Poetry Friday: Spring Seeds Gallery unveiled!

poetryfridaybutton-fulllToday, Throwback Summer takes a quick break to bring you Carol Varsalona’s Spring Seeds Gallery!

Four times a year, Carol features a massive collection of poetry and images from the preceding season; her Spring gallery just went live yesterday, and I’m still amazed at how much work it must have taken her! I’m very pleased to have a poem included in it, so please stop by Carol’s blog and check out all the poems…and there’s a LOT of ’em.

(By the way, if you’re wondering what this whole “Throwback Summer” thing is about, feel free to check out some of the past few weeks’ posts, or you can read how it all came about.

For all of today’s Poetry Friday posts, head on over to A Year of Reading, where Mary Lee Hahn is overseeing hosting duties!

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Poetry Friday: “Spring at Pond Meadow”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllAbout a week and a half ago, I shared a short video on my Facebook page, taken behind our house, along our property line. It was simply 10 seconds of a babbling brook, but it’s a quiet little place I like to go and bring the kids to relax and listen.

Today, I’m sharing something from the front of the house!

Actually, it’s right across the street from the front of our house. On the other side of the road, you see, a hay field and pond are home to a variety of frogs, ducks, snapping turtles, deer, Red-winged Blackbirds, and a Great Blue Heron – as well as a family of Canada Geese that has been growing the last few years:

Geese 2

Geese
(click either image to enlarge)

Five or six years ago, it was one pair of geese. This spring, I counted 5 pairs, most with their own gaggle of goslings, and one lone adult straggler. (Hey, there’s always that one confirmed bachelor in every family, right?)

So today, I thought I’d share a short poem I wrote about them. Hope you like it! And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links, head over to Julie Larios’ The Drift Record.

Spring at Pond Meadow

Goslings follow Mama’s lead,
through tall grass and jewel-weed;
Father watches wily fox
hiding kits from hungry hawks.

– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Oh, by the way…if you haven’t had a chance to read my post from this past Tuesday about using open submissions for inspiration, I hope you’ll check it out!

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National Poetry Month: “Young Adult Review Network” Poetry Contest Results!

national-poetry-month 2016

Me?

One of my poems?

One of the winners of a national poetry contest??? 

It began on World Poetry Day, March 21…the good folks at the Young Adult Review Network (YARN) began accepting submissions for a poetry contest they called “Enchanted Spaces and Places,” using the hashtag #EnchantedYARN.

Inspired by Margarita Engle’s award-winning memoir, Enchanted Air (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015), the editors at YARN invited writers to submit poems about their own enchanted places – where they have lived, visited, or even spaces they hold inside their hearts. (You can learn more about the contest HERE)

The poems were all judged by Margarita herself, who I have to imagine must have been worn out from entries pouring in from all over the world! Entries were judged blind (that is, names were not attached to the poems while judging), so Margarita had no idea who had written the poems while she was reading them.

She had no idea mine was one of them…

And the winners are:

Winner: London Shah, “Desi Donations” 
Runner-up:
Cynthia Grady, “Early Morning”
Runner-up: My poem, “Last Autumn!”

You can read YARN’s complete post HERE, along with all three winning poems. I hope you’ll check them out, because I’m very honored to be in such good company with these two other poets! Many thanks to Margarita for all her hard work, and to everyone who entered the contest – because ultimately, the important thing isn’t winning, so much as it is the writing. Remember what I always say, #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading!

Although in cases like this, it’s nice when they DO read!

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2016 Kidlit Progressive PoemDon’t forget: Irene Latham’s 2016 Progressive Poem continues today as poet/blogger Renee M. LaTulippe adds her contribution, so be sure to stop by the No Water River and see how it’s coming along!

You can follow the 2016 Progressive Poem at the following blog spots:

April

1 Laura at Writing the World for Kids

2 Joy at Joy Acey

3 Doraine at Dori Reads

4 Diane at Random Noodling

5 Penny at A Penny and Her Jots

6 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink

7 Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass

8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem

9 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

10 Pat at Writer on a Horse

11 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog

12 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty

13 Linda at TeacherDance

14 Jone at Deo Writer

15 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

16 Violet at Violet Nesdoly

17 Kim at Flukeprints

18 Irene at Live Your Poem

19 Charles at Charles Waters Poetry

20 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town

21 Jan at Bookseedstudio

22 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

23 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page

24 Amy at The Poem Farm

25 Mark at Jackett Writes

26 Renee at No Water River

27 Mary Lee at Poetrepository

28 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

29 Sheila at Sheila Renfro

30 Donna at Mainely Write

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Poetry Friday: “Sledding”

national-poetry-month 2016

For some, winter may be behind us, but this past weekend we ended up with nearly 3 inches of snow and temperatures in the low-teens – so it really didn’t feel like spring! I’ve been meaning to share this poem for a couple years now and keep forgetting…so before spring actually DOES arrive, I thought I’d share it today:

Sledding

I love to sled,
I love to slide.
I find the biggest hill around
then jump aboard
my plastic ride
and start my journey toward the ground.

Racing down
a sheet of snow,
frozen cheeks and icy hair –
faster, faster,
here I go,
snowflakes flying everywhere!

Carve a turn!
Get it straight!
Don’t think I can take much more!
Wonder how I’ll stop,
but wait! –

……I guess…that’s what…this…
……………rock…
……………    ………is for……

– © 2016 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Poetry_Friday logoIf you’re looking for more poetry, you’ll find the complete Poetry Friday roundup at Laura Purdie Salas’ home on the web, Writing the World for Kids, where she has some very putrid poetry! (not that her poetry is putrid – it’s really quite nice, actually – so you’ll just have to visit to see what I mean!)

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2016 Kidlit Progressive PoemIrene Latham‘s annual Progressive Poem continues all month long! A different writer adds a line each day, and on April 30 we’ll see how it ends. Today you can see how far we’ve come at Irene’s blog, Live Your Poem!

You can follow the 2015 Progressive Poem at the following blog spots:

April

1 Laura at Writing the World for Kids

2 Joy at Joy Acey

3 Doraine at Dori Reads

4 Diane at Random Noodling

5 Penny at A Penny and Her Jots

6 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink

7 Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass

8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem

9 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

10 Pat at Writer on a Horse

11 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog

12 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty

13 Linda at TeacherDance

14 Jone at Deo Writer

15 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

16 Violet at Violet Nesdoly

17 Kim at Flukeprints

18 Irene at Live Your Poem

19 Charles at Charles Waters Poetry

20 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town

21 Jan at Bookseedstudio

22 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

23 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page

24 Amy at The Poem Farm

25 Mark at Jackett Writes

26 Renee at No Water River

27 Mary Lee at Poetrepository

28 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

29 Sheila at Sheila Renfro

30 Donna at Mainely Write

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Poetry Friday: “Daylight Savings in March”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllTime to set those clocks ahead! If you live in the U.S., this is the weekend to set your clocks ahead one hour, before you go to sleep Sat. night.

If, on the other hand, you live in one of the other areas around the world who participate in Daylight Savings Time, you may or may not be doing that this weekend! Different countries have all sorts of opinions on when it starts, when it ends, and how long it lasts – which makes me think it would be easier for everyone if we just did away with the whole thing. Do you have an opinion on it?

Daylight Savings in March

A good night’s sleep,
my strength,
willpower…
I lose much more
than just an hour.

– © 2016 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

My poet friend Irene Latham is hosting Poetry Friday today at Live Your Poem, so be sure to visit for all of the day’s poetry links and fun!

If you missed my interview with her and my review of her new book, you can find that HERE – and I also hope you’ll take some time to check out my blog post from this past Tuesday, on how poems, commercials, and novels are ultimately the same things…really!

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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!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “January Thaw”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllBefore I get to today’s poem, I want to remind you that if you hadn’t had a chance to check out my interview with Irene Latham this past Tuesday – and my review of her new book, When the Sun Shines on Antarctica: And Other Poems from the Frozen Continent (Millbrook Press) – make sure you CLICK HERE to read it and enter to win your very own signed copy of the book!

So here we are, almost 3 weeks past January, and I just remembered I’d wanted to share this…but better late than never, right? I wrote this a few years ago, when the typical New England “January Thaw” lasted a few days – usually around the latter half of the month.  This year, the January Thaw was the entire month of January!

January Thaw

It happens every year.
Long before the robins sing,
when sky is bright and clear
one can catch a glimpse of spring.

Grass peeks through melting snow
as the air begins to warm.
We smile – and yet we know
pretty soon, another storm!

– © 2012, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

But wait – there’s still plenty more poetry around! You can visit Laura Shovan’s blog for the latest in her February prompt series, the Found Object Poem Project – see the projects, see what folks are writing, and then join in yourself!

And of course, be sure to stop by Donna Smith’s Mainely Write for the complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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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!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Book Review: “When the Sun Shines on Antarctica”

Antarctica coverIrene Latham has done it again. A couple years ago, she was hanging out at a watering hole on the African savanna (and that’s not a metaphor – by “watering hole,” I mean a real watering hole) and this year she’s at the bottom of the world, on the largest continent – and largest desert – on the planet.

Irene follows up her 2014 children’s poetry collection, Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole (Millbrook Press) with the equally entertaining and insightful When the Sun Shines on Antarctica: And Other Poems from the Frozen Continent (Millbrook Press).

In fifteen poems, Irene not only teaches readers a little bit about the wildlife and habitat of Antarctica, she imbues each of her subjects with a bit of magic here and a touch of tenderness there, so that each poem helps bring the reader a little closer to the truth. The book opens with the dawn of summer and concludes with the start of winter as the sun sets.

When the Sun Shines on Antarctica

Icebergs brighten
as the sky peels

itself of darkness
and stretches awake.

Glaciers murmur.
Penguins reunite

and seals rouse
from slumber

Whales breach
and blow;

waves rush
and slush

against shifting
ice shelves.

Welcome,
Summer.

We’ve been waiting
for you.

– © 2016 Irene Latham (Millbrook Press), all rights reserved

The poems are primarily free verse, so Irene makes great use of internal rhyme and enjambment to create touching scenes that are sometimes quiet, and other times full of energy.

One of the nice things about this book – and Wildebeest, as well – is that although there is plenty to learn via Irene’s poems, they never feel didactic; they are poetry for poetry’s sake, first and foremost. Sidebars on each page provide more information about each subject (from seals to krill to brinicles!), and the earthy blues and greens of Anna Wadham’s illustrations complement the icy, watery nature of Irene’s scenery – all adding up to a beautiful book to read as well as simply admire.

I had a chance to chat with Irene about the book, her life of writing, and what she has coming up in the near future!

Irene headSo tell us, how did a social work major from the University of Alabama end up with 5 books of poetry, 2 middle grade novels, and another poetry collection due out next month?

I took the scenic route, that’s for sure! While I didn’t attend a single writing class in college, all those courses on developmental psychology and family dynamics have certainly enriched my writing life.

Without any training, how did you end up learning your craft? And what was your first published piece? What do you think of it today – still good, not bad, or would you totally revise it?

I started honing my craft by entering contests sponsored by Alabama State Poetry Society. At first I didn’t place at all, then I started getting Honorable Mentions, and eventually prize money! My big break came when I won a chapbook contest — no cash, but publication and 100 copies of my chapbook NOW PLAYING (poems that used classic movie titles, but were often about something else entirely).

I kind of cringe when I read those poems now — as I’ve continued to grow and develop as a poet I can now see all sorts of flaws! But it was my best work at the time, and an essential, precious part of my journey. Those poems are exactly what they needed to be — and one or two of them I do still like.🙂

How do you move between the children’s poetry thought process and an adult’s? Do you work exclusively on one or the other, or do you bounce back and forth, depending on your mood and inspiration?

My initial efforts are most often from my adult self. I was writing a poem last week about pears, and the image that came immediately to mind was Sylvia Plath’s “little Buddhas.” I love that! But of course a kid probably wouldn’t get that. I so admire those children’s poets among us who seem to so easily and naturally find those child-like comparisons. It’s a challenge for me. I am constantly having to coax my inner 8 year old out to play. She’s shy, but one thing I’m good at is persistence.

WildebeestTwo years ago, you were at an African watering hole; this year, you’re in Antarctica! How do you come up with the ideas for your collections, and how long does it usually take you to complete a manuscript?

I have an abundance of obsessions, so coming up with themes/ideas for collections is not my problem. Usually they arise when I read books or go to museums or attend local community events where a speaker might mention something, and I investigate further, and next thing I know, I’m neck-deep!

As for the second part of your question, “complete” is a very slippery word, isn’t it? I could keep tinkering with poems forever and more than once have had a great idea for a way to improve a manuscript after the book is already in print. It’s one of the things that attracts me to writing in the first place – the endless learning curve.

I can churn out a bunch of first-draft poems that will be the skeleton of a poetry book manuscript within a few weeks – I strive for a poem a day. But then it can take years for the individual poems to grow and develop and for me to figure out the point of it all. I’m constantly asking of the manuscript: what is your purpose? what are you trying to say to the world? what else?

Next month, you have ANOTHER collection for children, Fresh and Delicious! Tell us about that! How did it come about?

Fresh Delicious coverFRESH DELICIOUS: Poems from the Farmers’ Market (Wordsong) is my first attempt at poems for a younger (K-2) audience. It started with a contest through my SCBWI region (Southern Breeze, which includes AL, GA, and the FL panhandle). Each June, for free, we can submit some pages for a contest that’s judged by editors. All entries receive a feedback sheet. I wanted to enter the contest, and I had just been to the farmers’ market. Voila! Poems from the farmers’ market!

I was so excited about the poems that I did NOT enter the contest – results aren’t announced until October – and sent them straight to my agent instead. She sent them to Rebecca Davis at WordSong, who had read (and rejected) at least three, perhaps four prior manuscripts (including Dear Wandering Wildebeest). She liked the poems, saw lots of promise, but didn’t feel they were quite ready. Instead, she gave me some brilliant feedback (seriously. BRILLIANT), and off I went, revising away! A couple of revisions later, she presented it at the editorial meeting and we got a green light on the project. O frabjous day!

I am always trying to explain to people that children’s poetry does not need to rhyme! (In fact, I’m hosting a workshop at an upcoming SCBWI conference about free verse) Why do you suppose you are drawn more towards free verse than rhyming poetry?

I am so happy you are teaching people that children’s poetry need not rhyme! Confession: for many years I thought all children’s poetry was Shel Silverstein! I really didn’t know there was a market for the kind of poems I write, which are by and large free verse, until I attended a poetry retreat with Rebecca Kai Dotlich in 2011 (organized by the one and only Robyn Hood Black! I’m so so grateful!). That weekend was a turning point in my writing life.

Afterwards I went on a nearly sleepless writing jag for a week as I discovered I could write the way I write for adults – but for kids. I have a gypsy heart, and being hemmed in by form or rhyme makes me irritable and unhappy. Plus I love beautiful words and lyricism, and for me, writing is a spiritual practice. It’s a way for me to love the world. I am able to achieve all of those things with free verse.

By the way, I’d be remiss if I didn’t congratulate you on TWO OTHER manuscripts you just sold, Pop! Bam! Boom! and It’s Not Black and White. What are they about?

Thank you! Pop! Bam! Boom! started with Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem.” http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175884 I got to thinking about all the things that explode – seed pods and symphonies and dreams – and I started writing. It’s Not Black & White is a special project based on real-life experiences that I co-wrote with Charles Waters. Told in two voices, it’s about friendship, race, and understanding as it happens in a 5th grade classroom when a black boy and a white girl are forced to be partners on a writing project.

Final question! I have to ask…do you ever get a chance to chat with Father Goose -Charles Ghigna – who’s just south of you in Homewood, AL? And what’s the best advice you ever received – from anyone?

Chuck and I do, in fact, chat from time to time! He’s famous around these parts (more than a hundred books to his credit now!), and he’s been a lovely supporter of my work.

As for advice: When my first book of poems came out (2007), my husband gave me a small plaque that reads, “Live Your Poem.” That’s where my blog name comes from! For years I have shared in presentations that writers have a responsibility to “live a life worth writing about.”

But it’s more that that: we need to be present, open, and delight in our lives – really LIVE. That’s poetry! I also love how those words can mean whatever they need to mean to an individual – your poem-life will be different from mine. And every single incarnation is beautiful.

I think that concept is what draws most of us to poetry, Irene…so thank you for taking the time to chat!

Thank you, Matt, for having me, and for your great questions. I’m excited for YOUR forthcoming books. Yay!

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To my readers, I’m so glad YOU took the time to read today’s post, I’m going to give you an opportunity to win an autographed copy of Antarctica! Just leave a comment below, and I’ll draw a winner at the end of the month…so please let your friends know, so they can get in on it, as well. (and if you share this post via Twitter (using the Twitter button below), you’ll get an ADDITIONAL entry!)

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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 twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!