Rome Free Academy teacher Cynthia Dite Sirni has published her sixth book, “It’s All Fun And Games Until You Can’t Order A Cake: Musings From A Teacher’s Desk.”
Sirni said she felt the need to honor her colleagues and share her recollections of being a public school teacher. A collection of vignettes, observations and poems, it is the culmination of a 30-year teaching career.
The book is filled with humor and honesty, wisdom and witticisms, levity and love. Starting with her own experiences in a classroom, first as a student and moving through the years to include the COVID-19 pandemic, it brings a fresh look at life in the classroom through the eyes of a teacher, the author says.
“I have been moved beyond words at the response of the ‘Cake/Teacher’s Musings’ book, said Sirni. “Teachers have been so isolated from each other. We have had to stay in our rooms and not go into other places, always being aware of sanitizing procedures and contact tracing.”
“It’s been a blessing to share this book and see my co-workers come to me and ask for me to sign it,” the author continued. “We share a bond that is deeper than COVID could break. I think it brought that back to the forefront for us at RFA. We are a close faculty, even though we are the biggest one in the district. It is overwhelming to hear people say the book made them laugh like they haven’t laughed in months. Ironically, that makes me cry.”
While she has been a teacher for 30 years, Sirni has been a writer since the first time she ever held a pencil.
Born in New York City, she attended Rome schools from kindergarten at John Joy Elementary to her high school graduation from Rome Catholic High. A graduate of The College of Saint Rose with a bachelor’s degree in English/secondary education, she earned her master’s degree from SUNY New Paltz in education.
First published at the age of 18 in Teen Magazine with her poem, “Ode To An Old Purse,” she has always considered writing her calling. A blogger in her own right, she has published materials for “Puckermob,” and “Under The Tuscan Gun” for Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar’s Cooking Show, Extra Virgin and “Simple Dish.”
Sirni’s books include poetry and snippets on everything from depression and anxiety, to travel and heartache. Her poem, “For An Extra-Special Teen” is the titled piece for the Blue Mountain Arts Anthology, “For An Extra-Special Teen: Words To Help You Strive, Thrive, and Make This World Yours!” as edited by Diane Mastromarino. Her previous books include the following: Heartache Notebook: A Volume of Poetry; Spain: Las Meninas Poetry From The Echoes; The Book of Ours: Poetry to Share About Anxiety, Depression and Hope; On The Hilltop: Italy in Poems; and Look Through The Leaves: Poems Inspired By The Irish Landscape.
“The inspiration behind my creative work is usually an image,” said Sirni. “When I travel, I see images or works of art and I immediately think of how it moves me in terms of words. For example, the poetry book I wrote about Ireland, when we were on the ferry to the Aran islands, I was looking at the shore and wondering how many people watched as a boat left the shore for the last time. There was such a melancholy weight to the fog that I could imagine the worry and waiting of the women and children.”
She said, “Ireland moved me in ways I never imagined. It’s filled with literary history and there’s something magical about it that inspired my first book.”
During last year’s lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sirni was inspired to write, “Heartache Notebook,” as she and others were coping with being isolated from others. Her writing became a way of coping.
“There were so many different ways in which people were heartbroken,” the author reflected. “Some of it was inspired from the movies I watched over and over, and some was from listening to people as relationships crumbled during it. I could feel sadness in the entire planet, and a line from a book or a person’s face through the window would inspire a sentence in my head. Then I couldn’t stop writing until a poem was finished. I didn’t know where it was going. I only knew when it was finished. It was an exhaustive release sometimes.”
As a senior English and Supported Learning teacher at RFA, Sirni offers this advice to any would-be authors, “Don’t give up. The world is always better for having someone else’s art in it. Especially yours. Find your voice and use it.”
The author and teacher encourages her students every day to reach higher in their classes and for themselves. Whether through engaging students in cross-content curriculum, making characters such as Hamlet feel relevant and current or using humor to build rapport, she sees the potential in every single student.
She also enjoys sharing her creativity.
“Because I am ‘creative,’ I keep a notebook by my bed. Sentences and images will formulate in front of my mind’s eye and I have to scribble it down while I am in that gap of asleep and awake,” Sirni said. “I’m afraid I will lose it. I take a lot of inspiration from The Lost Generation. I love to wander through Paris and sit where Hemingway and Fitzgerald did, looking at the same trees and churches. What about them moved them? Does it move me the same? I study their lives and how their sentences remind me of sculpture. Each word placement affects the meaning, the beauty, the image.”
While Sirni is not involved in any local writing groups or schools, she admits to carrying a notebook wherever she goes.
“I never know when I will be overtaken with a sentence. It’s like I have to wrestle it into paper so I can breathe,” she said.
Her books are available wherever books are sold, or at Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B07MPPW6ZC.