Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Speaker Profile - Matt Forrest Esenwine


Region: New England (CT, RI, MA, VT, NH, ME)
Age Levels: 5-10, 11-13, and 14-17
Will Travel: Anywhere in my country
Skype Visit: Yes
SCBWI Profile: Member Profile
Speaker Email:


Matt's debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyd's Mills & Kane, 2017), received multiple positive reviews including a starred review from Kirkus, and was selected by the NY Public Library as one of the "100 Best Books for Kids 2017." His second picture book, Don't Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids, 2018), co-written with Deborah Bruss, was praised by Booklist for its "rollicking rhyme" and was chosen by NH Parenting magazine as a 2018 Summer Reading List suggestion.

His next two books were pubished within nearly a month from each other:
Elliot the Eart-Shaped Frog (Rainstorm Publishing, Jan. 26, 2021), a board book, was followed by Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, March 2, 2021), co-written with Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose). As of this writing, Matt has 8 additional books scheduled for release between 2021-2023.

Meanwhile, his children’s poetry can be found in numerous anthologies including Lee Bennett Hopkins’ Night Wishes (Eerdmans, 2020), School People and Construction People (Wordsong, 2018 / 2020), and I Am Someone Else (Charlesbridge, 2019); J. Patrick Lewis’ The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry and The Poetry of US (National Geographic, 2015 / 2018); and Kenn Nesbitt’s One Minute Til Bedtime (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016), among others, as well as “Highlights for Children” magazine. 

Matt has also had several adult poems published in various independent collections and journals around the country including the Donald Hall tribute anthology, Except for Love (Encircle, 2019). In 2012 his poem, “Apple-Stealing,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and in 2019 he was the recipient of the MacGregor Poetry Prize, coordinated by the Robert Frost Farm board of trustees and Derry (NH) Public Library. 

Presentation Description:

We grown-ups spend 13+ years encouraging our children to read and write...but rarely do we ever tell them they can actually DO THAT for a living! There are myriad careers out there, but writing & illustrating are two occupations we don't seem to ever talk about as being legitimate pursuits. Yes, it takes time, talent, and perseverance, but it IS possible...and I want them to realize that.

For younger children, I help foster creativity and imagination - getting them to think about their subjects and learn basic skills of creative writing utilizing mindfulness and free verse. 

For middle-grade students, creativity and the basics of poetry go hand-in-hand as I explain how to use language to convey thoughts, images, and emotions. Many of the poetic devices, techniques, and skills one learns through poetry (e.g., perspective, point of view, understanding ones subject) can be applied to other areas of writing, so rhyme and poetic form may or may not enter the discussion.

In high school, the focus is more on poetry as a medium of expression; tools and concepts such alliteration, internal rhyme, and truth in writing are explored and developed.

All presentations are conducted with Common Core in mind and can be used specifically for Anchor Standards for Literature 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6, and Anchor Standards for Writing 1, 3, and 5, depending on the particular age group and presentation.

I have also given presentations to adults on writing poetry and, specifically, free verse poetry. I welcome the opportunity to chat with you!