Poetry Friday: Celebrating a new board book – and a mother’s life

As you may have heard, my newest book – my first-ever board book and first book written in prose – just arrived in the world this past Tuesday, and I’m still celebrating!

Elliot the Heart-Shaped Frog (Rainstorm Publishing/Kidsbooks Publishing) is a Goldilocks-type tale about a little frog who, no longer needing to live underwater, decides to set out in search of a new home and finds all sorts of surprising shapes and colors.

You can imagine, then my surprise yesterday, when I was helping a friend shovel her driveway and we both realized her son, Elliot, was wearing this:

What are the odds?? My book now has an official mascot, Elliot, the Frog-Hatted Cutiepie!

By the way, if you’re interested in picking up a copy, I encourage you to order through our local independent bookstore, MainStreet BookEnds. Not only will you be helping out a small, local business, but you can request that the book (or nearly ANY of my books) be personally-signed!

Now, then, the poetry…

It’s been nearly two years ago since I shared a poem my mom had written when she was a young woman. I had been cleaning out my folks’ house in preparation for it being sold, and came across several folders containing poems, stories, and articles written in a bygone age.

With her passing on Dec. 31, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own creative skills and how my parents’ influence reflects in my own work. While neither of my folks had the training or experience in writing that I have, they were very expressive and introspective people – and I can see that without their encouragement and support (not to mention their genes!) – I would not be where I am today.

So I thought I’d share another one of Mom’s poems today. I believe it was probably written in the mid-late ’50s, as she uses the initials of her maiden name, Virginia Gertrude Agnes Johnson, which she likely would not have done once she married Dad in 1959:

Much of Mom’s poetry – and there is quite a bit – deals with longing, despondency, anxiety, and melancholy. I wish I could have learned from her what inspired her to write, and to whom she often wrote. I know some of these were directed to Dad, who was in the Army and stationed overseas in Germany at the time – but some were written well before they met. A mystery never to be solved, I fear.

But then, poems are meant to make us think and keep us guessing, aren’t they?

For the complete Poetry Friday roundup, be sure to head over to Bookseed Studio, where Jan Godown Annino has all of today’s poetry links and fun!

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Coming March 2, 2021!

Contrasting the past with the present, this picture book takes you through a lyrical exploration of the world as it was before humans made their mark.

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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.

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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?)

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Thank you to everyone for your support!

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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!

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 Mother’s Day, an introduction to the poetry of Virginia Esenwine

Three years ago, I wrote a poem for my father for Father’s Day. I framed it and gave it to him – and just a few weeks ago, I learned it won a poetry contest sponsored by the Robert Frost Farm and Derry (NH) Public Library.

Mom. circa 1950

So what could I do for Mother’s Day?

As it turned out, I didn’t need to think about it very long. As I’ve mentioned several times here on the ol’ Triple-R, I’ve been cleaning out my parent’s house – the home I grew up in – and finding all sorts of nostalgic and historical treasures. Mom, who is in her ’80’s, is in the local nursing home and Dad is going to be joining her as soon as a bed opens up, so we’re talking about a good 50+ years of “stuff” their only child needs to sort through. Recently, I discovered a huge pile of photographs inside a dusty old trunk going back to when mom was a baby…as well as poetry!

All these years, and I’d never known Mom wrote poetry when she was young! I knew I’d gotten my sense of humor (and sense of direction) from Dad – but I’d always felt like he was where my creative side had come from, as well. While that’s certainly true, it’s very obvious by the plethora of poems Mom wrote that my penchant for poetry definitely comes from her.

Thanks, Mom!

So back to Mother’s Day. I decided to provide mom with an opportunity she’d never had:  being published.

I thought this would be something unique for her, and a chance to allow her to enjoy something she’d never done. When my father was still in the army back in the ’50’s, he had wanted to get into radio, but opted for the more sensible (and much more lucrative) position as a building materials store manager. Many years later when I was working in radio, the station needed a new local talk show host and I suggested Dad, who ended up hosting his own show for about two years.

Now, it was Mom’s turn to shine!

Virginia Gertrude Agnes (Johnson) Esenwine

Incense to the Mind and Dawn

With the dawn I wait
to fill and complete another day,
to touch and wake surrounding things
and have them listen and stay.
The misty light of feeling you have,
the smell of far-away incense
seems to cling to your nostrils,
……….and strangely, your mouth
……….……….and tongue – you
can taste its sensuous lift,
a lift to the mind and the soul;
the body?        Sometimes a body changes
with the mind – sensing not an
air of incense upon itself, but
rather feeling a numbing,
senseless type of being.

And too, as the dawn waits
eagerly, to have the sun’s
……….assuring warmth –
where is the warmth of the
body?              One’s own flesh?
Is it a true part of the
……….sense, or could it be
long forsaken – gone by –
has it, this warmth and strength,
been snatched from before
……….one’s eyes; or stolen
by vanity one day and
taken some other form, a
form that does not become
us, we who easily scoff
upon other bodies, and also
……….at righteous doings?
I feel and smell the incense
on me, around me – everywhere.
It’s quite strong this time, and
……….burns my eyes and fills
my throat with a heavy dust.

Either breathe deeper and choke
……….your life – or stay,
remain as the dawn, and
have every day one of
……….completeness.

– © 1960, Virginia Gertrude Agnes Johnson

Mom from last year, as active as she can be!

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Mom was 28 when she wrote this poem, and the most startling thing to me about it is the fact that it’s free verse; Mom has always been a very straight-laced, traditional sort of person, so seeing her writing without care for meter or rhyme makes me feel like I barely know her! And I’m not sure what to make of her sentiments, but it’s an astonishing side of her I’ve never experienced.

I hope you are able to do something nice for your mother this weekend. Liz Steinglass is celebrating the release of her new poetry collection, Soccerverse (Wordsong, 2019) at her blog today, where she’s hosting the complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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?)

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Thank you to everyone for your support!

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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 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!