Poetry Friday: Celebrating poetry with “A Hatful of Dragons”

Today we have an old friend joining us – and I’m so happy to celebrate his first traditionally-published book of poetry!

First, a brief history of Vikram Madan:  He grew up in India where he really wanted to be a cartoonist, but ended up an engineer. After many years of working in the tech industry, he finally came to his senses and followed his heart into the visual and literary arts. When not making whimsical paintings and public art, Vikram writes and illustrates humorous poetry collections, including the brand-new‘A HATFUL OF DRAGONS’ (Wordsong, 2020), which officially in April, and the Moonbeam Award winners ‘THE BUBBLE COLLECTOR’ and ‘LORD OF THE BUBBLES’.

Welcome back to the ol’ Triple-R, my friend! It’s been a long time since you’ve been here…7 years, to be exact, which was when your self-published “The Bubble Collector” came out. How do you feel you’ve progressed or changed in these past 7 years?

Thanks Matt! Wow those 7 years went by pretty quickly. I’m definitely older, but probably not much wiser! 🙂 Back in 2013 I was still enrolled in an art school. Since 2014 I’ve been working as a full-time visual artist focused on whimsical studio-painting and public-art. On the writing and illustration side, I feel I’ve grown more by going through the process of publishing A Hatful of Dragons than working on my own. Superb editors create many learning opportunities!

(click to enlarge)

What did you learn from “Bubble Collector” or its follow-up, “Lord of the Bubbles,” that helped you with this book?

Self-publishing the ‘The Bubble Collector’ gave me a healthy respect for traditional publishing. It is extremely difficult, uneconomical, and time-consuming (for an author) to also distribute and market a physical self-published book (e-books are much easier to self-distribute). My experiences with ‘The Bubble Collector’ convinced me that if I wanted my work to reach a broader audience, I really needed to try and get my poetry traditionally published.

One has to admit, “Hatful of Dragons” is a pretty fun title for a book. What were some of the other potential titles you considered? (feel free to make these up, if you’d like – it’s just for fun!)

My working title was ‘I Met a Man With Twenty Heads’. That poem never made it into this book! Other titles we considered and rejected over time included:

  • The Panda and the Pangolin: And Other Funny Poems
  • Duel with a Mosquito: And …
  • The Slobberly Slobs: And…
  • There’s a Dragon in my Wagon: And…

None of these felt right, unique, and/or marketable.

Ironically, I was putting together my sequel to ‘The Bubble Collector’ in the background and had planned to call it ‘A Hatful of Bubbles’. ‘Hatful’ felt like a strong title so I decided to sacrifice/repurpose it and offered it up as ‘A Hatful of Dragons’. Everyone liked this new title, but now I would have to write a new poem for the book, worthy of being a title poem – talk about pressure!  Thankfully this turned out to be a fun poem to write and illustrate. (And I retitled the sequel collection as ‘Lord of the Bubbles’).

This book is very different from most of the poetry collections out there these days, not just in the tone of your poems, but because you include a lot of visual cues – like a poem missing its all of its center words, or a poem that includes a one-page cartoon strip! Did you have a plan for how you wanted the book to look, or how you wanted the poems to be constructed?

As a kid, I loved treasuries and books with variety, so I like adding variety to my own collections. And as a visual person I am always pushing the words and images around to create interesting visual experiences. When Rebecca Davis, my editor, distilled my raw manuscript into a smaller collection, the visual variety became more ‘concentrated’ and turned into a distinctive feature of this book. I hope the variety will keep kids engaged and have them reading and re-reading.

© 2020 Boyds Mills & Kane, all rights reserved; reprinted with permission. (click to enlarge)

One of my favorite poems is THE BAND-AID AND THE CHEWING GUM. Where did the idea come from?

One day I felt something sticky under my shoe, looked down and said to myself, “Oh, it’s a band-aid and a chewing gum?!” And I really liked how that phrase rolled off the tongue and thought to myself, “Hey, that could be the title of a poem!” (The rhyme pattern pays tribute to an old favorite featuring another unlikely duo, “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” by Lewis Carroll.)

Well, I’ll have to re-examine that poem! What’s one of your favorites?

This one!

© 2020 Boyds Mills & Kane, all rights reserved; reprinted with permission. (click to enlarge)

So what surprises did you encounter as you worked with editor Rebecca Davis to put the book together?

My initial surprise came when Rebecca sculpted my 150-page manuscript into a chiseled 64-page book proposal! Even then I really wanted to cram as many poems into those 64 pages as I could, but she convinced me that ‘less is more’. Over the course of this book she has been a wonderful coach, holding me to a high standard, and gently (but firmly) prodding me to ‘do better’ and exceed my own limitations. This book would not be what it is without her vision and guidance.

Indeed, Rebecca is wonderful, isn’t she? You know, back in the day, the great Jack Prelutsky was told he should give up illustrating and focus on writing – and the rest, as they say, is history. Do you feel you’re a writer first or an illustrator first?

Jack Prelutsky’s first submission to an editor was a set of illustrations, with accompanying verses he had jotted down at the last minute just so his illustrations wouldn’t look bare. The editor loved his “natural gift for verse”, took the words, and rejected his drawings. I always thought of myself as an artist/illustrator first, but last year, when my agent, Rosemary Stimola, submitted an ‘early reader graphic novel’ project to an editor, they loved the stories and took the words, but rejected my art(!). I had my own ‘Jack Prelutsky moment’ there. 🙂  I’m still trying to figure out if I’m a writer or an illustrator first, or if that matters at all.

I ask that question because you are an artist, as well as an illustrator – and I do draw a distinction between the two. Art, though, is what got you into this business, and art plays a big role in your professional life. Where do you see these two halves of your life going?

When I paint, I use a variety of mediums: oils, acrylics, watercolor, ink. Popping up a level, I guess writing, drawing, painting, public art … are all mediums I use for expressing myself. At the end of the day I’m just trying to create some positivity in the world – if people/kids enjoy my work, and it gives them a sense of delight, a moment of levity they can share, a bit of inspiration, a rekindling of innocence… I think that’s more than I can ask for.

So what can we expect next from you?

I have an Early Reader Graphic Novel series, titled ‘Bobo & Pup-Pup’ releasing in 2021, illustrated by Nicola Slater and published by Penguin Random House. Books take a long time to cook up, land, and publish so I get my shorter-term ‘creative fix’ by making humorous and whimsical paintings. I invite readers to follow my work on social media: @ArtByVikram (instagram, facebook, twitter) or visit my website www.VikramMadan.com .

Well, thanks for visiting, Vikram, and good luck!

Thank you for featuring me Matt– it’s always a pleasure!

My pleasure, my friend!

And to my readers:  we have a GIVEAWAY!

Just leave a comment below and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of A Hatful of Dragons, courtesy of publisher Boyds Mills & Kane. Good luck!

It’s Poetry Friday – so if you’re looking for more poetry links & fun, stop by Tabatha Yeatt’s little home on the web, The Opposite of Indifference, for the complete roundup and an entreaty for “Acceptance.”

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For some time now I’ve been wanting to help my educator and parent friends with educational videos geared to understanding poetry, and now my “Wit & Wordplay” videos, as I call them, are available on my YouTube channel! These videos focus on poetry: how to write it, how to appreciate it, and tips on having fun with it. There are several ready for viewing, and more are on the way – so be sure to subscribe or check back often!

You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website. If you think any of this information might be useful for someone you know, I hope you’ll share.

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Pre-orders are available now!

In stores Aug. 18, 2020!

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year! And there are a LOT of them, too – including SEVEN in March!

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

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


     

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: Spine poetry as a fun activity kids won’t realize is educational!

As I mentioned in this past Tuesday’s post, several children’s authors and illustrators are offering readalouds, drawing lessons, activity sheets, and other educational resources for kids, parents, and teachers who now find themselves “remote learning.”

For my part, I’m producing a series of short videos on poetry: how to write it, how to appreciate it while reading, and some tips on poetry-related activities. Since so many of my peers are doing video chats with students, I thought I would focus my “Wit & Wordplay” videos, as I call them, on parents and educators.

For some time now I’ve been wanting to help my educator and parent friends with some educational videos…but I’ll admit these have been hastily put together, as I am trying to assist my kids with this “new normal” of home-schooling while attempting to write and do my voiceover work. Moreover, I’m working with a video editing program I’ve never used before, as I had to reinstall Windows about a month ago and lost the program I had been using (MS Movie Maker), which is apparently no longer available!

Lake, the newest member of the family!

Oh, and did I mention we have a 10-week-old Great Dane puppy?

So, yeah…I’ve been a bit busy.

The fact I was able to create six videos in two days is still surprising to me, but I have plenty more I plan on producing over the weekend. For today, I wanted to share a couple of simple spine poetry examples I use in my most recent video. Spine poetry is a form of “found poetry,” whereby you search through books’ spines to find titles you think might go together to create a phrase, scene or thought:

There’s a cow in the road!
Deadly animals
wild in the streets…
choose your path.

Again, it doesn’t need to be long – a few titles are all you need! Even two books would suffice:

You get the idea! Silly, thoughtful, scary…doesn’t matter! The important thing is that kids are learning how to put disparate thoughts together (a book about deadly animals together with Star Wars®? Whoulda thunk??)

You can see more spine poetry examples on my YouTube channel. And if you think any of this information might be useful for someone you know or a school near you, I hope you’ll share.

In addition to these videos, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website. The list of all the authors & illustrators who are participating in this national effort is a long one, so here are a few lists you can use to find out who’s doing what:

Let’s Keep Reading!

#AuthorsHelpingKids

#KidLitQuarantine

Laura Shovan’s #WriteAnAuthor

And since today is Poetry Friday, you might want to find more poetry posts…so just head on over to MoreArt4All, where Michelle Kogan is hosting Poetry Friday and welcoming Spring with a variety of poems written by her and several others in the PF community!

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Pre-orders are available now!

In stores Aug. 18, 2020!

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year! And there are a LOT of them, too – including SEVEN in March!

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

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


     

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday ROUNDUP: “Construction People” arrives…Madness Poetry Round 1 voting ends today…AND a “Night Wishes” Sneak Peek!

Wow, what a busy day today! It’s Poetry Friday and there’s so much going on, I can’t wait to tell you…

First of all, Round One voting in the nation’s largest bracketed children’s poetry competition, Madness! Poetry, is underway…and wraps up TODAY!

As of this writing, a mere 1/10th of a percent separates us, so it’s a nail-biter among nail-biters! 

Please vote for your favorites! Voting ends at various times this afternoon, but my matchup with Laurie Kaiser closes at 5:15pm EDST, which means there’s not much time left to cast your vote. BUT…if you do vote, please vote for your favorite, even if it’s not mine.

In case you don’t know, each pair of competitors (or ‘authletes’) is given a specific word; we then have 36 hours to write a children’s poem using that exact word. Voting then takes place, and whoever wins their round moves on to the next, much in No photo description available.the way that the NCAA’s March Madness works. Eventually, one winner will be crowned champion and receive “The Thinkier” trophy!

Laurie and I were given the word “submerged,” and came up with two very different poems – so please check out our matchup (and all of them), and thanks so much for supporting children’s poetry!

(AGAIN: Voting ends at 5:15pm EDST Today)

Feeding into this “poetry madness,” so to speak, is the fact that Construction People (Wordsong) arrives next Tuesday, March 17! It has always been an honor to be part of a Lee Bennett Hopkins anthology, and to be included in 3 of his final 4 books (Lee passed away last August), is truly a blessing.

(click to enlarge)

Construction People is a follow-up to 2018’s School People, which featured poems about all the grown-ups a child meets at school. In this new book, there are poems about all the folks involved in building a skyscraper, from the architect to the carpenters, from the elevator installers to the plumbers!

But I have to admit…when Lee asked me to write a poem about the construction project manager, I was a bit leery. Where was the fun, the pizzazz, the cool sounds and energy and imagery one would expect? But once I did some research and realized how stressful – and integral – the position is, I knew I could do it. As for the structure of the poem, I knew it needed to be a villanelle, with its tall, skyscraper-like shape and almost obsessively repetitive lines. I hope you like it!

One of my favorite poems is Lee’s…although I’m not sure if I like it because it’s a wonderful poem, or if it’s because it was one of my friend’s last published poems:

(click to enlarge)

Construction People arrives everywhere this coming Tuesday!

In other news…

Another of Lee’s last anthologies has a publishing date! In addition to Construction People (Wordsong), which comes out next week, have you heard about Night Wishes (Eerdmans), which arrives this fall? I just learned from the publisher that we can expect to see it in stores everywhere Sept. 15:

As a child falls asleep, all the inanimate objects in her room wish her “good night” in their own, special ways:  the mattress, bookshelf, rocking horse…all of them offer their words through 14 poets, myself included. (In fact, you’ll notice my “Pillow” is even included in the official description!)

Here’s just a little taste of what to expect…

I wish I could share the rest of the poem, but we’ll all have to wait until we get closer to the publication date, Sept. 15! It’s such a beautiful book, I can’t wait for you to see it. Pre-orders are available now, though, so don’t let me stop you from clicking the links, ha!

Thanks so much for visiting the ol’ Triple-R! Please leave your links and news in the comments below and I’ll round them up old school-style throughout the day…

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Speaking of new books…have you pre-ordered yet??

In stores Aug. 18, 2020!

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year! And there are a LOT of them, too – including SEVEN in March, plus the new poetry anthology Construction People (Wordsong, March 17, 2020), of which I’m a contributor:

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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!

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Madness!Poetry returns – and Round One voting is underway!

It’s March, and that means Round One voting in the nation’s largest bracketed children’s poetry competition – Madness! Poetry – is now underway!

Please vote for your favorites! Voting runs until this Friday, March 13, at 5:15pm EDST, which means you’ve only got a couple of days.

Each participant (or ‘authlete,’ as we are called) is paired with another and given a specific word; we then have 36 hours to write a children’s poem using that exact word. Once the poems have all been submitted, the public, schools, and fellow authletes vote…and whoever wins their round moves on to the next round, much in No photo description available.the way that the NCAA’s March Madness works. Eventually, one winner will be crowned champion and receive the highly-coveted and oft-damaged “The Thinkier” trophy!

In Round One, my competitor, Laurie Kaiser, and I have been given the word “submerged.” Other authletes struggled with words like “exuberant,” “pigeonholed,”  “gamboling,” and “fecund.” So you can see, “submerged” isn’t the toughest word we could have been given!

So please click the logo above and vote for your favorites – not just my matchup, but all of them – and thanks so much for supporting children’s poetry!

Voting ends at 5:15pm EDST on March 13 (yes, Friday the 13th!)

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

Have you pre-ordered yet??

In stores Aug. 18, 2020!

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year! And there are a LOT of them, too – including SEVEN in March, plus the new poetry anthology Construction People (Wordsong, March 17, 2020), of which I’m a contributor:

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

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


     

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: Madness! Poetry returns PLUS the #2020BookLook

Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again; Madness! Poetry – the brainchild of one Ed DeCaria – is the world’s largest bracketed children’s poetry competition (and quite possibly the only one), and it all begins in one month!

Ed is in the process of accepting and sorting through applications, but the premise is still the same as always:  64 “authletes,” as we are called, are paired with one another and given a specific word; we then have 36 hours to write a children’s poem using that exact word.

So 32 words, 32 new poems!

Here’s an example from last year, when I had to come up with a poem using the word “brace” in only 36 hours:

Second Thoughts

This homemade toboggan’s a real dream come true!
A few wooden planks,
…..some twine,
……….some glue,
and here I am racing down Breakyerneck Hill
with goggles and helmet
and sheer force of will.

The one little thing that is worrying me
is that shed near that car
…..near that rock
…..…..near that tree.
I’ve lost all control and my rope is undone –
…..so I’m bracing for impact
……………in three…
…………………………two…
………………………………….one……!

– © 2019 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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Once the poems have been submitted, the public votes for their favorites and the winning “authlete” of each poem then moves to the next round. This continues until the field is narrowed down to just 2 writers…one of whom is crowned Madness! Poetry champion and wins the “Thinkier” trophy!

If you’d like to apply, begin by filling out the application and then follow the Madness! Poetry Facebook page so you can stay updated and find out if you made it in!

Don’t forget, we have a cover reveal coming for Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2020), my new picture book written with Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose®)!  The book comes out August 18, and author/kidlit blogger Tara Lazar will be hosting the official cover reveal on her blog Feb. 10, as soon as she wraps up this year’s Storystorm!

And speaking of the new book, I’ve teamed up with several children’s authors like fellow authlete Lori Degman (who beat me last year, but I won’t hold a grudge), former fellow Poet’s Garage crit group member Diana Murray, Corey Rosen Schwartz, Michelle Schaub, and many others to promote our upcoming books this year. So be watching for news about this book as well as blog posts and reviews of a whole bunch more – including six in February alone!:

Looking for more poetry? For all of today’s Poetry Friday links and fun, head over to Jone MacCulloch’s blog, Deowriter, for some postcard poetry AND a giveaway!
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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!

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: Looking back at 2019 and welcoming 2020 with CYBILS Awards finalists!

The last night these little babies will be lit. Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

While everyone seems to be thrilled with the promise of what lies ahead for us in 2020, I’m still reflecting on how incredible 2019 was for me.

“It was a very good year…”

Professionally speaking, it was probably the best year I’ve had so far since I began this journey in 2009, with FIVE manuscripts sold – including a picture book written with the incomparable Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose®). I had set a goal for myself of selling one manuscript per year – not unattainable, but certainly not a slam-dunk sort of thing for someone who is still in the early stages of his career. So 2019 really surprised me!

Elsewhere, I had a poem included in the late Lee Bennett Hopkins’ anthology, I Am Someone Else (Charlesbridge, 2019) and a couple of other poems found themselves in Michelle H. Barnes’ newest poetry anthology. I also was asked by Kristen Wixted and Heather Kelly at The Writer’s Loft in Massachusetts if my friend Kip Wilson (White Rose, Versify, 2019) and I would help judge poems for their new anthology, Friends and Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children. (How awesome a title is that??)

So proud to be part of this crew! NCTE presenters, L-R: Mary Lee Hahn, Liz Steinglass, Yours Truly, Heidi Mordhorst, Laura Purdie Salas

Other significant accomplishments included having a poem included in an important Donald Hall tribute anthology; another poem winning the Robert Frost Farm and Derry (NH) Public Library’s MacGregor Poetry Prize; seeing Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills and Kane, 2017) on the short list for two New Hampshire Literary Awards for Best Picture Book; and attending my first NCTE conference in Baltimore, where I co-presented a poetry workshop (“Wonder as a Way In: Teaching Reading and Writing Poetry through Inquiry”) with a number of fellow writer friends. The fact that I got to visit Edgar Allan Poe’s grave site – as well as family members I’ve not seen in years – was icing on the proverbial cake!

In-between all this, I also managed to sell my parents’ house, which had been a huge time-depleting and emotionally draining project. So yes, I’m looking forward to seeing what 2020 has waiting for me, but I’m pretty proud of everything I’ve accomplished in 2019.

What IS waiting in 2020? Well, aside from Friends and Anemones (which comes out in November), that picture book I wrote with Charles Ghigna is scheduled for an August 18 publication date from Beaming Books (keep watching here for a cover-reveal SOON!).

“But wait, there’s more!”

Two of those manuscripts I sold last year (board books from Rainstorm Publishing) are planned for release this summer and a third manuscript, a picture book, might also sneak in before the end of the year. On top of all this, the new poetry anthology Construction People (Wordsong, 2020), one of Lee Bennett Hopkins’ final anthologies, has a March 17 release date…and I just learned about two weeks ago that I will be part of another anthology coming out within the next year or so.

Oh, and did I mention I’m participating in Tara Lazar’s Storystorm 2020 this month? No? Well, I am – because, you know, no matter how many ideas a writer has, one can never have too many!

So yes, I have a lot to look forward to in 2020, much of it due to good fortune that occurred in 2019. One final thing we can all look forward to in 2020 are the CYBILS Awards! Out of all the books nominated last fall, finalists have now been officially announced, and I was proud to once again be part of the first-round panel of judges who determined the poetry finalists:

Dreams from Many Rivers: A Hispanic History of the United States Told in Poems (Henry Holt) (AmazonIndieBound)
by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Beatriz Gutierrez Hernandez

Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience (Triangle Square) (AmazonIndieBound)
Edited by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond

Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir (Wordsong) (AmazonIndieBound)
by Nikki Grimes

Other Words for Home (Balzer + Bray) (AmazonIndieBound)
by Jasmine Warga

SHOUT (Viking Books for Young Readers) (Amazon,IndieBound)
by Laurie Halse Anderson

Soccerverse: Poems about Soccer (Wordsong) (AmazonIndieBound)
by Elizabeth Steinglass, illustrated by Edson Ike

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems (Candlewick Press) (Amazon,IndieBound)
by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Richard Jones

You can read all about them HERE. There was a great deal of quality writing this year and it was very difficult for us to come to a decision about which seven books would move on to the second round, but congratulations to all, and I wish the judges good luck with a task that is decidedly not easy.

What’s this, you want more poetry? Well, for all of today’s Poetry Friday links, please visit Carol’s Corner for the complete roundup, featuring a very appropriate poem from Maya Angelou. And thank you so much for all the support you’ve lent – it really means a lot, as I continue to move forward in this career I’ve found myself in. Best wishes for health, happiness, and success for you, as well, in the year ahead!

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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!

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: My very first poetry collection…from 40 years ago

Today’s the day.

After months and months and months of cleaning out my parents’ house – the house I grew up in – it is finally being sold.

By the time you read this, we may have already closed the sale, in fact. It’s bittersweet, as there are a lot of memories inside and out…but considering how long it has taken me and how much work it’s been, I’m glad to be able to put this chapter behind me.

Boxes of letters mom and dad exchanged while he was stationed in Germany in the early ’50’s.

Mom and dad are now both together in the local nursing home, and if you have frequented this blog at all during the past 16+ months, you know that cleaning out a house filled with 60+ years of married life has been a long, arduous process dotted with sporadic bursts of nostalgia, amazement, and melancholy. (See a few random posts HERE, HERE, and HERE) Being an only child has meant no sibling-squabbling about who gets what…the problem is, I’m the one who gets it all, and I have no idea where to put it!

Now, granted, I have found lots of things I had completely forgotten about.
Like my high school artwork…

…news clippings…

 

…and assorted mementos from my senior year…

So having found these lost relics, I’m glad I had the opportunity to peruse the museum warehouse home before it was sold. I’m also fortunate to have been able to revisit my “hideout,” a small area of woods just outside the boundaries of our lawn, where more than one adventure transpired:

(If you wonder where I got the idea for “Flashlight Night”…this is likely the spot)

But one of the most surprising things I discovered hidden away among the childhood drawings…

…the models…

…and the toys…

Boxes and boxes of original, late ’80’s-era McDonald’s Happy Meal toys!

…was a little book (if I may call it that) I didn’t even realize existed! I estimate I was probably around 10 years old when I produced this little poetry collection for my mother. Honestly, I don’t even remember writing poetry at this age, so this really took me by surprise:

That’s right…only 4 pages, and one of them is a full-page display ad promoting my next book. If I knew anything at that age, it was how to market. (By the way, speaking of marketing…)

Up until now, I thought my first “book” was a high school creative writing class project I also discovered while cleaning, but apparently I had been publishing years earlier and had completely forgotten. So as bittersweet as it is to say goodbye to my childhood home, I do have some memories, poetry and artwork – and a 50-year-old bottle of Mercurochrome – to hold onto.

Time for me to put all this memorabilia away for now. 2020 is looking like a banner year for Yours Truly, with as many as FOUR books coming out along with a poetry anthology, so I’ve got plenty to keep me busy. I’ve also got several other manuscript submissions to get to before I hunker down and begin this year’s cookie-baking marathon.

So enjoy your weekend, and please encourage your kids to pursue their interests and dreams…one never knows where those dreams will lead! If you’re looking for more poetry, my friend Liz Steinglass, with whom I presented at NCTE last month, is hosting Poetry Friday today with her “favorite word!”

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

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

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


     

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

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

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

And the latest edition is out now!

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

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

© 2018, Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


   

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: “Mummy Problems”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: “October Daybreak”

(click to enlarge)

You may have seen this photo a week or so ago when I shared it on Instagram and Facebook…I took it around 6:30 one morning as the sun was just starting to break through the trees that line the field across the road from our house. I loved watching the ebb and flow of the dense fog, as if it was my own personal cloud. I knew at some point I’d have to write a poem about it.

Today, I did!

And by the way, I’m very excited to share the news that I’ll be one of the authors Boyds Mills & Kane is sponsoring for one of their tables at the NCTE Conference’s Children’s Book Awards Luncheon next month! This year is my first attending The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference, so I’m thrilled to not only be able to go, but to be able to represent Flashlight Night‘s publisher.

And the day before the luncheon, I’ll be presenting a poetry-focused workshop with authors and educators Laura Purdie Salas, Liz Steinglass, Heidi Mordhorst, and Mary Lee Hahn – so you can imagine how eager I am to hang out in my birth city of Baltimore with so many writer and teacher friends!

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, head over to Karen Edmisten’s blog , where she is also celebrating October with a poem by Helen Hunt Jackson.

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

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

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


  

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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