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…


How to be social
yet distant;
how to be human,
how to be loved as an
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!

18 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “Lessons” (or, Why the Heck is Matt Sharing a Rough Draft??)

  1. Matt, I sometimes wonder like you do if I like the line or if it needs different word play. I like how you started-with the title Lessons. The first lesson is one that we all need to accept. The second lesson is one that reminds me to be reflective and that word human holds different levels of thoughts. I think I might work on lesson 3 and while I understand that lesson 4 is still in the WIP zone it does have merit. I can see a broadening of that thought or maybe leaving it that way may make the reader think about what the unknown means. Your poem is a good one for the start of school. Perhaps students will reflect on lessons learned from their own studies.


    1. Thank you, Carol. Interestingly, the title is the last part of the poem I came up with…I started with the first line, and went from there. The first two lines I don’t really have much of a problem with, but the poem definitely needs work…but we’ll see what happens. I just felt that folks need to be reminded that not every poem starts off grand, and not every poem need be perfect.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sorry that you needed to repost. The lesson I learned tonight is patience. When I realized my post vanished into thin cyber air, I was freaking out but a deep breath and patience helped me recreate my steps.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and process, Matt. Pretty good for a rough draft, I’d say. It never ceases to amaze me how putting together just a few words can take so much time. I sometimes spend hours, maybe even days, on one line. But it’s such a joy when you finally figure it out! Or at least think you did.


  3. lindabaie

    Your poem certainly describes our lives now, Matt. How to “be” in our chaotic & pandemic world is one we’re all learning. I have missed the little interactions I’ve had in the past like at the grocery or out walking. People are shying away from each other. So lately I’ve been starting conversations when it feels right & find that others are engaging with me. It feels as if they too are missing that. This first draft feels good! I like the idea of that ‘island’ – so right.


    1. I was out walking with the kids the other day and a neighbor happened to be out walking, too – and as we conversed briefly, we both noticed how odd it seemed to be having a conversation out in the open, socially-distanced but without masks. Very strange feeling, indeed. Thanks, Linda!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am working on process, Matt, so I’m very glad you posted a draft. Every time I reconsider or rewrite a poem, I feel like I’m listening to the tiniest whispers, and wondering if I should listen to them at all. I’ll be interested to see how you polish this poem!


    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Karen. At this point, I’m still debating if I’m WANT to polish it, or move on to something else for awhile. As I said, the most important thing is getting it out on paper…whether it becomes anything more than a few thoughtful lines is anyone’s guess!


  5. I always love seeing drafts. I think this is a strong early draft–I love the island metaphor. It starts more abstract, gets a bit concrete in the middle, and then returns to the abstract. My thought (worth less than two cents!) is that it might be even stronger if you go from abstract to increasingly specific, or vice versa. Thanks for sharing!


  6. Kay Mcgriff

    I’m glad you reshared the pencil poem–I’ve been out of Poetry Friday for a while and missed the first time. Thank you for sharing the draft and process with the second poem–I always learn so much from peeking behind the pages of other writers and am grateful for your generosity in sharing your thoughs behind it.


    1. Thank you, Kay! I just feel like folks who are starting out need to realize that the beautiful, flowing poems they read in books usually started out as horrible, mangled phrases and incomplete sentences – and it’s only through the revision process do they become more.


  7. I missed the pencil poem last week as well and am so happy you shared it again today so generously. I will definitely be sharing it with my class. I also appreciate your sharing your “drafty” poem and the process behind it. It’s fascinating to get a look “behind the curtain.” Thanks!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.