Howdy! My week got crazy and a post did not materialize. But, our good friend Jone has the Roundup today, and she's offering sneak peeks into the NEW Pomelo Books title, HOP TO IT (which I'm delighted to have a poem in myself.) AND - Jone has a sparkly new website. Enjoy!
Life on the Deckle Edge
Greetings, Poetry Lovers!
First - my heart breaks and prays for so many in the throes of fires and floods this week. And so many other challenges. Hopes for healing, rebuilding, peace.
Here in the Lowcountry, we have had just the faintest hint of a breeze foreshadowing Fall - well, between the rain bands on the outer edges of Sally. Cooler temps are promised for the next week or so.
I have a book I love to turn to with the turning of the seasons. I've shared excerpts from it before... and I think some of you have it, too? The Illuminated Book of Days, edited by Kay and Marshall Lee, with illustrations by (sigh) Kate Greenaway and Eugene Grasset (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1979).
It's lovely, fun, and nostalgic, with tidbits of poetry and lore and historical gems for each month.
Here are a few lines and verses featured in its September pages:
September blow soft
Till the fruit's in the loft.
There is harmony
In Autumn, and a lustre in its sky,
Which thro' the Summer is not heard or seen.
Fruit gathered too timely will taste of the wood,
will shrink and be bitter, and seldom prove good.
So fruit that is shaken, or beat off a tree,
with bruising and falling, soon faultie will be.
And, my favorite...
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing.
Now, follow those falling leaves over to Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, where Matt has a pile of poems to jump in for this week's Roundup. Thanks for hosting, Matt!
Greetings, Poetry Lovers!
September is cantering on, and I can hardly believe Summer is already a look over one's shoulder. Folks like my son's girlfriend's family are making the most of a last trip to the beach. With all the heaviness this year, I thought a lighter poem might be in order as we wave farewell to Summer.
Here's a Victorian poem from DAISIES & DARLINGS (Boston: De Wolfe, Fiske and Company), an illustrated volume gifted to me by our friend and former neighbor, Linda. (Thanks, Linda!) The year penciled inside is 1898.
Ellen Soule Carhart
Mattie and Margery, Frankie and Fred,
Shaping with shovel and tiny hand
Wonderful castles and loaves of bread
Out of the shining sand, --
Finding a beauty-stone, spying a shell,
Running to lay it on mother's knee, --
Full of a joy that no song can tell,
Play by the sounding sea.
Tremulous flood-tide of sunset light
Bathes the glad earth and the ocean too;
Purple and rosy and amber light
Melt into heights of blue.
Ships, flaunting plumes of radiant mist --
Ships, with their sails drenched in golden glow, --
Pleasure-boats white that the sun has kissed,
Phantom-like, come and go.
Music of laughter; rustle of wing;
Sweep of a sea-gull ove the waves;
Echoes of carols the mermaids sing
Rise from their ocean caves.
Come, little children, the song is sung;
Fair is the picture it leaves with me, --
Lives so tender and hearts so young,
Glad with the old, old sea!
(If my online sleuthing yielded correct results, the poet was once Dean of Women at Northwestern University, wrote many short stories and poems, and died in 1924 at the age of 82.)
Thanks for making waves over here today! Now, hum your way over to Whispers from the Ridge, where Kiesha is graciously hosting today and sharing two wonderful poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906).
Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Just thought with the current state of current affairs, it wouldn't hurt to keep nodding back to those fiesty, courageous suffragettes during this season of celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment.
I usually share the first part of longer older poems, linking to the rest. But today I just had to share the last part of this one by by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935). Best known for her short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper," she also published two poetry collections, including Suffrage Songs and Verses (The Charlton Company, 1911).
From "We As Women"
But wait, warm-hearted sisters–
Not quite so fast, so far.
Tell me how we are going to lift a thing
Any higher than we are!
We are going to "purify politics,"
And to "elevate the press."
We enter the foul paths of the world
To sweeten and cleanse and bless.
To hear the high things we are going to do,
And the horrors of man we tell,
One would think, "We, as women," were angels,
And our brothers were fiends of hell.
We, that were born of one mother,
And reared in the self-same place,
In the school and the church together,
We of one blood, one race!
Now then, all forward together!
But remember, every one,
That 'tis not by feminine innocence
The work of the world is done.
The world needs strength and courage,
And wisdom to help and feed–
When, "We, as women" bring these to man,
We shall lift the world indeed.
To read the whole poem with its proper, full, first half - click here.
And, the completely unrelated and blatantly shameless promotional picture below those ancestral sisters marching in 1913? That's me, just getting the word out that I'm offering three online workshops this September after participating in trainings to be an "Etsy U" instructor. If you or someone you know has an Etsy shop and might be interested in some Etsy-generated tips, march on over to artsyletters.com, where you'll find more info and registration links.
But, of course, FIRST -- March your way to Beyond Literacy Link, where the ever forward-thinking Carol has our Roundup this week, and selections of soul-nourishing art and poetry. Thank you, Carol!
Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Well, as I'm still digging out from a difficult summer (see post a couple of weeks ago....), this Friday snuck up on me before I had a post to share. Be sure to check out all the Poetry Friday goodness at Heidi's place, My Juicy Little Universe.
[--And much love and wishes for health and safety to all of you getting school years off the ground. XO--]
Greetings, Poetry Lovers! I'm still catching up after "losing" a month-plus of work/outside life (see last week's post), but I look forward to catching up on Poetry Friday rounding, and here's a muster of a short post for this week.
You know I'm a big fan of Stanford Forrester and his journal of short verse, bottle rockets. I'm always delighted when a poem of mine appears in its pages. Here's my haiku in the latest issue, bottle rockets #43:
the rhyming couplets
of a brown thrasher
©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.
bottle rockets, Vol. 22, No. 1, August 2020.
(I just love the cover of this current issue!)
I also love birds, and am particularly fond of the glorious music provided by the Brown Thrasher, state bird of our former digs in Georgia. One game I play on walks is to see how quickly I can determine if the notes I'm hearing are from a Northern Mockingbird or a Brown Thrasher. The lovely gray Mockingbirds are easier to spot, as they perch out in the open and frequently engage in flashy chases. Brown Thrashers, with their speckled russet garb and striking yellow eyes, are more likely to be kicking around in the scrub or tucked behind leaves in a treetop. But ther songs - Oh! Listen for complex imitations of other birds, but usually with each line repeated once. So, two lines of this song, two lines of that.... :0)
Current affairs can feel overwhelming. Maybe a walk to listen to birds would be good medicine for us all.
Wishing you birdsong among the din this week! The lovely Ramona is rounding up lots of poetic sounds for us at Pleasures From the Page. (Thanks, Ramona!)
Greetings, Dear Friends and Poetry Lovers! It has been too long, with an unintended summer break. (More on that in a bit.)
The pandemic has hit older folks with dementia particularly hard. Jeff's dad, Reuben, was in an independent living facility apartment in Georgia near Jeff's sister, Patti, and waiting on his room at a memory care place when everything locked down in the Spring. The isolation (meals brought to residents rather than served in a dining room with others to share them, etc.), and the upheaval of daily structure seemed to exacerbate processes in place in his mind and body. Quick visits could happen, but technology - which Reuben had always stayed a step ahead of, as an original Apple fan - began to elude him, until even FaceTime calls became difficult, then impossible.
Patti kept things together for him as best as one can in those situations, and Jeff's brother Baris was not far away. As Spring turned to Summer, the dementia challenges became overwhelming, and Reuben had a couple of trips to the hospital and other care facilities before going back to his apartment with Hospice care in late June. He finished his earthly journey on July 1.
Reuben was always going places, rising above the challenging circumstances of live in a poor mill village to go to college, where he met his future bride, Marge, who came from a mill village a little farther up the socio-economic ladder. Reuben joined the Army and eventually became a Delta pilot, working on the administrative side as well in later years in his career.
Somehow several of my favorite memories around Reuben involve getting from some point "A" to a point "B," which I guess he was an expert at after all of those years flying internationally. (When he retired from Delta, he took our entire family on his last trip as pilot - to Dublin! Somewhere there's a picture of one-year-old Seth holding up a Guiness can or some such that Reuben put in his hand, and a picture of four-year-old Morgan holding her hands over her eyes at the Trinity College Library as I tried to force her to look at the Book of Kells! Those tykes are 25 and 28 now....)
Back to transportation. Reuben liked to share something his father told him when he was learning to drive on those rutty Georgia dirt roads. "Keep it between the ditches, Son." That advice served him well, and I have turned to it myself more than once.
When our family had moved back to north Georgia with little ones and then bought a small farm, I found myself learning how to drive a truck and pull a horse trailer. Reuben and Marge were at our house, and I said I was going to go take the truck and trailer out for practice, planning to make only right turns to return home! Reuben said, "No - you need to take it to the top of the driveway." We had a gently curving gravel driveway about a quarter-mile long. "And back it up."
Took me 45 minutes. But it was a good learning experience!
When Morgan was learning to drive, she had us and Reuben teaching her. "He taught me to parallel park," she remembers, "saying that if he could park an L10-11, I could park his Volvo. "
One more. Reuben loved to recount the story about how, one time in the wee hours before dawn, he was driving to work (the Atlanta airport) from home (an hour north) and making quite good time on the otherwise empty, dark interstate. Then, blue lights.
An officer came up to his window and said, harshly, "Do you have a license to fly?"
"As a matter of fact, I do," Reuben answered, and showed him his Delta license. Reuben said the officer shook his head and said he always figured one day, there would be a (insert expletive of your choice here) who would ruin his line, and he let Reuben go with a warning.
Marge used to quote Dylan Thomas's
"Do not go gentle into that good night."
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. ...
You can read the rest here.
Reuben did not go gentle, the last few weeks of his life. But in the end, and with help from Hospice, he was able to go peacefully. We had visited him just a few weeks before. When Jeff got the call that the end was near, we were in the midst of a family week here with our kids. Seth drove Jeff to Georgia, and they stayed with Reuben his last night, and they were with him when he died the next day.
While Reuben had several issues which ushered Death more quickly than we would have imagined, we now suspect he also had an undiagnosed case of Covid-19 as well. A few days after Jeff returned home, he started having symptoms. Long story short, the results of his test (obtained after four miserable hours in the hospital's Express Care parking lot on a Sunday afternoon) were positive. He is good now, but he was quite sick with flu-like symptoms for more than two weeks, and I Florence Nightingale-ed my way through July, putting everything else in my work and personal life on the shelf. (Just starting to get it all back down now!) Everyone quarantined our couple of weeks and then some, and we are grateful to be back to work and school.
July ended with more sadness. Reuben's youngest brother, just 72, was diagnosed with Covid-19 at the end of the month and hospitalized in Georgia. He and two other members of his church were on ventilators at the same time. One survived, but Reuben's brother and another gentleman did not.
August brought us a quick trip back to Georgia last weekend, to bury Reuben's ashes next to Marge's at a family farm. (Marge died from Parkinson's in February of last year.) Jeff's brother Tim led a beautiful short family service. All five siblings and families were there - outside, masked, and safely distanced. (We only took off masks for a 'couples' picture, far apart from each other.) Tim also brought an expensive bottle of Jameson Whiskey to sip from vintage Delta china cups - and to sprinkle on the dirt. Reuben would have loved that!
Reuben's marker features a trio of his favorite sayings/quotes:
Have the Courage to be Yourself
The collage detail pictured above the marker was created by Jeff's oldest sister Kathy. She made similar pieces for each family! What an amazing gift we'll treasure forever. (Kathy teaches high school art; here's a shout-out and love to ALL you teachers, my Morgan included, starting off this very strange new school year.)
Thanks for reading all of this! And words are inadequate to thank friends (& neighbors) who reached out to us in recent weeks with dinners, yard care, grocery runs, and other acts of generosity and kindness. I don't know how we would have gotten through without the TLC and prayers of others. A few of my writer buddies knew what we were dealing with and sent me.... books! Just for me. A couple of old ones to repurpose, a couple of delightful gently used ones to READ, and a new, quirky humorous book about animals. Bright spots of wonder and happiness in a blur of stressful weeks. THANK YOU! :0) And I wouldn't have gotten through July without frequent consulting with my nurse-sister, Sharon, and my doc here, Andrea. XO
Our wonderful Molly has the Roundup today at Nix the Comfort Zone - but I bet you'll find some poems of comfort in this week's offerings, too. Thanks, Molly. Poetry Friday is a comfort to me.
Greetings, Poetry Lovers! This week I had the wonderful opportunity to present a workshop for the young creators of the 2020 Camp Conroy. Pat Conroy was a devoted and lifelong teacher at heart, as you might know about the acclaimed author, beloved around the world as well as here in his own Lowcountry. For the third year, the Pat Conroy Literacy Center has assembled a team of top-notch creative teachers who spend a couple of weeks in intensive workshopping and creating with eager participants. An extra person is brought in here or there, and I got to be one of those folks this year! Of course, when I signed on months ago, who knew we would all be doing these things v-i-r-t-u-a-l-l-y.....?
But Center Director Jonathan Haupt and his fearless Camp Conroy team - Miho Kinnas, Lisa Anne Cullen, and Robin Prince Monroe - (three amazing published writers, poets, teachers and visual artists - look 'em up!) embraced the challenge and have been offering a lively and nurturing experience via Zoom. One bonus of this arrangement this year is that a few young creators are chiming in from other parts of the world, contributing their own creations to what the local Campers will produce as group projects and collections.
"This is our chance to share a little bit of Camp Conroy's Great Love with all of those sheltering and educating at home this summer," they say. Plans are for local participants to gather in July for an in-person event celebrating the unveiling of this year's "Camp Conroy Book."
I led a Found Poem Mixed Media Collage workshop, much like the one I led for Poetry Camp out in Bellingham, Washington, a few years ago, and have since offered in Beaufort, too. But how to do this from a distance? Now, that was a little trickier.
First, I made supply kits for each participant and added them to the big pre-Camp mailing the Center was doing. Check.
Then, I recorded a how-to video - my first time trying such a thing. Should be a piece of cake, I thought, having posted all those poem-reading videos on my Robyn Hood Black YouTube Channel in April. Right? Well, the recording part took a while (this is usually a 90-minute to two-hour workshop, after all), but thanks to my new little phone tripod, I got it done.
Then I put all the pieces parts together, editing and chopping, editing and chopping. Then I tried to upload the video.
"Mwaaa - haaaa - haaaaa" laughed all the invisible techno-gods in unison at my hubris. I tried uploading to YouTube, on my heretofore unused artsyletters Channel. Hours and hours (a couple of different overnights, even....) - No Go. Stuck at 99 percent and then - failure. I tried uploading to the Center's Dropbox. Hours and hours... well, you get the picture.
So here's a tip, stumbled onto after bleary-eyed days of looking for some magical virtual key - worth your reading of this post, if nothing else: to upload a video longer than 15 minutes to YouTube, you have to have a verified account. What's a verified account? You go to settings (I think - it's all a blur) and look around for the "Verify account" option. Then, you simply type in your cell phone number or email address and wait for one of those handy six-digit codes banks often use to make sure you are you and not a robot. Type in the six numbers, and - poof! You're verified. And your - cough-cough - 48-minute cinematic feat might just upload in less than two hours, and process fairly quickly after that. (Insert emoji with hand slapping forehead right about here.)
Back to poetry. So the video was made accessible, and the young campers had a day or two to work on their collages before we all "met" on Wednesday afternoon. As always when working with kids, I was amazed at their creativity and fresh perspectives. Some were still working on theirs, but several pieces were to a finished or at least share-able stage. Such talented writers and artists!! I'm always energized seeing what creative young folks come up with. Oh, and the three teachers played along in a closing found-poem activity, too - I can tell they are all having as much fun as the kids.
Above you see the collage I made as a sample. The text is from a 1960-ish EduCard featuring a science experiment. I "found" a poem about balance because: 1.) There's a wonderful yoga studio above the Literary Center; 2.) I've been inspired by so many people taking a Stand lately; and, 3.) I probably - nope, definitely - need a little more balance in my life.
Anyway, here is the poem:
Keep in Balance
earth pulls everthing
to center. This place
will not fall
when your body is
bring your center
and see what happens.
Poem found by Robyn Hood Black.
If you're looking for a creative project to wile away a summer day, or if you need an activity for kids or grandkids or such, feel free to have a look at the video I made! There's a mini studio tour at the beginning. It's a bit choppy, with my crazed efforts at making it shorter so it would load somewhere, etc., but you'll get the steps. You can adapt this project to materials you have handy, and improvise away, too!
Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVo_d5CqgBs
Wishing you a balanced weekend during which you find lots of poetry... you can start over at The Miss Rumphius Effect, where the lovely Tricia has our Roundup this week! (Program Note - I'll be taking a wee little break for the next couple of Fridays, but see you in July! And, if you don't get my quarterly(-ish) artsyletters newsletter, I'll be sending one out soon; you can sign up here. ) Thanks, and take good care!
Shhh.... Is she here yet?
Under the direction of amazing poet and my dear friend Irene Latham, we're having a **Ta-da! Celebration!** for Nikki Grimes for Poetry Friday today! Seems the pandemic has kept awards ceremonies from being held in person, and Nikki just keeps getting awards. So we're lifting our virtual cups and glasses in Nikki's honor.
I've had the good fortune of crossing paths with Nikki at a conference or two over the years, and I was delighted that she not only attended my Found Poem Collage Makerspace workshop at Poetry Camp out in Washington a few years ago, but she embraced every creative challenge and also kindly shared with me some photos she took. Nikki is a visual artist on many fronts, and I love the cross-pollination that happens between her writing and her making.
[I've been thinking of that wonderful weekend this week, as I'm leading a virtual version of this workshop for the Pat Conroy Literacy Center's "Conroy Camp" for young writers next week. I prepared crafting kits to send in the mailing to each student, and they'll have access to my how-to video going up on Monday. Then, we'll "meet" together via computer on Wednesday.]
But I digress. If you know anything about Nikki, you already know her talents do NOT stop with the period at the end of a printed sentence. (See some of her artwork at the "Grimes Gallery" section of her website.)
I'm always enjoying the gorgeous photos Nikki is sharing online, many from her garden. She often features new photography at her website, too, in "Notes from Nikki."
I dug up an interview I did with Nikki back in 2012, in which she discussed her writing and her artistic endeavors, among other topics. It was for Poetry Advocates for Children and Young Adults (PACYA), and it's still up, here:
In that post, I received permission to share a poem from Bronx Masquerade. [I'm hoping you won't mind, Nikki, my sharing it here again?] This poem not only reveals Nikki's ear for the musicality of words, it shines with her eye for the visually beautiful as well. And yet, like her work across several genres for young readers, it still speaks with the rich voice and heart of a young person making her way in the world.
By Lupe Algarin
I walk by a mirror,
catch my eye,
wonder at the universe
Past the flashing eyes
is a file
for yesterday's sunset
dripping mango light,
for Papi's laughter
tinkling in my
so many years gone by,
shed below a crucifix
on my wall.
I sort it all out,
store it under
"been there, done that"
and open a clean drawer
a place to store adventures
I'm still learning
©Nikki Grimes. All rights reserved.
In another book, Words With Wings, main character Gabby ponders whether she might be both a dreamer and a maker, in a very short poem called, "Maybe." There's no doubt that for Gabby's creator, that answer is YES.
Nikki received the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry in 2006, and if you missed it, here's the link to the Spotlight interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins (still miss him so) at Renée LaTulippe's No Water River blog.
Enjoy more Nikki Grimes celebrations today over at Live Your Poem, where Irene is rounding up these posts and other poetic inspirations this week.
Greetings, Poetry Lovers! It's been a poignant week for any thinking, feeling person, hasn't it?
[Quick, less-serious forward: While keeping a close eye on the news, I've also been getting ready for an event on a much lighter note - our little downtown, after skipping First Friday for April and May, is holding a VIRTUAL First Friday this week. Our merchants association is sponsoring a Facebook Live whirlwind tour of more than two dozen businesses from 6 to 8 p.m. - So YOU can even join in from your couch! (Here is a link to my own little promo for it; I'm slated to have my two minutes of fame in the middle-ish of the event. The event will be posted as a Facebook Live tour on the Downtown Beaufort Merchants Association Facebook Page.)]
I've been making several items using images from my miniature antique map problem - er, I mean - collection. So I've been entertaining maps in my mind and imagination these last few weeks.
Thursday, when I was able to see some of the the moving service for George Floyd, I pondered several map-themed ideas for a haiku that might reflect these fraught but energetic times.
in the legend
©2020 Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.
I re-wrote this in my head and on scratch paper many times. My first attempts were too preachy, which is quite un-haiku-like. Too much of my own voice (however well-intentioned) was apparent. I knew I wanted to include "legend," because of its double meaning. Other than that, I didn't want to include blatent references to my own feelings, or admonitions to do anything, or other burdens. It was a good exercise in narrowing my focus, trying to shed my own interjections to focus on the images.
When I first started my art business, I was delighted to find a late 19th Century Geography textbook/atlas in an antique shop (the first of a few I have now). I was appalled, however, when I actually read the text. I won't dignify the discussions of various "races" by sharing them here. But I think of the horrible influence of that polluted thinking - it seems so long ago, and yet that particular book was published only a dozen or so years before one of my grandfathers was born. It wasn't really so long ago.
Just before Covid-19 stay-at-home orders, I had a meaningful encounter in front of my own house, in our fairly diverse downtown neighborhood which I love. You've gathered from my pictures that I'm white; so is my husband, and our kids. This incident involved a couple of young African American men (maybe slightly older than my own kids), car trouble, and some agitated behavior that frightened me.
Long story short, I was initially tempted to call the police - one young man was pushing and shoving the other, yelling, pacing wildly, coming toward the house. I decided to try not to overreact - to pray instead, and to listen to my Mom instincts and intuition during some tense moments when he made contact. Seth was here for a visit. (Seth, who was born one month after Trayvon Martin, and with whom we never had to have "the talk.") With Seth's calming presence and real-world de-escalation experience, I asked him to come outside too.
Jumper cables. That's all they needed. The young man calmed down, apologizing for his initial behavior - and I tried to convey it was the potential fighting I was concerned about. The other young man, the driver, never lost his cool with his friend, however, or with the situation. Seth got their engine running, and everything was fine.
We stood and talked for a little bit, and the young man asked for a hug, which I gave both of them, of course. He smelled of alcohol, though it was morning, and I wondered about his struggles. Perhaps that fueled some of his initial behavior. It also might have let his guard down in conversation, because he said, "You don't know how hard it is for us to ask you for help." That broke my heart.
Many hearts have been broken, these weeks, these years, these centuries. I cannot speak for anyone of color. But I do hope we can all heal, together, even if slowly, following that arc that bends toward justice.
Our wonderful Margaret has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Reflections on the Teche.