Poetry Friday: How to Write a Poem, and why rejections aren’t bad (even though they suck)

Although I’d been planning on posting something else today, I thought it might be beneficial to share something I posted on Facebook earlier this past week; something that gained quite a bit of attention and created a healthy discussion.

Went through 25 rejections!

The past two weeks I’ve received more rejections than I received all of last year.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve sent more submissions out in the past 6 months than I did last year, perhaps it’s because I finally got around to following up with a number of editors I’d been waiting on.

Regardless the reason, rejections don’t feel good.

“No” doesn’t mean “Stop;” it means keep going.

I’m not going to act like rejection doesn’t bother me and that everything is sunshine and lollipops. Rejections aren’t fun, I won’t argue with that. But I don’t get depressed by them.

Went through 14 rejections!

Folks who are new to the publishing industry need to know that rejections are going to be a part of their life now. Personally, I went from acting to voice acting to writing – so rejection has been something I’ve had to live with nearly all my life (to say nothing of my nerdy high school years).

The particular rejection I had posted about was for a manuscript for a poetry collection I co-wrote with David L. Harrison, one of the most incredibly talented, successful children’s poets in the biz. Although I’m running out of potential options for publishers to submit to (I’m unagented and can only submit to a limited number of houses), I shared the news of this rejection not to seek pity but to remind my friends and followers that even the most highly-esteemed writers like my co-author hear the word “no” sometimes.

For example, my recent picture book Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2021) was co-authored with Father Goose himself, Charles Ghigna, and it went through 25 rejections before editor Naomi Krueger saw my pitch on the #PBPitch Twitter event back in October 2019 and asked me to send her the manuscript. 25 rejections – and that was with the gravitas of Father Goose’s name attached to the project!

A quick Google search of famous books that were initially rejected reveals myriad famous titles like Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, Steven King’s Carrie, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Even my friend Laura Numeroff’s first If You Give a Mouse a Cookie book even went through 9 rejections, with one of the editors telling her there was no way they felt the book could possibly be profitable.

Went through at least 8 rejections!

Sometimes editors just don’t see your vision, that’s all. My picture books are published by several different publishers because not all of them believed in all my manuscripts – and that’s ok! The ones who DID believe in them produced gorgeous books I’m proud to call my own.

Maybe you submitted a dinosaur book to a company that already has too many dinosaur books; maybe you submitted a humourous meta-book to a company that prefers inclusive, cross-cultural themes; maybe you submitted a 1st-person POV book to someone who doesn’t like 1st-person POV (don’t laugh, I know of at least one!).

Fact is, there could be numerous reasons – many beyond your control – why your manuscript was rejected.

So if you’re hearing the word “No” a lot lately, remember that it doesn’t mean you should stop what you’re doing; it means you need to simply check that editor or agent off your list and move on. Or better yet, check them off the list for THAT manuscript, and send them another! After all, if it’s a numbers game, then you’re doing yourself a favor by eliminating all those unecessary numbers.

And if you remember nothing else, remember this: each “No” gets you closer to a “Yes.”

.

How to Write a Poem

Open your eyes.
Open your ears.
Brace yourself
to face your fears.

Open your mind.
Open your heart.
Open your soul,
……….tear it apart.

.

©2021 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

.

It’s Poetry Friday! If you’d like to check out all the poetry links and fun, be sure to head over to Rebecca Herzog’s little home on the web, Sloth Reads, for the complete roundup!

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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!

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

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??

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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!

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

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: A pretty deep poem for a 7-year-old

As I’ve mentioned here before, we homeschooled our two young kids this past year due to the Covid shutdown, and although some days were better than others, it was, overall, a success. The kids learned everything they needed to learn – and more – and didn’t seem to loathe the process of homeschooling as much as they loathed not being around their friends.

I do have to say, there were extra-special days where they surprised me, either at how well they understood a lesson or how adroitly they completed it. One such day was back in March, when my daughter was tasked with a lesson from her English Language Arts program that required her to write a poem about light. Completely unbeknownst to me, she came up with this all on her own; I never saw it until she had finished it:

I know, I know, every parent thinks their kid is a genius or a protege or whatever…but seriously, this is pretty thoughtful for a 2nd-grader. I told her I was so proud of her that I’d make sure everyone I knew read it, if that was ok with her. “Sure!” she said. And so I present it to you here – better late than never.

Molly Hogan is celebrating summer while hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup at Nix the Comfort Zone – so head on over for all of today’s poetry links and fun!

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

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:”
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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!

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

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: “York Beach Moon”

Well, I’m back from vaca, and all I can say is…I miss my office.

True, it was only a temporary office, but it’s hard to not get attached:

York Beach Moon

Lighthouses
seeing-eyes
inky night

Mother’s face
shimmer-smiles
cold and bright

guiding ships,
souls, these spare
words I write.
.

© 2021 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

.

Although there are at least three lighthouses one can see from Long Sands Beach, where this photo was taken (one being the Nubble, which is only about a mile from here), this photo reminded me that the moon is Earth’s lighthouse. I wanted to get that across in my poem, so I thought I’d write another Tricube poem since they are so much fun for those of us who thrive on wordplay and word economy. (Learn more about Tricubes HERE) Hope you like it.

Speaking of water…my friend Laura Shovan is hosting Poetry Friday today with a poem about Millicent Patrick, the woman who designed the iconic movie character “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.” (What’s this? You didn’t realize a woman designed the costume?? Apparently, nearly no one knows – so Laura is out to spread the news!!)

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

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: York Beach shoreline

.In just a few days, I’ll have a brand-new office:

It’s only a temporary office, alas…but it’s still the best type of office out there.

So, since I won’t be around for next week’s Poetry Friday, today I wanted to share a little something I wrote for my daughter. We visit York Beach, Maine every year; it’s just a little over an hour and a half to our east, but it feels like a world away. You can get a better idea of the area’s beauty by checking out THIS PHOTO, THIS PHOTO, and THIS PHOTO.

A few years ago, we were sitting on the steps leading from the boardwalk down to the shoreline; it was high tide, so we couldn’t even sit on the bottom steps. My daughter loved watching the waves come up and pound the ground in front of her, and I taped this:

.

Bathed in salt,
sun-glistening smooth,
shoreline jewels
welcome persistent surf
and giggles.

© 2021 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

.

By the way, if you haven’t had a chance to check out the official cover reveal for my next picture book, I Am Today (POW! Kids Books), which comes out this Oct., check it out at agent/author Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez’ popular kidlit blog, Math Is Everywhere! We have TWO GIVEAWAYS!! Also, many thanks to all the folks around the country who have added my books to their reading lists – you can see the list at my recent blog post from this past Tuesday.

It’s a “rainbow-colored springtime” at my friend Buffy Silverman’s blog today – she’s hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup so check out her poem 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!

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

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: “With her, at midnight”

This post was originally published way back in Dec. 2012, just 5 months after I had first started this blog. As our family gears up for our annual trip over to York Beach, Maine, I was contemplating my life, and my wife, and my kids, and Covid, and all the things we’ve gone through this past year…and I remembered this poem. With summer almost upon us, I felt like it was the perfect time to share it again, in case you hadn’t seen it the first time around!

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For my final Poetry Friday post of the year, I’m sharing a fairly new poem that I completed just a few weeks ago.  I wrote this for my wife, Jen, and since it describes a muggy, summer evening, I thought it might help to melt some of the heavy, wet snow that fell in this part of the country yesterday.

This is a tanka, pretty much the only surviving form of waka, a term that once encompassed many forms of Japanese poetry.  You may notice that the first three lines are similar to a haiku, with their 5-7-5 syllabic structure; however, haikus are a relatively new form of poetry, having been developed in the 19th century (haikus were borne of the original hokku form, which dates to the 1600s, but waka forms go back to the 6th century).

By the way, this week I learned that the Japanese word haijin means either a crippled person, or a haiku poet. Makes sense.

So now that your history and vocab lessons are over, on to the poetry! 

.

With her, at midnight

Within the warm, thick
soup of night clouds and orchids,
breaths heavy as air
silence jealous crickets; stars
glisten skin, damp and moonlit.

– © 2012 Matt Forrest Esenwine,
all rights reserved

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How’s this for coincidence: Carol Wilcox is hosting today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup with a spotlight on poet Jeannette Encinias at her blog, Carol’s Corner – and would you believe it was Carol who was hosting Poetry Friday 9 years ago, when I first published this post! That’s right, I shared my post on her 2012 roundup! Crazy, isn’t it??

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

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: “Night Roses”

(click to enlarge)

It’s Poetry Friday, so if you’re looking for more poems and links, head on over to Margaret Simon’s little home on the web, Reflections on the Teche, for today’s complete roundup – and not one but TWO responses to poetic challenges she undertook!

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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!

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

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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?)

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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: Saying goodbye to Eric Carle and Lois Ehlert

If you have not heard the news, the world of children’s literature has lost two amazing and irreplaceable talents in one week.

First came news of Ehlert’s passing on Tue., May 25 at the age of 86. The next day, Eric Carle’s family announced that he, too, had passed away on Sunday, May 23. He was 91.

It’s interesting to note that not only did these two create bold, timeless, illustrations, but they both did so with cut-paper collages. Yet although their choice of media was similar, their styles were all their own.

Ehlert was known for simple yet bright, color-saturated shapes such as what one would find in Bill Martin Jr.’s Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Simon & Schuster) or Ehlert’s own Planting a Rainbow (HMH Books for Young Readers).

Carle’s hand-painted paper collages, on the other hand, brought texture and life to books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Busy Spider (World of Eric Carle) or Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Henry Holt & Co.), also written by Bill Martin, Jr.

So for today, I wanted to share a poem from Carle’s beautiful Eric Carle’s Animals, Animals (World of Eric Carle), a poetry anthology compiled by Laura Whipple that blends poetry from around the world with poems from such diverse poetic icons as Valerie Worth, Shakespeare, and Ogden Nash. With more than 70 animals represented so beautifully in word and picture, it’s a poetry book no home should be without:
.

I throw myself to the left
I turn myself to the right.
I am the fish
Who glides in the water, who glides,
Who twists himself, who leaps.
Everything lives, everything dances, everything sings.
.
—African pygmy

Doesn’t that poem just seem to sing out joy and hope? When I read that, it felt it was describing Ehlert’s and Carle’s illustrations as much as it was describing life…all that leaping, gliding, dancing.

Singing.

And although this is my tribute, the best tribute one can offer to folks like Carle & Ehlert is to continue sharing and purchasing their work. I certainly plan to do so; I hope you will, too.

Last Friday, Christie Wyman celebrated her birthday while hosting the Poetry Friday festivities, and this week, it’s Michelle Kogan’s turn to blow out the candles! For today’s complete Roundup, head over to Michelle’s blog to read Ruth Whitman’s “Birth Day” along with Michelle’s poem “Birth Plant,” inspired by Whitman’s poem, and to check out all of today’s links!

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I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

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: The craft of verse novels, the value of randomness, and the perfection of “Tuck Everlasting”: an interview with David Elliott

As I mentioned here early last month, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve formally interviewed my friend and neighbor David Elliott – about 9 years, actually, in 2013.

I published our interview for the former “Poetry at Play” blog, which I reposted HERE. At the time, David’s poetry collection In the Sea (Candlewick, 2012) had just come out and On the Wing (Candlewick, 2014) was – well, on the wing – with a publishing date of 2014.

It’s funny…David and I bump into each other all the time at the local grocery store or coffeehouse, I have about 2 dozen garlic plants growing courtesy of some bulbs he’d pulled off his property last year, he even helped the previous owner of our house paint the interior before she sold it to my wife – yet for some reason I have yet to feature him here at the ol’ Triple-R.

So I decided that needed to be corrected!

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat, David! While you’ve authored several popular picture books and poetry collections, one of the things I wanted to do today is get into the nuts and bolts of writing verse novels, the popularity of which has really skyrocketed within the last 5 years or so.

Looking back at your first verse novel, Bull (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2017), how did you decide that a verse novel was the genre it required? I know you’ve said that Poseidon’s voice kept speaking to you (a wonderfully bizarre experience that only fellow writers can fully appreciate) before you realized what to do with it – but why verse rather than prose?

Years ago, long before I thought of becoming a writer, my very prescient wife gave me a copy of Richard Wilbur’s translation of Moliere’s Tartuffe and The Misanthrope. I am still amazed at what both Wilbur and Moliere were able to do, the fluency of those rhyming couplets, I mean, the way the metered language sounded so natural. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I think the seed was planted then for Bull and the other verse novels, too.

Of course, the myth of Theseus has its antecedents in Ovid, so verse seemed a natural, even appropriate way to tell the story. By the way, I’m not sure that I agree that it’s only writers who can appreciate the workings of the Unconscious, which is I think where Poseidon was speaking from. Dialogue between the deeper Self and the ego is available to everyone. It just requires a little practice.

Do you approach the structure/characterization/outlining process in a similar manner for both verse and prose novels, or do you use a different method of organization?

Oh dear. Organization? What’s that? While a book’s architecture is vital, I never know what it is until I’m in the middle of writing it. For me, it’s very analogous to Alice’s experience through the looking glass. Never linear, and often arriving frustratingly late in the process. Very messy. I worked on Voices at least six months before I began to understand even a little bit what I was doing. It turned out to be nothing like what I had proposed. I try as hard as I can to let the narrative tell me what it wants to be rather than forcing my own idea onto it. I try, I say, but I’m not always as successful as I would like to be.

You love experimenting with poetic forms, from classic formal verse to free verse to even concrete poems like the ones in Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2019). How do you decide which forms/styles to use? Is it strictly according to what you feel works best for a particular character, or is there more to it?

Once I understood that Bull was going to be in verse, I also understood that each of the characters in the story were going to have to speak differently. Poseidon, after all, is a very different entity from Ariadne. I was fortunate enough to have a copy of Miller Williams’ Patterns of Poetry on my shelf. I picked it up, closed my eyes, thought of the character, and then like a prankster with a phone book, thumbed through it, stopped randomly, pointed to a page, and whatever form was listed there is what I used for that character.

Idiotic, I know.

But I soon realized that the forms were shaping the characters in ways that I could never have imagined, so I’m not sure it was as idiotic as it sounds though I wouldn’t recommend it as a way of writing a book. Voices was a little more intentional, though it took me a very (very!) long time to find Joan’s voice. The Seventh Raven (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2019) was more intentional still.

(Matt’s note: You can read my post about The Seventh Raven HERE)

You’ve said you love the work of folks like Roald Dahl, Robert Louis Stevenson, Natalie Babbit, and several others. At this point in your career, can you share the influence they’ve had on your work?

I love Roald Dahl’s humor, his irreverence. But what I love most about him is the courage to bypass adults and speak directly to children. That subversive, almost conspiratorial element is in good part what makes him so appealing to so many kids. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of writing for the gatekeepers, all the adults who read children’s lit rather than writing for the kids themselves. Those are two very different audiences. I think Dahl understood that almost better than anyone else, and it is what I most admire about him and his work.

As for Stevenson, simply put? He knows how to tell a story. I read Kidnapped and Treasure Island almost every year, and each time I do, I get the same thrill I did when I read them first as an adolescent. There are very few books that do that for me now

Natalie Babbitt? There isn’t enough time. The only thing I can say is that to me Tuck Everlasting is a perfect book. Perfect. And I say that as a writer and a reader. I still get weepy at that prologue, and as for the book’s structure and sentence-level writing, don’t get me started. As I said recently in another interview, Lewis Carroll once wrote that fairy tales are “love gifts.” I never understood that until I read Tuck.

Here’s a question to make you think:  what would you love to write – genre, subject, anything – that you don’t feel you’re ready to write yet?

I spent my twenties traveling, living mostly by the seat of my pants. I washed cucumbers in Greece. I ate curried goat with sultans in the Sulu Archipelago. I made popsicle sticks in Israel. I sang at a bar in Mexico. I sat with Berbers at the edge of the Libyan Sahara.  Along the way, I met a German girl who carried a violin she couldn’t play, a woman who became the Pope’s webmaster, a guy who had been involved in the FLQ ‘s kidnapping of Quebec’s provincial Deputy Premier, and many more.  I hope someday to be able to write about those years and those people.

So what’s up next on the ol’ publication timeline?

Over the next few years, I’ll have three more picture books in the Candlewick poetry series: next year, At the Pond, with amazingly beautiful illustrations by Amy Schimler-Safford; the year following, At the Poles illustrated by the great Ellen Rooney; and finally In the Sands, illustrator TBD. Next spring, Little Brown is publishing Color the Sky, illustrated by none other than Evan Turk. (I’m speechless at what he has done with a very simple text). I’m currently writing a spooky and adventure-filled middle grade with my son, which we’ll have an announcement about soon.

Wow, it’s great to hear you have three more of those poetry collections on the way! (You know I’m still waiting to see one about microscopic animals titled “Under the Slide” – that needs to happen, ha!) And I can’t wait to see what Evan Turk did with your words – he’s an incredibly gifted and stylistically unique illustrator. Well, thanks so much for taking the time to chat, my friend – and best wishes with Raven and all these upcoming projects.

Thanks so much, Matt. Always a pleasure.

.

Speaking of poetry, I would be remiss to not congratulate my friend and longtime Poetry Friday family member Mary Lee Hahn on her FINAL MONTH OF TEACHING! Woo-HOO!!

Mary Lee is an incredible supporter, teacher, and writer of poetry who joined me, Liz Steinglass, Heidi Mordhorst, and Laura Purdie Salas two years ago in Baltimore at NCTE’s annual conference for our panel presentation on teaching poetry through “inquiry.” It was so nice to be able to meet these friends in person, having known them all for so many years through Facebook, blogs, and social media channels.

Happy retirement, Mary Lee – I’m guessing you’re going to be even busier now that you’re no longer working, ha!

L-R: Mary Lee Hahn, Liz Steinglass, Yours Truly, Heidi Mordhorst, Laura Purdie Salas

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, head over to Wondering and Wandering, where Christie Wyman is not only celebrating Mary Lee’s career with poetry – she’s celebrating the fact it’s her birthday! Happy birthday, Christie!

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

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!