Poetry Friday: A childhood memory wins a prize as a poem

This week has been one of excitement and anticipation, as I prepare to join two highly esteemed New Hampshire poets for a special National Poetry Month reading at our local library.

The Pillsbury Free Library in Warner, NH is hosting two events this Sat. night. One is the opening of an art exhibit at 6:30pm entitled The Road Not Taken, featuring works by three artists inspired by the poetry of New Hampshire’s own Robert Frost.

Then at 7pm, I will take part in a poetry reading with two other local poets, Deborah Brown and L.R. Berger. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll stop by!

Another reason why this week has been so exciting for me is because I just learned a few days ago that I am the recipient of the MacGregor Poetry Prize, coordinated by the Derry (NH) Public Library and the Robert Frost Farm board of trustees! In addition to a cash prize, my poem “Stumpfield Pond, 1975” will be put on display at the library, I’ll be joined by the other finalists at the library for a public reading, and – best of all – I will be a featured poet as part of the Frost Farm’s summer reading series.

To say I’m honored, stunned, and flabbergasted are all understatements!

My father and I used to go fishing all the time when I was younger, and Stumpfield Pond in Hopkinton, NH was a favorite fishing spot. (Even today, I enjoy bringing my kids here!) So about three years ago, I thought I’d write a poem about fishing with my dad, early sunshine just barely waking up the morning, and give it to him as a Father’s Day gift. He loved it – but little did I know it would be this well-received by so many others!

Stumpfield Pond, 1975

His son at his side, Dad slips
weathered, pea-green fiberglass into mirror water,
skillfully slicing the placid surface.
Ripples race from either side of the bow,
curling and folding upon themselves as sand-
worn hull grinds on gravel
like thunder in sunshine – unexpected,
startling –
before it finds buoyancy
10 feet from shore.
……………persistent phoebe sing from treetops; the air
smells of lilies and dew,
wild iris,
Clambering into the boat first, I stake
claim to my usual post
near the bow, small hands holding
gently-rocking sides.
Dad climbs in once I am seated and, grabbing one
wooden oar, pushes hard
against sand and silt, heaving the weight
of the boat
and himself
and me
into the cool, wet, morning.

– © 2016 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

(You can also read it HERE, with more info on the contest)

Looking for more poetry? Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy is hosting Poetry Friday today with a grey-sweatshirt kind of spring day. (You’ll have to read her poem to understand!) Oh, and many thanks to everyone who entered to win a free copy of Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (POW! Kids Books, 2018) a couple of weeks ago! In honor of Dinosaur‘s one-year birthday, everyone who left a comment was entered in the drawing…

and the winner is…

Yvona Fast!!

Congratulations, Yvona…your book is on its way! Thank you so much for all your support.


The 2019 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem is starting to wind down! Each day this month, a different writer/ blogger has added a new line until the poem concludes April 30. You can follow along at these sites:

2019 Progressive Poem schedule:


1 Matt @Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
2 Kat @Kathryn Apel
3 Kimberly @KimberlyHutmacherWrites
4 Jone @DeoWriter
5 Linda @TeacherDance
6 Tara @Going to Walden
7 Ruth @thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown
8 Mary Lee @A Year of Reading
9 Rebecca @Rebecca Herzog
10 Janet F. @Live Your Poem
11 Dani @Doing the Work that Matters
12 Margaret @Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine @Dori Reads
14 Christie @Wondering and Wandering
15 Robyn @Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Carol @Beyond LiteracyLink
17 Amy @The Poem Farm
18 Linda @A Word Edgewise
19 Heidi @my juicy little universe
20 Buffy @Buffy’s Blog
21 Michelle @Michelle Kogan
22 Catherine @Reading to the Core
23 Penny @a penny and her jots
24 Tabatha @The Opposite of Indifference
25 Jan @Bookseestudio
26 Linda @Write Time
27 Sheila @Sheila Renfro
28 Liz @Elizabeth Steinglass
29 Irene @Live Your Poem
30 Donna @Mainely Write


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

  Coming July 2, 2019!

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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38 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: A childhood memory wins a prize as a poem

  1. Matt!
    Can your poetry life glow any sweeter for you!
    I am thrilled for your Frost program recognition. Even more so that a gift from your heart, to your
    dear Dad, remaining him of his great parenting, flows back to you.

    And one year since your DINO-myte picture book?
    I seem to remember posting a fun blog about it via Blogger on the wonderful Group Blog


    (On another poetry topic, appreciations for Line Leading the line dance for the
    2019 Progressive Poem. I’m headed to your & other days to comment. I resisted & avoided & delayed looking day-by-day, until just yesterday, Day 25, my line day.) I love Linda’s T.’s line today.


  2. Matt, your poem for your father is a treasure. Thank you for a sneak peek. I imagine the scene of “early morning just barely waking up the morning” for a father and his son. Your poem flows so beautifully that I can’t wait to hear more. Thank you also for the photos of tranquil lake waters that set the mood for my reading of your poem. Love these lines:
    into mirror water,
    skillfully slicing the placid surface;


  3. lindabaie

    Congratulations, Matt. I love memory poems & clearly, others did, too! I hope you will post it all when you can! Have a wonderful weekend!


  4. Linda KulpTrout

    Congratulations, Matt! I can see why your poem is a prize winner, but most of all, I’m sure this memory poem meant the world to your father. A lot of my poems come from childhood memories too! Oh, and I wish I could be there to hear you read tomorrow! I know you’ll do great!


  5. Congratulations on the win! Thank you for this beautiful memory. I went over to the Derry Public Library site to read all of it. I read it numerous times and each time was struck anew by the imagery. Each time I thought a particular line or lines was best, another jumped out at me. I do love this reference to sight and sound.

    Ripples race
    from either side of the bow,
    curling and folding upon themselves as sand-
    worn hull grinds on gravel
    like thunder in sunshine


  6. Matt, heartfelt congrats on receiving the MacGregor Poetry Prize. I am thrilled for you. And I love the poem. I can picture you sitting there as a young boy gripping the sides of the boat, anticipating the glorious day to come. How wonderful that it will be displayed in a public place for many people to enjoy!


  7. Wow, Matt! Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition. I’m so glad you were able to share the poem here as well. It really is lovely. I’m sure your Dad was thrilled with it. Somehow I’ve never written a poem as a gift and I’m beginning to think that I need to rectify that.


  8. Linda Mitchell

    And that….is how it’s done. Take a memory and make it a masterpiece. What a beautiful poem, Stumpfield Pond 1975. I love it. I’m a bit shy to write poetry as gifts. But, you give me courage. I really love the line about thunder in sunshine….it captures that feeling/sound of the boat so well. Well done poet and well done son.


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