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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

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Life on the Deckle Edge

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!

Poetry Friday - "May Night" by Sara Teasdale

May 18, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, seasons, May, Sara Teasdale, poets, poetry



Greetings, Springtime Poetry Lovers!

A simple post today, but I hope this poem makes you smile.

I've been away more than home the last couple of weeks, and on a trip to North Georgia dropped in a great used bookstore that's a favorite when in town. I came home with a couple of poetry treasures, including STARS TO-NIGHT - Verses New and Old For Boys and Girls by Sara Teasdale (New York - The MacMillan Company, 1946; 1930 original copyright; illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop).


May Night

The spring is fresh and fearless
            And every leaf is new,
The world is brimmed with moonlight,
            The lilac brimmed with dew.

Here in the moving shadows
            I catch my breath and sing -
My heart is fresh and fearless
            And overbrimmed with spring.



Click here for a brief bio of Sara Teasdale. (Sadly, her life was not as light and springy as this poem.)

Wishing you a fresh and fearless heart as you journey through poetry today with Kiesha, hosting our Roundup today at Whispers from the Ridge.

Poetry Friday - A Poem Postcard from Silver Star Elementary

May 11, 2017

Tags: </br>Poetry Friday, poetry, student work, Poetry Month, Jone Rush MacCulloch

Happy Poetry Friday!

Today's post is short, but big on color and creativity.

Many of you know that each year for National Poetry Month, our own tireless and terrific Jone Rush MacCulloch, a librarian in Washington State at Silver Star Elementary, puts together a Poem Postcard project. Students write and illustrate poems, which are sent out to lucky recipients (like me!) just for the asking in April.

I'm delighted to share the one I received this year, showcasing the talent of fourth grader L. G.:


                  Amazing American Eel
    I am as stealthy as a jar of cough syrup
                  sleek, slimy, and skinny,
                  I hope you're not hungry,
          because I am served as a delicacy
                  in some parts of the world.
                        Anguilla rostrata.


L. G.
Grade 4

Thanks for sharing, L. G.! ("Stealthy as a jar of cough syrup" - Ha!)
That eel would be safe in our house, since we're vegetarian. But maybe not safe from the big cat....

For more terrific student poetry from Silver Star, click here, and then scroll through April's posts.

For more delightful poetry of all kinds today, swim on over to A Teaching Life, where busy teacher Tara has the Roundup.

Poetry Friday - Taylor Mali's "Silver-Lined Heart" for my Graduating Son

May 3, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, poems, poets, graduation, ponderings, Taylor Mali


I'm discovering that when your youngest, your baby, graduates from college - it feels like a big deal!

We are celebrating Seth this weekend, our old-soul 22-year-old who will be taking his degree and his very broad worldview and compassionate heart to go spend a year living and working with homeless folks.

When he was in high school, one of our favorite people on the planet, history teacher Michael McCann, took him and a group of kids (as he has done countless times) to the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in New Jersey. Seth was especially taken with hearing Taylor Mali that year.

So, for this occasion, for Seth, for life in general and in these times, the following poem seems perfect. I'm only sharing the first two stanzas; the entire poem is here. (Note: Not appropriate for young students - Thanks!)


Silver-Lined Heart
by Taylor Mali


I’m for reckless abandon
and spontaneous celebrations of nothing at all,
like the twin flutes I kept in the trunk of my car
in a box labeled Emergency Champagne Glasses!

Raise an unexpected glass to long, cold winters
and sweet hot summers and the beautiful confusion of the times in between.
To the unexpected drenching rain that leaves you soaking
wet and smiling breathless; ...


Click here for the rest.

I'm for poetry, and for all freshly-minted graduates out there! Congratulations to you and your families.

For more poetry that leaves you "smiling breathless" today, please visit another of my all-time favorite people in the world, Jama, at Jama's Alphabet Soup for the Roundup.

Thanks for stopping by.

Poetry Friday - Our Earth Day Haiku Weekend Recap!

April 27, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Month, haiku, Epworth by the Sea, Earth Day, nature, David G. Lanoue, Tom Painting, Stanford M. Forrester, HSA, Haiku Society of America, HSA SE

“HONORING THE EARTH” – that was the theme of our Haiku Society of America Southeast Region’s meeting and workshop last weekend, over Earth Day. Eighteen of us from eight states gathered under the Spanish moss and ocean breezes at Epworth by the Sea, a Methodist conference center in St. Simons Island, Georgia. Epworth is home to natural beauty and a staff beyond compare.

Not sure how we managed it, but the weather was perfect. As regional coordinator and facilitator of this shind-dig, I was thrilled that even things out of my control went pretty smoothly, including travel Friday from New Orleans for speaker David G. Lanoue - poet, professor, Issa scholar, past president of the Haiku society of America, and author of several books You’ve met him here, when I recapped a terrific meeting put on by my predecessor, Terri L. French. Be sure to check out David’s multi-layered Haiku Guy website, where, like our lovely Linda Baie, you can learn how to sign up for Daily Issa poems!

Friday evening we got acquainted over dinner and later enjoyed readings by the “Coquina Circle,” a handful of haiku enthusiasts in the northern Florida/southern Georgia area. Paula Moore had a few poems by each member printed up on a gorgeous broadside and gave one to each attendee. (Thank you, Paula!)

I shared Robert Epstein’s new animal rights haiku books , and just before wrapping up, our other two speakers appeared at the door – Tom Painting and Stanford M. Forrester. Both are award-winning haiku poets; Tom and his students have been “regulars” here, and you might recall a brief blog wave to Stanford, a past president of the Haiku Society of America and founder and publisher of bottle rockets press.

The two travelers had driven from Atlanta, after Stanford’s flight from Connecticut was delayed. Stanford was not too weary to share his latest work – a wonderful, hand-printed, hand-bound mini chapbook titled “matcha.”

On Saturday, we added a commuting attendee to our ranks – our own Michelle Heidenrich Barnes! I loved having another Poetry Friday-er in the room. Tom led a workshop about bird haiku, and facilitated a writing exercise that was rich and inspiring. Then we grabbed binoculars and followed him outside. The birds were beginning to quiet down for the middle of the day, but we still encountered several, including an osprey and her chick on their nest at the top of a pole. Over the course of the weekend, expert Tom filled a list of 34 species; he said some more would no doubt come in the day after we left, because of an approaching front. (Of course, Tom was up and out at the crack of dawn each morning, and dusk, too.)

After lunch we had a business meeting, and then the aforementioned lovely and talented Terri L. French led us in a 10-minute standing yoga break outside on the grass. Perfect for loosening up muscles and brain cells. (Thank you, Terri!)

David led an afternoon workshop in an ongoing series he’s developed called “Write Like Issa.” Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), perhaps the most beloved of the haiku masters, expressed compassion for human and nonhuman animals through his poetry, and touches of humor, despite his personal history of loss and poverty. Children in Japan are well acquainted with his work. According to David, one trick to writing like Issa is to express emotion without using emotional words. (Perhaps not as easy as it first appears, eh?)

During an afternoon break, many of us took Tom up on his offer to lead another bird walk, and we were soon rewarded with observing some active blue-gray gnatcatchers flitting up in the trees, and a couple of gorgeous wood storks, striking in black and white, soaring overhead.

We also came upon a discovery that stopped us in our tracks. On the Epworth campus, in a peaceful setting looking across green space to the river, is a memorial plaque set along a walk in memory of Peggy Willis Lyles. Peggy was a very fine, highly regarded poet, and she had been active in a north Georgia haiku group among many other endeavors. I happened to get serious about haiku around the time she passed away. I remember feeling such a loss that I would never have the chance to meet her. A few folks last weekend had known Peggy, and it was a poignant moment to discover her and her work celebrated in such a way. The plaque is shown above; here are a few poems featured on it:


wind and rain
the hand I reach for
in the dark


I brush
my mother’s hair
the sparks


waves beat
against an ocean
full of stars


spring sunbeam
the baby’s toes
spread apart


dragonfly
the tai chi master
shifts his stance


into the afterlife red leaves



All poems by Peggy Willis Lyles, from a plaque in her memory at Epworth by the Sea, St. Simons Island, Georgia.


On Saturday evening we enjoyed some informal haiku sharing and folks finished up entries for a modified kukai (haiku contest). One of our attendees, Joette, is also a musician and played some beautiful Japanese songs for us. (Thank you, Joette!)

(A few of us might have gone out afterwards to a somewhat hidden local watering hole for more discussion and even some pool-playing....)

Sunday morning, Stanford presented a session on Santoka Taneda (1882-1940). Santoka’s life, like Issa’s, had been wrought with pain and heartache, and his haiku reflect Nature in a much harsher light than in Issa’s poetry. It was fascinating to look at this aspect of works from both men as we assembled on Earth Day decades, and centuries, later.

David led the last session, sharing from his new book, Issa and Being Human. Issa wrote about every class of people, David reminded us, with ability to see from each person’s perspective. (We could use some more of that these days.) Issa could see life from the perspective of even the “lowliest” animals, too.

Our last scheduled event before our farewell lunch was the announcement of the kukai winner. Dennis Holmes (a.k.a. Gobou) judged our contest – and took photographs all weekend. (Thank you, Dennis!) He didn’t know who penned each poem, but the winning haiku he chose was by one of my favorite haiku poets, and all-around great guy, Michael Henry Lee. (Congrats, Michael!!) He received a nice monetary prize donated by a generous member. I’m not including Michael’s poem here, in case he has designs on submitting it somewhere.

But I did ask Dennis for permission to share one of the haiku he posted with his photos. It’s the perfect way to end a post about a weekend which filled our minds and hearts with inspiration and camaraderie.

a tern
in the sunset...
Earth Day


©Dennis Holmes, aka, Gobou

(Thanks again, Dennis.) I’m deeply grateful to Tom, David, and Stanford for leading us, for all who helped behind the scenes, and to all who came - each talented, fun, kind person I’m honored to swim in the haiku soup with: Joette, Sandi, Terri, Raymond, Paula, Michael, Kent, Dennis, Shirley (from Oregon!), Robyn (like the way she spells her name...), Michelle - :0) - , David, Jane, Perry, and Toni (long-distance). Thanks as well to our current HSA president, Fay Aoyagi, who planned to attend but could not because of a family emergency. We missed you!

And now for this last Poetry Friday of National Poetry Day, enjoy all the great offerings rounded up by JoAnn today at Teaching Authors.

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