English Teacher Mehnaz Sahibzada Publishes Summer Forgets to Wear a Petticoat

Upper school English teacher Mehnaz Sahibzada has published her second book of poetry, Summer Forgets to Wear a Petticoat (Finishing Line Press). Her first poetry volume, Tongue-Tied: A Memoir in Poems, was published in 2012. Mehnaz’ work has also been featured in Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, which Los Angeles Times Book Critic David Ulin included in his Top 10 Books of 2015. Mehnaz is a 2009 PEN USA Emerging Voices Fellow in Poetry.

Mehnaz began writing poetry as a child and draws on her lifetime of experiences as a poet in teaching her students at New Roads. She says, “The act of writing poetry has impacted my teaching in numerous ways – and vice versa. One might argue that poetry isn't just a genre of writing but a way of looking at the world – philosophically and aesthetically. Poetry, like photography, resists a narrative understanding of reality. By peering intently into a moment, a poem embraces the fragmentary and passing nature of existence. As a poet-teacher, I find it important to create spaces for students to write imaginatively by exposing them to the art of alchemy and word play – values I feel encourage independence, empathy and beautiful thinking. Conversely, teaching poetry in my classes, where students have resisted poems that might seem too abstract or self-referential, has affected my own writing, reminding me that while poetry occupies a margin within a margin, it's helpful to edit poems while considering one's audience. Consequently, I've become more mindful of revising my work with the readers' needs in mind.”

Mehnaz’s next project is a collection of poems inspired by the Gothic Romantic mood, or as Mehnaz’s explains, “Think Frankenstein meets Friday the 13th or Jane Eyre meets Jason.”