Thursday, 18 November 2021

Thanks to Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link for hosting Poetry Friday this week! You’ll find all of this week’s poetry offerings, review, and links here.

Hi, friends. Other than helping with the Winter Poetry Swap, I’ve been away from Poetry Friday for a few months.

I’ve been busy mentoring a family who fled Afghanistan in August — a husband, wife, and their two little boys. The good news is, through the writing community, we helped them find housing! This time next week, our Afghan friends will be settling into their new place in northern Virginia. After their long ordeal, the boys can finally start school.

The dad of the family is a children’s author and poet. If you’d like to learn more — or if you’d be interested in helping the family — please read their story at the GoFundMe page I set up for them. Now that their housing is secure, the next goal is to help them buy a used car. That way, the parents can get out and find jobs.

Speaking of poetry, I have a book to give away, especially for plant lovers! Leave a comment if you’d like your name entered into the drawing for PLANT PEOPLE: An Anthology of Environmental Artists.

I’m was so happy to have a poem selected for this beautiful book. Every piece in the anthology focuses on a specific plant.

My entry is the poem “Hibiscus,” which I wrote during the 2021 February Poetry Project. The theme this year was “Bodies” and the prompt for this poem was shared by Matthew Winner.

By Laura Shovan 
(page 97, PLANT PEOPLE)

Today, another bird
smacked the wide glass pane
at the back of the house.
A memory fell to the ground
gentle as a leaf.
My English grandmother
cupping a stunned finch
in her palms.
Its feathers pulsing,
afraid, alive.

I go out, check behind
a pink hibiscus, newly planted,
its blossoms flat
as teacup saucers.
There is the dead one
neck broken, unmoving.
An early snow begins to fall.

PLANT PEOPLE is planning another anthology. The deadline is coming up soon, so if you’d like to submit work, click on this link!

PLANT PEOPLE has been a theme for me this fall. I’ve expanded my doodle repertoire from robots, to include doodling the faces I see in trees.

Here’s a gallery of some of my Tree Sprites.


My neighbor’s Tree Sprite says, “Pick me, Teacher! Pick Me!”




This white birch in Colorado is a very proper gentleman.









The forest queen of our garden.




Remember to leave a comment if you’d like to win your own copy of PLANT PEOPLE (U.S. only, please.)

22 responses to “Poetry Friday: Plant People”

  1. As the mom of a Plant Person, I’d love to be among the hopefuls for a copy of Plant People. It looks great! And how nice that you were able to help an Afghan family get resettled. That’s very important work.

  2. Love your Hibiscus poem, Laura. And your “Tree Sprites” – seriously, I can’t unsee that ‘proper gentleman’! So cool. 🙂

  3. Pat says:

    Your poem is so sad! There are options for making your windows much safer for birds. Acopian Birdsavers are supposed to be good.

  4. Beautiful and evocative Hibiscus poem, Laura! I am a true plant person, loving the beauty, inspiration, and fascinating science they offer us. I successfully grew hibiscus both indoor and out here in Wisconsin, but sadly have neither now. I love their large, dinner plate-sized blooms. We regularly have songbirds smack into our windows – as you noted, some live, and sadly some don’t. Thanks for sharing your lovely poem and congratulations on having it included.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Carol. I love hibiscus plants too. Ours were attacked by some kind of beetle this year — eaten down to the skeleton. I hope they survive.

  5. Congrats to you and your Afghan friends. I wish them all the best in their new home.
    Hibiscus is such a moving poem, Laura. And I love your Tree Sprites. Such a fun idea!

  6. Linda Baie says:

    I remember your poem, Laura, showing the empathy I hope everyone has, for nature’s creatures, animal or plant! “A memory fell to the ground” – poignant. I am sad whenever I lose a plant, which is rare, but it happens. I see animals & faves in trees all the time, so I’ve been loving your new doodles! And, how wonderful that you’re helping that Afghan family. I wish them well.

  7. Linda Mitchell says:

    Laura, thank you for this post. I have seen your tweets about the family that has arrived here and I definitely have wanted to contribute…and haven’t yet. I’m so grateful you have been helping them and that the boys will soon be in school. I’ve seen quite a few new-comers at my school lately (not Pashto/Urdu speakers as much) and it’s such an incredibly big deal to get “plugged-in” to school and society. Your help and support for this family is incalcuable. Plant People sounds fun! I’ve been trying to hit that “submit” button more and more. I will take a look at the link. Thanks!

  8. Laura, your Hibiscus poem is so touching-from one sad event to a memory evoked. You followed this with flat/as teacup saucers and then death behind the hibiscus. Your work with the family is commendable. The tree sprite drawings are so whimsical. May I place the first tree sprite in the Children’s Corner of my gallery?

  9. Beautifully melancholic poem, with so much feeling for the bird. I’m familiar with your poem from your earlier mention, and again my heart sank from reading this line,
    “A memory fell to the ground
    gentle as a leaf.”
    I also looked through this rich book online, congrats on having a poem in it!
    Isn’t it fun seeing faces in trees, there’s always a new one to find…
    Thanks for your efforts for the family from Afghanistan Laura, and all here!

  10. Your poem is so vivid and sad, Laura. The world is so easily broken–it’s wonderful to hear good news about your Afghan family and see your whimsical tree faces!

  11. Ruth says:

    Wow, I was not expecting that poem! Powerful! I love “a memory fell to the ground as gentle as a leaf.” It’s wonderful to hear about what you’ve been able to do with the family from Afghanistan.

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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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