What you’ll find here

After decades in public education, what will it mean and how will it feel to stop teaching high school students? What if I shift to teaching adults or make picnic shelters and coffee shops my classrooms? What might happen if I immerse myself in writing or woodworking—or explore ways they could intertwine? How can I do more to build the beloved community I imagine? What, if any, legacy do I wish to leave?

These are the kinds of questions I’ll contemplate here as I write my way through deciding what I most want to cultivate in the chapter after school bells and reflect on what I notice, consider, experience, and experiment with along the way.

As a teacher-librarian, mindfulness instructor, and poet, themes kindred to my work like learning, books, research, intellectual freedom, technology, and present-moment awareness will emerge in these twice monthly musings, as will myriad others that matter to me like gratitude, listening, memory, maps, belonging, faith, death and dying, generosity, ritual, rivers, and sustainability.

At the end of each post, you’ll find a poem (or two) for your pocket to spark further reflection, most likely a poem by a contemporary American poet.

Whether you’re considering what to cultivate in your next chapter or gathering kindling for personal reflections on a theme explored here, I hope you’ll stay a spell.

Poetry River

If you’ve found your way here while looking for my former Poetry River web site, a resource site about contemporary American poetry, especially documentary poetry, that site is in transition. I plan to curate the resources I’d organized on Poetry River in a section of this Substack during the summer of 2024. In the meantime, if you are looking for a resource or have a question, please message me via Substack.

About me

My enchantment with stories and poetry began in rural northern New Jersey where I grew up. On a granite outcropping in the woods or under the black walnut tree in our front yard, I'd dig a stubby pencil and small, bent spiral notebook out of my pocket and jot down short poems about nature. Writing lets me capture the wonder around me, and the pain, and to work through things that are on my mind.

I’m the author of Beautiful Machinery and an unpublished documentary poetry manuscript about Grace Arents, a Progressive-era philanthropist and educator, and her companion, Mary Garland Smith. Over the years, my poems have appeared in Rust + Moth, Cider Press Review, Commonplace, the museum of americana, and elsewhere. I’ve also co-edited Poems from the Wellspring and written and edited for professional library publications. I’m grateful to all the mentors, colleagues, and writing friends who’ve encouraged, taught, and inspired me.

Why subscribe?

Subscribe to affirm that you find something worthwhile in Furrow and Fire, and for the convenience of receiving each post in your inbox (every other week), full access to the publication archives, and invitations to quarterly gatherings on Zoom which I anticipate starting in the latter part of this summer.

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A poet and long-time teacher-librarian contemplates what to cultivate in her next chapter, musing about purpose, creativity, aging, wonder, fear, belonging, loss, gratitude, faith, nature, technology, money, & more.


Wendy is a teacher-librarian, poet, and listener who delights in being near rivers, trees, and books, connecting people with sources that fuel their curiosity and creativity, building beloved community, and getting lost in writing or research.