Poetry Friday: How to Write a Poem, and why rejections aren’t bad (even though they suck)

Although I’d been planning on posting something else today, I thought it might be beneficial to share something I posted on Facebook earlier this past week; something that gained quite a bit of attention and created a healthy discussion.

Went through 25 rejections!

The past two weeks I’ve received more rejections than I received all of last year.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve sent more submissions out in the past 6 months than I did last year, perhaps it’s because I finally got around to following up with a number of editors I’d been waiting on.

Regardless the reason, rejections don’t feel good.

“No” doesn’t mean “Stop;” it means keep going.

I’m not going to act like rejection doesn’t bother me and that everything is sunshine and lollipops. Rejections aren’t fun, I won’t argue with that. But I don’t get depressed by them.

Went through 14 rejections!

Folks who are new to the publishing industry need to know that rejections are going to be a part of their life now. Personally, I went from acting to voice acting to writing – so rejection has been something I’ve had to live with nearly all my life (to say nothing of my nerdy high school years).

The particular rejection I had posted about was for a manuscript for a poetry collection I co-wrote with David L. Harrison, one of the most incredibly talented, successful children’s poets in the biz. Although I’m running out of potential options for publishers to submit to (I’m unagented and can only submit to a limited number of houses), I shared the news of this rejection not to seek pity but to remind my friends and followers that even the most highly-esteemed writers like my co-author hear the word “no” sometimes.

For example, my recent picture book Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2021) was co-authored with Father Goose himself, Charles Ghigna, and it went through 25 rejections before editor Naomi Krueger saw my pitch on the #PBPitch Twitter event back in October 2019 and asked me to send her the manuscript. 25 rejections – and that was with the gravitas of Father Goose’s name attached to the project!

A quick Google search of famous books that were initially rejected reveals myriad famous titles like Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, Steven King’s Carrie, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Even my friend Laura Numeroff’s first If You Give a Mouse a Cookie book even went through 9 rejections, with one of the editors telling her there was no way they felt the book could possibly be profitable.

Went through at least 8 rejections!

Sometimes editors just don’t see your vision, that’s all. My picture books are published by several different publishers because not all of them believed in all my manuscripts – and that’s ok! The ones who DID believe in them produced gorgeous books I’m proud to call my own.

Maybe you submitted a dinosaur book to a company that already has too many dinosaur books; maybe you submitted a humourous meta-book to a company that prefers inclusive, cross-cultural themes; maybe you submitted a 1st-person POV book to someone who doesn’t like 1st-person POV (don’t laugh, I know of at least one!).

Fact is, there could be numerous reasons – many beyond your control – why your manuscript was rejected.

So if you’re hearing the word “No” a lot lately, remember that it doesn’t mean you should stop what you’re doing; it means you need to simply check that editor or agent off your list and move on. Or better yet, check them off the list for THAT manuscript, and send them another! After all, if it’s a numbers game, then you’re doing yourself a favor by eliminating all those unecessary numbers.

And if you remember nothing else, remember this: each “No” gets you closer to a “Yes.”

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How to Write a Poem

Open your eyes.
Open your ears.
Brace yourself
to face your fears.

Open your mind.
Open your heart.
Open your soul,
……….tear it apart.

.

©2021 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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It’s Poetry Friday! If you’d like to check out all the poetry links and fun, be sure to head over to Rebecca Herzog’s little home on the web, Sloth Reads, for the complete roundup!

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Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

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

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 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 following covers 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 pretty deep poem for a 7-year-old

As I’ve mentioned here before, we homeschooled our two young kids this past year due to the Covid shutdown, and although some days were better than others, it was, overall, a success. The kids learned everything they needed to learn – and more – and didn’t seem to loathe the process of homeschooling as much as they loathed not being around their friends.

I do have to say, there were extra-special days where they surprised me, either at how well they understood a lesson or how adroitly they completed it. One such day was back in March, when my daughter was tasked with a lesson from her English Language Arts program that required her to write a poem about light. Completely unbeknownst to me, she came up with this all on her own; I never saw it until she had finished it:

I know, I know, every parent thinks their kid is a genius or a protege or whatever…but seriously, this is pretty thoughtful for a 2nd-grader. I told her I was so proud of her that I’d make sure everyone I knew read it, if that was ok with her. “Sure!” she said. And so I present it to you here – better late than never.

Molly Hogan is celebrating summer while hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup at Nix the Comfort Zone – so head on over for all of today’s poetry links and fun!

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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!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

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, (Boyds Mills Press, 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 following covers 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: “Stone-Kicking,” from the Donald Hall tribute anthology

I don’t know if it’s because the pandemic has made us all nostalgic for our “pre-Covid” life or what, but I was looking through some of my previously-published poems when I realized I’d never shared this here on my blog.

Two years ago, in the summer of 2019, Encircle Publications of Maine published the poetry anthology Except for Love: New England Poets Inspired by Donald Hall, which included my original poem, “Stone-Kicking:”
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The actual road I was walking when I first began formulating the poem. Note Mt. Kearsarge, a mountain nearly synonymous with Hall, gazing down at me in the distance. I had no idea at the time that this poem would end up in such an appropriate – and important – book.

“Stone-Kicking”

I kick my dreams
like stones in the road
watching them bounce
happily ahead while I
dawdle behind.
Dirt road, still
damp from yesterday’s storm
smells of pine and mud. Gravel softly
sticks to slow feet while sunlight tries
through thick poplars
to warm a meandering path.
I kick another stone, watching it
quickly skip, kissing ground in its
own wayward curve…
The joy, of course, comes not
from picking it up, carrying it,
keeping it…
but from watching where it goes,
how far it rolls,
and, when it veers
to the slick road’s edge,
setting it aright
with my foot
and flicking it
back to the
center.

© 2019 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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This book pays tribute to former U.S. and New Hampshire Poet Laureate Donald Hall by featuring poems by 35 New England poets who have been influenced by Hall’s work. It includes poetry by such accomplished poets as Jane Yolen, L.R. Berger, David Giannini, and many others – and yet, somehow I managed to sneak in!

10% of proceeds will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of Hall’s late wife, poet Jane Kenyon, so click HERE or the cover, below, to order your copy. (and let us know if you’d like me to sign it!)

…I can finally spill the beans!

That’s right, ANOTHER new book, coming out next fall from Beaming Books, the folks who published Once Upon Another Time! And there’s a very cool behind-the-scenes story about how the book came to be – involving poetry, rejection, tenacity, more rejection, and a willingess to shift gears, rework, revise, and say “yes” whenever possible – which I’ll be sure to share as we get closer to publication date!

For now, though, it’s Poetry Friday – and Margaret Simon is hosting the complete roundup at her blog Reflections on the Teche with a spotlight on an unusual poetry anthology titled Bridge the Distance, Teacher-Poets Writing to Bridge the Distance: An Oral History of COVID-19 in Poems. The book is an ‘oral history’ of life during the pandemic written by teacher-poets, and margaret shares her contrib ution.

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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!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

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, (Boyds Mills Press, 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 following covers 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: “York Beach Moon”

Well, I’m back from vaca, and all I can say is…I miss my office.

True, it was only a temporary office, but it’s hard to not get attached:

York Beach Moon

Lighthouses
seeing-eyes
inky night

Mother’s face
shimmer-smiles
cold and bright

guiding ships,
souls, these spare
words I write.
.

© 2021 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

.

Although there are at least three lighthouses one can see from Long Sands Beach, where this photo was taken (one being the Nubble, which is only about a mile from here), this photo reminded me that the moon is Earth’s lighthouse. I wanted to get that across in my poem, so I thought I’d write another Tricube poem since they are so much fun for those of us who thrive on wordplay and word economy. (Learn more about Tricubes HERE) Hope you like it.

Speaking of water…my friend Laura Shovan is hosting Poetry Friday today with a poem about Millicent Patrick, the woman who designed the iconic movie character “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.” (What’s this? You didn’t realize a woman designed the costume?? Apparently, nearly no one knows – so Laura is out to spread the news!!)

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

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!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

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, (Boyds Mills Press, 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 following covers 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: The craft of verse novels, the value of randomness, and the perfection of “Tuck Everlasting”: an interview with David Elliott

As I mentioned here early last month, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve formally interviewed my friend and neighbor David Elliott – about 9 years, actually, in 2013.

I published our interview for the former “Poetry at Play” blog, which I reposted HERE. At the time, David’s poetry collection In the Sea (Candlewick, 2012) had just come out and On the Wing (Candlewick, 2014) was – well, on the wing – with a publishing date of 2014.

It’s funny…David and I bump into each other all the time at the local grocery store or coffeehouse, I have about 2 dozen garlic plants growing courtesy of some bulbs he’d pulled off his property last year, he even helped the previous owner of our house paint the interior before she sold it to my wife – yet for some reason I have yet to feature him here at the ol’ Triple-R.

So I decided that needed to be corrected!

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat, David! While you’ve authored several popular picture books and poetry collections, one of the things I wanted to do today is get into the nuts and bolts of writing verse novels, the popularity of which has really skyrocketed within the last 5 years or so.

Looking back at your first verse novel, Bull (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2017), how did you decide that a verse novel was the genre it required? I know you’ve said that Poseidon’s voice kept speaking to you (a wonderfully bizarre experience that only fellow writers can fully appreciate) before you realized what to do with it – but why verse rather than prose?

Years ago, long before I thought of becoming a writer, my very prescient wife gave me a copy of Richard Wilbur’s translation of Moliere’s Tartuffe and The Misanthrope. I am still amazed at what both Wilbur and Moliere were able to do, the fluency of those rhyming couplets, I mean, the way the metered language sounded so natural. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I think the seed was planted then for Bull and the other verse novels, too.

Of course, the myth of Theseus has its antecedents in Ovid, so verse seemed a natural, even appropriate way to tell the story. By the way, I’m not sure that I agree that it’s only writers who can appreciate the workings of the Unconscious, which is I think where Poseidon was speaking from. Dialogue between the deeper Self and the ego is available to everyone. It just requires a little practice.

Do you approach the structure/characterization/outlining process in a similar manner for both verse and prose novels, or do you use a different method of organization?

Oh dear. Organization? What’s that? While a book’s architecture is vital, I never know what it is until I’m in the middle of writing it. For me, it’s very analogous to Alice’s experience through the looking glass. Never linear, and often arriving frustratingly late in the process. Very messy. I worked on Voices at least six months before I began to understand even a little bit what I was doing. It turned out to be nothing like what I had proposed. I try as hard as I can to let the narrative tell me what it wants to be rather than forcing my own idea onto it. I try, I say, but I’m not always as successful as I would like to be.

You love experimenting with poetic forms, from classic formal verse to free verse to even concrete poems like the ones in Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2019). How do you decide which forms/styles to use? Is it strictly according to what you feel works best for a particular character, or is there more to it?

Once I understood that Bull was going to be in verse, I also understood that each of the characters in the story were going to have to speak differently. Poseidon, after all, is a very different entity from Ariadne. I was fortunate enough to have a copy of Miller Williams’ Patterns of Poetry on my shelf. I picked it up, closed my eyes, thought of the character, and then like a prankster with a phone book, thumbed through it, stopped randomly, pointed to a page, and whatever form was listed there is what I used for that character.

Idiotic, I know.

But I soon realized that the forms were shaping the characters in ways that I could never have imagined, so I’m not sure it was as idiotic as it sounds though I wouldn’t recommend it as a way of writing a book. Voices was a little more intentional, though it took me a very (very!) long time to find Joan’s voice. The Seventh Raven (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2019) was more intentional still.

(Matt’s note: You can read my post about The Seventh Raven HERE)

You’ve said you love the work of folks like Roald Dahl, Robert Louis Stevenson, Natalie Babbit, and several others. At this point in your career, can you share the influence they’ve had on your work?

I love Roald Dahl’s humor, his irreverence. But what I love most about him is the courage to bypass adults and speak directly to children. That subversive, almost conspiratorial element is in good part what makes him so appealing to so many kids. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of writing for the gatekeepers, all the adults who read children’s lit rather than writing for the kids themselves. Those are two very different audiences. I think Dahl understood that almost better than anyone else, and it is what I most admire about him and his work.

As for Stevenson, simply put? He knows how to tell a story. I read Kidnapped and Treasure Island almost every year, and each time I do, I get the same thrill I did when I read them first as an adolescent. There are very few books that do that for me now

Natalie Babbitt? There isn’t enough time. The only thing I can say is that to me Tuck Everlasting is a perfect book. Perfect. And I say that as a writer and a reader. I still get weepy at that prologue, and as for the book’s structure and sentence-level writing, don’t get me started. As I said recently in another interview, Lewis Carroll once wrote that fairy tales are “love gifts.” I never understood that until I read Tuck.

Here’s a question to make you think:  what would you love to write – genre, subject, anything – that you don’t feel you’re ready to write yet?

I spent my twenties traveling, living mostly by the seat of my pants. I washed cucumbers in Greece. I ate curried goat with sultans in the Sulu Archipelago. I made popsicle sticks in Israel. I sang at a bar in Mexico. I sat with Berbers at the edge of the Libyan Sahara.  Along the way, I met a German girl who carried a violin she couldn’t play, a woman who became the Pope’s webmaster, a guy who had been involved in the FLQ ‘s kidnapping of Quebec’s provincial Deputy Premier, and many more.  I hope someday to be able to write about those years and those people.

So what’s up next on the ol’ publication timeline?

Over the next few years, I’ll have three more picture books in the Candlewick poetry series: next year, At the Pond, with amazingly beautiful illustrations by Amy Schimler-Safford; the year following, At the Poles illustrated by the great Ellen Rooney; and finally In the Sands, illustrator TBD. Next spring, Little Brown is publishing Color the Sky, illustrated by none other than Evan Turk. (I’m speechless at what he has done with a very simple text). I’m currently writing a spooky and adventure-filled middle grade with my son, which we’ll have an announcement about soon.

Wow, it’s great to hear you have three more of those poetry collections on the way! (You know I’m still waiting to see one about microscopic animals titled “Under the Slide” – that needs to happen, ha!) And I can’t wait to see what Evan Turk did with your words – he’s an incredibly gifted and stylistically unique illustrator. Well, thanks so much for taking the time to chat, my friend – and best wishes with Raven and all these upcoming projects.

Thanks so much, Matt. Always a pleasure.

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Speaking of poetry, I would be remiss to not congratulate my friend and longtime Poetry Friday family member Mary Lee Hahn on her FINAL MONTH OF TEACHING! Woo-HOO!!

Mary Lee is an incredible supporter, teacher, and writer of poetry who joined me, Liz Steinglass, Heidi Mordhorst, and Laura Purdie Salas two years ago in Baltimore at NCTE’s annual conference for our panel presentation on teaching poetry through “inquiry.” It was so nice to be able to meet these friends in person, having known them all for so many years through Facebook, blogs, and social media channels.

Happy retirement, Mary Lee – I’m guessing you’re going to be even busier now that you’re no longer working, ha!

L-R: Mary Lee Hahn, Liz Steinglass, Yours Truly, Heidi Mordhorst, Laura Purdie Salas

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, head over to Wondering and Wandering, where Christie Wyman is not only celebrating Mary Lee’s career with poetry – she’s celebrating the fact it’s her birthday! Happy birthday, Christie!

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I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

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!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

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, (Boyds Mills Press, 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 following covers 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: “The Gnat and the Gnu”

The following post was originally published waaaay back in Spring 2013 – eight years ago! I was recently sorting through some of my earlier children’s poetry and came across this, and thought it might be fun to share again. Please remember, the blog tour for my new picture book that I co-authored with Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose®), ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME (Beaming Books) continues to roll on at the following blogs:

ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIMEBLOG TOUR:

2/25:      Ellen Leventhal:  https://www.ellenleventhal.com/#blog
3/1:        Maria Marshall: https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/2:        Matt Forrest Esenwine: https://mattforrest.wordpress.com 
3/3:        Bookseed Studio: https://bookseedstudio.wordpress.com/
3/4:        Celebrate Picture Books: https://celebratepicturebooks.com/
3/5:        Maria Marshall #PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday): https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/5:        KidLit411 – Charles Ghigna interview: http://www.kidlit411.com/
3/5:       Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook: http://mrsknottsbooknook.blogspot.com/
3/9:      Erin Dealey https://www.erindealey.com/blog/
3/10:     Melissa Stoller: https://www.melissastoller.com/blog
3/16:     Kellee Moye at Unleashing Readers: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/
5/5:       Andrew Hackett: https://www.andrewhacket.com/blog

~ ~ GIVEAWAY!! ~ ~

Would you like a personally-signed copy of ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME? I have TWO copies I’ll give away, with two ways to enter: check out my #BookBirthday post for all the details!

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Have you ever had one of those times where you think you’re being totally original, only to discover your ‘uniqueness’ has all been done before?

Yeah…this is one of those times.

Click the pic for more info about
The Gnus of New London!

During a critique group meeting in 2010, a fellow member had written a short rhyming PB manuscript about a fly and a gnat.  It was a cute story, and the word ‘gnat’ got stuck in my head.  After a week or so of mulling ideas over, I wrote the first draft of this poem. I revised it, revised it, and revised it some more. And the day before I planned to bring it to the critique group, I discovered…

Shel Silverstein had written a poem with a nearly identical title.

>sigh<

Now, I don’t think I’d ever seen his poem before (of course, anything’s possible, with my memory being what it is) so my heart sank, knowing a title like this would be a tough sell.  I read Shel’s poem, which you can find HERE, and was relieved that is really wasn’t similar to mine at all – but still, titles are important things, and I’d be mortified to think that someone might read my poem and get the impression I was trying to rip him off.

I never want someone to read my material and think I’m trying to ‘be’ someone else. Not only do I want to be my own person as a writer and poet, but I take pains to try not to write similarly to anyone else, for that very reason.  So, having said this…I present to you:

The Gnat & The Gnu

Gnat said, “Hey there, what’s up, Gnu?”
Gnu said, “not much— how ‘bout you?”
Gnat sighed, “Nothing, kinda blue.”
Gnu asked, “Something I can do?”

Gnat said, “No, just wish I knew
why I’m small – not big, like you.
I have no horns, and no fur, too;
no one wants me at the zoo.
Nothing special, nothing new,
just a gnat without a clue
how to feel and what to do.
Oh, I wish I was a Gnu.”

Gnu thought hard, then said, “It’s true
I’m large, but all I do is chew;
never sprouted wings and flew,
never bathed in morning dew,
just grazed on grass and grew and grew.
Things I do are pretty few,
but I’m glad that I’m a Gnu –
so I’ll be me, and you be you.”

Satisfied, Gnat bid ‘adieu,’
happy he was not a Gnu;
And as he flew away, the Gnu
watched longingly

and Gnu…felt blue.

– © 2010, Matt Forrest Esenwine

For more poetry, head over to My Juicy Little Universe, where Heidi Mordhorst is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup with a birthday celebration featuring poetry, lights, and a surprise birthday dinner!

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I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

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!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

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, (Boyds Mills Press, 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 following covers to order!

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

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

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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: New “Wit & Wordplay” videos on the way!

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but I just produced another “Wit & Wordplay” video, part of a continuing series of poetry videos I began last spring, shortly after Covid-19 hit the country and shut down the schools, the economy, and pretty much everything we were used to.

It’s been a busy year for me, too – I’ve sold three manuscripts, I have two new ones out to start off the new year, I’ve been invited to present at a big literary festival in the fall (more on that coming soon), I’m once again judging our state Poetry Out Loud competion this month, PLUS we’re homeschooling 2 young kids….yikes! I feel bad that I’ve not been able to read or comment on many of my fellow bloggers’ posts, but time is at a premium for me and I rarely have any that’s free.

In fact, as soon as I’m done writing this I need to go grade school papers. >sigh…<

But last week I shared some “nestlings” – aka, found poems inside a larger poem, courtesy of author/poet Irene Latham – and since I’d been wanting to do a video on found poetry anyway, I figured now was as good a time as any!

If you find this video or any of my videos helpful, please let me know! And don’t hesitate to share them with parents, educators, or others you think might gain some benefit. I produce these to help share my love of poetry and to help folks realize it’s not some confounding genre meant only for the most erudite academics – poetry is something anyone can enjoy reading or writing!

For all of today’s Poetry Friday links and fun, please head over to my friend Ruth’s blog, where she’s hosting the complete roundup with a spotlight on a new book by poet/botanist Robin Wall Kimerer!

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

Coming March 2, 2021!

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

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can 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!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

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

Click any of the following covers to order!

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

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

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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Poetry & picture books – an interview with Linda Brennan

First of all, let me say thank you to everyone who has sent me warm wishes and thoughts regarding the passing of my mom two weeks ago. Last Friday, I posted the poem I wrote for her and dad, and have had numerous folks asking if they could share it – and by all means, please feel free to do so! It’s a wonderful way to keep her spirit alive, connecting others with what I have to imagine is a universal theme.

And although it has been a sad, melancholy time, it turned quite jubilant two days ago when I saw this had been officially announced in Publisher’s Weekly:

You read that correctly – it’s scheduled for THIS FALL, which is lightning-fast in this business. Illustrations are already underway, and I can’t wait to tell you more as we get closer to launch date!

So between the highs and lows that 2021 has kicked off with, today I wanted to share a post from someone else’s blog! I recently enjoyed the privelege of being interviewed by Rhode Island author Linda Crotta Brennan, for her blog, Lupine Seeds, and am so happy to be able to share that interview with you here!

It was great fun sharing my thoughts on writing poetry, publishing poetry, and understanding poetry – and how I’ve managed to transfer my love and knowledge of the genre to picture books. She also asked me about my collaborations, like Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (POW! Kids Books, 2018), co-authored with Deborah Bruss, and my upcoming book with Charles Ghigna, Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, March, 2021), which were a lot of fun to write. I do hope you’ll check it out!

In the interview, I offer a few suggestions for poetry books you might consider reading, if you want to learn more about writing or reading poetry, particularly children’s poetry. So I thought I’d share one of the poems Laura Purdie Salas published a few years ago in her book, Catch Your Breath: Writing Poignant Poetry (Capstone, 2015), the perfect book for teens who are just starting to get their feet wet writing poetry:

Abandonment (haiku)

sparrow sweetly sings
melancholy melody;
her mate, on the ground.

© 2015 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Laura had wanted a poem that showcased alliteration, assonance, and consonance – so I gave her as short a poem as I could, ha! Today, Margaret Simon is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, Reflections on the Teche, with some nestling poems (found poems created from within another poem) she crafted from Richard Blanco’s One Today.

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can 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!

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

Coming January 26, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

Children will love to follow along on a Goldilocks-like journey as Elliot searches for the perfect place to rest in this new board book! 

Coming March 2, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

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

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

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

Click any of the following covers to order!

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

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

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!

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: “Lessons” (or, Why the Heck is Matt Sharing a Rough Draft??)

Before we get to today’s poem, a couple of folks had asked me if I could make last week’s poem more “shareable” – so I did!

Feel free to copy & share this graphic, if you’d like!

I’ve been really proud of the feedback I’ve received on that poem, so thank you to everyone who has told me they’ve enjoyed it and shared it already. It may seem like a simple poem, but it wasn’t simple to write! Now then, for today’s poem…

I’m sharing something that WAS simple to write – because it’s a first draft. I rarely share first (or rough) drafts because they aren’t all spit-and-polished like the poems you normally see posted everywhere, including here, but I felt it’s important to see the beginnings of a poem; the early iterations of a poetic thought.

The idea came to me fairly quickly, but the poem still took me nearly 30 minutes to finish…and I’m not exactly happy with it. The emotion feels forced, the sentiment is thin, and I’m not sure if I like the awkward pause in the 4th line (“how/to know/the unknown”). Granted, I deliberately created that awkward pause for effect, but I’m not sure it works. Let’s see what you think…

Lessons

How to be social
yet distant;
how to be human,
alone;
how to be loved as an
island;
how
to know
the unknown.

– © 2020 Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

I don’t mean to make it seem like I don’t like the poem – I’m happy with it as a rough draft – but it’s definitely not something I’d ever submit anywhere or expect to be published somewhere. Will I revise and polish it? Perhaps. Will I tuck it away in a drawer, never to see the light of day? Probably more likely.

But the act of writing is in itself the most important aspect of the poem. I’ve said it before: it’s important to #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading – and that’s what I did. I had an idea in my head, and I wrote it down.

Sometimes, that’s good enough.

Carol Varsalona is hosting Poetry Friday today by celebrating the end of the season with the first part of her Embraceable Summer Gallery – a collection of poetry and visuals too large for one post! Be sure to head over and check out all the links, and have a wonderful weekend!

Did you know that Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme is one of the TOP 20 children’s poetry blogs, according to FEEDSPOT? That’s right – I’m scratching my head, too! FEEDSPOT is an app that allows you to combine all your favorite news feeds, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. into ONE newsletter. Be sure to check it out!

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

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.

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

Coming Sept. 15, 2020!

Coming Spring 2021! Pre-orders are available:.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them! Here’s what you can look forward to seeing this month:
.

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

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: Advance praise – and a sneak peek – for “Night Wishes”!

We are exactly one month away from celebrating the book birthday of one of the late Lee Bennett Hopkins’ final children’s poetry anthologies, Night Wishes (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers), and Kirkus loves it– calling the book, “A gentle, comforting ticket to beddy-bye — and good dreams.

The premise of this collection is that as a child prepares to fall asleep, the inanimate objects in his/her room all say good night, each in their own particular way. I’m very proud to be able to join these esteemed folks as a contributor:

Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Jude Mandell
Prince Redcloud
Alice Schertle
Joyce Sidman
Eileen Spinelli
Irene Latham
Lee Bennett Hopkins
Nikki Grimes
Deborah Ruddell
Darren Sardelli
Renee LaTulippe

I’m also proud of the fact that Eerdmans chose to spotlight my poem, “Pillow,” with my friend Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s poem, “Bed,” on their recent Eerdlings blog post!

Bed

Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Climb in, child.
Climb in.

Cuddle into thoughts
of things you did today…

(continue reading HERE)

As you read both poems, bear in mind that Rebecca and I never spoke to one another about our poems or process…and yet notice how remarkably seamless they are, flowing from one to the other. (We even both address the reader as “child”)

If you enjoy the poems, I hope you’ll pre-order your copy now! And for all of today’s poetry links and fun, head over to Nix the Comfort Zone, where Molly Hogan is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with the comfort zone of a snail and the discomfort being felt by many fellow Mainers about the impending possible demise of their only state area code, 207. (That’s right – only one area code, and they may lose it!)

Did you know that Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme is one of the TOP 20 children’s poetry blogs, according to FEEDSPOT? That’s right – I’m scratching my head, too! FEEDSPOT is an app that allows you to combine all your favorite news feeds, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. into ONE newsletter. Be sure to check it out!

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

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.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

Coming Spring 2021! Pre-orders are available:
.
=========================================================

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!