Community Collection 22: WHAT WE WEAR with Laura Shovan

Welcome to Poetry Month 2018 at No Water River!
Please take a moment to peruse the how-to below, and then dive in! Happy writing — and thank you for helping to build our collection(s)!
Remember: The Community Collections are open indefinitely, so you can visit each post at your leisure to add your poem!

Today’s Guest…

is a Maryland poet-in-the-schools and author of two middle grade novels. Please welcome poet and educator …




from The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan (Wendy Lamb Books 2016)


“You Are What You Wear”
Write about your favorite piece of clothing— a lucky shirt, a pair of jeans you’ve graffitied with colored pens, or your favorite fuzzy socks. What makes that thing special to you? 
CHALLENGE: Try a concrete poem. Shape your poem so it looks like the piece of clothing you’re writing about.



1. Paste it into the comment section below. I will gather the poems and add them to this post. OR
2. Email it to me at and I will add it to this post (graphics welcome)!




Photo credit: Karen Leigh Studios

Laura Shovan’s debut middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, was a NCTE 2017 Notable Verse Novel, a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the year, and won a Cybils Award for poetry, as well a Nerdy Book Club award. Laura was a wrestling mom for seven years, and her son’s experiences as a member of the Howard County Vipers travel wrestling team were the inspiration for Takedown, her second novel. Laura and her family live in Maryland, where she is a longtime poet-in-the-schools for the Maryland State Arts Council.

Discover more about the author and her books at


Mikayla is a wrestler; when you grow up in a house full of brothers who are die-hard mat heads, it’s in your DNA. She even has a wrestling name: Mickey. Some people don’t want a girl on the team. But that won’t stop her. She’s determined to work hard, and win.

Lev is determined too–he’s going to make it to the state championship. He’s used to training with his two buddies as the Fearsome Threesome. But at the beginning of sixth grade, he’s paired with a new partner—a girl. This better not get in the way of his goal.

Mickey and Lev work hard together, and find a way to become friends. But at States, there can only be one winner. (from author’s website.)



At the end of the term, Emerson Elementary School will be bulldozed to make way for a shopping center and students will be reassigned to other schools in the district. This change is particularly hard for the 18 fifth graders in Ms. Hill’s class. She tasks them with keeping a poetry journal throughout the year; their poems will be placed in a time capsule at the end of the year. The students write about their feelings, the project, the imminent changes to their community, and their worries about middle school through alternating poems divided into four quarters. One girl’s mother is being deployed, a boy’s father recently left the family, and another boy’s beloved grandfather is ailing.

With the gentle guidance of their teacher, who may have been arrested in the 1960s protesting the Vietnam War, they become socially aware and organize a movement to protest the school closure. The distinct personalities of the students shine through in a variety of poetic forms. Sadness, humor, anger, and hope are expressed in authentically young voices. The poetic forms are discussed in further detail in the back matter, making for a great teaching resource. VERDICT: This gently evocative study of change in all its glory and terror would make a terrific read-aloud or introduction to a poetry unit. A most impressive debut(School Library Journal)

The taste of a penny. Running for the bus. Carpets rolled and stacked like logs into a child’s mountain. Laura Shovan mines gems from the everyday caverns of life. From these moments Shovan collected Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone, inaugural winner of the Clarinda Harriss Poetry Prize. (from

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Check out the poetry video library!
“Lucky Hat” and prompt copyright © by Laura Shovan.
Copyright on community collection poems held by authors indicated. All rights reserved.
Other post content © 2018 Renée M. LaTulippe or as indicated. All rights reserved.
Black and White Clothes by Aden Ardenrich via Pexels (no attribution required)

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  1. I loved Laura’s first novel, so I’m really looking forward to TAKEDOWN. Thank you for another great prompt. Although I haven’t had much time to participate this month, I’m saving all the wonderful prompts for this summer when my granddaughter will be here to write with me. xo

  2. Hi Laura, I remember that poem about the baseball hat. Some things are sacred, right? It’s great to see you here, can’t wait to read your new book! Thanks for this challenge and thanks, too, to you, Renee!

  3. I remember “Lucky Hat,” I like the staccato rhythm it has, the shorter lines building a bit. The rhythm fits so well with the plea for his hat. I loved this book and like going back into it often. I’m looking forward to your new book coming out Laura! Thanks for the thought provoking prompt. Thanks Renée for sharing Laura with us today.

  4. Thanks for the fun writing prompt today, Laura. I was wondering–what advice would you give a poet/writer about how to go about learning to write a verse novel? There’s not much information out there about this. Thanks!

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