Shirl McPhillips has worked as a classroom teacher, literacy staff developer, institute leader and writing consultant. Her poems have found homes in journals such as The Edison Literary Review, Journal of New Jersey Poets, The Sewanee Review and online sites. She co-authored, with Nick Flynn, A Note Slipped Under the Door: Teaching from Poems We Love (Stenhouse). Her new book, Poem Central: Word Journeys with Readers and Writers, is available from Stenhouse Publishers. Shirl is the poet laureate for Choice Literacy.
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.
Shirl McPhillips shares a poem she’s written about her grandmother Eva, and the fragments of memory that inspired it.
Shirl McPhillips crafts a message from the moon about tone in poetry and school in her latest poem and companion essay.
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.
Shirl McPhillips explains how "forest bathing" is a wonderful entry point for writing, especially in early spring.
Shirl McPhillips shares a new poem, as well as some practical tips on moving from random observations to vivid details to poetry.
The end of winter is upon us! Shirl McPhillips celebrates with a poem about an old crow and reflections on revising poems over time.
This vivid new poem from Shirley McPhillips, explores the disconnect between exams and life.
Shirl McPhillips writes of the glories of summer walks for teachers in her latest poem and reflection.
Shirl McPhillips highlights the pleasures and challenges of using a strict poetic form.
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.
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.
Shirl McPhillips considers ekphrasis (poetry inspired by art) in her own poetry and reflection.
Shirl McPhillips celebrates high summer, friendship, and handwritten notes in this poem and reflection.
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.
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.
In this poem, Shirl McPhillips writes about "learning better how to live" while finding peace and purpose in the midst of adversity.
A mulberry tree crashes during a blizzard, creating a surprisingly lovely mental space for Shirl McPhillips to craft her poem.
"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.
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.
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."
"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.
Shirley McPhillips finds the mentoring that helps her most as a poet includes principles that are useful in any teaching situation.
"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.
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.
Celebrating simple, ordinary things – it’s what poetry and learning are all about.
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.
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