Retired school teacher Sylvia Stern is now the author of two poetry books.
The first, “Dancing with the Moon and the Stars” contains more than 30 short poems written over the years. The book is primarily for 4th thru 8th grade students. Adults may engage younger children in the poems.
The second book of poetry, “It Was So Nice Getting There” is a reflection of life experiences. Additionally, there are sections of the book that describe New London events and surroundings, and each season of the year. Adults will enjoy these pages.
Since leaving her teaching career, Stern searched for things to occupy her time.
“I wondered what on earth I would do. I really was lost there for a couple of years,” Stern said. “I did a lot of walking, I always have, but walking after retirement was entirely different. I started to reflect on my life.”
She said that she would get an idea or recalls a moment in time and sometimes ran home to write it down.
“There are times I am at an event and come right home and head to my computer,” Stern said.
A favorite poem from the book “It Was So Nice Getting There” describes the Wolf River at New London.
A road hugs the curve of Wolf River
Like a snake coiled around rocks.
Spring thaw overflows into marshes.
Deep water gives the current a frisky pace.
Fishermen drawn like magnets bob like
corks or move with motors to their spots
in search of the mighty walleye.
Houses on either side nervous about the
river depth and wake from the boats
watch and wait as river people do.
Sturgeon spawning draws crowds of cars,
gawkers, TV station people too.
The huge, ugly fish are measured, weighed;
then released by the DNR.
Summer comes with lower water,
boats still bob like corks looking
for fish or a day of sun.
Without rain, the river drops
exposing the riverbanks.
The seasons move like the river with
leaves floating at an easy pace.
A few boats still pursuing fish or solitude.
Cold winds blow and snow coats the trees;
fishermen repair fishing shacks and pray
for a hard freeze. The brave are out
the moment they can walk on the river.
The river moves under the ice until spring
once again releases the current to flow
freely, and boats are seen bobbing like corks.
Children provide inspiration
For 33 years Stern taught kindergarten and second grade classes at Sugar Bush Elementary, part of New London’s School District. She delighted students and faculty with her imaginative way of teaching. For many years, educators from northeastern Wisconsin knew her as the Puppet Teacher.
Stern used puppets as a visual aid for her students. Each subject of the curriculum lent an idea to Stern and difficult units were tackled by using the puppets.
Creative writing is another subject in the learning process. Using puppetry, she taught students to identify the different parts of a sentence. While teaching them the color unit, she introduced children to poetry.
“They had to find words that described the color red,” Stern said. “I told them that when they wrote about a color, the poem did not have to rhyme; it was just a way of putting their thoughts about colors into a story.”
All of these memories stir up emotions that appear in written word throughout her children’s book “Dancing with the Moon and the Stars.”
Many of these poems were written years ago. “Grasshopper Green,” “Blow Your Biggest Bubble,” and “Which Kind of Bee Would You Be?” are examples.
Stern doesn’t care for anything dark or scary in her writing.
“There’s enough of that out there and I like things to be happy and friendly,” she said.
She said that her poems have a happy conclusion, or a moral to share with readers.
Stern especially enjoys writing in the spring of the year.
“It is a fertile time for writing poems,” Stern said. “There is anticipation, waiting for the first robin, the thaw, new growth, etc.”
She added, “I am proud of this book, it really was my way of working out my retirement and giving me a new direction.”
“Dancing With the Moon and the Stars,” and “It Was So Nice Getting There” can be purchased by contacting Stern via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.