphone all together and needed to set them down. I certainly didn’t want one of the dogs to eat my dinner off the kitchen counter, so I set the sub down in the microwave, since I was going to need to warm it up a bit, and put my papers and glasses aside for tomorrow.
    .
    I turned the microwave on for 20 seconds and when it beeped, I opened up the door – and stared in absolute horror. There, underneath the sub, was my cellphone! In my haste, I’d left it there…and had no idea what to expect. It was a bit hot, and I worried (I wouldn’t say I panicked, really, even though “panicked” is absolutely the most precise word to use) that it was a lost cause and had gone to that great Apple orchard in the sky. But I pressed the button, it turned on, and has been working fine since! Not only that, but the sub was just the right temperature, so it turned out to be a happy ending for all involved. And by “all,” I mean me.

I can’t believe I’ve been announcing for 10 years now, and I still find new things that surprise and astound me. Have you ever been surprised at something you witnessed at the local fair? I’d love to hear about it – leave me a comment!

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. 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?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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 once or twice a week – usually 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, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

Poetry Friday: Remembering Lee Bennett Hopkins

Lee Bennett Hopkins, 1938 – 2019

Whenever someone passes away, people always say they are shocked and saddened to hear the news. In the case of the passing of children’s poet/anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins, “shocked” and “saddened” are only the beginning for me. I would not be where I am, were it not for Lee’s kindness, encouragement, and guidance.

Lee was not just a writer or poetry anthologist (although he did end up in the Guinness Book for the number of children’s poetry anthologies he created); he was a friend, a mentor, and a supporter. When I attended my first SCBWI conference back in 2010, SCBWI founder Lin Oliver told me I should get in touch with Lee, since she knew I wrote poetry.

(click to enlarge)

One thing led to another, and we eventually connected online. He loved my writing and offered to assist me in my quest to develop a career in children’s literature, specifically, poetry. He published my first paid children’s poem, “First Tooth,” from Lullaby & Kisses Sweet (Abrams, 2015), and requested poems for five other anthologies, three of which have not even been released yet. Sad, that he won’t get to see the fruits of his labors – or the praise his next anthology is already receiving.

He also introduced me to my Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills & Kane, 2017) editor, Rebecca Davis, who initially passed on two poetry manuscripts I sent but immediately snatched up Flashlight.  As soon as my author copies arrived, I signed one to Lee and mailed it to him; he was touched and said he was proud to own a copy, which made my month!

But the really special, wonderful thing about Lee was…my story isn’t really all that unusual! Over the decades, he helped dozens and dozens of folks in much the same way. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Charles Waters, and a host of others – authors and editors alike – can all share similar stories about Lee’s grace, encouragement, and his desire for perfection in one’s writing.

2017 Florida Artists Hall of Fame, L-R: Don Felder, Billy Dean, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Jim Stafford

I’ll always remember a poem I was trying to write for an upcoming poetry anthology that had a math focus. Lee asked me to write a poem about fractions, which I did…but he didn’t like it. So I rewrote it and he still disliked it. I tried a third, same reaction. So I wrote a fourth poem, and this time he didn’t dislike it – he hated it! (sigh…)

Finally, after several weeks, I sent him a fifth poem – very different from the others – and he loved it. I ended up speaking to him on the phone a few months later about the project and joked that the next time he decides to create a math-based anthology, I’ll have to write a poem about the poetry anthologist who only liked one-fifth of my poems! He howled, and got a kick out of that.

I’ll always be grateful to Lee for his constant support and guidance. I was fortunate to publish one of his last interviews here at my blog just a month and a half ago, in celebration of the release of his new anthology, I Am Someone Else (Charlesbridge, 2019).

I do regret that he will not see the anthology I was working on myself, which he was helping me with, and which we had just discussed a couple of months prior to his death. It’s my sincere hope that this anthology will eventually see the light of day, because he loved the concept and subject matter. Fingers crossed I can do Lee justice.

Since it IS Poetry Friday, a number of Lee’s friends and fellow writers wanted to remember him in the most appropriate way we could:  by writing poems inspired by Lee or including a line from one of his poems.

In my case, I spent some time looking through several of his anthologies and came across one line in particular from his poem “Titanic,” from his Travelling the Blue Road: Poems of the Sea (Seagrass Press, 2018) anthology. The phrase, “You will forever remember me” kept speaking to me, as if it was Lee writing about himself rather than the fated ocean liner.

So with that line as a starting point, I crafted a short reverso poem (a poetic form our mutual friend, poet Marilyn Singer, has perfected) in Lee’s voice:

(click to enlarge)

We will, indeed, forever remember you, my friend.

For those who don’t know, Lee’s friends always referred to him as “the Dear One,” because that was how he would address us in correspondence…and anyone who knew him knew he was, without question, a dear one. We’ll always miss you, Lee.

If you’d like to see what others in the kidlitosphere are doing to remember Lee, please head over to The Poem Farm, where Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup. And if you’d care to learn more about the man and the legacy he leaves behind, I encourage you to read this beautiful obituary from Publisher’s Weekly.

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. 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?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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 once or twice a week – usually 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, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

Poetry Friday: Found Haiku

Ditty of the Month Club (DMC)I’ve written found poetry.

I’ve written haiku.

Somehow, I’ve never written “found haiku,” though, until my blogging poet friend Michelle H. Barnes encouraged her readers to do just that, on her blog Today’s Little Ditty!

Found poetry is created when one takes lines and words from one source – a newspaper, book, even another poem – and crafts a new poem. In the case of found haiku, Michelle’s guest this month, Linda Mitchell, challenged readers to write found poems in the form of haiku (technically, haiku is about nature, but we’re not splitting hairs).

It just so happened that the day I was planning to get started was the exact day I stumbled upon an article from NH Business Review about the resurgence (and surprising good health) of indie bookstores in our state. I ended up writing two poems – one less obviously about books than the other:
.

creative, nimble
little steps and sound footing
overwhelm death’s knell

resilience, savvy –
the book, unchanged like the shark,
continues to thrive
.

– © 2019 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

If you’d like to read more found haiku, you can check out her blog and see all the submissions she received this month, including these two. If you’re looking for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, you’ll find it at Reflections on the Teche, where Margaret Simon “stole” the title of an illustration to write a touching, thought-provoking poem.

=========================================================

AVAILABLE NOW!

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. 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?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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 once or twice a week – usually 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, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

Poetry Friday: “The Artist”

(click to enlarge)

As I mentioned last week when I shared my cherita about Quechee Gorge, VT, I had a feeling at least a few poems were going to spring out of our trip. Sure enough, I have another one – this time, inspired by my 5-year-old daughter who finds art everywhere she goes:

That’s right, whether it’s stones in a river or the crumbs on her plate, anything can become art in her hands. And I couldn’t be more proud.

For more poetry, please visit Carol Wilcox over at Carol’s Corner for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, where she’s sharing some ‘puppy poetry!’

=========================================================

AVAILABLE NOW!

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. 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?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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 once or twice a week – usually 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, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

Poetry Friday: Summer reading lists and a Donald Hall anthology!

Starting today, summer is officially here, and I just wanted to take a moment to thank all the teachers, librarians, and bloggers who have included my books on their summer reading lists! The following are only a small sample – the ones of which I’m aware – so if your school has included either Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills & Kane, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), or one of the anthologies I’ve been a part of, please let me know so I can thank them and add them to the list!

Cannon School, Concord, NC
Abington School District (PA)
Parnassus Books, Nashville / Waverly-Belmont Elem. School (TN)
A Brewed Awakening Mommy Blog
Kansas National Education Association Reading Circle Catalog

I especially tickled with the Waverly-Belmont librarians, since I’m a former resident of Music City! I also need to thank the folks at the Toledo Lucas County Library in Ohio for including Flashlight Night in a post about the “Human-Nature Connection” – where my little book shows up on a list of books perfect for reading by flashlight! (of course!) And another nice surprise:  Flashlight Night shows on Goodreads’ list of Most Popular Bedtime Books, a list that includes books by Deborah Freedman, Deborah Underwood, and Tammi Sauer!

Dinosaurs also get a little time in the spotlight, with Don’t Ask a Dinosaur being part of The Children’s Book Review’s list of 5 Fun Fiction Dinosaur Books for a Playful Prehistoric Playtime. Thank you!! Also, BookRiot.com includes Dinosaur in its list of 50 Must-Read poetry Books for Kids – and while I probably wouldn’t classify the book as “poetry,” I definitely appreciate the support!

I’d also be neglect if I didn’t mention Barnes & Noble, which includes the Lee Bennett Hopkins poetry anthology I was part of, School People (WordPress, 2018), in its 2019 Children’s Choice Book Awards. School People was also one of the finalists for the Children’s Book Council’s Children’s and Teen Choice Book Awards earlier this year! (If you’d like to order any of these and have them personally signed, please see the links below!)

Again, if you know of any summer reading lists or book lists that include either of these books, please let me know so I can thank the appropriate people properly. And happy summer reading!

Now, then…about that anthology…

=========================================================

TWO NEW POETRY ANTHOLOGIES!

Coming soon, July 2, 2019: ……………….  Coming sooner, June 23, 2019:

That’s right, the new Donald Hall anthology, Except for Love (Encircle Pub.), comes out in just a few days – and I couldn’t be more excited, honored, and humbled. This book pays tribute to former U.S. and New Hampshire Poet Laureate Donald Hall by featuring the poems of 35 poets from around New England who have been influenced in different ways by Hall and his extraordinary voice.

In my case, I grew up in New Hampshire, so Hall’s work (indeed, his very presence) was never difficult to come across; here where I live, in the same area of the state that inspired so many of his poems, his legacy is nearly ubiquitous.

The book, which is set to be released on the one-year anniversary of his death – this Sun., June 23 – includes poetry by such accomplished poets as Jane Yolen, L.R. Berger, David Giannini, and Jessica Purdy. So you can understand why I’m so honored to be a part of this project! If you’d like a copy, you can order HERE, and Encircle Publications10% of proceeds will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of Hall’s late wife, poet Jane Kenyon.

I’ve shared a snippet of my poem, “Stone-Kicking,” previously on this blog, but I can’t share it in its entirety until after this Sunday…I promise I will, though! For more poetry today, though, head over to A Word Edgewise, where Linda is hosting Poetry Friday today with a fantastic event: a clunker exchange! Have a few words you can’t do anything with, or a line from a poem you just can’t stand? Share it – and pick up some inspiration with someone else’s clunker!

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. 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?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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 once or twice a week – usually 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, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: For Father’s Day, the Poetry of Forrest Esenwine

Last month, for Mother’s Day, I shared one of my mother’s poems I discovered at their house, while cleaning out 50+ years worth of clothes, memories, paper, and assorted sundries from the attic and closets.

Today, it’s Dad’s turn in the spotlight!

The Lady-Killer himself, circa 1958, give or take a year or two. Now you finally know from where I get my devastating looks.

When I posted Mom’s poem, I mentioned that I was surprised to find it because I’d never known how much she loved poetry. With Dad, however, I wasn’t quite as surprised because I’d always known him to be very creative:  a graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, he was very skilled at graphics, woodworking, and problem-solving. He could make an entertainment center for our living room one minute and then turn around and craft earrings for Mom.

He and I even built the barn!

Dad was always writing songs, too, and sharing them with Mom and me…so discovering his poetry, while surprising, was not completely unexpected. So, like I did for Mom last month, I’m sharing one of his poems today. I told him he’d finally be a published poet – and he chuckled and said, “Well, if you think anyone would want to read them!”

I definitely do think so, Dad. In fact, I’m going to share two!

(click to enlarge)

Pretty impressive, I think, for someone who never studied the craft formally. A very classical style, of course, but very thoughtful, with solid meter and rhyme. As soon as I read it, I knew I was going to have to post it here.

The other poem of his that I wanted to share is much more unusual in its structure and rhyme scheme, but no less insightful:

(untitled)

To Live,
…..Thy life fulfilled –
…..Thy kindness spilled…on others,
…..Are part of life, and still –
To Learn,
…..And sow the seeds I find
…..Of knowledge, in my mind –
…..But not to hold as divine, but
To Teach,
…..That they may know
…..That I might share – and so,
…..The understanding grows – but then,
To Love,
…..All – and still just one…
…..With depth and meaning – and done,
…..Myself complete…I’ve known it’s worth
To Live.
.

– © Forrest H. Esenwine

Dad met Mom while he was in the Army. He saw her across the room and told one of his buddies, “I’m going to marry that girl one day.” Fortunately for me, the plan worked.

.
Again, I’ve got to hand it to Dad (and Mom) for all the poetic genetics they’ve passed on to me. I’d never known they had the interest nor the ability to craft poetry like this, so my love of the genre and whatever skill I may possess did not come about through learning at home. There were a couple of poetry anthologies in their small library that I used to read all the time, but I don’t recall there ever being any push to get me to “like” poetry. In fact, I only had one poetry collection as a child, Dorothy Aldis’ The Secret Place and Other Poems (Scholastic, 1962), which I can look back on now as the single most important book in my literary development…so I can’t thank my parents enough for lighting that spark!

There’s plenty more poetry to be found, though, so be sure to head over to Laura Shovan’s blog, where she is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with some choice selections from her poetry students!

 

From two weeks ago: Dad, in front of the house that we called home since 1975.

.

COMING SOON!

July 2, 2019: ………………………………………June 23, 2019:

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. 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?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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 once or twice a week – usually 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, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!