Poetry Friday: “A Lesson in Brevity”

As I mentioned on Tuesday, the world’s biggest children’s poetry competition is underway, and I hope you’ve been following it! (If not, you can learn more HERE)

Once again, I am out in the first round – not sure how that always happens – but I do know my competitor, Alison Dellenbaugh, wrote a cute little poem about Bigfoot that won the hearts of the voters, and I wish her well as she moves on to round 2!

Madness!Poetry, as the contest is called, is a bracketed competition similar to sports brackets, where we start off with 64 teams (or in this case, “authletes”), and after the first round that number is whittled down to 32…then 16…then 8…and 4…until we have two finalists vying for the championship.

So today I thought I’d share the poem I wrote – since I’m out of contention, I’m a spectator now, without the pressure of having to create a winning poem with some random word in 36 hours. I was given the word “behemoth,” and when I thought about how it’s a word meaning some giant ‘thing,’ I immediately thought of an old tale we all know…

A Lesson in Brevity

A young lad named Jack cultivated legumes,
which germinated thaumaturgically.
He met a behemoth hungry for bones
who tried to remove them non-surgically.
Jack quickly absconded down tall vegetation
and thought he might nearly prevail –
but poor dear old Jack was a sesquipedalian
and took too long telling his tale.

– © 2017, Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

I had a feeling that my abundant use of verbose language might be my undoing, but once I nailed down my plan – and punchline – I knew I was going to need to pull out the trusty ol’ thesaurus. And win or lose, I really liked how the poem turned out, and that was the important thing to me.

So be sure to check out all the action (and vote!) at the Madness!Poetry website, and if you’re looking for more poetry, visit Michelle H. Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty for the complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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The Madness of Poetry in March

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on Tuesday – increased parenting duties and less available time to write can put a crimp in one’s blogging schedule – but I had to share a quick little update about a fun competition that is underway. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, a fun, familiar poetry challenge is back for another year!

What used to be known as MMPoetry (short for March Madness Poetry), has now been reborn with a new website and new name: Madness!Poetry. As in past years, Ed DeCaria at Think Kid, Think! hosts a bracketed poetry competition similar to that famous March college basketball tournament which is full of “madness,” but which we can’t speak of by name due to potential infringement of a registered trademark.

The premise is simple: each of 64 “authletes,” as Ed calls us, competes against another by writing a poem using a specific word we’ve been given. (In my case this year, that word is “behemoth” – which may sound challenging, but it’s better than past words I’ve been saddled with, like “appendage” and “verjuice!”) Fellow writers, teachers, students, and the general public are encouraged to vote for their favorites, and whoever wins each match-up moves on to the next round, then the next round, then the next round…until two authletes go at it head-to-head, mano a mano, to determine the champion.

Ed has been quite a busy fellow; for the past year, he’s been tweaking the structure and voting process, creating a new website, and basically re-branding the entire thing, now that we all have seen just how huge this little idea of his became. You can learn more about Madness!Poetry and see who is battling who by checking out the website HERE.

I submitted my First Round poem on Monday afternoon, and all the poems will be posted Tuesday morning at the Madness!Poetry website – so please check out all the poems as they are posted, vote for your favorites, and keep following along! It’s a lot of fun even if you’ve never written children’s poetry, because some of the solutions the writers come up with in order to use their words are pretty creative. After 4 years of competing, I’ve never made it out of Round 1…so I’m hoping this is the year…we’ll see!

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Poetry Friday: Poetry Madness Returns!

poetryfridaybutton-fulll(Only, this time…it’s “Madness! Poetry”!)

What am I talking about? Well, back in 2012, Ed DeCaria at Think, Kid, Think! created a children’s poetry competition styled after the NCAA March Madness tournament, where 64 poets (or, “authletes,” as he calls them) would battle each other by writing poems using random words they were given for each round.

It was a lot of fun for 3 years – but then Ed decided to take 2016 off. Those of us who participated each year wondered what he was up to, but we knew he had some plans he was working on. Sure enough, it’s back this year, redesigned, reorganized, and renamed!

I encourage you to learn more at the Madness! Poetry website, where you can learn mroe about the competition, see who’s competing, and – once it gets underway – follow along with all the authletes and poems, and vote for your favorites.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share one of my past poems from the competition. In the competition’s second year, I had been given the word “verjuice” – which is an acidic juice made from unripe grapes or crab apples, or an alcoholic liquor made from that juice. Not exactly a word one would expect to find in a children’s poem, but neither were words like “catatonic,” “ignominious,” or “antediluvian,” all of which found their way into the competition. So I couldn’t complain…all I could do was write the best poem possible, within 35 hours:

Senescence

Drink from the cup of your youth, my child,
sup and be merry while young;
for the feast quickly cools
and verjuice of old fools
is sour and sad on the tongue.

– © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

Yes, a bit heavy for a children’s poem…but that was what I came up with. (And I just had to use a $64,000 word as the title!) Fellow writer and Poetry Friday family member Robyn Hood Black and I battled it out, head to head, poem to poem, and she eventually went on to the next round. But I’ve always been proud of this little poem, so I hope you liked it.

Karen Edmisten is hosting Poetry Friday today, so for the complete Poetry Friday roundup, head on over and say hi and enjoy her “Snow Day” with Billy Collins!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Poetry Friday: The Winter Poetry Swap, part II!

winter-poetry-swap

Before we get too far, let me first apologize to my Poetry Friday friends, whose blogs I have not been frequenting lately. I really want to check out everyone’s blogs – and try to get to as many as I can – but it’s been a difficult task these past couple of weeks.

You see, I’ve been busy…

Clockwise, from left: Pepparkakor (Scandinavian spice cookie), Sugar cookies, Peanut Blossoms (flourless dough!), Christmas Haystacks (A southern treat made with chow mein noodles, peanuts, and melted butterscotch chips), Chocolate-Peppermint Brownie Cookies (If a brownie was given the chance to be a cookie for one day, this is what it would taste like!), Serinakakor (Scandinavian butter cookie w/almonds), Strawberry-Oatmeal Jumbles,
And that’s not even all of them!
Made about 11 dozen of these, alone…if you don’t count all the ones I tasted in the interest of quality control.

Let’s break this down: 16 dozen pepparkakor, 4 dozen serinakakor, 11 dozen chocolate-peppermint brownie cookies, 8 dozen sugar cookies, 5 1/2 dozen strawberry oatmeal bars, 3 1/2 dozen peanut blossoms, and 3 dozen haystacks. That’s 51 and a half dozen cookies, in case you’re wondering.

And yes, I kept count!

That’s over 600 cookies, baked in less than a week, with a 3-year-old here at the house destroying everything she can get her mitts on. Add in Christmas shopping, decorating, trying to find time to write, and getting my voiceover work done, and…well, as I said, I’ve been busy.

But with the Big Day just days away, all that’s left is cleaning the house, wrapping the remaining presents, and getting food prepped for Sunday – so things are starting to slow down to the relaxed pace that we expect at Christmas.

My family & I will be attending a Christmas Eve-Eve service tonight, then settling in for a nice long weekend. I, for one, cannot wait!

So now, then…the poetry. In last week’s post, I told you about Tabatha Yeatt’s 2016 Winter Poetry Swap, where folks exchange poetry and a gift with others, and I shared the poem that Keri Collins Lewis had written for me.

Today, I’m sharing the poem I wrote for educator, blogger, and poet Margaret Simon! I decided that it might be interesting to read through several of her past blog posts about Christmas and create a found poem from some of the words and phrases I came across. Here’s how it turned out (click to enlarge):

Margaret shared this poem on her blog a couple days ago, so I wanted to share it here, as well. Hope you liked it! For more poetry, head on over to Buffy’s Blog, where Buffy Silverman is hosting Poetry Friday today!

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Tabatha Yeatts’ 2016 Winter Poetry Swap!

winter-poetry-swapI rarely, if ever, feature poetry by folks other than myself on Poetry Friday…it’s not a vanity thing, it’s just that I don’t usually share my work on any days other than Fridays, so I like to reserve this day for my own.

Today, though, I’m making an exception, thanks to Tabatha Yeatts and Keri Collins Lewis!

I was happy to once again take part in Tabatha’s annual Winter Poetry Swap, an opportunity to write a poem for someone and have someone else write one for you – and receive a little Christmas gift along with it. No one knows who has our names until a package shows up in the mail from that person!

This year, Keri was given my name; I learned this when a package came to my house with a jar of raw honey from Keri’s own bees, a very nice writer’s notebook, and this poem:

keris-poem
(click to enlarge)

Thank you so much, Keri! I really appreciate it. As for the woman whose name I was given…well, I’m not sure if she’s received her package yet, so I’m keeping mum for now. But I’ll be sure to share the poem once I know she has seen it first!

Speaking of the Winter Poetry Swap, Tabatha is hosting Poetry Friday today at her blog, The Opposite of Indifference – so be sure to stop by and check out all the poetry links – as well as some beautiful shadow box art!

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Oh, what one can accomplish when the kids actually behave

I want to take a moment and thank my two young children for whatever success I may have down the road with my writing career.

Granted, whatever success I may enjoy would probably have come sooner had I not had to keep stopping to tell the 6-year-old to stop running through the house half-naked while playing with the TV remote…and it might have come sooner still had I not had to tell the 3-year-old 67 times to stop pulling her clean clothes out of the dresser and throwing them all over her room and just take a nap, for the love of Pete.

But still, I would have no success at all without those two little devils angels because they – and their older siblings – are the reasons I write for children in the first place. Being a stay-at-home dad, I may barely have a career as it is…but I’d have no career whatsoever without them.

And no one to go sledding with, either.

“You got yourself down there, you can get yourself back up!”

So today, I just wanted to give thanks for the inspiration, love, and exhaustion that my kids provide me. For the past several months, I’ve had a difficult time getting any significant writing done; the 3-year-old is rarely taking naps now, so my work time is severely diminished, and now that she has been waking up at 2 or 3am every other night, I’m only getting 4-5 hours of sleep at night if I’m lucky.

But today, for some reason, went differently.

I don’t know if it was the fact we had our first real snowfall of the season (the 3-year-old spent a good hour outside with me in the morning before I’d even had breakfast), but for some reason she was exceedingly helpful today. And as it turned out, today was THE day I needed her to help me out.

Somehow, I managed to get some commercial television voicework recorded and sent off to an agency in Baltimore with whom I work on a regular basis…I wrote two boyds logoversions of a poem for an upcoming anthology due out in the next few years…made final revisions to the text of my upcoming debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press, Fall 2017)…began work on another new poem for another project…AND managed to shovel the property, twice!

Oh, and I wrote a blog post. 😉

And once the 6-year-old came home from school, I was even able to clip enough evergreens from around the property to fill our house’s four large window boxes, and start getting more greens together for our wreaths.

Granted, I got almost no housework done – hey, something’s gotta give, right? – but days like this are few and far-between lately, so I needed to try to make the most of it.

And if I know my 3-year-old daughter, I’ll be spending most of tomorrow doing laundry, dishes, and vacuuming. And picking up clean clothes off the floor. After all, I can’t expect her to give me two of these kinds of days in a row.

But the snow is still on the ground, so anything’s possible.

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “The Best of Today’s Little Ditty!”

If you have spent any amount of time enjoying Poetry Friday, you have probably poetryfridaybutton-fulllcome across the blog of my friend and fellow writer, Michelle H. Barnes, Today’s Little Ditty. What started out as a forum to share her work soon turned into a showcase of interviews, repository of writing advice, and a community of folks sharing their own work.

And today, it becomes a book!

I’m very happy to announce the publication of Michelle’s The Best of Today’s Little Ditty, 2014-2015 – a collection of 75 poems by 55 different folks who have visited her site and contributed poetry over the past 2 years.

I encourage you to visit her website today and find out more about the book and how to get a copy! And in the meantime, I’ll share one of my poems you’ll find inside…this one from a challenge from the inimitable Lee Bennett Hopkins to write a poem about a formative moment in my younger life:

…I write her name in my notebook.

I’m not sure why.
What is it about her eyes,
her lips,
that makes me think
she’s smiling at me
even when she’s turned away?
I write her name in my notebook.
I’m not sure why.
What is it about violets and – is that vanilla? –
that make a girl smell so nice?
I don’t even like vanilla, but still…
I write her name in my notebook.
I’m not sure why.
Why do I crane my neck to watch
as she walks away, yet hide
my face
when she sees me
watching?
What would she say,
what would she do,
if only she knew…

– © 2015 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

(And by the way, HUGE congratulations to Lee for being the newest inductee into the Florida Artists’ Hall of Fame! This was just announced yesterday, and all of us in the children’s poetry community are thrilled!)

Congratulations again, Michelle…on the book, of course, as well as on your blog’s huge success! And speaking of poetry blogs, please stop by Brenda Davis Harsham’s little home on the web, Friendly Fairy Tales, for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!