Poetry Friday Roundup: Gearing up for “Beginner’s Guide” with news, reviews, and a poem about FAMILY

No matter how many books I may publish, I’m pretty sure I’ll never not be excited when a new one comes out. My sixth book, A Beginner’s Guide to Being Human (Beaming Books, 2022), is due in stores everywhere this coming Tue., Oct. 18 – and I can barely stay seated!

(And by the way…YES, I’m hosting the Poetry Friday shenanigans today, so please leave your links in the comments below and I’ll round them up old-school style throughout the day!)

First up: Reviews!

If you have not heard, my sixth book is actually my first creative nonfiction picture book and introduces emotions and concepts like empathy, forgiveness, and love. It was written during the height of the pandemic back in 2020 and I had no idea at the time how important these things would be two years later.

A number of children’s lit bloggers and reviewers will be sharing their thoughts on the book over the next few weeks, but I did want to thank the ones who have already posted reviews:

I’d also like to thank Dr. Diane Jackson Schnoor for inviting me on her Adventures in Learning podcast to celebrate the upcoming publication of the book as well as creative writing in general.

We discuss the story behind the book, my love of poetry, and how fun creative writing can be both in and out of the classroom. I hope you’ll check it out!

If you’d like to learn a little bit more about how Beginner’s Guide came about (it wasn’t even my own idea!), the process of creating it, and why getting the first rough draft down on paper is so important, please be sure to read Hollie Wolverton’s interview with me as part of her #FirstDraftFriday post last week.

What is “Family?”

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

Over the past few weeks I’ve been sharing poems I’ve written relating to some of the concepts included in my book. Last week, it was a nonet poem about forgiveness and a couple of weeks prior to that it was a definito about empathy.

This week, I thought I’d focus on family. Since family can mean many things to many people, I thought I’d do a list poem with no punctuation – to give the sense that there are no boundaries or borders to a family. There are no limits as to who or what can be considered family, other than those who love us and care about us.



mother father sister brother
aunt uncle one another
grammy grampy nonny nan
poppy pépère vovó gran
in-law papaw second cousin
best friend cat dog half a dozen
biologic step or foster
all can show up on the roster
black or brown or beige or white
forward backward left or right
born adopted taken in
anyone can be your kin
half or whole or not at all
accent lisp or southern drawl
doesn’t matter who you are
close to home or way too far
down below or up above
the only thing you need is love


– ©2022 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved


I do want to give a quick shout-out to Sara Grochowski, a youth librarian from Michigan who just shared a glowing review of Beginner’s Guide on her Instagram account yesterday! She told me that she’s working with twelve K-3 classrooms to overhaul their libraries this year and will be recommending they all add Beginner’s Guide. Wow!

The Poetry Friday Roundup:

As I mentioned earlier, the Poetry Friday roundup is here – so leave your links in the comments below and I’ll be sure to share them all. Thanks for visiting!

  • Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference shares two poems, one about a two-headed calf and another about snow – and they are both brilliant.
  • Patricia Franz is celebrating the release of WHAT IS A FRIEND?, Pomelo Books’ latest anthology which inclues one of her poems!
  • Marci Atkins also contributed a poem to WHAT IS A FRIEND? and you can read hers, as well, along with an original haiku.
  • Do you know what an ATC is? How about happy mail? Well, Linda Mitchell will shed some light on these terms with a new triolet at A Word Edgewise!
  • At an Alabama state park, a new Japanese garden that has been installed features haiku from several conemporary poets, including our own Robyn Hood Black, who shares hers at Life on the Deckle Edge.
  • Sally Murphy has written two “Wordy 30’s”. What is it with all these new vocab words today??
  • Not to be outdone, Jone MacCulloch shares three Wordy 30’s at her little home on the web!
  • You know what this world needs? A good tomato poem. Fortunately for us, JoAnn Early Macken has one!
  • Do you remember doing leaf rubs as a child? I’d forgotten about them until two years ago when we had to homeschool our two kids and that was a combo science/art project I devised for them. At Imagine the Possibilities, Rose recounts the fun and discovery with an original poem.
  • Over at Alphabet Soup, Jama Kim Rattigan “opens a book” – a poem by Julia Donaldson – and shares her love of books with some beautiful illustrative artwork and lovely memories.
  • Karen Edmisten celebrates October with a poem by Barbara Crooker.
  • Autumn also takes the spotlight at Teacher Dance where Linda Baie shares an original poem based on the prompt, “forgotten.”
  • Have you heard of “Birdtober?” It’s an artistic/writing challenge to create something each day of the month based on a different bird. Today, Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town responds to the challenge (for the 14th time this month!) with a beautiful original poem about the Phillipine Eagle.
  • At More Art 4 All, Michelle Kogan shares two haiku – one inspired by a recent walk and another inspired by her dad.
  • What’s better than crisp autumn days, apple cider, and pumpkins? Ice cream, of course! At The Poem Farm, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is in with a whimsical yet profound poem that includes all these wonderful things.
  • Since October is the 10th month, Bridget Magee at Wee Words for Wee Ones is celebrating the first anniversary of her poetry anthology 10.10 Poetry Anthology: Celebrating 10 in 10 Different Ways with a poem by Irene Latham about – you guessed it – the 10th month!
  • Margaret Simon’s class has been participating in the National Writing Project and National Parks Service’s Write Out, and shares a couple of her students poems at Reflections on the Teche.
  • Heidi Mordhorst is “keeping it all together” (or trying!) by celebrating her 14th blogiversary with an original acrostic at My Juicy Little Universe.
  • Irene Latham at Live Your Poem continues her series of haiku paired with Picasso drawings with an ostrich poem she readily identifies with!
  • Dusty, musty, spiced up smells permeate Mary Lee Hahn’s new poem about fall, which you can read at A(nother) Year of Reading.
  • Head on over to Reading to the Core and Catherine will show you what a mock strawberry looks like, along with a draft of her a poem about it.
  • Karen Eastlund is enjoying the spookiness of Halloween by sharing some very non-spooky – and quite beautiful – spiderweb photos along with an original poem.
  • Janice Scully at Salt City Verse also has October 31 on her mind and shares a pre-Halloween poem from an unlikely persepctive!
  • Sarah Grace Tuttle offers brief reviews about two new books of poetry she’s been reading – and has a giveaway winner to announce, too!
  • Molly Hogan has been writing poems in response to various Inktober prompts and today she shares several at her blog, Nix the Comfort Zone.
  • Joanne at WordDancer reflects on the fall foliage she enjoyed while on a revent trip to Vermont.
  • Last but certainly not least, Carol Varsalona recently gave a keynote address, “Teacher Writers, Awakeners of Learning,” for the Reading Specialists Council of Suffolk professional development program and shares a short poem inspired by teachers who are also writers at her blog, Beyond Literacy Link!
“Flashlight Night” in Encyclopedia Brittanica!
Click the link to nominate your favorite book(s)!

I’m very proud to be a First Round Panelist for the Poetry Category this year!



(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!




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!

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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

49 thoughts on “Poetry Friday Roundup: Gearing up for “Beginner’s Guide” with news, reviews, and a poem about FAMILY

  1. Pingback: Poetry Friday: Wordy 30s

  2. Yep – You had me at the title, too, and the peeks inside your newest book are wonderful. LOVE your inclusive “Family” poem – it will mean so much to readers young & old. Congratulations, Matt, and thanks for hosting us all today!

    I’m delighted to have a haiku on a stone as part of a new “Haiku Path” in a Japanese garden at a state park in Alabama, so I’m sharing that this week:



  3. Tabatha

    Congrats on the uplifting review in the Asheville paper! You’re playing a part in something important! The rhythm in your Family poem keeps us moving with joy as we take everyone in. Thanks for hosting!


  4. Matt, thank you for hosting Poetry Friday and providing Monday as the alternate date to review your new book, “Beginner’s Guide to Being Human.” I circle back here to leave the link to my offering tomorrow morning.


    1. I couldn’t leave a comment at your blog but just wanted to say how much I loved Irene’s poem – and I still feel bad I was never able to get a poem submitted to you for this, I was so busy! It’s an excellent book, though, congratulations again!


  5. Pingback: stepping into a book | Jama's Alphabet Soup

  6. Pingback: Poetry Friday: Leaf Rub | Imagine the Possibilities

  7. Pingback: Poetry Friday: #WriteOut | Reflections on the Teche

  8. Pingback: Poetry Friday: Peak Color – A(nother) Year of Reading

  9. Pingback: Poetry Friday: Finding Light – Reading to the Core

  10. Pingback: PF: Poemtober | Nix the comfort zone

  11. I’m in the process of publishing a book I’ve written to accompany a toy I’ve had manufactured for children to teach anti-bullying, as well as manners in a fun way. I have limited funds for my book and thought I’d ask for your advice or opinion on which way I should go to publish within a reasonable price. Thanks so much. https://www.bullybuddyzone.com (Beladora Designs featuring Bully Buddy Zone)


    1. Hi Cathy, thanks for asking! I wish I could be more help, but since I don’t self-publish any of my books, I can’t really offer any good advice. But best wishes with your plans – any ways that we can help deter bullying are great!


  12. Pingback: #BookBirthday for “A Beginner’s Guide to Being Human” – and a GIVEAWAY! – Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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