Poetry Friday: “The Snow Clouds Know,” part of ‘The Best of Today’s Little Ditty!’

best-of-tld-coverA few weeks ago, friend and fellow writer Michelle H. Barnes published a collection of 75 poems by 55 different folks who have visited her blog and contributed poetry over the past 2 years. The book, The Best of Today’s Little Ditty, 2014-2015, is available now, and showcases a vast array of styles, forms, and voices.

Today, I’m sharing another one of my poems you’ll find inside…this one from a challenge from the one and only Joyce Sidman, who encouraged readers to write a “deeper wisdom” poem, modeled after her poem What the Trees Know, from her book, Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014).

If you just clicked the link to read Joyce’s poem, you’ll see what the form looks like. As I often do, though, I tried to put my own spin on the challenge:

The Snow Clouds Know

What’s born above will soon be gone
to comfort what it falls upon.
Beauty blooms before the dawn;
this the snow clouds know.

Limbs are weak; snow is strong.
Days are short; nights are long.
Coyote sings a lonesome song;
this the snow clouds know.

– © 2015 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Congratulations again, Michelle! I encourage everyone to visit her website today and find out more about the book and how to get a copy.

And speaking of poetry, be sure to ‘check out’ Jone MacCulloch’s little home on the web, “Check It Out,” for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, as well as info about her New Year Poetry Exchange!

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Poetry Friday: “The Best of Today’s Little Ditty!”

If you have spent any amount of time enjoying Poetry Friday, you have probably poetryfridaybutton-fulllcome across the blog of my friend and fellow writer, Michelle H. Barnes, Today’s Little Ditty. What started out as a forum to share her work soon turned into a showcase of interviews, repository of writing advice, and a community of folks sharing their own work.

And today, it becomes a book!

I’m very happy to announce the publication of Michelle’s The Best of Today’s Little Ditty, 2014-2015 – a collection of 75 poems by 55 different folks who have visited her site and contributed poetry over the past 2 years.

I encourage you to visit her website today and find out more about the book and how to get a copy! And in the meantime, I’ll share one of my poems you’ll find inside…this one from a challenge from the inimitable Lee Bennett Hopkins to write a poem about a formative moment in my younger life:

…I write her name in my notebook.

I’m not sure why.
What is it about her eyes,
her lips,
that makes me think
she’s smiling at me
even when she’s turned away?
I write her name in my notebook.
I’m not sure why.
What is it about violets and – is that vanilla? –
that make a girl smell so nice?
I don’t even like vanilla, but still…
I write her name in my notebook.
I’m not sure why.
Why do I crane my neck to watch
as she walks away, yet hide
my face
when she sees me
watching?
What would she say,
what would she do,
if only she knew…

– © 2015 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

(And by the way, HUGE congratulations to Lee for being the newest inductee into the Florida Artists’ Hall of Fame! This was just announced yesterday, and all of us in the children’s poetry community are thrilled!)

Congratulations again, Michelle…on the book, of course, as well as on your blog’s huge success! And speaking of poetry blogs, please stop by Brenda Davis Harsham’s little home on the web, Friendly Fairy Tales, for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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Poetry Friday: a dog-gone septercet challenge

poetryfridaybutton-fulllWay back at the beginning of the month, Jane Yolen visited the blog of my friend and fellow poet/blogger Michelle H. Barnes, Today’s Little Ditty to discuss her writing, her inspiration, and a poetic form she created called the septercet.

A septercet is a poem consisting of any number of 3-line stanzas (or tercets, as we call them), each with 7 syllables (hence, the “sept” in septercet). Michelle’s blog readers were challenged to write their own septercets, and they met the challenge head-on…submitting FIFTY different poems in one month!

Now, just because each line is seven syllables doesn’t mean a nice rhythm cannot be achieved. And just because it doesn’t need to rhyme doesn’t mean I was going to let the opportunity for an even harder challenge slip by! Here’s what I came up with:

Home

Give me room to be your friend;
give me space to stretch and run,
a place to sleep, time to mend.

Yes, I owe so much to you.
I am not ungrateful, no –
though I’m tired, and starving, too.

My whole world has been a cage,
cold and cramped. I should not ask
for anything, at my age,

nor should I expect concern,
love, or care – yet, here I am,
a new home, rules, words to learn.

Neither knows how this will end,
but I am loyal. Trust me, please.
Give me time; I’ll be your friend.

– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Aside from the rhyme and rhythm I wanted to create, I tried hard to steer clear of “filler” words, like “the,” “just,” “quite,” and any other words that might be accused of padding the syllable count or aiding the rhythm. Granted, sometimes those words are absolutely necessary – but often, they serve no purpose in moving a narrative forward or developing a scene, which is why it is one of the first pieces of writing advice I share with budding poets. (Haiku, in particular, requires extreme word economy and has no room for any word that does not contribute to the power of the imagery)

In the mood for more poetry? Karen Edmisten is hosting Poetry Friday today! And again, be sure to check out all the septercets at Michelle’s blog HERE.

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Mishka, one of our recent foster dogs who found a forever home just two days after she arrived! One of the sweetest, most mellow dogs I’ve ever known.

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How I saved a butterfly, told the story in 10 words, and ended up on a blog

Just goes to show, one never knows from whence inspiration might come…

DMC_ColorMichelle H. Barnes over at Today’s Little Ditty is holding her “Ditty of the Month Challenge” writing prompt, and this month’s challenge follows her interview with children’s poet/author Diana Murray. Diana challenged blog readers to write poems based on unlikely heroes, and it took me nearly all month long to discover I was the hero I would eventually write about.

Our family was at a local farm over the weekend, and while inside the gardener’s shed I discovered my subject, having a very difficult time trying to get out of a plastic-sheeted window. When I got home, I wrote a haiku about it -and today, Michelle is featuring it on her blog! I hope you’ll stop by and check out my poem along with all the others…there are some very good poems there, written by many talented folks.

And by the way, I’ll be wrapping up my Throwback Summer series this coming Friday, with another one of my early free verse poems, that I wrote in my college Creative Writing class. It’s verbose and overdone, but not half-bad – so please come back  and let me know what you think!

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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)
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Poetry Friday: Accepting a challenge to go back in time

Poetry_Friday logoEarlier this month, friend and fellow poet/blogger Michelle H. Barnes spotlighted the illustrious Lee Bennett Hopkins and his latest children’s anthology, Jumping Off Library Shelves (WordSong, 2015).

As she does each month, Michelle asked her celebrity guest to issue a “Ditty of the Month Club Challenge” – that is, a poetry prompt to encourage readers to submit their own original poems. In this case, Lee asked readers to take a look back at their own life’s history and write a “ME” poem, a poem about one specific moment in their life that changed them in some way.

Always up for a challenge, I submitted mine and it is now posted on her blog! The poem is titled “…I write her name in my notebook.” and it captures a scene that is apparently reminiscent to many other folks besides myself – I had no idea there were others feeling and doing the same things I was! So please check it out HERE and let me know if you, too, were one of those hopeless romantics.

And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links, head over to the one and only Sylvia Vardell’s Poetry for Children!

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Poetry Friday: Student poetry inspired by mine!

Poetry_Friday logoYou’ve got to love how inspiration breeds inspiration.

Back in February, my friend and fellow Poet’s Garage member Michelle H. Barnes interviewed children’s author/poet David Elliott and shared his poem, “Dear Orangutan” from his book, In the Wild (Candlewick, 2013). Following the interview, David challenged Michelle’s readers to write a “letter poem;” that is, a poem written like a letter to someone (or something).

Several such poems were submitted, including this one by Yours Truly:

Dear Dad,

I’m having trouble fitting in.
I feel unhappy in my skin.
The kids at school all call me names;
they carry torches bright with flames.
Teachers chase me through the rooms
with pitchforks, clubs, and wooden brooms.
When I say, “Hi,” the parents flee.
It’s almost like they’re scared of me.
Sorry, I don’t mean to whine.

Love,
your son,
Jack Frankenstein

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine

Well…imagine my surprise when I received an email from fellow writer/blogger Tabatha Yeatts, who informed me that students at her daughter’s middle school had a National Poetry Month project where kids could “respond” to poems that were posted in the halls (my poem being one of them). She shared with me two of the poems she thought were the best, and so – with parental permission – I’m sharing them here!

Dear Jack
by Emily Sologuren, 8th grade
.
Dear Jack,
You’re not the only one who knows that feeling
when everyone sees you as unappealing —
I too went through that, you know
Other kids pointing at me wherever I go
Because I was different with an outlandish plan
When they saw my experiment, they just snickered and ran
Yet I continued my experiment, while also being shunned
And created you, Jack, my wonderful son
So be who you are and don’t be so sad.
With all my love, your scientist Dad
 .
Dear Son
by Emily F., 8th grade
 .
Dear Son,
Don’t let those mean kids get you down,
Don’t let them chase you through the town.
The fact that you don’t look the same,
Serves them no right to call you names.
If you just embrace who you really are,
Then trust me kid, you will go far.
There will be someone who loves your persona,
After all, Shrek found his Fiona.
And if kids make fun, I recommend
That they don’t deserve to be your friend.
So if the times get real bad,
And you’re feeling real sad,
Just remember that you are beautiful no matter what they say,
Because baby, you were born that way.
After all, you are my son, and you are mine.
Your creator, your father, your friend,
Dr. Frankenstein
.

Pretty darned good, I’d say! Wow, these kids have some talent. I’m so honoured and humbled that something I wrote provided inspiration for someone. It is my sincere hope that someone reading these students’ poems will likewise be inspired, and keep the circle intact!

By the way, Poetry Friday is being hosted by Diane Mayr at Random Noodling this week, so make sure you head on over for all the poetry, links and…inspiration, of course!

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PoetsGarage-badgeTo 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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “What the Snow Clouds Know” / Rod McKuen / PFA

Before I get to today’s poem, first let me take a moment to offer my condolences for the family of Rod McKuen, poet, songwriter, and “accidental hipster,” as he was sometimes referred to.

poetryfridaybutton-fulllMcKuen came to prominence in the ’60’s and ’70’s, and although critics generally had a negative view of his work, the populace had a different opinion. An honest, earnest writer, he captured the attention of many folks who didn’t even think they liked poetry – and that popularity helped him become one of the top-selling poets of our time.

In addition to releasing many poetry collections, he also had a hand in writing hit songs for Frank Sinatra (“Love’s Been Good to Me” and Terry Jacks (“Seasons in the Sun,” a reworking of a French song) and was nominated for two Academy Awards for his musical work on the film, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” and the animated feature, “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.”

In his poem, “Age is Better,” McKuen compares his life as a young man to his life as an older fellow – and touches a few nerves:

I have been young,
…………..a fresh faced sprout,
with agile legs, a muscled arm and smile
to charm the world I went through
……..in a rush to get a little older, sooner.

Catching my reflection while passing past
………………….a looking glass not long ago
I discovered I was older, even old. There was
no sudden melancholy or regret, and yet
some sadness in the wonder that it happened
…………………………..while I wasn’t watching…

(read the poem in its entirety HERE)

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PFAC-front-cover-Nov-30-WEB-jpeg-705x1030

115 poets, 156 poems – in English AND Spanish – and somehow I was selected to be a part of it: it’s the latest Poetry Friday Anthology! Writers and educators Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell have once again put together an amazing collection of poems for students, teachers, and anyone who appreciates children’s poetry. Be watching for it in late March-early April! (for more info, just click the graphic)

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Cybils-Logo-2014I’ve been busy the past couple of weeks – revising a picture book manuscript, completing a new picture book manuscript, working on poems for yet another manuscript, and reading all the poetry collections nominated for this year’s CYBILS Awards.

As a 2nd-round judge, it’s a joy to be able to catch up on all the tremendous writing that has been published over the past year – but it’s a lot of work!  I’ll be updating you on the status of the awards as we get closer to making the final announcement.

Somehow, in the midst of all this – and while taking care of my wife, who’s getting over the flu – I managed to accept Michelle H. Barnes’ poetry challenge to write a “Deeper Wisdom” poem at her blog, Today’s Little Ditty. Being the shrewd kind of multi-tasker that I am, I used her challenge as an opportunity to write another poem for the collection I’m working on! (Kill two birds, right?)

So I invite you to head on over to her blog and check out TODAY’S POST, where she wraps up the challenge! You can see my take on Joyce Sidman’s “Deeper Wisdom” form along with many others. And for all of today’s Poetry Friday offerings, check out Paul W. Hankins’ blog, These 4 Corners!

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Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2Did 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!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo 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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!