Memoirist Mary McIntyre’s poem accepted for publication

I fit my grandmother-sized brain into the head of an angry, frustrated teen. Why do that? you might ask. The exercise was in response to the Writers’ Circle of Durham Region’s broadcast email from Susie Berg of Pearson Educational Publishing. In the fall of 2009 the publisher was looking for poetry for their May/June edition of applied language arts, English 9-10, Poetry Module, “Live Lines.” The topic: teens in family conflict, and the poem had to appeal to 15-year-olds, most of them boys, and could have no profanity. I threw on a “hoodie,” slammed shut my office door, shoved iPod ear pieces into my ears, slouched in front of my computer, and wrote a poem titled “Ugly Like A Scar.”

After a couple of months I received by email from a Pearson representative a permission request to include my poem in the textbook. It was then that I realized the scope of the edition: 45,000 copies (approx. 80 pages), 1,500 teacher guides, audio rights downloadable to MP3 player – 1,500 users (classrooms), and electronic rights, student password-protected website – 1,077 users (classrooms).

On receiving the news, I emitted a grandmotherly whoop of satisfaction, and as a former teacher, thought about the impact my poem might have on troubled teens. Then I switched gears and thought about the impact the publication offered to me as an emerging writer.

I solicited members of my writing group, Life Writers Ink, and Allyson Latta, Writing Coach, and Deborah Windsor, President of The Writers’ Union of Canada, to learn about how I should handle the offer. With their help, I concluded the negotiation to my satisfaction.

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See Mary’s blog, Washburn Island: Memoir of a Childhood.

Mary has participated in a number of Allyson Latta’s workshops, live and online, since 2004.

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