As we all slowly ease back into our routines after the holidays, I thought I would share a book that not only inspires other writers but involves teachers writing about their inspiration from poetry.
I was first introduced to Teaching with Fire (edited by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner) at a Step Up to Writing trainers conference in Fort Collins, Colorado about three years ago. Two wonderful teachers from California befriended me in that brief time and shared things with me that I have never been able to repay. One, Linda Toren, is featured in this book (page 204). She and a colleague email each other haiku and tanka once a week "to keep each other inspired and hopeful - to celebrate and commiserate."
They continue to inspire me (we have long since gone our separate ways) through this book they shared with me as it sits on my coffee table full of post-it notes and dog-eared. It is a poetry book - but each poem is accompanied by a brief story from a teacher explaining the significance of that poem in their life's work. You will hear throughout the book talk of writer's notebooks and poetry reads, of students and families, of joy and heartache. I promise you it will be a fresh read every time!!
I could go on and on about how this book could be used in the classroom, instead, I'll just share this:
You Reading This, Be Ready
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever your go right now? Are you waiting
for time you show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life--
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?
- William Stafford
Reference: Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach. Intrator, Sam and Scribner, Megan (editors). Jossey-Bass, Inc, 2003.