Poetry Friday: Revisiting “Oceanside”

The view from my office. And by “office,” I mean a mile of white sand. And surf. And sun. And cool ocean breezes. And – well, ok, it’s not anything close to being an office. But I’m totally ok with that.

I’ve been enjoying some much-needed ocean vibes this week in York, Maine – our home-away-from home – and got thinking about a special little poem I had written years ago that eventually found a home in Halcyon literary magazine way back in 2014.

I stopped for a minute and thought about that.

2014!

When this poem, titled “Oceanside,” was published (almost exactly 6 years ago), I hadn’t had a poem in a children’s anthology yet, hadn’t been published in Highlights for Children magazine yet, and had no book contracts anywhere on the horizon. Aside from my adult-oriented poetry that had been published over the years, the only children’s poetry I had written and seen published was with Kip Wilson and the gang at the Young Adult Review Network (for which I am extremely grateful).

Part of the reason I couldn’t find a home for “Oceanside” was because it was hard to determine if it was a children’s poem or not. I didn’t really think it was…but then again, it certainly didn’t seem like something that would show up in The Atlantic, either. Thank goodness for Monique Berry and her magazine, Halcyon!

Read “Oceanside” (and the entire Summer 2014 issue) here!

I can’t believe how far my career has come since this was published in 2014: 2 picture books out, 8 more on the way, nearly 30 poems published, and even more good news I can’t publicly announce yet! Just goes to show, if you keep honing your skills – learning, writing, reading, networking – hard work does pay off. And I appreciate you being part of it all!

My friend Linda Mitchell is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, A Word Edgewise – so head on over for all of today’s poetry links and fun!

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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

 

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: A virtual poetry chat courtesy of CLiF!

Normally, I share a poem on Poetry Friday.

Today, I’m sharing several!

It’s been a busy month for me; lots of inspiration from this week’s #KidLitZombieWeek, a possible connection made via #PBPitch last week, significant progress on a project I signed a contract for last month, and then Father’s Day this past Sunday AND my birthday this week…whew! So when I was thinking about what to post for today, I remembered I had yet to share a special video I  had been meaning to post for the past few weeks.

About a month ago, I spotlighted a poetry collection created by the Colebrook, NH Public Library’s Youth Librarian; Melissa Hall had worked with the teachers and students of Colebrook’s school district to pull together student’s poems about their town in celebration of Colebrook’s 250th anniversary this year.

The non-profit organization that helped Melissa was the Children’s Literacy Foundation (CLiF), which connected us; I visited the school and shared poetry with the students, then helped them create their poems which ended up in the book.

The reason I’m reminding you of this is because earlier this month CLiF invited me to take part in their Virtual Storytelling Series, a series of live videos that allowed local authors to visit with students and families throughout the Vermont/New Hampshire area. They wanted to conclude the series with some poetry as well as some insight on craft…and apparently, I was the man for the job!

I hope you enjoy the video! If you know a group of students or school district that might be interested in holding a virtual author visit like this, please let me know – and if you are in the NH-VT area and would like more info about the wonderful things CLiF does, be sure to check out their website and contact them. They have a  huge list of presenters, including my friends Deb Bruss (co-author of Don’t Ask a Dinosaur), Marty Kelly, Jo Knowles, Erin Moulton, and Kathy Brodsky, as well as other local folks like Steve Swinburne, Gina Perry, Jason Chin, Jim Arnosky, Sandra Neil Wallace, and many more!

Today’s Poetry Friday roundup is at Karen Eastlund’s blog, Karen’s Got a Blog! (creative title, yes?) so for all of today’s poetry links and fun, be sure to visit her and say hi!

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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

 

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

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

(click to enlarge)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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

 

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Celebrating Nikki Grimes with…an ABC book?

Yes, indeed!

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

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

Finally! We met in-person at NCTE 2019.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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

 

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Star Stuff,” a Georgia Heard poetry video just when we need it most

When I first came upon this video – based on a poem by my friend Georgia Heard and produced by another friend, Moe Phillips – I knew I had to share it here. Considering everything going on the world these days, and our country in particular, it felt like sharing something heartfelt and universal such as this was the most appropriate thing to do.

Hope you enjoy it.

I’m still trying to unpack, organize, and distill the events of this week, and hope to be able to share a few thoughts on Monday or Tuesday. Until then, for more poetry, head on over to Reflections on the Teche, where Margaret Simon is hosting today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup with a poetic letter to her students.

poetryfridaybutton-fulll

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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

 

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Wildflowers, for Jane”

This post was originally published 7 years ago, in May 2013. I’m re-sharing it today because the past few weeks have been extremely busy for me, trying to write while helping two young kids with their remote-learning…and attempting to put in 6 new raised beds for our vegetable garden that is woefully behind planting.

And now today, I’ve learned that the release of my picture book with Charles Ghigna, ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME (Beaming Books), has been pushed out until Spring 2021. Originally scheduled for this August 18, the publisher has decided that the Covid-19 issues our world is dealing with would prevent us from doing a proper, successful launch – and honestly, I have to agree.

So as disappointing as it is, we’ll have to wait another 9 or 10 months before our baby can be introduced to the world. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not really bad news…it’s good news, because by holding off, we’ll be able to launch the book properly. Moreover, pre-orders can give a book a serious advantage when it debuts – so the more pre-orders, the better, as far as I’m concerned. That said, I hope you enjoy today’s offering.

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Today is the first day of the annual New England SCBWI Conference in Springfield, Mass., and that’s where I’ll be most of this weekend – so if I don’t reply to your comments or chat on Facebook or Twitter much, it’ll be because I’m busy stuffin’ my brain.  The other reason I mention the conference is because today’s poem would not have turned out the way it did, had I not gone to the 2012 conference.

You see, last year I had the pleasure of meeting the one and only Jane Yolen.  We chatted about poetry, the conference workshops, and books, and I came away from our two separate conversations with some unexpected inspiration!

For months, I had been struggling with an idea for a poem that just would not gel.  I wanted to write something about wildflowers – lady slippers, in particular – but nothing worked.  Then a few days after I had gotten home from the conference, I came upon a poem of Jane’s that had just been published, titled “Tenth Avenue Highline.”  Even though it had nothing to do with wildflowers, it triggered something and I came up with the closing stanza.  Then the opening stanza.  And after a few days of working at it, I had finished the first draft!

It’s gone through several revisions since then, of course – but I’m pretty happy with it. Some folks have noted it has an old-fashioned sort of feel to it, which was my intention. I liked the idea of a pretty outdoor scene in the old countryside, almost like something out of American folklore, if that makes sense.

By the way, I was going to title it simply, “Wildflowers,” but I thought I should add ‘for Jane’ to the title, to give credit where credit was due…and fortunately, Jane liked it!  I hope you do, too.

.

“Wildflowers, for Jane

Lilies of the Valley hang
Like silent little bells
That neither sang nor ever rang
Of welcomes and farewells.

Red clover, small and softly sweet,
Stands proud despite its size;
White daisies, with their nectar-treat,
Court bees and butterflies.

The Queen Anne’s Lace is in its place,
The buttercups are set,
A pitcher plant provides a vase –
And woeful fly’s regret.

While milkweed, with its many mates,
Sways nobly to and fro,
One tender Lady Slipper waits
For one fair, dainty toe.

– © 2012, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

.

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, head on over to A Year of Reading, where Mary Lee is spotlighting former National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang’s “Reading Without Walls Challenge” along with poetry from Marilyn Chin!

poetryfridaybutton-fulll

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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

 

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: An entire school + poetry + 250 years = a student anthology!

(click to enlarge)

It’s amazing what kids can do when given the chance.

Earlier this year – before Covid-19 wreaked havoc on our schedules, schools, and collective psyche – I had the pleasure of visiting Colebrook, New Hampshire to speak to the students of the Colebrook School District about poetry.

I had been invited by Melissa Hall, Youth Librarian at Colebrook Public Library. Melissa wanted to create a poetry collection written by Colebrook’s students as part of the town’s 250th Anniversary celebration, so she turned to a regional non-profit organization known as CLiF, the Children’s Literature Foundation, which provides author visits, free books, and other literacy programs to low-income, at-risk students throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.

I’ve only been involved with CLiF for about a year, but when they contacted me about Melissa’s plans, I jumped at the chance! I love talking to students about writing, especially poetry – but I had no idea what kind of surprise I was in for, once they completed the project.

My view that morning. This was taken in Franconia Notch, halfway to my destination.

I drove up the day after a big snowstorm, glad that it I missed the snow because Colebrook is in the northernmost part of the state commonly referred to as the Great North Woods, and even though I’ve grown up here, driving in the mountains in a snowstorm is not something I envy. (If you’ve ever seen the Animal Planet TV show North Woods Law, you have a good idea as to what this part of the state is like.)

Still not there…but getting closer.

The area is rural – with a population of barely 2300, Colebrook is the 3rd or 4th-largest town in the county – and the lack of industry means a lack of economic prosperity for most. But the folks who live there are good people, and having grown up in the woods (literally), it actually felt like home. I spent the day sharing my poetry with the students, teaching them how to focus their thoughts and phrase their words, and they taught me how proud they were of their little town.

Melissa’s plan, in conjunction with the school’s teachers, was for the students to start working on poems they would eventually submit for inclusion in a book of poetry that would function as a sort of time capsule; a peek into the hearts and minds of Colebrook’s young people as the town celebrated 250 years.

The surprise to which I alluded? The thought, insight, and emotion their poems contained…

“The rhythm was always / too bright”
“Rivers hold / memories more than pictures”
“Most times, I say / I would want to leave, / see the world, / find adventure in someone / else’s air”

Now, stop for a moment and re-read those lines:  “The rhythm was always too bright.” “Rivers hold memories more than pictures.” “Find adventure in someone else’s air.” What an absolutely fantastic use of words! I was blown away when I read those words.

Keep in mind, these are kids, sharing their thoughts and emotions in ways they may not be used to – or in ways with which they may be familiar. Like this example of a poem fraught with angst, hope, insecurity, defiance, and strength:

Again, I just can’t believe these kids were able to get what was in their hearts and minds out onto the paper in such beautiful and arresting ways.

And not to leave the younger students out, here are a couple more:

I was particularly proud of Kaelyn’s poem because she utilized some of the guidance I provided her while I was there, and my suggestions can be used by anyone trying to improve their writing…

When she told me what she wanted to write about, she said, “my brother and I eat lunch at the Falls and then go play.” I told her that sounded like a good plan, but asked if she could be more specific:  what do you two like to eat for lunch? Where do you eat it? What type of things do you do when you play? The more specific one can be with details, the better – and Kaelyn knocked it out of the park.

To see more of these amazing students’ poetry, I invite you to check out the Google Slide Show that Melissa Hall created, featuring many of the students reciting their poems along with the text. This is something I hope the kids will come back to in later years, to see where they were in life and what was on their minds.

Again, my thanks to Melissa as well as the folks from CLiF who helped facilitate this – I’m so proud of these students! I hope the craziness of the world subsides soon, so I can resume visiting schools and helping spur young people’s creativity. I love writing, but I also love sharing what I know with others. (By the way, if you’d like to learn more about writing poetry, I hope you’ll check out my “Wit & Wordplay” videos  – details below!

Speaking of students, education, literacy, and poetry…Carol Varsalona is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup at her Beyond Literacy Link blog, with a celebration of Nature, Mary Oliver, and poetic “memos!”

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

Coming Aug. 18, 2020! Pre-orders are available!

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “If I Could Climb Up to the Top of a Tree”

This post was originally published exactly 6 years ago in 2014. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was heavily influenced by children’s poet Dorthy Aldis – in my writing style in general and in this poem in particular.

I’ve been thinking about how far I’ve come in this fledgling career of mine (I only decided to become a published children’s author a mere 10 years ago and my first published children’s poem was in early 2015)…and I’m truly amazed that I have ten books to my name, either published or under contract, and 20 more anthologies to which I’ve contributed. That’s a lot of writing in a short amount of time, and I’m grateful to everyone who has supported me on this journey!

In just the past two weeks, I’ve completed a poetry collection with the esteemed David L. Harrison and signed a contract for a major new project that might very well take my career to another level. I’m sending out manuscripts left and right, and making new contacts nearly every day. Through it all, I’m hoping I’m doing all of this correctly, because most of the time it feels like I’m flying by the seat of my pants! So thank you for being there, for encouraging me, for buying my books, for simply keeping in touch. I really do appreciate it.

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

I’ve been quite busy lately writing poems for a number of collections I’m hoping to be part of (I recently found out that two of my poems were selected to be included in the Summer Issue of Halcyon magazine)…so for today, I thought I’d pull out something from the archives.

This is one of the first children’s poems I wrote with the express intent of writing a children’s poem. You see, 15 years ago I was simply writing whatever came to my mind, whether it was geared for children, adults, or whomever. It was only around 2000 that I started making a conscious effort to focus my writing and force myself to pay attention to how and what I was writing – and to improve it. This is one of the first poems I wrote that I knew was going to be for children. I hope you like it!

If I Could Climb Up To The Top Of A Tree

 

If I could climb up to the top of a tree,

then I could see you and you could see me.

I’d sit there up high on my leaf-covered dome

and pretend I was king – the Tree King – on his throne!

I would call to my subjects (a robin and jay),

“Come! Come! The Tree King says it’s now time to play!”

Then we’d sing and we’d chirp and we’d dance a quick dance,

and if we got hungry, we’d peck at some ants.

When at last the night came and we lay down to rest,

I’d give up my bed for a bluebird’s nest!

.

© 2000, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

 

Jama Rattigan is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with chocolate chip cookies! Why? (Why not???) Because it’s National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! And what goes best with chocolate chip cookies, besides milk? Poetry! Especially poetry from fellow New Hampshirite, Jeff Friedman…so be sure to stop by Jama’s place and read about Jeff “Working in Flour.”Dorothy

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

Coming Aug. 18, 2020! Pre-orders are available!

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Postcard Poetry from First Grade, AND The 2020 Progressive Poem audio recording

Happy Poetry Friday! I was planning to share my annual recording of this year’s Progressive Poem today, but then a little poetry showed up in my mailbox, and I knew I had to share that, as well…

Every year, retired teacher/writer/blogger Jone MacCulloch sends out postcards from students at her local school to authors, bloggers, and anyone else who would like one. Each postcard has a poem written by one of the students, and this year I received some poetic lines from Tucker:

(click to enlarge)

Mischievous and cuddly:  exactly how I’d want a pet shark! You’ll notice Tucker’s repetition of the first line underscores their love of the subject….nice work, Tucker! And thank you, Jone, for sending this to me – I love reading kids’ attempts at poetry and seeing what’s important to them and how they phrase their thoughts.

With National Poetry Month now well behind us, the annual Progressive Poem has been completed and I wanted to share my annual reading of the poem. Begun several years ago by poet/author/blogger Irene Latham, the poem is a way for the Poetry Friday family and other kidlit bloggers to join together and create a crowd-sourced poem. One person writes one line, another adds another line, until the poem is completed April 30.

You can view the finished poem at Michelle Kogan’s blog and find all the contributors at the following links:

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

 

2020 Progressive Poem

Sweet violets shimmy, daffodils sway
along the wiregrass path to the lake.
I carry a rucksack of tasty cakes
and a banjo passed down from my gram.

I follow the tracks of deer and raccoon
and echo the call of a wandering loon.
A whispering breeze joins in our song
and night melts into a rose gold dawn.

Deep into nature’s embrace, I fold.
Promise of spring helps shake the cold.
Hints of sun lightly dapple the trees
calling out the sleepy bees.

Leaf-litter crackles…I pause. Twig snaps.
I gasp! Shudder! Breathe out. Relax…
as a whitetail doe comes into view.
She shifts and spotted fawns debut.

We freeze. My green eyes and her brown
Meet and lock. Time slows down.
I scatter the cakes, backing away
Safely exiting this strange ballet.

I continue the path that winds down to the lake.
Missing my breakfast for beauty’s sake.
But wait, what’s that delicious smell?
Something familiar, I know so well.

It’s a campfire. I follow my nose. I see
a circle of friends waving at me.
I free up my banjo, quicken my pace
Find a place to sit and gaze into space.

Then my fingers pick out the old, old tune
of rejoicing together under an amber moon…

.

If you’re looking for more poetry, my friend Michelle H. Barnes is hosting the  Poetry Friday roundup today at her blog, Today’s Little Ditty – with a spotlight on Nikki Grimes’ new picture book, Southwest Sunrise (Bloomsbury)!

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

Coming Aug. 18, 2020! Pre-orders are available!

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Inside Out” with Marjorie Maddox

When Marjorie Maddox first approached me about spotlighting her new book, Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises (Kelsay Books), I told her I couldn’t possibly say no!

In fact, given that we already had so many interconnections, I had to yes:  we were both friends of the late Lee Bennett Hopkins and Paul Janeczko; she had recently been featured on the Poetry for Children blog of Sylvia Vardell, who along with Janet Wong have been publishing the Poetry Friday series of poetry anthologies; and she is also a friend of Charles Ghigna, with whom I co-authored Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books), coming out this August.

Add to all this the fact that Marjorie is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University in PA (right near where my ancestors settled back in the mid-1800’s!) and I simply could not deny this alignment of stars.

Inside Out is a collection of original poems, but it’s much more than that; it’s a learning tool that shines a light on everything and anything a poet would ever want to know, from how to write a villanelle, sonnet, or acrostic to how to effectively use metaphor, alliteration, and just about every other poetic device out there.

Winner of America Magazine’s 2019 Foley Poetry Prize, Marjorie has published 11 books of poetry and knows the craft…well, inside and out! Because her book is so rich with guidance, ideas, and suggestions – a perfect book for anyone who wants to learn more about the craft and art of poetry – I thought I would ask her ONE question – the most important question a writer needs to ask when writing a book – and let her take it from there as a guest post.

That question, of course, is…

“Why did this book need to be written?” (The all-important question!) Take it away, Marjorie!

Thanks, Matt. Why was this book written? Because of YOU, Dear Reader!

This is a book about playing with words—fun, pure and simple! Welcome to Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises! Just out from Kelsay Books, Inside Out is geared toward a YA and MG audience—plus their teachers and parents. But you’ll find no restrictions on age or experience here. If you gobble poems for breakfast or are a little hesitant about that first bite, this book is for you.

Inside Out grew out of my more than 30 years of teaching poetry at the college, high school, and elementary levels, of seeing kids of all ages fall in love with metaphors, puns, rhyme, and images. How? By actually stepping into the poem and playing around with metaphors, puns, rhyme, and images.

I begin by inviting readers to see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and befriend a poem. No social distancing here when it comes to poetry! Take a listen:

(click to enlarge)

.
And for those a little nervous about even the words “poem,” or “poetry,” this book defuses the fear and opens up a safe space to experiment with ideas—as in the following:
.

Befriending a Poem

Invite him home for dinner,
but don’t insist on rhyme;

he may be as tired and as overworked
as his distant cousin Cliché.

Best to offer intriguing conversation
that’s light on analysis.

Allow for silences and spontaneity.
Most importantly, like any good friend,

be faithful and patient;
remember to listen.

Sometimes he’s shy
and just needs a little time and coaxing.

Much of what he has to say
lies between the lines.

In a series of poems on poetic techniques, I then welcome the reader to step inside a poem about that same technique. Similes, onomatopoeia, paradox, alliteration, eye rhymes. Get the picture? With such tools, you can become anyone from any place. During these times of restricted travel, here’s your free ticket to trekking through time or cruising new sites—right from your own room.

Dramatic Monologue

Step into the words and become
a prince, a pauper, a piece of popcorn,
a philosophical panda, a paranoid piano.
Slip forwards or backwards in time
as Cleopatra or the president of Mars.

No one will interrupt.
The podium is yours.
Go ahead and pontificate.

Inside Inside Out is also a great place to experiment with new forms of poetry. While you and your loved ones are staying home and safe, why not chat with personification, dance with iambic, fish for sestinas, and text with a triolet?

What’s more, there are poems here on penning villanelles (“How to Write a Villanelle”), on scribing English sonnets, (“How to Write an English Sonnet”), on drafting clerihews (“How to Write a Clerihew”), on impersonating personification (“The Frankenstein Poem”)—plus nine lively “magic trick” exercises (connected to the poems) to keep you thinking and creating. Here’s one to try:
.

How to Text a Triolet

If you all want to write a triolet,
it really is no secret what to do.
First concentrate on what you have to say
and if you want to write. A triolet,
says what you said before; it’s déjà vu
though you can always change a word or two
if you all want. To write a triolet,
it really is no secret what to do.
.

A great new way to communicate with friends, right?

Thanks, dear readers, for coming along on this poetic ride. I hope to see you again very soon, inside the poem!

.
Thanks so much, Marjorie! 

Wow, you can sense the enthusiasm, can’t you?? I hope you’ll check out Marjorie’s book – it really is a treasure trove of ideas and inspiration. I also hope you’ll check out Wondering and Wandering, where Christie Wyman is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup!

By the way, in addition to her 11 books of poetry, Marjorie Maddox has published 600+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. She’s the great-grandniece of Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who helped break the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson to Major League Baseball. The chair of the jury of judges for the 2020 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Book Award, she gives readings and workshops around the country. For more information, visit www.marjoriemaddox.com.

Coming Soon!

  A Crossing of Zebras

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

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 doing so. 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.

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

The 2020 Progressive Poem continues…

The annual Progressive Poem, begun several years ago by poet/author/blogger Irene Latham, is a way for the Poetry Friday family and other kidlit bloggers to join together and create a crowd-sourced poem for National Poetry Month. One person writes one line, then another adds another line, until a completed poem appears on April 30. Here’s where you can follow along and find all the contributors:

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

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

Pre-orders are available now!

In stores Aug. 18, 2020!

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

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

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

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!