Poetry Friday: Looking back at my first paid poem – has it only been 6 years??

I was recently updating some of my marketing paperwork and was surprised to discover that it has only been 6 years since my very first paid children’s poem was published. Six years!

Now, this comes with a tiny disclaimer: the first paid poem for which I signed a contract was “First Tooth,” which appeared in Lee Bennett Hopkins’ Lullabye & Kisses Sweet (Abrams Appleseed), published in March 2015. My first published paid poem, however, actually appeared just one week earlier, in Carol-Ann Hoyte’s anthology Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food & Agriculture Poems.

Even though I’m a few months behind, I thought I’d share one of my three poems that Carol-Ann included in her book – a poem that was one of the first children’s poems I ever wrote, waaaay back in 2010.

It came about when I was mowing the lawn one day and started contemplating what I was doing from a child’s perspective. I asked myself questions that a child might ask his or her dad: What are you doing? Why are you cutting the grass? Why don’t you grow flowers like mom?

And this is what happened when the child inside me tried to answer those questions!

Growing Greens

Mommy grows flowers
She thins them and feeds them.
She prunes them and pots them
and waters and weeds them.

Daddy grows grass.

Mommy grows ivy
and bushes and hedges
that grow by the garden
and over the ledges.

Daddy grows grass.

Mommy grows roses
of all shapes and sizes.
She takes them to fairs
and often wins prizes.

Daddy grows grass.

Well, actually…
sometimes Daddy grows flowers.
Pretty yellow dandelions, that cover the lawn.
But Daddy pulls them up

to grow more grass.

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved


It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that since this poem came out, I’ve had about 35 children’s poems and 4 picture books published – and 8 more books on the way. I’m so grateful to the folks I’ve met along this journey, for befriending me, supporting me, and publishing me!

And speaking of publishing, this really is an anthology of incredible diversity, featuring established poets like former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis and the award-winning Nikki Grimes as well as up-and-comers (at the time) like my friends Charles Waters and Michelle H. Barnes. If you’ve not had the opportunity to pick up a copy Dear Tomato, I hope you will! Where else are you going to find a collection of 34 different writers for just 10 bucks?? As far as bargains go, it’s definitely a heckuva one.

And as far as poetry goes, you can find today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup at Irene Latham’s little home on the web, Live Your Poem!


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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 a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (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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19 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Looking back at my first paid poem – has it only been 6 years??

  1. Linda Mitchell

    Many congratulations, Matt! I had no idea you’ve been dedicated to publishing your work for only six years. It’s amazing. Keep going! You have lots more poems and stories in you. And, you make it look like you are having tremendous fun!


  2. lindabaie

    I read Dear Tomato long ago, Matt, probably before I met you! Now I’ll have to find & read again, a great one for spring! Congratulations on all your successes. Flashlight Night is still a favorite!


  3. Congratulations! A milestone worth celebrating. I love knowing how a book or poem came to be – thanks for sharing your poem and its origin story! I enjoyed them both.


  4. haitiruth

    This is such a fun poem! It reminds me of things my children have said about Daddy and Mommy’s cooking, except that in our case my husband is the cook, and I’m the not-cook!
    Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com


  5. Carol Ann is a dear friend and this anthology is the one that I most regret not getting in on. (I’ve been inviting her to participate in Poetry Friday!) Thanks for reminding me to take it off the shelf again (and to mow the front lawn at least), and happy reminiscing.

    Liked by 1 person

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