Poetry Friday: “The Poetry of US” book birthday!

In stores now…

Yes, it’s finally here! The latest in National Geographic’s series of coffee-table poetry anthologies edited by the inimitable J. Patrick Lewis, former U.S. Children’s Poetry Laureate. I’m incredibly proud to have a poem of mine included in this book, along with 200+ others written by incredibly talented, insightful, witty folks.

When Pat first started putting the book together, he asked me if I would write a poem about Las Vegas nightlife. I replied that I’d love to – because if there’s anything a country boy from New Hampshire like me knows all about, it’s Las Vegas nightlife. Ha!

Sue, the children’s librarian at our local library, holds up her copy – which arrived before MY copy!

So Pat, always the accommodating fellow, asked if I’d prefer a different topic, to which I said, emphatically, NO; I relished the opportunity to write a poem on a subject about which I knew nothing! Seriously, when I think of Las Vegas I think of gambling, showgirls, and cheap steaks…and that’s pretty much it. So I jumped into research mode, reading about the city, learning the demographics, using Google Maps to go for a “virtual drive” around the city, etc.

After much deliberation, I decided on a blank verse sonnet, to try to capture the sense of form and structure of the city – and also leave a tip of the hat to a much more famous poem in the ending line. This is what I came up…

– © 2018 Matt Forrest Esenwine and National Geographic Children’s Books, all rights reserved (click to enlarge)

If you’d like to learn more about the Stratosphere Hotel and see the crazy amusement rides (like the Sky Jump) they have at the top of one of the tallest free-standing observation towers in the country, click HERE. For more poetry, head on over to Deowriter, where Jone MacCulloch is hosting Poetry Friday by spotlighting a poem from another poetry anthology, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong’s Great Morning (Pomelo Books, 2018).

Congratulations to the winners of a personally-signed copy of Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017)! 

Last week, we celebrated the first-year birthday of my debut picture book, and many thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway by commenting or sharing the post via social media. Chosen at random, the winners are: Michelle Kogan, Erin Mauger, and a friend who wishes to remain anonymous. (Ah, yes, there’s one in every crowd, ha!)

Thank you again so much, for all your support! And if you’d like to order a personally-signed copy of Flashlight or any of my books, just scroll down a wee bit…


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!

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40 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “The Poetry of US” book birthday!

  1. lindabaie

    Congratulations for the poem included in this amazing book, Matt. I’ve never been to Las Vegas, an intriguing city that now some tell me invites family visits, hence I see your “glass and girder, sin, and Sky Jump screams.” Wonder what the old-timers think?


  2. Hi, Matt – CONGRATS! And as you noted on my blog, delighted to share book space with you. I had to research from afar, as well – a fun challenge! Love the jigsaw-puzzle pieces – strong image and offers extra pondering, too!


  3. Congrats on being included in the publication – I just saw that Robyn at the Deckle Edge was posting about her contribution as well. It’s also exciting to be one of the winners of your giveaway as well 🙂


  4. margaretsmn

    What a rich collection! I’m excited to be a part of it, too. Your poem really invites me in to adventure and thinking outside the box. The valley in jigsaw puzzle pieces is a great metaphor.


  5. Michelle Kogan

    Quite a powerful poem Matt for this towering city of “glass and girder, sin, and Sky Jump screams.” Loved that line, and your last line closes so eloquently. Your poem has the flavor of a tale from long ago but told today– many Congratulations! And what a nice surprise to be the recipient of your “FLASHLIGHT NIGHT” book–thanks I’m looking forward to spending time with it–and I’ll be sure to share it with the Children’s Picture Book Class I teach!


    1. Oh, thank you, Michelle! I appreciate that. I “borrowed” the tone of that last line from Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” as I felt a connection between the ruins in his poem and the grandeur of Las Vegas. Please be sure to send me your address and I’ll get the book out to you asap!


  6. Congratulations on having your poem included in this collection, Matt! I can’t wait to get a copy. I haven’t traveled to the west too often, but Las Vegas is one place I have been. I can’t say that I loved it or am in a hurry to return, but it was an experience! I love the image you end with: “the lone Mojave sands [stretching] far away.”


  7. Kay Mcgriff

    Congratulations on your poem! I would not even know where to begin with a poem about Las Vegas. I had no idea about the Sky Tower. Thanks for teaching me something with your poem!


  8. Matt, you captured Las Vegas without seeing it. Good job on your research and the rich language you used to write your poem. I have been to Vegas twice. It is a city that seems to never sleep but there is so much there that goes beyond the honky-tonk flavor of the city. Congratulations! Now I am back to the business of finishing the design of The Art of Summering.


  9. Diane Mayr

    Congratulations! I hope your copy arrives soon! If the other Nat Geo anthologies are any indication, you’ll be busy for days in reading it all. And who minds that kind of busy-ness?


  10. What a wonderful sweeping poem of the Stratosphere Casino. And, I love that it came from research. That’s one of my favorite aspects of writing…the finding out of details. Many congrats for making it into the book. It’s really fun watching your winning streak. Go, Matt, go!


  11. Love the jigsaw puzzle pieces–it reminds me of an airplane view, but works as well for a skyscraper. And hurray for good research to bring your poem to life! (Mine was about a festival that’s an hour from my home, but I had never been to it before! Youtube to the rescue.)


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