Poetry Friday: My very first poetry collection…from 40 years ago

Today’s the day.

After months and months and months of cleaning out my parents’ house – the house I grew up in – it is finally being sold.

By the time you read this, we may have already closed the sale, in fact. It’s bittersweet, as there are a lot of memories inside and out…but considering how long it has taken me and how much work it’s been, I’m glad to be able to put this chapter behind me.

Boxes of letters mom and dad exchanged while he was stationed in Germany in the early ’50’s.

Mom and dad are now both together in the local nursing home, and if you have frequented this blog at all during the past 16+ months, you know that cleaning out a house filled with 60+ years of married life has been a long, arduous process dotted with sporadic bursts of nostalgia, amazement, and melancholy. (See a few random posts HERE, HERE, and HERE) Being an only child has meant no sibling-squabbling about who gets what…the problem is, I’m the one who gets it all, and I have no idea where to put it!

Now, granted, I have found lots of things I had completely forgotten about.
Like my high school artwork…

…news clippings…

 

…and assorted mementos from my senior year…

So having found these lost relics, I’m glad I had the opportunity to peruse the museum warehouse home before it was sold. I’m also fortunate to have been able to revisit my “hideout,” a small area of woods just outside the boundaries of our lawn, where more than one adventure transpired:

(If you wonder where I got the idea for “Flashlight Night”…this is likely the spot)

But one of the most surprising things I discovered hidden away among the childhood drawings…

…the models…

…and the toys…

Boxes and boxes of original, late ’80’s-era McDonald’s Happy Meal toys!

…was a little book (if I may call it that) I didn’t even realize existed! I estimate I was probably around 10 years old when I produced this little poetry collection for my mother. Honestly, I don’t even remember writing poetry at this age, so this really took me by surprise:

That’s right…only 4 pages, and one of them is a full-page display ad promoting my next book. If I knew anything at that age, it was how to market. (By the way, speaking of marketing…)

Up until now, I thought my first “book” was a high school creative writing class project I also discovered while cleaning, but apparently I had been publishing years earlier and had completely forgotten. So as bittersweet as it is to say goodbye to my childhood home, I do have some memories, poetry and artwork – and a 50-year-old bottle of Mercurochrome – to hold onto.

Time for me to put all this memorabilia away for now. 2020 is looking like a banner year for Yours Truly, with as many as FOUR books coming out along with a poetry anthology, so I’ve got plenty to keep me busy. I’ve also got several other manuscript submissions to get to before I hunker down and begin this year’s cookie-baking marathon.

So enjoy your weekend, and please encourage your kids to pursue their interests and dreams…one never knows where those dreams will lead! If you’re looking for more poetry, my friend Liz Steinglass, with whom I presented at NCTE last month, is hosting Poetry Friday today with her “favorite word!”

Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!

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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, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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Thank you to everyone for your support!

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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: “Ode to Peanut Butter” for #NationalPeanutButterDay

Not sure how this slipped past me…but a poem I wrote back in 2012 for someone else’s blog somehow never ended up on my own blog!

I was celebrating National Peanut Butter Day yesterday – yes, that is actually a thing – and a poem popped in my head. A poem I’d written years ago and hadn’t even given second thought to until that very moment.

It was first published on Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup blog as part of her celebration of National Peanut Butter Month. (I know what you’re thinking – why does PB get its own month AND its own day? Because it’s PEANUT BUTTER, folks! It’s not like it’s Brussels sprouts, which only has one day, Jan. 31, and no one cares.)

Ah, childhood comes calling when I enjoy my first taste from a freshly-opened jar.

Anyway, in advance of sharing my poem for today’s post, I searched Jama’s blog to re-read her original post. She had requested that her followers send her peanut butter poems, and I was one of the four people she featured that day.

As I read her post, I was surprised by two things: one, that Father Goose (aka Charles Ghigna) and I both have an affinity for Peter Pan peanut butter (which I had forgotten about), and two, that the three other folks Jama featured in this particular post are all extremely talented individuals I feel fortunate to have gotten to know much better in these years since: Charles, David Harrison, and Marilyn Singer.

So here it is! It’s not the fanciest, best poem I’ve ever written…but it was written with the love of peanut butter in my soul, and that counts for something:

Ode to Peanut Butter

I love how you’re creamy,
so smooth and so fine –
even when chunky,
I‘m glad you’re all mine.

I love how you’re salty,
a little bit sweet…
so richly delicious,
a wonderful treat!

I’ll smear you on crackers,
I’ll spread you on bread;
I’ll eat you with breakfast
and right before bed.

There’s only one small thing
I’m not keen about:
da way dat you thtick
to da woof of my mouf.

– © 2012, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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Full disclosure: I’m actually a peanut butter snob. While creamy Peter Pan is definitely my favorite, there are other peanut butters with whom I have cheated, and will readily do so again. JIF has a unique taste because it contains molasses; I prefer crunchy peanut butter in most of my cooking, as it adds a nice texture, especially to cookies; and as a New Englander, I grew up with Teddie on the table more often than Peter Pan, and will never forget those huge plastic tubs of creamy, peanut buttery-goodness…

THREE pounds, people…three luscious, delectable pounds.

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Have a taste for more poetry? Tara Smith at Going to Walden has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup, along with a very timely poem from Linda Pastan about something happening “Somewhere in the World…”

And by the way, I will be spending most of next Friday, February 1, reading to students via Skype as part of #WorldReadAloudDay! If you would be interested in having me join your class for a 20 minute visit, I will read one of my picture books, share some poetry, and talk a little bit about the writing process and how they all came to be! Just email me at matt(at)mattforrest(dot)com and I’ll reply as quickly as I can.

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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!

Mourning the loss of tradition

This post has nothing to do with plot, rhyme scheme, or call to action.

It has nothing to do with radio, TV, or kid lit.

It has to do with something much more important.

I needed to take a break from poetry, advertising, and children’s writing today to pass along something that has been on my mind since Labor Day Weekend.  It’s not really about 9/11 – it’s more about Americans’ attitudes toward patriotism – but since it is Sept. 11, I thought today was as good a day as any, if not better than most, to pose the question:

What’s happened to the national anthem?

Specifically, what has happened to the reverence we used to have for it?  I was taught from a young age that whenever “The Star-Spangled Banner” started to play I was to stand up, remove my hat, place my right hand over my heart, and face the direction of the nearest flag – and darn it, that’s what I did.  That’s what everybody did.  It was just the way it was.

If you could sing it, even better.

These days, however, it’s a different story.  At the risk of sounding overly nostalgic, times have drastically changed – and I don’t know how, when, or why.  I realized this while working as the announcer for the Hopkinton State Fair, a very popular event held every Labor Day Weekend here in New Hampshire.

Every day during the fair (which runs five days starting on Thursday), we play the national anthem.  As the announcer, I preface the song by letting attendees know where the four flags are located on our fairgrounds, via our public address system.  I then state, “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for our national anthem.”

At this point, any one of a number of things may happen.

Most people do, indeed, stand, take their hats off, and turn to face the flag in respect.  Some place their hands over the hearts.  However, many simply sit there, as if they hope the inconvenience of it all quickly passes.  And sadly, others continue about their day, walking, talking, and eating as if nothing exceptional has occurred – oblivious to what’s going on.

Oblivious, or indifferent.

Again, I ask:  what happened??

Since when did the national anthem – and our flag – become so uninspiring and disrespected, and when did we as the collective American society become so blasé and dispassionate?  How do we justify and honour the sacrifices made in our past for the sake of our freedom, if we take them for granted so easily?  How can we allow young servicemen and servicewomen to continue to die overseas when we are unable or unwilling to spare two minutes to stand up and listen to “The Star-Spangled Banner?”

I’m not even asking you to take off your hat, or put your hand over your heart, or even try to sing – but at least STAND UP and make it seem like you give a damn.  The only reason you’re able to chat with your friends right now, or eat your pizza, or write your blog, or do anything is because there were (and still are, fortunately) thousands of Americans willing to put their lives on the line and their own happiness on hold to protect this country, its people, its laws, its culture.

Asking you to be grateful for two minutes isn’t, I don’t believe, asking much.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I don’t want to come across as being preachy, I’m just trying to understand the rampant ambivalence I witness.  Do our citizens not care?  Do they not know?  Have they forgotten?

What happened???

Although, the more important question is…what happens next?