Poetry Friday: “She Keeps Me from My Sleep” – plus #NCTE19!

I’m so thrilled to be at this year’s National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference in Baltimore right now! This is my first year at NCTE (and the first time I’ve back back in my birth city since 1996), and I’m very excited to be an official representative for Flashlight Night‘s publisher, Boyds Mills & Kane.

As I’ve been preparing, I’ve been looking through many of my old files…and came upon this poem, which I wrote 10 years ago. There are some lines/words I could tweak – but I like what I did here, so I’m sharing it in all its unedited, unpolished glory…

She Keeps Me From My Sleep

My head, precariously balanced
sandbag on a spine;

ears deadened, mute screaming
silence of a heartbeat;

eyes sting, dry as a river rock
water flows over and over
time, erodes away.

Fingers falter, fail to write
words I fail to find; dumb and blind,
I gain no peace.

– © 2009 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved


For more poetry, I hope you’ll visit Rebecca Herzog at Sloth Reads, where she’s hosting today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup. And if you are here at NCTE, I hope you’ll say hi! Here’s my schedule:

Friday, 7-7:45am, Grand Ballroom I & III:

FIRST-TIMERS’ WELCOME! Having never been to NCTE before, I suppose this is probably an important thing to attend, yes?

Friday, 3:30-4:45 pm, Room #315:

I’ll be co-presenting “Wonder as a Way In: Teaching Reading and Writing Poetry through Inquiry” – a poetry workshop with authors and educators Laura Purdie Salas, Liz Steinglass, Heidi Mordhorst, and Mary Lee Hahn. We’ll share activities designed to approach reading, writing, and appreciating poetry through the process of inquiry.

Saturday, 9:30-10:30 am, Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor, Atrium, Level 2, Nonfiction Children’s Book Salon:

An “unofficial” session, thisis an opportunity to grab a coffee and talk nonfiction (picture books, middle grade, and YA) with Lerner and Chronicle editors Carol Hinz, Melissa Manlove, and Shaina Olmanson.

Saturday, 12:30-2:30pm, Children’s Book Awards Luncheon:

I’ll be hosting one of Boyds Mills & Kane’s tables, so I’m very eager to meet and hang out with so many writer and teacher friends! (Plus, I’ll have copies of Flashlight Night on hand!)

Sunday, 7-8:45am, Children’s Literature Assembly (CLA) Breakfast:

Caldecott Honor author/illustrator Yuyi Morales will be discussing her work, including her newest book, Soñadores / Dreamers (Holiday House, 2018).

And of course, I’ll be popping in and out of sessions here and there and trying to spend as much time with my writer and educator friends as possible. If you do see me, please stop and say hello! (Hint: I’ll be sporting my winter beard, so if you come across a fellow who looks like The Most Interesting Man in the World’s balder, less-interesting brother…that’s probably me)

Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!


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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