Poetry Friday: Dusting off a “January Shoreline”… and gearing up for publication day of I AM TODAY!

Wow.

That’s all I can say, when I realize I’ve written 19 poems in less than a week.

But that’s exactly what happened! I mentioned in last week’s Poetry Friday post that I’d written seven new poems for a new poetry collection I’m putting together…but that number didn’t include the poems I wrote that Friday, or the poems I wrote on Saturday. So the grand total turned out to be 2 revised poems and 17 brand-new ones, written betwen Wed.- Sat.

I’ve been tweaking them a bit and getting submissions ready (I probably won’t send the manuscript out until next week), so for today I thought I’d share a favorite poem of mine that I wrote 6 years ago. Given the time of year and weather outside, I felt it was more than apropos:

(click to enlarge)

We could be looking at wind chills of -20 to -40 in the northern part of the state tomorrow (Sat.) and around -10 where I am…so the shoreline is definitely a place I plan to avoid for the time being. (Remind me why I live here?)

I already have half a month’s worth of PB ideas!

In other news, I Am Today (POW! Kids Books) is still on track to be pubished one Jan 25, just 11 days from now! It’s been delayed 4 times since last year due to supply chain problems, but everything appears good to go at this point.

(Now that we have what appears to be a definite date, I’ve updated what wil hopefully be the final version of the book trailer, in case you’d like a sneak peek, below!)

If you’d like to learn more about the book, my process for writing it, and my approach to the craft of writing in general, I hope you’ll check out some of the wonderful posts that folks have shared as part of the official I Am Today blog tour!

The Blog Tour:

I Am Today (POW! Kids Books) is available for pre-orders everywhere books are sold – but if you order from my local indie bookstore, I can personally-sign ANY of my books and have them in the mail usually within 12-24 hours!

Care for a sneak peek?

(REMINDER: On Feb. 1 my friends at KidLitTV host the official COVER REVEAL of my NEXT picture book, The Beginner’s Guide to Being Human (Beaming Books), which comes out this fall.)

Mary Lee Hahn is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with a poem dedicated to one of her favorite fruits (and min): the beautiful pomegranate. I hope you’ll check it out!

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I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

I’d love to visit with you or your child!
Learn more by clicking the graphic!

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

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!

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the covers below to order!

Arriving Jan. 25, 2022! Pre-order now!

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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “The Sun in My Hand”

It didn’t take me long to jump into the new year.

In case you missed it, last week I took a look at the incredibly successful year I had in 2021, delighting in contracts signed and books published as well as taking note of how far I’ve come in my brief, 10-year career in the children’s lit world.

So far this year (er…I mean, this week), I’ve managed to write seven new poems and revise two others for a new children’s poetry collection, I sent two more manuscripts out to two different editors, connected with some new authors as part of an online picture book marketing group I’ve joined, and now have a week’s worth of new potential picture book ideas, courtesy of Tara Lazar’s Storystorm.

If you’re not familiar with it, Storystorm is a fun and inspirational way to create ideas for picture books…plus, you could win some cool stuff!

Oh, and in addition to everything else going on, I’m still trying to keep up with the marketing plans for the picture books I have coming out THIS year! Whew…

(Click to enlarge)

Speaking of books coming out this year, I Am Today (POW! Kids Books) is still planned for publication on January 25, so fingers crossed it doesn’t get delayed again.

I do need to take a moment and thank Debbie at Future Bookworms and The Momma Spot blog for her wonderful review, saying the book “should be in every home, classroom and library.”

Wow!

The Blog Tour:

I Am Today (POW! Kids Books) is available for pre-orders everywhere books are sold – but if you order from my local indie bookstore, I can personally-sign ANY of my books and have them in the mail usually within 12-24 hours!

For today’s poem, I have something that is completely out-of-season. I’ve been in a bit of a summery mood this past week – probably because I love summer so much more than winter, and now that the first day of winter has come and gone, I’m looking forward to spring!

(Click to enlarge)

(REMINDER: On Feb. 1 my friends at KidLitTV host the official COVER REVEAL of my new picture book, The Beginner’s Guide to Being Human (Beaming Books), which comes out this fall.)

My friend Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link is NOT celebrating summer today, however; in fact, she is celebrating winter, as she hosts the very first Poetry Friday of 2022! I hope you’ll check out her post and all the links!

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

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

I’d love to visit with you or your child!
Learn more by clicking the graphic!

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

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!

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the covers below to order!

Arriving Jan. 25, 2022! Pre-order now!

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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: A National Flashlight Day WINNER – and a Merry Christmas!

We celebrated National Flashlight Day just a few days ago on Dec. 21 – the winter solstice, naturally – and I offered a free, personally-signed copy of my picture book Flashlight Night (Astra Young Readers, 2017) as a giveaway.

So congratulations to the winner: JILANNE HOFFMAN!!

Many thanks to everyone who entered – and a big thank you as well to Maria Marshall, who is featuring my upcoming picture book, I Am Today (POW! Kids Books, 2022) as part of her “Perfect Picture Book Friday” feature at her blog today.

I’m thrilled to read maria’s post because this follows on the heels of her post fro earlier this week, when she shared an interview with both illustrator Patricia Pessoa and me at her blog, the Picture Book Buzz.

The complete list:

I Am Today (POW! Kids Books) is available for pre-orders everywhere books are sold – but if you order from my local indie bookstore, I can personally-sign ANY of my books and have them in the mail usually within 12-24 hours!

My friend Buffy Silverman is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup – so head on over for all of today’s links and fun. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, no matter what holiday you celebrate…and for my fellow Christians and others who celebrate it, I wish you a happy, Merry Christmas!

Click to enlarge

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

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

I’d love to visit with you or your child!
Learn more by clicking the graphic!

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

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!

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the covers below to order!

rriving Nov. 30, 2021! Pre-order now!

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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Celebrating National Maple Syrup Day with the late Donald Hall

Yes, National Maple Syrup Day is a real thing…and if it wasn’t, it should be!

Maple syrup, you see, is something we northern New Englanders take very seriously. Vermonters think their’s is the best, Mainers think theirs is the best, and here in New Hampshire we know they’re both wrong. 😉

My next picture book, due Jan. 25, is available for pre-orders everywhere…but PERSONALLY-SIGNED COPIES are ONLY available through my local indie bookstore, MainStreet BookEnds of Warner, NH

Just the concept of taking what is basically sugar water, pouring it out of a tree, boiling it down until most of the water evaporates, and then packaging it up is pretty amazing, if you think about it.

Maple syrup production is so ubiquitous around here, we even tapped trees while I was in college.

And by “we,” I mean my roommates.

We found the largest maple tree on the Castleton(VT) State College campus (right in front of the admissions office, Reed House), pounded a couple of metal taps into its side, and hung an industrial-size soup can we grabbed from the dining hall. Since our hot plate would not generate nearly the amount of heat necessary to boil down enough sap for even one pancake – it takes 30-40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup – we simply kept the sap in our fridge and drank it whenever we were thirsty.

But the really funny thing? Administration never took our tap down! Our can stayed there the entire sugaring season, from around late Feb. through late March…and it wasn’t like we tapped it in a hard-to-find, obscure spot. It was right in front of the admissions office, in plain view for all to see! Any prospective students visiting the college with their parents were sure to see our setup…and since no news is good news, we assumed the college was agreeable to our plan.

So to celebrate today’s national spotlight on all things maple, I thought I’d share one of my favorite poems from former N.H. state poet laureate – and former U.S. Poet Laureate – the late Donald Hall, who used to live just half an hour north of me. Interestingly, the poem begins in the month of August, when maple syrup is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind:

Maple Syrup

August, goldenrod blowing. We walk
into the graveyard, to find
my grandfather’s grave. Ten years ago
I came here last, bringing
marigolds from the round garden
outside the kitchen.
I didn’t know you then.
                                  We walk
among carved names that go with photographs
on top of the piano at the farm:
Keneston, Wells, Fowler, Batchelder, Buck.
We pause at the new grave
of Grace Fenton…

(Read the rest of the poem HERE)

Hall says so much in these lines…”I didn’t know you then,” so we know this person is close to him but not soemone with whom he has a long history…”carved names that go with the photographs,” so we know these graves are all people the speaker has a connection to…we know someone has recently died. The richness of backstory of the characters and the emotions with which he imbues these scenes are just staggering.

I hope you read the rest of the poem and enjoy it. For more poetry, be sure to visit Jone MacCulloch’s little home on the web, where she’s hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup!

And in case you’ve been living under a rock and have not seen the news mentioned here before…the I Am Today blog tour continues rolling on next week! Many thanks to all the bloggers who are sharing interviews, reviews, and givaways:

The complete list:

I Am Today (POW! Kids Books) is available for pre-orders everywhere books are sold – but if you order from my local indie bookstore, I can personally-sign any of my books and have them in the mail usually within 12-24 hours!

Oh, and did I mention that today is National Ugly Sweater Day? (True!)

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

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

I’d love to visit with you or your child!
Learn more by clicking the graphic!

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

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!

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the covers below to order!

rriving Nov. 30, 2021! Pre-order now!

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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: The ROUNDUP is here – and we’re celebrating one whole year of Friends & Anemones!

One year ago, in the middle of a pandemic, a very unique and fun book arrived on the scene…and today we’re celebrating its 1-year birthday!

Friends & Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children, created by members of The Writer’s Loft in Sherborn, Massachusetts, was officially published November 8, 2020!

With poems and illustrations by more than 60 New England authors and illustrators like Jane Yolen, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, Peter H. Reynolds, Jodie Apeseche, Josh Funk, Bob Thibeault, Lynda Mullaly-Hunt, and many others (including Yours Truly), the book clocks in at a solid 70 pages!

The book is especially dear to my heart, because I didn’t just contribute 3 poems; editors Kristen Wixted and Heather Kelly asked author Kip Wilson and I to judge all the submissions, to determine which were the best and which needed some revision. It was quite the time-intensive task (a little consonance there, for you poetry fans), but we had a lot of fun doing it – and were glad we were able to help others in polishing their poems for publication (a little aliteration, as well, just to keep you on your toes).

You can read my interview with Wixted & Kelly HERE and learn about how they came up with the idea, how they navigated the process, and how they managed to pull it all off during a nationwide shutdown!

One of the most impressive spreads in the book features a beautiful illustration by Leanne Leutkemeyer with a poem by Amanda Smith:

All images © 2020 The Writers Loft Press, reprinted with permission, all rights reserved

And since I’ve shared my “Goblin Shark” pantoum and “Unmoored” cherita in past blog posts, I thought I’d share my third poem, a haiku:

I love variety (I’m the kind of guy who orders the appetizer sampler at a restaurant because I don’t want to miss out on anything!), so I wanted to make sure each poem I submitted was very different in style and form. I figured pantoum/cherita/haiku was a pretty good mix.

If you are new to Friends & Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children, I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy – at 70 pages, it’s hefty, so you’re defintely getting your money’s worth. Of course you can order it from Amazon and B&N, but if you purchase it from my hometown indie bookstore, I’d be happy to sign it!

And by the way…if you’ve not heard about this company, you need to check them out! Products are made from recycled ocean plastic, and funds go to help continue ocean cleanup and the preservation of ocean life.

Since it is Poetry Friday, I’m very proud to be hosting the festivities – so you need go no further for today’s offical round up! Just leave your links in the comments below and I’ll round them up throughout the day, old school-style!

Denise Krebs shares a beautiful wedding gift: a pantoum!

The autumn season inspired Michelle Kogan to write two haiku.

Also in a fall mood, Carol Varsalona reviews Ashley Wolff’s new picture book, How to Help a Pumpkin Grow.

Carmela Martino features a creative NF book about the American Revolution along with one of her 3 contributions to Bridget Magee’s new release, 10.10 Poetry Anthology: Celebrating 10 in 10 Different Ways.

Poetry is all about finding new, interesting connections, and Linda Baie connects Daylight Savings Time with poet Ted Kooser.

One of the reasons I love poetry is because it can cram a lot of imagery and emotion into a tight space…and Alan J. Wright is doing just that today with some short, witty light verse!

Molly Hogan is stepping outside of her “comfort zone” by sharing two very personal, emotional poems.

Our Aussie friend Kathryn Apel, along with our other Aussie friend, Sally Murphy, recently helped the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature develop the Australian Verse Novel Resource, a fantastic idea that I hope catches on stateside!

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is contemplating change – trees, leaves, bees – and offers a thoughtful poem, “Circles.”

The great artist Vincent Van Gogh once said that he would “never stand for anything of importance”…but Tabatha Yeatts is in with an original poem to prove otherwise.

Linda Mitchell has news of a poetry contest and an original award-winning poem about sisters and sibling love.

Tim Gels has much to be thankful for, and since this is the perfect month to show thankfulness he shares 3 tankas about thanks.

Have you ever considered making poetry out of trash? Susan Thomsen does just that, with blackout poetry from an old book!

Heidi Mordhorst shares a n/ode to autumn today – and no, that’s not a misprint!

Gratiku: I love that word! Ruth shares a haiku about gratitude, this time about the importance of tea and the comfort it provides.

There’s something about this time of year that gets folks in a haiku/tanka mood, and Christie Wyman joins in with a beautiful autumnal poem.

Irene Latham‘s latest latest ArtSpeak: Four Seasons poem is inspired by fog and friendship.

It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t love pizza, in one way, shape, or form – and Jama Rattigan reviews a brand-new children’s book, We Love Pizza, by Elenia Beretta.

Mary Lee Hahn takes a look at what it means to “persevere” and shares an incredibly powerful original poem.

Yesterday was spent raking and leaf-blowing with my kids…and Karen Eastlund was apparently doing the same thing, as she offers a short fall poem she is still working on, but which is coming along nicely.

Margaret Simon is prepping for a poetry reading with some esteeemed company, and shares a few student poems from the Poet-Tree!

Janice Scully is offering a positive, inspirational poem she wrote about the climate crisis.

In honor of Veterans Day, Linda Kulp Trout (an Air Force veteran herself) shares a poem she wrote to thank veterans for their work and sacrifice, which originally appeared in the Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Poemlo Books, 2015)..

Carol Labuzzetta has been dealing with seasonal, personal, and literary challenges this past week, and shares an update – along with an original autumn poem.

What do you do when a home you love…is no longer recognizable? Catherine Flynn explores that difficult situation with an original poem.

Laura Purdie Salas has rounded up several short poems for fall, that originally appeared in her e-newsletter for educators.

Mary Cronin spotlights a new biographical verse novel, The Traveling Camera: Lewis Hine and the Fight to End Child Labor, by Alexandra Hinrichs.

Almost-last but definitely not least, we have TWO different post about the incredibly talented Janet Wong, who is receiving the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children at NCTE’s annual (virtual) convention next week! Her friend and Pomelo Books co-hort, Dr. Sylvia Vardell, shares a fun video interview with Janet you have to see…while Jone MacCulloch shares part II of her online interview with Janet.

And finally, a perfect way to put a big red bow on our Poetry Friday celebration: Leigh Anne Eck says “tanka you” with a beautiful original tanka!

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

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

I’d love to visit with you or your child!
Learn more by clicking the graphic!

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

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!

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the covers below to order!

Arriving Nov. 30, 2021! Pre-order now!

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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Untitled.” (and yes, that’s actually the title)

As I always say, one never knows from where or when a poem will materialize.

In the case of today’s poem, it didn’t even wait for me to have my morning coffee.

And no, the poem is not untitled. The title is “Untitled.”

I had barely woken up – I hadn’t even taken the dogs outside yet – when I noticed the dense fog lifting off the pond across the street. So I dropped what I was doing and ran over to catch some shots.

As I took a few pictures (you can see the short video from my original Instagram post HERE), words started swirling around in my head, so I went back to the house and jotted them down on my phone. Twenty minutes later, I had a short poem I was rather proud of.
.

Untitled.

I rise
like early-morning fog;
slow and thin, lifted
by the cool breath
of a boundless new day.

– © 2021 Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

.

Now, folks who don’t write poetry won’t realize how much work actually went into writing these five short lines. But for those of you who do write, or are learning how to write, poetry…there was quite a bit of thought required, at a time of day when coherent thinking doesn’t always come easily.

First, I needed to figure out what to say and how to say it – in way that wasn’t tired or cliched. I also deliberately made use internal rhyme, playing with the “L” sound throughout, as it felt fluid on the tongue. I included two “F” sounds and a “TH”, which is similar, because those very felt airy and wispy. And I even spent time considering how to alliterate “breath” and came up with “boundless.”

As for the title? I spent a good additional 5 minutes thinking about that, when it occurred to me that the poem was about limitless possibilities! So since the day was new and ‘untitled”…wouldn’t “Untitled.” be the perfect title?

Hopefully you can see why I was so proud of those 20 “pre-coffee” minutes I spent writing. For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, be sure to visit Catherine at Reading to the Core where she is sharing a poem – about poetry!

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

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!

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

Arriving Nov. 30, 2021! Pre-order now!

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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “with gratitude to the forest”

My wife and I took a brief journey through a local bog yesterday.

That probably sounds less than fascinating to you, but it’s a nice, short little nature walk that takes less than an hour to complete; the bog used to be a pasture, but Mother Nature had other plans and so it is now a huge land mass of wet, spongy mud and moss.

A couple of things caught my attention more than others; one were the white baby Truffula trees growing throughout the bog (bottom center). (See a short video of them here) The other was a small, barely-noticeable maple tree sapling that looked like a direction sign pointing everywhere:

So of course, I had to write a poem! And since I hadn’t written any haiku lately, I decided to do just that.

And even though you’re not supposed to title haiku, I titled mine because – well, just because.
.

with gratitude to the forest

signpost points all ways
to lose one’s direction; kind
magenta gesture

– © 2021 Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved
.

For more poetry, head on over to Laura Purdie Salas’ little home on the web, Small Reads for Brighter Days, where she is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup!

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

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!

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

Arriving Nov. 30, 2021! Pre-order now!

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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “I Am Smoke” interview & review with author Henry L. Herz

It’s not out until Sept. 7, but I had to share news about the latest picture book from my fellow 2021 Book Blast partner Henry L. Herz, I Am Smoke (Tilbury House, 2021). The book has already received some wonderful accolades, including a Kirkus star (“Spreads of smoke rising fluidly into a pinprick-starry sky, a ‘dark dance from every campfire,’ are veritable gems.” –Kirkus Reviews) and even showed up on the School Library Journal’s list of The Most Astonishingly Unconventional Books of 2021, which includes titles by such folks as Deborah Freedman, Jon Klassen, and Brian Selznick.

This is not Henry’s first picture book by any means, but it is unusual in its lyricism and gentleness – as well as its point of view, which is first-person, from the voice of the smoke itself. I don’t normally feature picture books here, but the text is so poetic and beautifully-worded I knew I had to share it. Who says a book like this isn’t poetry??

Henry L. Herz

Henry is the author of 11 traditionally-published children’s books, eight children’s short stories, and over 20 adult short stories. He is co-editor of two children’s anthologies: THE HITHERTO SECRET EXPERIMENTS OF MARIE CURIE (Blackstone Publishing, YA) and COMING OF AGE: 13 B’NAI MITZVAH STORIES (Albert Whitman & Co., MG).

Thanks for taking the time to join me here, Henry! Congratulations on the book – I’m very happy for you that it’s doing so well, and it’s not even out yet! One of the questions I ask everyone who visits here is the question that all authors need to ask ourselves: “Why did this book need to be written?” Can you tell me where you got the inspiration for the book, and how you began the process of writing it?

Thanks! I’m inspired by many things in the natural world. I love how much personality dogs possess. I’m amazed that you can cut a piece off of a succulent, stick it in the ground, and grow a brand new succulent. That’s like making a whole new person from just a finger! The range of defense mechanisms employed by animals is amazing— from camouflage to squirting ink to being poisonous to mimicking predators.

I find the use of fictional elements to convey facts a great way to engage with young readers and teach them without them realizing it. Fiction can be the melted cheese we pour on top of the broccoli of nonfiction. There are some picture books with anthropomorphic characters, but I’d never seen smoke treated as a character. And who better to explain the various ways in which people have employed smoke over the ages and across the world than smoke itself?

I researched wood smoke and discovered it’s primarily carbon dioxide, ash, and water vapor. That got me thinking about the water cycle. Then it hit me that trees sequester carbon they extract from breathing in carbon dioxide. Eureka! Smoke has a “cycle” too. Fire releases wood’s molecules. Water eventually rains down and trees extract the carbon from the air to grow more wood. The “smoke cycle” became the framework within which I shared some of the many ways smoke has been used to fumigate homes, communicate over distances, cover unpleasant smells, aid beekeepers, flavor and preserve foods, participate in religious ceremonies, and heal.

Fiction as the cheese on top of the nonfiction broccoli…great way to describe it, Henry! And I’m glad you show that smoke, while potentialy dangerous, can be a good thing. So what were some of the pitfalls you encountered while writing it? Anything surprising or unexpected?

It wasn’t a surprise, per se, but this was the first book I’ve written that I felt needed to be reviewed by sensitivity readers because it mentions Native Americans. Happily, both sensitivity readers found everything to be fine.

All images © 2021 Tilbury House Publishers, all rights reserved, used with permission

You have a number of picture books and short stories under your belt, but I Am Smoke is different in that it is a more lyrical, thought-provoking picture book than, say, your recent 2 Pirates + 1 Robot (Kane Miller, 2019) or the pun-filled Good Egg and Bad Apple (Schiffer Kids, 2018). Was this done intentionally, or did the subject matter lead you to this style of writing?

That’s true. I Am Smoke is also the first creative nonfiction picture book I’ve sold. I did write a creative nonfiction picture book narrated by a flea. But that was done for the sake of humor. In the case of I Am Smoke, since smoke has been harnessed by people for millennia, I thought letting it tell its own tale in riddles, like an ancient supernatural being, would grant gravitas to the narrator’s voice. Like smoke itself, the narrator is dark, spare, and mysterious.

I usually focus on poetry here at the ol’ Triple-R but wanted to share your book because it is, in fact, very poetic. Although it is a loose narrative it can be read as one long poem; again, was this deliberate, or did it come about organically? 

The lyrical prose developed organically. I threw in a little alliteration: Flickering flames work their mysterious magic on burning branches. Then I mixed in some metaphor: I am borne aloft in the heat’s embrace, soaring and spreading my wings.

Smoke, like fire, is destructive, but can also be put to useful purposes. This duality inspired the riddle-like phrasing: I lack a mouth, but I can speak. I irritate eyes, but I can soothe bees.

Just like the chemical cycle of smoke, the story returns to where it began, with smoke twirling in dark dance from a campfire, and the words, I am smoke.

And that’s what I love most, that you show all these nuances of smoke, from the smoke’s first-person point of view. So what do you hope readers will take away from this book, and what would you say to folks who are considering picking up a copy?

Aside from the STEM, cultural, and historical facts, I hope readers will see that common practices bind humanity across time and space.

To folks who are considering picking up a copy, I’d say “Do it.” These terrific authors can’t be wrong:

“Herz presents a provocative and unique look at the lifecycle and benefits of smoke throughout the millennia. Lopez’s multimedia artwork further illuminates the ethereal nature of smoke as it drifts and dances across the page.” – John Rocco, author/illustrator of the Caldecott Honor book BLACKOUT

“A fascinating, refreshing, and beautifully atmospheric take on something often taken for granted. I’ll never look at smoke the same way again!” – Matthew Cordell, author/illustrator of the Caldecott Medal-winning book WOLF IN SNOW

“I Am Smoke is an absolutely beautiful book, where smoke is both poetry and science. Readers will rest, float, and dance along with smoke’s quiet power across time and traditions. I have lingered over its pages more than once, and I’m sure young readers will, too.” – Doreen Cronin, author of the Caldecott Honor and NY Times bestselling book CLICK, CLACK, MOO: COWS THAT TYPE

“Wowwwwww” – Raina Telgemeier, #1 NY Times, #1 USA Today, #1 Publishers Weekly bestselling author/illustrator

What’s next??

I have a sci-fi/humor middle grade novel on submission and am revising a fantasy middle grade novel. I just joined as an editor the staff of small publisher Running Wild Press, so that should yield some interesting projects. I AM SMOKE launches September 7, 2021. My forthcoming books and stories include:

  • Denver Horror Collective’s adult horror anthology, THE JEWISH BOOK OF HORROR, will include my short story, Demon Hunter Vashti.
  • Launching in 2022 my contemporary magical realism early chapter book, THE MAGIC SPATULA from Month9 Books with co-author Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien.
  • Launching in 2022 the middle-grade #ownvoices anthology from Albert Whitman & Co., COMING OF AGE, including my sci-fi/humor short story, Bar Mitzvah on Planet Latke.
  • Launching in 2022, the young adult horror anthology from Blackstone Publishing, THE HITHERTO SECRET EXPERIMENTS OF MARIE CURIE, including my short story, Cheating Death.
  • Highlights for Children” has purchased two more of my stories, but I don’t know when those will come out.

Thanks for having me!

Glad you could join me, Henry, thank you! And again, best luck with the book – it’s gaining some great traction with positive reviews all around, and as an author myself I know how good that must make you feel.

And by the way, to anyone who is in the trenches, submitting your first or second manuscript and trying to deal with all those rejection letters (or worse, NO letters at all), I hope you’ll take a peek at last week’s post about rejections – why they aren’t as bad as you think and why it’s important to keep going!

Since it’s Poetry Friday, I hope everyone will check out all the poetry links and fun with Mary Lee Hahn, who is hosting today’s complete poetry roundup at her newly-revised blog, A(nother) Year of Reading, with an original villanelle about flames and torches (or is that all just a metaphor??).

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

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!

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Celebrating a library re-opening with “The Dirt Book”

The children’s room in all its clean, reorganized glory!

Ah, what a joyous occasion it was…walking into our local library for the first time in a year and a half.

Like much of the country, our little town is slowly opening back up following the Covid-19 shutdown of 2020, and the fact that our library is finally accepting visitors was not something I just had to celebrate.

And the fact that my kids were just as eager to celebrate was a proud parenting win!

Another one of the many new books the children’s librarian was excited about was The Dirt Book: Poems About Animals That Live Beneath Our Feet (Holiday House, 2021), the latest poetry collection by my friend David L. Harrison.

From ants to worms to chipmunks, this book explores the lives of a variety of critters who live underneath our feet

Aside from David’s unique style of writing, which combines wit, insight, science, and ingenious wordplay, one of the things that makes this book unique is the fact that the reader needs to go dooowwwn to the bottom to read it…it opens from bottom-to-top, instead of right-to-left!

The book has received numerous positive reviews including raves from Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Shelf-Awareness, among others – so I knew I had to share some of the great news with those of you who follow this blog!

Told you – it opens from the bottom!

How cool is that?? Such a fun book – and for someone like me who just spent the past year learning unusual ways to teach kids while homeschooling – like combining poetry with science, math, and art – this book is perfect for getting your science lovers intrigued as much as the poetry lovers. Congratulations to David and illustrator Kate Cosgrove, who also provided visuals for David’s previous book with Holiday House, And the Bullfrogs Sing!

Speaking of science-lovers…Mr. Non-Fiction was thrilled that the library was finally open, and nearly cleared out half their shelves! This is what he considers bedtime reading.

For more poetry, be sure to check out today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup with Kat Apel at Kat’s Whiskers, where she is featuring Pet Pic Poems…sounds like fun, yes??

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

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!

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Stone-Kicking,” from the Donald Hall tribute anthology

I don’t know if it’s because the pandemic has made us all nostalgic for our “pre-Covid” life or what, but I was looking through some of my previously-published poems when I realized I’d never shared this here on my blog.

Two years ago, in the summer of 2019, Encircle Publications of Maine published the poetry anthology Except for Love: New England Poets Inspired by Donald Hall, which included my original poem, “Stone-Kicking:”
.

The actual road I was walking when I first began formulating the poem. Note Mt. Kearsarge, a mountain nearly synonymous with Hall, gazing down at me in the distance. I had no idea at the time that this poem would end up in such an appropriate – and important – book.

“Stone-Kicking”

I kick my dreams
like stones in the road
watching them bounce
happily ahead while I
dawdle behind.
Dirt road, still
damp from yesterday’s storm
smells of pine and mud. Gravel softly
sticks to slow feet while sunlight tries
through thick poplars
to warm a meandering path.
I kick another stone, watching it
quickly skip, kissing ground in its
own wayward curve…
The joy, of course, comes not
from picking it up, carrying it,
keeping it…
but from watching where it goes,
how far it rolls,
and, when it veers
to the slick road’s edge,
setting it aright
with my foot
and flicking it
back to the
center.

© 2019 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

.

This book pays tribute to former U.S. and New Hampshire Poet Laureate Donald Hall by featuring poems by 35 New England poets who have been influenced by Hall’s work. It includes poetry by such accomplished poets as Jane Yolen, L.R. Berger, David Giannini, and many others – and yet, somehow I managed to sneak in!

10% of proceeds will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of Hall’s late wife, poet Jane Kenyon, so click HERE or the cover, below, to order your copy. (and let us know if you’d like me to sign it!)

…I can finally spill the beans!

That’s right, ANOTHER new book, coming out next fall from Beaming Books, the folks who published Once Upon Another Time! And there’s a very cool behind-the-scenes story about how the book came to be – involving poetry, rejection, tenacity, more rejection, and a willingess to shift gears, rework, revise, and say “yes” whenever possible – which I’ll be sure to share as we get closer to publication date!

For now, though, it’s Poetry Friday – and Margaret Simon is hosting the complete roundup at her blog Reflections on the Teche with a spotlight on an unusual poetry anthology titled Bridge the Distance, Teacher-Poets Writing to Bridge the Distance: An Oral History of COVID-19 in Poems. The book is an ‘oral history’ of life during the pandemic written by teacher-poets, and margaret shares her contrib ution.

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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