Back to School Poem: My Official List, a writer’s guide

New faces, new names, new voices, new dreams. It’s getting-to-know-you time again, the beginning of a new school year.
Here is a little quick write pattern for creating a cheeky introduction. Fun to write, fun to share. I’m thinking upper elementary, but you be the judge. Here is my model, My Official List. Sorry that it’s

The Enemy, Detroit 1954: A Starter Lesson Guide

The pictures are a little grainy with strange stuff in the background. The characters wear old-fashioned clothes and talk funny. Their stories require understanding of situations that readers have never encountered before.
It isn’t that kids don’t like historical fiction; it’s just that sometimes they have trouble seeing themselves in the picture. The pictures

Why I Would Never Tell a Student What a Poem Means

 

Why I Would Never Tell a Student What a Poem Means. (reprinted from the Washington Post, April 13, 2017)
 
 
Seems fitting that April is poetry month, a season brimming with blossoming possibilities and longer days. Like jolly jonquils, in April poets are released from our winter hibernation, we shed our black attire

Poem/Letter to Someone 50 Years From Now

Following the lead of poet Matthew Olzmann, I decided to try my hand at a poem/letter to someone fifty years from now.  As I did some calculations, that turns out to be exactly 100 years from the year I graduated from high school. Since it is unlikely I will live to see 2067, I left

The Enemy, Detroit 1954 Book Launch at Shanghai American School Pudong

Today I gave my first book talk about The Enemy. Exciting, but so weird. I am used to doing book talks sprinkled with poetry. How I came to write this one, what annoyed me enough to write that one. The explanations follow the poem. Everyone in the audience is familiar with the text because

I Can’t Answer These Texas Standardized Test Questions About My Own Poems

This article was first published on Huffington Post, January 4, 2017.
When I realized I couldn’t answer the questions posed about two of my own poems on the Texas state assessment tests (STAAR Test), I had a flash of panic – oh, no! Not smart enough. Such a dunce. My eyes glazed over. I checked

Letter to the IRS

Seems like the right week for a reprise of this little ditty (as I once again file an extension).

Letter to the IRS

Every year I promise myself and the government that I
will not file an extension.

That I will be a good citizen and get

From the Park Bench Book Release

“Tony?”

“Sara, how you doing?”

A complex question. I was sitting in a nice
house with no job, two kids, and I’d just received the bad news that my former
husband was also unemployed so there would be no more health insurance or child
support coming.

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