Poetry Friday: A ‘definito’ to celebrate BEGINNER’S GUIDE author copies!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to head a couple of hours north and spend a few days with some fellow New Hampshire children’s authors and illustrators on a writing retreat in the White Mountains. Lita Judge, Deborah Bruss (my Don’t Ask a Dinsoaur co-author) and several other friends all hung out at author Emilie Burack’s family home in Jackson, NH and chatted, ate, wrote, ate, laughed, ate, and hiked!

(And ate)

Yes, we had all brought plenty of food that we all shared, and it really was an inspirational, rejuvenating, and relaxing time. In-between the writing and eating we found time to take a hike up an old abandoned ski mountain and enjoyed the view…

The first three photos are from our hike (that’s famous Mt. Washington in the distance in the first picture and only-slightly-less-famous Marty Kelley in the foreground of the second). The bottom photo is a view from our living room balcony.

You can see why it was so inspiring!

Anyway, it was a very creative time for me as I managed to completely rework from the ground up a manuscript I’d written earlier this year – and when I returned home, guess what was waiting for me:

Author copies!!

That’s right – author copies of my new picture book had been delivered! And what a thrill to hold one’s new book in hand. This is my sixth book, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never lose the sense of excitement when I pick up a brand-new one and flip through it to see all those beautiful pages.

A Beginner’s Guide to Being Human (Beaming Books, 2022) is my first creative nonfiction book, and it introduces the concepts and emotions like family, compassion, and forgiveness as the reader watches various children go about their lives. After explaining kindness in one spread, the next spread touches on empathy:

Click to enlarge. Image ©2022 Beaming Books, all rights reserved

As I was looking over this spread, It occurred to me that writing a poem to go with it might be a nice way of tying in Poetry Friday. But what type of poem? I then remembered Tanita Davis making reference to the definito, a poetry form created by my friend Heidi Mordhorst, on her blog.

Heidi’s definition of the form: the definito is a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem. I thought I’d give the definito a try – so here’s my first attempt!


They push and shove
to the front of the line,
…..no time
to talk, to smile, be kind;
rewind the scene
…..and see
a plea for help, for food.
Not rudeness, hunger!
…..Yes, I feel
their pain, it’s real –
this plastic tray,
…..their only meal.
No need, you see,
for enmity,
…..…..try empathy.

– © 2022 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

I hope you like it! And I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of Beginner’s Guide for your young human! Today’s Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted by Rose Cappelli at her blog Imagine the Possibilities, where she is celebrating her granddaughter’s 3rd birthday with a special original poem.


Arriving everywhere books are sold on Oct. 18 from Beaming Books!


Be sure to PRE-ORDER my upcoming new
creative nonfiction picture book,

(Beaming Books, Oct. 2022)!

Order a PERSONALLY-SIGNED copy of my latest picture book, I AM TODAY (POW! Kids Books),
or ANY of my books from my local independent bookstore!


Be sure to check out all the cool new picture books arriving this year from my PB22Peekaboo partners!


I’m very happy to be part of the BOOKROO family!

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!


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, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click here to view all my books and 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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13 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: A ‘definito’ to celebrate BEGINNER’S GUIDE author copies!

  1. I’m looking forward to reading your new book, Matt! Congratulations! What a weekend of creativity and excitement you had – thanks for sharing. I never wrote a definito, but I love your example. It puts the meaning of “empathy” into perspective.


  2. Matt, I am excited to review your new book. Your poem really made me think of the 100s of students I taught throughout my teaching and administrative career who were hungry and in need of understanding. Your poem sheds a wonderful light on the word empathy that is needed in this world. Being human is a great topic to bring attention to.


  3. Hi. I am visiting here for the first time. I am a fellow Cybils Round 1 judge, for the Poetry division. And now I know I am among an expert. Love the little poem about empathy not enmity. I will request a friendship on Goodreads if you are there so I hope you will accept. Look forward to working with you. And congrats on your books. I’ll look for it at the library. Anne@HeadfullofBooks


    1. Hi, Anne! Nice to meet you – and thank you so much for the kind words. I’m not sure how much of an expert I am, but I do have an affinity for poetry and am happy to be on the panel with you!. And yes, I’m on Goodreads, so I’ll see you there!


  4. Pingback: Poetry Friday: Gearing up for “Beginner’s Guide” with news, reviews, and a poem about FAMILY – Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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