Thursday, 10 September 2020

Thanks to Kiesha for hosting POETRY FRIDAY at Whispers from the Ridge today. New to Poetry Friday? Find out more here.

Happy Poetry Friday, everyone!

Now that A PLACE AT THE TABLE has launched, I am working on a new middle grade novel. This one is in verse (at least for now). The floods that destroyed the historic street near our old house is part of this book’s story.

Also incorporated into my WIP — memories of being out in the woods as a child, the wonder of catching frogs and newts, the stream where my best friend and I played for hours in the summer. At our new house, toads, snakes, and snails are part of the landscape (and you’ve already met our box turtles).









I’ve drafted many poems that won’t make it into my working draft. Here is one of my favorites.


by Laura Shovan

I woke up last night
thinking of my brother
and me catching frogs,
salamanders, spotting turtles
sunbathing on a rock
or fallen log. Where
did they go, the animals,
when the flood came
and the stream
burst its banks?

If you’d like to read more about the two so-called thousand  year floods that impacted Ellicott City in 2016 and 2018, here is an article. 

16 responses to “Poetry Friday: Cut from WIP”

  1. Linda Baie says:

    Nature does take a whack at those it also supports, doesn’t it? I visited a flood plain years ago in Missouri & still remember seeing movement as we walked the highway toward the flood water’s edge. The movement was thousands of worms moving out, trying to get to the earth they knew. I didn’t have a camera & wish I had. I like that you connected with your brother in this poem, too, Laura. Best wishes in this new work!

  2. Fran Haley says:

    I love mining my childhood memories (wherein live frogs and turtles!) – and reliving what I wondered about – how your words take me there, and how rich is a child’s perception and thinking. The poem and your photos are treasures. I can imagine the flood as a character itself in your WIP of verse; the story sounds so compelling. Now, I must write about the caterpillars I caught and brought home in my lunchbox …

    • Laura Shovan says:

      The flood certainly is a character — a dangerous, frightening one, in the new book. Can’t wait to read your caterpillar poem, Fran.

  3. Mary Lee says:

    How lovely to have a surfeit of riches that have been CUT from your WIP!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      This book is both underwritten (plot elements missing!) and overwritten (too many poems that say the same thing!)

  4. Linda Mitchell says:

    oooooh! I’m super excited about this new MG novel. I want to know where the animals went…why will this poem not make it into the mss?

    • Laura Shovan says:

      I’m excited too! I have lots of overlapping poems — same theme or information. It’s time to make decisions, difficult as that can be.

  5. That’s a great opening, “Where did they go, the animals…” You have me captured there. I read a good portion about the floods–I wonder when we are going to wake up and do something, they just keep coming.
    Good luck with your new book, and thanks for sharing that teeny tiny toad.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      It is an honest question. I’ve been reading articles about mass extinctions of birds in particular. I also wonder when we’re going to wake up and fear it will be too late.

  6. KAY MCGRIFF says:

    You poem brings back memories of catching frogs and watching turtles. In addition to the floods that have disrupted life–wild and domestic–I also wonder/worry about the life disrupted by the fires in the West. I’m looking forward to hearing more about you newest WIP.

  7. Ruth says:

    Natural disasters displace so many people and animals in such a dramatic way. I remember after the earthquake in Haiti, there were ants EVERYWHERE. All we could figure was that their homes had been shaken up with everything else.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Exactly, Ruth. Displacement is an important part of the story I’m working on. Wow — that is amazing about the ants. It makes sense, but who could have predicted ants were displaced too?

  8. Oh, I love this poem. Such an honest question for a nature-loving kiddo. Glad you’ve landed in a place where critters can inspire you again.

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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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