Is there such a thing as a Halloween haiku? Hmmm…not sure. But why not??
Well, guess what just showed up in my mailbox!
Laura has done an outstanding job breaking down poetic theory and elements into easy-to-read language, dedicating a short chapter to each including rhyming, poetic forms, alliteration/internal rhyme, and even some help on getting published.
Throughout the book, sample poems help to elucidate the lessons. For instance, one of the two poems of mine Laura includes is a haiku I wrote a few years ago (originally published by the Young Adult Review Network) that Laura used as an example of alliteration:
Sparrow sweetly sings
her mate, on the ground.
– © 2011 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved
Another poem of mine can be found under the “Sharing Your Work” chapter, and is >ahem< a “found” poem! Culled from various voiceover websites, I originally shared this last spring during National Poetry Month:
Expressing unspoken thoughts
and burning desire,
a voice that is not part of the narrative
pauses for a breath;
the essential commands
still seem confusing.
Don’t get discouraged.
evaluate your work,
and take your time
to change the world.
– © 2014 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved
Written with young women and girls in mind, but suitable for anyone, Catch Your Breath: Writing Poignant Poetry is a handy reference tool for those learning the craft of poetry.
Poets whose work you’ll find inside this book include J. Patrick Lewis, Kate Coombs, David Harrison, Marilyn Singer, Nikki Grimes, Amy Ludwing VanDerwater, Diane Mayr, and even Emily Dickenson, among others. My thanks to Laura for allowing me to be part of this!
This past Friday was a crazy kind of day. One of those roller-coaster-of-emotion days.
First, I learned that I was one of the featured writers on the popular children’s literature blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Jama was celebrating The Poetry Friday Anthology of Celebrations (of which I’m a contributor) and she spotlighted my poem, “Picky Eater” along with a couple of recipes from me.
That was good.
I then spent most of the morning running errands while listening to the 5-year-old and 2-year-old crying, screaming, or fighting. We finally get home and my sweet, loveable 2-year-old proceeds to take off her dirty diaper and toss it on the FLIPPIN’ STOVE.
Once she was in for her nap, I got the really good news: I received notice that the latest book in which I have a poem included is now available!
It’s called Catch Your Breath: Writing Poignant Poetry (Capstone Press, Aug. 1, 2015) by author/poet Laura Purdie Salas and is designed to help students learn to write poetry. I’m very honored to be one of a select few children’s writers – like David Harrison, Marilyn Singer, J. Patrick Lewis, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Diane Mayr, Kelly Fineman, and Kate Coombs – whose poetry has been included as examples.
The nice thing about this book is that it’s not a typical, stuffy “here’s how you write poetry” kind of textbook; it’s a contemporary explanation of what poetry is, how to get into it, and suggestions and mentor texts on how to go about writing it. At only 64 pages, it’s an easy read, yet indispensable for a young, blossoming poet-to-be.
So just to break it down – for my sake, honestly, more than yours – here’s the list of children’s books in which you’ll find my work:
I’ve thanked you before, but I’ll thank you again for your support…even if it’s simply subscribing to this blog or just reading it occasionally, you’re helping me develop my writing, grow as a children’s author, and – to be perfectly frank – build an audience.
You’re also reassuring me that there are folks out there willing to read what I crank out each week, and I cannot overstate the value in that alone. So thanks for coming this far with me, and I hope you stick around!
A few weeks ago, poet/author Laura Purdie Salas offered up a photo of a seagull on a statue as a poetry prompt on her “15 Words-or-Less” blog post. I responded with a short free verse poem…and it has been on my mind quite a bit lately.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve decided to use it as part of a larger project, if it’s because the family is gearing up for another summer excursion to Maine and I have the Long Sands of York Beach on my brain, or if it’s because I simply like the way it turned out. Probably all three.
So I’ve fleshed it out just a bit and am sharing it with you today! And if you missed it, I’d love for you to check out this past Tuesday’s post about poetry videos and the incredible voiceovers that the poets themselves provided for the videos.
Sea mist swirls across the shoreline;
single seagull seizes a current
……..and rides, suspended
in a headwind.
– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved
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)
I’ve been telling you about this for awhile, and the day has finally arrived…the very first children’s book I was selected to contribute to is on sale today!
Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby is officially out now – in stores and everywhere. This book is unlike most others out there – it is a board book for young children 0-5, yet it is also a poetry anthology comprised of 30 poems by various writers such as Jane Yolen, J. Patrick Lewis, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Charles Ghigna, X.J. Kennedy, David L. Harrison, Marilyn Singer, Laura Purdie Salas, and many others including…little ol’ me.
It feels weird to say that.
I have to thank the wonderful and inimitable Lee Bennett Hopkins, who came up with the concept and compiled the poems for the book. He even contributes a couple of poems, too. And Alyssa Nassner’s cute baby- and toddler-friendly illustrations are the perfect complement to the text.
So today I wanted to share a couple of things: a short interview with Lee as well as the poem I contribute to the project. Before we get to Lee’s interview, though, congratulations are in order.
Last week, The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) announced they had teamed up with Lee to create the SCBWI Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award which, according to the SCBWI, “recognizes and encourages the publication of an excellent book of poetry or anthology for children and/or young adults” and will be awarded every three years.
(for more information about the award click HERE or click the SCBWI logo)
A lifelong supporter and cheerleader for children’s poetry, Lee has already helped establish two other awards: the annual Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, presented by Penn State University, and the Lee Bennett Hopkins/International Reading Association Promising Poet Award, presented every three years by the International Reading Association (now the International Literacy Association).
He’s also received his fair share of awards, including the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Poetry for Children in 2009 and the SCBWI’s 1996 Golden Kite Award for his poetry collection, Been to Yesterdays. And with over 120 books under his belt, it was a matter of time before the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records named him “the most prolific anthologist of poetry for children.”
So now without any further ado…let’s get to our interview!
Lee, thank you so much for asking me to contribute a poem to this incredible project. Being a board book anthology makes this book a rather rare sort of species in the world of children’s literature; how did you come up with the concept of creating a poetry collection for very young children?
I have always maintained that poetry should become part of a child’s psyche as soon as they are born – if not before! Lullabies sung by mothers and fathers, kisses sweet given to newborns are as natural as breathing. Why not create a collection for the young that deals with topics they are becoming familiar with – Family, Food, Firsts, Play, Bedtime? A verse such as your “First Tooth” is not only right on for this age group, it is fun, filled with childlike surprise, wonderment.
Well, I’m glad you liked it enough to include it! For my readers, here is my poem from the book, along a sweet little gem from Heidi Stemple:
Having already edited so many anthologies before, you are intimately aware of what it takes to put a poetry collection together – but I wonder if there were any unusual steps you needed to take with this particular project? How did the creation of this book differ from others?
LULLABY AND KISSES SWEET began with a definite set of guidelines. Every poem in the collection was especially commissioned by a host of well-known poets as well as introducing new voices, giving many a chance to become published for the first time. Each verse had to be eight lines or under, had to rhyme and had to have that “I” moment as children awaken to what is going on in their world around them. Realizing what it is to have a grandma take one’s hand, experiencing disappointment as one’s tower of blocks suddenly crash to the floor, a plea for the sound of words as a child asks to be read to again and again.
I have done about 120 collections for all ages. LULLABY… is the first, quite huge board book I’ve ever done.
Tell me about your collaborators – your editor and illustrator.
Working long and hard for several years with a wondrous editor, Tamar Brazis at Abrams, helped shape the book and its conceptual development from the very beginning to the final bound pages. A next important phase after the completion of the manuscript was that of illustration.
It was decided that Alyssa Nassner would do the book featuring anthropomorphic characters — bunnies, bears, tigers, kittens. And she pulled it all off in a most charming, child-friendly, loving way.
Following that line of thought, did you encounter any surprises – such obstacles or poetic perspectives – along the way?
I am always impressed with the hard work, the diligence, poets put into their writing. Many poems were written, edited by me, rewritten and oft time re-re-rewritten. Those who work with me know I have a definite philosophy about what I want to give to our youth. I detest ‘bathroom humor’, light verse that says nothing. Each poem in LULLABY… has been crafted to bring strong self-concept to a child.
A general question for you: What is perfect about children’s poetry these days, what is missing, and what is there too much of?
I wish there was more Poetry with a capital P. There is too much light verse that goes nowhere, straining to be silly. The sidewalk ended a long time ago and very well with the brilliance of Shel Silverstein. It will take giant steps to widen the pathway!
I wish there were more anthologies being published for all ages. There are fewer and fewer. In 2014 we saw two; in 2015 we’ll be lucky to see four – and three of them are mine. We need more diversity, more voice within the genre.
I wish editors would publish books of poetry by a single author on a variety of themes rather than on one subject. Past collections by masters such as Myra Cohn Livingston, Eve Merriam, Lilian Moore, et. al., didn’t have to have one theme. They offered a smorgasbord of work and it was all delicious fare.
I have to agree. Books by folks like Silverstein and Dorothy Aldis, who greatly influenced me, were rarely one-theme books. Are you at liberty to let readers in on any news about future projects?
Forthcoming in Fall is JUMPING OFF LIBRARY SHELVES: A BOOK OF POEMS, illustrated by Jane Manning (Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press), my heartfelt tribute to libraries, librarians, storytellers and books. A stellar roster of poets are included such as X. J. Kennedy, Nikki Grimes, Jane Yolen, Alice Schertle, as well as never-before-published works.
Another major work will appear this Fall if the book stays on schedule.
Finally, I have to ask…what keeps Lee Bennett Hopkins going?
What doesn’t keep me going? I am interested in everything from idiotic politicians’ points-of views to hunting for purple clothing — from finding a good restaurant to searching for a thrilling theatrical experience.
Then there is that thing called ‘poetry’. Damn it sometimes. It envelopes me — my life, my heart. It is food, drink, manna, stuff that makes life worth living. I live to pass the poetry…that stuff with the capital “P”.
Remember, Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby is on sale now at your favourite bookstore and online, so I do hope you’ll pick up a copy and enjoy it. For a young child’s birthday or even a baby shower – this makes a perfect gift! Thanks again to Lee for believing in me and giving me my first “big break,” and thank you to all of you who take time out of your busy days to read this blog…I appreciate your support, as well!
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted any new blog entries – save for my Poetry Friday posts – and for that I apologize. My wife and I have been dealing with family problems (ailing, elderly parents), house problems (now that the new $8000 furnace/boiler and $2000 electrical panel are installed, there are ice dams on our roof), and vehicle problems (last Friday, the left rear tire flew off my truck while my wife was driving home – not good).
And of course, here in New England, we’ve been getting major snowstorms every week, which means snow blowing, shoveling, and school cancellations…and until 2 days ago, I was doing it without a snow blower, since ours was in the repair shop.
There has also been some good news, though: I’ve written two new picture book manuscripts in the past month, which has taken quite a bit of my time, and I also received some FANTASTIC news a few weeks ago that I’m dying to share with you. I can’t say anything yet, but it’ll be a big announcement when I do!
Wait – has it been a year already? Last April I reviewed author/poet Laura Purdie Salas’ book, Water Can Be… as part of my National Poetry Month celebration, and now here it is 11 months later and she has another book in her series!
Salas’ new book, A Rock Can Be… (Millbrook Press) follows the same concept as Water in that it takes a very simple subject and poetically expounds on it…but she does it with such aplomb you almost don’t realize how deceptively insightful her observations are.
Starting with the idea that every rock has a story to tell, Salas begins, “A rock can be… / tall mountain/ park fountain / dinosaur bone / stepping stone…” and goes on to include volcanoes, phosphorescence, architecture, skipping stones, and many more instances of rocks being more than just “rocks.”
As I mentioned in my Water Can Be… review last April, it takes skill, patience, and a creative mind to write simply – and Salas has what it takes. It’s also nice to see illustrator Violeta Dabija, whose artistry can be seen on the previous two books in the series, is back to perfectly complement the text with vivid colour and textured illustrations.
In the back of the book readers can learn more about the rocks and images of which Salas makes note – such as stepping stones, flint, and even the moon. A glossary also helps younger readers to understand some of the imagery and concepts throughout the book.
A delightful read!
NEXT WEEK: Two days after A Rock Can Be… hits bookshelves, the first children’s book I have ever had the pleasure of being part of comes out! Lullaby & Kisses Sweet (Abrams Appleseed) is an unusual book – it’s a poetry anthology in board book form, designed for very young children up to the age of 5.
I am extremely proud to have worked with the one and only Lee Bennett Hopkins, who edited the book, and to be included in a book that also features poems by such luminaries as Jane Yolen, J. Patrick Lewis, Charles Ghigna, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, David L. Harrison, X.J. Kennedy, Marilyn Singer, and many others. (Salas also contributed a poem, “Spaghetti,” to the collection)
As a first-ever publication, I couldn’t be more thrilled. To learn more about the book, check out this brief review from Publisher’s Weekly! (And once you read it, you’ll see why I’m more than happy to share the link!)
The day it goes on sale, Tue., March 3, I’ll be sharing a special interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins here on my blog. We’ll be talking about how the concept for the book came about, his thoughts on children’s poetry these days, and a couple of new projects he’s working on, so I hope you’ll stop back!
Yes, that’s right…I’m not really here. I’m laid up, following my ACL surgery from last Friday. But I hope you’re enjoying it!
By the way, do you know what’s really weird? I’m writing this on Thursday, the day before my surgery, but I’m acting as if it’s Tuesday and I’ve already had the surgery. My brain is already confused and I’m not even on painkillers! Although, by the time you read this, I might be. Good grief, my head hurts…)
Anyway, there is a lot going on this month: I’ll be taking part in Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo (Rhyming Picture Book Month) project with a guest blog post on April 22; I’ll be again teaming up with Gerald So at the The 5-2 : Crime Poetry Weekly for a follow-up interview here, before he shares one of my poems at his place in May; and I’m also proud to again take part in Irene Latham’s Progressive Poem, where a different writer adds a line to a poem each day of the month, and by the end of April we’ll have a complete poem!
2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem Contributors (and the dates they’ll be taking part):
1 Charles at Poetry Time
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Donna at Mainely Write
4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
5 Carrie at Story Patch
6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
7 Pat at Writer on a Horse
8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
9 Diane at Random Noodling
10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
11 Linda at Write Time
12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
13 Janet at Live Your Poem
14 Deborah at Show–Not Tell
15 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Julie at The Drift Record
20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
21 Renee at No Water River
22 Laura at Author Amok
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Linda at TeacherDance
25 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
27 Kate at Live Your Poem
28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
30 Tara at A Teaching Life
“Water Can Be”
To kick off national Poetry Month, I’m sharing my thoughts on Laura Purdie Salas’ new book, Water Can Be (Millbrook, 2014) which is available TODAY!
Only a fellow writer can truly appreciate the difficulty of simple writing. In terms of writing, especially writing for children, the word ‘simple’ does not mean plain, boring, easy, or any of the other synonyms most people think of. Rather, simple writing is, in a word, uncomplicated. And by being uncomplicated, it can be beautiful, touching, and sincere.
It’s also very hard to do consistently well.
Fortunately, Laura Purdie Salas is up to the task, as she brings us a ‘follow-up’ to her book, A Leaf Can Be (Millbrook, 2012). Not that it’s a sequel of any kind…but Water Can Be just feels like the natural second book in a series of quiet, thought-provoking, and fun-to-read books about nature.
Kids as well as adults will be amused reading lines like, “Water can be a…tadpole catcher / picture catcher / otter feeder / downhill speeder…” and when these are combined with Violeta Dabija’s simple (there’s that word again) yet whimsical illustrations, all these metaphors and concepts come to life in a unique way.
Not every rhyming picture book is poetry. This one is.
Get a taste of what water can be by checking out the trailer:
If you haven’t checked out all the children’s poems that have been produced in just the past couple weeks, make sure you log on and vote for your favourites – by the time the dust settles, only one authlete will be left standing!
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!
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right! (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day) Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter , Facebook, Pinterest, and SoundCloud!