Poetry Friday: “The Best of Today’s Little Ditty,” volume 3 – and gearing up for NCTE!

My friend and fellow writer/blogger Michelle H. Barnes not only loves to read and write children’s poetry…she devotes a significant amount of her time promoting it via her blog, Today’s Little Ditty. Each month, Michelle features different children’s authors and poets who challenge her readers with writing poetry in a variety of ways, and every couple of years she compiles the best poems into a poetry anthology.

And the latest edition is out now!

As Michelle explains in her own blog post, a “ditty committee” of 12 readers, writers, and bloggers (including Yours Truly) reviewed more than 500 poems written during 2017 and 2018. We whittled the list down to 96 poems by 57 different poets – and they’re all in here for you to read and enjoy.

I am pleased to learn I have three poems included in the book; one is my response to a challenge by Jane Yolen and J. Patrick Lewis to write an “epitaph poem” following their visit to Michelle’s blog

© 2018, Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

.

I was also pleased to learn from Michelle that she is including SEVEN poems that resulted from the challenge my Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (POW! Kids Books, 2018) co-author, Deborah Bruss, and I put forth to her readers! (You can learn more about that challenge HERE.)

So congratulations again to Michelle! I hope you’ll stop by her blog post today to check out more details on this brand-new book, and be sure to pick up a copy and show your support for children’s poetry. And since Michelle is hosting Poetry Friday today, you can check out all the links to all the children’s poetry posts out there in the kidlitosphere!

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

If you’re planning to attend this year’s National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference in my original hometown of Baltimore, I hope you’ll say hi! This will be my first year at NCTE (and the first time I’ve back back in my birth city since 1996!), and I’m very excited to be an official representative for Flashlight Night‘s publisher, Boyds Mills & Kane. Here’s my schedule:

Friday, 7-7:45am, Grand Ballroom I & III:

FIRST-TIMERS’ WELCOME! Having never been to NCTE before, I suppose this is probably an important thing to attend, yes?

Friday, 3:30-4:45 pm, Room #315:

I’ll be co-presenting “Wonder as a Way In: Teaching Reading and Writing Poetry through Inquiry” – a poetry workshop with authors and educators Laura Purdie Salas, Liz Steinglass, Heidi Mordhorst, and Mary Lee Hahn. We’ll share activities designed to approach reading, writing, and appreciating poetry through the process of inquiry.

Saturday, 9:30-10:30 am, Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor, Atrium, Level 2, Nonfiction Children’s Book Salon:

An “unofficial” session, thisis an opportunity to grab a coffee and talk nonfiction (picture books, middle grade, and YA) with Lerner and Chronicle editors Carol Hinz, Melissa Manlove, and Shaina Olmanson.

Saturday, 12:30-2:30pm, Children’s Book Awards Luncheon:

I’ll be hosting one of Boyds Mills & Kane’s tables, so I’m very eager to meet and hang out with so many writer and teacher friends! (Plus, I’ll have copies of Flashlight Night on hand!)

Sunday, 7-8:45am, Children’s Literature Assembly (CLA) Breakfast:

Caldecott Honor author/illustrator Yuyi Morales will be discussing her work, including her newest book, Soñadores / Dreamers (Holiday House, 2018).

And of course, I’ll be popping in and out of sessions here and there and trying to spend as much time with my writer and educator friends as possible. If you do see me, please stop and say hello! (Hint: I’ll be sporting my winter beard, so if you come across a fellow who looks like The Most Interesting Man in the World’s balder, less-interesting brother…that’s probably me)

Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!

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

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


   

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: “The Art of Autumn”

This post was originally published two years ago, in 2017, while the poem itself had initially been shared on Carol Varsalona’s blog, Beyond Literacy, as part of her “Finding Fall” gallery, back in 2014. So today, with trees nearly bare and some light snow in the forecast, I thought I’d share it once again…

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

(click to enlarge)

Will you be attending this year’s National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference? in Baltimore? If so, I hope you’ll say hi if you see me! This will be my first year at NCTE, and I’m very excited to be an official representative for Flashlight Night‘s publisher, Boyds Mills & Kane. Friday afternoon, I’ll be co-presenting “Wonder as a Way In: Teaching Reading and Writing Poetry through Inquiry” – a poetry workshop with authors and educators Laura Purdie Salas, Liz Steinglass, Heidi Mordhorst, and Mary Lee Hahn. We will share activities designed to approach reading, writing, and appreciating poetry through the process of inquiry.

Then Saturday, I’m honored to host one of Boyds Mills & Kane’s tables at the Children’s Book Awards Luncheon, so I’m very eager to meet and hang out with so many writer and teacher friends!

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, be sure to visit my friend and fellow NCTE presenter, Irene Latham, at her blog, Live Your Poem!

Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!

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

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


  

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: “Mummy Problems”

It may be the day after Halloween, but here at the ol’ Triple-R we’re going to continue celebrating a little longer…with some help from my friend Michelle H. Barnes! Yesterday, Michelle shared a brief little “ditty” I wrote as a response to a writing challenge on her blog, Today’s Little Ditty.

You think you’ve got problems? Imagine how mummies feel, with all those wrappings and loose ends; staggering around half-dead ain’t as easy as it looks, y’know. If you’d like to gain some insight and empathy into what frightens mummies, click HERE!

Will you be attending this year’s National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference? in Baltimore? If so, I hope you’ll say hi if you see me! This will be my first year there, and I’m very excited to be co-hosting one of Boyds Mills & Kane’s tables at the Children’s Book Awards Luncheon on Saturday. Representing Flashlight Night‘s publisher is a tremendous honor for me.

Also, the day before the luncheon, I’ll be co-presenting “Wonder as a Way In: Teaching Reading and Writing Poetry through Inquiry” – a poetry workshop with authors and educators mummiLaura Purdie Salas, Liz Steinglass, Heidi Mordhorst, and Mary Lee Hahn – so I’m very eager to meet and hang out with so many writer and teacher friends!

Looking for more poetry? Tabatha Yeatts is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, The Opposite of Indifference, along with info on how to design your own writing retreat and her annual Winter Poetry Swap!

Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!

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

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


  

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: Collecting found poetry from a poetry collection about collections…that’s not too confounding, is it?

The day my first author copies arrived, I remember thinking, “Wow, things are gettin’ real now!”

First of all, can I just tell you how amazing and surreal it is to realize that it has been precisely TWO YEARS since my debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills & Kane, 2017) arrived in the world? Two years! My little baby was born on Sept. 19, 2017, and I don’t know if two years have ever flown by that quickly in my life. It’s extremely humbling to know that I’ve been able to follow that up with 8 more books between 2018 and 2022…and I couldn’t do any of this without the support of folks like you who have read, reviewed, or shared news about the book. So THANK YOU, very much, everyone!

Well now, it’s been a busy week. Last Friday, my friend Michelle Schaub visited the ol’ Triple-R to celebrate her new poetry collection, Finding Treasure (Charlesbridge, 2019), and we offered a personalized signed copy we would give away to one random winner!

If you’d like to enter the drawing, all you need to do is share a found poem using the words from Michelle’s poem, “Collecting Stars:”

(click to enlarge)

A “found poem” is simply a poem that uses the words from one source – like a magazine, newspaper, book, etc. –  to create a poem. I’ve already had a number of entries pouring in, and the contest is still open until I announce the winner next Friday!

Here are some of the poems readers have shared so far:

haiku

Watch embers glow:
Sparks sparkle, dance, flash, beckon.
Darkness deepens.

– Yvona Fast

.

untitled

darkness deepens
sparks
specks
stars

– Liz Steinglass

.

Untitled

Specks
Stars
A mason jar …
Glow Free

– Vicki Wilke

.
Fill the Darkness

Dance!
Beckon!
Watch!
Glow!
Though it’s hard,
Come,
f l o a t
F
r
e
e …………………………….

– Janet (Fagal) Clare

.

untitled

free
float
flash
It’s hard
to catch
a mason jar
of stars

– Linda Mitchell

.

haiku

streams, dreaming of a
sea roaring, whispering deep,
caress polished shells

– © Damon Dean, 2019

.
untitled

Darkness sparks
a flash,
a starlight dance.
“Come, it’s free to glow!”

– Linda Baie

.
untitled

watch the light specks
flash, dance, glow-
a star mason jar!

– Joyce Ray

.
untitled

Embers of stars,
specks of starlight
float and dance
around and beckon,
Watch–Catch us
when darkness deepens…

– Michelle Kogan

.
Finally, my own found poem – and because I never met a challenge I couldn’t pass up, I decided I was going to write one that was rhyming and metrical:

Star Collecting

Darkness deepens, embers glow;
these sparks aren’t mine to keep, I know.
They dance around the yard, and I
watch specks of stars float free.
Goodbye…

– © 2019, Matt F. Esenwine
.

Want to enter the giveaway? You still have time! Just share your found poem in the comments below or email it to me at matt(at)mattforrest(dot)com. As I mentioned last week, your poem doesn’t need to be long, polished – or good! It just needs to include only words from Michelle’s poem, above.

I’ll announce the winner by a random drawing next Fri., Sept. 27, so I hope to see your entry! And by the way, since today is Poetry Friday, be sure to visit Teacher Dance, where Linda Baie is hosting the complete roundup with a spotlight on a new upcoming book by Irene Latham and Charles Waters!

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

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


  

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

 

Poetry Friday: “…then again, maybe I should go back for some pizza”

I’m currently busy working at the 104th annual Hopkinton (NH) State Fair, where I have been the announcer for 10 years now! I let folks know what events are taking place, where facilities are, and assist with announcing the demolition derbies Sat. and Sun nights. It’s a long, 60+ hour weekend of talking, walking, and smiling…but I love it. So I thought I’d pull this little gem out of storage, originally published Sept. 7, 2012!

For all the Poetry Friday links, be sure to head on over to Kathryn Apel’s blog, Kat’s Whiskers, where she’s hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with some exciting picture book news (congrats, Kat!) and a review of two Aussie-published verse novels written by friends of hers.

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

poetryfridaybutton-fulllYes, the title of the poem is a bit odd, but so is the person who wrote it.  Actually, there’s a reason why I titled it this way…you’ll understand once you get to the end of the poem.

This was written as I was preparing for my duties as the official live announcer for the annual Hopkinton State Fair here in New Hampshire.  It’s one of the largest fairs in the state and takes place during Labor Day Weekend.

I was the announcer for this year’s fair as well, and I’m still recuperating.  It’s not the 60-hours-on-my-feet-for-4-days schedule that gets me; it’s the food!  Between deep-fried pickles/Pop-Tarts,/Oreos/etc., barbecued bison burgers, and roast turkey legs that would give Fred Flintstone a hernia, it’s a fair-foodie’s dream-come-true.  My annual favourite?  A loaded baked potato with chili, bacon, cheese, broccoli, sour cream, chives, salsa, and jalapenos.

I tell them to hold the butter because I really don’t need the fat.

“…then again, maybe I should go back for some pizza”

I love the fair, but most of all, the food is hard to beat –
it’s barely 2pm, and yet I’ve had so much to eat!
I started with a burger, had a corn dog and some fries,
and then hot buttered popcorn in a box of massive size.

I feasted on the fried dough, ate a funnel cake or three,
and downed as many deep-fried foods as there could ever be.
Of course I needed ice cream, so I stopped to have a scoop;
I even scarfed a giant, cheesy bread bowl full of soup!

Ate cotton candy, caramel apples, schnitzel on a stick.
I polished off a pulled pork sub entirely too quick.
I’ve eaten all the sausage my poor stomach will allow;
so really…all I want…
is just a garden salad now…

© 2011, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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

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


  

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

 

“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. I wouldn’t be where I am without my wife, after all – she’s the one who allows me to be a stay-at-home dad who writes for a (modest) living! 

And by the way, Molly is hosting Poetry Friday today at Nix the Comfort Zone, so I hope you’ll stop by and say hi!

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

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 – it is a bit over-wrought, I admit – 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: “The Artist”

(click to enlarge)

As I mentioned last week when I shared my cherita about Quechee Gorge, VT, I had a feeling at least a few poems were going to spring out of our trip. Sure enough, I have another one – this time, inspired by my 5-year-old daughter who finds art everywhere she goes:

That’s right, whether it’s stones in a river or the crumbs on her plate, anything can become art in her hands. And I couldn’t be more proud.

For more poetry, please visit Carol Wilcox over at Carol’s Corner for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, where she’s sharing some ‘puppy poetry!’

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

AVAILABLE NOW!

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

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


  

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

 

Poetry Friday: Happy #BookBirthday to a new anthology!

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

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

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

Lee Bennett Hopkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Self-Aggrandizement Warning: my spread!

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

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

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

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

Chris Hsu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TWO NEW BOOKS!

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

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

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

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


  

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: For Father’s Day, the Poetry of Forrest Esenwine

Last month, for Mother’s Day, I shared one of my mother’s poems I discovered at their house, while cleaning out 50+ years worth of clothes, memories, paper, and assorted sundries from the attic and closets.

Today, it’s Dad’s turn in the spotlight!

The Lady-Killer himself, circa 1958, give or take a year or two. Now you finally know from where I get my devastating looks.

When I posted Mom’s poem, I mentioned that I was surprised to find it because I’d never known how much she loved poetry. With Dad, however, I wasn’t quite as surprised because I’d always known him to be very creative:  a graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, he was very skilled at graphics, woodworking, and problem-solving. He could make an entertainment center for our living room one minute and then turn around and craft earrings for Mom.

He and I even built the barn!

Dad was always writing songs, too, and sharing them with Mom and me…so discovering his poetry, while surprising, was not completely unexpected. So, like I did for Mom last month, I’m sharing one of his poems today. I told him he’d finally be a published poet – and he chuckled and said, “Well, if you think anyone would want to read them!”

I definitely do think so, Dad. In fact, I’m going to share two!

(click to enlarge)

Pretty impressive, I think, for someone who never studied the craft formally. A very classical style, of course, but very thoughtful, with solid meter and rhyme. As soon as I read it, I knew I was going to have to post it here.

The other poem of his that I wanted to share is much more unusual in its structure and rhyme scheme, but no less insightful:

(untitled)

To Live,
…..Thy life fulfilled –
…..Thy kindness spilled…on others,
…..Are part of life, and still –
To Learn,
…..And sow the seeds I find
…..Of knowledge, in my mind –
…..But not to hold as divine, but
To Teach,
…..That they may know
…..That I might share – and so,
…..The understanding grows – but then,
To Love,
…..All – and still just one…
…..With depth and meaning – and done,
…..Myself complete…I’ve known it’s worth
To Live.
.

– © Forrest H. Esenwine

Dad met Mom while he was in the Army. He saw her across the room and told one of his buddies, “I’m going to marry that girl one day.” Fortunately for me, the plan worked.

.
Again, I’ve got to hand it to Dad (and Mom) for all the poetic genetics they’ve passed on to me. I’d never known they had the interest nor the ability to craft poetry like this, so my love of the genre and whatever skill I may possess did not come about through learning at home. There were a couple of poetry anthologies in their small library that I used to read all the time, but I don’t recall there ever being any push to get me to “like” poetry. In fact, I only had one poetry collection as a child, Dorothy Aldis’ The Secret Place and Other Poems (Scholastic, 1962), which I can look back on now as the single most important book in my literary development…so I can’t thank my parents enough for lighting that spark!

There’s plenty more poetry to be found, though, so be sure to head over to Laura Shovan’s blog, where she is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with some choice selections from her poetry students!

 

From two weeks ago: Dad, in front of the house that we called home since 1975.

.

COMING SOON!

July 2, 2019: ………………………………………June 23, 2019:

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

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


  

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: “Instructions for Instructions”

I once again have my friend and fellow blogger/poet Michelle H. Barnes to thank for a Poetry Friday post. It was her blog’s “Ditty of the Month Challenge” that spurred me to write the following little piece of light verse.

Earlier this month, she interviewed another mutual friend, Liz Steinglass, about her upcoming debut children’s poetry collection, Soccerverse: Poems about Soccer (Wordsong, 2019), which arrives in stores next week. Following the lead of her poem, “Instructions for the Field,” Liz thought it might be fun to invite readers to write poems that speak to an inanimate object about how to do its job.

And so, ever the one to find the angle or subject no one else has, I decided to write instructions…for instructions!

Instructions for Instructions

Don’t give me cords in tangled knots.
Don’t show me tabs where there are slots.
Don’t leave out pieces I will need.
Don’t make your text too hard to read.
Your diagrams are convoluted.
“Some assembly,” quite disputed.
Don’t pretend there’s nothing to it
and please – don’t say a child can do it.

– © 2019 Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

.
I dare say, I doubt there is anyone who can’t relate! Hope you like it – and if you’d care to read all of the poems submitted to Michelle’s blog, you can check out her Padlet HERE. Still looking for more poetry? Then head over to A Year of Reading, where Mary Lee Hahn is hosting today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup with a cool new book about writing prompts!

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

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


  

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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