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!

Poetry Friday: For Mother’s Day, an introduction to the poetry of Virginia Esenwine

Three years ago, I wrote a poem for my father for Father’s Day. I framed it and gave it to him – and just a few weeks ago, I learned it won a poetry contest sponsored by the Robert Frost Farm and Derry (NH) Public Library.

Mom. circa 1950

So what could I do for Mother’s Day?

As it turned out, I didn’t need to think about it very long. As I’ve mentioned several times here on the ol’ Triple-R, I’ve been cleaning out my parent’s house – the home I grew up in – and finding all sorts of nostalgic and historical treasures. Mom, who is in her ’80’s, is in the local nursing home and Dad is going to be joining her as soon as a bed opens up, so we’re talking about a good 50+ years of “stuff” their only child needs to sort through. Recently, I discovered a huge pile of photographs inside a dusty old trunk going back to when mom was a baby…as well as poetry!

All these years, and I’d never known Mom wrote poetry when she was young! I knew I’d gotten my sense of humor (and sense of direction) from Dad – but I’d always felt like he was where my creative side had come from, as well. While that’s certainly true, it’s very obvious by the plethora of poems Mom wrote that my penchant for poetry definitely comes from her.

Thanks, Mom!

So back to Mother’s Day. I decided to provide mom with an opportunity she’d never had:  being published.

I thought this would be something unique for her, and a chance to allow her to enjoy something she’d never done. When my father was still in the army back in the ’50’s, he had wanted to get into radio, but opted for the more sensible (and much more lucrative) position as a building materials store manager. Many years later when I was working in radio, the station needed a new local talk show host and I suggested Dad, who ended up hosting his own show for about two years.

Now, it was Mom’s turn to shine!

Virginia Gertrude Agnes (Johnson) Esenwine

Incense to the Mind and Dawn

With the dawn I wait
to fill and complete another day,
to touch and wake surrounding things
and have them listen and stay.
The misty light of feeling you have,
the smell of far-away incense
seems to cling to your nostrils,
……….and strangely, your mouth
……….……….and tongue – you
can taste its sensuous lift,
a lift to the mind and the soul;
the body?        Sometimes a body changes
with the mind – sensing not an
air of incense upon itself, but
rather feeling a numbing,
senseless type of being.

And too, as the dawn waits
eagerly, to have the sun’s
……….assuring warmth –
where is the warmth of the
body?              One’s own flesh?
Is it a true part of the
……….sense, or could it be
long forsaken – gone by –
has it, this warmth and strength,
been snatched from before
……….one’s eyes; or stolen
by vanity one day and
taken some other form, a
form that does not become
us, we who easily scoff
upon other bodies, and also
……….at righteous doings?
I feel and smell the incense
on me, around me – everywhere.
It’s quite strong this time, and
……….burns my eyes and fills
my throat with a heavy dust.

Either breathe deeper and choke
……….your life – or stay,
remain as the dawn, and
have every day one of
……….completeness.

– © 1960, Virginia Gertrude Agnes Johnson

Mom from last year, as active as she can be!

.
Mom was 28 when she wrote this poem, and the most startling thing to me about it is the fact that it’s free verse; Mom has always been a very straight-laced, traditional sort of person, so seeing her writing without care for meter or rhyme makes me feel like I barely know her! And I’m not sure what to make of her sentiments, but it’s an astonishing side of her I’ve never experienced.

I hope you are able to do something nice for your mother this weekend. Liz Steinglass is celebrating the release of her new poetry collection, Soccerverse (Wordsong, 2019) at her blog today, where she’s hosting the complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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 2019 Progressive Poem wraps up!

First: the (partially) sad news. The company that published Flashlight Night is being sold to another company. The Highlights/Boyds Mills Press family is splitting up, and although it’s disappointing – for the folks who work there as well as for all my friends and fellow writers who have books with them – I’m trying to maintain a positive attitude. This is business, after all, and if this change allows BMP and its imprints to carry on and flourish, then it will have been worth it.

In other, more happy news…

The 2019 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem is finally complete! This is an annual event for National Poetry Month that was created by author and poet Irene Latham. Each day throughout April, a different children’s writer/blogger would add a new line until the poem concluded April 30 with Donna at Mainely Write. Donna even put it to music and recorded herself singing it – which is a first!

I started the poem off with a couple of found lines from songs, and everyone taking part maintained that premise…using pieces of song lyrics to construct our poem. However, it occurred to me that something was missing:  a title! Usually, someone somewhere along the line creates a title, but that didn’t happen this year. So it’s my sincere hope the Progressive Poem crew doesn’t mind me capping off the poem:

Finding Summer
(The 2019 Progressive Poem)

Endless summer; I can see for miles…
Fun, fun, fun – and the whole world smiles.
No time for school- just time to play,
we swim the laughin’ sea each and every day.

You had only to rise, lean from your window,
the curtain opens on a portrait of today.
Kodachrome greens, dazzling blue,
it’s the chance of a lifetime,

make it last forever–ready? Set? Let’s Go!
Come, we’ll take a walk, the sun is shining down
Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes
Tomorrow’s here. It’s called today.

Gonna get me a piece o’ the sky.
I wanna fly like an eagle, to the sea
and there’s a tiger in my veins.
Oh won’t you come with me waltzing the waves,
………………………………diving the deep?

It’s not easy to know
less than one minute old
we’re closer now than light years to go
To the land where the honey runs

…we can be anyone we want to be…
There’s no stopping curiosity.
What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing
Looking for a sign of life

You’re simply the best
Hold my hand and we’ll be free
Have faith in you and the things you do
Multiply life by the power of two.

Let’s sway — under the moonlight,
………………………………this serious moonlight
And free we’ll be – we’re diving in! Gonna take a chance on summer!

Sorry about that giant head – I can’t control the size of the image! If you’re interested, here’s a list of all the poem’s line sources:

L1 The Who, ‘I Can See for Miles’/The Beach Boys, ‘Endless Summer’
L2 The Beach Boys, ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’/Dean Martin, ‘When You’re Smiling’
L3 The Jamies, ‘Summertime, Summertime’
L4 The Doors, Summer’s Almost Gone’/Led Zeppelin ‘Good Times, Bad Times’
L5 Ray Bradbury, “Dandelion Wine”
L6 Joni Mitchell, “Chelsea Morning”
L7 Paul Simon, “Kodachrome,” “Dazzling Blue”
L8 Dan Fogelberg, “Run for the Roses”
L9 Spice Girls, “Wannabe”/Will Smith, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”
L10 The Beatles, “Good Day Sunshine”
L11 The Carpenters, “Top of the World”
L12 Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Underneath the Lovely London Sky” from Mary Poppins Returns
L13 Carole King, “Hi-de-ho (That Old Sweet Roll)”
L14 Steve Miller, “Fly Like An Eagle”
L15 Don Felder, “Wild Life”
L16 Nowleen Leeroy, “Song of the Sea” (lullaby)
L17 Sara Bareilles, “She Used to Be Mine” from WAITRESS
L18 Stevie Wonder, “Isn’t She Lovely”
L19 R.E.M., “Find the River”
L20 Carole King, “Way Over Yonder”
L21 Mint Juleps, “Groovin” by the Young Rascals
L22 Jack Johnson, “Upside Down”
L23 Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson) “Rainbow Connection” from the Muppet Movie
L24 The Foo Fighters, “Learning to Fly”
L25 Tina Turner, “The Best”
L26 The Partridge Family, “Summer Days”
L27 The Pointer Sister’s, “We Are Family”
L28 Indigo Girls, “Power of Two”

L29 David Bowie, “Let’s Dance”

If you’d like to see how the progressive Poem – umm, well…”progressed,” you can check out the following links!

2019 Progressive Poem schedule:

April

1 Matt @Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
2 Kat @Kathryn Apel
3 Kimberly @KimberlyHutmacherWrites
4 Jone @DeoWriter
5 Linda @TeacherDance
6 Tara @Going to Walden
7 Ruth @thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown
8 Mary Lee @A Year of Reading
9 Rebecca @Rebecca Herzog
10 Janet F. @Live Your Poem
11 Dani @Doing the Work that Matters
12 Margaret @Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine @Dori Reads
14 Christie @Wondering and Wandering
15 Robyn @Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Carol @Beyond LiteracyLink
17 Amy @The Poem Farm
18 Linda @A Word Edgewise
19 Heidi @my juicy little universe
20 Buffy @Buffy’s Blog
21 Michelle @Michelle Kogan
22 Catherine @Reading to the Core
23 Penny @a penny and her jots
24 Tabatha @The Opposite of Indifference
25 Jan @Bookseestudio
26 Linda @Write Time
27 Sheila @Sheila Renfro
28 Liz @Elizabeth Steinglass
29 Irene @Live Your Poem
30 Donna @Mainely Write

And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links, head on over to Jama’s Alphabet Soup for the complete roundup!

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

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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: A childhood memory wins a prize as a poem

This week has been one of excitement and anticipation, as I prepare to join two highly esteemed New Hampshire poets for a special National Poetry Month reading at our local library.

The Pillsbury Free Library in Warner, NH is hosting two events this Sat. night. One is the opening of an art exhibit at 6:30pm entitled The Road Not Taken, featuring works by three artists inspired by the poetry of New Hampshire’s own Robert Frost.

Then at 7pm, I will take part in a poetry reading with two other local poets, Deborah Brown and L.R. Berger. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll stop by!

Another reason why this week has been so exciting for me is because I just learned a few days ago that I am the recipient of the MacGregor Poetry Prize, coordinated by the Derry (NH) Public Library and the Robert Frost Farm board of trustees! In addition to a cash prize, my poem “Stumpfield Pond, 1975” will be put on display at the library, I’ll be joined by the other finalists at the library for a public reading, and – best of all – I will be a featured poet as part of the Frost Farm’s summer reading series.

To say I’m honored, stunned, and flabbergasted are all understatements!

My father and I used to go fishing all the time when I was younger, and Stumpfield Pond in Hopkinton, NH was a favorite fishing spot. (Even today, I enjoy bringing my kids here!) So about three years ago, I thought I’d write a poem about fishing with my dad, early sunshine just barely waking up the morning, and give it to him as a Father’s Day gift. He loved it – but little did I know it would be this well-received by so many others!

Stumpfield Pond, 1975

His son at his side, Dad slips
old pea-green fiberglass into mirror water,
skillfully slicing the placid surface;
ripples race from either side of the bow,
curling and folding upon themselves.
Sand-worn hull grinds on gravel
like thunder in sunshine, unexpected…

(You can read the rest of the poem HERE!)

– © 2016 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Looking for more poetry? Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy is hosting Poetry Friday today with a grey-sweatshirt kind of spring day. (You’ll have to read her poem to understand!) Oh, and many thanks to everyone who entered to win a free copy of Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (POW! Kids Books, 2018) a couple of weeks ago! In honor of Dinosaur‘s one-year birthday, everyone who left a comment was entered in the drawing…

and the winner is…

Yvona Fast!!

Congratulations, Yvona…your book is on its way! Thank you so much for all your support.

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

The 2019 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem is starting to wind down! Each day this month, a different writer/ blogger has added a new line until the poem concludes April 30. You can follow along at these sites:

2019 Progressive Poem schedule:

April

1 Matt @Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
2 Kat @Kathryn Apel
3 Kimberly @KimberlyHutmacherWrites
4 Jone @DeoWriter
5 Linda @TeacherDance
6 Tara @Going to Walden
7 Ruth @thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown
8 Mary Lee @A Year of Reading
9 Rebecca @Rebecca Herzog
10 Janet F. @Live Your Poem
11 Dani @Doing the Work that Matters
12 Margaret @Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine @Dori Reads
14 Christie @Wondering and Wandering
15 Robyn @Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Carol @Beyond LiteracyLink
17 Amy @The Poem Farm
18 Linda @A Word Edgewise
19 Heidi @my juicy little universe
20 Buffy @Buffy’s Blog
21 Michelle @Michelle Kogan
22 Catherine @Reading to the Core
23 Penny @a penny and her jots
24 Tabatha @The Opposite of Indifference
25 Jan @Bookseestudio
26 Linda @Write Time
27 Sheila @Sheila Renfro
28 Liz @Elizabeth Steinglass
29 Irene @Live Your Poem
30 Donna @Mainely Write

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

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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: A poetry reading and “Apple-Stealing”

It’s been a busy couple of months for me, with manuscripts getting written and revised, conversations with editors, manuscripts being again…I’ve even started two new projects I hadn’t planned. (I love it when that happens!) Something else that’s been keeping me busy is preparing for a poetry reading in Warner, NH two weeks from this Sat. night!

As part of National Poetry Month, the Pillsbury Free Library is hosting two events. One is The Road Not Taken art exhibit featuring works by three Derry, NH artists (where Frost lived a number of years) inspired by the poetry of New Hampshire’s own Robert Frost. (And yes, other states claim him as their own, but we’re not going there!)

Doors will open at 6:30pm, to allow attendees to view the pieces before the second event begins at 7pm:  a poetry reading with two poets from the Granite State, Deborah Brown and L.R. Berger, and Yours Truly.

I’m truly honored to be a part of an event with such highly-esteemed writers as Deborah and L.R. We’ll each spend about 20 minutes or so reading and discussing our poetry, and time will be available for questions afterward. So today, I thought I’d dust off my very first published children’s poem – which is more of a YA poem – which I’ll be reading.

This poem was first published on the Young Adult Review Network (YARN) in 2012, and it will always be special to me because the editors liked it so much, they nominated it for a Pushcart Prize. As I was looking through my past poems, deciding which ones to share on the 27th, I realized I had never shared this particular poem here! So I thought today would be the perfect day to do so:

Apple Stealing

Moonglow; steadfast, unwitting
cohort,
lights autumn evening
orchard shadows,
while three devious figures skulk
quietly between
Macs
and Cortlands.

Grey watercolor brushstrokes soften
the edges;
forms flow
one into the next;
our eyes unreliable,
texture,
…..distance,
…..…..perspective
give way to guesswork
and guile.

Crickets, night birds
knowingly
talk amongst themselves, voyeurs
in anticipation
watching us
from their posts;
fighting
our fears, we dismiss
guilt,
ready our bags,
…..plan our attack,
and move in, deftly
selecting our prizes.

Suddenly, a rustling –
massive darkness looms
before us, behind, in front, beside
the trees;
bags dropped, we stop
cold, eyes straining, hearts
racing faster, faster
than stone-heavy legs.
Our criminality
laid bare, devil creature
raises its head in frightful judgment…
and bites

leisurely

.…..…..into fruit.

Horses steal apples, too.

– © 2012 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

If you’re in the New Hampshire area April 27, I hope you’ll stop by! You can click HERE for the Facebook Event page for more info…and for more poetry, please visit Live Your Poem, where my friend Irene Latham is hosting Poetry Friday with an assortment of poems she’s been writing as part of her Artspeak project!

NEXT WEEK:  I’ll be celebrating the ONE-YEAR anniversary of Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (POW! Kids Books, 2018) on Wed., April 17 – with a chance for you to win a copy of the book!

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

Speaking of Irene…her annual Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem is rocking and rolling along! Each day during April, a different writer/ blogger adds a new line to the poem until it concludes April 30. You can follow along at the sites listed below…

2019 Progressive Poem schedule:

April

1 Matt @Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
2 Kat @Kathryn Apel
3 Kimberly @KimberlyHutmacherWrites
4 Jone @DeoWriter
5 Linda @TeacherDance
6 Tara @Going to Walden
7 Ruth @thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown
8 Mary Lee @A Year of Reading
9 Rebecca @Rebecca Herzog
10 Janet F. @Live Your Poem
11 Dani @Doing the Work that Matters
12 Margaret @Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine @Dori Reads
14 Christie @Wondering and Wandering
15 Robyn @Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Carol @Beyond LiteracyLink
17 Amy @The Poem Farm
18 Linda @A Word Edgewise
19 Heidi @my juicy little universe
20 Buffy @Buffy’s Blog
21 Michelle @Michelle Kogan
22 Catherine @Reading to the Core
23 Penny @a penny and her jots
24 Tabatha @The Opposite of Indifference
25 Jan @Bookseestudio
26 Linda @Write Time
27 Sheila @Sheila Renfro
28 Liz @Elizabeth Steinglass
29 Irene @Live Your Poem
30 Donna @Mainely Write

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

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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: More #PopsiclePoetry!

Before we get to today’s poetry, I need to congratulate someone! Earlier this month, I featured a review of the new picture book What if…? Then We (Boyds Mills Press, 2019) along with an unusual sort of interview with author Rebecca Kai Dotlich and illustrator Fred Koehler. I also offered a free copy to anyone who left a comment! And by a random draw of the cards, the winner is…

Catherine Flynn!

Congratulations, Catherine – your copy is on its way, and thank you for stopping by!

Now, for the poetry: a few months ago, I shared some examples of my #PopsiclePoetry prompts – two or three random words written on a Popsicle stick, which I use to create a poem, usually within about 15 minutes. These are prompts, warm-up exercises for the brain, if you will, so the lines I write are not finely-tuned pieces of poetic prowess; rather, they are simply the result of a few laps on the ol’ cerebral treadmill.

But every now and then, the words come together in such a way that the poem feels more polished, more thoughtful, more “real” than I’d thought it would be, and it connects with many of the folks who read it. This is one of those.

I had asked my wife,who gives me most of these prompts, to jot down something for me to use, and she apparently decided to use her “One Word” for this year: Be Still. (Yes, technically that’s two words, but she’s never been a fan of math) So I thought about what it meant to “be still”…and this is what I came up with:

I admit it took me much longer than the 10-15 minute limit I try to impose upon myself, because I liked the concept I had come up with and had to keep battling with the thesaurus to craft the internal consonance I wanted; all those S’s, P’s, and B’s were important to the musicality of the lines, and they had to not only feel good on the tongue, but they had to sound unforced to the ears and make sense to the brain.

Hopefully I succeeded in at least one or two of those areas! I was overwhelmed by the positive response the poem received on my Facebook and Instagram pages, so I thought I’d share it here, in case you’d missed it.

By the way, I’m once again fortunate to be participating in the annual Madness! Poetry competition! If you don’t know what it is, check out the link HERE. It all begins this Sunday night at 5pm, EST…which means my competitor is going to have the upper hand, as I’ll be heading to my indoor soccer league game and not getting home until almost 9:30pm!

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, please visit my friend Linda Baie at Teacher Dance, where she is celebrating spring with a poem of anagrams!

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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!

“What if…? Then We…” Blog Tour arrives! (with a GIVEAWAY!)

I’ve known children’s author/poet Rebecca Kai Dotlich for a number of years and have been a big fan of her writing for even longer; conversely, I’d never even heard of author/illustrator Fred Koehler until he signed on to illustrate my debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), and we’ve since become internet friends and supporters of each others’ work. (One day, I plan to visit Florida and say hi in person!)

You can therefore probably understand why I’m so happy to be able to share in the celebration of the release of What If…Then We (Boyds Mills Press, 2019), the new picture book from the Dynamic Duo!

This imaginative book is a companion to their One Day, The End (Boyds Mills Press, 2015), a Boston Globe Horn Book honor book that presented a different premise, in text, on each spread – and then expanded the details of each story via Fred’s illustrations. In their new book, the pair wonder what might happen if they ran into various situations…and their solutions are simultaneously sweet and bold:

What if…every crayon in the world melted? What if…all the words in the universe disappeared? What if…we began to cry?

What if…the clocks stopped ticktocking?

It is in this spirit that I thought I’d ask our two friends, Rebecca and Fred, a few questions!

1) What if…you had not written / illustrated “One Day…The End?”
Rebecca:  Then I would have written something else.
Fred:  Then I probably wouldn’t have gone on to illustrate four other picture books and two novels for Boyds Mills! No illustrator will ever admit that a book was easy. To take an author’s manuscript and visually interpret it in a way that elevates the text to a new level is… Mind-bending. A feat of mental Olympics. A puzzle within a puzzle. But honestly, that wasn’t the case with ONE DAY, THE END. It was um, well, kind of easy.

I fell in love with ODTE for the same reason I later fell in love with FLASHLIGHT NIGHT. I read it, scratched my head, and asked out loud “How on earth am I gonna illustrate this???” If it hadn’t been a challenge, I wouldn’t have been intrigued enough to come up with an original concept. I loved it because it required a deeper level of ingenuity than suggested by a simple text.

Fortunately, Boyds Mills liked the idea I presented and it went through only a few revisions to the original concept. So I owe a lot to that book, as well as author Rebecca Kai Dotlich and editor Rebecca Davis.

2) What if…you got lost far, far, far away and couldn’t find your way home?
Rebecca:  I would panic for a nanosecond, then I would “look for the helpers.”
Fred:  Then I imagine I’d just keep walking in what I thought was the right direction and hope someone found me. I got off at the wrong stop from the school bus when I was 10 or 11. It was the first day of summer camp and a different bus route. Instead of telling the bus driver I thought he’d skipped my neighborhood, I just got off with the next group of kids and started walking the way I thought was right. My mom eventually found me a solid mile from home, going the wrong way.

I don’t think I’ve changed much.

3) What if…you were not an author / illustrator?
Rebecca:  Then I would be feeling a tad empty, although then I might be a songwriter.
Fred:  Then I’d be a lot less happy. I’d have far fewer friends. My career wouldn’t be nearly as rewarding. This list could go on and on.

4) What if…your careers were switched?
Rebecca:  Then we would still be creative, and I would love being an artist!
Fred:  Then I’d write loads and loads of ideas that the industry calls “illustrator bait.” It’s those craftily worded concepts that present a wide open canvas for a clever artist. (Illustrators are helpless to say ‘no’ to ideas like that.) FLASHLIGHT NIGHT and ONE DAY, THE END are both great examples. So are books like DRAWN TOGETHER (Disney-Hyperion, 2018) and THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT (Philomel Books, 2013).

5) What if…you could create any book you wanted – no matter how unconventional, unpopular, or non-commercial it might be – and know that it would get published?
Rebecca:  Then I would get to work and write it. And also, it might involve magic!
Fred:  Then I’d be right where I am today, without the ‘knowing it’s going to get published’ part. I’m glad many of my ideas get turned down, because I come up with loads and loads of them. If they all got published, I’d have a hundred mediocre books on the shelf. Because of rejection, only the best stuff makes it through. (And I consciously try to avoid what’s popular. What I want most of all is to make honest art and help readers see themselves reflected in the heart of each story.)

6) What if…Boyds Mills Press wants a third book with this concept?
Rebecca:  Then we would not hesitate, because, as they say, the 3rd time’s a charm.
Fred:  Then we’d celebrate. Also, three is an odd number and every artist knows that odd numbers of things are visually more appealing than evens.

Thank you, Rebecca and Fred, and congratulations again! (And yes, Fred – we writers are also well aware of the classic “Rule of 3’s!”) I’ve always been a big proponent of the question “What if…” as a way of jump-starting creativity – I even wrote a blog post about it FIVE YEARS AGO – so seeing this concept in print makes me happy.

If you’d like a chance to win a free copy of What If…? Then We…”, just leave a comment below to enter! I’ll announce one name at random on Poetry Friday, March 1 – so you have until the end of this month, Feb. 28, to enter. Good luck!

What if…your cat photobombed your photo of the book?

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

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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!

The No-Resolution New Year

(This post was originally published in Jan. 2013 – a mere 5 months after I first began this blog. Since it has been 5 years since it had seen the light of day, I felt today might be an appropriate time to dust it off and share it again!)

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(The original title for this post was, “The No-Resolution New Year, or How the Portable People Meter Can Help You Not to Stress Over Your Resolutions.”  But that was a bit wordy.  Read along and it’ll all start to make sense.  Perhaps.)

For two weeks now, I’ve been reading and hearing about everyone’s new year’s resolutions.  Most folks want to lose weight.  Exercise more.  Eat healthy.

Some have very ambitious, specific resolutions, such as resolving to publish a book or to make a specific more amount of money each month.  Others are a bit more ambiguous, like trying to be a better person – which is nice, but what does that mean?  Are you only moderately tolerable now? Specifics, people!

Anyway, I appreciate why folks make new year’s resolutions…but if you ask me for mine, I’ll tell you I have none.  And it’s not because I don’t think I can’t make improvements in my life, or don’t see the value in setting goals.

I simply don’t see the point in setting a date to start on those goals.

Why wait?

A few years ago, I was talking to some friends about wanting to leave my place of employment and strike out on my own to work for myself as a voiceover artist.  It was autumn, and I recall explaining to them that there were a number of things I would need to do in order to make that change possible.  I would need to build up contacts and clients.  I would need to make sure my finances would be able to handle the initial reduction in pay.  Most importantly, I would need to have the physical tools available to work from home, such as a new computer and editing software, a better quality microphone, and sound dampening equipment to prevent ambient noise and echo in my recordings.

One of my friends suggested it would be a good new year’s resolution to work toward that goal.  I agreed – although I saw no need to wait until the new year to begin setting the plan in motion.  So I began auditioning more, prospecting for clients, and connecting with more people through social media.  I also started buying some new equipment.

I knew my finances were not going to allow me to leave work that following year, but at least I had begun moving forward.

Eventually, I got more gigs, built up a clientele, and this past summer was finally financially able to leave my position as production director for a 5-station radio group and work for myself.  A month later, I began this blog – another item on my to-do list.

And you know what?  The 2010 new year, 2011 new  year, and 2012 new year had nothing to do with any of it.  It was done through sheer determination, and determination is available 365 days a year.

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Image courtesy of Music Row

The Portable People Meter

The Portable People Meter (or PPM) is a small device developed by the company Arbitron to measure how often a person listens to different radio stations.  You may have heard of Nielsen ratings for TV?  Well, Arbitron is the radio equivalent of Nielsen, and ratings are very important because they show how many people are listening to different stations, how often they listen, what times they listen, and that sort of thing.  Radio and television stations then use this information to assist them in selling advertising and setting their rates. (UPDATE: 9 months after I published this post, Nielsen acquired Arbitron, so they are one company now.)

The way it works is, a random person is equipped with a PPM and it automatically keeps track of which stations he/she listens to throughout each day over several weeks.  (Back in the day, people were asked to keep written diaries, which can be fallible – so the PPM was a huge breakthrough in radio station monitoring)

Ratings are broken down into ‘Average Quarter-Hours,’ which simply means a minimum of 5 minutes for every 15-minute block, if you divide your clock at :00, :15, :30, and :45 minute increments.  For example, if a listener tuned in at 6:00am and tuned out at 6:07am, that would count as one quarter-hour, because he/she had listened for at least 5 minutes.  If that listener tuned in at 6:10am and tuned out at 6:20am, it would count for TWO quarter-hours (5 minutes in each quarter-hour block).  However, if he/she tuned in at 6:11am and tuned out at 6:19am, that radio station would receive NO quarter-hours, because the 5-minute minimum per quarter-hour had not been met.

“Your point, Matt??  Get to the point!”

Ok, ok.  You see, the PPM blew away a rock-solid radio programming axiom that nearly everyone in radio obeyed.

Before the PPM, radio stations believed that each hour’s first quarter-hour (from :00 – :15) was the most-listened to of all the quarter-hours.  This is because the hand-written radio diaries often had the first quarter-hour listed.  So if that’s what people are writing down, it must be the way it is, right?

Wrong.

With the advent of the PPM, the number-crunchers at Arbitron realized that each quarter-hour was more or less equally listened-to.  People were tuning in to radio stations not at the top of each hour…but whenever they darned well felt like it.

Shocker, I know.

Thing is, it was a shocker to a lot of radio stations, who for decades had deliberately played their hottest songs, or some other type of important, exciting, must-tune-in elements, at the top of each hour.  Turned out that that listeners were writing down the top of the hour on their hand-written diaries not because they were tuning in at the top of the hour, but because it was easier to write”11am” instead of 10:54am (which, you’ll notice, is an all-important quarter-hour!).

No time like the present

I’m explaining all of this to show that it’s irrelevant when to begin improving your life.  The important thing is that you have a vision for that improvement.  And if you don’t have the determination, that’s ok – take some time to find it!  It doesn’t matter if it’s the top of the hour or the beginning of the year – a radio station needs to have good programming every minute of the hour, and you make changes to your life every day of the year.

My wife and I met in September 2007, were engaged that following Christmas, and were married in August 2008, one month before we’d known each other for a year.  While some might say we rushed into things, I say we seized an opportunity.  We knew how we felt about each other, we knew our feelings would not change…so we figured, why wait?  One never knows what might happen tomorrow.  Carpe diem, and all of that!

Whether it’s the top of the hour or the beginning of the year…it’s just a spot on a clock or calendar.  You can make those resolutions whenever you feel like it:  losing weight, making more money, being more tolerable.

And if you do make a resolution that fails or for some reason doesn’t come to fruition…

Today is as good a day as any to start 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!

More treasures from the attic

A couple of years ago, I discovered all sorts of ancient artifacts in my parents’ attic, dating back to my childhood years. These relics included things like my very first typewriter, my 1st-grade lunchbox, and journals I kept for my high school English classes.

Well, as it turned out, my folks did NOT sell the house as they were initially thinking they would – so I was back there today, sorting through the more than 40+ years of stuff they’ve accumulated. And what did I find this time?

Picture books from the ’50s and ’60s, which I don’t ever recall seeing before…which makes me wonder why they were in the attic in the first place! Many of these were published by Golden Press (home of Little Golden Books), Whitman Publishing (which is still around, although they no longer publish children’s books), and Platt & Munk, which is no longer in business. (If the name Platt & Munk sounds familiar, it’s probably because they published several of Tasha Tudor’s books)

I do remember loving The Drum Book and Little Red Riding Hood:

  

Little Red Riding Hood was particularly engaging, because it had moving character illustrations beneath cellophane pages; as you opened the spread, the characters would move, so the reader could make them move back-and-forth by opening and closing the spread. This was one of many of these types of books published by Child Guidance Books, and although there is no publication date on the book, my best guess is mid-’60s to early ’70s.

And then there were the classics…

I pray that Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever (Golden Books, 1963) never goes out of print…it was as fascinating for me as it has been for my kids, even though they never got to read one of the originals, like this one, which is unfortunately falling apart. Who doesn’t love watching Lowly Worm riding around in his apple car, or Gold Bug in his pencil car?

By the way, I hope you’ll join me this Friday here at the ol’ Triple-R for our annual Holiday Poetry Party! This is a virtual event that began at children’s poet David Harrison’s home on the web several years ago with me, David, and Joy Acey, and has since moved over here.

It’s an informal gathering, so feel free to show up in your sweats and jammies if you’re so inclined – and if you’d care to bring a bite to eat or beverage, please let us know!

I also plan to share the poem I received from Margaret Simon as part of Tabatha Yeatts‘ annual Winter Poetry Swap. Tabatha randomly gave Margaret my name, so Margaret had to write a poem for me and sent it with a small gift. There’s a cool story behind why Margaret wrote what she did, so I’ll share that here. And I hope to share the poem I wrote soon, once I know the person I sent it to has received it.

Oh, yes – and as a first-round judge of the annual CYBILS Awards‘ Poetry category, I’m racing against time to read as many of the 60 or so nominated books as possible, and narrow the list down to a shortlist of SEVEN! There are five I’m pretty sure are going to stay on my list…but that could change once I finish all my reading. The final list that all the judges decide upon will then be forwarded to the second-round panelists, who determine the winner early next year.

I hope you’ll stop by Friday for our party! I’ll be looking forward to learning your favorite children’s books from the past year, so start thinking about which ones caught your attention and stood out from the pack!

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

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 Prompt: “Deep, deep…” an iambic pentameter poetry prompt

You may recall that I spent a week at a Highlights Foundation poetry workshop back in October with Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Georgia heard, and a wonderful crew of writers yearning to learn more about children’s poetry. During that week, attendees were given a variety of poetry prompts to fire up our brains and imaginations, including Popsicle sticks, paint swatches, and poetic forms like concrete poetry and iambic pentameter.

The latter is where this week’s poem comes from!

One day we were discussing iambic pentameter, a meter with which I’ve become very comfortable writing since I discovered it in high school English class. Rebecca and Georgia suggested we take a 35-40 minute break to get some fresh air outside…and find something to write about, in iambic pentameter. (For a brief overview of this type of meter, click here)

We were tasked with writing a couplet – but when I saw the large stone wall outside the main building (The Barn, as they call it), I didn’t feel a couplet would be quite enough to do it justice. So I just started writing – and by the time we were called to share our work, I had completed eight lines. As with most poetry prompts, it’s neither polished nor perfect…but I’m sharing it because, as I’ve said here before, all poetry needs to start from somewhere, and the important thing about writing is that you DO IT. Remember my mantra: #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading!

(click to enlarge)

I spiffed it up a bit with a photo of a stone wall on my own property, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is much more that I could do with this poem to improve it (edit some words out, add more internal rhyme, etc.), but for what it is, I like it, and will probably not be tackling any revisions anytime soon.

For all of today’s Poetry Friday links, head on over to Carol’s Corner for the complete Poetry Friday roundup and a review of K.A. Holt’s Knockout (Chronicle, 2018)!

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

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!