Poetry Friday: Finding a nestling inside my favorite poem

It probably shouldn’t be any surprise to you that I enjoy reading and writing poetry. So I’ve been intrigued with my friend Irene Latham’s latest poetry collection, This Poem is a Nest (Wordsong/Boyds Mills & Kane, 2020), in which she takes the concept of found poetry in an intriguing new direction.

Starting with a primary “Nest” poem, as she calls it, Irene then constructs an entire book full of poems using words she pulls from that original poem. Now, found poetry isn’t necessarily anything new, but creating a book entirely out of found poetry – from one single source poem – is quite unusual, and Irene does it beautifully and creatively.

So the more I’ve thought about it, the more I wanted to have some fun seeing what I could do with a source poem. And my favorite poem of all time was just the ticket!

Starting with Percy Bysshe Shelley’s classic “Ozymandias,” I decided to see if I could create at least 3 short poems that somehow related to the original, following Irene’s rules of using the words in order of their appearance in the “Nest” poem.

And I managed to do it! Here’s the original, with words highlighted according to which poem they appear in:

And here are my nestlings:


Antique legs, a shattered sneer
the heart.


In the desert,
the sculptor’s lifeless hand


A wrinkled lip
mocked the pedestal of Kings
and boundless,
bare sands.

Found poems by Matt Forrest Esenwine, © 2021

You’ll notice I also took the titles from the Nest poem, as well, trying to tie them to the subject. As a fun, brain-stretching exercise, I have to say it was a lot of fun! Activities like this really get you thinking in extraordinary ways, helping you to see words and imagery differently and forcing you to consider the nuanced meaning of every word.

If you’d like to learn more about writing “nestlings,” check out Irene’s detailed explanation guide! Even if you only come up with one poem from a “Nest” poem, it will be a poem that had never existed before in history – and how cool is it, knowing that??

Speaking of writing poetry, Molly Hogan is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, Nix the Comfort Zone, with a work-in-progress poem she calls the “Artist’s Prayer.” I do hope you’ll check it out!


Would your school like a FREE author visit
AND a FREE, brand-new book?

Read Across America Day is coming up on Tue., March 2 – the exact same day that Once Upon Another Time arrives in stores everywhere! So I’m celebrating by offering TWELVE free 20-minute virtual visits with any school in the country would would like to have me join them that day! Students will have the opportunity to read a book before anyone else – and learn a little bit about the story BEHIND the book! Plus, each school will receive a FREE COPY, courtesy of Beaming Books!

This offer is limited to 12 schools, though, and I already have a couple of schools signed up…so if you’re interested, please email me at matt (at) mattforrest (dot) com and reserve your spot!

Coming March 2, 2021!

Contrasting the past with the present, this picture book takes you through a lyrical exploration of the world as it was before humans made their mark.


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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.


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!

Click any of the following covers to order!

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!




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16 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Finding a nestling inside my favorite poem

  1. lindabaie

    I do love Irene’s book, a creative idea that yields one’s own words tucked together. My favorite: A wrinkled lip/mocked the pedestal of Kings”. Love seeing you play with this, too, Matt!


  2. Kay Mcgriff

    I like your nestlings. They are in conversation with the source poem. I’ve tried writing a few nestlings, and it is a brain stretching exercise.


  3. I just came from reading Laura’s post about “This Poem is a Nest” to reading yours. A double dipper of a treat! Your nestlings are a delightful trio, and I especially enjoyed the last one. I also had fun with the process of writing nestlings. As you note, being keenly aware of the nuanced meanings of words is a big help. The whole exercise definitely stretches your brain!


  4. It is fun, finding nestlings. You have a great nest poem to began with and the first nestling is my favorite. Somehow, the somber aspect of the poem seems more so just after an insurrection, doesn’t it?


  5. haitiruth

    So good! My favorite is “Wreck.” I got a picture in my head of exactly the person being described. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com


  6. Pingback: Poetry Friday: New “Wit & Wordplay” videos on the way! – Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

  7. Pingback: Poetry Friday: “Found” Reptiles! – Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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