photo credit Jane Abrams
Hannah enjoying poetry workshop
(Scroll down this column for tags, archives and blogroll....)
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
Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller
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.
May 26, 2016
We live in a military town. In fact, when you drive into Beaufort and pass the Marine Corps Air Station on your left, you'll see a billboard which says, 'The "Noise" You Hear Is The Sound Of Freedom.'
I think of that phrase when I hear the familiar roar overhead, more roars than ever since The U.S. Marine Corps opened the doors of the first dedicated F-35B Pilot Training Center here a couple of years ago, training the next generation of pilots flying the F-35 Lightning II. I remember when we first moved here, we went downtown to help welcome those new military personnel, and as usual, there was music and and lots of giddy kids running around the Waterfront Park lawn and warm speeches by local dignitaries. And fireworks. This town loves fireworks. It was fun to see such support, from both sides of the political aisle I'm certain, coming together to honor our men and women in uniform and their young families.
I really have gotten used to the sound of jets darting across the sky, almost like they are resident birds! Loud birds.
We have neighbors who are pilots, male and female, and there is certainly something about putting faces with the sounds of those jets, and with stories on the news from across the world, that makes the dedication of our service personnel more real and personal to me. I wish them safety, pray for their safe returns from deployments, and appreciate that they put themselves in harm's way to serve our country. They are very fine folks who take their work seriously, and we miss them when they are away.
This weekend, of course, we honor those men and women who have given their very lives in such service. Words fail, but we hold their families in thoughts and prayers.
a flag flutters above
©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.
, Volume 36:1, Winter 2013
Many thanks to all who serve or have served, and to those who support them.
Please join the super-talented Julie Larios today for this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at The Drift Record.
May 19, 2016
That’s amphibian for, “So glad you’re here!”
I’m delighted to share one of Jone MacCulluch’s 2016 student “poem postcards” today. If you’re not familiar with Jone’s terrific project, each year during National Poetry Month (April), folks can email media specialist/poet/Cybills volunteer, and all-around wonderwoman Jone to receive an illustrated poem from one of the students at her Vancouver, Washington, elementary school. Last week, Jone posted about this projects ‘ripple effects’ here
Glad to share another ripple from an appreciative recipient!
Please celebrate with me Dakotah’s fine work, pictured above.
I am as slimy as a slug
Jumping gliding swimming are ways I move
I can live seven to nine years
SO much to love about this poem and illustration. First, don’t you love both the poetic imagery and the scientific information presented so seamlessly here? Dakotah’s attention to structure, her syllable count and line length, but not at the expense of the poem itself? And, how brilliant is it to use the Latin name for bullfrog as a lyrical last line?!
Then there’s the art. Take a look at the wonderful facial expression on our dear bullfrog, and the hat! I love that hat. The cattails are beautiful, and the composition of the whole picture works wonderfully, with strong lines leading our eyes into and out of the poem and around all the elements.
Congratulations to Dakotah on a terrific piece!
Here’s a link to some National Geographic info about the American bullfrog.
As I prepare this post, we’re in the midst of a yearly occurrence around these parts, especially with all the recent (& current) wet weather. We have a cute plague of baby toads hopping all over yards and sidewalks. Zillions of them it seems. (That’s one on my hand in the picture.) And crazy choruses from the swampy low areas to the tops of trees at various times of the day and evening. Is this a springtime event in your corner of the world?
Not sure if these wee ones were frogs or toads (I found opposing opinions online), I did what any Poetry Friday hanger-outer would do: I emailed our own Buffy Silverman
. Of COURSE she knew right away. In fact, she wrote a whole book on it
! (I should have figured.)
That cute little critter is a toadlet (American toad.) We have swarms of them too, but ours are still in the toadpole stage.
(HA! “toadpole”....) To be accurate, frogs and toads are really not distinct biological groups, more groupings that we use in common names.
(Hold on a sec. Let us pause, close our eyes, and delight in the word, “toadlet”.… Yep – it is
in the Oxford Dictionary.)
When Buffy hosted Poetry Friday last month, she included some great pictures and an original poem paying homage to her own resident noisy toads. Here’s the link
in case you missed it.
She also shared a couple of links for further hops into this field. This one from Animal Diversity Web
tells us more about the little fellow on my fingers in the picture. (Did you know an American toad can eat up to 1,000 insects in one day?!) And this link at Wonderopolis
explores the frog/toad question. Enjoy!
Then catch yourself a lily pad and glide on over to Margaret’s for this week’s Roundup at Reflections on the Teche
. Something tells me she knows a few things about frogs and toads over there in Louisiana.
Many thanks to Dakotah, Jone, and Buffy for contributing to this fun froggy (toady) post today!
May 12, 2016
A couple of weeks ago I was innocently checking items out of my local library (audiobooks for all my recent miles crisscrossing the state wedding planning for my daughter, including Neil Gaiman’s STARDUST - Raise your hand if you’d happily listen to Neil Gaiman read from the telephone directory in any language, or perhaps instructions about how to use a power saw…
But I digress.)
Anyway, though I headed for the exit, a magnetic pull somehow overtook me and I ended up in the little room devoted to sales of donated books. I love/hate when that happens. There is always good reading in there, and sometimes I stumble upon an antique volume that’s been stored for decades on a quiet shelf in somebody’s home.
A hefty leather-bound tome with gilded letters called my name. It was Thomas Percy’s RELIQUES OF ANCIENT ENGLISH POETRY.
Could you have resisted? Me neither. This particular book was an 1873 edition, though the work was first published in 1765 by Percy (1729-1811). One of my favorite classes in college was my medieval literature class with my favorite Furman English professor, William Rogers. Sigh. Of course this book went home with me – supporting my library, of course.
My “own” name greeted me as I flipped through, what with the frontispiece sporting an illustration of “The Grave of Robin Hood.” For fun, I found a ballad about the noble outlaw. Here are a few lines for your pleasure:
(from Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne)
Lythe and listen, gentylmen,
That be of free-bore blode:
I shall you tell of a good yeman,
His name was Robyn hode.
Robyn was a proude out-lawe,
whiles he walked on grounde;
So curteyse and outlawe as he was one,
Was never none yfounde. &c.
It’s reassuring to know the outlaw I’m named for was a courteous fellow.
Other fun book notes: The inscription reads, "Ida, from Mama - Xmas, 1874." I wonder who they were, where they lived? Also, tucked into pages I found some dried ferns and flowers in favorite spots. From what creek bank were these plucked as bookmarks, many years ago?
Whether your tastes run to the “ancient” or contemporary or all stops in between, please take your quivers on over to Violet Nesdoly Poems
, where our lovely host is rounding up this Friday the 13th.
May 5, 2016
Greetings! I'm on the road -- I KNOW... again!
;0) -- with wedding planning for our daughter and what-not, but if you've stumbled by, I wish you a Happy Mother's Day weekend, and comfort if it's not an easy weekend for you.
Sylvia has this week's round-up along Mother's Day lines, so please go grab some great poetry at Poetry for Children
I'll be back with bells on next week!
April 28, 2016
Greetings, Poetry Friday Tribe! It's our last Friday of National Poetry Month for this year. I don't know about you, but I have a lot of catching up to do this weekend on all the poetic wonderfulness around the Kidlitosphere. If you're in the same boat, have no fear - Jama's Roundup
of the month's activities will guide you and keep you clicking for days.
With a nod to Earth Day last week, I'd like to introduce a little book I've been meaning to highlight since it came out three years ago. It was the first rhyming children's book by award-winning author and my dear friend, Gail Langer Karwoski, and co-written by Marilyn E. Gootman. Thank You, Trees
, illustrated by the multiple-award-winning Kristen Balouch and published by Kar-Ben Publishing (a division of Lerner), is a lovely rhyming romp in celebration of something akin to a Jewish Arbor Day. (Click here
for the publisher's page about it and here
for Amazon .)
This board book invites the very youngest readers and listeners to appreciate the trees around them and to learn about Tu B'Shevat, a festival sometimes called the "New Year for Trees."
Here is the text on the opening spread:
On Tu B'Shevat
We plant a tree.
Baskets of fruit
For you and me.
Peach or plum,
Apple - yum!
©Gail Langer Karwoski and Marilyn E. Gootman
The colorful art is joyous, perfectly complementing the verse. The book garnered great reviews from The New York Times, Kirkus
, and Publisher's Weekly.
Be sure to check out Gail's website
for more info on this and her many wonderful, classroom-friendly books. Her work has deep roots and an expansive reach, providing lots of cover and adventure for young readers!
Our host for Poetry Friday is no stranger to the woods. In fact, be sure to read her Earth Day poem posted last week. Many thanks, Buffy
, for rounding us up today.
I'm off for a weekend in the mountains, where I plan to savor poetry AND appreciate the glory and goodness of trees. Wishing you the perfect shady spot to read in! Really... have you hugged a tree today? Have you?
April 21, 2016
Happy Poetry Friday. What Fun! The 2016 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem, brainchild of our ever-ambitious and generous Irene Latham
, parks right here today.
A couple of nights ago, my husband and I were strolling along the beautiful Waterfront Park here in Beaufort. Out in the river, coming into the harbor, was one of the Intracoastal Waterway cruise ships we see docked here a few times each month. Only this one wasn’t yet docked. It was gliding toward us under guidance from its unseen captain and crew.
The big boat slowly powered forward, then swung itself around in the opposite direction in a move that would make a falling cat proud. It gradually drifted sideways and backwards, parallel to the dock. When it got very close, crew members tossed out ropes to another shipmate who had hopped ashore.
It was quite the orchestrated event, and after its trip the big boat was settled for a few days. I was thinking how this communal poem is just a bit like that – a journey directed by different folks along the way, from Laura’s first line to the last one which Donna will provide. And lots of us in between, who don’t wan’t to toss out the ropes before the dock is in sight!
Many thanks to those who have penned lines up to this point, and the next several to come…
2016 Progressive Poem
A squall of hawk wings stirs the sky.
A hummingbird holds and then hies.
If I could fly, I’d choose to be
Sailing through a forest of poet-trees.
A cast of crabs engraves the sand
Delighting a child’s outstretched hand.
If I could breathe under the sea,
I’d dive, I’d dip, I’d dance with glee.
A clump of crocuses crave the sun.
Kites soar while joyful dogs run.
I sing to spring, to budding green,
to all of life – seen and unseen.
Wee whispers drift from cloud to ear
and finally reach one divining seer
who looks up from her perch and beams —
West Wind is dreaming May, it seems.
Golden wings open and gleam
as I greet the prancing team.
Gliding aside with lyrical speed,
I’d ride Pegasus to Ganymede.
To a pied pocket, the zephyr returns
blowing soft words the seer discerns
Now our poem travels to Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
And if you’ll make your way to Jama's Alphabet Soup
, our inspiring-as-always Jama has the Roundup this week. (Be sure to tell her thanks for rounding up all the great Kidlitosphere activities during National Poetry Month, too!)
April 14, 2016
We’re slap-in-the-middle of Poetry Month! Does it get much better? Well, it does if you get to hang out with one of my all-time favorite people and poets, April Halprin Wayland.
Welcome to Life on the Deckle Edge
, April, where I’m always running a wee bit ragged. Until I spend a few moments with something as wonderful as your just-launched More Than Enough - A Passover Story
(Dial Books for Young Readers), which invites us to slow down and savor and be grateful. Katie Kath’s exuberant illustrations brim with joy, depicting a loving family’s preparations for their special Passover meal.
Today, I appreciate your playing along for a few “Extra Credit” questions!
April’s Extra Credit Q & A
“We wander the market surrounded by colors – Dayenu.”
First, what is Dayenu? Second, where are your favorite places to wander?
Dayenu (pronounced die-AYE-new) is the title of a song we sing at Passover
. It's bright and bouncy and the chorus is a true earworm—it's simply the word Dayenu repeated over and over.
Dayenu means, "It would have been enough." So, for example, we say, if we had only been freed from slavery, that would have been enough—Dayenu! And, if the Red Sea had split and that was all, that would have been enough...etc.
Dayenu is a reminder to be aware of and grateful for the blessings in each moment.
Favorite places to wander? Meadows. And on verdant green hiking trails with my dog or my hiking buddies. Although I live within walking distance of the ocean in Southern California, rolling green hills are what light me up.
“We reach through the bars to lift one purring kitten.” Please, tell us about your pets!
Gladly, Robyn. I include an animal in all of my books.
• Eli is our licky, lanky dog (part Doberman, part German Shepherd, part knucklehead);
• Snot is our tiny tortoiseshell cat (she was the runt of the litter) with a squeaky kitten voice. (And don't blame me—my husband named her);
• Sheldon is our California desert tortoise. We had to get a permit from the state to adopt him because these tortoises are listed as a threatened species.
• We have about ten 10-cent gold fish in our pond (who have grown the size of submarines),
• and we have two red-eared slider turtles. We used to have four, named after the Beatles; we're not sure who survived, so their names could be any two of these: John, Paul, George or Ringo.
“We soak in blue bubbles and dress up for dinner.” What was your most recent dress-up occasion, or one on the horizon?
You can bet that I dressed up for the official More Than Enough
book launch at our wonderful local independent bookstore. It was so much fun! I wore a bright hearts-and-rainbow dress, read the book, taught the Dayenu song and played the fiddle as the audience joined in.
Then we passed out coloring pages and I talked to the grown-ups about the hilarious behind-the-scenes story of how this book was born. [This is a must-read, Folks – click here for a tale of flexibility & determination!]
We served my favorite Passover food, charoset. Charoset symbolizes mortar which Jewish slaves used between bricks to build edifices for the Pharaoh. It's made of chopped apples, walnuts, honey, cinnamon, dates and either wine or grape juice. Put it on matzoh and it's yummy-crunchy-sweet—divine!
“We search high and low for the lost afikomen.” Do you have a favorite “found object”?
Such an interesting question, Robyn. My father was a farmer and an artist—and an appreciator of all things great and small. He found a crooked old plumbing pipe about the size of a child's arm, bent at the elbow; he stuck flowers and a chicken hawk feather in it, and brought it home. So quirky-beautiful... and so my father. That's the first thing I thought of.
(Not gonna lie… that made me tear up a little!)
“She wraps us in blankets, then sings Eliyahu.” You’re no stranger to music. Do you sing to the radio or iTunes while stuck in LA traffic? What station? Are you a humble hummer or a belter-outer?
Actually, I usually listen to National Public Radio 24/7—news, not music. And audio books. In terms of music, I'm all about sitting-around-the-living-room playing acoustic instruments and singing folk music with friends. Songs written by songwriters like Tom Paxton and Stan Rogers, to name a few.
But lately when I'm driving listen to the songs from the musical, Hamilton
. Wow. I've never understood hip-hop before, I'd never taken the time to really listen to it. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the lyrics, the music, the book, and who stars in the musical knocks it out of the stadium. (I also listen to In the Heights
, which Miranda wrote and starred in, too).
When I'm in the car, I'm a belter-outer. Which are you, Robyn?
Ha! Well, I’m an NPR addict as well. But bring on a classic rock anthem, and I’m belting it out -- if it's just me in the car, anyway!
The children enjoy “… a Passover sleepover.” Best rest for you – rain on a tin roof? Ocean? Crickets? Birdsong and window blinds?
Rain on the roof. (The alarm on my cell is birdsong. It's an almost liquid way to transition from dreaming to real life.)
Thanks so much for joining us today, April. We could never get enough of YOU!
Thank you for having me, Robyn—I love your questions (and you!)
Readers, for some extra fun today, I’m happy to report I’m a guest over at Penny Klosterman’s terrific blog as part of her “A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt” series, where you’ll also get to meet my super-talented niece, Sara, and my delightful great nephew, Carter.
And for even more Poetry Month celebrating than you think you can stand, bop on by Today’s Little Ditty, where the magical Michelle has our Roundup this week.
[Note: I'm attending a history conference here in Beaufort today and will try to check in at the mid-day break. Go ahead and leave some love for April!]
April 6, 2016
Happy 2nd Poetry Friday of National Poetry Month!
I'm on the road but wanted to share a few lovely spring haiku by my friend, Terri L. French. Terri has been the fearless leader of our Southeast Region of the Haiku Society of America
for several years, bringing lots of lively opportunities to our part of the country. I'm taking the reins this year, but she and the organization's powers-that-be have kindly agreed to let me get past a very busy spring first, including planning daughter Morgan's out-of-town June wedding. (Thank you, Terri and HSA!)
Much appreciation to Terri for sharing these poems here this week. Enjoy!
oodles of daffodils--
the beauty of an empty vase
a succession of sneezes--
the chant of spring peepers
joins my zen
blowing on the child
blowing on the pinwheel
Poems ©Terri L. French. All rights reserved.
These last two poems are from Terri's collection, A Ladybug on My Words
, available from Amazon.
Terri was a guest on my blog three years ago during Poetry Month; click here
for a bit of her background and more of her haiku!
Speaking of haiku and Poetry Month, The Haiku Foundation will once again celebrate International Haiku Day with a global "rolling haiku" on April 17. Mark your calendar and click here
for more details!
If you're a fan of short poems, you've probably ventured over to Laura Purdie Salas's blog. She's our host today for the Roundup, so make like a ladybug and fly on over to visit Writing the World for Kids
March 30, 2016
Dear Poetry Friends,
Such a special treat today – No April Foolin’! If you’re a Poetry Friday regular, you know that our own Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is fluttering around with a beautiful brand-new book, EVERY DAY BIRDS
, published by Orchard/Scholastic. If you’re a PF newbie, Welcome!
I’m one of those lucky ducks who can call Amy friend, as well as poetic inspiration in human form. You can learn more about Amy and her work here
. And in case you haven’t heard… her debut poetry picture book, FOREST HAS A SONG
, illustrated by Robbin Gourley (Clarion) just won the inaugural SCBWI Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award!
EVERY DAY BIRDS
, her second picture book for young readers, offers a closer look at many common birds, brought to colorful life with papercut illustrations by Dylan Metrano. Kirkus
calls it “beginning birding at its best.” Here's a taste:
Hawk hunts every day for prey.
Cardinal flashes fire.
Woodpecker taps hollow trees.
Crow rests on a wire. …
Click around the Kidlitosphere and Poetry Friday blogs, and you’ll find lots of love for this book. Amy’s post celebrating its lift-off ihere
. I thought it wouldt be fun to ask Amy just a few “Extra Credit” questions inspired by EVERY DAY BIRDS
to give us a peek behind the scenes of her life poetic. Here we go!
Amy’s Extra Credit Q&A
Early bird or night owl?
I am a night owl who is trying to be an early bird!
Hummingbird drinks flower nectar. Coffee, tea, or something else for you?
Tea. I have a glass teapot, and my children and I enjoy trying all different kinds of tea, from flowery tea to fruity tea to herby tea. I like the varied colors of teas brewing, and holding a warm mug in my hands feels so cozy. This said, I am always happy to go out for coffee with a friend. And since I live in chilly Western New York, I am a fan of hot cocoa (lots of whipped cream) too.
Are you more chirpy bluebird or boisterous blue jay?
People often think of bluebirds as cheerful creatures, and I am a cheerful soul. To be truthful, though, I can also be bossy as a blue jay.
Chickadee wears a black cap. What’s your favorite hat?
My current favorite is a new crazy bird hat, a superb gift from Librarian Jim Worthington. I cannot stop laughing when I wear it because the birds’ wings flap on springs. Someone told me that she could not take me seriously in this hat, and I like this idea of not being taken too seriously.
In addition to being a poet, you’re a traveling speaker and teacher. How many times a year do you fly?
I try not to fly too frequently as I love being in my nest with my nest mates, but I do take three or four sky-trips each year.
Gull stares at the sea. What do you stare at when you are waiting for inspiration to strike?
Sometimes I stare out my window and sometimes into deep nothingness. Sometimes I stare at my empty paper and sometimes into my own head.
Thank you to my friend-with-the-beautiful-bird-name-Robyn for inviting me to your blog home today. I am a big fan of your work. xo, a.
Thank YOU, Dear Amy, for lighting on a branch over here this week to spread your sunshine!
For more great poetry sure to have you soaring, wing it on over to Amy’s home turf, The Poem Farm
, where she happens to be our gracious host ringing in National Poetry Month
today. Her blog is also celebrating its sixth anniversary this week. I’m sure there are still some cake crumbs around… (Which, by the way, Mr. Cornelius might find as he visits blogs for Jama’s roundup of National Poetry Month special events here
, including links the 2016 Kidlit Progressive Poem organized by Irene
March 24, 2016
A writer friend and I were talking this week about the importance of retreats and workshops. I’m grateful to have participated in both, and I have no plans to stop any time soon. Last September I basked in “Poetry by the Sea”
in Jupiter, Florida, with Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard.
This poetic dynamic duo is making plans for a second seaside gathering this fall, and they are also teaming up to lead workshop this September with the fantastic Highlights Foundation folks. [That one seems to be calling to me....]
As Serendipity would have it, yesterday I was waiting on my car in the shop and had taken my colorful art bag with some work and reading. In the pocket I found some index cards. They were comment cards from last fall’s retreat! We had each shared a poem written that weekend and everyone offered short, written responses just for the poet. It filled my heart to once again read the words of fellow participants, and I thought I might share that poem here today.
The Sea has hazel eyes.
She mirrors changing skies –
glint of green on sheen of blue
churning into grayish hue.
The Sea has hazel eyes –
capricious fall and rise.
Waves caress or overcome –
in pretty parts, a deadly sum.
©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.
Reading poetry sometimes makes surprising connections for the reader, and writing poetry does so for the writer, at least for me.
I had started out planning to simply record the changing colors of the sea. Then it hit me that exactly where I was on the beach in South Florida was only a few miles always from where a college classmate of ours had drowned just months before in a deadly rip tide, while vacationing. We had not kept in touch with his family (he’d married his college sweetheart as well), but he was a beloved husband, father, community volunteer, and respected attorney, very close to my best friend’s family. Such a shock. Such a loss. In a few days, it will be exactly a year since he died.
On the Christian calendar, these are holy days, but dark ones. As we make our way toward Sunday, to the joy that is Easter, I pray for those on the journey who need comfort and solace. And for those on any journey.
Please visit Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
for this week's Roundup. Thank you, Heidi.
Explore a poem or two or five....
Explore this genre of sparely crafted poetry which offers endless depth. Resources for students, teachers, and writers.
In schools or other settings, Robyn shares her passion for writing and encourages creativity. Presentations for all age groups.
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!
In addition to writing books, Robyn has sold her writing to major children's magazines.
bio, photos, interview links, etc.
(Click here to visit Robyn's art business)
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
National Council of Teachers of English
Click here for KidLitosphere's links to current poetry round-up