Poetry Friday: “Found” Reptiles!

Today’s the day we find out the winner of the first of TWO copies of ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME (Beaming Books)! I’m giving away a FREE, PERSONALLY-SIGNED COPY OF THE BOOK today – and details on how to win the OTHER copy are below, near the end of this post.

I also want to take a moment to thank all the wonderfully supportive bloggers who joined our official blog tour!


2/25:      Ellen Leventhal:  https://www.ellenleventhal.com/#blog
3/1:        Maria Marshall: https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/2:        Matt Forrest Esenwine: https://mattforrest.wordpress.com 
3/3:        Jan Godown Annino at Bookseed Studio: https://bookseedstudio.wordpress.com/
3/4:        Celebrate Picture Books: https://celebratepicturebooks.com/ (will begin giveaway on 3/5)
3/5:        Maria Marshall #PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday): https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/5:        KidLit411 – Charles Ghigna interview: http://www.kidlit411.com/
3/5:       Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook: http://mrsknottsbooknook.blogspot.com/
3/9:      Erin Dealey https://www.erindealey.com/blog/
3/10:     Melissa Stoller: https://www.melissastoller.com/blog
3/16:     Kellee Moye at Unleashing Readers: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/
5/5:       Andrew Hackett: https://www.andrewhacket.com/blog

Now, then – today’s poem might be considered by some to be…hmm, how do I say this…”underwhelming?” Not that I’m not proud of it, it’s just a little bit shorter than I’d anticipated – and folks who don’t understand found poetry might simply dismiss it as simple or easy (neither of which accurately describes the poem!).

You see, found poetry, as I’ve explained in previous posts like this one from February, is poetry that one “finds” in other writing – whether it’s another poem, a book, magazine, or wherever words may habitate. You sort through all the words and phrases to find the ones that speak to you, and you create a new poem from them.

Always up for a challenge, I thought I’d ask my kids to help me out.

“Pick out any book,” I told my 7-year-old daughter.

“This one!” she said, handing me a signed copy of Sara Levine’s Fossil by Fossil (Millbrook Press, 2018). Sara’s book had come out just a couple of months before my Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (POW! Kids Books), and at one point that spring we found ourselves hosting a dual book signing, so we signed each others’ books…and my 11-year-old son, a dino fanatic, loved it.

However, as wonderful a book as it is, it’s a picture book – which means it’s not very word-heavy. I was worried about finding enough words on any particular spread to be able to come up with a decent poem.

Turning to my 11-year-old son, I said cautiously, “pick whichever spread you want.”

“Hopefully one with a lot of words,” I added.

So he found the spread featuring one of his favorite dinosaurs – Tyrannosaurus Rex. I looked it over and, taking a deep breath, dove into my search for a found poem. It was a search that lasted far longer than I thought it would.

You see, some folks might think that with fewer words, it’s easier to come up with a poem. That could not be farther from the truth, my friends. With lots of words, one has lots of options; with few words, the options become severly limited, especially if one is going to write a poem that doesn’t ‘sound’ like a found poem.

Finding a poem here was like finding a fossil: I was going to need to dig and dig! Here’s the spread he gave me:

Images © 2018 Millbrook Press, all rights reserved

Like I said, it’s a fantastic book, but creating a poem from these few words was a challenge. But a challenge is what I asked for, and a challenge was what I was given. I responded thusly:


In the oceans,

………..in the sky,

on land,



© 2021 Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

Not the most ground-breaking poem to ever appear on a blog, but a far better poem than I initially thought I’d be able to pull off. And really, found poetry is all about stretching the mind and playing with words…very rarely does found poetry get published (although it certainly can), but its visual and tactile nature of creation makes it absolutely integral when teaching poetry and comprehension.

Hope you like it! And I hope you’ll try some found poetry, yourself. If you’d like some more ideas, be sure to check out the Wit & Wordplay video I made about it – and if you have any ideas for videos you think I should be creating, please let me know! For more poetry – all KINDS of poetry! – head on over to Linda Baie’s blog, TeacherDance, where she’s hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with a “Spring Dress Rehearsal!”

~ ~ GIVEAWAY!! ~ ~

Would you like a personally-signed copy of ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME? I have TWO copies I’m giving away! Our first winner, selected at random from all the comments left on my original #BookBirthday post, is…


Congratulations, Linda! Send me an email at the address in the upper right corener, and I’ll be sure to get your copy in the mail pronto!

If you’d like to win the other copy, just share this graphic on Twitter and use the hashtags #giveaway and #2021BookBlast…I’ll pick a winner at the end of the month!


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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 personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology 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!




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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12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “Found” Reptiles!

  1. lindabaie

    I love what you “found”, Matt & love “Finding a poem here was like finding a fossil: I was going to need to dig and dig!” I’m always looking at the clouds & “finding” things, like dinosaurs! I think it’s great that you had your kids’ help, too. That is fun!


  2. I happen to like short poems and I liked your found poem with the hint of a threat in it. Your son I can imagine enjoyed your search together. There is always something to write about.


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