Poetry Friday: “Friends & Anemones” #BookBirthday!

It’s finally here, in all its 70-page glory!!

All images © 2020 The Writers Loft Press, all rights reserved; cover design by Jodie Apeseche

Friends & Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children, created by members of The Writer’s Loft in Sherborn, Massachusetts, is officially available for sale!

Filled with poems and illustrations by more than 60 New England-based authors and illustrators, including Jane Yolen, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, Peter H. Reynolds, Josh Funk, Lynda Mullaly-Hunt, Kip Wilson, Suwin Chan, and Yours Truly, the book has been a true labor of love to create, and I’m very happy to not only share another one of my poems here, but to welcome editors Kristen Wixted and Heather Kelly here to the ol’ Triple-R to celebrate.

Matt:  First of all, thanks for joining me today! It’s so exciting to be celebrating a book birthday together. This is the third anthology published by The Writers Loft but the first one I’ve been involved with, so I was wondering…once you decided on oceans as a theme, what were your next steps? Was the process any different for this book than the others?

Heather:  Thanks Matt, for having us!

Kristen: The big difference this time was that we suspected we would have many more submissions than we did for An Assortment of Animals, so we decided to find judges to help us make the calls on which poems were the strongest. And that’s how we were lucky enough to find you and Kip Wilson to help us out! Also, we had a lot more people this time. So the communication was more complicated. More moving parts. Also we had an intern last fall, Penelope McDonald, and she was a great help in keeping us organized!

Matt: You both have stated elsewhere that you’ve learned from previous anthologies the necessity of soft deadlines – especially with regards to the coronavirus upending everyone’s schedules! (Kristen even mentions this in her Editor’s Note in the book) So now that you’re old pros at this (ha!), was there anything that surprised you?

Kristen: I was surprised at the artists’ reaction to the lockdown and the pandemic in general, in that some of them used the time to draw and paint and be creative, and all the quiet time at home made them ultra-productive. And others found it paralyzing and couldn’t work at all.

Heather: I learn something new each time I work in collaboration. I think it’s why I love it so much. My role is different from Kristen’s in that she has the dream for these anthologies and their outcomes in her mind. I just shut my eyes, say yes, and have faith that Kristen’s dream will turn out amazing. And you know what? IT ALWAYS DOES.

I focus on helping everyone on the project learn at each step–learn about drafting, revising, working with editors and art directors, meeting deadlines, building online presences, marketing, doing author/illustrator events, and creating multiple revenue paths. I believe in Kristen and her dreams without question. Even though I can’t see exactly where we’re going, I know it will be somewhere much better than I’ve ever been before. I’m always deliciously surprised and amazed at the outcome. So THANK YOU KRISTEN, for bringing me on this journey! 

My “Goblin Shark” pantoum, side-by-side with Jane Yolen’s “The Slime Eel,” © 2020 The Writers Loft Press. (click to enlarge)

Matt: I have to say, I really enjoyed judging all the poems with Kip! Writers submitted the poems to you folks, and then Kip and I judged them as to whether they were ready for inclusion or needed some revision. But how did you determine which illustrators were paired with which poems, and what problems did you encounter, if any?

Kristen: I find this part really fun. We were lucky enough to set up a meeting with the artists just before the pandemic took over the United States–I think it was late February. We printed out all the poems (without poets’ names) and put them on a big board, organized loosely by subject. And we let the artists just read the poems and choose what moved them.

Most of them found a few poems they liked, and some even started sketching that day how they would combine multiple poems on a page. Many of them seemed interested in sort of scary or fierce ocean creatures so we recruited more poets (Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple, in fact!) to write more of those.

Matt:  What was the most rewarding aspect of creating this book? Any surprises along the way?

Heather: I always find the most rewarding part of creating books like this to be the ability to say YES to illustrators and authors who are hearing NO most of the time. And to see how when we work in collaboration, the end product is far and beyond more spectacular than it would ever have been if we were working alone.

My favorite part by far is when the artwork starts coming in. Even the rough sketches. There is MAGIC that happens when words are illustrated. I am forever indebted to the illustrators for this! And, boy, did Jodie Apeseche blow me away with this cover!

Matt: I do want to make sure readers are aware that there is a charitable aspect of this book. What is the Rozalia Project, and how did they come to be the beneficiaries of this project?

Kristen: To do my own part in decreasing ocean trash and single-use plastic in general, I started researching companies that use sustainable packaging. I bought shampoo that is a bar of soap and laundry detergent that comes in little dried-up soap sheets, and beeswax wraps.

One of the beeswax wrap companies is a part of 1% for the Planet, and had links to environmental non-profits on their website. And Rozalia Project was one of them! So I clicked it, saw that it is a New England ocean clean up and education group, and that they do free events for kids all over the New England coast, and I thought…perfect.

Heather: At this point, we decided to gift the first month’s profits to the Rozalia Project. And then when we met Ashley Sullivan, the Executive Director at the Rozalia Project, and were thrilled. Hearing first-hand about all the education and clean-up they do along the coast of New England, we knew it was a perfect match. And the thought of being able to meet up and help out when they sail down to Boston on the American Promise clinched our happiness over the partnership!

Please check them out at https://rozaliaproject.org/about and email us a picture of your own promise to the ocean using the coloring page at the end of Friends & Anemones!

Matt:  The Writers Loft really is an incredible group, in part because of its diversity of talent, from best-selling authors & illustrators to pre-published folks working up the ranks. Can you tell readers a little bit about how it was first created, and any upcoming events/plans?

Kristen: I’m going to let Heather answer most of this, but I’ll just say, for me it was serendipity. Back in late 2012 I decided I needed some kind of writing community because I was so lonely as a writer. So I started blogging, and I met a few people but they were mostly thousands of miles away. Then one day, one blogger got us all together in person in Cambridge. That night I met Heather and Anna Stanizewski–and a few weeks later Heather started the Writers’ Loft. Which was exactly what I needed!      

The Writers Loft, Sherborn, MA

Heather: When I first started the Writers’ Loft in 2013, I didn’t know what it would be, I just knew it needed to BE. The road to publication can be a lonely one, fraught with rejection and disappointment. But I thought, maybe it doesn’t have to be! Maybe we write better, illustrate better, learn better, and understand better when we do it together. And that tenant holds true–in much bigger ways than I ever imagined. We all find the shortest path between where we are now and where we want to go when we share knowledge, resources, and support.

At the Writers’ Loft, we help all kinds of writers and author/illustrators achieve success through critique groups, classes, workshops, meetings with agents/editors, self-publishing support, and publications like this anthology. When the pandemic hit, we moved all our supports and programs online and built on the 500+ local Lofters to embrace serious authors and illustrators from around the world! Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary pursuit. We create better books when we do it together! Join us: www.thewritersloft.org

Matt: Well, congratulations again, and thanks so much for asking me to be a part of this incredible book!

Heather: Matt, thank you so much for hosting us, and thank you for being a judge and for your support along the way for this project – we are richer because of your involvement!

Purchase “Friends & Anemones” at Peter H. Reynolds’ The Blue Bunny!

Check out the BOOK TRAILER for FRIENDS & ANEMONES!

Want to see a little bit more of Friends & Anemones? Need more poetry, in general? Then head over to Teacher Dance, where Linda Baie is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with her review of our book!

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I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

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

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

Coming March 2, 2021! 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.

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

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!

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!

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

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: “September Song”

This post was originally published 5 years ago on October 22, 2015, and although I’m about a month behind, I wanted to share it again because the poem, a triolet, is one of my favorites. The photo is a favorite, too – it was taken by my friend Aubrey, just up the road from our house. Yes, New Hampshire really IS as beautiful as you’ve heard!

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photo courtesy Aubrey Mueller, 2019

 

September Song

The autumn wind is growing colder.
As the hills are set ablaze,
a shiver stirs my neck and shoulder –
the autumn wind is growing colder.
These woods and I, just one month older,
yearn for summer’s sun-drenched days.
The autumn wind is growing colder
as the hills are set ablaze.

– © 2015 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

poetryfridaybutton-fulllIf you’re looking for some Halloween-themed reading material, might I offer up a list of reading lists that have surfaced across the interwebs? (I admit, they all include Flashlight Night!)

And of course, if you’re looking for more poetry, head on over to the Poetry Friday roundup, which you’ll find at Linda Baie’s blog, Teacher Dance. Linda is celebrating with a pre-Halloween poetry party featuring a poem for the kids and a poem for the grown-ups!

Happy Halloween!

A middle-aged guy reliving his ’80’s glory days, complete with mullet and wraparound shades. Scary, no?

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

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

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

I’ve teamed up with several children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them! Here’s what you can look forward to seeing this month.

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

Coming March 2, 2021! 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.

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

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!

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!

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

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 link 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). Also feel free to visit my website HERE. You can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Art & Poetry collide for a homeschooling project

Never in my widest dreams did I ever think I’d be homeschooling my children…yet, here we are.

Going to live classes in school wasn’t really an option, and remote learning was becoming increasingly frustrating for both kids. So my wife and I decided our only choice was to go the homeschooling route.

It’s not easy, and we’re doing as much research and prep work as we can, but fortunately our state has no requirements or standards for homeschooling; as long as the kids learn what the need to learn to be able to move up to the next grade next year, what we do and how we do it between now and then is completely up to us.

So we’ve ordered Saxon Math and a couple of other programs to make sure we cover the vital subjects, and the rest we’re doing ourselves. Take today, for example, where I combined an ELA lesson with Art to create a two-plus hour project the kids enjoyed so much, they didn’t want to stop:

Ah, yes, one of the many things you can do when homeschooling: hold art class at the local coffee house! After we shared a smoothie and a whoopie pie, I had them practice unguided line drawings, whereby you draw an object without looking at the paper. It’s great practice for budding artists to become familiar with their subjects and develop spatial awareness.

You probably can’t tell, but there’s a coffeehouse in there, a war monument, and a giant blue gnu figurine that stands near the coffeehouse lawn. (Yes, a gnu, aka wildebeest) The fact that the kids were free to draw without fear of getting something wrong or somehow making a mistake was liberating and exciting for them. I had anticipated them each doing a couple of drawings, but after about 4 or 5 each I told them we really needed to get going!

Back home, after lunch and some playtime, I had each child write a poem about one of the pictures drawn by the other. I described how to write a list poem and told them to just have at it and write whatever came to mind. My son, a very creative yet literal-minded fellow who is more at ease reading nonfiction than anything else, followed my guidance and came up with this:

(It took me a few minutes before I realized he spelled “gnu” incorrectly in the first line!)

I probably should have been more explicit in my instructions, as he took them to heart and literally created a bulleted list – but it was a worthy effort, nonetheless. His 7-year-old little sister, on the other hand – the artiste of the family and one of the most creative, inventive souls I’ve ever met – went the rhyming route. I can’t say she didn’t knock it out of the park:

You don’t need to be a homeschooling parent to offer this as an activity for kids – it hardly seemed like a lesson at all to these two! The secret is, in both exercises, perfection was not required – nor even considered. This was all about letting one’s mind open and be free to feel the art and words being created. There’s a time and place for proper sentence structure, grammar, and spelling…and my kids loved the fact that this was not one of those times.

NIGHT WISHES” Winner!

In celebration of the new children’s poetry anthology, Night Wishes, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers is allowing me to give away one free copy! A number of folks commented on the blog post or shared links to help spread the word, and everyone who did so earned an entry in the drawing. After plugging all the entries into the ol’ Random Number Generator, the winner is…

MARIA MARSHALL!

I’m so happy for Maria, because she went out of her way to publish a 7-poet interview on her blog to help promote the book! It’s by sheer coincidence

her name was chosen at random, and I’m very happy for her. (If you’d care to pick up a copy, just click on the cover, below!) For more poetry, head over to The Opposite of Indifference, where Tabatha Yeatts is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup with a guest post by Carole Boston Weatherford about Carole’s new YA verse novel about Marilyn Monroe, “Beauty Mark.”

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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

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

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

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

Coming March 2, 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!

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!

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

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!

Happy #BookBirthday to “Night Wishes!”

It’s here!!

Today is publication day for one of the late Lee Bennett Hopkins’ final children’s poetry anthologies, Night Wishes (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)!

In this collection of children’s poetry, 13 poets imagine how the inanimate objects in a child’s room room might say good night to him/her, in their own particular way. The list of contributors includes such an esteemed group of talented individuals, I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out how I ended up here:

I’m also quite honored that Eerdmans chose to spotlight my poem, “Pillow,” on the book’s jacket flap – and also included the poem along with the book’s opening poem, “Bed,” by my friend Rebecca Kai Dotlich, on their Eerdlings blog post! (Images © 2020 Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, all rights reserved, reprinted with permission)

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

I mentioned in a previous post that Rebecca and I never spoke to one another about our poems as we were writing them…yet I love how remarkably seamlessly they flow from one to the other, in tone as well as in addressing the reader as “child,” a theme that carries into other poems, as well) And as you can see, Jen Corace’s illustrations are so soft and comforting but full of life and energy, as well – perfect for the book’s blend of bedtime imagery and fanciful adventure.

By the way, many, many thanks to my friend, Maria Marshall, who interviewed me and six other contributors for an extensive blog post about the creation process for our poems, our reflections on our personal relationships with Lee Bennett Hopkins, and thoughts on the craft of poetry.

Kirkus loves the book, too, calling it “A gentle, comforting ticket to beddy-bye — and good dreams.” What a review!

I hope you’ll pick up a copy, available everywhere. If you’d like me to sign your copy, just order it through our local bookstore and let them know who you’d like it signed to – the owner will let me know, I’ll stop by and sign it, and it’ll be in the mail, usually within 24 hours!

I also hope you’ll plan to stop by here again on Friday, when I share Lee Bennett Hopkins’ tender poem, “Teddy Bear” when I host Poetry Friday!

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

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

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

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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

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


     

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: “Lessons” (or, Why the Heck is Matt Sharing a Rough Draft??)

Before we get to today’s poem, a couple of folks had asked me if I could make last week’s poem more “shareable” – so I did!

Feel free to copy & share this graphic, if you’d like!

I’ve been really proud of the feedback I’ve received on that poem, so thank you to everyone who has told me they’ve enjoyed it and shared it already. It may seem like a simple poem, but it wasn’t simple to write! Now then, for today’s poem…

I’m sharing something that WAS simple to write – because it’s a first draft. I rarely share first (or rough) drafts because they aren’t all spit-and-polished like the poems you normally see posted everywhere, including here, but I felt it’s important to see the beginnings of a poem; the early iterations of a poetic thought.

The idea came to me fairly quickly, but the poem still took me nearly 30 minutes to finish…and I’m not exactly happy with it. The emotion feels forced, the sentiment is thin, and I’m not sure if I like the awkward pause in the 4th line (“how/to know/the unknown”). Granted, I deliberately created that awkward pause for effect, but I’m not sure it works. Let’s see what you think…

Lessons

How to be social
yet distant;
how to be human,
alone;
how to be loved as an
island;
how
to know
the unknown.

– © 2020 Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

I don’t mean to make it seem like I don’t like the poem – I’m happy with it as a rough draft – but it’s definitely not something I’d ever submit anywhere or expect to be published somewhere. Will I revise and polish it? Perhaps. Will I tuck it away in a drawer, never to see the light of day? Probably more likely.

But the act of writing is in itself the most important aspect of the poem. I’ve said it before: it’s important to #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading – and that’s what I did. I had an idea in my head, and I wrote it down.

Sometimes, that’s good enough.

Carol Varsalona is hosting Poetry Friday today by celebrating the end of the season with the first part of her Embraceable Summer Gallery – a collection of poetry and visuals too large for one post! Be sure to head over and check out all the links, and have a wonderful weekend!

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

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

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

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

Coming Sept. 15, 2020!

Coming Spring 2021! Pre-orders are available:.

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

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! Here’s what you can look forward to seeing this month:
.

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

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!

“Constancy”

This post was originally published August 3, 2012. It was my first poetry post on this blog, and only my second post ever, following my introduction. But I repost it every year at this time, as my wedding anniversary is August 10 and the poem was part of my wedding vows. Would I write this poem quite this way today? Probably not; the sentiment certainly hasn’t changed, but the word choice could be improved, as the poem feels too formal and overwrought. But I can’t really revise a poem titled “Constancy” now, can I?

My friend Laura Purdie Salas is hosting Poetry Friday today at her blog, Small Reads for Brighter Days, with an original pufferfish poem that is one of the most fun-to-read poems you’ll come across all week! I hope you’ll check it out!

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllThis is only my second posting on this blog, and although I knew I wanted to do something for Poetry Friday, it took quite a bit of deliberation to decide which poem of mine I should spotlight.  Children’s poetry or adult poetry?  Published or unpublished?  Happy or sad?  Funny or serious???

After careful consideration, I decided I would post an unpublished poem I wrote a few years ago for the one person in the world who has done the most for me in my quest to become a published children’s author:   my wife, Jenny. Through her unwavering support (emotional, physical, AND financial), I’m able to pursue this dream along with all the other people who have been so helpful to me, like my kids, friends, and fellow writers.

This is a traditional Elizabethan sonnet (three quatrains with an a/b/a/b, c/d/c/d, e/f/e/f rhyme scheme followed by a rhyming g/g couplet) which I wrote as part of my wedding vows.  No, it doesn’t read as a contemporary poem; it was deliberately written in a sort of old-fashioned, classic sort of style. I wanted to express the thought that even though poets throughout history have written words of undying love and immutable steadfastness, my love for her surpassed all their metaphors, all their similes, all that they could ever have imagined.

Yes, I’m a romantic; I make no apologies.

I conclude my poem with a suggestion for them as to what they should compare their love to…but it’s not a rose or a star.

Looking back on it (indeed, even shortly after I’d written it), there are several things I would have changed, edited, or revised – but I was under a deadline, of course, and this was what I came up with.  Unlike my other poems, “Constancy” will never be put through revisions, however; these were the words I spoke to my wife on August 10, 2008 (in a voice loud enough that the entire state of Massachusetts could hear) and so they shall remain.  These words were part of my vows and are as unalterable as my love and gratitude for her.

I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if not for Jenny.

Thanks again for saying “Yes,” Honey.

Constancy
For Jennifer

How many have, before me, tried in vain
To capture beauty, constancy, and love
Through fluent phrase, in happiness and pain,
And simile of summer, star, or dove?
Their words so eloquent, imagery lush –
In perfect imperfection testify,
For seasons change, the steadfast heavens rush
To swirl about themselves, and doves will die.
How best to show the one whom I adore
The fullness of my amorosity?
I fail to find a finer metaphor
Than that true love which you have shown to me.
The poets fail! Their thoughts do not dismiss;
‘Tis better they compare their love to this.

© 2008, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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

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


  (coming Sept. 25, 2018!)

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

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

 

Poetry Friday: Word economy, career changes, and why poetry is so much darned fun: A podcast interview with Dr. Anthony L. Manna

I had a wonderful time a few days ago being interviewed by Dr. Anthony L. Manna for his podcast, WRITERS on Writing: Conversations with Authors. We chatted WRITERS on Writing: Conversations with Authorsabout poetry, picture books, radio commercials, and all sorts of stuff dealing with the craft of writing and storytelling.

You can listen to the podcast HERE. Hopefully you’ll enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed answering his questions! If you think discussions about poetic minutiae like internal rhyme, perspective, and the benefits of classic forms like the villanelle are riveting…this is the podcast for you, my friend.

Dr. Manna asked me to share a number of poems I’ve written for various anthologies like Construction People (Wordsong, 2020) and Poems Are Teachers (Heinemann, 2017), and one of them was “A Visit to the Forest,” an alliterative assortment of alphabetical acrobatics and assonance I wrote for Kenn Nesbitt’s anthology, One Minute Till Bedtime (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016). Since it’s been nearly four years since I’ve shared it here, I present it to you now, in case you hadn’t seen it when it came out:

Click to enlarge. (c) 2016 Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, all rights reserved

You can learn more about this unusual anthology in my original blog post from 2016 , and if you’re interested in picking up a copy of the book, just scroll down to the book cover graphic! Today’s Poetry Friday roundup is at Reading to the Core, where hostess Catherine Flynn is celebrating with a look at  Emily Winfield Martin’s new book, The Imaginaries (Random House, 2020) and an original poem inspired by the book!

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

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

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

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!

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: 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: 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: “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!