Double Happiness Activity Kit

Well, how about them apples? Actually, in this case I should say, “How about them boxes?” Thanks to the ingenious Kirsten Cappy and her Curious City, I now have a beautiful activity kit to go along with my book, Double Happiness (Chronicle Books). You may link to it here, or find it under the Educational Programs. I hope teachers and librarians use this activity to create poetry with their young readers. Best!

In Memory of Phoebe Prince

I read a story today in the Boston Herald about a 14 year old girl named Justine Williams. She is a cancer survivor. She is also a survivor of horrific bullying which she had to endure while going through her cancer treatments. I can’t think of anything more vile than a person preying on another human being while they are enduring a life and death situation. It’s unthinkable, and yet this is evil if ever I saw it.

It reminded me of Phoebe Prince, a kind-hearted girl who committed suicide over a year ago after being subjected to such cruel bullying. Shortly after her death I wrote this poem. To those who tormented her, and to all those who think bullying is an option, it’s not.


(for Phoebe Prince)

So you welcomed her—

the new girl from County Clare,

taught her how little things—

wide smile, plaid scarf,

Irish lilt—keep a girl down,

never mind an untouchable who steals

the heart of your star line man.

There’s no room for a swan

in a piranha pool, and so

you strip her flesh with lies,

tear her face from a class photo,

submerge her under your words.

Irish slut . . . skirt’s too short . . . hair’s too curly.

You couldn’t let it go—

this gentle threat,

those tender eyes.

How she longed to just get by;

how she prayed for something,

anything to change before another day.

But someone had to lose.

On the day she left this world

she walked past the bottles

hurled from the window

of a whizzing car, past

the white picket fence

frozen in New England snow,

into a closet where she wrapped

life’s horrors around her neck.

But you weren’t done.

There were new girls

to slam into lockers,

punch in the head.

You returned to what

you’d left behind,

typed one word—


under your Status Update.

April 16, 2009 Fine Line Poets Read at Tunxis

We couldn’t have asked for a better reception and a more orchestrated event. Thanks to my childhood friend, Carolyn Boulay, a librarian at Tunxis Community College, we had a fabulous reading. The night was entitled “A Celebration of Womanhood.” The evening opened with an hour of music by Debbie Rossel, a local singer/songwriter whose music is rooted in acoustic folk rock and rhythm and blues. Keep an eye out for her upcoming full-length album.

Then the Fine Line Poets followed her. We had five poets: Virginia Bradley, Jean Tupper, Marcia Szymanski, JoAnne Preiser and me. We like Carolyn’s description of us as an “all-women poetry troupe.” Many thanks to some of my longtime friends, especially Barbara Newsheller, Carla Gregory and Joan Jannace, who ventured out for a Thursday evening event.

And we also thank the Tunxis Library and the Celebration of Womanhood Club. Hope to see you all again next year!
Soon, the readings will be posted to this link (not that we really want to see ourselves reading):