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Thursday, 19 July 2018

This week’s Poetry Friday host is Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe. I hope she’s serving some rhymonade.

Business first, then a poem.

First, Tabatha Yeatts, you are the winner of the NITA’S FIRST SIGNS book giveaway! Congratulations!

Second, I am heading to the ILA conference this weekend. Look for a post later this afternoon with details about my panel session with MG authors Tricia Springstubb, Karina Yan Glaser, Janet Sumner Johnson, and Ruth Freeman. I’ll also be signing copies of my new middle grade novel, TAKEDOWN.

Third, I had a lovely time participating in Margaret Gibson Simon’s blog tour for BAYOU SONG earlier this week. If you haven’t had a chance to read that post yet, you’ll find it here.

Now, a poem.

It comes with a trigger warning.

My friend, the poet Tim Singleton, wrote this piece on February 15, 2018, in response to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

“Adjusted Curriculum” was recently published in Dragonfly Arts Magazine. This is a literary journal put out by HopeWorks,  our local rape crisis and domestic violence center. After the poem, you will find more information about HopeWorks.

Adjusted Curriculum, 15 February 2018
by Tim Singleton

Math Class: today we learn to count… bodies.

In Physics, we’ll discuss if heated metal sings
as it tears through air, or is the first sound it makes
that scream into flesh, the blood sizzle?

The skeleton in the back of Biology
is mute with horror:

…what those with meat on their bones do.

The Guidance Office wants the smoke to clear
before you start on college applications.

In Home Economics, we’ll find the best way
to get the stain of a friend’s laughter
out of the air.

All that is left to do in Gym
is pick up and re-rack the balls,
maybe close a few lockers,
swab the floor.

The ink of History is blood;
the next chapter of the textbook
is always empty, waiting to be written.
Everyone have a pen?

In Art class, be quick when you draw from memory,
get the idea on to paper before the person you knew
fades away, disappears.

How many eulogies must we turn in to receive full
credit for this English assignment?

Dragonfly Arts Magazine Cover Art “Portrait D” by Michelle Nguyen

HopeWorks is our local rape crisis and domestic violence center. Dragonfly is one of their many projects that recognize the arts’ role in healing.

Click on the image for more information about HopeWorks.

14 responses to “Poetry Friday: Adjusted Curriculum”

  1. Sally Murphy says:

    Wow. What a very powerful poem, Laura. Thank you for sharing, even though it left me breathless: which is what it should do. I long for a world in which children don’t have to learn these lessons. In the meantime, though, poetry is a way in to confronting, and challenging, the realities.

  2. Wow. “get the stain of a friend’s laughter out of the air.” Thanks for sharing that. Reminds me of this one, from long ago….

    Back to School

    It’s fall: some say
    the loveliest time of the year.
    Reds and glorious oranges flare in the tops
    of skyscrapers; planes
    plunge gracefully to the ground,
    and people, like the weary leaves,
    leap to their earthy fates.
    Smoke rises from early morning fires.
    Raking commences.

    And all across America,
    after a careless, endless summer
    we go back to school.
    In our classrooms, we read the writing
    on the wall. We practice our letters
    to the editor, and, because
    the new curriculum requires it,
    we use technology to number
    all the dead.

    Heidi Mordhorst
    September 2001

    Been meaning to ask if you know Emily Rich–she’s teaching the online Memoir course I’m taking at the Writer’s Center…

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks for sharing that poem, Heidi. The last line cuts right to the bone. Yes — I do know Emily from our days working on Little Patuxent Review together. She’s an amazing writer. Please say hello for me.

  3. Wow, that last stanza especially got me. Thanks for sharing it, Laura.

  4. Mary Lee says:

    The word of the day seems to be WOW, but there’s no better. This reminds me of Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild.
    https://jellyfishreview.wordpress.com/2017/10/13/collective-nouns-for-humans-in-the-wild-by-kathy-fish/

  5. Tabatha says:

    Yay for NITA’S! Thanks, Laura!!!
    Tim’s poem is so good. Other favorites of mine in HopeWorks include “What It Takes to Breathe” and your found poem.

  6. Tim’s poem is brilliant and heart-breaking. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Poetry helps us say the tough stuff. This is tough stuff.

  8. That’s a powerful poem Laura, especially the last few lines. I’m glad these are coming out and that there is a platform/venue for their expression, thanks for sharing it.

    Hope the conference goes well. I’m heading over to view your “Bayou Song” review.

  9. Tara says:

    This is gut wrenching, because it gets to the truth of what it feels to be a witness to these events, and to imagine living through the same. Thanks for sharing the information about HopeWorks, too.

  10. Ruth says:

    What everyone is saying: “wow.” That’s intense. Thank you for sharing it.

  11. Ned says:

    poetry puts heart into things I cannot comprehend

    thank you Tim and Heide

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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