Shawn L. Bird

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

Poem-Egger Pantoum December 9, 2017

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:10 pm
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In our school, the chef’s training kids make ‘eggers’ in the morning.  These are buns with fried egg, cheese, and a sausage patty.  They are a popular fast-food breakfast fare, but I hate them.  Fried eggs are nauseating to me, runny yolks make me want to vomit, the smell makes me nauseous.  So, to avoid calamity, I do not allow them in my class room. Kids have to eat them outside the room. There are huge windows between room and hall, so the class can watch the egger eater outside, like a sad puppy at the glass, waiting to come in.  

Today we learned about pantoum poems, and before they wrote their own, I guided a class written one.  This was what A block English 11 came up with, as one student was barred and then didn’t realise the door was unlocked, so he could just walk back in when he was done eating his egger.  There was lots of laughter, as we wrote it!  🙂  I love Poetry Fridays!

Egger Pantoum (A block’s)

I wanted into English class.

I wasn’t allowed in.

They laughed at me, en masse.

Eating eggers is a sin


I wasn’t allowed in;

I walked away.

Eating eggers is a sin.

What a great start to the day.


I walked away.

I wandered through the halls.

What a great start to the day,

Trapped within these walls.


I wandered through the halls.

I’m chewing very slowly

Trapped within these walls

Eating eggers, I’m unholy


I’m chewing very slowly;

Tears are streaming down my cheeks.

Eating eggers, I’m unholy,

The door won’t open for a week.


Tears are streaming down my cheeks.

They laughed at me, en masse!

The door won’t open for a week.

I wanted into English class!


poem-rapid write May 21, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 2:50 pm
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Your pens are scratching

Timer ticking

Ten minutes of writing



instant effort

fired up

The buzzer sounds

and you have created

something that did not exist

ten minutes before.



In my classes students do daily timed writes to get the brains used to engaging quickly and just writing loosely.  I give them prompts to use or not: lines from songs, Rory Story Cubes, a photo. It’s amazing to see how they develop writing muscles.  I check these as complete, but don’t grade them.  They’re about process because you learn to write by writing. 🙂  


poem- remember June 4, 2014

Äiti was crying when I left

 hugging me close and weeping.


“Et unohta” she whispered.

Don’t forget.

“Muistat sinun Suomen kielesta,

en osaa puhua englanti!” she sniffed.

You have to remember your Finnish!

I can’t speak English!

“Minä muistan,  Äiti.”

I will remember.

Years dripped by

on memories and melancholy

but still

Muistan, Äiti.


editing fun April 28, 2012

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:00 pm
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I enjoy the editing process.  I love considering the questions that force me to think.  Figuring out alternatives or motivations (therefore to bring a new truth) or tossing something that isn’t supported is very empowering. I see the process of these discussions as literary improv.   Off the top of my head I have to be able to come up with a plausible reason for whatever question has been asked.  Sometimes the answer has been in the story, but sometimes it’s back story stuff, but it needs to be consistent with character.  I can be very creative.  Sometimes my convoluted solutions are approved, but sometimes a set of lowered brows indicates I need to use my delete key, and kill my babies.

My editor, Vikki, peppers the manuscript with comments.  Lots of times it’s just grammar corrections (Vikki is a grammar nazi),  some moments earn exclamations, often she poses an intriguing question, and sometimes, when she’s been at it far too long and is plainly getting overtired, it can simply be entertaining.

My two favorite comments from the final edits of Grace Awakening Power:

“You use mad every time you mean angry. I know you are being colloquial, but it would be okay to use the correct word sometimes, again, as a model for young readers. And to add variety.”

I think of “mad dogs and Englishmen” in her context.  🙂  I always use ‘mad’ for ‘angry’ rather than to mean ‘crazy.’  Some days ‘shift F7’ is used more often than others!

Here’s my favorite comment:

“This event is an opportunity for Grace to accidentally bump up the energy, with people leaping from their wheelchairs and bursting into song, or something slightly more subdued. Grace and Ben together should be contagious, not just Grace for Ben.”

HA!  “or something slightly more subdued!”  HA HA!  Vikki cracks me up.

Like the joke a friend sent me on Facebook today:   “The past, present, and future walked into a bar.  It was tense.”   Bwaa ha haa!!  I told it to my husband, cackling gleefully after the punch line and he stood straight faced looking at me, then shook his head and remarked, “Yeah.  That sounds like an English teacher joke.”  😀

PS>  I was VERY excited that Grace Awakening Dreams and Power, the trade paperback omnibus of the two e-books, is now available for sale to the public!  There’s a link to purchase in the bar above.  I know some have already sold, and I wonder if other folks will be reading it before  my own case of books makes it through customs.


much ado in English class! March 14, 2012

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:45 am
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Just for fun, here is an interpretation of Act Two of Much Ado About Nothing by a group of my linear English 9 class.  They did a good job with it, and I have to say, I love Don John! ;-P


You? January 17, 2012

Filed under: Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 8:04 pm
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“What do English teacher authors read for fun?” you ask.

Well,thanks for your curiousity! ;-P  We are full of interesting explorations of the literary and linguistic world.

Today, I’ve been pondering the development and usage of the second person pronouns in the English language…

Yes, really.

So, if you‘re curious about ‘you’ too, you might be interested in this interesting article by University of Toronto alumnus and current St Mary’s University professor, Sara Malton PhD:


favorite class March 23, 2011

Prompt #72 What was your favorite class when you were in high school or college? Bonus: Was it your favorite class at the time you took it? Why or Why not?

In high school, my favorite classes were any Socials class taught by Mr. Swanzey. He was funny, interesting and challenging. He knew his material and made sure we knew it as well through very dramatic performance style lectures. When I was an exchange student in Finland, the history teacher ‘taught’ by writing down notes on the overhead for the entire class. She asked if I would teach a class on Canadian history one day. I agreed, and in Swanzey style I was a priest throwing inappropriate books into the fire in New France, Macdonald drunk in parliament, Riel challenging the government. At the end of a wide-eyed class she came up to me and asked if I was planning to become a teacher. I said yes, I was. She nodded and said, “Good. You should.” I suspect a lot of teachers were inspired by Dave Swanzey.

(NOTE- SEPT/11- I keep getting visitors to this page who have been searching “Dave Swanzey.”  Please leave your memories in the comments at the bottom of the page.  Bet you a Fudgesicle!)

The only college classes I have a really clear memories of were my first year classes at Okanagan College the year after I came back from Finland. I enjoyed all of them, but my favorite was English with Vincent Oriente. He was an older, dapper gentleman, of the Hercule Poirot variety, and I found him interesting and knowledgeable. Of course, as an English major who loved his subject it wasn’t hard to enjoy a competent teacher. I often wondered what happened to him, as I heard that our class had not given a particularly generous review.

That year I also found Intro to Canadian politics quite fascinating. I memorized terms like ‘pork-barrel” and ‘whip’ and got a better sense of our democratic system. History was interesting, as we explored in depth the development of Canada before and after confederation. I remember my prof as being very knowledgeable, but very gruff and inapproachable. My French prof that year was a little old lady from France. She was tiny and exuded all the stereotypical hauteur. I remember watching her eyes grow confused while I fluently gabbed about something, without acknowledging my error. I’d think back over what I’d said, and realise that I’d injected a word or two of Finnish in a French accent. Not exactly a clear combination!

I fully enjoyed my first year courses. In subsequent years I found myself at University of Alberta learning Music Appreciation, amazed at my husband who needed only a few notes to place time, composition and composer. He kicked my butt in music survey. Somewhere we still have the set of LPs that were the ‘text’ for that course.

As to did I enjoy them at the time? Yes. Most definitely.

PS. I also have very fond memories of Mr. Moore’s Oreo Cookie parties in Creative Writing class! 😉


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