I grew up in a town where our parents were ship builders, bakers, waitresses, and cashiers,
and where books found their right and proper place in the local library. Ours was an oral
tradition, with the sounds and voices of elders and neighbors in inflections of Portuguese,
Greek, Irish, and Italian – all of which I quickly learned to imitate. The result was a technical
training that served a writer. I learned by ear the necessity for music in language, the power
of truths told in nods and quiet breaths, and the critical importance of timing. And, I learned
at my kitchen table that if you’re going to tell a story, it must be artful and it better be worth
everyone’s time.

At the age of 10, I met the woman who would become my lifetime mentor –
Miss D, my 4th-
grade teacher. She would unleash my passion for literature and the arts and teach me how
art connects us. A few years later, at the age of 14, I was awarded my first literary prize – 1st
place in a poetry contest hosted by Boston’s Emerson College. In a packed campus theater,
the contest judge, renowned poet Charles Simic, handed me a check for a hundred dollars
and mumbled, “Good job, kid.” Even at that early age, I understood that writers thrive on
affirmation – not because the ego needs it, but because it confirms that through our art,
. At that moment, my life as a writer was confirmed.

My passion for languages and literature took me on a course of studies to some of the best
colleges in the world. At each college, it would be the
Poet in Residence that I would seek
out. At Williams College, Lawrence Raab and Richard Wilbur taught me to unleash the
mystery in poetry; at Brown university, Michael Harper tuned my ear for the music in poetry; at
Goddard College, Alfred Corn and Michael Klein honed my technique in poetry; and at
Harvard University, the Nobel-prize winning poet, Seamus Heaney mentored me in the
mercy in poetry. I was immensely fortunate to share countless hours and discussions with
Seamus (sometimes over a PBR and Powers) not only on the topic of how to write good
poetry, but on how to be a good poet. “It takes a good person to be a good poet,” Seamus
often said to me. I knew that this “goodness” was what Seamus himself strived for; it was a
positioning of himself in service to the world that I continue to try to emulate in my work –
empathy, authenticity, and self-effacement. It is Seamus and the mentors who preceded him
that walk with me in my recognitions.

My forthcoming book with Regal House Publishing,
Beginner’s Mind, examines a topic that I
have made my life’s focus: namely,
education. In a time when our schools are dogged by
institutionalized goals for our children, this book gives us a classroom where personal
growth and innovative thinking happens in unimaginable ways because of a remarkable 4th-
grade teacher. Though my soul naturally defaults to the poetic, I have chosen a prose format
for this book to more directly reflect the classroom dynamics.
Beginner’s Mind is a collage of
teaching moments that forever changed a generation of ten-year-olds, and examines the
question, “
How do we want teachers to educate our children?”  The answer is given to us
through a series of classroom vignettes that put on display the possibilities before us when
a teacher’s love is combined with the beginner’s mind.  


M.B. McLatchey holds her degree in Comparative Literature from Harvard University, a
Masters in Teaching from Brown University, the M.F.A. in writing from Goddard College, and
a B.A. from Williams College. She has over thirty years of teaching and has been recognized
by her university as
Distinguished Teacher of the Year and as Distinguished Scholar. She
was awarded Harvard University's coveted
Danforth Prize in Teaching as well as the
Harvard/Radcliffe Prize for Literary Scholarship, and she received the Elmer Smith Award for
Excellence in Teaching
from Brown University. M.B. has authored numerous literary reviews,
compiled several text books for Humanities courses, and has contributed to many books on
teaching. She has received national and international literary awards including the
Swenson Poetry Award
for her debut poetry collection The Lame God published by Utah
State University Press and the FLP national
Women’s Voices Competition award for her
Advantages of Believing. Her recent awards include the American Poet Prize from the
American Poetry Journal, the Editor’s Prize in Poetry from FOLIO literary journal, the Editor's
Prize in Poetry
from Spoon River Poetry Review , the Annie Finch Prize for Poetry, the
Robert Frost Award in Poetry, the Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction Award, the New South
Writing Award
from Georgia State University, the 46’er Prize from the Adirondack Review,
and the
Vachel Lindsay Poetry Award. She has been featured in Verse Daily and by AWP as
a “Writer in the Spotlight”.  A tenured Professor of Classics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical
University, she also serves as Florida’s Poet Laureate for Volusia County and as Arts &
Wellness Ambassador for the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

Find her at:
M.B. McLatchey
Volusia County Florida Poet Laureate
Winner of 2011 American Poet Prize