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We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond. —Gwendolyn Brooks
A former classroom teacher, Shirley McPhillips has also worked as a literacy staff developer, writing consultant, educational writer, and poet. For several years she was affiliated with The Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. Currently she is a member of theWriters Council of the National Writing Project.
In 2000, Shirley coauthored with prize-winning poet and memoirist Nick Flynn A Note Slipped Under the Door: Teaching from Poems We Love(Stenhouse), which focused on writing craft and mentor texts. Shirley’s more recent professional book,Poem Central: Word Journeys with Readers and Writers (Stenhouse 2014), helps teachers bring poetry into their lives and the lives of their students through close reading and writing of poems.
Shirley serves as Poet Laureate for Choice Literacy online (choiceliteracy.com) where she publishes original poems and essays. Her poems have found homes in places such as theSewanee Review,Journal of New Jersey Poets,Edison Literary Review, Poets Online, and in several anthologies.
In 2016, Shirley’s new book of poems,Acrylic Angel of Fate (Finishing Line Press), made its debut. She is at work on another collection, tentatively titledMapping the Labyrinth.
When asked about the importance of ongoing professional development, Shirley says, "To devote oneself to growth and learning is probably as crucial a decision as one can make.” She describes effective staff development as "the way we keep our minds open, our spirits creative. The way we come together with others to forge new paths of thinking.”
In a2015 radio interviewwith Tanya Baker of the National Writing Project, Shirley talks about her life in and with poetry, and her work with young readers and makers of poems.
“In everything we have to understand, poetry can help.” —Tony Hoagland, Harper’s, April 2013
In Poem Central: Word Journeys with Readers and Writers, Shirley McPhillips helps us better understand the central role poetry can play in our personal lives and in the life of our classrooms. She introduces us to professional poets, teachers, and students----people of different ages and walks of life---who are actively engaged in reading and making poems. Their stories and their work show us the power of poems to illuminate the ordinary, to nurture, inspire and stand alongside us for the journey.
Poem Central is divided into three main parts—weaving poetry into our lives and our classrooms, reading poems, and writing poems. McPhillips has structured the book in short sections that are easy to read and dip into. Each section has a specific focus, provides background knowledge, shows poets at work, highlights information on crafting, defines poetic terms, features finished work, includes classroom examples, and lists additional resources.
In Poem Central—a place where people and poems meet—teachers and students will discover how to find their way into a poem, have conversations around poems, and learn fresh and exciting ways to make poems. Readers will enjoy the dozens of poems throughout the book that serve to instruct, to inspire, and to send us on unique word journeys of the mind and heart.
Mathematizing Children’s Literature
Sparking Connections, Joy, and Wonder Through Read-Alouds and Discussion