Thursday, 2 December 2021

Poetry Friday is at Michelle Kogan’s colorful blog this week. Head over there to kick off the “Holidaze” celebration, PF-style.

Short post this week, my friends, but it comes with a book giveaway and a BIG announcement!

Announcement first:

At the start of 2022, I’ll be starting a new job, one I’m excited (and a little bit nervous) about.

I’m honored to be joining the faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, VCFA CYA for short. Everyone there has been so nice and accommodating as I prepare for my first semester as a lecturer and advisor to MFA candidates. Just WOW.

And now to the giveaway…

It’s always wonderful when you write a poem and it finds the perfect home — a journal or anthology that is a spot-on fit the tone or topic of your writing. That’s what happened with my poem “Dear Tooth Fairy.”

I’m grateful to Bridget Magee for including it in 10×10 Poetry Anthology: Celebrating 10 in 10 Different Ways.

If you’d like a copy of the book, leave a comment and I’ll draw a name at random. BTW, winner of the Plant People giveaway was Linda Mitchell!

Here is my poem from 10×10. It’s longer than my usual, but it was such a fun exercise in voice. Once this kid got talking (or writing… this *is* supposed to be a note to the Tooth Fairy), I couldn’t get them to stop. You’ll see the word “TENacity” pop up, in keeping with the book’s theme.

Dear Tooth Fairy
By Laura Shovan

You’re probably looking
for a tooth under this pillow,
rummaging around
with delicate fairy fingers,
trying not to wake me up.
(Don’t worry. Mom says
I sleep like a rock,
but as far as I can tell
rocks don’t sleep,
so you can ignore
my mother on this point.)
Mom said you would not
leave me money unless
there was a big fat molar
nestled under my pillow,
waiting to be scooped up
and put in your fairy basket.
(How does she know
it’s a basket? Maybe
you carry a backpack
made of dogwood petals.
Pink ones. I’m guessing
you like pink.)

I happen to have a big fat molar.
Or—had one until this morning
during the spelling test
when I chewed my pencil so hard
trying to remember how to spell
“tenacity” that the tooth
which was loose for a week
finally popped out,
skidded across my desk and landed
on Melinda’s test paper.
Melinda screamed even though
there wasn’t any blood
on the tooth. Not much, anyway.
It was the funniest thing
that has happened so far
in fifth grade, and I’d really
like to remember Melinda’s
face and the way she pushed
away from her desk so fast
(to avoid my not-that-bloody
tooth) that she bumped into Henry,
who fell out of his chair.

Tooth Fairy, how will I remember
this moment of epic hilarity
unless I keep my tooth?
Did I mention it’s the first
molar I have lost in my whole
10-year-old career of growing
and losing teeth? You, Tooth Fairy,
are a fan of teeth. You get it.
I want to keep this one molar.
I have the perfect place for it,
a birch bark box, small enough
to fit in my hand. (You
probably could fit inside this box.
It would make a nice hangout.
Not that I’m trying to trap you,
or anything. Fly free, Tooth Fairy!)

Do we have a deal? I get to keep
the tooth, you get to laugh
about Melinda’s freak out
and Henry falling out of his chair
in the middle of a test. Don’t forget
to leave something (a coin or three
would be appreciated,
silver dollars are my favorite
form of currency), that way,
I’ll know you were here.

27 responses to “Poetry Friday: “Dear Tooth Fairy””

  1. Tim Kulp says:

    Congratulations on your new role! That sounds really exciting. Thank you for sharing Dear Tooth Fairy. I really enjoyed it!

  2. Woo hoo, Laura! VCFA CYA students and fellow faculty are LUCKY to have YOU among them! I’m happy dancing for you.
    And swoon for your Dear Tooth Fairy poem – you know how much I loved the voice of the ‘kid’ in this poem. I am honored to have your words in my anthology. 🙂

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks for the cheers, Bridget! Ever since I participated in Pitch Wars as a mentor and then mentee, I’ve loved the author mentoring process. I can’t wait to get started.

      The voice of this kid cracks me up! Thanks for giving them space on the page.

  3. Laura, I am so excited to hear that you are joining the faculty of VCFA. As an alum, I think it’s a great match! I know you will enjoy the sense of community there. Cheers!

  4. Linda Mitchell says:

    Many congratulations, Laura! I can’t think of a better teacher for the Vermont program than you. Please keep us posted on how things go and if you need resources? I volunteer! What a fun tooth fairy poem. It’s such a special time of life. I do love how the speaker “sleeps like a rock.” LOL. Kids are crazy energetic when awake and then? BOOM…sleeping like rocks. Great poem. I’m in the book with you. Yay!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Oh my gosh, Linda. Thank you for the kind words. I will definitely let you know about resources. I have several friends who are grads of VCFA and they’ve been an enormous help.

  5. Laura, I am a VCFA grad and I think the students there are so lucky to have you join the faculty. Love the voice in your poem, the shock of the tooth falling out with “not too much blood.”

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Janice, thank you! If you have any tips to share, will you email them to me? Things you appreciated or would have liked as a student in the program.

      My favorite part of the poem is the line “Fly free, Tooth Fairy!” It cracks me up every time.

  6. Mary Lee says:

    I’m in love with the speaker of this poem! So fun.

    Congrats, Prof! Your students are lucky to learn from/with you!!

  7. Delightful poem Laura, and perfect in Bridget’s new “10 x 10 Poetry Anthology!” I loved all the details about the fairy, and the trail of people affected by the molar popping out, thanks for all the smiles! ^_^

    And… Many congrats on your new teaching position at VCFA CYA, you’ll have to fill us in.

  8. Karen Eastlund says:

    Wow is right!!! Congratulations on the new job. I hope you love it and I know you will ace it. I’ve lived in MN, so I’ll give you one word of advice: Bring warm clothes. :0) Love the tooth fairy poem. Thanks for sharing all this and have a wonderful holiday.

  9. OH, WOW. That is the most fantastic news, Laura–congratulations! I adore this chatty tooth-fairy client so much, and I’d love to win a copy of this book that I’m very sorry now that I didn’t submit to.

  10. What a great poem with so much humor. I can see why Bridget chose this one for her tenacity section. Your character fits the bill for the most tenacious youngster who lost a tooth. Maybe the next poem will be from the tooth fairy. Congratulations on an amazing job, Professor Shovan. I am sure that all the students will love working with you.

    I am proud to be one of the authors of a poem in 10*10 so I would love to win a book for my granddaughter to whom my poem is dedicated to. I bought a copy for my house already.

  11. Kathryn Apel says:

    Oh my goodness, Laura. I am completely in awe of you. Faculty! How exciting. Wow – my mind is racing in all manner of directions. Enjoy! I’m sure your students will! Your poem is a lot of fun! I love that ending. No harm in asking, right?????

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Kat! This poem is inspired by my kids, especially my son, who advocated for keeping his teeth and may have written a note like this (though less long-winded) long ago.

  12. This is such a fun poem, Laura. I feel like I KNOW this kid! And “You, Tooth Fairy,
    are a fan of teeth. You get it.” Hahaha. Loved it in the anthology, and fun to reread it again here. Thanks for sharing:>) And congratulations on your new position! You will shine!

  13. Congrats, Laura! I assume the new role is remote, for obvious geographic reasons? How wonderful, and what lucky students they will be!

    My KIndergarteners are beginning to have their first teeth pop out, so “Dear Tooth Fairy” resonated with me. I can’t wait to share it with them!

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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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