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
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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Groundhog Day and Ms. Betty

February 4, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poets, seasons, winter, spring, ponderings


Greetings, Poetry-Friday-ers! Ah, the weather. Last week I recounted being snowed in at my daughter’s the weekend before (always a big deal in the South), and now we've had a steady chilly rain here on the coast, followed by chilly temps. But Tuesday, Groundhog Day, was glorious.

I let our tiny dog out on the screened-in front porch and couldn’t resist a break for me, too. Ms. Betty was busy just up the street, and she inspired a poem.

Ms. Betty inspires admiration from a lot of folks. She’s always on the go defending green space or Little Free Libraries or helping with some church project. When I first moved here, she called from her walk with her dog – “Do you like potatoes? I just picked a basket. They’re on the steps. Go help yourself.”

Not one to turn down such kindness, or yummy red potatoes, I did go grab a few and scrawled a little thank you note to leave in their place. They were delicious, and I told her so later. I learned it was the first time she’d attempted a vegetable garden without her husband, who had passed away not long before I moved here.

Three mornings a week, Ms. Betty gets up at 5:30 to drive herself to go work out. Rain or shine, she makes sure Buddy, the rescue dog her daughter gave her after the loss of her husband, gets in all his walks.

She is always quick with a kind word, witty observation, or handwritten note.

Yep, I want to be just like Ms. Betty when I grow up.


Groundhog Day


You’d think it spring -
sunny and 74.

Ms. Betty
(88, give or take)
smartly dressed as always
ties her scruffy dog to a tree

wields a shovel in her
garden-gloved hands

stoops to adjust a root

straightens, then stomps
on the blade’s end
to scoop the earth.

Her white cat
serpentines
around leg, tree

plops herself on the grass
to roll and paw at the dog.

You’d think it spring.



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

No matter the weather, go stock up on lots of great poetry today with the ever-energetic Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Poetry Friday - Snow-Bound with Whittier... and Bunnies

January 28, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poets, seasons, winter


Confession: I was just looking online for a few fun, classic verses on snow to go with these silly pictures from last weekend, when I'd gotten snowed in in upstate South Carolina with my teacher-daughter Morgan (whose birthday happened to be last Saturday).

I ended up stumbling upon John Greenleaf Whittier's "Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl" (1866). If I ever read it in college, I forgot it. Is this one you remember?

Since I've been somewhat stuck in the mid-nineteenth century lately (hence my Industrial Revolution haiku and Bill Bryson book gift to Diane Mayr in the Winter Poem Swap a few weeks ago), I fell right into this long and layered Whittier poem.

Now, I was certainly rewarded with some wonderful snowy imagery just a few stanzas in:

...
Unwarmed by any sunset light
The gray day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
As zigzag, wavering to and fro,
Crossed and recrossed the wingëd snow:
And ere the early bedtime came
The white drift piled the window-frame,
And through the glass the clothes-line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts. ...



--but there is oh-so-much-more. The poem opens with a dedication:

"To the Memory of the Household It Describes
This Poem is Dedicated by the Author"


and excerpts from Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's Occult Philosophy, Book I and Emerson's poem, "The Snow Storm."

And then there are 700-plus lines of Whittier's observations, reminiscences, abolitionist philosophy, character sketches of family members and associations, plus musings on religion (Quaker and otherwise), time, death, and hope for reunion in the afterlife. We even see "witches making tea" whispered from an old rhyme (and many allusions I didn't fully get but fully recognized as allusions).

Sounds overwhelming, but I found myself floating through it, meeting these endearing earth-bound folks from Whittier's memory, alive in their quirks and capacities through his words - though he is now long gone, too.

No wonder the Poetry Foundation has this vast collection of subjects listed under the poem: Family & Ancestors, Religion, Living, Youth, Nature, Home Life, Winter, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Weather. Click here to read the poem in its entirety, and be prepared to fetch a second cup of coffee or tea in the process! But if there's snow on the ground outside, what better way to spend the day than in some cozy corner reading poetry?

When you do come up for air again, drift like snow over to Reading to the Core, where the lovely Catherine has the Roundup, and a perfect-for-winter interview with my amazing bud, Irene Latham. (And if you need a break from all this substantive fare, be sure to catch Michelle's roundup of "nothing" poems this month at Today's Little Ditty!)

Poetry Friday - A Thesaurus-y Celebration

January 14, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, book tracks


Got your party hats and blowers ready? Monday is the birthday of Peter Mark Roget. You know, the Thesaurus guy! (And much more, too.) He came to us via London on January 18, 1779.

Right after New Year’s – I’m not sure why – I gave MYSELF a gift. I finally purchased THE RIGHT WORD – ROGET AND HIS THESAURUS by the very gifted Jen Bryant and illustrated by the so-very-talented Melissa Sweet . Published in 2014 by Eerdmans, it won the Robert F. Sibert Medal and was named a Caldecott Honor Book in last year’s flurry of ALA awards.

I’ve so enjoyed savoring, pouring over, and relishing my own copy! Research doesn’t overwhelm the personal story in this inspiring, quirky biography, and the illustrations are clever and wondrous. [Those endpapers! Oh, my….]

Our own Keri shared a lovely post when this book came out over at Keri Recommends, with great links and such. I know there are many fans of THE RIGHT WORD among the Poetry Friday crowd.

I learned from the book’s timeline that it was nearly birthday time, hence this post. And hence my need to share our own Heidi Mordhorst’s ever-clever poem honoring this venerable volume which makes Roget’s name a familiar one two centuries later. Heidi’s poem is found in THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL (PFAMS) from Pomelo Books (2013).

If you haven’t yet read it, you’ll see why Sylvia and Janet couldn’t pass it up:


Meet The Saurus


I sound like a lizard, a dino or fossil;
Instead I’m a reference, a volume, a book.
If you need some help or require assistance,
check in for a peek, a perusal or look.

I’m small, undersized, miniscule or compact
but I’m powerful, potent, I’m mighty or strong.
Please trust in, rely on, depend on, believe me–
I won’t misinform or mislead, steer you wrong.

When you need to state or express or convey
a specific idea or notion or thought,
I can offer, propose, recommend or suggest
the word or expression that hits the right spot.

See me for that nuance, that hint or that shade
of meaning that captures what you want to say,
for I am The Saurus, Synonymous Rex,
King Onomasticon! Extinct? No way!



©Heidi Mordhorst. All rights reserved. Posted with very last-minute-permission, because that’s how I roll.


For a video of Heidi reading this poem herself, paddle on over to No Water River, where Renee included it in her PFAMS Poet Palooza. (Scroll down the post to find Heidi.)

You can enjoy another video created by Karey Pustejovsky on the PFAMS blog from April 2013.

Like Mr. Roget’s Thesaurus, I don’t think Heidi’s poem or THE RIGHT WORD will go out of style any time soon.

For more stylish words today, visit our Round-up host, - WAIT – look who it is! That delightful Keri, at Keri Recommends. (I really didn’t know until I just clicked to see!) She’s got some “big magic” over there.

[And a heads’ up for next week – I’ll be on the road as a visiting poet in a school next Friday – at Morgan’s school as a matter of fact! – and will be too involved with poem-loving kids to post. Hmmm… what’s a great word for, “can’t wait”?! See you at the end of the month!]

Poetry Friday: Of Mice and Chihuahuas - and Rebecca Kai Dotlich

January 7, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poets, authors, book tracks, animals, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Lee Bennett Hopkins


Just over three years ago, we rescued a three-pound Chihuahua. (Okay, I rescued a three-pound Chihuahua when something tiny ran in front of my car on a busy road. “You’re not even a real dog!” I said, dodging traffic.) Less than a year old, no tags or microchip, and though she’d been loved by somebody, we were unable to find an owner. So she joined the family, and son Seth named her Rita.

We’ve never been “tiny dog” people, but I have to say, this one steals everybody’s heart. More than one vet tech has marveled that she’s a nice Chihuahua.

She’s also entertaining. Her latest antics involve stalking mice below the house from the comfort of indoors. Our small coastal cottage was built on slanted ground with pillars in the back. Boards run from the ground to the bottom all around, but there is open space between them. You can open a gate and walk on dirt underneath the back part of the house. With insulation tucked beneath the floor, it’s evidently an inviting space for little critters to make themselves at home. (Hubby was down there this week, and one of said little critters dropped down as he was tacking up insulation – not sure which one was more surprised! At least it was small.)

From inside the house, Rita has set up a couple of monitoring stations. One is below the dining room hutch. She can fit inside the space between its carved legs. She’ll sniff and then sit on high alert, head cocked and ears up, for quite a while. Then she’ll run around to the rug in the kitchen and adopt the same stance. Wonder what she’s listening to? I’ll ask her, “Rita – where are your mice?”

All this puts me in a mind to share Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s beautiful poem, “Winter Home.” It’s from one of my favorite collections of all time, Sharing the Seasons (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010) by the incomparable Lee Bennett Hopkins . The rich illustrations by David Diaz are pure magic.

Enjoy!


Winter Home

by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

We build our beds
inside this barn,
with shreds of cloth,
old rags, twine. A room
where we can winter-dine
to chime of ice, by windows full
of snowflake art. With dreams of crumb,
cracker, tart, inside this old
wind-whistling place, this cold
and tiny mousekin space,
we cuddle to chase
the chill away,
imagining an April day.



©Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Used with permission.


Savor this poem – it’s one to read again; you’re sure to catch some new poetic treasure the second (or third!) time. So many luscious words/turns of phrase - do you have a favorite?

I wonder if these mice are distant cousins to the ones who usher us into and out of Jumping Off Library Shelves (Wordsong, September 2015)? :0)

RKD fans, take note: If you haven’t seen her oh-so-clever One Day, The End.: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Stories (Boyds Mills Press, October 2015) illustrated by Fred Koehler, you’re in for a treat. Keep your antennae out next month for another Boyds Mills title by Rebecca, The Knowing Book, illustrated by Matthew Cordell. I was lucky enough to have a sneak peek of this one, and it’s going to be on my gift-giving list for all kinds of occasions. (“This picture book encourages readers to make the most of their lives….” School Library Journal).

Thanks to Rebecca for sharing the perfect Winter poem today, and to all the wee critters that enrich our lives.

Keep celebrating a new year of poetry with our wonderful Tabatha, rounding up at The Opposite of Indifference today. Stay warm and cozy!

Poetry Friday - Happy New Year! Sharing Diane Mayr's Postcard...

January 1, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, haiku, haiga, poetry


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Just stepping in for a wave and a wish that you and yours are having a joyful start to 2016. Diane Mayr kindly said I could share her "Year of the Monkey" postcard she created and included with my Winter Poem Swap goodies. For more about the postcard project she's participating in, please go visit her blog!

Poetry Friday is ringing in the New Year with our fearless leader/PF host rounder-upper Mary Lee at A Year of Reading .

Here's to a CREATIVE 2016 all around.... Cheers!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

December 24, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, Christmas

Rita the Christmas Chihuahua looks ahead to a sparkling New Year...

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

For a few cups of kindness and delicious poetry, go see the beautiful and generous Irene at Live Your Poem. [I wrote that BEFORE I clicked over to see what she's been up to lately... See how the Universe works?]

Poetry Friday: Winter Poem Swap Treasures from Diane Mayr

December 17, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poets, poetry, poem swap, holidays, winter



Opening my Winter Poem Swap goodies from Diane Mayr was like having my own little sleigh of perfectly personalized poetic treasures. (Hearty thanks as always to Tabatha Yeatts for organizing the Swap!)

I was lucky enough to be Diane's Swap partner again. More lucky than she - all she's gotten from me this week is a groveling email or two about how I'm running late with hers... :0! (I have high hopes for getting her packet to the P.O. today.) She has responded with nothing but graciousness.

Here's what Diane sent:

A package tied up not with string, but taped with purrrfectly delightful cat tape - the kitty expressions have an edge, as Diane's own poetry sometimes does! Inside...

--a poem I'll post below. It''s presented on a photo collage in sepia with other subtle, aged-looking tones. No random photographs here - Diane researched Beaufort, SC (my new-ish hometown) and included wonderful pictures and images of ephemera from Beaufort's rich history! She even put in a photo of the The John Mark Verdier House (a Beaufort landmark since the 1790s), which she remembered is right next door to the building where I have my art studio. I look through my windows at the side of the Verdier house many times each day.

--A hot-off-the-press edition of NEST FEATHERS - a collection of haiku from the first 15 years of The Heron's Nest. I almost bought this for myself this fall, but restrained myself since we're on a "wedding budget" around here til June. But I REALLY wanted it. Jackpot!

--An intriguing postcard with an original poem paying tribute to the New Year. That's all I'm saying at the moment, because I want to share it for A New Year's post in a couple of weeks!

Here is Diane's wonderful poem from the historical montage she created.


HISTORY


WE CANNOT CHANGE HISTORY
WE MUST RESEARCH IT
REVIEW IT
REINTERPRET IT

WE MUST NOT FORGET HISTORY
WE MUST PRESERVE IT
RECREATE IT
TEACH IT

WE SHOULD NOT REPEAT HISTORY
WE MUST ACKNOWLEDGE IT
LEARN FROM IT
AND NEVER FORGET THE WHY OF IT


©Diane Mayr. All rights reserved.


I especially love that last line, don't you? Such a poignant poem for my neck of the woods. On the way to my studio, I pass both the "Secession House" (where the decision for South Carolina to secede from the Union was put into motion - now a private residence) and also the grave and historical marker of Robert Smalls - escaped slave, Civil War hero, and five-term United States Congressman.

Speaking of Diane the Amazing, guess who is rounding up Poetry Friday this week? Yep! Click on over to Random Noodling and enjoy all the offerings.

Poetry Friday - A Few Spring Haiku for December

December 10, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poets, seasons, spring, holidays



Hello, Poetry Lovers!

I hope you are not too crazed now that we're reaching mid-December.
Confession: I'm a little crazed.

I always know I'm too busy when I have to stop and think of the last time I jotted a haiku in my journal, or on a Post-it note, or even on a note in my phone. But, having lived through many December moons, I know things will settle down again, too.

And I look forward to the reasons things are hopping - kids coming home to visit, Christmas gatherings to attend or help host, sparkly decorations overtaking the living room, and greeting cards both to send and to savor.

In sharing a few haiku I've had published this fall, I see that there's a spring theme! For many of us across the country, it feels more like spring than winter. And for others of us (Linda B?!), winter has raged before the calendar gave it permission. Here are a few spoonfuls of spring for your December:



spring equinox
an egret one
with the marsh


The Heron's Nest XVII.3, Sept. 2015



spring light
jasmine’s heavy scent
from every fence




spring breeze
the sailboat
pixilated



A Hundred Gourds, Sept. 2015

poems ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

In other haiku news, I'm happy to report that after November elections of the Haiku Society of America, I'll be the new HSA Southeast Regional Coordinator. Woo-hoo! Look for fun programs to attend in my neck of the woods in the future. But not TOO soon - our amazing outgoing coordinator, Terri L. French, and outgoing president, David G. Lanoue, agreed to let me ease into the role as I'm a little swamped planning my daughter's wedding, among other things. I think I fully take the reins about five minutes after the reception's over in June.

Now, for poems perfect for any season, go catch the Poetry Friday party at A Teaching Life, where the all-around wonderful Tara is rounding up this week!

Poetry Friday: In Praise of Tinkering, and Science, and Such...

December 2, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Friday Anthologies, poetry, art, artsyletters, poets, ponderings




Greetings, Poetry Tribe!

I hope your December is off to a great start. I’m buzzing around trying to get my studio ready for an Open House tomorrow (Sat.) – it’s a big holiday weekend in our little town. Lately I’ve been spending lots of time in it – well, tinkering!

Isn’t “tinker” a great word? It has a playful, metallic sound. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Some of my best creations are the result of tinkering!

Here are a couple of examples of this kind of endeavor – the results of my prowling in vintage books and in my old metal cabinet drawers looking for odd bits of metal, old watch parts, vintage keys….

The first is a bit of text I've altered and an illustration both from HILL'S MANUAL - SOCIAL AND BUSINESS FORMS: GUIDE TO CORRECT WRITING, Nineteenth Edition (Chicago: Moses Warren & Co. Publishers, 1879), adorned with a vintage watch face and set in a vintage Italian metal frame, whose patina shows its age! (Oh - and I dangled a couple of very old black glass drops from either side.) The revealed text reads simply:

WRITE
                  very often.


And my Victorian obsession continues in the next mixed media collage, which features illustrations from the same volume, but a found poem/message from Constance Fenimore Woolson's "Miss Grief," featured in Lippincott's Magazine in May, 1880 and reprinted in STORIES BY AMERICAN AUTHORS, Volume 4 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1904). I had fun with this one; the "new" text reads:

the divine spark of genius
I felt as
a woman over fifty


(Can I get an "Amen"?!)
While I’ve been knee deep in artistic messes this week, I’ve also been enjoying the newest incarnation from Pomelo Books powerhouses Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong: a student-friendly “Remix” of poems from the Poetry Friday Anthology for Science. (I’m thrilled to have three poems in that collection.) It’s called The Poetry of Science: The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science for Kids.

Not only does it include the original 218 poems from the Teacher Edition, but there are 30 bonus poems tossed into the beaker! Pen and ink illustrations by Frank Ramspott and Bug Wang enliven the poetry-filled pages but don’t overwhelm the text. While this is the perfect complement to the Teacher Edition, this hearty paperback would also make a terrific gift on its own for any young science fans out there – Hint, hint, Santa!

It also got a “Hot Off the Press” write-up by the Children’s Book Council!

If you’re wondering how I’m going to connect my messing around in the studio and the new PFA for Science Remix for Kids, I give you this poem from it, by the amazing Janet Wong herself, which she kindly agreed to let me share:


Tinker Time

by Janet Wong

In Grandpa’s basement you can find
gears and wheels and wire and twine,

lots of nuts and bolts and hooks
and one whole shelf of build-it books.

If we need help during Tinker Time,
we go to the computer and look online.

What will we build when we’re all done?
We don’t know yet – that’s half the fun!


©Janet Wong. All rights reserved.


Don't you want to visit that basement and make something fun?

It just so happens our host for this Poetry Friday is a PFA for Science poet who has written poems, books, and a zillion great articles about science - Buffy Silverman. Enjoy exploring the Roundup, and tinkering, and whatever else this December finds you doing….

Poetry Friday - Victorian Found Poem/Writing Advice...

November 26, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, found poetry, art, artsyletters, ponderings, writing life


Greetings, Poetry Folks!

I hope you have had a wonderful holiday with people you love. The holidays can be tricky - virtual hugs if that wasn't the case for you this year. We have been counting our blessings visiting with family.

In fact, we're still visiting, so today I'm offering just a bit of fun from the studio. I've been drooling over HILL'S MANUAL - SOCIAL AND BUSINESS FORMS: GUIDE TO CORRECT WRITING (Chicago, Moses Warren & Co. Publishers, 1880), with all its Victorian flourish and advice for every communication situation, per Victorian standards. I'll be making lots of art from it I'm sure, and for starters I've made a small shadow box (6 inches by 6 inches) with a found poem for writers. (Above - Click here to view on Etsy.)

Here's the "revealed" text - more of an adage than a poem, perhaps, but I hope you enjoy!

Writing

writing
becomes the
familiar
teacher
that will entertain and
instruct while
faculties of mind are employed


Kind of a 19th-Century-inspired expression of our modern maxim encountered at writing conferences, on blogs, etc.: BIC ("Butt in Chair")! Though maybe after a big meal this week, we need to temper that discipline with an extra walk or two.

Enjoy, I hope, a long weekend! And FIND lots of great poetry to keep you company at Carol's Corner with our delightful Poetry Friday host.

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Explore this genre of sparely crafted poetry which offers endless depth. Resources for students, teachers, and writers.
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In schools or other settings, Robyn shares her passion for writing and encourages creativity. Presentations for all age groups.
Books
A rhyming tale of a young boy's knightly adventure with an imagined dragon.
Nonfiction, interactive book on wolves featuring giant pop-up and tons of info!
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In addition to writing books, Robyn has sold her writing to major children's magazines.
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