This is my jam: teaching and reading and dealing with grief. The hole in my heart is ever-present. I have to work. I have to go on. I have to write about it.
This essay went through at least a dozen revisions and 17 rejections. Each rejection, along with my first in-person writing workshop with Joni B. Cole in February 2023, helped me shape this work into the one you see in Saranac Review. When I moved Kay-Bee’s question to the beginning, cut some cliches to reflect upon the seasonal markers of my commute, and punched it home with the conclusion, In the Middle was finally ready for publication.
Kay-Bee, who proclaimed she hated writing and often refused to complete my assignments, won a youth poetry contest with a piece she crafted during our time together in sixth-grade ELA. At the beginning of seventh grade, The Poet asked me to start a creative writing group on campus; it meets on Friday nights.
Sara Schaff , a writer I admire, revived Saranac Review. I’m grateful for her validation of my work and editorial help from Gbolahan Adeola, who also suggested Language Arts was a more fitting title.
Former middle school teacher and extraordinary author, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, provided the novel that allowed me to tell this story.
Read it here: https://saranacreview.org/issue-18/laurenmcgovern