Poetry Friday: The Roundup is here, with a “Night Wishes” Giveaway!

(All images © 2020 Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, all rights reserved, reprinted with permission)

This past Tuesday, we celebrated the book birthday of Night Wishes (Eerdmans), one of the late Lee Bennett Hopkins’ final children’s poetry anthologies. (There are still two more on the way, one in 2021 and one in 2022)

In this beautiful book illustrated by Jen Corace, 13 poets imagine how the inanimate objects in a child’s room room might say good night, in their own particular way. The bed, pillow, rocking horse, night light, and more all wish a little girl well as she drifts off to sleep. In addition to Yours Truly, contributors include:

Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Jude Mandell
Prince Redcloud
Alice Schertle
Joyce Sidman
Eileen Spinelli
Irene Latham
Lee Bennett Hopkins
Nikki Grimes
Deborah Ruddell
Darren Sardelli
Renee LaTulippe

I’m  honored that Eerdmans chose to spotlight my poem, “Pillow,” on the book’s JACKET FLAP (how cool is that??) and also included the poem, along with my friend Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s opening poem, “Bed,” on their Eerdlings blog post.

I’d also like to thank Eerdmans for interviewing me their official blog, Eerdlings! I chat about what inspires me, how I approach research, how my past radio experience has helped me write picture books, and more…it was a fun interview, and I’m grateful to the publisher.

Since I shared Rebecca’s and my poems in this this past Tuesday’s post, today I thought I’d share the poem Lee himself wrote:

(click to enlarge)

Somehow, it just seems fitting that the Teddy Bear – a symbol of love,  reassurance, and calm – would be the subject my friend and mentor chose to write about. The Dear One, as Lee was known to his friends, would indeed be proud of this book.

GIVEAWAY!!!

Would you like to win a free copy of “Night Wishes,” courtesy of Eerdmans Books for Young Readers? Just leave a comment below or share this post or Tuesday’s post on Facebook or Twitter (and be sure to tag me each time, so I can give you your correct number of entries!) – and I’ll pick one name at random at the end of the month, Sept. 30. The winner will be announced right here on Friday, Oct. 2.

Kirkus calls the book “A gentle, comforting ticket to beddy-bye — and good dreams.” And if you’d like to learn more about the book, the process behind the craft of poetry, and the relationship many of us had with Lee, I hope you’ll visit the recent blog post from Maria Marshall, who interviewed me and six other contributors about our work in general and this book, specifically.

Thanks for visiting! And since it is Poetry Friday, please leave your links below and I’ll round them up, old school-style, throughout the day. And if you’d like to see more of the book, be sure to check out my blog post from this past Tuesday.

Here’s what’s happening around the kidlitosphere for Poetry Friday:

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

You can 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!

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

Did you know that Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme is one of the TOP 20 children’s poetry blogs, according to FEEDSPOT? That’s right – I’m scratching my head, too! FEEDSPOT is an app that allows you to combine all your favorite news feeds, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. into ONE newsletter. Be sure to check it out!

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

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.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

Coming Spring 2021! Pre-orders are available:
.
=========================================================

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?)

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

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: Advance praise – and a sneak peek – for “Night Wishes”!

We are exactly one month away from celebrating the book birthday of one of the late Lee Bennett Hopkins’ final children’s poetry anthologies, Night Wishes (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers), and Kirkus loves it– calling the book, “A gentle, comforting ticket to beddy-bye — and good dreams.

The premise of this collection is that as a child prepares to fall asleep, the inanimate objects in his/her room all say good night, each in their own particular way. I’m very proud to be able to join these esteemed folks as a contributor:

Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Jude Mandell
Prince Redcloud
Alice Schertle
Joyce Sidman
Eileen Spinelli
Irene Latham
Lee Bennett Hopkins
Nikki Grimes
Deborah Ruddell
Darren Sardelli
Renee LaTulippe

I’m also proud of the fact that Eerdmans chose to spotlight my poem, “Pillow,” with my friend Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s poem, “Bed,” on their recent Eerdlings blog post!

Bed

Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Climb in, child.
Climb in.

Cuddle into thoughts
of things you did today…

(continue reading HERE)

As you read both poems, bear in mind that Rebecca and I never spoke to one another about our poems or process…and yet notice how remarkably seamless they are, flowing from one to the other. (We even both address the reader as “child”)

If you enjoy the poems, I hope you’ll pre-order your copy now! And for all of today’s poetry links and fun, head over to Nix the Comfort Zone, where Molly Hogan is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with the comfort zone of a snail and the discomfort being felt by many fellow Mainers about the impending possible demise of their only state area code, 207. (That’s right – only one area code, and they may lose it!)

Did you know that Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme is one of the TOP 20 children’s poetry blogs, according to FEEDSPOT? That’s right – I’m scratching my head, too! FEEDSPOT is an app that allows you to combine all your favorite news feeds, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. into ONE newsletter. Be sure to check it out!

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

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.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

Coming Spring 2021! Pre-orders are available:
.
=========================================================

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?)

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

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: Re-sharing an award winning poem for Father’s Day

(click to enlarge)

It’s Father’s Day weekend, and I hope to visit my dad…through a window.

You see, he and mom are quarantined in the local nursing home, so I’ve not been able to visit them since early March. Both tested positive, but have been asymptomatic – which is good news, of course – but that means they were just moved to a new area of the facility that’s ground-level.

My folks aren’t fans of technology, which means a video chat is out of the question. So instead of using Windows…we’re going to use windows! The family and I plan to park ourselves in back of the building, right outside mom and dad’s room, where we can spend some time together, in-person, while socially distancing.

Taken at my wedding. If you wonder where I get my sense of humor, look no further than the pugilist on the left.

I wrote the above poem (based on a childhood experience) four years ago, and in 2019 it won the MacGregor Poetry Prize coordinated by the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, NH and the Derry Public Library. I shared the poem here last year, but today I thought I’d post the original version I made for my father for Father’s Day 2016 – formatted against the backdrop of the pond where the scene takes place. It’s wordier here than the more polished version I submitted for the contest, but it still says what I wanted it to say, so that makes me happy.

Tricia is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, The Miss Rumphius Effect, so be sure to stop by for all of today’s poetry links and fun. And Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

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

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.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

Looking for a complete list of all the poetry coming out this year for young people? Then visit Sylvia Vardell’s blog! Also, I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them!

 

Coming Spring 2021! Pre-orders are available:
.
=========================================================

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?)

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

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: Celebrating Nikki Grimes with…an ABC book?

Yes, indeed!

Irene Latham, who is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup, had a great idea:  to have as many folks as possible joining together to celebrate Nikki Grimes and her poetryfridaybutton-fulllwork! Nikki’s books have won a number awards recently that she has been unable to receive in person due to Covid-19…so we figured we’d do do the next-best thing and recognize her career by sharing some of her books and poems here on Poetry Friday.

Now, many folks in the Poetry Friday community are sharing individual poems by Nikki or selections from her many verse novels like Ordinary Hazards (Wordsong, 2019) or Garvey’s Choice (Wordsong, 2016) – and those absolutely two books you should track down and read – but I wanted to share something a little different.

Finally! We met in-person at NCTE 2019.

You see, C is for City (Boyds Mills & Kane) was the very first Nikki Grimes book I ever read, way back when it was fist published by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books in 1995…and little did I know that, 20 years later as a children’s author myself, I would eventually meet, befriend, and actually work with Nikki.

My 28-year-old daughter read this book, her 25-year-old sister read this, and now my two youngest, 10 and 6, have read it…so C is for City has literally grown up with the family! (or is it the other way around?) And it’s just so fun and poetic to read, I knew I needed to share it here.

(Images © Boyds Mills & Kane, all rights reserved)

 

If you’re looking for a unique, fun book for a young child, I encourage you to check out C is for City! It’s available in paperback now from Boyds Mills & Kane, so I feel fortunate I own one of the original hardcovers. (And one of these days, once social distancing is no longer an issue, I’m going to need to get it signed!)

And by the way, I’d also suggest you seek out other books by City‘s incredibly talented illustrator, Pat Cummings – like her debut novel, Trace (Harper Collins, 2019) or Our Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change (Bloomsbury, 2009).

Be moved, be inspired…and have a wonderful weekend!

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

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.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

Looking for a complete list of all the poetry coming out this year for young people? Then visit Sylvia Vardell’s blog! Also, I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them!

 

Coming Spring 2021! Pre-orders are available:
.
=========================================================

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?)

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

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: Score one for Poetry: A school project becomes fun!

I always feel vindicated when my 4th-grader realizes I was right, all along. Not that I’m vain or egotistical or anything – it’s just that it happens so rarely, it’s kind of a nice change of pace! So imagine how proud I was of him last week, after he groaned about a poetry project he had to do for his remote-learning schoolwork…and then realized it was fun.

It was an online “magnet poetry” sort of thing. On the right side of the computer screen, there were dozens of words on multiple pages from which he could choose to make a poem; he simply needed to pick words and put them into some semblance of a poem. He started off whining and complaining about not knowing how to do it, and then (as anyone with kids could guess) started whining about not knowing what to say.

So of course, I jumped in to help provide him some direction and guidance – “All my years of writing poetry have prepared me for this moment!” – and show him it wasn’t as difficult or as boring as he was thinking. Once he got the first couple of lines down, I told him he’d done a good job and might want to add one more line and he could be done.

But he wasn’t going to stop there. Oh, no.

He wrote another few lines, and I told him I really liked what he’d done. He could finally turn it in! But no.

He continued for at least an hour, putting words together and fine-tuning it until he got to this:

(click to enlarge)

 

Through the water
blue wings show dark rain
dinosaur ghosts roar
in the monster moonglow
storms sail to sea
cool black tigers see red summers
wild adventures begin wonder.
.

Dinosaur ghosts? Monster moonglow? Who is this kid?? Yep, what could have been a short, 3-line haiku turned into a 7-line opus. I’ll be honest: this is far better than the first poem I ever wrote! Moreover, he was so happy and excited about it he almost didn’t want to stop. I had told him not to look at it as work (even though, as a writer, I know it is) but to look at it more as a word puzzle and to have fun. Sure enough, he did!

Vindication!!!

The 2020 Progressive Poem continues all month…

The annual Progressive Poem, begun several years ago by poet/author/blogger Irene Latham, is a way for the Poetry Friday family and other kidlit bloggers to join together and create a crowd-sourced poem for National Poetry Month. One person writes one line, then another adds another line, until a completed poem appears on April 30. This year, Irene handed off the organizational duties to Margaret Simon, who has pulled everyone together once again. I added my line last week, and it continues to grow! Here’s where you can follow along and find all the contributors:

.
1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, at deo writer
4 Liz Steinglass at Elizabeth Steinglass
6 Kay McGriff at A Journey Through The Pages
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
28 Jessica Big at TBD
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan at Michelle Kogan

.
Molly is hosting Poetry Friday today, so head on over to Nix the Comfort Zone for all of today’s links and poetry fun – and…can you smell it? Fresh bread, too!

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

I hope you’ll check out my “Wit & Wordplay” videos on my YouTube channel! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) and focus on how to write poetry, how to appreciate it, and offer tips on having fun with it. Be sure to subscribe or check back often, as more videos continue to be created. 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.

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

Pre-orders are available now!

In stores Aug. 18, 2020!

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them, too! In addition to April’s two releases, there are new books out from folks like Diana Murray, Corey Rosen Schwartz, Lori Degman, Michelle Schaub, and many others. I’m very proud to be part of this group of dedicated, talented writers.

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

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?)

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

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: Spine poetry as a fun activity kids won’t realize is educational!

As I mentioned in this past Tuesday’s post, several children’s authors and illustrators are offering readalouds, drawing lessons, activity sheets, and other educational resources for kids, parents, and teachers who now find themselves “remote learning.”

For my part, I’m producing a series of short videos on poetry: how to write it, how to appreciate it while reading, and some tips on poetry-related activities. Since so many of my peers are doing video chats with students, I thought I would focus my “Wit & Wordplay” videos, as I call them, on parents and educators.

For some time now I’ve been wanting to help my educator and parent friends with some educational videos…but I’ll admit these have been hastily put together, as I am trying to assist my kids with this “new normal” of home-schooling while attempting to write and do my voiceover work. Moreover, I’m working with a video editing program I’ve never used before, as I had to reinstall Windows about a month ago and lost the program I had been using (MS Movie Maker), which is apparently no longer available!

Lake, the newest member of the family!

Oh, and did I mention we have a 10-week-old Great Dane puppy?

So, yeah…I’ve been a bit busy.

The fact I was able to create six videos in two days is still surprising to me, but I have plenty more I plan on producing over the weekend. For today, I wanted to share a couple of simple spine poetry examples I use in my most recent video. Spine poetry is a form of “found poetry,” whereby you search through books’ spines to find titles you think might go together to create a phrase, scene or thought:

There’s a cow in the road!
Deadly animals
wild in the streets…
choose your path.

Again, it doesn’t need to be long – a few titles are all you need! Even two books would suffice:

You get the idea! Silly, thoughtful, scary…doesn’t matter! The important thing is that kids are learning how to put disparate thoughts together (a book about deadly animals together with Star Wars®? Whoulda thunk??)

You can see more spine poetry examples on my YouTube channel. And if you think any of this information might be useful for someone you know or a school near you, I hope you’ll share.

In addition to these videos, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website. The list of all the authors & illustrators who are participating in this national effort is a long one, so here are a few lists you can use to find out who’s doing what:

Let’s Keep Reading!

#AuthorsHelpingKids

#KidLitQuarantine

Laura Shovan’s #WriteAnAuthor

And since today is Poetry Friday, you might want to find more poetry posts…so just head on over to MoreArt4All, where Michelle Kogan is hosting Poetry Friday and welcoming Spring with a variety of poems written by her and several others in the PF community!

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

Pre-orders are available now!

In stores Aug. 18, 2020!

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year! And there are a LOT of them, too – including SEVEN in March!

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

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?)

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

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: 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!

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

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?)

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

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: “Shadows”

It’s summer, the kids are home from school, and I’m trying to fit vacation, work, and the daunting task of cleaning out my parent’s house all into one month – and not really succeeding! I’m enjoying the season and my time with the family, certainly; just not finding enough time to squeeze everything in. So today I thought I’d dust off another past Poetry Friday post that I really liked. I wrote and posted it for my son back in Sept. 2013 when he was just 3 years old, and even though it’s not the most spectacularly-penned poem, it’s special to me because of the subject. Hope you like it! For all of today’s Poetry Friday links, head over to My Juicy Little Universe, where Heidi is hosting with a “definito!”

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

Shadows - poem & pic
(click to enlarge)

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

AVAILABLE NOW!

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

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: Happy #BookBirthday to a new anthology!

It arrives in just a few days! I Am Someone Else (Charlesbridge) is the newest children’s poetry anthology from Lee Bennett Hopkins, and I’m thrilled and honored to be a part of another one of his books. The book is all about pretending – from firefighters and video game creators to knights and mermaids – and is a perfect book to share with kids who are wondering what to do with themselves over summer vacation!

So to celebrate the book, which hits stores next Tue., July 2, I thought I’d ask Lee and illustrator Chris Hsu to join me for a brief chat about the book – and pretending! So let’s have some fun with this…

First, who did young Lee Hopkins and Chris Hsu pretend to be when they were little boys?

Lee Bennett Hopkins

LEE:  I suppose I always pretended to be someone who would be something rather than a young boy living in the projects in Newark, New Jersey, trapped within the confines of a poor dysfunctional family. The pretending always seemed to be toward the arts. I lost myself in movies, mainly musicals, found theatre at age of thirteen and soaked in as much as I could. I began reading plays, one after another.
CHRIS:  Probably Mario! The original Nintendo had just come out and it was natural to want to jump around, off of, and over things like he did in the game.

How did ‘pretending’ and playtime help influence/develop the person you are today?

LEE:  Obviously, and I had not thought about this before, music, theatre are all rich in language and poetry. It had to have had an influence on my life. I think as grown-ups, we miss out on the opportunity to step ‘outside of ourselves,’ so to speak, and pretend to be someone else – other than at Halloween.
CHRIS:  I believe it develops and stretches the imagination, which in turn translates into creativity and abstract thinking as an adult.

If you could be someone else, who would you be?

2017 Florida Artists Hall of Fame, L-R: Don Felder, Billy Dean, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Jim Stafford .

LEE:  I like myself. I always have. This is not to be pretentious, but I have led a wondrous life. I have always been independent, knowing what I want and how to get it. Were I to be someone else? Perhaps a playwright such as Tennessee Williams, a poet like Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman or Langston Hughes — men who wrote about the gut of life. Among the greatest thrills was being inducted into the 2017 Florida Artists Hall of Fame – on the roster with the 1989 recipient, Tennessee Williams! Of course, I’d love to be Barbra Streisand, one of the greatest talents in the world.
CHRIS:  I’d want to be an explorer in the age of exploration, maybe landing on an island no one had ever set foot on, with the role of documenting the wildlife and land to bring back home. What an adventure that would be!

Indeed, Lee, your life has been one amazing accomplishment after another! Let’s talk about the book now…was there any particular character you wish could have been included, but wasn’t? Why?

LEE:  The characters I chose for I Am Someone Else were well thought out. In the section on story book characters, for example, rather than a giant, I thought of a giant’s wife who is ‘in a total quandary /each time (she tries) to do the laundry!” People who help others, like the firefighter who risks his/her life every day. The makers – those creative beings who make our lives richer, a dancing child whose “Music makes my body move!” or the poet “to show / what a poem / what a poet / can do. / To show you — YOU!”
CHRIS: At the beginning, the kids file into a classroom, so the assumption is there’s a teacher present.  Ultimately, though, I chose not to illustrate any adult and keep the focus on the kids, much like how in the old Muppet Babies cartoon it was always told through the eyes of the Muppets, and the one adult present (Nanny) was there but remained anonymous if ever seen at all.  I felt this made the kids seem more independent.

Self-Aggrandizement Warning: my spread!

Were you surprised by anything during the process of making the book – perspectives of the writers, perhaps, or an unforeseen problem, or revelation?

LEE:  A wondrous revelation came when I was beginning the idea. I was discussing it with my dear friend, Lois Lowry, at a luncheon at her summer condo in Naples, and I batted around some ideas. Lois jumped at the chance to write “Big Problems,” a poem about a giant’s wife. Being one of the most distinguished writers of our times, even winning two Newbery Awards, did not mean she might come through writing a poem for young children. What the heck. Let her try. She did. She DID! Now she is on a roll with future poems to appear in my collections.

I also try very hard to bring new voices to a collection. Janet Clare Fagal has been ‘after me’ for eons. It was time for the tryout. Her “A Mermaid’s Tale” is charming. She worked draft after draft after draft until the poem was complete. It was Karen Boss, the editor, who decided the mermaid would be a young African American boy. This happened before Julian is a Mermaid (Candlewick, 2018), a wonderful book by Jessica Love,  appeared. And why not? If a young boy wants to pretend to be a mermaid, why shouldn’t a man like me not want to pretend to be Barbra Streisand?

CHRIS:  Even though the book is a string of separate poems with different tones and no story arc, Karen (Boss, editor), Martha (Sikkema, art director), and I thought to give it some sort of visual continuity so it didn’t just feel like a chain of non-related poems. We did that by casting a group of six kids, and then putting them in a common location – the classroom – where they could then take turns “acting” out the poems.  And by using six kids to act out fifteen poems, you get to see each kid starring in two or three scenarios each; and I felt that showing each kid exploring multiple roles was important to the concept of using one’s imagination.

Chris Hsu

The classroom setting also provided a continuous time frame that this all takes place, which is within the a single school day.  The unexpected roadblock of creating a mini story, however, was that once the last poem ended the whole book just ended very abruptly with no sense of a “the end.”  So to solve that, we added a final page that mirrored the first page of the book that gave a feeling of coming full circle.

Wow, it never occurred to me that the same kids were trying out multiple roles – what a great idea! So what do you two hope readers (grown-ups as well as kids) will take away from this book?

LEE: We are living in unexpectedly, confusing, almost insane times. We have to – need to – pretend. We can do this via poetry. We can wish to be someone else – for awhile – and make believe, masquerade. We need to get away from reality now and then, yet we must all realize, in the long run, there is nothing better than being yourself. Maybe, perhaps, pretend can lead to reality. Anything is possible with perseverance, stamina, dreams.
CHRIS:  My goal is to make books that both kids and adults can take something from. For kids who experience the book, I hope they leave with the idea that as long as they can imagine it they can act it out – even using props they likely have sitting around already and even if it’s a role not stereotypically suited for them. And it’s not limited to just one role; they can act out as many roles or characters and emotions they can think of.

For adults or parents who read the book, I hope they take away the reminder that kids’ minds are constantly in play, and that play develops into growth. As adults, we can always do our part to encourage that exploration of their imagination – whether it be engaging with them while they’re in “character,” making suggestions, or even helping them collect costumes and props.

I’m so thrilled to be a part of this book with you…I’m gad we were able to chat! By the way, what projects do you have coming up soon?

LEE:  I Remember: Poems of Pride and Prejudice (Lee & Low), will be released September 10th, a book that has been in production for four years. Fifteen of America’s top poets of varied ethnicity reveal heartfelt memories of childhood. Each poet defines what poetry means to them; each artist comments on their craft. An added bonus is an album of photographs of poets and illustrators as child and adult. Sixteen full-color paintings were created to match ethnicity of the poets, including cover art by Sean Qualls.

A favorite book of mine, Manger (Eerdmans), will be released in August in a high-quality paperbound edition, illustrated by Helen Cann. Starred in Kirkus as a book “worth savoring during the Christmas season.”
CHRIS:  The new season of ‘Archer’ just premiered a few weeks ago!  I’m a background artist on the show so check it out, it’s a funny season this year inspired by ’70s and ’80s space sci-fi movies.  Other than that, I’m always on the lookout for my next book gig, and I hope it’s a good one!

Chris, you’re an artist for ‘Archer’?? Very cool! I’ll definitely have to pay more attention to the scenery! Thank you both again for your time, and congratulations on this wonderful book we’re part of.

LEE:  Thank you, Matt, for your most interesting questions!
.

TWO NEW BOOKS!

Coming soon, July 2, 2019: …………………Just released June 23, 2019:

For all of today’s Poetry Friday links and fun, please visit my friend Buffy Silverman’s blog, where you can find the complete roundup!

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

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: 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
weathered, pea-green fiberglass into mirror water,
skillfully slicing the placid surface.
Ripples race from either side of the bow,
curling and folding upon themselves as sand-
worn hull grinds on gravel
like thunder in sunshine – unexpected,
startling –
before it finds buoyancy
10 feet from shore.
…..Titmouse,
……….thrush,
……………persistent phoebe sing from treetops; the air
smells of lilies and dew,
wild iris,
fog.
.
Clambering into the boat first, I stake
claim to my usual post
near the bow, small hands holding
gently-rocking sides.
Dad climbs in once I am seated and, grabbing one
wooden oar, pushes hard
against sand and silt, heaving the weight
of the boat
and himself
and me
into the cool, wet, morning.

– © 2016 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

(You can also read it HERE, with more info on the contest)

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!