Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet, artist









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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

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Poetry Friday - Seeking Solace in Old Poetry

August 17, 2017

Tags: Words or phrases to categorize this post for the tags section


Greetings, Friends. I had another idea brewing for today, but this week…

In times of trouble I often take comfort in words left behind by others, even centuries ago.
I dove into my studio stash of vintage poetry books, and thought I might find something in one for children – so I thumbed through THE YOUNG FOLKS’ SHELF OF BOOKS, THE JUNIOR CLASSICS 10 – Poetry, Reading Guide, Indexes, part of The Junior Classics Series by Collier.

It was published in 1938, the year my mother was born, and features everything from riddles and nursery rhymes to Shakespeare.

1938 – the year of Kristallnacht, “Night of Broken Glass.”

I was born in 1963 – the year a bomb ripped through 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing four precious girls.

I suppose this past week has reminded me that we can’t just rest, settle, and assume the worst of all that is behind us in this country (or any country). In the mid-1980s, my husband and I, as a young married couple, joined most of a small town in North Carolina in a street-lined protest of marching KKK members. At first those marching thought the crowds had turned out to support them, but then their faces changed as they realized we were all standing calmly, singing I think?, to counter their message of hate that day. I wouldn’t have dreamed then that the headlines would be what they are today, late in the second decade of the 21st Century.

This poem by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) though likely about the journey of life and a spiritual journey particularly, spoke to me somehow in the midst of these heavy days.


UP-HILL

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
      Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
      From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
      A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
      You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
      Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
      They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
      Of labor you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
      Yea, beds for all who come.




I was heartened this week, when on a rare check of my Facebook feed, I saw two posts show up by friends who are also kidlit people, both in Georgia. The posts were back to back, and strangely both were about small acts of civility and warmth in grocery stores. The folks involved were black, Hispanic, white… looking out for the needs of others – strangers – and offering a cup of kindness.

This next poem reminded me of staying grounded in the midst of chaos. Four hundred years have passed since it was written, but the words still ring fresh to me. This one is by Thomas Campion (1567-1620).



INTEGER VITAE

The man of life
     Whose guiltless heart is free
From all dishonest deeds,
      Or thought of vanity;

The man whose silent days
      In harmless joys are spent,
Whom hopes cannot delude,
      Nor sorrow discontent;

That man needs neither towers
      Nor armor for defense,
Nor secret vaults to fly
      From thunder’s violence;

He only can behold
      With unaffrighted eyes
The horrors of the deep
      And terrors of the skies;

Thus, scorning all the cares
      That fate or fortune brings,
He makes the heaven his book,
      His wisdom heavenly things;

Good thoughts his only friends,
      His wealth a well-spent age,
The earth his sober inn
      And quiet pilgrimage.



Note: I didn't really absorb the similar "inn" symbolism in both poems until posting them here... I'll ponder and sleep on that.

{ Prayers for all who are oppressed or grieving this day, and prayers for peaceful days ahead. }

Many thanks to Kay at A Journey Through the Pages for Rounding Up today - her first time hosting! She, and I’m guessing many of us, are all on a similar path this week, seeking the solace and light of poetry.

Poetry Friday - A Big Black Boot & Bottle Rockets Press (Haiku)

August 10, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, haiku, poetry, bottle rockets press




Greetings, Summer Poetry Friends!

I hope your season has brought fun in the sun and freedom to linger over late sunsets.

We've had a good summer over here on the coast, with a week of vacationing at the beach late last month with our visiting kids (& their dogs). I missed long walks on the beach, though, and proper frolics in the waves, as I've been trying to keep my Achilles tendon (what's left of it) in one piece since early June. It's the one I ruptured seven years ago, and for all those years until now its been fine - until an "overuse" injury sent me to my neuromuscular massage therapist/PT. (I still have to see her because of a neck injury three years ago, but that's another story.)

Anyway, she suggested the dreaded black boot. I evidently tossed the one I had before when we moved, so I had to go purchase one. I'm not in it every waking moment; I also wear an ankle brace when I have to drive, etc. - but it's been a couple of months of soaking in Epsom salts and icing and such. Soft sand is the worst for tendons and muscles, so I wore the boot clunking down the boardwalk and onto the beach, with one kitchen-sized trash bag inside as a liner and two on the outside. That actually worked to keep out sand, by the way.

One reason I'm recounting all this is because it was inspiration, as it were, for a haiku just published in the brand new issue of bottle rockets:


years later
my Achilles heel
still just that



bottle rockets, #37, Vol. 19, No. 1

If you don't know bottle rockets, it's a well respected print journal of haiku, senryu, & short verse published by Stanford M. Forrester, whom you've met here before! In addition to the journal, he also offers specialty letterpress printing services through Wooden Nickel Press. (His books are gorgeous.) Click here for more information about both.

Now, it's hard missing a big black boot, and I've actually high-fived similarly attired perfect strangers on the street in recent weeks, or at least exchanged knowing nods. Not all challenges are front and center like that, however. Did you read Tabatha's thoughtful, kind post about "invisible illnesses"? Here's the link if you missed it. I was also touched by the comments, including Margaret's, who reminds us that you might meet a cancer patient and not know it from that person's appearance.

My own wonderful mom starts chemo for colon cancer next week, after a successful but intensive surgery last month. Her attitude and faith are strong - I don't know if I could be so positive myself in her shoes! She's taking everything as it comes and responding in inspiring ways. My folks live in Orlando, and most of the rest of my family members live in neighboring counties.

I want to drive down and be with her for some of those treatment weeks (she's scheduled for a six-month course), so I've extricated myself from some volunteering, namely, the Regional Coordinator position for the Haiku Society of America. I'll still be a supportive cast member in the wings. I'm grateful that one of our generous members and oh-so-talented poets, Michael Henry Lee, has stepped up to take over.

And I'm grateful for Tabatha's insights, reminders, and open heart.

And speaking of Margaret, I just clicked to see that she is rounding up Poetry Friday today at Reflections on the Teche! Thanks, Margaret. I do love this community so!

Poetry Friday - Head up to Maine for the Roundup with Donna!

August 3, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday

Greetings! Somehow all my hours this week have been at the studio, trying to get new items finished and surfaces found to open for our downtown "First Friday After Five."
I conjured up a lovely blog post or two, but, alas, only in my head.

To enjoy some REAL posts this first Friday in August, visit the ever-delightful Donna at Mainely Write
for the Roundup. (Mmmm... she has roses, too!) See you next week.

Poetry Friday - Summer Poem Swap Treasures from Margaret Simon

July 27, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, Summer Poem Swap, poetry, birds, art


Howdy, Fellow Poetry Lovers - how is it the end of July already?

Teacher-Daughter Morgan is finishing up her classroom prep in Georgia, ready for the Meet and Greet in just a few days... And my special "guest" today will be back in the swing of school in coming days, too!

This morning I heard a "teakettle-teakettle-teakettle" chirp outside the bedroom window, and I immediately thought of Margaret Simon. She sent me the most wonderful Carolina Wren-inspired Summer Poem Swap poem, plus other treasures! (Many thanks to Tabatha for coordinating these wonderful Swaps.)

Margaret included a lovely card and note explaining that in May, she was visiting her parents and watched a Carolina Wren feeding her babies in a nest built in a flower pot. She also kindly mentioned my Carolina Wren block print/cards in my Etsy shop, and she included its image on the sheet with her poem!

[My image came about after I was smitten with a painting by Camille Engel that my good friend Peggy Jo Shaw uses as a logo for her writing & editorial business, Wren Cottage. I wanted my own reference, of course, for anything I made, though my relief print would be stylized. I set up a stack of vintage books next to a nest-filled flower pot that was on MY back porch years ago, then waited across the patio slumped in a chair for "our" wren to land on them! Many close calls before she finally lit on the books, almost an hour later, and I snapped a (fuzzy-but-good-enough) picture. ;0) ]

Here is the poem Margaret sent:


Carolina Wren

From the back porch,
we watched a cinnamon-colored bird
hop in and out
like a child bouncing
on a trampoline--
flower pot
to birch
to pine needle mulch--
           hop,
                 hop,
                      hop.

From a quivering branch,
a teakettle tweet--
Mom and Pop
tag teaming
carry insects,
caterpillars,
other crawling creatures.
Looping return--
           disappear,
                 reappear,
                      disappear.

Under rising red vinca
unkowing flowers
sway like a metronome.
A nest nook
echoes notes
from tiny, open
begging yellow beaks--
           peep,
                 peep,
                      peep.



©Margaret Simon. All rights reserved.


Isn't that SO wren-like? It makes me cheer for that little wren family.

Margaret also sent the oh-so-lovely mixed media wooden plaque in soothing blues, perfect for someone from the splashy bayou to send to someone in the balmy lowcountry! Its text reads, "Words are your paintbrush" with a little raised feature that says "DELIGHT." (I get to add it to my beautiful "Art by Margaret" poem swap collection!)

Many thanks to Margaret for these gifts, and for permission to share them this week.

[Aside: This week is also "Shark Week" on Discovery Channel.... Speaking of block print animal designs in my Etsy shop, I went a little crazy when the USPS issued some brand-new Forever shark stamps on Wednesday. I paired these with my shark note cards, made up a fun mini metal bookmark with vintage pewter shark tooth charm, and put it all together in a limited edition Shark Gift Pack. It has tooth. And charm.]

Whether your summer travels have you in the air or the water this week, please make your way on over to A Word Edgewise, where Linda - also gearing up for a new school year, I'm sure - has the Roundup and a nest-full of poetic inspiration today!

Poetry Friday - Mac & Cheese and Too Many Cooks...

July 13, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, Summer Poem Swap, ponderings, poetry, macaroni and cheese poem, found poetry, recipe

No worries - I didn't deface this particular book. Just wanted to show you the found poem with a little help from Photoshop!


Happy, Hot July!


While I typically prefer something cool this time of year, I do love me some hot and bubbly Mac and Cheese. Happy to join the ranks celebrating Macaroni and Cheese Day today! (Our Poetry Friday Rounder-Upper, Terrific Tabatha, ran with the idea, originally served up by Diane. See link at end of post.)


This week as I was pondered poetic options while in the grocery store, I noticed, to my amazement, an entire magazine devoted to Mac & Cheese! A special publication, it seems, getting a new issue for this summer because of past popularity.


I also noticed the vast array of pre-packaged macaroni and cheese dinners, taking up a good swath of aisle. Remember when it was just the little box of Kraft with the neon orange powder? (If you’re my age, I’ll bet you do.)


Macaroni and Cheese is just one of those comfort foods. My hubby loves to cook, and as kids have grown up and out, I am more likely to “fix” now and then than actually cook. But when a family in our church recently juggled some medical challenges, I offered to take over a little meal, and – you guessed it – I made some mac & cheese.

In the picture you’ll see the basic recipe I use, straight from our circa 1980s Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. . I’m not good at precisely following directions; the artist in me improvises all the time. I usually embellish with a few spices, cheddar cheese instead of American, and a healthy sprinkling of Parmesan all across the top.

I thought it would be fun to find a poem in the recipe, and most of the time I challenge myself to keep the words in the order they appear – pretty much making a black-out poem as it were, much like the one I recently sent to Joy for the Poem Swap. (I used a page from a wonderful old book she’d given me a while back. She shared it last week here. )

This week, I do not know WHAT got into me… the heat, maybe?

An innocent, familiar recipe took a surprisingly sinister turn…. Enjoy?! ;0)



Too Many Cooks: Lot’s Wife Misbehaves in the Kitchen


elbow
1 medium
cook.


all at once
till bubbly stir 1 to 2
more.


Turn into
salt.



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

Please join all the fun with Tabatha today at The Opposite of Indifference, where you’ll find more Mac & Cheesy poems and other poems for every taste. Eat up! (I’ll see you again week after next, as we’ll have our grown kids here for vacation starting today.)

Poetry Friday - Poem Swap Sparkles from Joy Acey (& ISSA book winner announced...)

June 29, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, Summer Poem Swap, ponderings, poetry, Joy Acey, Issa, haiku, fireflies, David G. Lanoue

Summer Greetings!

I hope you are enjoying some time by some body of water to enjoy poetry... or, for those of you Down Under or otherwise across the globe, some cozy reading time under a fuzzy blanket!

The Summer Poem Swap, lovingly coordinated by Tabatha , is ON. Funny, I was late getting my first poem out, and so was the person I was swapping with... Joy Acey. Ha! A perfect match.

Joy still beat me to the post office punch, however. I was delighted to open the above colorful painting with tiny letter blocks, which had traveled all the way from Hawaii. Here's the haiku:


just after the rains
over the long dewy grass
sparkling fireflies



©Joy Acey. Used with permission.

Doesn't that make you smile? (She even included instructions on how to use the shipping box as a frame!)

For me it evokes summer evenings in my Tennessee grandparents' back yard, which, back then, continued right through a fence into a hilly pasture. My brother and I would catch the blinking marvels in jars, and they seemed such a wonder.

Still do! We saw some last weekend at our little rental house in hilly Asheville while visiting Seth. Joy has some firefly-inspiring NC roots, too.

I recently shared with the HSA SE folks a firefly haiku by Issa, In David G. Lanoue's new WRITE LIKE ISSA:


the dog sparkling
with fireflies
sound asleep


Translated by David G. Lanoue.


Which brings me to.... (drumroll...) the winner of the WRITE LIKE ISSA book giveaway-- Big Congrats to Christie Wyman! (Christie, email me your real-world address, and I'll get your book on its way. Enjoy!)

Be sure to flicker on over to Random Noodling, where Diane is gathering up this week's Roundup. And for her purrrrfectly WONDERFUL feline HAIKU, scroll back through her recent posts!

Before you go, perhaps you'll leave a favorite firefly memory in the comments? :0)

(PS - I'll be traveling next week - a family member is having surgery - and might have to catch you again the week after. Wishing all a happy and safe Fourth!)

Poetry Friday - Happy Summer (Officially...) - Go See Heidi!

June 22, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday

Hello, Friends -

I'm afraid I need to pass on posting this week, but there are still a few days left (til next Wed.) to comment on last week's post for the giveaway of David G. Lanoue's new book, WRITE LIKE ISSA. I'll announce the winner next Friday.

Make sure to enjoy all the poetic offerings at My Juicy Little Universe, where the always-inspiring Heidi has the Roundup, and a sparkling poem her second graders wrote at the end of school.

Poetry Friday - Book Giveaway! WRITE LIKE ISSA by David G. Lanoue

June 15, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, haiku, poets, poetry, David G. Lanoue, Issa, teachers, students


Happy Summer-ing, Poetry Lovers (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway)!

Are you a haiku fan, or would you like to learn more about how to write – and/or teach – haiku? I have the PERFECT book, hot off the press and not even “formally” released yet, for you to tuck into your beach bag.

It’s Write Like Issa by one of my favorite champions of haiku, Dr. David G. Lanoue. (You’ve met David here before. Poet, author, and internationally recognized Issa scholar, he’s been the RosaMary Professor of English at Xavier University of Louisiana since 1981 and recently served three terms as president of the Haiku Society of America . Learn more about David at his rich website, haikuguy.com . For more about Issa, click here, and to search through an archive of more than 10,000 of Issa’s haiku translated by David, click here.)

Now for a little gushing about this new book. Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) is beloved around the world, partly because he’s, well, so much like us. Fellow haiku masters Bashō (1644-94) and Buson (1716-1784) have lifetimes of wisdom to teach, of course. But Issa, whose personal history included much hardship, loss, and tragedy, captivates us with his compassionate, down-to-earth poetry, which also still somehow conveys joy and humor.

In a little more than 100 pages, Write Like Issa offers the reader six lessons highlighting Issa’s approach to haiku, in easy-to-navigate chapters. Issa’s own poems serve as guides, but so do poems by contemporary poets – 57 of them – who have either participated in David’s “Write Like Issa” workshops in recent years, or whose writings exemplify an Issa-like sensibility.

Here are a couple of examples from Lesson 3 – “COMIC VISION. COSMIC JOKES”:


baby grass–
the stylish woman leaves
her butt print


Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

The author writes:

…the woman, we can imagine, is young, attractive, elaborately coiffed, and wrapped in a brightly patterned kimono of the latest style. The two images exude freshness and beauty, but surprisingly, when the pretty lady rises from where she has been sitting, she leaves an imprint of crushed grass. The “delicate” woman reveals herself to be, in fact, a gargantuan smasher of grass blades, viewed from the grass’s perspective….”

One of the contemporary poems offered to illustrate this approach is this one:

dinner time–
the old cat regains
his hearing


©Stanford M. Forrester. All rights reserved. Posted with permission.

David writes,

Poets who follow [Issa’s] lead find their own revelations of odd concatenations: a “deaf” cat that miraculously hears the call to dinner, [and other examples]… .

What’s a concatenation, you ask? I looked it up. “Concatonate,” which means “to link together in a series or chain,” was actually Merriam Webster’s “Word of the Day” on May 27. Here’s a short podcast explaining it.

(And if you can’t get enough cat haiku, check out our own Diane Mayr’s new series for summer launched last Friday.)

I’m honored to have a poem included in Write Like Issa, one of the most personal poems I’ve written. It appears at the end of Lesson 4 – “BOLD SUBJECTIVITY – THE ‘I’ HAS IT:

robin’s egg blue
how my father would have loved
my son


©Robyn Hood Black; originally published in Acorn 29 (Fall 2012).

If you’re serious about haiku, I heartily recommend reading as widely as you can in scholarly anthologies and books and journals to understand the history of English-language haiku and to inspire your own writing. BUT - whether or not that is your cup of tea, you can also start RIGHT HERE with this very accessible, hands-on, how-to volume full of insights and mentor poems to get you going.

If you’re a teacher, just a few enjoyable sittings will yield a greater understanding of haiku as you introduce it in the classroom, whether in an elementary school or a university. [Note – Some lessons explore Issa’s acceptance of all aspects of human and animal life – “potty humor” and lovemaking and flatulence not excepted! These discussions here, and in workshops I’ve taken with David, are actually helping me be a bit less uptight; in case you are on the somewhat reserved side like I am(?), I thought I’d pass along.]

By the way, have you had your Issa today? You can go to Yahoo.com (Groups) and subscribe to the DailyIssa Yahoo Group to have a randomly selected haiku, translated by David, appear in your inbox every day. (This is always the first email I open!) You can also follow @issa_haiku on Twitter .

In a note with one of this week’s poems, David writes:

Part of Issa's genius is his ability to imagine the perspective of fellow creatures.

In Write Like Issa, this idea comes to life in poem after poem, whether ‘fellow creatures’ are human or non-human. I dare you to reach the end of the book without trying out your own pen, writing like Issa to capture some honest moment experienced with sensitivity and compassion, or subtle humor, or delight.

Bu wait – there’s more! I love this book so much I bought an extra copy to give away in a random drawing. Just leave a comment below, and you’re entered! Make sure it’s connected to a valid email address (not published), so I can track you down for your real-world address.

[UPDATE: Just realized I never gave a "deadline" for adding a comment to enter the drawing. Let's say Wednesday, June 28, and I'll announce on Poetry Friday the 30th.]

Can’t wait? I understand. Order here at CreateSpace or here on Amazon, where an e-book is also available.

For more great poetry of all kinds today, pay a visit to the ever-curious Carol at Carol’s Corner for this week’s Roundup.

Poetry Friday - A Couple of Haiku and some Purring

June 8, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, seasons, fall, cats, animals, spiders


Greetings, Poetry Lovers - I've missed you!

The last couple-few weeks were a whirlwind of getting our recent college grad Seth home, re-tooled, and back out the door to a neighboring state for a year's internship with a lively broad-based urban ministry program. There's nothing quite like leaving your (grown-up) baby in the tough inner city. Folks there are amazing, and prayers for all of them and the folks they serve would be welcome.

This week I'll just share a couple of recently published haiku, and next week - Woo-hooo! - I'll offer a peek inside David G. Lanoue's hot-off-the-press newest book, Write Like Issa - A Haiku How-to. My contributor's copy just arrived in my mailbox and I can't wait to fully dive in.

For today, though here two other and unrelated poems - the first might remind us that as we approach the summer solstice, the wheel will turn toward fall again before we know it.


shorter days
the orb weaver gone
from her web



Modern Haiku, 48.1, Winter-Spring 2017


And the second features our above-pictured XL-sized kitty, sometimes slightly demon-possessed, 13 and still full of himself. "Lance" does love to join anyone doing yoga or meditation, though, so he has a sensitive side....


morning meditation
the cat in my lap
purrs in, purrs out



The Heron's Nest, Volume XIX, Number 2: June 2017

Poems ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Hope you are enjoying these long days if you're in the Northern Hemisphere, shorter ones if on the other side of the world.

Thanks to our wonderful Mary Lee for hosting the Roundup this week at A Year of Reading! Poetry in, poetry out...

Poetry Friday - Wee Bloggie Break

May 25, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday

Greetings, Poetry Friends!

Our usually quiet household is hopping this week, with recent college grad son getting ready to move next week, and out-for-summer-this-weekend teacher-daughter coming to visit. Next Friday I'll be on the road home from helping said college grad with the move. So I'll be back here with bells on in a couple of weeks!

Be sure to visit:

Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for this week's Roundup (May 26) and
Buffy at Buffy's Blog for next week's Roundup (June 2)

Deepest gratitude to our military families this Memorial Day weekend.

Wishing you perfect poems as we turn from May toward June - and Summer!

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