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The Curious Incident of Poem in the Stream of Time

Shirl McPhillips shares a haunting poem and reflection on creativity, summer’s inspiration, and aging.

Things That Can Fly Away—A Tribute to Mary Oliver

Shirl McPhillips honors the poet Mary Oliver upon her passing, reflecting on the power of favorite poems and poets to endure in the lives of writers.

Past Midnight

Shirl McPhillips shares a poem she’s written about her grandmother Eva, and the fragments of memory that inspired it.

Message from the Moon

Shirl McPhillips crafts a message from the moon about tone in poetry and school in her latest poem and companion essay.

Eating Poetry

April is a month-long “thanksgiving” for those of us who love poetry. Shirl McPhillips shares her favorite resources for sharing that love with students.

Forest Bathing

Shirl McPhillips explains how "forest bathing" is a wonderful entry point for writing, especially in early spring.

News from the Interior

Shirl McPhillips shares a new poem, as well as some practical tips on moving from random observations to vivid details to poetry.

Life in a Single Breath

Shirl McPhillips says hello to autumn and explores the power of haiku.

Message from Old Crow

The end of winter is upon us! Shirl McPhillips celebrates with a poem about an old crow and reflections on revising poems over time.

Tests of Time

This vivid new poem from Shirley McPhillips, explores the disconnect between exams and life.

Shaking Off the Village

Shirl McPhillips writes of the glories of summer walks for teachers in her latest poem and reflection.

A Spring Villanelle

Shirl McPhillips highlights the pleasures and challenges of using a strict poetic form.

Summer’s a Gypsy

Shirl McPhillips captures the fleeting joy of summer in a new poem.

The Habit of Budding

This new poem and reflection from Shirl McPhillips that delights in wordplay and emergent greenery in the spring.


Shirl McPhillips captures beautifully the “hard knuckle” of the end of winter and the slow turn to spring in a new poem and reflection.

Sketching Trees in Winter

The seasons are like bulbs, fat and full underground. In their time, they edge up and unfold with meaning. Shirl McPhillips finds inspiration from the darkest days of winter in her latest poetry offering.

Poems Facing Art: Ekphrasis

Shirl McPhillips considers ekphrasis (poetry inspired by art) in her own poetry and reflection.

Lines Written at Lunchtime Above Tintern Abbey

Shirl McPhillips celebrates high summer, friendship, and handwritten notes in this poem and reflection.

Same Old Love Song — A Cento

Shirl McPhillips creates a cento – a collection of lines written by other poets compiled into a new poem. It turns out poets were sampling other creative works centuries before rappers made the practice so popular today.

Invocation at the End of Summer

Shirl McPhillips reminds us of the power of an invocation–a call for support. Not only is this a beautiful poem, but it is a model for students writing their own invocation.


Shirley McPhillips draws parallels between a tentative, battered robin in the snow and the fragility of teachers in the spring.

Lady With the Yellow Umbrella

In this poem, Shirl McPhillips writes about "learning better how to live" while finding peace and purpose in the midst of adversity.

Along Saplines

A poem and reflection to lift your spirits if you have the late-winter blues.

Now is Our Season

Shirl McPhillips so eloquently captures the spirit of the light and dark, hopeful and ambivalent, quiet and purposeful time after the holidays in this poem.

An Uncommon Place

A mulberry tree crashes during a blizzard, creating a surprisingly lovely mental space for Shirl McPhillips to craft her poem.

Life on the Edge

"Life on the Edge" compares the energy and purpose of birds in a nest to daily life in classrooms.  It's the perfect metaphor for the fast pace of our teaching lives.

If We Could Meet Again

Shirl McPhillips captures perfectly the "shaking off the old classroom skin" feel of the start of the summer. Shirley's commentary encourages teachers to use time away from students  "to break out, free up, go someplace, and cast off the trappings."

Days Ease

"Some people suggest that in summer's ease, we have the time to rethink our curriculum, to read and select books we want to use next year, to consider how we will begin again in the fall, to get better organized. Yes, we do. And, yes, we could. But somehow just thinking about all that makes me tired." If you couldn't agree more with these words from poet Shirl McPhillips, you are sure to enjoy this poem.

Cap’n George: Mentors Who Matter

Shirley McPhillips finds the mentoring that helps her most as a poet includes principles that are useful in any teaching situation.

What Happens Next

"What Happens Next" from Shirl McPhillips is a poem celebrating the renewal that comes when spring finally arrives – a perfect metaphor for the different seasons of the school year.

The Porch in August: Letting It Be

Shirl McPhillips reminds us "in the face of all that tugs at us from the past and from what's to come, we can step into the moments of the day with our students and take pleasure in what we find there." Such wise words for any time we need to hit the pause button in our lives.


This is a lovely poem with a message about how poetry can move us, and why it is essential in classrooms.

The Rolling Pin: Looking into Things

Celebrating simple, ordinary things – it’s what poetry and learning are all about.

Ode to a Sweet Snowy Day for Two

Shirl McPhillips’ poem “Ode to a Sweet Snowy Day for Two” is designed for paired reading. Shirl also gives advice for celebrating poetry as an oral art in classrooms.

Let’s Get Some Attitude

Shirl McPhillips recalls a junior high experience that promoted serious "attitude" and an uproar among her peers.

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