Poetry Friday: Thoughts on the “Tao Te Ching”

I feel bad I neglected to post for Poetry Friday last week; however, I had been spending the first half of the week preparing for my live announcing gig at our local state fair, which began Thur., Sept. 1, at which point I began my 55-hour weekend.

I’ll share my thoughts and insights on the fair, as I do every year, next week – but for now, I’m sharing a golden shovel poem based on the famous words of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who is credited (likely improperly) with writing the Tao Te Ching, a series of texts upon which the philosophy and religion of Taosim is based.

In a nutshell, Taoism is the belief that aligning oneself with the Tao – also known as The Way, the universal rhythmic force that binds everything and everyone – is the key to happiness. Rather than fighting in opposition to the flow of the Tao, a Taoist allows the flow to guide them, using a principle of wu wei, roughly translated as “action through inaction.” This is not to mean one should be lazy or exert no effort at all, but to work with the flow of life and not against it.

With this in mind, I took a walk along the brook that borders our property and was inspired to write a short golden shovel using a portion of Lao Tzu’s famous quote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”:

My friend (and wonderful supporter) Carol Varsalona is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup today at her blog Beyond LiteracyLink with a couple of poems celebrating the season we are leaving behind, one of which is a cento – a poem created from lines of other poems. I see we are both openly inspired by others’ words today!

COMING SOON…

Arriving everywhere books are sold on Oct. 18 from Beaming Books!

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

Be sure to PRE-ORDER my upcoming new
creative nonfiction picture book,
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO BEING HUMAN

(Beaming Books, Oct. 2022)!

Order a PERSONALLY-SIGNED copy of my latest picture book, I AM TODAY (POW! Kids Books),
or ANY of my books from my local independent bookstore!

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

Be sure to check out all the cool new picture books arriving this year from my PB22Peekaboo partners!

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

I’m very happy to be part of the BOOKROO family!

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!

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

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 personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click here to view all my books and to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Rainbow Eucalyptus Part II, the poem you never saw

Sometimes, blog posts just sort of create themselves.

Case in point: last week, I shared my Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree poem that was included in J. Patrick Lewis’ The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (National Geographic Kids, 2015). But then just a few days later, I discovered that I’d never shared the poem that didn’t make it!

You see, when Pat asked me to write a poem about these trees, I had to do a lot of research – having never heard of them before, I needed to learn about what they looked like, why they looked like they did, and where on Earth one would even find them. This took me a solid day, at least. I then set about trying to come up with a poem worthy of a National Geographic book, and eventually wrote two of them.

The poem I shared last week, the one that made it into the book, was actually the second poem I wrote; the first one never saw the light of day. I sent Pat both poems so he could decide which he preferred, but I was glad to see he chose the second poem, as that was my favorite of the two, as well.

But that first poem was nice, nonetheless, and I always regretted that no one would ever read it. So why not publish it here??
.

Rainbow Eucalyptus

Near a clearing in the forest,
jungle pixies paint with glee
the canvas of a eucalyptus;
Nature’s artist-tree.

– © 2014 Matt Forrest Esenwine 

.

Rainbow Eucalyptus, Wikimedia Commons, by amelia

You can probably see why both Pat and I preferred the second poem; this is nice, but very simple and not exceptionally engaging. The second poem is much more vivid and contains fun, inventive wordplay.

Analyzing it now, this feels more like the “rough draft” of the second poem – although I didn’t realize it when I wrote it. Just goes to show you how important it is to keep working at your project, even when you think you’re done, ha!

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, head on over to Tanita Davis’ blog fiction, instead of lies, where she shares a poetic exercise that was a lot more taxing than she ever imagined!

ALSO:

My next picture book, A Beginner’s Guide to Being Human  (Beaming Books, 2022) is only two months away from publication, and we could use your help!

My first-ever creative nonfiction book comes out October 18 and you’d like to help share the news with the world, I’d love for you to be part of our official Launch Team! Just send me an email at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com and let me know. We’ll send you a link so you can read the digital ARC (Advance Review Copy) and will coordinate news and announcements with you to share.

It’s not a lot of work – sharing social media posts, leaving reviews, etc. – but it’s a significant way you can lend a hand in showing support for a book you like. And if you’re a blogger or influencer and would like to be part of our official blog tour/virtual launch, I can make sure you’ll receive a free copy of Beginner’s Guide to give away to one of your followers!

Image © 2022 Beaming Books, all rights reserved; reprinted with permission

Again, just email me if you’d like to learn more and I’ll take it from there. I hope you’ll jump on board!

And thank you so much for all your support – I couldn’t have come this far without you!

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

Be sure to PRE-ORDER my upcoming new
creative nonfiction picture book,
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO BEING HUMAN

(Beaming Books, Oct. 2022)!

Order a PERSONALLY-SIGNED copy of my latest picture book, I AM TODAY (POW! Kids Books),
or ANY of my books from my local independent bookstore!

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

Be sure to check out all the cool new picture books arriving this year from my PB22Peekaboo partners!

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

I’m very happy to be part of the BOOKROO family!

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!

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

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 personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click here to view all my books and to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: A 10th anniversary of blogging? Can it be true??

Apparently…yes!

It’s hard for me to believe, but my first blog post was ten years ago on August 1, 2012. It was an introduction to me and why I had even begun the blog (to showcase my poetry and market my writing and voiceover business). I had just left my job in radio the month before and was eager to begin my new journey!

A few days later, on Aug. 3, 2012, I published my very first Poetry Friday blog post – a poem I had written as part of my wedding vows a few years prior:
.

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…

(you can read the rest HERE)
.

I made a promise that I would re-post that poem every year here at the ol’ Triple-R in order to celebrate our 14th anniversary on Aug. 10, and I’m honoring that today. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the support (emotional as well as financial!) of my bride, and I’ll never be able to repay her for it.

Another ten-year milestone was my leaving fulltime employment on July 5, 2012, which our local bookstore celebrated last month with a special one-day only book bundle. Five books out so far, 30+ poems published, and several more books on the way; it’s amazing hard work, perseverance, and a smidgen of talent can do!

Over the years: a few blog stats, by the numbers…

82,000+: total number of views
49,114: total number of visitors
1,024: total followers
674: posts published
176: number of distinct countries that have viewed my blog

Honestly, it boggles my mind that there are that many people who care what I have to say every week. But I’m grateful, nonetheless! And although I don’t focus so much on radio/media or even parenting quite as much as I did when I first began, I continue to post poetry and share interviews with children’s lit authors and poets – and will continue to do so as long as the blog keeps rolling along.

~ GIVEAWAY! ~

To celebrate my 10-year “blogiversary,” I’m offering a signed copy of any one of my five books! Just leave a comment below letting me know you’d like to be entered in the drawing – and if you’d like an extra entry, simply share this post on Twitter and tag me! I’ll pick one name at random next Thur., Aug. 11 and announce the winner here on Fri., Aug. 12.

Looking for more poetry? Molly Hogan is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, Nix the Comfort Zone with a couple of original baseball poems and all of today’s links!

Be sure to check out all the cool new picture books arriving this year from my PB22Peekaboo partners!

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

Be sure to PRE-ORDER my upcoming new
creative nonfiction picture book,
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO BEING HUMAN

(Beaming Books, Oct. 2022)!

Order a PERSONALLY-SIGNED copy of my latest picture book, I AM TODAY (POW! Kids Books),
or ANY of my books from my local independent bookstore!

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

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!

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

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 personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click here to view all my books and to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: A 4th-grader celebrates a famous flycatcher with a poem

I always love seeing kids writing poetry. I don’t know if it’s because I see my younger self in them or if it’s because I want to encourage them to engage writing in a genre that is both highly esteemed yet gravely misunderstood.

Either way, I’m happy to show my support by publishing students’ work here whenever I have the opportunity. Today, it’s a poem from a young writer who is OK.

He’s actually a really cool kid, with lots of interests, kind heart, and an inquisitive mind. I say he’s OK because…those are his initials!

This young homeschooled poet has taken a great interest in writing poetry lately, and his folks shared one his poems with me a few days ago. I thought it was so well done for someone so young, that I offered to share it here with the world:
.

Phoebe flying, perching low,
On a windowsill below.
Milky belly, silver back,
Catching bugs with beak of black.
Partners switch, pumping wings
As it sings,
……….phoe-be,
………………..phoe-be.
Sitting on a mossy ledge,
Sipping on the river’s edge.
Back to nest, to feed their young,
A Phoebe’s work is never done,
Make it strong with grass and twig,
Web works best
to form the nest.

– written by O.K., July 2022

.

Pretty impressive for a 4th-grader, yes? I told him I’m quite partial to phoebe flycatchers, which are quite plentiful around here, so I was extra-excited to share it on my blog. Well done, OK! You and your folks should be proud.

For more poetry, be sure to check out today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup at Unexpected Intersections, where Elisabeth shares an original poem about breaking routine and changing direction. Also, if you happened to miss National Mac and Cheese Day yesterday (July 14), you can still celebrate with my ode to luscious fat and carbs HERE!

Be sure to check out all the cool new picture books arriving this year from my PB22Peekaboo partners!

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

Be sure to PRE-ORDER my upcoming new
creative nonfiction picture book,
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO BEING HUMAN

(Beaming Books, Oct. 2022)!

Order a PERSONALLY-SIGNED copy of my latest picture book, I AM TODAY (POW! Kids Books),
or ANY of my books from my local independent bookstore!

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

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!

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

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 personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click here to view all my books and to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: New “Stargazing” picture book announcement!

Wow, what a busy week it has been! I’ve written a new poem for an upcoming anthology, I’ve had a new book list published at Shepherd.com (more on that below), and librarians across the country are taking advantage of a package of ocean-themed activities that my 2022 picture book marketing group and I have put together as a way to supplement CSLP’s summer reading program.

In the midst of all this, you can imagine my joy when I learned from my publisher that I can officially announce the awesome news that I have ANOTHER picture book coming out!!

The Thing to Remember about Stargazing – a book that has been nearly TEN years in the making – will be published by the incredible folks at Tilbury House (fingers crossed for the latter part of 2023), and the illustrator they’ve signed is none other than the amazingly talented, award-winning Italian artist, Sonia Possentini.

Sonia Maria Luce Possentini

If you are unfamiliar with Sonia’s work, you need to visit her website and check out some of her beautiful work. She’s had numerous art exhibitions in addition to her illustration work and I believe she will bring an elegant and pastoral tone to my book.

What is Stargazing about, you ask?

Well, it answers the question: what is the most important thing to remember about stargazing? Is it when to do it, who to do it with, what to look for? (Hint: It’s none of those!)

Written in a loose, lyrical narrative, it is my hope that Stargazing – with its unique blend of poetic text and science – encourages, entices, and enchants. And with Sonia’s illustrations, I’m sure it will!

.

So remember when I mentioned earlier that the book has been nearly ten years in the making? Well, Stargazing actually started off as a poem. Way back in 2014, the late poet, educator and anthologist Paul Janeczko asked me if I had any poems he might consider including in a poetry anthology of “how-to” poems he was putting together – which would eventually become his posthumously-published The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog (Candlewick, 2019).

One of the poems I sent Paul was a much shorter, slimmed-down version of Stargazing. He decided not to select it for his book, so I held onto it for a while and a few years later asked our mutual friend Rebecca Kai Dotlich what she thought of the poem. She liked it, but suggested it might be a bit too long for a children’s poem – perhaps, she said, either pare it down to make it shorter or flesh it out into a picture book manuscript.

Not really wanting to cut anything from what I’d written, I opted for the latter. I added, revised, tweaked, and polished – and eventually began submitting it. Twenty five rejections later, Tilbury House read it and immediately contacted me to ask if it was still available! (This is why I tell newcomers that you must, must, MUST keep subbing – if you believe in your story, don’t give up on it)

You can see now why I felt Poetry Friday was the perfect time and place to announce the official news; a poem that ahs become a picture book! I’ll be sharing more details over the next year and a half, of course – but I can’t tell you how excited I am for the world to finally see this book.

By the way, speaking of poetry, I have a new list at Shepherd.com – a website that allows you to find exactly the types of books you’re looking for, because the books are categorized into Top 5 lists created by authors themselves!

Looking for historical fiction books about World War 2? Science fiction books published in the last 2 years about cyborgs? All children’s books about robots for 8-year-olds?

This is how specific you can get with Shepherd.com – and not only is it great for book buyers, but I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot of traffic from authors and illustrators using it as a means of finding comp titles. I do hope you’ll check them out!

Since my new list features what I consider the best children’s poetry collections about animals, I thought I’d share one of my favorites poems from David Harrison’s A Place to Start a Family (Charlesbridge, 2018):

Click to enlarge. ©2018 Charlesbridge, all rights reserved

By the way, I say this is my “new” list because I have another list, as well: the best children’s poetry collections about nature, which you can find HERE. I’m hoping to create at least one more list of picture books, which I’ll share once it’s been created and posted.

If you’re an author or illustrator and would like to learn more about Shepherd, head to their website and read all about what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and the progress they’re making!

LIBRARIANS! Click the graphic to learn more about how you can receive TONS of free ocean-themed activities from my PB22Peekaboo partners and me – for use this summer, or beyond!

Since it’s Poetry Friday, there’s a lot more poetry awaiting you! Be sure to visit my friend Buffy Silverman’s blog for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

.

Be sure to check out all the cool new picture books arriving this year from my PB22Peekaboo partners!

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

Be sure to PRE-ORDER my upcoming new creative nonfiction picture book,
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO BEING HUMAN (Beaming Books, Oct. 2022)!

Order a PERSONALLY-SIGNED copy of my latest picture book, I AM TODAY (POW! Kids Books),
or ANY of my books from my local independent bookstore!

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

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!

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

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 personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the covers below to order!

Available now!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “The Echo of Hearts”

This post was originally published 6 years ago in April, 2016. While my mind is reeling from the events of this past week, my head itself is reeling – literally – as I battle Covid. Yep, it finally hit me! Other than a slight cough, a heavy head, and aching muscles, I’m doing ok, so no worries; but with so much going on right now in the world, and with my wife and I in the process of trying to buy a house, a brand-new post is not happening this week.                                                                                                                                                               . This is a favorite poem of mine, though, which I’ve never shared since it first debuted on Michelle H. Barnes’ blog, Today’s Little Ditty. It is a reverso, and was a difficult one to write, at that. I hope you like it! Linda Mitchell is also processing the senselessness of this week’s news by sharing a golden shovel she wrote in the wake of the events in Uvalde, TX. You can find her poem as well as the complete Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, A Word Edgewise.                                                                                                                                                 . Have a wonderful weekend, folks – and be sure to give your kids an extra hug. ======================================================== national-poetry-month 2016 Never one to shy away from a good challenge, I had to respond to my friend Michelle H. Barnes’ “Ditty of the Month Challenge’ for April…a reverso! What is a reverso, you ask? It’s a poem that is written in two sections, with each section comprised of the exact same lines but in the opposite order. In other words, the first line of the first section is the last line of the second section; conversely, the last line of the first section is the first line of the second section. Ideally, each section should say something different, rather than simply repeating the feelings or images of the other. In the case of my reverso, I wanted to show that the different feelings and memories of each speaker are actually quite similar – two heads of one coin, so to speak. I hope I accomplished that. poetryfridaybutton-fulllYou can read more about reversos and the amazing books that poet Marilyn Singer has created using them – like her newest, ECHO ECHO: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths (Dial Books, 2016) – by visiting Michelle’s interview with Singer. At the end of the interview, Singer challenges blog readers to come up with their own poems about echoes – and because I love going out of my way to make things harder on myself, I decided to write my poem as a reverso. I hope you’ll check out the poem and let me know what you think! You can find it posted HERE at Michelle’s blog, Today’s Little Ditty. Hope you like it! And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links and hi-jinks, Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup is the place to be! ========================================================

Be sure to check out all the cool new picture books arriving this year from my PB22Peekaboo partners!

=====================================================
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! ======================================================
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 personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of! Click any of the covers below to order – pre-orders are available for “Beginner’s Guide!” 9781506481739
Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (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! FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:
DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR: ======================================================
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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Spring,” a final #PoetryCUBED offering

(click to enlarge)

Last week, we wrapped up a month’s worth of #PoetryCUBED poems – responses to my unique writing prompt based on the Food Network show, “Chopped” – but I just couldn’t let it end there!

You see, my friend Carol Varsalona, a literacy advocate who participated in the #PoetryCUBED challenge, created a special National Poetry Month “Padlet” for Earth Day titled “Poetrylicious,” and shared a few of my poems. One of them was a new poem I wrote specifically for the challenge, titled “Spring.”

I didn’t actually plan it that way – but as anyone who’s written poetry can attest, poems don’t often turn out the way you expect. I had planned on simply writing a poem about spring, but as I got into it I decided to add the challenge of working within the constraints of #PoetryCUBED, and it turned out quite well, I think!

By the way, in case you don’t know, #PoetryCUBED uses the same basic premise of the TV show, “Chopped!”, where chefs compete against one another by creating dishes with specific ingredients, but with poetry:

  • Use the 3 images (“cubed,” get it??) below as inspiration to write a poem.
  • The poem can be any form, any number of lines, rhyming or not. 
  • A reference (vague or overt) to all three images needs to be included in the poem.

Many thanks, again, to all who participated – I’ll do it again! But that’s not the only giveaway I have for you…

In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week, I’m giving away TWO copies of any of my books to ONE teacher: one for them, and one for their classroom! If you’d like to enter, just check out my original Twitter post HERE and leave a comment and/or retweet – but don’t wait! The contest will close tonight, May 6, 2022, at 11:59pm and I’ll announce the winner this Monday. Just my way of giving back to all the folks who’ve supported me – as an author and a student!

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, please head over to Jama’s Alphabet Soup, where the wonderful and inimitable Jama Kim Rattigan is hosting the festivities with a special Mother’s Day celebration. (And with Jama, you KNOW there’ll be plenty of refreshments!)

Be sure to check out all the cool new picture books arriving this year from my PB22Peekaboo partners!

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

Order a PERSONALLY-SIGNED copy of my newest picture book, I AM TODAY (POW! Kids Books),
from my local independent bookstore!

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

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!

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

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 personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the covers below to order!

Available now!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: A #PoetryCUBED winner & a wonderful review of I AM TODAY!

To say this week is a busy one is an understatement; in addition to helping my wife with her dogsitting business by travelling half an hour to a client’s house three times a day (whew!), I’m also gearing up for the New England SCBWI’s annual Spring Conference, which begins (virtually, alas) this afternoon.

And by “gearing up,” I mean finalizing my presentation, ‘Tight Language, Loose Narratives: Crafting a Non-Traditional Picture Book.’ This will be a slightly-updated version of an in-person workshop I presented at LitYoungstown’s Fall Literary Festival in Youngstown, Ohio, last fall, using my books I Am Today, Once Upon Another Time, and others to show how one can create a picture book manuscript without the standard Freytag’s Pyramid or Rule of Three’s and that sort of thing. However, being virtual, timing is crucial – so I’m hoping I won’t run too long!

I’ve also been collecting more and more #PoetryCUBED poems from blog followers, as we celebrate National Poetry Month with this little ol’ writing prompt that I brought back after a too-lonig hiatus (read the post HERE to learn more)!

Before I get to this week’s entries, though, I wanted to give a shoutout to the Instagram account inquiring.minds.grow, who shared a wonderfully positive, supportive review of my newest picture book, I Am Today (POW! Kids Books) calling it “simplistically powerful and brilliant.”

(Wow, thank you so much!)

Now for the poems! As I’ve stated before, #PoetryCUBED is based on The Food Network show, “Chopped!”, where chefs compete against one another by creating dishes with specific ingredients. After a series of elimination rounds where chefs’s dishes are judged and the chefs are “chopped,” one chef is declared the winner.

#PoetryCUBED uses the same basic premise, but with poetry:

  • Use the 3 images (“cubed,” get it??) below as inspiration to write a poem.
  • The poem can be any form, any number of lines, rhyming or not. 
  • A reference to all three images needs to be included in the poem – it can be vague, if you want, but it needs to be there!
  • Email your poem to me at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com and I’ll share them here – and at the end of April, one name will be drawn at random to receive your choice of a free, personally-signed copy of ANY ONE of my books!

I’ve had such an incredible response to this challenge, I’ve been sharing readers’ poems here throughout the month – and here are more!

.

Let’s Go

Hanna the
happy-tongue
terrier,

sure couldn’t care
a-lick ‘bout
tomatoes—

But loved her
walks along
Heart-Stone beach!

.
– © 2022 Michelle Kogan

.

Thoughts about Rocks

Everything living is cleaved
by a thin invisible meridian

the dog, the tomato, the leaf
the starfish all having at least

one center dividing line onto which
they map matching other halves

all barking and ripening and falling
and creeping along the sea floor

in perfect pleasing symmetry.
Of course the nonliving aren’t

bound by rules
around shape.
They form in any direction.

A fault line here, some
Haphazardconglomeration
there.

What fr e e d o m
there must be within a rock.

What chaos.

.
– © 2022 Jessica Whipple

.

Green, yellow or red?
Heirlooms mess with my head!
Tomatoes that can’t decide,
are not the tastiest kind.
I’ve buried them here instead.
Woof.

.
– © 2022 Barbara DiMarco

.

Pretty diverse responses to the challenge, wouldn’t you say? Impressive! Since this is the final week of #PoetryCUBED, I’ve put all of our entrants’ names in a random drawing and our winner is…

KARIN FISHER-GOLTON!

Congratulations, Karin! You win a free copy of any one of my books, personally-signed, if you’d like! (You can read Karin’s creative double-acrostic poem in last weeks post HERE)

Carol Varsalona, who also submitted a poem last week, is sharing a bevy of beautiful springtime poems at her blog’s Padlet this week, including my second response to this #PoetryCUBED challenge. Be sure to check them out! Meanwhile, Jone MacCulloch is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday roundup with her contribution to Tabatha Yeatts’ new poetry anthology Imperfect II, so for all of today’s poetry links and fun, stop by her blog and say hi!

Be sure to check out all the cool new picture books arriving this year from my PB22Peekaboo partners!

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

Order a PERSONALLY-SIGNED copy of my newest picture book, I AM TODAY (POW! Kids Books),
from my local independent bookstore!

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

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!

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

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 personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the covers below to order!

Available now!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: #PoetryCUBED writing prompt enters its 3rd week!

We continue to celebrate National Poetry Month with #PoetryCUBED, a writing prompt that has been generating LOTS of great poems (you can read the post HERE to get a sense of what it is)!

As I’ve previously explained, #PoetryCUBED is based on The Food Network’s popular show, “Chopped!”, where chefs compete against one another by creating dishes with specific ingredients. The dishes are judged and after a series of elimination rounds where chefs are “chopped,” one chef one is crowned victorious.

So for #PoetryCUBED, I’ve applied the show’s premise to poetry:

  • Use the 3 images (“cubed,” get it??) below as inspiration to write a poem.
  • The poem can be any form, any number of lines, rhyming or not. 
  • A reference to all three images needs to be included in the poem – it can be vague, if you want, but it needs to be there!
  • Email your poem to me at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com and I’ll share them here – and at the end of April, one name will be drawn at random to receive your choice of a free, personally-signed copy of ANY ONE of my books!

I shared my poetic response in my first blog post this month, then shared several others I’d received from folks like you – and today, I get to share even more!

.

A Dog with Good Taste

When our dog ate
the tomatoes, just picked,
by the shed,

some said he had
rocks in his head!

But like me
he’s a gourmet—

would eat an heirloom tomato
any day.
.

– © 2022, Janice Scully

secrets

the secret to growing tomatoes
is to listen to them chatter

after a soak in the sun
swinging from stems
summer heat reddens the skin

the secret to a walk on the shore
is to listen to stones

stories from the sea
stamina while sand
smoothes away rough edges
like the wisdom of a grandma

the secret to a Sunday drive
is to listen to a dog

an open window
wind on whiskers
a wink, a pink tongue
a willing lap

the secret is to listen

take a drive
walk the shore
grow tomatoes


– ©2022 (draft), Patricia J. Franz

.

Carol Varsalona took the challenge one step further (or was it three?) and wrote a tricube for her response:

.
licking good
tasty treat
tomatoes

all-season
tongue-slurping
heart love

taste, wink, smile-
childhood thoughts
in a jar
.

– ©2022, Carol Varsalona

If you’re unfamiliar with tricubes, they are a new form of poetry where each poem contains three stanzas, each stanza contains three lines, and each line contains three syllables. So hers is a poem that was cubed and cubed again, ha!

How will YOU approach this challenge? You have ONE WEEK LEFT to send in your poem and be entered in the drawing for a personally-signed copy of any one of my books, so be sure to email me at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com as soon as you can!

Last week, I hosted the Poetry Friday roundup and shared an interview with my friend Leslie Bulion, whose new picture book Serengeti: Plains of Grass (Peachtree Publishing) came out March 1 – the same day as my I Am Today (POW! Kids Books). Her publisher was kind enough to offer a free copy of the book to one of my readers, and the person whose name was drawn at random is…

MICHELLE KOGAN!

Congratulations, Michelle! Out of all the folks who entered, hers was the name that was chosen from the ol’ random number generator, and she gets a copy of Leslie’s new book!

Margaret Simon is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup AND the annual Progressive Poem at Reflections on the Teche, so head on over for all the poetry links and fun!

They don’t mean no, they mean “no.” and they don’t mean parking – they mean “parking.”
Such an egregious waste of quotation marks.
Be sure to check out all the cool new picture books arriving this year from my PB22Peekaboo partners!

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

Order a PERSONALLY-SIGNED copy of my newest picture book, I AM TODAY (POW! Kids Books),
from my local independent bookstore!

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

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!

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

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 personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the covers below to order!

Available now!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: The roundup is here, with an interview with children’s author/poet Leslie Bulion! (& GIVEAWAY!)

Welcome to the Poetry Friday roundup!

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I brought back my popular writing prompt contest #PoetryCUBED and have been receiving lots of great poems. Keep sending them in! I’ll share more entries next week, but today I have a special guest: friend and fellow children’s writer Leslie Bulion!

Leslie is a fellow New Englander who lives in Connecticut, and has been writing nearly all her life. Like me, she began writing poetry for her own enjoyment since fourth grade and has been interested in science and nature for as long as she can remember. You can imagine, then, how surprised I was that I’d yet to invite her to visit the ol’ Triple-R!

Leslie earned graduate degrees in Oceanography and Social Work, and worked as a medical social worker and school social worker. Her first book, Fatuma’s New Cloth (Moon Mountain Publishing) won the 2003 Children’s Africana Book Award for best picture book, and since then she’s published 16 books, from poetry collections to middle grade novels.

Thanks so much for visiting, Leslie! Time certainly does fly, as we’ve known each other for nearly 11 years now. We first met online around 2010 or so, and then met in person at my first New England SCBWI conference in Mass. in 2011. (That was a momentous year for me, as I met not only you but also Jane Yolen, Lin Oliver, my former neighbor Tomie dePaola, Lee Bennett Hopkins, and myriad others!)

Since then, we’ve each had multiple books published and it’s been wonderful getting to know you, following along your writing career and conversing about children’s publishing. And now you’re celebrating your sixteenth book, with Serengeti: Plains of Grass! I know you have an affinity for both science and poetry, but this book is unique in many ways from your previous collections. Before we get to that, though, please tell me how the idea for the book came to you.

            Thank you very much for inviting me to your blog, Matt! I’m thrilled to share a bit of the backstory of how I came to write Serengeti: Plains of Grass.

            I have been wondering about and dreaming of revisiting the Serengeti since my daughters, my husband, and I were invited to East Africa by his sister years ago. I kept extensive journals during that month-long visit, and took countless photographs. Among many important experiences—in cities and towns, and with families and friends, and in other parks—our short time in the Serengeti left a deep impression. It took many years for me to find this path I finally chose to explore the Serengeti through poetry.

Now, the reason I say this book different is because many of your recent books have been poetry collections about specific subjects within an overarching theme: for example, Hey There, Stink Bug (Charlesbridge, 2006) included poems about different insects while Superlative Birds (Peachtree, 2019) featured poems about specific birds.

But with Serengeti, each poem on each spread reads as if it’s part of a larger whole; that is, the poems can be taken individually, but are meant to be linked together and read in a more traditional picture book style. How did you come to decide on this structure?

            I’m so glad you mentioned themes, Matt. My poetry collections are organized in many layers. Each has what I refer to as a “big idea.” In Superlative Birds, for example, the big idea is a tour of the traits of “birdness,” the specific poems showcase the “world-record holder” of each trait, and readers follow the chickadee spokesbird to find out which traits belong only to birds.

            In Leaf Litter Critters (Peachtree 2018), I set the stage for Serengeti by using poetry to explore a whole ecosystem. I consider that book a “hybrid” of sorts, since it takes readers through the decomposer/recycler food web employing many different poetic forms and lots of humor as I had done in previous (and subsequent) books.

            Serengeti IS different. Readers join the great migration of wildebeests, zebras, and others as they follow the early winter rains into and out of the Serengeti short-grass plain. The stanzas tell another story, too: the movement of energy through the food web from grass to herbivores, insectivores, carnivores, scavengers, recyclers, and back to grass again.

Just as all life in the Serengeti is interconnected, the stanzas and spreads in the book link one to the next, and end with a refrain, a reference to “grass,” to emphasize the basis of this open plain ecosystem.

Speaking of the book’s structure, you eschew your penchant for varying poetic styles/forms and instead stick with the utendi, a Swahili poetic form with Arabic roots, throughout the book. What drew you to this form?

            My experience in the Serengeti left me with a feeling of awe and wonder, Matt. I wanted to portray my impression of its story in a way that embodied my reverence for this remarkable place. In all of my books, my choices of poetic forms relate to the subjects of the poems: perfect rhyme can be quite humorous, different rhythms may relate to the movements of particular animals, and at times I choose forms that spring from the countries where particular animals are found.

            For Serengeti: Plains of Grass, I read about Swahili poetry and learned about the utendi stanza. I felt its three rhyming lines with an opportunity for a fourth line refrain would help me tell this story with respect and flow, linking one spread to the next. Kiswahili words end in vowels, and though I know only a few words and phrases in the language, as I read examples of the utendi stanza I chose to use a partial rhyme—the consonant end sound—in my adaptation of the form in English. Here’s an example, and you’ll see that even in this reverential book I allow myself a bit of wordplay:

Plains are cropped where wildebeests grazed,

leaving tender herbs exposed,

low-ground growth is nimbly used,

fleet gazelles nibble gnu-mown grass.

(©2018 Peachtree Publishing Co., all rights reserved; reprinted with permission. Click to enlarge).

I love it! Ingenious and musical use of wordplay is something I truly appreciate, and the internal rhyme in the third and fourth lines especially is, indeed, ingenious and musical. As someone who loves trying new poetic forms, I often wonder if I’m doing the forms justice; that is, not having written in those forms before, I hope my poems are as good as those that have come before. How do you vet your poems, particularly those written in a poetic form that is new to you?

            I love trying new forms, too! When I do that, I go on a deep dive, reading many, many examples by different poets in addition to reading about the form in some of the poetry reference books and sites I admire. Then I trust my ear to hear the rhythms and notes of a particular form as I write, rewrite, read aloud, read to my critique group, and tweak some more. Since I’m the person writing the poem, the finished form has to make the music I need to hear.

When I’m writing, there are always things popping up that I don’t expect. Perhaps it’s something I didn’t know about the subject, or maybe the amount of research I needed to do. Did you encounter any surprises while writing Serengeti? Anything that caught you off-guard?

            As with all of my science poetry books, there are always such difficult choices: which critters make it into the book or which “end up on the cutting room floor,” as Betsy Bird asked me in an interview about  Amphibian Acrobats (Peachtree 2020). I had worked my way through the seasons and the Serengeti food web stanza by stanza to the end before realizing I hadn’t included elephants. They are not only a keystone species keeping acacia saplings in check, they’re a lifelong favorite of mine. And I was out of space. Thank goodness Becca Stadtlander included elephants in her spectacular illustrations!

They are spectacular, I’ll say that! And I know authors don’t have much say in the illustrations for their books, but was there anything surprising about Becca’s work? What was your impression upon seeing her interpretation of your subjects and words?

            Since my poetry books are nonfiction I am involved in the illustrations at the sketch stage. The whole team works hard to be sure the science is accurate in every interpretation. Just ask humorously accurate illustrator Robert Meganck about amphibian fingers and toes, or spider eyes! Sometimes an illustrator’s interpretation sends me back down a research rabbit hole to find out more so I can give the most accurate feedback.

            The only surprise in Becca’s work was how much more moving and gorgeous it looks on the actual, full-sized pages! I loved it on screen as she worked, but the trim size and format of the book is a much better showcase of her breathtaking artwork.

I noticed there seems to be more expository material in this book than others you’ve written. Was that your intention, or something your editor requested?

            This is an interesting question, Matt. When I wrote Serengeti, the entire poem came first. Then I wrote the long expository introduction, which none of my other books have, and the poetry notes I always include. Much, much later, I decided to add spare science notes to the spreads. These are much shorter than the notes that typically accompany my poems. I think these spare notes add an important element, though I suggest a first read through of the poem stanzas and illustrations for flow, then a second read spread by spread, including the notes.

            I offer my editor a list of the back matter I’d like to include when I submit the manuscript—always a glossary, often a map, a size reference chart, and further readings. The need for information about our responsibilities as humans on our planet grows more imperative and more complex each year, and that’s an important piece of the back matter.

I agree, and hopefully more and more people will realize the importance of that information. Finally, what can we expect next from Leslie Bulion?

            Thanks for asking, Matt! I am working on another “ecosystems” poetry book with Becca Stadtlander entitled Galápagos: Islands of Change, that will publish in the spring of 2023, also with Peachtree Publishing, Inc. This book tells the story of the seasonal rhythms of these iconic islands and their surrounding ocean waters in this fascinating interconnected land-and-sea ecosystem.

Well, thanks again for taking the time to chat, Leslie, and congratulations on Serengeti: Plains of Grass!

            Thanks to you, Matt, and best of luck with all of your upcoming projects!


~~ Giveaway! ~ ~

Would you like a free copy of Serengeti: Plains of Grass? Just let me know in the comments and I’ll select one winner at random! The winner will be announced next Poetry Friday, April 22. Speaking of giveaways, at the end of the month I’ll announce the winner of this month’s #PoetryCUBED contest; you’ve still got a couple of weeks to send me your poems, so be sure to email me at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com and I’ll share them here!

I do need to take a moment and thank the Boston Globe for something quite unexpected I came upon this past week. If you had asked me back in 2012, the year I left full-time appointment at the radio station, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” you can be assured that I would not have said, “in the Boston Globe.”

And, yet…

It truly was an honor to be asked to contribute to Lee Bennett Hopkins’ award-winning book. I’ll always remember when I emailed my poem to him and he called it “perfection” that made his week! (Coming from Lee, that’s a compliment in the highest order) Lee would have been 84 this week, but his memory and legacy will endure not only through his books but by those of us he befriended and mentored.

By the way, the Globe also gave a nod to my friend and neighbor, David Elliott, for his poetry collection, In the Woods (Candlewick, 2020). I hope you’ll check out the complete list, which includes several other New England authors.

And since this is the Poetry Friday roundup, leave your links in the comments and I’ll round them all up, old school style!

Be sure to check out all the cool new picture books arriving this year from my PB22Peekaboo partners!

Poetry Friday links:

  • This is Carol Labuzzetta’s first year contributing to the annual Progressive Poem, and she shares her line and her process behind it – at her blog, The Apples in My Orchard.
  • Karin Fisher-Golton also added a new line to the Progressive Poem this week, and shares her process of how she came up with the line.
  • Michelle Kogan has Gray Catbirds on her mind, and shares an original poem about one.
  • Congrats to my friend, author/poet Laura Shovan, who is celebrating the first night of passover AND the 6th anniversary of her middle grade novel in verse, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, with a Passover-themed post that includes a recipe for Matzo candy – yum!
  • Linda Mitchell is having fun captioning postcards at A Word Edgewise and also shares a brand-new “star” poem.
  • Jama Rattigan is offering readers “Three Cups of Tea with Miss Emily” (Dickinson, that is) at Alphabet Soup – along with recipes for custard pie and cherry scones, from a new cookbook/poetry book!
  • At Life on the Deckle Edge, the art of pen-and-ink handwriting is on Robin Hood Black’s mind today, as she shares a post about glass pens, nib earrings, and a thoughtful haiku.
  • Spring and all its beauty – from cherry blossoms to busy robins – is the focus of a new original poem from Linda Kulp Trout.
  • Poems about…poetry! That’s what you’ll find at The Opposite of Indifference, as Tabatha shares some of Martin Espada’s work. She’s also signing folks up for the Summer Poetry Swap, so be sure to check it out!
  • Jone Rush MacCulloch eatures an interview with poet/author Sally Walker about her new book, Out of This World: Star-Studded Haiku.
  • Patricia J. Franz accepted my #PoetryCUBED challenge from two weeks ago and shares the poem she wrote!
  • Found treasures and unusual places to look for them: that’s what Linda writes about today at Teacher Dance.
  • Over at The Poem Farm, Amy shares her newest proverb-inspired poem, based on catching flies (we know what works and what doesn’t, don’t we?).
  • Smidgey’s Identity Crisis Poetry Series continues at Wee Words for Wee Ones, as Bridget shares a new poetic video about a dog with lots of questions!
  • At Unexpected Intersections, Elisabeth shares a review of Diana Renn’s new middle-grade novel, Trouble at Turtle Pond, and an original poem about the endangered European Swamp Turtle.
  • Marcie Atkins shares a Chinese paperbush haiku and an invitation to a webinar about collaboration, hosted by our longtime Poetry Friday friends Irene Latham and Charles Waters.
  • Kangaroo Paw and Nasturtiums: Imagine the Possibilites, with Rose’s two new, original poems!
  • As if plastics weren’t bad enough for the environment, now there are MICROplastics – sigh. Catherine at Reading to the Core offers up a Golden Shovel poem, for the Good of the Earth.
  • What is the Insect Apocalypse? Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading shares an original poem that addresses the imminent threat to our planet and the species that are not thriving as they used to.
  • At Live Your Poem, Irene shares a bunny pic just in time for Easter along with a poem about parrot friendship.
  • Amy Soto, the Mother Goose Librarian, reviews Stop That Poem!, an ingenious poetry picture book by our friend Eric Ode, and offers the first drafy of an original poem inspired by the book.
  • Michelle H. Barnes has been busy “filling the well,” so to speak – and at Today’s Little Ditty, she fills it up with poet Lucille Clifton, sculptor Anthony Howe, and singer/pianist Akeboshi.
  • With a title like “The Upper Case for Being,” you know the poem is going to be intriguing; Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe shares an original poem that takes equal indpiration from Narnia, the book Braiding Sweetgrass, and a little Taoism thrown in for good measure.
  • Have you ever heard of an N+7 exercise in poetry? Neither have I! But if you head over to Small Reads for Brighter Days, you can read Laura’s new sticky note poem inspired by it!
  • At Wondering and Wandering, Christie shares two new poems: one is the latest in her ‘Pathways’ series, inspired by her frequent nature walks, and the other is by a young debut poet (and by young, I mean, “in kindergarten!”)
  • Marilyn Garcia has been thinking about trans rights this week and the irony that today, Good Friday, millions of people are remembering the persecution and death of an innocent man. Check out her poem, “The Announcemnet.”
  • Zeena at Teaching Authors is in Cairo, of all places! She shares a poem by Egyptian poet omar ibrahim as well as a preview of her upcoming picture book, Egyptian Lullaby (Roaring Brook Press, 2023).
  • House renovations and confusion go hand-in-hand, and Karen Eastlund shares their progress at her place with a brief verse about packing up and (dis)organizing.
  • Anastasia Suen gives us a sneak peek at a cute new butterfly board book!
  • At Chicken Spaghetti, Susan Thomsen chose a beautiful spring poem from Jessie Redmon Fauset, “Rondeau,” to share with her readers.
  • “The silence of God” is something indeed worth pondering this Good Friday / Passover, and Ruth does just that with a powerful, moving poem from Andrew Peterson at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town.
  • Speaking of Good Friday, Denise Krebs offers up an original poem for the day at Dare to Care.
  • Over at The Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia features a senryu inspired by a photo taken in the early 1930s of her mother and mother’s cousin, when they were children.
  • Janice Scully has a review of our friend Laura Purdie Salas’ latest book, We Belong.
  • Last, but certainly not least, Carol at Beyond Literacy Link is sharing her gratitude by sharing an original springtime haiku as well as various poems, photos, and artwork that have inspired her this past week.

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