I have to admit, National Poetry Month really snuck up on me this year.
I’ve been extremely busy since the year began, with writing, submitting, and doing more school visits than ever! It’s a good thing to be this busy, true – but then suddenly I’m into the fourth month of the year and I realize the first quarter of 2023 is behind us and I’ve still got so much to wrap up before summer!
I need to finish final prep work for my free verse poetry presentation (a 2-hour intensive, no less!) at this year’s New England SCBWI Spring Conference at the end of the month along with a panel group I’ll be taking part in along with friends and fellow authors Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, Padma Venkatraman, and Valerie Boling; I’m helping my wife, a Nurse Practitioner at a local Hospital, with her pet-sitting business she does on the side; and I’m trying to get our tax paperwork together and submitted to our CPA before April 15.
So imagine my surprise when I looked at the calendar a couple of weeks ago and saw April staring at me!
Fortunately, I had made plans. Later this month I’ll be interviewing both Robert Schechter about his debut poetry collection, the multiple-starred reviewed The Red Ear Blows its Nose (Word Galaxy, 2023) as well as fellow PB2023 member (and editor) Ryan G. Van Cleave about his new poetry books from Bushel & Peck.
But first up, it’s my friend Laura Shovan, whose latest book is a collection of poems is a bit of a departure for her.
While Laura has published several middle grade novels (learn more about her by reading my interview with her HERE) and has had numerous poems published in various anthologies over the years, Welcome to Monsterville (Apprentice House Press, 2023) is her first children’s poetry collection.
If ever there was an example of a book coming together via serendipity, this is it.
Laura’s friend, poet and Monsterville illustrator Michael Rotherberg, sent her a few pictures of monsters he had drawn while trying to pass the time with some art therapy during the Covid pandemic shutdown. She responded to him by writing poems for each monster – and sharing their stories. As this process continued, they realized that a poetry collection written as a way to cope with social and emotional anxiety was exactly what young children could use to help with their own anxieties – and Welcome to Monsterville was born.
The nice thing about this is, aside from the wonderfully playful and thoughtful poems, the monsters are never shown as scary or things to be feared – they are as friendly, quirky, and unique as every child who reads the book! Take this, for example:
The variety of poem styles (some rhyme, some are free verse) as well as the variety of monsters makes each page new and surprising for a young reader. And hopefully, that young reader will glean something positive from Laura’s words!
Learn more about laura and catch up on her blog posts about Monsterville at her website. For more poetry, head on over to the Poetry Friday roundup at Reflections on the Teche with Margaret Simon, where she is hosting the 2023 Progressive Poem.
I’m still booking author visits for the 2023 Spring Semester (and Fall 2023, too)!
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 dinosaur breath 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”
- “A Beginner’s Guide to Being Human”
- “Everybody Counts: Counting to 10 in Twelve Languages”
- The Making of a Picture Book
- 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)
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