Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet

photo credit Jane Abrams

Hannah enjoying poetry workshop

(Scroll down this column for tags, archives and blogroll....)


Enjoy these Great
Children's Lit Blogs and Websites:

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

Copyright 2005-2014 ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved. Please ask permission before using any text or images on this website, except for reproducible
"4 Kids 2 Do" and "Press Kit" pages.

Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - 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!


becomes the
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.

Poetry Friday: Welcome to Paideia Teacher and Haiku Poet Becca McCauley

November 19, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poets, teachers, poetry, haiku

Greetings, Poetry Friday-ers! A special treat today. We often feature the fine work of young haiku poets at The Paideia School in Atlanta, Ga., under the guidance of Language Arts teacher and seasoned haiku poet Tom Painting. Today, we welcome one of Tom's colleagues, someone who has embraced haiku as something much more than "a nature poem written in 5-7-5."

That was initially the way Becca McCauley taught haiku, but when she learned there was more to it, she embraced the opportunity to learn and even to write some herself. In fact, Tom recently initiated a monthly haiku "contest" for Paideia students, staff and parents called HaiC (Haiku Challenge), and she has been recognized each of the first three months.

“One of the greatest challenges the haiku community faces is getting informed and inspiring educators on board,” Tom says. "Becca is an inspiration to her 5/6 graders. All 32 of her students write and enter the contest."

We asked Becca a few questions about her exploration of haiku, but first - let's enjoy a handful of her poems.

silent moon
the scarecrow’s shadow stretches
on a barren field

pulsing through
the warm, damp night
cicada symphony

tiny shadows
skitter across the lake
the moon's reflection shattered

pink flamingos
littering the lawn
my fiftieth

parking lot
under the full moon,
a newborn's head emerges

Poems©Becca McCauley. All rights reserved.

Now, a few questions for Becca....

How has your understanding of haiku changed over the last year or so?

[Tom] has definitely honed my understanding, especially the idea of it being conversational in tone, and the importance of including, rather than excluding articles, along with the emphasis on showing rather than telling.

What do you most enjoy about reading and or writing haiku?

I love playing with words, both meanings and sounds, and I just love words in general. I probably enjoy writing haiku more than reading it, but I love hearing the kids' haiku, and I really enjoy ones that surprise me. I am very impressed by some of their contributions.

How does writing haiku benefit your students?

Again, playing with words and vocabulary and sounds is just a great thing to do. It's creative, it's accessible, and it is not too intimidating. Experimenting with synonyms is also both fun and beneficial. We actually do not do all that much with the haiku -- I would like to carve out a bit more time here and there for them to share with each other. I love being able to see another side of a kid -- and the twists and turns of how they are thinking and feeling.

What is the biggest challenge to either you or your students in writing haiku?

Fitting in the time to talk about it -- we are doing so much already....

To sum up with one of our favorite questions for haiku poets: Why haiku?

I have really been enjoying working with haiku this year because life is incredibly busy and hectic. It is very relaxing to mull over words, and it can be done in the odd moments here and there. I have to do this series of stretches and back exercises every morning, and it can be tedious, though it is definitely essential. There is one stretch which does not involve counting or much mental focus, and I often find myself in those moments pondering the next haiku topic, searching for images in my mind that might inspire me, and starting to manipulate words and phrases that might fit together to bring the images to life. Haiku is short enough to capture in some of the small moments that I have available. Also, each word really matters, and I enjoy that idea greatly.

Becca also likens haiku to photography.

I love photography, and sometimes haiku fits it with those mental snapshots, even though they are still in slight motion because they are breathing.

This world is so fast paced, and I think it is really healthy for both me and the kids to have to slow down and and focus on a single moment.

I love to see the kids' humor when it comes out in their haiku as well as their poetic side. The twist, the "aha" moment, allows for that, another reason I enjoy the twist. I also love trying myself to figure out how to arrange the lines to best set up a scene to make an aha possible.

Many thanks to Tom and Becca for this inside peek into how a teacher has embraced haiku, for herself and for her lucky students!

For more inspiring poets and poems this week, be sure to check out the poetic cornucopia over at The Miss Rumphius Effect, where the ever-delightful Tricia has the Roundup.

Pssst.... PS - HUGE thanks to our amazing Jama for featuring me and everything you'd ever want to know about artsyletters Monday at Jama's Alphabet Soup Thanks to so many of you for stopping by!

Poetry Friday: Just Pointing to the Wild Side...

November 12, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday

Greetings! It's the time of year when my artsyletters studio sports piles of projects in progress (like that alliteration?) and I'm tempted to place want ads in the North Pole newspaper for extra elf hands. But, alas, there are only mine... and they're keeping busy.

I've got some PF posts in the works, but for this week I'll just point in the direction of Irene's 10th Blogiversary "Wild" Celebration, in which she hosted a roundup of wild poetry on Monday. In case you missed it, or didn't get around to all the posts, here's my contribution (or scroll below) and here's the link to all the links at Irene's.

For the big ol' Poetry Friday Roundup, crawl, hop, dart or fly on over to Wee Words for Wee Ones, where Bridget the Brave is making her PF Host debut! Have a wild weekend....

A Little Wild...

November 8, 2015

Tags: Wild Roundup, poetry, Irene Latham, ponderings, nature, animals

HAPPY TENTH BLOGIVERSARY to my dear friend and fellow poet, IRENE LATHAM! Couldn't resist the party at her place this week to honor this milestone - she's hosting a Wild Roundup (like the Poetry Friday Roundup) around the theme of her "One Little Word" for this year - wild!

I wrote an original poem with a nod to one of the most inspiring folks I know - thanks for all you generously share with the world, Irene. Here's to the next 10 years! XO

               A Little Wild

            You have a little wild in you.
            How do I know? I do too.

           When we stop to look around,
           hush ourselves to hear each sound….

           You have a little wild in you.

            Curl of leaf, expanse of sky –
            read each scent that shimmies by.

           You have a little wild in you.

            I do too.


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

Check out all the wild posts here at Irene's Roundup. Wishing everyone a wild and wonderful week....

Poetry Friday - Eletelephony and Poetry on the Road

November 5, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poets, speaking, students

Brrrrriiinggggg. Brrrrriiinggggg.

Hello? -- Oh! An elephant from my childhood is calling. Perhaps you knew him, too?

He's the hapless pachyderm who got all wrapped up in a phone call in Laura Elizabeth Richards's "Eletelephony." Raise your hand if you remember when telephones had actual cords....

This poetic companion is going to join me Saturday in Augusta, where I'll be doing a children's poetry presentation at the Georgia Literary Festival. (Fingers crossed - it's outside, and there's a 90 percent chance of rain!) I'm looking forward to driving over with my author buddy Kami Kinard and squeezing in a visit with an Augusta friend, too. We lived there for nine years while my hubby was in med school and residency; both our babies were born there.

I look forward to sharing lots of poetry with whoever shows up - especially some found poems from THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK (Georgia Heard, ed., Roaring Brook) and several from THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY series (Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, eds., Pomelo Books).

But back to "Eletelephony" - did you know that Laura Elizabeth Richards (1850-1943), in addition to writing 90 books (!) and many children's poems, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1917 for co-authoring a biography of her mother, Julia Ward Howe, writer of the words to The Battle Hymn of the Republic? Her father, Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, was an abolitionist and founded the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts School for the Blind. Laura E. Richards left a rich and varied body of literary works.

I didn't know any of that when, as a young child, I first read "Eletelephony." I just know that this poem tickled my fancy and helped open the door for a lifelong love of wordplay, as I'm sure it did for lots of folks throughout the decades. Enjoy!


by Laura Elizabeth Richards

Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant—
No! No! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone—
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.)
Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee—
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

For more fancy-tickling poetry today, please visit the lovely Katya at Write. Sketch. Repeat. for this week's Roundup. [And apologies for being a bit out of the loop lately; last week it was my privilege to share poetry and all kinds of writing with about 2,000 students in and around Cobb County as part of Cobb EMC's Literacy Week. I look forward to getting back home Saturday night and staying put for a while, at least until the holidays!]

Poetry Friday - Boo!

October 30, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, seasons, holidays, Halloween, poetry

Pumpkin carved by my hubby, Jeff...


I'm winding up a week of school visits just north of Atlanta - one of several authors here for "Literacy Week" sponsored by Cobb EMC and Gas South. By the end of Poetry Friday, we will have collectively spoken to 19,000 students!

So I'll offer up another classic this week, to celebrate Halloween. I know you've likely read it, but it's always worth reading, especially the delicious last line.

Theme in Yellow
by Carl Sandburg

I SPOT the hills
With yellow balls in autumn
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.

Please read the rest of this short poem here.

Happy Halloween!

What kind of poetry is in the truck-or-treat bag today? Hmmm... Better go Check It Out with Jone, our wonderful host this week!

Poetry Friday - "To Autumn" with Blake

October 22, 2015

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

We've been on the road a good bit this fall, lucky enough to catch the beginning of the color up in the Southern Appalachians this past weekend while traveling to see our kids.

In late September, before the record-breaking SC floods, we spent a delightful weekend near Charleston at The Inn at Middleton Place, adjacent to a historic plantation home site and the country's oldest landscaped gardens.

Fall is my favorite time of year (as I think it is among many Poetry Friday folks!). Raise your mug of coffee or cup of tea to "Autumn" with our dear Mr. Blake.

To Autumn

William Blake, 1757 - 1827

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou mayst rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

“The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.

“The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.”
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

I hope you are singing "the lusty song of fruits and flowers"!

I'm back on the road next week, with a week of school visits in north Georgia. Can't wait to share lots of poetry with lots and lots of students!

And see even more of those dazzling fall leaves....

For this week's poetic feast, please visit our very dazzling host Jama for the Roundup at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

Poetry Friday - Head on Over to Amy's Poem Farm!

October 15, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday

Mid-October Greetings!

I'm on the road again (Please hum along in your best Willie Nelson voice), so I'll just serve as a signpost today. I'm pointing to The Poem Farm, where Amy has the Roundup.
See? Right over there .... Go enjoy, and see you next week!

Poetry Friday: Poetry by the Sea Cont., with Moon Snail...

October 8, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, writing life, workshops, sea poetry

Greetings, Poetry Friday Peeps!

Last week you kindly indulged my sharing a wee bit about the Poetry by the Sea Retreat in Jupiter, Florida, led by the amazing duo of Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard. And thanks for the kind words about my snail poem.

I mentioned fellow attendee Mary Glover in the post -- an educator, yoga instructor, poet and artist from Phoenix. She generously shared the poem she wrote about that same kind of shell in the comments, but her poem and her thoughts deserve more light, so I asked her if we could share them this week. I’m glad she agreed!

After reading her insights and her lovely poem, you’ll want to meet her, too:

Like Robyn, I was also fortunate to have participated in Poetry by the Sea. It was truly a magical time, between the moon, the lovely ocean setting, and most importantly, the extraordinary circle of poets gathered.

Being from the desert, I spent all my spare moments wandering the beach, looking for shells and sending out prayers for our planet to be healed of all the plastic littering its oceans. I was fascinated by the moon snails I found, one of which I gave to Robyn. I love what she wrote about it and have been thinking about "the mathematics of home." There are so many layers of meaning in that line.

To complete the circle of this story, here is my poem:

Moon Snail

You are a spiral, soft eggshell
brown with a tint of rose.

Wave-dropped at my feet,
I hold you in my hand as
you teach me about life.

I think of my own, spinning
faster than I can believe
to its outer edges.

Until I found you, I thought
the spiral closed in, diminished.
I can see now it's quite the
opposite, that what's left
is the expansive part.

Widening into open space,
I notice near your final curve
a well-placed opening--
a portal, perhaps,
to somewhere else.

© Mary Kenner Glover, all rights reserved.

Many thanks to Mary for sharing her evocative work. For more of the same, and for pictures of her beautiful artwork, please visit her site, Life is a Practice.

For more inspiring poetry, please drift on over to Writing the World for Kids, where the always-awesome Laura has this week’s Roundup (and her own poem about a natural wonder).

Poetry Friday - Poetry by the - Ahhhh.... - Sea!

October 1, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, writing life, workshops, sea poetry

Happy Poetry Friday!

I'm freshly back from a sweet and salty word-filled adventure by the sea, in Jupiter, Florida, led by Poetic Forces of Nature Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard.

Yes, it was as amazing and wonderful as you're imagining. :0) For three glorious days we met, mingled, jingled (don't ask), waxed poetically, waned after fulsome readings and discussions, all to the yin and yang rhythm of ocean tides, and even under the Super Harvest Moon - gorgeous over the water - and its eclipse a couple of hours later into that intriguing Blood Moon.

How delightful to catch up with poet friends: leaders Rebecca and Georgia, and fellow attendees Stephanie (Fla.) and Dale (Ga.); and also to meet new poet friends Dorian and Jude (Fla.), and Mary, Karen, Pat, and Kitty - all from Arizona!

We wrote, read, shared and breathed poetry pretty much the whole time. Okay, maybe we ate some good food and drank a little wine, too. The last morning, I even got to share a whirlwind mini-introduction to haiku!

I found a kindred spirit in Mary Glover, an educator, yoga instructor and artist from Phoenix. (She makes rich and colorful collages, incorporating words and text.) She showed me a handful of shells she'd found, and a snail shell with a small hole in one side. Later, she presented me with its "cousin" she'd found on another beach walk - the very same kind of shell, with a little hole of its own.

Naturally, that became the subject of one of many poems I wrote during our time together.


for Mary

No bigger
        than my thumbprint -
this honey-dipped,
        putty-colored shell.

Snail long gone.
        Edge a little worn.

A perfect Fibonacci spiral -
        the mathematics of home.

A hole in one side
        hints of eclipse.
I see the emptiness inside.

Yet, this hole ushers in

©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

(Mary wrote a gorgeous poem about her shell, by the way.)

Perhaps you can tell mine is written by a relatively new empty-nester?

I might tinker with other poems from the weekend with an eye to submitting them for publication somewhere. But our few days, refreshingly, did not detour into conversations about business and publishing so much as they focused on craft - on carefully considering each word we or fellow poets set to paper.

I'm already looking forward to next year!

By the way, I left my home office for a few minutes while composing this post, and below is what May, my ancient office kitty, contributed in my absence. I'm not sure what it means, but maybe it was inspired by this week's moon (?), or the idea of mathematical sequences, or both. I thought you or your cats might also enjoy. It is unedited:


For poetry that makes a little more sense today, please go savor all the links rounded up by poet and teacher extraordinaire Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe .

Quick Clicks

Explore a poem or two or five....
Explore this genre of sparely crafted poetry which offers endless depth. Resources for students, teachers, and writers.
Author visits
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.