Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem- uh? excuse me? May 30, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:55 am
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This is a trifle awkward


I’m really sorry to bother you


but it’s kind of important


that you do what you were hired to do.


if you wouldn’t mind, I’d appreciate it


if you would follow through?




Canadian approach to slow contractors, agents, students, etc.  lol  Why are we so gentle?

(Okay- weird thing- just reading this as it’s published and noticed every second long line rhymes.  That was a complete accident.  lol   )


Did I miss anything? February 26, 2013

Filed under: Poetry,Teaching — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:40 am
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I was a new teacher, substituting in an English class when I came across  Tom Wayman’s poem “Did I Miss Anything?”.  Every teacher hears the question several times each week as students who’ve missed a class come to see whether their grades will be impacted by their absences.  It gets frustrating.  Wayman’s poem reflects the frustration of teachers called to respond to that question.

Of course, the student missed something!  If I am doing my job properly, just knowing the task assigned is not sufficient.  It is in the preparation for the assignment and the discussion around it that the greatest learning can take place.  The opportunity to consult with peers, to explore their understanding as well as your own helps you to grow as a learner.  Of course, students miss something when they are not in class; moreover, the class misses something as well. 

Your presence improves our learning, too.  We miss you.  You miss us.

In most cases, the world will not change dramatically because a student isn’t in class, but Tom Wayman imagines a time when that could be the case.  His ironic tone matches those felt by those harried teachers who must attempt to synthesize instruction and discussion into a few seconds when they tell the student about the missing assignment while readying the class for the new lesson.

Read Tom Wayman’s poem: Did I miss anything?  The answer is, “Of course, you did!”


Fare thee well, Raylene October 8, 2012

Filed under: Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:30 am
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Last week cancer claimed 52 year old Canadian singer Raylene Rankin, a member of  Cape Breton Nova Scotia’s Rankin Family.  Her stratospheric soprano voice empowered the harmonies of their Gaelic folk songs.  Here is the Rankin Family in 2010 at Toronto’s Massey Hall, performing one of her signature songs, “We Rise Again.”


Requiescat in pace Raylene Rankin 1960-2012

Keep those angels entertained, Raylene.


Review- Lost in Spaaaaaaain July 11, 2012

Filed under: book reviews — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:52 am
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Lost in Spain.


LOST IN SPAIN by John Wilson

Markham: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2000.  174 p.

YA historical novel

It is a fast read, so it’s not deep, but it did give me a real sense of the Spanish Civil War that fit with what I experienced and heard when I was in Spain earlier this year. Lots of action to keep you flipping pages. I was stunned when I started reading and discovered the book opened in my small BC town! Not what you expect about a book set in Spain, you can imagine. I was irritated by how Ted refers to his father as Will throughout the book. Why doesn’t he call him dad? or father? It’s so strange, it seemed there should be a reason for it. He calls his mother, Mom, after all. An interesting read that seemed to give a good glimpse at the character of the country and the context for the history.

Review- A Perfect Gentle Knight July 9, 2012

A Perfect Gentle KnightA Perfect Gentle Knight by Kit Pearson seemed to have an identity crisis. The main character is 11, and it read a lot like a children’s book, but it was set up as a baby boomer memoir, casually referring to events and objects that would be foreign to 11 year olds without any context or explanation. The themes are big: loss, mental illness, coming of age. I think perhaps they are too big for this 164 page format, and too big for 11 year old Corrie to do justice to on her own. I would have loved to see this story twice as long so the characters could have been more finely drawn, the dialogue used more to advance the plot, and to create more of an immersion experience. It felt like the story moved in thick chunks, rather than flowing. I think 60 year olds who grew up in Vancouver would find this a lovely nostalgic book, but I think it misses the mark as a kids’ book, which is a shame, because it could have been fantastic if 1950’s Vancouver could have become as real as, say 1900’s PEI is in the Anne of Green Gables books


Canadian, eh! July 1, 2012

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:06 am
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In honour of Canada’s birthday, here is a video from Christina who lives in Alberta, about things from Canada.



Someday, I want to go to Ottawa to see the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill.  Here’s a flash mob among the crowds waiting for events to get under way.  Note to self: it looks like you have to go early, especially in years when royalty is attending!



CANadian National CANthem June 30, 2012

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:37 pm
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Oh yeah.  Just about the coolest thing ever!

I am extraordinarily un-Canadian in that I don’t like beer of any sort, but this is creative genius!




Look to Canadian authors for a good read June 19, 2012

Filed under: Reading — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:24 am
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Look to Canadian authors for a good read.  Article by Joan Wickersham from the Boston Globe.  Another Canadian author to try?  Me!  ;-P


Canadian Thanksgiving December 13, 2010

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:09 am
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I was just reading a children’s novel about polio and came across the snippet that Thanksgiving was celebrated in Canada by Martin Frobisher and his crew in Newfoundland a couple of decades before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock.  That Thanksgiving had nothing to do with a good harvest. They were celebrating their thanks that they had survived a journey through the treacherous North West Passage of the Arctic Ocean: a journey that had killed two previous expeditions. 

Who knew?  We Canadians have bought into the American propaganda about “The First Thanksgiving” and some of our schools even decorate with pilgrim themes.  (I went as a pilgrim for Hallowe’en when I was 11.  Apparently I  was quite Puritanical in my youth!)  Time for a shift of perception!  Here is an interesting article from the Globe and Mail. (I wonder if it is the very one that prompted the author to include the fact in the novel?)  

Next year, decorate for Thanksgiving  with icebergs, Polar bears, sailing ships, and salt cod.  Be a Canadian original!


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