Friday, June 24, 2011

A Poem for a Retiring Music Teacher

I had brunch last week with my good friend Grace Lin. Grace has been on my case a lot lately. She keeps telling me that I’ve got to start sending my poetry manuscripts out soon—before I become a grandmother and a part-time daycare provider for my first grandchild. Grace is persistent. She even sent one of my poetry collections to an editor herself a while ago! (More on that story in the future.)

Grace and I had a long talk on the telephone yesterday. We exchanged a lot of thoughts about my poetry manuscripts—which got my creative juices flowing. Our discussion reminded me of advice that both Grace and Janet Wong had given me about my collection of animal mask poems a couple of years. I had forgotten about their advice because I was so revved up after our get-together that I began work on a brand new collection of poems titled Docile Fossil.

So…yesterday, I got to work revamping my collection of animal mask poems. I hope to send that out to a publisher in the next few weeks. Then it will be back to work on my Docile Fossil collection, which I set aside for far too long.

L to R: Me, Janet, & Grace

Note to Grace and Janet: I appreciate all of the help and advice and encouragement that you have given me these past few years. 


On Tuesday, we had a retirement party for Valerie “Val” Peterson. Val had been the music teacher at the elementary school where I taught for nearly twenty-five years. My daughter had her as a teacher from kindergarten through the fifth grade. Val was exceptional! I know she will be missed by the staff at Bell School.

My contribution to the celebration of Val’s retirement was a poem I wrote for her. My Poem for Val is a cento.

(Cento: From the Latin word for "patchwork," the cento is a poetic form made up of lines from poems by other poets. Though poets often borrow lines from other writers and mix them in with their own, a true cento is composed entirely of lines from other sources.)

A Poem for Valerie
by Elaine Magliaro

There is music in me,
Music of melting sky,
A symphony,
The voice of magic melody
And a stretch of song
Rippling like piano keys
With a medley of horns, bassoons, piccolos
All softly playing.

I get way down in the music.
My heart hears every note.
Each note rings
So silvery.
The beat gets in my blood.
The music fuels my feet.
I dance to the beat…
Dance out the door.
I have a secret power, and
I can fly to where the sky begins.

In sweet music is such art.
Make music with your life.


The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Carol’s Corner this week.


jama said...

Val sounds like a fabulous teacher, and your cento is a lovely tribute. Love the "secret power," flying to "where the sky begins."

You've written so many great poems; I agree with Grace that they need to be published and shared with an even wider audience. Good luck with the animal mask poems!

Janet Wong said...

Once you start taking poems out of your file cabinet, you'll have a dozen fabulous collections! I need to do the same thing...too many abandoned works-in-progress. At least you have a real and important deadline--the arrival of the baby!

Mary Lee said...

Hooray for Janet and Grace for getting you jazzed up about sending collections away to publishers! I want a shelf full of your books in my poetry collection before I retire! Hop to it!!!

Charles Waters said...

Janet and Grace are good friends to you. They also happen to be correct. I can't wait to read your poetry books someday!!!!! Miss you bud.

Elaine Magliaro said...


You are most definitely correct that Grace and Janet have been good friends.

BTW, are you going to the NCTE Annual Convention in Chicago this year?


Mary Lee,

I assume you'll b going to NCTE in November. If so, I hope we can get together.


Thanks, Jama!



Maybe it's time for me to get on your case!

Charles Waters said...

I won't be going to NCTE this year although I did meet up with Lee at SCBWI - Orlando conference last week!