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Thursday, 20 May 2021

Christie Wyman is hosting this week’s special Poetry Friday celebration at Wondering and Wandering. It’s also Christie’s birthday today, so stop by for a double helping of cake and poetry!

Today, the Poetry Friday community is celebrating Mary Lee Hahn’s retirement from teaching!

Many years ago, I was lucky enough to visit and spend a little time with Mary Lee’s class. I loved watching her interact with her students. From that visit–and Mary Lee’s beautiful, vulnerable posts about striving to learn and grow as an educator–I know her students and her school will miss working with such a committed professional.

If you’d like to check out Mary Lee’s blog, head over to A Year of Reading!To draft today’s poem, I borrowed several of Mary Lee’s original poems from her recent Poetry Friday posts. Then, I played “10 Little Words,” choosing ten words from Mary Lee’s poem to form the backbone of my draft.

My ten words (12 if you count the title!) are:

  1. choose
  2. Cicada
  3. crowd
  4. days
  5. decades
  6. desk
  7. emerge
  8. flow
  9. memory/remember
  10. momentum
  11. retiring
  12. students

Retiring in Cicada Season
For Mary Lee

Memories of students
flow by her desk, emerge
from days, years, decades
of the work she chose.

They crowd—a brood of minds
     who were                    under her care,
     who shared                poetry, books,
     and fifth grade’s       momentum.

They grew out of their shells
under their teacher’s wing,
and flew, as they must do, 
into their bright futures.

by Laura Shovan

Congratulations, Mary Lee! We can’t wait to hear about your bright future and all of your new adventures.

27 responses to “#PoemsforMaryLee”

  1. Thanks for sharing how you came to your poem for Mary Lee— it reminds me of one of your February Poem a day writing challenges Laura. How clever to bring in cicada’s. I also like your closing stanza, serendipitously, I hit on some of these same areas while writing my poem for her, thanks!

  2. Laura, I think Mary Lee will love the poem you penned for her. I like your process and perhaps will try this out on my own. Happy Spring to you.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks, Carol. I learned this method from Maryland Poet Laureate Grace Cavalieri. I think she keeps a bank of words, but I like to pull from a news article or other text.

  3. Denise Krebs says:

    Laura,
    Nice tribute to Mary Lee here, Laura. I like the process you used. Great word choice of Mary Lee before you, and your choices from her poems, as well. I also like the shape of your poem.
    Some of my favorite lines are:
    “They crowd—a brood of minds”
    and
    “under their teacher’s wing”

  4. Linda Mitchell says:

    What a perfect tribute…cicada season. I love it! And, such truth. Fifth grade is so important to a kid. And, Mary Lee is a gifted educator. I’m loving this celebration today. And, thank you — I am now addicted to ten little word poems!

  5. Karen Eastlund says:

    What a lovely poem for Mary Lee! Thank you for sharing it and your process. Best to you…

  6. Linda Baie says:

    It’s a special idea to use Mary Lee’s words, Laura, in your own lovely poem for Mary Lee, indeed so many lucky ones to be “under their teacher’s wing” when it was Mary Lee’s!

  7. Kathryn Apel says:

    Beautiful poem, Laura. Such a gift! x

  8. Irene Latham says:

    Oh those bright futures that have been made brighter by Mary Lee! Love the poem, Laura. xo

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Yes! A thoughtful, compassionate teacher can be an important presence in a child’s life. I’ve loved following Mary Lee’s questions, ups and downs, and passion for education through her blog.

  9. Elisabeth says:

    I love the idea of taking words from Mary Lee’s poems to serve as the framework for this one! I love how this echoes her poem about the cicadas and turns that into a metaphor for her students.

  10. jama says:

    Fab poem, Laura — love hearing about your process, using ML’s own words. 🙂

  11. tanita♥ says:

    This poem is just PERFECT.
    What a gorgeous tribute, and thanks for sharing your process – I always love that. What a great idea to harvest words from Mary Lee’s rich field of poetry!

  12. Ruth says:

    Such a wonderful, timely poem, Laura!

  13. Mary Lee says:

    I love this so much! How fun to bring in the “cicada season” and make my students my “brood.” That last stanza, though…oh, my heart. That’s the pain and the glory of teaching.

  14. Perfect, Laura. A beautiful poem and wonderful send off for Mary Lee!

  15. I love how you shared Mary Lee’s words in a new way, Laura! Your cicada metaphor is brilliant – that you made those creepy insects into such a positive thing (sorry I am not a fan of these fellas) is amazing. 🙂

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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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