Published Poem in Grade 10 Poetry Module Textbook

live-lines-cover-pagePoem, Ugly Like a Scar, selected for Ontario textbook

I fit an angry teen into my granny brain. Why? In response to the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR) broadcast for poetry from Pearson Educational Publishing. Fall 2009 the publisher needed poetry for the May/June edition of applied language arts, English 9 – 10, Poetry Module, “Live Lines.”

The topic: teens in family conflict. The poem had to appeal to 15-year olds, mostly boys, and no profanity. I threw on a hoodie, slammed my office door, shoved ear buds into my ears, slouched in front of my computer, and wrote a poem titled, Ugly Like A Scar.

After two months a Pearson Publishing Freelance rep sent me a Permission Request to include my poem in the textbook: 45,000 copies (approx. 80 pages), 1,500 Teacher’s Guides, Audio rights downloadable to MP3 player – 1,500 users (classrooms) and Electronic rights, student password-protected web site – 1,077 users (classrooms), ISBN: 0135118263

I emitted a grandmotherly whoop of satisfaction. As a former teacher, I hoped my poem would resonate with troubled teens. Then I switched gears and thought of the impact the publication held for me as an emerging writer. I solicited members of my writing group, Life Writers Ink, and Allyson Latta, Writing Coach, and Deborah Windsor, President of The Writers’ Union of Canada, to learn how to handle the offer. With their help, I concluded the contract to my satisfaction.

I came close to hugging the Canada Post delivery man when I saw the book-sized envelope he held out. I took it from him (more of a snatching motion). He barely turned around before I shut the door and peeled back the cardboard flap.

It’s a bittersweet moment to pull your book (well, a Poetry Module with my poem on page 42) out of an envelope and have no one to whoop it up with on the kitchen tiles. I admired the glossy graphics on the cover and flipped through the Contents pages until I read, Ugly Like a Scar by Mary McIntyre. Even with the radio off, I heard music. There I was, nestled between pages featuring luminaries Margaret Atwood and Emily Dickinson.

I phoned my husband’s cell. Disappointed, I had to leave him a message. I emailed my writing group members, Life Writers Ink. Congratulations trickled in. I phoned my sister who was generous enough to say yes when I invited myself to show off my book over the pretense of afternoon tea. I emailed my other siblings … Can’t wait to see it, Mar, my kids …, Great, Mum.

I settled down after a week. I removed the book from the coffee table. Pearson Educational Publishing chose exciting graphics on every page — a feast of images for the high-tech students who would never tolerate the boring Poems to Remember textbook I learned from in Grade 10. (To view the first 21 pages of the textbook)


I thank my Life Writers Ink writing group members, Ruth Zaryski Jackson, Cheryl Andrews, Anahita Nepton Printer, Dace Mara Zacs-Koury for thoughtful critiques that raise the bar for each project.


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