Poetry Friday: Tricubes are taking over!

Sometimes you’ll share a post you feel is really important, and almost no one reads it. Other times, you’ll share a simple little writing prompt…and suddenly everyone is jumping in, trying their hand at it.

This post, for your information, is about the latter.

You see, I shared author/poet Phillip Larrea‘s tricube form a few weeks ago as an example of how one can stretch their brain muscles with exercises such writing in a specific form (i.e., haiku, sonnet, etc.).

(You can read that post HERE) The tricube form is based on the mathematical concept of “cubes”: the poem has 3 stanzas, with 3 lines per stanza, and 3 syllables per line.

I had no idea how inspirational that post would be! Folks were emailing me, sharing on Twitter, posting tricubes on their own blogs…and as I discovered yesterday, sharing them on Instagram!

Nethervoice Vo Client Pic
Paul Strikwerda

That’s right – my friend Paul Strikwerda, a fellow voiceover artist who hails from the Netherlands but calls the U.S his home these days (hence, his business name, Nethervoice), was so taken with the challenge that he wrote his own, which I shared last week, along with tricubes of many others.

Little did I know he would challenge his Instagram followers to write their own – and boy, did they! You can scan through them all HERE and read the many ways his followers responded – with subjects from tenacity and peace to music and reptiles. I loved reading through them all, and I’m sure you will, too.

After reading all these tricubes, there was only one thing I could do: write another! This was in response to Paul’s Instagram posts, as I thought about not just his kindness but also our similar backgrounds: two voiceover guys who both grew up recording stories onto our father’s old cassette decks (character voices, sound effects, and all), who both eventually worked in radio, who both left radio to work for ourselves doing voicework, and who both love writing – he as one of the top voiceover bloggers in the country and me as a children’s author.

.

Friendship’s voice
supportive,
true, rises

up, reaches
across miles
and months, so

readily
heard by those
who listen.
.

© 2021 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

.

It’s been nice seeing so many others tackling this form, too, like Christie Wyman and her students. Christie shows how she used this form along with Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s Every Day Birds (Orchard Books) as part of a science/poetry/art lesson…brilliant! Blogger Denise Krebs also tried her hand at one, using a rather “unusual” subject…check it out here!

As I’ve stated before, should you decide to try writing a tricube of your own, I hope you’ll share it with me so I can post here for all to see! (If you share it on Instagram, be sure to include the hastag #tricube) I’ll likely be doing something completely different next week, but for all of today’s poetry links, please visit Bridget at wee words for wee ones, where she’s hosting the complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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

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: Have you “tried a Tricube?” The Roundup is here!

It’s been a long time since I’ve hosted the Poetry Friday roundup, so I’m very excited to see everyone’s posts today!

Over the past couple of years, my children’s writing career has taken off (4 books out, and 8 more are under contract) – and with suddenly having to homeschool my two young kids due to Covid, I’ve not had nearly the amount of time I used to; hence, I’m unable to visit everyone’s posts as regularly as I used to. So my apologies!

It’s been an especially busy year so far, with two books already out. My first board book, Elliot, the Heart-Shaped Frog (Rainstorm Publishing), was published near the end of January. Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books), co-authored with my friend Charles “Father Goose” Ghigna, which ALA’s Booklist has called “a necessary addition to picture book collections,” hit bookstores March 2.

(By the way, if you happen to have read any of my books and enjoyed them, I hope you’ll consider leaving a brief review on either Amazon or Goodreads – even just two simple sentences can be a HUGE help in increasing sales for authors and illustrators.)

But launching those was just the beginning! I’m working on revisions to another new PB from Beaming Books, scheduled for next year; I’m gearing up for a big poetry project also due out next year; I’m making plans for the launch of my next picture book, I Am Today (POW! Kids Books), which comes out this fall; AND I’ve been asked to present a writing workshop at Lit Youngstown’s 5th Annual Fall Literary Festival in Youngstown, Ohio, Oct. 7-9!

Did I mention I’m homeschooling two kids?

So you can see why time is at a premium for me these days. But I’m genuinely excited about hosting Poetry Friday today because I get to share a bunch of poetry from my readers and followers!

I first shared the Tricube form, created by author/poet Phillip Larrea, a couple of weeks ago in a post that apparently stirred a great deal of inspiration. (You can check out that post HERE) People from all over were trying out this poetic form – emailing me, posting on my Facebook page, sharing on Twitter, and even posting tricubes on their own blogs!

So I figured the logical thing to do for today’s post was to share their work here, for everyone to see!

The tricube is fairly simple in structure, as it is based on mathematics: there are 3 syllables per line, 3 lines per stanza, and 3 stanzas per poem. (multiply a number by itself three times = cubed!) Unlike math, however, a tricube is greater than the sum of its parts, as word economy is paramount, much like haiku, senryu, and tanka.

Hope you enjoy these!

.

Summer


Summer comes,
Blooms explode, 
Sunshine warms.

Summer’s here,
Days are hot,
Insects zoom.

Summer stays!
Sticky heat,
Humid time!

.
– Tonnye Fletcher

.

Writing Life

Writing days,
Reading nights,
Hopeful life.

Morning reads,
Coffee mugs
Start days right.

Journaling 
In my bed,
Day is done.
.

– Tonnye Fletcher

.

.

.

Question

On one hand
there is joy,
acceptance;

the other,
uncertain
consequence.

Do I, then,
lead myself –
or be led?
.

– F. E.

.

.

And yes…even I had to write another one!

Night Spring

moon shadows
touch lightly
tender earth

gauzy clouds
quick, supple
caress sky

pond dwellers
loud and shrill
sing their souls
.

– Matt Forrest Esenwine

.

Many other folks have shared the tricubes they’ve written on their own blogs, including Buffy Silverman’s poem, “Flotilla,” Alana DeVito’s “Sunrise,” Carol Varsalona’s two springtime tricubes, Carol Wilcox’s two poems about a service dog she’s raising, and Linda Baie’s poem about me teaching my kids poetry…wow, thank you, Linda! I’m quite honored.

I hope you like these, and I hope you’ll try one of your own! (If you do, please email it to me and I might share it here)

And since it’s Poetry Friday, leave your links below in the comments and I’ll round them up Old School-style throughout the day!

  • First up is Buffy Silverman, who has been enjoying watching the Canada geese that have returned to her lake – and which inspired her to “try” a tricube!
  • Linda Baie also “tries” her hand at a tricube at Teacher Dance, along with a spring haiku!
  • Kids & springtime inspired Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link to write several different poems using three different forms: a fibonacci, equation poem, and yes, TWO tricubes!
  • It’s autumn in Australia, and Sally Murphy is sharing a couple of beautiful poems about Autumn Rain.
  • My friend David Harrison is celebrating a little early good news about his next poetry collection, The Dirt Book (Holiday House, which comes out in early June.
  • Robyn Hood Black’s month-long series about dewdrop haiku by Issa comes to a close with poems on Buddhism and the impermanance of life.
  • At Salt City Verse, Janice Scully offers a couple of clerihews celebrating our president and vice president.
  • Since today is the last day of April, that means it’s the last day of the annual Progresssive Poem, which Michelle Kogan has the honor of concluding! She also shares an original poem in the style of poet Linda Hogan’s poem, “Innocence.”
  • We get two poems from Tricia Stohr-Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect: her final found poem for April (about seashells) as well as her own response to the challenge of writing in the style of Hogan’s “Innocence.”
  • Not to be outdone, Sara Lewis Holmes takes on her Poetry Sisters’ challenge with her own poem in the style of “Innocence” at Read Write Believe.
  • Andromeda Jazmon offers her response to the same challenge, a poem titled “Hope,” at A Wrung Sponge.
  • At Fiction, Instead of Lies, Tanita Davis decided to take a slightly different approach to her poem based on “Innocence.”
  • And Liz Garton Scanlon’s response to the challenge shows us a thoughtful, detailed assessment of “Bamboo.”
  • Catherine Flynn shares a cento (Latin, “collage”) poem she crafted from other poems she wrote this month as well as those of other poets at her blog, Reading to the Core.
  • At Poetry Pizzazz with Alan J. Wright, Alan tackles a serious issue in Australia: misogyny, violence, and other deplorable behaviors towards women. I had no idea things were that bad Down Under!
  • Linda Mitchell offers up a golden shovel poem based on a line from Ralph Waldo Emerson.
  • A rediscovered family video was the inspiration for Laura Purdie Salas‘ final equation poem of the month.
  • Bridget Magee shares several examples of spine poetry as she wraps up her month-long celebration of poetry at Wee Words for Wee Ones!
  • At Unexpected Intersections, Elisabeth Norton travels “full circle” with a shape poem about life and immigration.
  • Some absolutely incredible dual-laguage poems are awaiting at The Opposite of Indifference, where Tabatha Yeatts is wrapping up (Inter)National Poetry Month!
  • Ruth at There Is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken town is celebrating “happiness” with select offerings from many of our Poetry Friday friends.
  • At Reflections on the Teche, Margaret Simon shares a student-made video using one of her poems as well as an original poem titled “Fifth Grade.”
  • Today is the final day of “Filling the Well” of inspiration at Today’s Little Ditty, and Michelle H. Barnes offers some Lucille Clifton poetry and a short (less than 4:00) film by Erik Wernquist, written and narrated by Carl Sagan.
  • Little Willow shares selected lines from the sensual – and sensory – poem “Sea Holly” by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett and Tony Lopez.
  • Christie Wyman wraps up #NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) at Wondering and Wandering with an “Ode to Feathered Friends,” a collaboration between her and her remote kindergarteners!
  • This month Rose Capelli has been busy writing a wide variety of poems, and today she shares two free verse poems at Imagine the Possibilities.
  • At Jama’s Alphabet Soup, Jama Rattigan spotlights Nikki Giovanni’s book, Make Me Rain (William Morrow, 2020) with three powerful poems from the book.
  • Every day is a symphony in spring, according to Irene Latham, who shares her final Poetry Month poem at Live Your Poem.
  • At My Juicy Little Universe, Heidi Mordhorst shares a first draft of a poem about the five Fridays of April.
  • Carol Wilcox is sharing another poem about Rooney, a service dog she’s raising for a local canine organization, at Carol’s Corner.
  • Have you heard of the Haiku Oracle? Kortney Garrison can explain, at One Deep Drawer!
  • Since we’re enjoying springtime, Karen Edmisten decided to share “Spring Morning,” a poem by Marion Strobel.
  • Cathy L. Mere wraps up her month-long poetic tribute to “Joy” at Merely Day by Day!
  • Over at The Apples in My Orchard, Carol Labuzzetta explains how she is learning to step outside her comfort zone and also shares a school writing activity she devised while using a poem from one of Bruce Lansky’s books.
  • Speaking of apples, Meredith at The Write Apple has a poem based on a spring nature walk she took with her 2nd-grade students.
  • A conversation about a tree was what inpisred Tim Gels to write his poem, “How do you know it’s a black locust?”
  • JoAnn Early Macken has written a poem each day of Poetry Month, and today she has three gardening haiku for us!
  • And last but not least, Jone MacCulloch spotlights Lita Judge’s new book, “The Wisdom of Trees” (Roaring Brook Press)!

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

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: “Winners, we have winners…!”

Happy Earth Day!

I’m sharing my Poetry Friday post a day early because Thursday has been Earth Day and Once Upon Another Time‘s publisher, Beaming Books, is giving away FREE COPIES of the book along with a digital ARC to various libraries, trail groups, and other organizations around the country that maintains StoryWalks™!

(What IS a StoryWalk™, you ask? It’s usually a series of kiosks set up along a trail that each feature a different spread of a book…which allows visitors to read as they walk. Here are a few photos from the inaugural installation of the Warner, NH StoryWalk™ which featured my Flashlight Night.)

.

We had several folks send in entries to win copies of Once Upon Another Time! The winners are:

  • The local reading council of Chadbourn, NC (Tonnye Fletcher)
  • New Franklin School of Portsmouth, NH (Tammi Truax)
  • Carson City Library, Carson City, NV (J Hodnett)
  • Dr. Leroy E. Mayo School & their PTA, Holden, MA (Andrew Hacket)
  • Pillsbury Free Library of Warner, NH (Sue Matott)
  • Friends of South Cumberland State Park, Tennessee (Sarah Marhevsky)

Congratulations to all! I hope you and everyone who visits your StoryWalk™ enjoys our book!

Photos of New Hampshire’s White Mountains in Franconia, NH taken by Yours Truly, August 2019

.

NOW, FOR TODAY’S “GUEST” POET…

As you may have heard from previous posts, my wife and I found ourselves homeschooling our two children in the wake of the pandemic. While it can be a trying situation sometimes with arguments, obstinence, and an utter disregard for personal space, overall they have both been doing excellent and I have no worries they won’t be prepared to return to their classrooms in the fall.

That said, my 7-year-old daughter surprised me a couple of weeks ago while finishing her English textbook (yes, we completed an entire year-long program in just 6 1/2 months!) with a poem that caught me off guard. She had learned some simple poems like “Twinkle, Twinkle” and was asked to write her own poem about a star. This is what she came up with:

From Master Books’ “Language Lessons for a Living Education

I will see the stars so bright.
So they can be my flashlight.
And as I watch I’ll see my God to light up the night as well.
.

Now granted, everyone thinks their child is a genius these days, but this are pretty thought-provoking lines for a 7-year-old who claims she doesn’t like poetry. We’ve been utilizing “Language Lessons for a Living Education” from Master Books for both kids, which teaches English while including some Christian lessons, and supplementing this with various grammar worksheets I print out as well as my own lessons. I don’t know if it was any of this, or simply my poetry genes showing up in her capable hands, but I couldn’t be more proud of her.

For the complete Poetry Friday roundup, visit Catherine at Reading to the Core where she has Padma Venkatraman in the spotlight along with a poem inspired by one of Padma’s recent poetry prompts. Also, be sure to check out all the new books this month from my 2021 Book Blast partners:

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

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: Tricube, a first attempt

If you don’t quite understand me, don’t worry – I’m not sure I totally understand myself.

You see, I’m not really a fan of new poetry forms – yet I can’t resist trying them out! Usually I’m unimpressed, but every now and then a form seems to take hold of my attention and forces me to do something.

This is one of those times.

I came across the Tricube form quite by accident – I was searching for poetry online and discovered this deceptively simple (e.g., nerve-wrackingly difficult) form created by author/poet Phillip Larrea. It’s simple in that it is based on the concept of mathematical cubes: there are 3 syllables per line, 3 lines per stanza, and 3 stanzas per poem.

What’s not so simple is being able to fit what you’re trying to say in that tiny space!

In this way, it’s similar to haiku, in that word economy is extremely important – and therein lies the reason I probably like it so much. One needs to pay very close attention to word choice if one wants to fit wordplay, imagery, and emotion into such a compact space.

So I looked around for a suitable subject and came upon this photograph taken by my daughter, Katherine, who is an amateur photographer:

Photo © 2010 Katie Bri Photography, all rights reserved

The rain came.
We welcomed
a green spring

full of hope
and flowers
and found ice;

cold, glassy,
suspending
brittle life.

– © 2021 Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

As I said, I’m not a big fan of many newer poetic forms, primarily because they focus so much on syllable counts (cinquains, nonets) or because of ridiculous rules involved (I guarantee you I will never write a diamante, ever). But this, as I previously mentioned, forces one to think long and hard about word choice and placement – and although I like this little poem of mine, I’m still not sure it’s the best version of itself.

But will I tackle a tricube again? Absolutey!

For more poetry, please visit Jama’s Alphabet Soup, where Jama Rattigan is hosting the roundup with a poem from former UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

And by the way…do you know of a library, trail group, or other organization that maintains a StoryWalk™? Beaming Books, publisher of Once Upon Another Time, has a very cool opportunity! To celebrate Earth Day, we’ll give away TEN FREE COPIES of the book along with TEN digital ARCs (Advance Review Copies)! Just send an email to matt (at) mattforrest (dot) com and tell us why you’d like to feature our book on your StoryWalk™. Read the graphic, which has all the details, and get your entries in by 11:59pm EDST, April 21. Winners’ names to be drawn at random and announced April 22 – Earth Day!

Also be sure to check out all the books coming out this month from my 2021 Book Blast partners:

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

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 Return of David Elliott… from 9 years ago!

When I shared the news about my friend David Elliott’s newest book, The Seventh Raven (HMH, 2021), in last Friday’s post, I had no idea I was about to create a month-long Elliottfest…

…but apparently that is precisely what I’ve done.

You see, I had asked David if he’d mind joining me for an interview at the end of April – which he will – but it occurred to me that some, if not most, of my readers would be unaware of the conversation we had waaaaay back in 2013. Since that interview had been posted on the now-defunct Poetry at Play blog, I realized there was no way for anyone to be able to read or even reference that post. I therefore did the only thing that seemed to make sense.

Reposted it here!

So yes, I featured David Elliott’s latest book two weeks ago; I’m re-posting my original interview with him from 9 years ago here today; and at the end of the month, David and I will be back with a brand-new interview about craft and verse novels. (“It’s ALL David, ALL the time…!”)

(Keep in mind, this is the original transcript, so some comments may sound dated – for example, the YA novel he was working on became Bull – but I hope you enjoy!)

Although David Elliot was born and raised in a small town in Ohio, that didn’t prevent him from travelling the world and collecting myriad experiences.  Over the years, he worked as a singer in Mexico, an English teacher in Libya, a cucumber-washer in Greece, and a popsicle-stick-maker in Israel. David also studied classical voice at a conservatory, with dreams of becoming an opera singer. The problem, he says, is that he wasn’t very good.

Fortunately for the world of children’s literature, David became a New York Times bestselling children’s author. His many picture books and chapter books include: And Here’s to You! (Candlewick, 2009), The Transmogrification of Roscoe Wizzle (Walker Books Ltd., 2001), The Evangeline Mudd books (Candlewick), Finn Throws a Fit! (Candlewick, reprint, 2011), Jeremy Cabbage and the Living Museum (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2008), and most recently the picture book, In the Wild (Candlewick, 2010).

As of this writing, David has six new picture books under contract, due to be published within the next couple of years, and he is working on a YA novel and a new middle grade book. If you’d like to learn more about David and his books, visit www.davidelliottbooks.com.

First of all, thank you, David, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us!  Did you ever imagine yourself being this busy, back when you were washing cucumbers in Greece, or making popsicle sticks in Israel? And wouldn’t it have been easier to just wash cukes or make popsicle sticks here in the States??

Maybe. But think of all the fantastic food I would have missed out on.

Seriously, though, how did you come to finally discover your true calling and end up back home in the U.S.?

 Oh, dear. Do I have a true calling? But to answer your question, after many years of traveling and working abroad, making popsicle sticks, washing cucumbers (the most Freudian job ever!), teaching in Libya, singing in Mexico, I came back because as transformative as those years were, the truth is they were also very lonely, better suited to a comic novel, maybe, than to a real life. I have a big stack of journals from those years. One day, maybe, I’ll write that novel.

Anyone who uses the word “transmogrification” in the title of a children’s book must have fun while he’s writing!  Does it ‘feel’ like work, and do you ever wonder if you’ll ever end up having a ‘real job’ again?

When the paperback of The Transmogrification of Roscoe Wizzle (Candlewick, 2004) came out, the sales staff wanted to get rid of that word transmogrification and call the book Roscoe Wizzle. I try to be as collaborative as I can when it comes to these things – and they come much more frequently than one might think – but in this case I put my foot down. I didn’t want to dumb down the title because adults were scared that it was “too hard.” 

I felt vindicated a couple of months later during a school visit when an eight-year-old boy came running up to me after my presentation. “Transmogrification!” he said. “Transmogrification! When I hear that word, it just makes me want to read the book.” You know, I’ve heard adults mangle that word over and over again, but never, not once, has a child mispronounced it. Sometimes, I think it might be part of the writer’s job to protect children from what the adults in charge of their lives think about them.

For me, writing is a real job, and hard work, even, or perhaps more accurately, especially the funny stuff and the picture books.

Now, you write in a variety of styles, including poetry, picture books, and chapter books…do you prefer one style over another?  

Not really. Each has its challenges just as each as its pleasures.  There are so many books out there. That’s great, of course, but it can also be a bit discouraging. And do we really need another vampire book? Another adventure series? Another this or that?  In fact, we probably do. My problem is that I’m not interested in writing them. At the moment, I’m interested in experimenting with new structures, new ways of telling a story.

Books like In the Wild (Candlewick, 2010) and In the Sea (Candlewick, 2012) contain some great examples of children’s poetry that are written in simple language but are quite thoughtful and full of emotion.  Is it difficult to find that balance? And what is your process for determining how you want to present a poetry subject or idea?

First, thanks for the kind words. Each of the three books in the series (two more on the way) presented a different challenge. On the Farm was perhaps the most straightforward. We all know what a farm is and without ever opening the book could guess what animals we might find between the end pages. (I did try to include some of the undomesticated animals that are present on a farm, too: the turtle, bees, a garter snake). In the end, a farm is a kind of container. Additionally, if we hear the word cow, we share a set of emotional responses because, in one way or another, we have all grown up with cows, or at the very least, the idea of cows. 

But when it came to In the Wild, I was stumped. First there is no container. These animals are found all over the world and there are tens of thousands of them. How to choose just 14 or so? (My editor and I settled on the iconic.) Then, I discovered that I knew very little beyond the obvious when it came to the animals. Since it’s the writer’s job to say something new, I spent weeks, reading, looking at pictures, watching YouTube videos of the animals in the book, trying to get not just information about them but a feeling for them, too. 

Then there was the complicating factor that many of the animals in the book are endangered. On one hand, it felt, disrespectful to both the animals represented and to the children reading the poems to ignore this sad truth; on the other, I didn’t want to write a book that said Too bad kids, by the time you are adults, some these animals won’t exist.. I tried to solve the problem with last poem and its page turn. “The Polar Bear.”  By the way, we don’t talk or think enough about page turns in picture books. In the best ones, they carry as much meaning as the text.

After starting In the Sea, I completely understood the expression “a cold fish.”  They’re rather hard to feel warm and fuzzy about. In the end, I decided to think about the various forms in the ocean. Since many fish have the same basic shape, I wanted to give the late Holly Meade, the illustrator, something to work with. I feel incredibly lucky to have been paired with Holly. She brought so much to these books.  Some of you may not know that she left us in April of this year. A sad and terrible loss.

If I can, I’d like to give a plug for On the Wing, coming out fall 2014 with art by a wonderful new illustrator, Becca Stadtlander. As a whole, the poems in the book might be my favorite of the four volumes thus far. But they were very, very difficult. All birds have feathers, beaks and they fly – at least the ones we chose for the book do. What more was there to say? It was very challenging because most of us know very little about individual species of birds, so there was not a lot of common knowledge I could rely on.

The bower bird, for example, a very plain species native to Australia, builds a complicated structure on the ground. He then adorns it with flowers and shells, anything colorful he can find  in order to lure a paramour into what is literally his love nest. Who knew? 

Here’s the poem.

The Bower Bird

No fancy feathers,

to attract a mate,

first  he builds

then decorates

his bower.

How carefully

he constructs

the walls.

(The halls

he fills

with flowers.)

And how anxiously 

he arranges

the bright  tokens

he collects.

O pity then

the bower bird.

Nature’s fussy,

lovesick architect.

Beautiful, David – and so personal the reader can actually empathize with the bird. You know, it’s always an open-ended question to ask someone ‘where’ they get their inspiration; for most of us, it comes from everywhere. So let me ask, how do you deal with the inspiration you get? That is, how do you know if an idea is worth your attention, and what do you do with it?

This is something that plagues me. I’m never at a loss for ideas. But what I’m always afraid of is that I’m not up to executing them in the way they deserve. I’m rather slow on the uptake. I kept the first draft of Roscoe in my drawer for eight years before I really understood what the book wanted to be.

Recently, I’ve been reading and rereading Homer, Ovid, Virgil and along with them, some modern retellings. (David Malouf’s Ransom is one of the best things I’ve read in years. Now, I’m reading his An Imaginary Life. Equally as wonderful.) All this has me thinking about the relationship between the Greek and Roman gods and the mortals who worshipped them. Those gods required a lot: supplication, sacrifice, interpretation, belief.

This seems to me a wonderful metaphor for the relationship between artists and their inspiration. How much are we willing to humble ourselves before it? How much are we willing to sacrifice? How much are willing to listen to the oracular voice? How much are we willing to believe? This last is perhaps the most frightening question.

I so wish I had understood this earlier in my career. These questions will be very much at the forefront of my mind (and heart) as I continue to work on new and longer projects.

“Buffalo,” from In the Wild, © 2010 Candlewick, all rights reserved

Your chapter book, Jeremy Cabbage, is about a young orphan boy – a sort of cross between Oliver Twist and Lemony Snicket’s Beaudelaire siblings – who goes into the world on an adventure. Did you see your globe-trotting self in Jeremy, and how have you used your life experiences in other books?

In a way, all books are autobiographical since it is the life experience, sensibilities, instincts and education of the particular author that make the book.  In my case, it is perhaps not the external circumstances in which Jeremy finds himself, but the emotional content of the book that is closest to how I felt as a child and still sometimes feel as an adult.

Folks like J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen say inspiration is over-rated – that success more often comes via the “BIC” rule (Butt In Chair). In other words, sit down and get to work! What are your thoughts on this approach?

Isn’t it the only approach? One of my favorite quotes about writing comes from the writer, Octavia Butler. (Kindred remains one of the most under-appreciated books in print. Everyone should read it.) Anyway, she put it very succinctly: “Habit is more important than inspiration.” As others have said, we write to find out what we don’t know.

How difficult is it to know what children will like or not like?  Who do you trust for feedback on your writing?

This question is more complicated than first it appears. Not all children like the same things. Then, we have to ask, what do you mean by children? A five-year-old is very different from a ten-year-old who is very, very different from a thirteen-year old. Children are the same in only one way: they are developing. This, to me, is one of the principal differences between writing for an adult audience and writing for children.

This, too, is one of the things that I find so difficult about writing for kids. I’m afraid that sometimes we don’t do the best job of honoring the sacred fact that children are still becoming. It’s a scientific fact. Research now tells us that the brain isn’t fully developed until our early twenties. This makes, or it should make, a difference in how we approach our work, or at least in understanding and respecting our audience..

Yes, there really was a Finn, and YES, he really did throw a fit!

But I sometimes worry that we too often fall prey to a kind of inferiority complex in which we feel we have to compete with adult publishing to be real writers. I wonder if this is why there are so many books for kids where a loved one dies, or is alcoholic or, well, you know what I mean. Why do we have this idea that tragedy is more serious, more valuable than comedy?  To me this seems very puritanical and old-fashioned. Also wrong.

Of course, I know that many young people do experience terrible things in their lives. But many children also experience happiness, — even those in the most wretched circumstances –and that happiness can bolster a young heart. I know this by the way from personal experience. There is so much to say on this topic.

Who are your favourite children’s authors or poets? What have you learned from them?

I love Roald Dahl. I love Robert Louis Stevenson. I love Louise Rennison. I love M.T. Anderson. (He’s a good friend, and though I don’t want to admit it to him, he is completely lovable!) I love Jack Prelutsky (because it’s clear he loves kids.) I love, love love Natalie Babbit. Too many to mention. And what I’ve learned from them is that is that I have a lot more to learn to be the writer I would like to be.

Is there a poem or book you’ve had published that you are particularly proud of?  Is there one secretly wish you could revise?

Good heavens! The answer to the first question is, “all of them.” The answer to the second question is, “all of them.”

What was the worst idea you ever had – for a poem, a book, a career, or anything – and what did you do with it?

Believe me, you don’t have enough time for me to talk about my bad ideas. I still get them. Every day.

We all do, David! By the way, considering all of your life experiences so far, do you think you’ll remain content with writing children’s lit, or do you see yourself branching out into other genres, or even doing something entirely different?

As my wonderful editor at Candlewick once said, “When I find adults as interesting as children, I’ll start working for them.” But I do have adult projects in mind. I’ve published one, The Tiger’s Back,  either a very short novella or a very long story, depending on how you look at it. I also have written some for the theater and plan to do more of that. But I’ll always write for kids.

What advice would you give to aspiring children’s poets and authors? And from your experience, what would you say is the biggest fallacy you’ve learned in trying to get published?

Currently, I teach in the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing at Lesley University in Cambridge. One thing that I find myself repeating to my students is, “Get out of the way.”  By which I mean, the writer must be secondary to the work. Understandably, less experienced writers are anxious, eager to prove to the world and to themselves they have whatn it takes. (If I’m honest, most of us feel this way. In fact, I have to fight that feeling every day.) This can create a bit of a tendency to show-off on the page, to make a wrong decision about a particular word, or sentence structure, or well, almost anything, really from punctuation to plot. 

But almost always, this either bores us (deadly!) or distracts us from what John Gardner calls “the fictional dream.” In other words, we stop thinking about what we’re reading and start thinking about the person who wrote it. (and usually not in the kindest of terms). We end up feeling disappointed or cheated, tricked somehow.  The harsh truth is that no one really cares about you, the writer, I mean. And rightly so. The reader only cares about what is on the page. And rightly so. It’s a hard lesson to learn. But also liberating once you’ve got the hang of it.

Of course, that isn’t to say that we can’t be dazzled by what a writer has accomplished –that’s happening to me right now with David Malouf — but that’s because 1) the writer has complete control of her craft and 2) whatever the writer has done it’s been in service to the story or the poem and not to herself.

About publishing, I don’t know what to say, really. One thing we almost never hear is that you need a little luck. So my advice in this area is 1) learn you craft, and 2) once you’ve learned it stay open so that when that luck comes knocking, you recognize it and let it in. (This isn’t helpful, I know. Sorry.)

Ha, don’t be sorry, that’s absolutely the best advice one could give! By the way, there’s a children’s illustrator from New Zealand named David Elliot.  As far as anyone can tell, you’re not him…right?

I don’t think I am, but one never knows.

Well, thanks again for spending some time with us here at PACYA, David…and all the best for future success!

I hope you enjoyed the interview…and please remember to visit later this month when David and I chat about the craft of writing, specifically verse novels, on April 30 when I host the Poetry Friday roundup! It should be a lot of fun, and enlightening! You’ll find today’s roundup at Tabatha Yeatts’ The Opposite of Indifference, where she is celebrating National Poetry Month!

Also be sure to check out all the books coming out this month from my 2021 Book Blast partners:

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

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: A Goblin Shark pantoum at “Poetry Boost” to kick off National Poetry Month

WOW, WHAT A WEEK!

Things have been super-crazy busy around here lately. First, I discovered that the folks from BookPage included Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books) in their feature about using books to celebrate Earth Day! Saying that Charles Ghigna’s and my book “packs an understated, powerful punch about stewardship,” the writer of the article also includes Micha Archer’s brand-new Wonder Walkers (Nancy Paulsen Books) and our friend Joyce Sidman’s latest, Hello, Earth! Poems to Our Planet (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers).

Speaking of Eerdmans, I discovered two fantastic reviews I had missed for Lee Bennett Hopkins’ posthumous anthology, Night Wishes, which came out last September: one from Publishers Weekly and the other courtesy of The Horn Book! It was such an honor to have been asked to contribute to such a beautiful book.

It was a thrill to read such positive words! Then I had to come back to Earth when I realized last Friday that I was going to need to completely re-build my website from the ground up. >sigh< My web hosting company, Yahoo!, was switching over to a completely new website building program and if I didn’t redesign my site by the end of the month, I’d never be able to update again. Soooo…that suddenly became a priority.

All I can say is…“Whew!”

Somehow, I managed to do it! I learned the new program, rebuilt everything, and got it up and running two days before the deadline.

I’m still tweaking a few things, but if you’d like to check it out and let me know what you think, I’d really appreciate it!

Now, then…today’s poem is extra-special for me because I get to share a poetry video I made for my friend and fellow children’s author, Michelle Schaub. (You may recall I interviewed Michelle here about a year and a half ago, as she was celebrating the release of her poetry collection, Finding Treasure (Charlesbridge, 2019)

In addition to writing books like Dream Big, Little Scientists (Charlesbridge, 2020) and her new Kindness is a Kite String (Cardinal Rule Press, 2021) which just came out YESTERDAY (yay!), Michelle also maintains a wonderfully intereactive blog called Poetry Boost. This year, in celebration of National Poetry Month, Michelle gathered together 30 poetry friends to share videos of each of us reading one of our poems.

I had to think for a little while about which of my poems to share, but it didn’t take me too long to decide on “Goblin Shark,” one of three poems of mine included in the children’s poetry anthology Friends & Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children (Writers Loft Press, 2020).

Friends & Anemones is a great big book 70 pages long, filled with poetry and illustrations from nearly 70 New England creators including Peter H. Reynolds, Jane Yolen, Kip Wilson, Josh Funk, and many more. Yesterday, Michelle kicked off the series by spotlighting a poem from another fellow New Englander, my friend Leslie Bulion, who read her poem “Bolas Spider” from her new anthology, Spi-Ku: A Clutter of Short Verse on Eight Legs (Peachtree Publishing, 2021).

And today…I get to share “Goblin Shark!” (And many thanks to Bob Thibeault for his amazing illustration!)

Click here to see my video!

I hope you enjoy it! And I hope you’ll enjoy all the poetry you’ll find at A Year of Reading, where Mary Lee Hahn is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup.

~ ~ GIVEAWAY!! ~ ~

Many thanks to everyone who entered to win a personally-signed copy of ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME! I gave away one copy a couple of weeks ago, and today I’m giving away another copy to one of the many folks who shared the news about my new book on Twitter. And that person is…drumroll please…

Gennie Gorback!

Congratulations, Gennie – and thank you so much for your support! Email me your info and I’ll be sure to get your copy in the mail, pronto!

And folks, be sure to check out all the books coming out this month from my 2021 Book Blast partners:

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

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 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!

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: New Hampshire celebrates another new book release with David Elliott’s “The Seventh Raven”

Once Upon Another Time.

The Wisdom of Trees.

The Seventh Raven.

For a little state, we’ve really been cranking out the children’s books this month!

First, Lita Judge and I shared a publication date on March 2 with our two new releases. And just a little over a week ago, my neighbor David Elliott’s new YA verse novel, The Seventh Raven (HMH Books for Young Readers), hit bookshelves nationwide.

David’s been receiving great praise for his new book, which is his unique take on the classic Brothers Grimm tale, “The Seven Ravens,” about seven brothers whose lives are saved by their youngest sibling, their sister. (There are actually multiple variants of this tale across Europe, from Poland to Greece)

In David’s re-telling, six of the brothers are all named Jack while the seventh, youngest brother is Robyn. David has said that he named them all Jack because he didn’t want to shift the focus of his tale away from Robyn and the brothers’ sister, April, who attempts to rescue them.

David felt that naming all 6 brothers Jack also helped show how similar they were in their attitudes about who they were and how they were content living their lives as they were. They were all like-minded; hence, they were like-named.

It is Robyn, on the other hand, who feels a different calling, and it is his story that David tells, beginning his novel with a poem title “Change” that features a cadence and language befitting a classic fairy tale:

“Change” goes on to detail the myriad lives of the forest – from the bears and wolves to the trees and river – concluding with the image of a cottage whose “timbers are aching” and whose “joists beg for mercy” from the many pairs of boots stomping through it each day, and the family living within its walls:


If you’d like to learn more about David’s book, including why he enjoys verse novels, how he decides to approach the craft, and why he chose this particular tale to tell, I encourage you to check out the following video from one of our local indie bookstores, Gibson’s Bookstore of Concord, NH which hosted his official book launch on March 16:

.

For more poetry, be sure to visit Soul Blossom Living, where Susan is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup AND getting ready for National Poetry Month with a list of Poetry Friday contributors’ celebratory plans!

~ ~ GIVEAWAY!! ~ ~

Would you like a personally-signed copy of ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME? I gave away one copy last week,and I’ll giev away ANOTHER one at the end of this month! If you’d like to win , just share this graphic on Twitter and use the hashtags #giveaway and #2021BookBlast…I’ll announce the winner on April 1 – no fooling!

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

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 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!

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: “Found” Reptiles!

Today’s the day we find out the winner of the first of TWO copies of ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME (Beaming Books)! I’m giving away a FREE, PERSONALLY-SIGNED COPY OF THE BOOK today – and details on how to win the OTHER copy are below, near the end of this post.

I also want to take a moment to thank all the wonderfully supportive bloggers who joined our official blog tour!

ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIMEBLOG TOUR:

2/25:      Ellen Leventhal:  https://www.ellenleventhal.com/#blog
3/1:        Maria Marshall: https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/2:        Matt Forrest Esenwine: https://mattforrest.wordpress.com 
3/3:        Jan Godown Annino at Bookseed Studio: https://bookseedstudio.wordpress.com/
3/4:        Celebrate Picture Books: https://celebratepicturebooks.com/ (will begin giveaway on 3/5)
3/5:        Maria Marshall #PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday): https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/5:        KidLit411 – Charles Ghigna interview: http://www.kidlit411.com/
3/5:       Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook: http://mrsknottsbooknook.blogspot.com/
3/9:      Erin Dealey https://www.erindealey.com/blog/
3/10:     Melissa Stoller: https://www.melissastoller.com/blog
3/16:     Kellee Moye at Unleashing Readers: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/
5/5:       Andrew Hackett: https://www.andrewhacket.com/blog

Now, then – today’s poem might be considered by some to be…hmm, how do I say this…”underwhelming?” Not that I’m not proud of it, it’s just a little bit shorter than I’d anticipated – and folks who don’t understand found poetry might simply dismiss it as simple or easy (neither of which accurately describes the poem!).

You see, found poetry, as I’ve explained in previous posts like this one from February, is poetry that one “finds” in other writing – whether it’s another poem, a book, magazine, or wherever words may habitate. You sort through all the words and phrases to find the ones that speak to you, and you create a new poem from them.

Always up for a challenge, I thought I’d ask my kids to help me out.

“Pick out any book,” I told my 7-year-old daughter.

“This one!” she said, handing me a signed copy of Sara Levine’s Fossil by Fossil (Millbrook Press, 2018). Sara’s book had come out just a couple of months before my Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (POW! Kids Books), and at one point that spring we found ourselves hosting a dual book signing, so we signed each others’ books…and my 11-year-old son, a dino fanatic, loved it.

However, as wonderful a book as it is, it’s a picture book – which means it’s not very word-heavy. I was worried about finding enough words on any particular spread to be able to come up with a decent poem.

Turning to my 11-year-old son, I said cautiously, “pick whichever spread you want.”

“Hopefully one with a lot of words,” I added.

So he found the spread featuring one of his favorite dinosaurs – Tyrannosaurus Rex. I looked it over and, taking a deep breath, dove into my search for a found poem. It was a search that lasted far longer than I thought it would.

You see, some folks might think that with fewer words, it’s easier to come up with a poem. That could not be farther from the truth, my friends. With lots of words, one has lots of options; with few words, the options become severly limited, especially if one is going to write a poem that doesn’t ‘sound’ like a found poem.

Finding a poem here was like finding a fossil: I was going to need to dig and dig! Here’s the spread he gave me:

Images © 2018 Millbrook Press, all rights reserved

Like I said, it’s a fantastic book, but creating a poem from these few words was a challenge. But a challenge is what I asked for, and a challenge was what I was given. I responded thusly:
.

Reptiles

In the oceans,

………..in the sky,

on land,

………..imagine…

…………………..…teeth!
.

© 2021 Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

Not the most ground-breaking poem to ever appear on a blog, but a far better poem than I initially thought I’d be able to pull off. And really, found poetry is all about stretching the mind and playing with words…very rarely does found poetry get published (although it certainly can), but its visual and tactile nature of creation makes it absolutely integral when teaching poetry and comprehension.

Hope you like it! And I hope you’ll try some found poetry, yourself. If you’d like some more ideas, be sure to check out the Wit & Wordplay video I made about it – and if you have any ideas for videos you think I should be creating, please let me know! For more poetry – all KINDS of poetry! – head on over to Linda Baie’s blog, TeacherDance, where she’s hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with a “Spring Dress Rehearsal!”

~ ~ GIVEAWAY!! ~ ~

Would you like a personally-signed copy of ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME? I have TWO copies I’m giving away! Our first winner, selected at random from all the comments left on my original #BookBirthday post, is…

LINDA TROTT DICKMAN!

Congratulations, Linda! Send me an email at the address in the upper right corener, and I’ll be sure to get your copy in the mail pronto!

If you’d like to win the other copy, just share this graphic on Twitter and use the hashtags #giveaway and #2021BookBlast…I’ll pick a winner at the end of the month!

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

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 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!

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 Gnat and the Gnu”

The following post was originally published waaaay back in Spring 2013 – eight years ago! I was recently sorting through some of my earlier children’s poetry and came across this, and thought it might be fun to share again. Please remember, the blog tour for my new picture book that I co-authored with Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose®), ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME (Beaming Books) continues to roll on at the following blogs:

ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIMEBLOG TOUR:

2/25:      Ellen Leventhal:  https://www.ellenleventhal.com/#blog
3/1:        Maria Marshall: https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/2:        Matt Forrest Esenwine: https://mattforrest.wordpress.com 
3/3:        Bookseed Studio: https://bookseedstudio.wordpress.com/
3/4:        Celebrate Picture Books: https://celebratepicturebooks.com/
3/5:        Maria Marshall #PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday): https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/5:        KidLit411 – Charles Ghigna interview: http://www.kidlit411.com/
3/5:       Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook: http://mrsknottsbooknook.blogspot.com/
3/9:      Erin Dealey https://www.erindealey.com/blog/
3/10:     Melissa Stoller: https://www.melissastoller.com/blog
3/16:     Kellee Moye at Unleashing Readers: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/
5/5:       Andrew Hackett: https://www.andrewhacket.com/blog

~ ~ GIVEAWAY!! ~ ~

Would you like a personally-signed copy of ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME? I have TWO copies I’ll give away, with two ways to enter: check out my #BookBirthday post for all the details!

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

Have you ever had one of those times where you think you’re being totally original, only to discover your ‘uniqueness’ has all been done before?

Yeah…this is one of those times.

Click the pic for more info about
The Gnus of New London!

During a critique group meeting in 2010, a fellow member had written a short rhyming PB manuscript about a fly and a gnat.  It was a cute story, and the word ‘gnat’ got stuck in my head.  After a week or so of mulling ideas over, I wrote the first draft of this poem. I revised it, revised it, and revised it some more. And the day before I planned to bring it to the critique group, I discovered…

Shel Silverstein had written a poem with a nearly identical title.

>sigh<

Now, I don’t think I’d ever seen his poem before (of course, anything’s possible, with my memory being what it is) so my heart sank, knowing a title like this would be a tough sell.  I read Shel’s poem, which you can find HERE, and was relieved that is really wasn’t similar to mine at all – but still, titles are important things, and I’d be mortified to think that someone might read my poem and get the impression I was trying to rip him off.

I never want someone to read my material and think I’m trying to ‘be’ someone else. Not only do I want to be my own person as a writer and poet, but I take pains to try not to write similarly to anyone else, for that very reason.  So, having said this…I present to you:

The Gnat & The Gnu

Gnat said, “Hey there, what’s up, Gnu?”
Gnu said, “not much— how ‘bout you?”
Gnat sighed, “Nothing, kinda blue.”
Gnu asked, “Something I can do?”

Gnat said, “No, just wish I knew
why I’m small – not big, like you.
I have no horns, and no fur, too;
no one wants me at the zoo.
Nothing special, nothing new,
just a gnat without a clue
how to feel and what to do.
Oh, I wish I was a Gnu.”

Gnu thought hard, then said, “It’s true
I’m large, but all I do is chew;
never sprouted wings and flew,
never bathed in morning dew,
just grazed on grass and grew and grew.
Things I do are pretty few,
but I’m glad that I’m a Gnu –
so I’ll be me, and you be you.”

Satisfied, Gnat bid ‘adieu,’
happy he was not a Gnu;
And as he flew away, the Gnu
watched longingly

and Gnu…felt blue.

– © 2010, Matt Forrest Esenwine

For more poetry, head over to My Juicy Little Universe, where Heidi Mordhorst is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup with a birthday celebration featuring poetry, lights, and a surprise birthday dinner!

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

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

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 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!

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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Celebrating ANOTHER #BookBirthday with Lita Judge

In case you have somehow not heard, my new picture book that I co-authored with Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose®), ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME (Beaming Books) officially arrived this past Tuesday, and the official blog tour contonues to roll on at the following wonderful blogs:

ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIMEBLOG TOUR:

2/25:      Ellen Leventhal:  https://www.ellenleventhal.com/#blog
3/1:        Maria Marshall: https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/2:        Matt Forrest Esenwine: https://mattforrest.wordpress.com 
3/3:        Bookseed Studio: https://bookseedstudio.wordpress.com/
3/4:        Celebrate Picture Books: https://celebratepicturebooks.com/
3/5:        Maria Marshall #PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday): https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/5:        KidLit411 – Charles Ghigna interview: http://www.kidlit411.com/
3/5:       Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook: http://mrsknottsbooknook.blogspot.com/
3/9:      Erin Dealey https://www.erindealey.com/blog/
3/10:     Melissa Stoller: https://www.melissastoller.com/blog
3/16:     Kellee Moye at Unleashing Readers: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/
5/5:       Andrew Hackett: https://www.andrewhacket.com/blog

That’s right, THREE bloggers are on tap today: Maria Marshall spotlights our book for Perfect Picture Book Friday, Elaine at KidLit411 features an interview with Charles, and Michelle Knott offers her review at Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook! (Most of these bloggers are giving away a free copy of the book, plus I have not one but TWO chances for you to win free copies that I’M giving away – so be sure to read about how to enter at the bottom of this post!)

But enough about me – let’s talk about my friend and fellow New Hampshirite, Lita Judge, whose brand-new book, The Wisdom of Trees (Roaring Brook Press) arrived in the world the exact same day as Once Upon Another Time!

Just about every industry trade, from Kirkus to Publisher’s Weekly to Booklist to School Library Journal, has been effusive in their praise for The Wisdom of Trees – and for good reason.

It’s a beautifully written, beautifully illustrated book that is both an important piece of nonfiction as well as a fine example of literary excellence. Every page is a perfect blend of image and text.

Lita’s soft, lovingly rendered illustrations will draw in young book lovers while her smart and thought-provoking poetry rewards older readers…and sidebars provide context and background information for each spread. Something for everyone – and every reader!

I asked Lita if she had a favorite spread, and her answer was the same as mine: “We Are the Ancient.” I’ll let her explain why she loves it so much:

It’s one of my favorites in the book because I have such fond memories of the research that went into its creation. We travelled to North Wales in 2019 with the specific goal of finding an ancient yew tree named the Llangernyw Yew. The tree was once thought to be between 4000 and 5000 years old but more recent estimates are more like 2500 years old.

When we found the tree, which was not easy, I sat within it, sketching. It sits in the old churchyard of Saint Digain’s Church, near 300 year old gravestones of long gone slate miners and their wives and children. Like other very old yews, the core of the tree has long decomposed, leaving only the exterior, which is literally so wide in circumference (over 36 feet) that you feel as if you’re sitting within the middle of many trees. It is one ancient tree that has witnessed thousands of years of our history.

I eventually included a different yew in the book, the Ankerwycke Yew, but the spread reminds me of the journey and the process.

Image ©2021 Roaring Brook Press, all rights reserved

Every page, every setting – whether it is quiet and tranquil or full of animal busy-ness – radiates with the tender attention to detail for which Lita is known. Couple the illustrations with her poetic text and it’s no wonder the trades are in love with this book.

And by the way, I confess that “We Are the Ancient” is actually one of two favorite spreads of mine; the other is a poem about the winter dormancy of trees, titled “Shhh…” Not only is it a serenly beautiful image of a forest in winter, but I get to hang the print she sent me in my office!

Thank you so much to Lita and Roaring Brook Press for sending me the book and art print!

This isn’t just a perfect book for poetry lovers or creative nonfiction types, either. This is the kind of book homeschoolers like my wife and I will relish because it can be used in a cross-disciplinary role: poetry, nonfiction, natural history, earth sceince…am I missing any??

I hope you’ll pick up a copy and see for yourself!

And if you’d like to learn more about the process Lita went through in creating this book, be sure to check out her YouTube channel, where she offers some behind-the-scenes footage and commentary about how The Wisdom of Trees came to be.

Looking for more poetry? Our friend from Down Under, Kat Apel, is hosting today’s Poetry Friday Muster (that’s “round-up,” for you non-farming types) with a spotlight on her fun new picture book, The Bird in the Herd, along with a poem inspired by the patience and perseverance it took to bring the book to life!

~ ~ GIVEAWAY!! ~ ~

Would you like a personally-signed copy of ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME? How about TWO?? I have two copies I’ll give away, with two ways to enter: check out my #BookBirthday post and leave a comment, and/or share that same post on Twitter and use the hashtags #giveaway and #2021BookBlast! Two drawings, two ways to win! I’ll announce a blog winner on Friday, March 19 and the Twitter winner at the end of the month. Good luck!

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

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

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 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!

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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!