Sometimes, you’re just so busy you miss important news. Like the passing of former U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic, about 20 days ago.
Simic was one of New Hampshire’s great celebrities, having lived here in the Granite State since 1971 and garnering not only the title of U.S. Poet Laureate but receiving multiple awards including a Pulitzer for his book, The World Doesn’t End.
I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard anything about his death until I stumbled upon an article in one of our state’s newspapers.
So I felt I should probably set aside a blog post recognizing his passing and sharing one of his poems, to introduce him to anyone who may not be familiar with his work.
Simic was adept at saying a lot with a little – which might seem a pretty standard thing for poets – but his poetry had insight, wit, and a unique lyrical quality, written with a singular sense of word economy. Consider, for example, his poem “Evening Walk”:
You give the appearance of listening
To my thoughts, o trees,
Bent over the road I am walking
On a late summer evening
When every one of you is a steep staircase
The night is descending.
The leaves like my mother’s lips
Forever trembling, unable to decide…
(read the rest of the poem here)
Think about that. Each tree is a staircase that the night is descending. Leaves are like trembing, indecisive lips. And there is so much more to the poem than just the connections and imagery. Poems like this force the reader to stop, re-read, re-read again, and come away with some new insight every time.
For those keeping score, Simic was New Hampshire’s 5th U.S. Poet Laureate from 2007-2008, and served in the position previously held from 2006-2007 by another Granite Stater, the esteemed Donald Hall. One of the reasons I love living where I do is because of the intense creativity this particular area holds; Hall lived just half an hour up the road, and another U.S. Poet Laureate, Maxine Kumin, hailed from my own town.
NH’s two other Poets Laureate were Richard Eberhart and the great Robert Frost, the latter of whom graduated from my wife’s high school. So like I said, I have a certain fondness for this state and the literature we put out. Our state might not be the biggest geographically, but we’re definitely big on literary talent.
For more poetry, visit Marcie Flinchum Atkins, who is hosting today’s Poetry Friay roundup with a look at some STEM poetry collections and a winter haiku!
~ World Read Aloud Day 2023 ~
It’s that time of year again, and I will once again be reading to schools and libraries all across the coutry one month from now!
World Read Aloud Day, sponsored by Lit World, spotlights the importance of reading to kids and I will once again be spending most of the day Wednesday, February 1, reading to students virtually! My day is usually jam-packed with 2-3 visits every hour, all day long, and spots are already filling up.
If you would be interested in having me join your class for a 20-minute visit via Zoom, GoogleMeets, MS Teams, Skype, tin cans and string, whatever – let me know! I will read one of my picture books, share some poetry, and talk a little bit about the writing process and how they all came to be! Just email me at matt(at)mattforrest(dot)com and I’ll reply as quickly as I can.
I’m booking author visits for the 2022-23 school year:
I love chatting with elementary and middle school classes about writing: why poetry is fun to read and write, the importance of revision, and how one’s imagination and creativity can lead to a fantastic career! My presentations are tailored to fit the needs of the classes and students’ ages. One day I might be sharing details of how a picture book like Flashlight Night (Astra Young Readers, 2017) was created; the next, I’ll be discussing dinosaurs, tree ferns, or origami sea turtles!
Student presentations include:
- The Making of a Picture Book
- How a Child Saved a Book
- “Once Upon Another Time”
- The Most Imporant Thing about Writing Poetry
- “I Am Today”
Adult presentations include:
- The Making of a Picture Book
- Poetry: An Introduction to the Most Important Genre
- The Most Important Thing about Writing Poetry
- Free Yourself with Free Verse
- Tight Language, Loose Narratives: Crafting a Non-Traditional Picture Book
Learn more at MattForrest.com!
If you or someone you know might be interested in having me visit your school, library, or other organization, please email me
(The Little Fig, LLC, 2023)
Order a PERSONALLY-SIGNED copy of this or or ANY of my books
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I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.
Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!
Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (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!
- NY Public Library’s “100 Best Book for Kids 2017” AND “Staff Pick!”
- KIRKUS Starred review!
- Kansas NEA Reading Circle Recommended Books!
- “Best Reads of 2017,” Unleashing Readers
- Finalist, 2019 New Hampshire Literary Awards
- Positive reviews from Horn Book, School Library Connection, School Library Connection, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and Shelf-Awareness!
DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:
- “Rollicking rhyme!” – Booklist
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