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Inside Higher Ed doesn’t regularly publish poetry, but UW-Superior Professor of Writing Julie Gard’s poem, “An Invocation for Learning and Safety,” obviously struck a chord. The international online higher education publication shared Gard’s poem in its September 18 edition in its Career Advice section.
Gard wrote the poem for the university’s Enhancement Day, which provides professional development for UWS faculty and academic staff at the beginning of fall semester.
“All of us in higher education are teaching and working through a strange and stressful time,” said Gard. “How do we make sense of it? How do we keep true to our commitment to students and learning in such odd and unpredictable circumstances? I wrote this poem to make sense of things myself, with the hope that it might speak to other educators/humans as well.”
Gard hopes the poem will be a source of connection and a reminder to all educators that they are not alone in this time of uncertainty brought about by COVID-19.
“Teaching in a mask and with social distancing is definitely a challenge, since the writing classroom is a place for interaction and participation,” she said. “I miss being able to fully read students’ nonverbals during class, since I can’t see most of their faces. Also, it can definitely feel stressful to go into a situation with multiple people when I’ve been privileged to work from home and socially distance for most of the pandemic. What makes this feel doable is the sense that UW-Superior has put a lot of thought into necessary precautions and procedures, and that everyone on campus, very much including students, is taking part in maintaining a safe-as-possible environment. I’ve been extremely impressed by our students’ conscientiousness and concern for others. They want to make this work.”
Gard said she sees opportunity to use the poem in the creative writing course she is teaching and may even challenge her students to write a version of it from the student’s perspective.
An Invocation for Learning and Safety
By Julie Gard
(Shared with permission.)
Let me be brave in this time when I don’t feel brave.
Let me focus on the students on my screen
as the dog barks madly at the mailman,
the neighbor mows his lawn for the third time this week
and another American city erupts in pain.
Let me be strong when I feel like a misplaced astronaut:
mask over mouth, face shield
Continue to read this article on the UW-Superior Website.