Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet





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Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
photo by Steve Kolich

Susan Rosson Spain, Robyn Hood Black, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Myra Meade at the Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Ga.
photo by Mel Hornsby

Southern Breeze Kudos Kites 09 - Donna, Robyn, Heather, Sarah, and Peggy

Robyn with Kathleen Duey, author extraordinaire http://www.kathleenduey.com

Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller http://www.debbiemilleralaska.com

photo by Robyn Hood Black
Paul B. Janeczko http://www.paulbjaneczko.com

Copyright 2005-2016 ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved. Please ask permission before using any text or images on this website, except for reproducible
"4 Kids 2 Do" and "Press Kit" pages.

Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - "Christmas" by George Cooper

December 8, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poem, holidays, Christmas, found poem, Victorian



Holiday Greetings!

Would love to report that I'm perched by the fireplace, woolen-shawl-wrapped and book in hand, sipping cinnamon tea while my sparkly and symmetrically decorated Christmas tree winks from the corner...

Alas, I'm burning the candle at both ends with piles of to-do's around still to be done. You?

Well, even in the chaos, I am grateful for the wonderful folks who people and interrupt my life, and for the light they share and reflect from the Source.

Those Victorians knew how to wax eloquently about the holiday. Below is a poem from the December 26, 1896 edition of GOLDEN DAYS for Boys and Girls published in Philadelphia by James Elverson. This is the newsprint magazine that yielded those mini-ornament found poems from a couple of weeks ago. In fact, would you believe I found one more teeny frame this week in my studio? I'm sure this is the last one like this. Missing its wee bit of hardware, but I improvised.

First, the poem by George Cooper (American, 1840-1927), who wrote many song lyrics:

     CHRISTMAS

A world of white that flushes with the smiles
            of morn;
      A gladsome whisper breathing what to
            earth befell -
The babe - the loving Saviour in the manger
            born
      And the bells up in the steeple ringing
            ding, dong, bell!

A message form the forest clad in icy mail;
      A twitter from a birdie that its glee must
            tell;
A rousing crow from far and near the dawn
            to hail,
      And the bells up in the steeple ringing
            ding, dong, bell!

Oh, gentle breath of kindness on the ting-
            gling air!
      Oh, the gleaming sky that weaves its pure and
            holy spell!
Oh, rippling laugh of childhood waking
            everywhere!
      And the bells up in the steeple ringing
            ding, dong, bell!

The patter over all the world of little feet;
      Ah, ringed is wintry earth with joy no
            heart may tell!
And so the year is rounded with delight so
            sweet,
      And the bells up in the steeple ringing
            ding, dong, bell!

"A merry, merry Christmas!" pipe the winds
            at play;
"A merry, merry Christmas!" echo vale and
            dell;
"A merry, merry Christmas!" dancing wave-
            lets say,
      With the bells up in the steeple ringing
            ding, dong, bell!


Mr. Cooper seems to have enjoyed exclamation points, perhaps even more than I do. (!) I must admit being smitten, though, by "the forest clad in icy mail" and those "dancing wavelets." Lovely.

Elsewhere in this edition I did clip one more found poem ornament, dangling in the photo above. This one reads:

passion

            is contagious,

be merry

            For this one day,
be merry with heart


(This came from a little editorial section without direct attribution, just titled, "MERRY CHRISTMAS.") Thanks to you all for buying up the micro-found-poem trio of ornaments I featured before; this one's in my Etsy shop if anyone's interested - ;0) . I posted a few "process" pictures over on my art blog today http://artsyletters.com/?p=1271 .

Whatever your own faith tradition, I wish you at least a few exclamation-point-worthy moments of delight this season, especially in a world with so many dark corners. I'm sure you'll find all kinds of enlightenment over at Check it Out , where the always-creative Jone has our Roundup this week, and an invitation for a poem postcard exchange sure to brighten the darkest days of winter. (Enjoy her own beautiful haiku in the examples, too!)

[Friday morning update - a wonderful Poetry Friday person snatched up the new ornament early; thank you! Also, hitting the road for a family wedding today - will keep all in thoughts even if my responses are delayed. ]

Poetry Friday - Heads Up: Earth Day Weekend Haiku Meeting and Workshop - by the Sea!

December 1, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, HSA, haiku, workshops, conferences, HSA Southeast Region, 2017



Greetings, Friends!

Before my actual post, I'd like to convey fervent thoughts and prayers for those here in the Southeast who have suffered unspeakable losses because of the recent fires and tornadoes. I was born in Knoxville, and though I only lived there as a baby, my childhood was laced up with treasured family excursions to Gatlinburg ("the Burg" as my grandmother would call it), and Pigeon Forge, and the greater area. We took our own kids there for family vacation time and a birthday weekend or two. The Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce Foundation has a donation button at Gatlingburg.com to benefit those affected by the fires.

In more cheerful news, I know it's not even officially winter yet, but if you have fallen under the spell of haiku, I invite you to think about spring... . Specifically, April 21-23, when I'll be coordinating a Haiku Society of America meeting and Earth Day celebration weekend here in the Southeast Region.

Here, it will be easiest just to share all the details I have so far:


HONORING THE EARTH – HSA Meeting and Earth Day Celebration

Friday, April 21 – Sunday, April 23, 2017
Epworth by the Sea (a Methodist Conference Center – meals included from Friday dinner through Sunday lunch.)
St. Simon’s Island, Georgia

TENTATIVE Schedule (subject to fine-tuning!)

Friday – Check-in at Epworth by the Sea begins at 4 p.m.
Evening:
Dinner
Welcome by HSA SE Regional Coordinator Robyn Hood Black, introductions, mingling. Robyn will kick off our Earth Day theme with a brief look at Robert Epstein’s new animal rights collection and anthology. Kukai/contest introduction by Dennis Gobou.

Those so inclined might visit a local watering hole on the island for continued socialization.

Saturday
Morning
Breakfast

Pack your walking shoes – workshop and a birding ginko with Tom Painting!

Bird is the Word – Tom Painting

“We will explore the magic of birds in memory, imagination and the here-and now,” says Tom. “Participants will call upon some the many fine haiku written in English about birds to act as models and inspiration. A discussion of how birds are linked to seasonal awareness will further enhance our understanding.

“With spring migration at its peak, participants will be invited to go on a bird-walk. We will identify birds in a wide range of breeding plumages and especially through their vocalizations, which make every species that much more unique.
Those interested in the walk should bring binoculars. I will have a number of pairs to lend out for those not owning them.”

ALSO, Tom would like everyone to bring a bird haiku (written by someone else).

Afternoon
Lunch

HSA Business Meeting– HSA President Fay Aoyagi

Imaginary Creatures in Haiku – We’ll follow Fay Aoyagi straight from the business world into a fanciful one.

Write Like Issa Workshop– HSA Past President David G. Lanoue
David will lead us in the ninth workshop in this series. He says: “Explore Issa's poetic style to see what he has to teach us about writing haiku in 2017.”

Late afternoon break – Enjoy the natural surroundings, polish those haiku drafts, or finish a conversation with a new friend over a cup of tea.

Evening
Dinner
More socialization – informal visiting at the conference center or carpooling to a local spot for grown-up beverages.


Morning
Breakfast (Eat your Wheaties – Some high-level thinking ahead….)

Issa and Being Human: a Discussion– David G. Lanoue
Based on examples from Issa, a sharing of ideas about what it means to be human on this planet. Here's a question from David to ponder: "What does it mean to be alive, and how can haiku help answer this question?"

Sidewalk Daisies: Haiku in the Context of Social Ecology (tentative title) – Laurence Stacey

A discussion of contemporary haiku poetry within the context of Social Ecology. This lecture will examine the ways that haiku allows us to enter ecological "contact zones."

Q&A

Kukai Results
Lunch
Farewell!

COST:
Lodging and meals (2 nights + 6 meals) plus $50 contribution to slightly offset speaker travel and cover coffee/snack breaks:

Single Occupancy: $372 total per person for weekend

Double Occupancy: $272 total per person for weekend (Please let me know name of person you’ll be sharing a room with.)

Contact me if you will be coming during the day only; I'll need to collect money in advance for meals, workshop contribution, and a small Epworth fee.

TO RESERVE A SPOT: Please send a $40 non-refundable per-person deposit, made out to Robyn, as soon as possible:

Robyn Hood Black
PO Box 1022
Beaufort, SC 29901

Balance will be due (to Robyn) in early March. (After the holidays, I’ll make a registration form available for balance/full payment and to collect dietary needs info, etc. I can email or post on the haiku page of my author website for download.)

Spaces will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis as long as the conference center can accommodate our numbers.

Epworth's cancellation policies:
Any individual cancellation after March 24 will result in a forfeiture of $20 per person. Any individual cancellation within 72 hours of arrival will result in forfeiture of entire per-person charge.

Birds of a haiku feather flock together!

********

I didn't realize until I went looking that a large percentage of my own published haiku are about birds! Here's one to leave you with:


lingering afternoon
the ebb and flow
of birdsong


©Robyn Hood Black
This World - Haiku Society of America 2013 Members' Anthology


Now, be sure to fly on over to Wee Words for Wee Ones, where our generous and lovely Bridget has this week's Roundup, and some thoughtful comments about "community." Makes me thankful to be a part of this one!

Poetry Friday - More Micro Found Poem Ornaments!

November 23, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, found poetry, artsyletters, Etsy, found poems, art, writer mouse


Happy Thanksgiving Weekend/poetry Friday!

I hope you and yours have enjoyed good company and good food. Warmest thoughts for those with an empty chair at the table this year.

I made a fun discovery while cleaning up my studio recently - I found a few more of those miniature frames I made "found poem ornaments" from two years ago (with a how-to) . Who knew these extra frames were hiding in the supply closet? (Or stashed in a box under a table...?) Those little ornaments sold right away, so I figured I'd better conjure these into shape for this year.

As before, I put a tiny print of my "Writer Mouse" drawing on one side, and a found poem/phrase on the other. Below are the highlighted texts. They were all clipped directly from GOLDEN DAYS For Boys and Girls, Vol. XVIII -- No. 6, December 26, 1896, Philadelphia: James Elverson, Publisher.

The first two were found in "A Perilous Sleigh-Ride" by A. E. Conard:


sleds
await
families


jolly
taken altogether,
Our crew


And the third came from "Frankincense and Myrrh" by Mary N. Prescott:


little children
see Santa Claus
a comfort
in the world


(More pictures of these in my Etsy shop..) Update: Click on "Sold" items number on the left-hand side to see the listing pictures - at least two of them!

Wishing you and your jolly crew comfort and fun during these holidays and beyond. More poetry is just waiting to be discovered at Carol's Corner, where thoughtful Carol has our Roundup this week!

Poetry Friday - Teaching Poetry!

November 17, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, teachers, students, workshops, haiku, found poetry


Happy Poetry Friday!

Many of you are at NCTE in Atlanta - what a wonderful weekend of poetry is planned in many of those sessions! Do report back.

I'm on the road too, just slightly north of that, in the North Georgia mountains. On Friday, I'll be helping daughter Morgan lead a small group of young poets (2nd and 3rd grade) at her school. We'll be playing with found poems, and I can't wait to see what they come up with.

I love sharing any kind of poetry with students. This week over at The Haiku Foundation, I'm honored to have a guest post about teaching haiku to Morgan's third graders last spring in Greenville, SC. Click here for that.

If you've been watching the news, you know the Southern mountains have been plagued with wildfires in recent weeks. Our youngest, a college senior near the Georgia-North Carolina border, started sending us pictures of smoke and haze a couple of weeks ago. (We plan to see him too this weekend, as he's on his college's homecoming court!) And though I wouldn't relish driving in rain, I do hope they get rain, and soon.

I'll close today with a recent haiku of mine, written when afternoon showers prevailed here on the Lowcountry coast:



summer storm
pavement steam rises
to meet rain



©Robyn Hood Black
Acorn, No. 37, Fall 2016


Whether you're hanging out with other poetry-loving teachers or savoring Poetry Friday in some quiet corner, thanks for coming by, and be sure to follow the trail at Friendly Fairy Tales, where Beautiful Brenda has our Roundup this week.

Poetry Friday: Interview with David Jacobson - ARE YOU AN ECHO?

November 10, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, David Jacobson, book tracks, Are You an Echo

The poem:
DAY AND NIGHT
After day comes night,
after night comes day.
From where can I see
this long, long rope,
its one end, and the other?


Greetings, Poetry Friends. In a week when we could all use more poetry celebrating the human spirit, I’m delighted to welcome David Jacobson, author of the recently released and much-lauded ARE YOU AN ECHO?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko (Chin Music Press, September 2016). This gorgeous 64-page picture book biography and poetry collection was also translated by Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi and was illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri.

Misuzu lived 100 years ago in Japan. She possessed a keen ability to interpret life from the perspectives of others, even objects. Her poems are taught in schools and beloved by the population there, though largely unknown here, at least until now.

If you don’t know this book yet, these recent features are superb, and they offer many more links. [You’ll have to click back to return here, but please do – David offers a glimpse into the many moving parts behind the book’s creation as well as some history of children’s literature in Japan.]


***********************************


For Jama’s rich review at Alphabet Soup, click here.

Click here for Janet Wong’s behind-the-scenes interviews with David and Sally Ito at Sylvia Vardell’s Poetry for Children.

Julie Danielson at Kirkus interviewed David here.

For an interview on Playing by the Book with Zoe Toft, click here.

Here’s the Misuzu Kaneko/ARE YOU AN ECHO? site.


***********************************


The posts above offer insights into the hardships and tragedy of Misuzu's life, and discussions of how these are sensitively handled in the text and art, as well as showcasing her beautiful poetry.




Now it’s my turn to interview David!

Tell us a bit about yourself - your career as a writer, your interest (and fluency) in Japanese, how you spend your days?

My writing career started inauspiciously as a copy boy at the New York bureau of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Japan’s Wall St. Journal), where I would retrieve wire copy and fetch dinner for the correspondents. I then progressed through a series of reporting and editing jobs at the Associated Press, NHK (Japanese public broadcasting), and CNN. Following a long transition during which I got an MBA and had 2 kids, I ended up at Chin Music Press in Seattle, where I’ve worked ever since doing a variety of editorial and marketing jobs.

I’ve been interested in Japan ever since going there as an exchange student during high school. I obtained a degree in East Asian Studies from Yale, and undertook advanced language instruction at Middlebury and the Stanford Center in Tokyo. After obtaining my degree at Yale, I lived in Japan for 5 years, first as a graduate student and then as a journalist. My work has involved Japan in various ways ever since.

Today, I’m the principal caregiver to my two children, and am forever trying to complete my writing and publishing obligations during the time they are at school. I also try to fit in some time to play the piano, a hobby I’ve pursued since I was five.


How did you first discover the poetry of Misuzu Kaneko?

A Japanese friend of many years sent me an anthology of her work in the fall of 2013. In reading her poems, I was first struck by how relevant they were to me and my own kids, even though Misuzu wrote them nearly 100 years ago. And then I was utterly charmed by the compassion she shows – to the fish on her plate, to a dog who has broken its leg, to a boy and a girl on a first date.

What compelled you to create a book about Misuzu and her poetry?

I started out loving her poetry. Then once I started looking into the possibility of translating her work, I realized that she was really a dream subject. Her poems had hardly been translated into English, and her backstory was both fascinating and tragic. But then the idea of pitching a poetry book (not a favorite of most US publishers) about what some might consider a fairly esoteric subject (a Japanese poet from a century ago) set in… Fortunately, though, Chin Music Press liked the idea.

I was struck by how she maintained her voice, despite the times and the culture in which she lived, as well as her illness. How do you think she kept her sense of self in these circumstances?

It’s really astonishing, isn’t it? She must have been a truly amazing woman. She grew up in a family of women, in which her mother and grandmother were in charge (her father had died when she was 3 and her grandfather was out of the picture). They let her get much more education than most Japanese girls got in those days. So I think her family must have encouraged her to become a strong, smart, and self-possessed young woman.

But when you look at how she responded to her very difficult marriage, her illness and the impending takeaway of her daughter, she displays such tremendous courage and will, based on her personal values, that you get the sense of a woman of great internal strength. I think that’s what enabled her to get through such difficulties.


As a student of haiku, I heard echoes of Issa as I read Musuzu's beautiful, original poems. What might have been some of her literary influences?

For someone who grew up in a fairly remote and provincial part of Japan, Misuzu was extremely well educated and cosmopolitan. There are multiple references to Hans Christian Andersen in her work, as well as to Western stories and characters like Jack and the Beanstalk, Robinson Crusoe, and King Midas. She became familiar with English poet Christina Rossetti, after her mentor said her poetry was reminiscent of Rossetti’s.

As for Japanese influences, she kept a scrapbook of works by contemporary poets she admired, offering a direct window into her literary tastes (poets included Kitahara Hakushu, Saijo Yaso, Horiguchi Daigaku, etc.). I can’t name any specific classical Japanese influences; however, her work often (though not always) follows 5-7 or 7-7 rhythms, suggesting close understanding of Japanese traditional forms such as tanka and haiku.


What was the publishing world like for children's literature in early 20th-Century Japan?

It must have been quite an exciting and liberating time to be in children’s literature in Japan in the 1920s when Misuzu was writing. Prominent writers such as Akutagawa and Shimazaki were joining the field. For the first time in Japanese literary history, Japanese writers were attempting to depict children’s inner lives, and they were encouraging each other to experiment. Moreover, there were amazing opportunities to be published. At one point there were 66 different children’s magazines published in Tokyo alone!

Wow!
This book is a sparkling feat of collaboration. How did you, Setsuo Yazaki, Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi come to cross paths? What was it like to work together?


There are so many collaborators on this book that reviewers can’t seem to keep straight who did what!

With the approval of my boss at Chin Music Press, Bruce Rutledge, I selected Sally and Michiko from a list of several translators. I liked the fact that Sally was herself a poet, and had already translated a considerable number of Misuzu’s poems with Michiko. Most important, though, was their sometimes motherly, sometimes girlish, but always accessible tone. We needed a voice that would speak to children, and I think Sally and Michiko provided it.

The collaboration between Sally, Michiko and me was much more intense than I expected, but very rewarding too. We lived in 3 different countries with 3 different time zones, so the most effective way to communicate was by email or Skype. Starting in early summer of last year, we exchanged comments and suggestions about the narrative and the poetry nearly daily. Each poem went through multiple drafts, as did the narrative. It was frustrating at times, but exhilarating, too, to get to the bottom of what Misuzu was trying to accomplish and then to convey that to English readers.

As for Yazaki, I met him in Japan during my September 2015 trip there. He and the head of JULA Publishing Bureau, Misuzu’s Japanese publisher, met me, illustrator Toshikado Hajiri and translator Michiko Tsuboi in Senzaki, where Misuzu grew up. They showed us around the Kaneko Memorial Museum (which Yazaki directs) and a number of other places in town connected with Misuzu. They had flown all the way from Tokyo (at least a half day’s travel) to meet us.


Toshikado Hajiri's art is breathtaking, capturing joy as well as solemnity. Did you see the paintings before publication, and how do they help tell the story?

Yes, I was in close contact with Toshi from early on in the process, and showed him multiple copies of the manuscript before he even began sketching. In September of 2015, the two of us, along with translator Michiko Tsuboi, visited Misuzu’s hometown of Senzaki together, so that Toshi could get a feel for the look of the place where she grew up. After a month or so, he submitted sketches, which we commented on, and then once we reached agreement, he painted them.

I feel his work adds a lot to the text: the look and feel of early 20th century Japan; and tone and emotion, particularly to the darker parts of the story where the text is spare. His art also amplifies the meaning of some of the poems. I love, for instance, his interpretation of “Day and Night,” a poem in which a child is wondering about time: when does day end and night begin? Toshi brilliantly reinterprets the rope, a metaphor for time, as a jump rope!


Finally, tell us about your travel plans for January!

I am not familiar with all the details yet, but from what I understand I will be participating in three events with poet Setsuo Yazaki in Kyoto, Tokyo and Asahikawa, Japan. They are being organized by Misuzu’s Japanese publisher, JULA Publishing Bureau, and are intended to celebrate the launch of ARE YOU AN ECHO? in Japan.

Sounds wonderful! Many thanks for joining us today, David, and sharing so much of how this treasure of a book came to be. (My thanks as well to Janet Wong for introducing me to David last month at POETRY CAMP at Western Washington University.)

For this week’s delectable Poetry Friday Roundup, please visit the aforementioned one-and-only Jama at Alphabet Soup!

Poetry Friday - One Minute till Some Terrific Poems!

November 3, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Kenn Nesbitt, book tracks


Greetings, Poetry Peeps! I missed everyone last week while I was winding up a week of school presentations (20, give or take) in Georgia.

It's the only week of the year that I actually take naps.

Maybe next year, I'll take along the hot-off-the-press collection getting so much buzz this week, Kenn Nesbitt's ONE MINUTE TILL BEDTIME (Little Brown and Company, illustrated by New York Times illustrator and celebrated artist Christoph Niemann). Click here for more about Kenn's first anthology on his extensive and colorful website, Poetry4Kids.

The Night Sky certainly seems to approve, with showers of sparkly stars from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal. The anthology has also been selected by Publishers Weekly as a Best Book of 2016.

Easy to see why, with 140 new poems by many of the best children's poets writing today. That includes quite a few Poetry Friday folks - so many that if I tried to mention, I'd leave someone out. Congratulations to everyone whose work lies between the intriguing purple covers!

It was a treat for me to meet Kenn (Children's Poet Laureate, 2013-15) at Western Washington University's POETRY CAMP a few weeks ago. He's kindly agreed to let me share one of his poems from the book today. There are seven sections, chock-full of poems that can be read in about a minute each. Every section is launched with a poem by Kenn. Here is one of my favorites, just over mid-way through.


Ted, Ted, Climb in Bed


Ted, Ted,

climb in bed.

Grab that book

we've read and read.

Tuck the blanket.

Tuck the spread.

Here's a pillow

for your head.

Settle in.

Get ready, Ted.

Here come poems

just ahead!



©Kenn Nesbitt. Used with permission.

I predict this book will be "read and read," and read again! And, hey - it's out just in time for your holiday gift list. Sleepy parents will enjoy it as much as their tired tykes.

For more great poetry morning, noon, or night, visit the lovely Laura at Writing the World for Kids. (Yep - she's in the book, too!)

Poetry Friday - Visit Linda B. Today!

October 27, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday

Hello with a wave from North Georgia, as I'm winding up a busy week of school visits.

The ever-lovely Linda has our Roundup this week at Teacher Dance.

Join her to wave farewell to October! (Already?!!)

Poetry Friday: Charles Ghigna' s Wild Side

October 19, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, Charles Ghigna, poetry, book tracks


Welcome, Poetry Friday Fans!

Today we have a special treat -
Charles Ghigna, a.k.a. Father Goose®, is in the house!

You’ll find his name on the spines of more than 100 award-winning books from publishers such as Random House, Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Time Inc., Abrams, Boyds Mills Press, Charlesbridge, Capstone, and Orca, and as a byline on more than 5000 poems in anthologies, textbooks, newspapers, and magazines - including Highlights, Cricket, The New Yorker and many more. Though he gallivants all over connecting kids and poetry, we’re happy to claim him here in the South, as he makes his home in Alabama.

This month we’re celebrating some fun new animal books running wild – just in time for any critter-crazed kids on your holiday gift list.

Just out from Animal Planet, Strange, Unusual, Gross & Cool Animals is sure to please any budding zoologists or simply curious kids.

“The target audience is ages 8-12, but we think ALL ages will like this one” Charles says. “It's 128 pages chock full of stunning close-up photos by some of the world's top nature photographers! You will see creatures from the bottom of the world's deepest oceans to the uninhabited jungles of the Amazon. Many of the animals have only recently been discovered!”

I’m in!

Click here for a peek inside.
Charles has kindly shared the poems introducing each section.



Strange

Strange how we as humans
View creatures great and small—
For we who see their strangeness
Are the strangest ones of all!


Unusual

Unusual is what we call
The weird, the fast, the rare.
We classify each creature—
But do they really care?


Gross

Gross is used instead of yuck
For words like poop and pus,
But all these animals agree—
It's only gross to us!


Cool

Cool is how we think we look
When we try to impress,
But animals are born that way—
With lots of cool finesse!


Poems ©Charles Ghigna. All rights reserved.


Need some animal-friendly titles for the younger set? Check out Charles’s recent books from Orca Books, A Carnival of Cats(2015) and A Parade of Puppies(released in August), both illustrated by Kristi Bridgeman. These interactive board books feature rhyming texts that playfully invite young readers to guess what kind of dogs/cats are hiding on the pages. Wag, wag!


Now, how about an Extra Credit Q & A with Charles?


If you were an animal, what animal would you be & why?

An Arctic Whale. It can live for more than 200 years. That would give me a little more time to write a few more books and poems!

What's the coolest animal you've ever seen in person?

Our Golden Retriever, Honey. She was a loving, loyal, smart companion. She used to follow me up here to my treehouse and sit beside while I wrote, then follow me down the stairs for coffee breaks -- and treats.

Whenever I'd lie on the floor to do a few sit-ups, she would lie down beside me on her back.

She had quite a vocabulary. She understood words like "walk, car, food, go, stop, sit, stay -- and pizza!" We used to spell those words when she was in the room to keep her from running to the backdoor to get in the "car" or run to the front door for a "walk" -- or when we ordered "pizza." ;-)


Is your Muse diurnal or nocturnal?

I guess I'd have to say both. She's been good to me day and night. I often write late at night and into the wee hours of the morning. So far she's been a very accommodating companion.

Are you a dog person or cat person? (Or, like me, unabashedly both?)

I'm like you. I'm unabashedly both. I love dogs -- and admire cats! ;-)
My first two books and my last two books are about dogs and cats. My first books from Disney were GOOD DOGS BAD DOGS and GOOD CATS BAD CATS and a couple of my latest books are A CARNIVAL OF CATS and A PARADE OF PUPPIES.


Do you currently belong to any pets?

Yes, but not in the house. My "pets" now are all free range pets: a hawk that lives in a nearby tree and circles over the treehouse each day to say hello, multitude of squirrels and chipmunks I watch from my window, and two jeweled hummingbirds I'm watching right now at the feeder.

I would add the menagerie of monarchs that have been dancing outside my window this summer, but it looks like most of them have already started heading to their vacation homes farther south.


You mentioned "treehouse" again - do you really work in a treehouse?

Yes, I do. It's the treehouse-looking attic of my home, a 1927 red brick Tudor cottage here in Homewood, Alabama.

That is just wonderful. Thanks for visiting with us today! [Pssst – want a peek at the treehouse? Click here for a 2009 video tour created by the Homewood Library.]

The wonderful Tricia is rounding up for us this week at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

[I’m gallivanting myself for Family Weekend at Seth’s college and then a week of school visits near Atlanta – will check in when I can from the Peach State!]

Poetry Friday - YOU JUST WAIT Winners, Hurricane Update, & Makerspace Link

October 13, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, contest, poetry, weather, art, artsyletters, conferences, workshops


Hellooooo, Poetry Friends!

On the hurricane front: we were very, very fortunate. We are freshly back in our home after a week's evacuation, and with power to boot. Our older kitties and diminutive doggie did fine with all the traveling and disruptions of "normal" life.

Our house is fine, but please keep some of our neighbors in mind - Thursday afternoon we saw firsthand how trees toppled onto roofs right around us, with at least one neighbor displaced for the next few months as major repairs are needed. Some neighbors (and plenty of folks on the sea islands) are still without power. And, of course, please keep the people of NC and other states in thoughts and prayers as there has been such suffering and loss, and of course on such a massive scale in Haiti.

Our lovely little Beaufort is making strides toward normalcy, though for many folks who haven't been able to return home because of washed-out roads, life won't be the same again for quite some time, if ever. [Our beloved local beach, Hunting Island State Park, is closed for the rest of the year.] If this was a Cat 2, I surely wouldn't want to see Cat 3, 4, or 5!

On Thursday, the Publix was packed, with customers and staff swapping stories of the storm. Ditto for the hardware store. Many local business have re-opened, sporting Welcome Back signs. Kids are happily on the loose, as schools won't re-open until Monday.

As Jeff and I began yard clean-up early Thursday evening, we ended up chatting with several neighbors out doing the same, or walking dogs, or driving by and stopping to say hello and check on us. Even our mail carrier greeted us with a "Welcome Home" as we were unloading on Wednesday.

It's been a whirlwind! I can't believe it's been two whole weeks since I had the privilege of leading a Found Poem Makerspace Activity at Poetry Camp. Click HERE for a recap of that creative, collective adventure.

As for this blog, I was able to get winners of the JUST YOU WAIT giveaway randomly picked, though a fulsome new post with Charles Ghigna will have to wait til next Friday. Be sure to circle back!

And now, drumroll please..... The JUST YOU WAIT winners are:

Charles Waters
Jama Rattigan
Elizabeth Steinglass
Matt Forrest Essenwine
and Linda Baie!


Congratulations! I probably have all your addresses somewhere, but in my current state of disarray, please send an email with your preferred mailing address to me at robyn@robynhoodblack.com , and I'll get your copies on their way to you next week.

Many thanks to Pomelo Books for providing these copies.

For terrific poetry you don't have to wait for, please visit my beautiful friend and poetic genius Irene Latham for this week's Roundup!

Poetry Friday Plans, Part Two... (Post-Hurricane)

October 11, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday

Greetings!

At the risk of triggering déjà vu after last week.... If this post is still up THIS Poetry Friday, we're still trying to get right-side-up after a week of evacuating ahead of Hurricane Matthew. I'm posting this Tues. night (while I'm in a house with power!), with plans to drive back home on Wednesday. As of Tuesday, our neighbor told us our house was still without power, hence my hesitation at having a post up and running in a couple of days. Rest assured, I WILL get that drawing for YOU JUST WAIT announced and celebrated after the lights are back on and the mail trucks are running.

Also, we'll still have fun with Charles Ghigna when a real post appears here again. Thanks for your patience. :0)

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