Retired Smithfield High teacher publishes poetry book

Published 6:50 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Smithfield High School graduates may recognize the byline of the town’s newest published author.

Patricia Frech, who retired in 2020 after teaching English there for 14 years, released her first collection of poetry on Dec. 8, titled “Writers, like hats.”

The title is a nod to the first of more than 50 poems included in the book, which compares the art of writing poetry to the wearing of hats.

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Her 58-year career as an educator, which began in 1962, spanned secondary schools and collages in multiple states, including Maine and Hawaii. Frech was born and raised in Smithfield and returned to her hometown to teach at Smithfield High in 2006.

“I love poetry, and I live the Romantic period poetry,” Frech said, singling out a particular fondness for the works of 19th century English contemporaries John Keats and George Gordon Byron, better known as Lord Byron.

Frech said that anytime she would teach Greek or English classics, she would assign her students the task of writing a poem imitating a classical style and do the assignment along with them.

“Every time they would write something, I would write something,” Frech said.

Some are about innocuous encounters with nature, like the one time she saw a deer jumping around in her yard. Other poems focus on her recollections from her time in the classroom.

“The students kept inspiring me,” Frech said.

The book also features poems by three of her former students – 2017 SHS graduates Brett Reese and Za’Niyah Diggs and 2019 graduate Alan Fletcher – who each granted Frech permission to reproduce their work.

Publishing her collection took two years. She began working on the book in 2021 and pitched the idea in late 2022 to New York publisher Austin Macauley, which markets its authors internationally.

The book is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.