Poetry Friday: Hard to believe it’s been two years!

After I shared the cover of my debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, Sept. 2017) last week, I had a realization: it’s been a mere two years since my debut as a published children’s writer!

I have to thank Lee Bennett Hopkins first and foremost, as it was he who first asked me to be a contributor to his anthology, Lullaby and Kisses Sweet (Abrams, 2015). When I said “Yes!” I had no idea I’d be side-by-side with folks like Charles Ghigna, David L. Harrison, X.J. Kennedy, Jane Yolen, and Jane’s daughter, Heidi Stemple, with whom I share this spread:

(Reprinted with permission; all rights reserved. Click to enlarge)

And while Lullaby was released in March 2015, it wasn’t the only anthology I got to be a part of that month. I also had the pleasure of contributing this poem, in honor of National Cereal Day, to Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong’s Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books, 2015):

Picky Eater

I love my Fruit Loops,
love my Trix,
love Cheerios
and even Kix.
I really like
my Apple Jacks –
but please don’t give me
Sugar Smacks,
or stars or squares or flakes
you’ve found –
I only eat, you see,
what’s round.

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

And as if that weren’t enough, I was fortunate to be able to contribute three poems to Carol-Ann Hoyte’s Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food & Agriculture Poems, which also came out that same March! Here’s one of them:

Fair is Fair
(a lesson in Fair Trade)

Mother’s coffee,
Father’s tea,
Sister’s cocoa…
all might be
a farmer’s only
chance to give
his family
a chance to live.

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Five debuts in one month…not too shabby! Of course, it’s still a long, slow process in building one’s career, but since then, I’ve been in anthologies, journals, and Highlights for Kids magazine and at this very moment, I will have 24 children’s poems published – or under contract to be published – through 2018.

Plus, I have my two forthcoming picture books! So I truly feel grateful that I’ve been able to get this far; I know folks who’ve been slaving away at their computers and typewriters for 20+ years and have yet to get to this point, so I never take any of it for granted. I just keep trying to plug away at it, writing when I can, learning what I can, and hopefully build myself a little children’s author career.

Who knows what will happen – but thank you for being part of this ride with me! If you haven’t already, I’d love for you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook so we can keep in touch more easily (the links are below). And be sure to head over to Reading to the Core, where Catherine is hosting Poetry Friday today and celebrating poets and poetry with Kwame Alexander’s new book!


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18 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Hard to believe it’s been two years!

  1. Janet F.

    Congratulations, Matt. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy and a very good poet!! You inspire me. I have a slightly similar experience, though albeit at a much slower pace. I have a poem coming out in a forthcoming book that Lee is creating. So thrilled to have been invited to contribute a poem. My poems will then be in 5 books, 4 are out but those are 3 adult collections and 1 is Today’s Little Ditty, but Lee’s is the one I am most excited about. I also have my granddaughter as inspiration and my schedule is about to change for the better so I should have more time to write and create. You know I have enjoyed many of your poems and asked to share with kids. Very happy for you. Check out my long comment on a recent post by Lee on the fact very few poetry books for kids are published in a year. My point is we have to create an audience, promote to them and get stores to carry the books so parents, kids can browse. I am going to join SCBWI, too, which I know will help me. Slow but steady am I. My first book is going to be the one I have worked on the longest and that is about my poetry program with kids and learning poems by heart. But we need tons of poems to choose from and that is one way we get kids to love poetry.


    1. Thank you, Janet – and congratulations! Please let me know which of Lee’s books you’ll be in, as we might be in the same one! And yes, we need to encourage adults to appreciate poetry so the kids will. And joining SCBWI will be a big help for you – it was for me!


  2. ldk

    Congratulations, Matt. I’m proud to be in some of the same anthologies with you. I’m sure you have an amazing career ahead of you!


  3. lindabaie

    I’m so excited about your picture book, Matt, and love hearing again about all the poems published! I have a few Lullaby and Kisses Sweet books ready for gifts. And although it’s meant for younger ones, my granddaughters still get my copy out to read. They love the brief and cute poems. Best to you in the writing!


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