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: 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 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 .

Poetry Friday - Fan Girl-ing for Georgia Heard

September 24, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poets, teachers, writing life

Top: Morgan, Georgia Heard, and moi at the Upstate Schools Consortium Nonfiction Writing Workshop at Furman University.
Bottom: Just a few of my favorite Georgia Heard books. She has a brand new one out, too -
The Woman in This Poem.

I am one lucky dog.

Not only did I travel to Greenville, SC, to attend a bridal fair this week with Teacher-Daughter Morgan, but she was also signed up for a Thursday workshop at Furman University (alma mater of her, me, and my hubby) on nonfiction writing with - drumroll... - Georgia Heard.

When I found out about it, I emailed the amazing and generous Dr. Nelly Hecker, who is the head of Furman's Education Department. You see, many moons ago, I was in Dr. Hecker's children's lit class at Furman! She was always so encouraging about my writing. You know, if you've ever been fortunate enough to have a teacher or professor believe in you, how important that is! Anyway, soon I received a reply that she'd registered me for the seminar as a guest. :0) [By the way, this lovely lady has not aged at all in these intervening decades. Not a bit. I have.]

At the seminar, sponsored by the Upstate Schools Consortium, Morgan took pages of notes to use in her classroom. I took pages of notes to refer to as a writer and to enrich school visits. If you've had the pleasure of hearing Georgia speak at a meeting or conference, you know how terrific she is. She talked about poetry as an important element in nonfiction writing, and if you've read any of her books, you also know how she uses different genres with students to bring forth their very best writing. Her teachings encourage students of any age to think, AND to write from the heart.
{{-sigh-}} She nurtures and celebrates wonder.

Meeting Georgia was especially special for me because my first poems published in a children's anthology appeared in her collection of found poems, THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK (Roaring Brook, 2012). (Here's my blog post about it.) I've been in love with found poetry ever since.

Here is the first part of Georgia's poem, "Where Do I Find Poetry?" -

Where Do I Find Poetry?

I open my eyes and what do I see?
Poetry spinning all around me!

In small ants trailing over the ground,
bulldozing dry earth into cave and mound.

In a hundred grains of ocean sand,
that I cradle in the palm of my hand. ...

©Georgia Heard. All rights reserved.

For the rest, please click here for the Poetry page on Georgia's website, which includes lots of information and resources. The full poem appears in Climb Inside a Poem: Reading and Writing Poetry Across the Year by Georgia Heard and Lester Laminack (firsthand, An imprint of Heinemann, 2008).

Speaking of cradling ocean sand in the palm of one's hand, this weekend I'm on the road again, headed down the coast to South Florida, for a poetry retreat with... wait for it... Georgia Heard and Rebecca Kai Dotlich! I know, I can't believe it either. We will be meeting, writing, and enjoying inspiration for a few days by the sea. I've had the good fortune to workshop with Rebecca before (workshop is a verb, right?) and can't wait to see her again. We will all be in good hands with Rebecca and Georgia, I know.

If you're still even talking to me next week, I'll let you know how it was!

Speaking of Poetry Goddesses to Fan-Girl For, guess who is rounding up today? Poetry Goddesses Sylvia and Janet are hosting a Hispanic Heritage party over at Poetry for Children. Enjoy!

Poetry Friday - Go Visit Today's Little Ditty!

September 17, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday

Hellooo, Poetry Friday-ers! I am be-bopping in and out of town and skipping a real post this week; please hop on over to Today's Little Ditty, where the oh-so-talented and welcoming Michelle has the Roundup.

Thanks for coming by, and enjoy this week's poetry.

Poetry Friday: The Round Up is HERE! And Remembering...

September 10, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, student work, ponderings

Welcome, Poetry Lovers!

Thank you for finding your way here. I’m wrangling the Poetry Friday Roundup and look forward to your contributions. You early birds/night owls: go ahead and leave your links in the comments. Friday folks, drop by any time during the day with your links. I’ll settle in with a hearty supply of coffee Friday morning and round up throughout the day.

While we all look forward to the change of seasons, and many are settling in to the freshness of a new school year, today’s anniversary also stops us in our tracks. It’s hard to believe 14 years have passed since one of the defining events in our country’s history unfolded in slow horror. I know exactly where I was that day and what I was doing; I’ll bet you do, too. For those who lost loved ones in the tragedy of 9-11, I hope the pain has been tempered with the passage of time, and rest assured we will never forget.

The poem I share today comes from a young poet who must have been born after that tragic day. Yet she conveys its weight and significance. Many thanks to Catherine C. for sharing her writing and art:

            What Does 9/11 Know?

            It knows the taste of ash
          It knows the smell of smoke
        It knows the sound of screaming

        What does 9/11 know?
 It knows the sight of burning buildings
          It knows the pain of death

©Catherine C. All rights reserved. (Grade 5 last year; now in middle school.)

Catherine’s poem was part of Jone MacCulloch’s annual Poetry Month “Postcard Project” celebrating student work. If you haven’t been a lucky recipient, here’s how it works. Jone, media specialist at Silver Star Elementary School in Washington state, inspires students to create poems and art on postcards, and lucky folks like you and me can send her our address to have one mailed to us. A very special way to celebrate April.

She also posts postcard poems on her school library blog throughout the month. You’ll find many thoughtful “What Does […] Know?” poems among this year’s collection, including some more commemorating September 11th. Click here to scroll through the great student work from this past April.

How did this project come about?

“I love postcards. I love teaching poetry,” Jone explains. “So in 2008, I decided that this would be a great project for our school.

“We start writing poems in the library in about January or February. I usually teach a form such as a cinquain. I have done a modified Fibonacci in the past. I also use these poems for submission to the National Schools Project which publishes the Young American Poetry Digest .”

Where do the poetry topics come from?

“To me, poetry is a great way to synthesize learning, so I usually try to tie it to what they are studying in the classroom,” Jone says. “With the fifth graders, they get to elect a topic for research. I saw Michelle H. Barnes' post with Joyce Sidman's ‘Deeper Truth’ poem and thought that would be perfect for fifth grade this year.”

Perfect, indeed. Don’t you love how members of the Poetry Friday community inspire each other, and that often ends up blossoming in the minds and works of students?

You can learn more about Jone’s own writing here, including her book of haiku. Also, many of her poem-worthy, swoon-worthy photographs are posted here.

Thanks to everyone for joining in today. Bring on the poetry!

Here we go:

Hang onto your hat. And you pencil and your iPad - Buffy "The Thief" Silverman is guest posting at Michelle's Today's Little Ditty, continuing an earlier theme of stealing/borrowing from fabulous poems. (She offers examples from two of the best poets ever, and some of her own fine work.)

A warm Poetry Friday Welcome to newcomers cbhanek , a mother-daughter teacher-author duo. Today the blog features a beautiful 9-11 tribute and discussion of a special book celebrating babies born in this country on that day, as well as Emily D’s timeless “Hope is the thing with feathers.”

Diane delights us today with a grin-inducing illustrated poem from her Angel Sketchbook Project, “Saved by the Bowl,” at Random Noodling.

And at Diane’s Kurious Kitty, find a thought-provoking poem by Polish poet, Anna Swir, titled "Poetry Reading" from an anthology with an irresistible title.

Donna at Mainely Write has lots of goodness up today. First, she shares Margart Simon’s Summer Poem Swap poem, “Cynthia’s Garden,” and then links to two of her own poems on “Spark,” - one inspired by an image from fellow Spark-er Tish Carter and one which inspired an image from her.

Laura continues to open our eyes to the wider world at Author Amok, featuring first generation American Poet Leona Sevick and her poem "Lion brothers," a powerful look inside her mother’s life as an immigrant woman working in an American factory. (Timely in light of all the current international news.) She leaves us on a lighter note, though, chewing a little poetic cud.

Iphigene offers up a stunning original poem, "Fighting Dragons," and bold painting about depression – such an important subject we often shy away from. Visit Gathering Books for a powerful and beautiful personal post.

Lovely Linda at Teacher Dance shares remembrances we commemorate and personal ones too in an original poem, “Missing,” that says much in few words.

Make your mark in life with the ever-gracious Carol at Beyond Literacy Link, where you’ll find the celebration for International Dot Day (Sept. 15) already starting. Great ideas for teachers, and an original poem and images, too! And, pssst… circle back this weekend, when Carol will unveil her newest poetry gallery, “Summer Splashings.”

Catherine has rather brilliantly connected Keith Urban’s new hit, “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16" with George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From” – with terrific ideas of how this pairing will appeal to older students and spark their own poetic connections. Country music fan or not, click on over to Reading to the Core for the goods, and a video (worthy of a Jama Rattigan Eye Candy swoon, I might add)!

Speaking of country music, do you know Brad Paisley’s “Letter to Me?”, wherein he writes some advice to his 17-year-old self? I don’t know if the Teaching Authors know this song, but JoAnn, Esther and Carla have shared “Dear Younger Me” letters on the blog, and our good buddy April is chiming in with a few (very good!) “words to the wise” to new writers, a great original cartoon, and an original poem to her own teen self.

Kat is joining the poetry party from Down Under with some terrific news at Kats Whiskers. Let’s just say she was so busy engaging with young readers at a literary event that she was “late” to her OWN congratulatory party… (Congrats, Kat!)

Write much? Then you’ll relate to Mary Lee’s perfect imagery in “Parched,” a poem about a writerly dry spell, over at A Year of Reading. (Don’t worry – there’s a bit of hope at the end!)

Tabatha’s always bringing us treasures, and today she has a trove of gorgeous and poignant poems from Paul Hostovsky at The Opposite of Indifference. Can you pick a favorite?

With more helpful ways to commemorate September 11 in the classroom, Free Range Readers brings us a profound poem by young Mattie Stepanek written on 9-12 2001, as well as links to additional resources.

Oh, how I do love the cross-pollination of Poetry Friday. Margaret was inspired by a recent post on Tabatha’s blog to try something fun with her students, resulting in some rollicking pairings over at Reflections on the Teche: “You be the Pencil, I’ll be the Poem…”. Enjoy!

Amy’s back with her boots on at The Poem Farm, with a heartfelt poem called “I Love Them Both.” Poetry helps folks of all ages articulate family dynamics that might be hard to talk about.

Irene, curator of all-things-for-the-poetic-life, shares a bounty of inspirations today: her artist’s prayer after working through The Artist’s Way, a movie recommendation(sounds wonderful!) and two poems she reads for us on Soundcloud. Thanks, Friend!

At Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme , Matt shares an original poem/photograph combination. He didn’t write “Fata Cumulonimbus” specifically with 9-11 in mind, but it’s appropriate for the day.

If you’ve been following Penny’s “A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt” series, or if you haven’t, you’ll enjoy a gallery of amazing art by Landon (the great nephew) - a super-talented and poetry-inspiring fifth-grader. Keep up the awesome work, Landon!

Violet Nesdoly reminds us of the loveliness of September with a trip to a peaceful island in her “Savary Island in September.” She’s included a beautiful picture, but the words themselves will carry you away.

At Poetry for Children, Sylvia shares a special treat – Don Tate’s new book, Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, the first book he’s written as well as illustrated. As Syliva says, the book “celebrates literacy, poetry, and the human spirit.” She’s included slides of some of the stages of Don’s work for this book – don’t you love a peek into process? (I once met Don at a conference, and he’s just a super nice guy, too! Happy to see all these rave critical reviews.)

Little Willow shares Mary Oliver’s “If I Were” at bildungsroman. A welcome coutnerpoint about life’s exuberant moments in the midst of a sober anniversary.

Sheri’s in today connecting us to a review she wrote of of The Complete Poetry by Maya Angelou, and a backstory of her first encounters with the book when it came out in the spring -- and its possible adventures! Okay, you’ll just have to click over to see what I’m talking about.

At All about the Books with Janet Squires, Janet offers a brief review of Irene Latham’s Dear Wandering Wildebeest And Other Poems from the Water Hole, illustrated by Anna Wadham. One of our favorites!

Holly is after my own heart today with a poetic and pictorial look at New England’s Great Marsh – I wonder about the similarities and differences between the marsh there, and here in the Lowcountry? She’s penned a poem I’m jealous of, "Marsh Hair,"at Hatbooks.

{Wee break time. Other work calls. I'll be back in a little while to round up stragglers!}

Tricia at The Miss Rumphisu Effect offers a moving poem in light of this anniversary, “Sepember Twelfth, 2001” by the amazing X. J. Kennedy. Thanks also to Tricia for links to collections of/guides to poetry commemorating 9-11.

Jone is here with a few more thoughts on today's remembrance, plus she's added the other two 9-11 poem postcards from students last year to her post today at Check it Out. Many thanks again to Jone and her former students for helping us commemorate this day.

Katie of The Logonauts shines the light on Flutter and Hum – Animal Poems by Julie Paschkis , or Aleteo y Zumbido: Poemas de Animales , because this book is bilingual! (I am crazy about Julie’s work and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy, so I love this sneak peek.)

Ramona appropriately ends the day with Georgia Heard’s This Place I Know – Poems of Comfort, for the children and all those impacted by 9-11, at Pleasures From the Page. Thank you, Ramona.

Poetry Friday: A Poem to Wear, Perhaps?

September 3, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, art, haiku, artsyletters

Happy Labor Day Weekend, Poetry Lovers!

I'll be busy laboring today, with Beaufort's First Fridays After Five downtown tonight. I usually open my studio and serve a few goodies on First Fridays.

I've discovered a new little item to make in my studio (because, Lord knows, I need another project.) I've been trying to get some more haiku in there, as the few haiku cards I made when I opened sold out. (I know, I need to make some more!)

I wanted to try something with a short poem of mine published in Acorn back in 2012. While this haiku was originally written on a trip home to visit family in Florida, where I grew up, it's taken on new significance for me here in our still-somewhat-new digs in the South Carolina Lowcountry, where there is Spanish moss aplenty.

home again
twists and turns
of the live oak

©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

First I put the poem on an "Art Bites" 2-inch X 2-inch panel, attaching a little brass chain for hanging. (Third picture.) I plan on making more of these miniature art pieces.

Then I thought it would be fun to try a haiku poem to wear. I discovered metal bezel trays with glass cabochons sized to fit, perfect for pendants. Oh, dear - if you ever start making these, let me warn you, it's addictive. For the first one I wrote and illustrated the same poem, and then experimented my way through several steps with various glazes and drying times in-between to get the art and metal and glass to play nicely together. But the result was fun!

So, I went treasure hunting in some of my late 1800s books, and found some gorgeous illuminated initials, as well as a darling illustration of a house opening a story about Charlotte Brontë's home. Out came the knife, and into pendants they went.

Then I sojourned through one of my old typewriter manuals (this one about 100 years old) and discovered I could "find" words or phrases to highlight in the typing exercises, much like I would do when coaxing a found poem from an old text.

All these I need to make into necklaces, but you can see the finished pendants in the pictures. And you can see that I am out of control.

The last picture is a necklace I made from an illustration out of a German encyclopedia from 1887, the Meyers Konversations-Lexicon, Vol. 7 (G), Fourth Edition, Leipzig, Verlag des Bibliographischen Instituts. It's snipped from a geological illustration, so I added some vintage Czech agate beads from the 1920s, and a fetching brass key. Or key charm? Honestly, I don't know where this hearty little beauty came from, but it had the right patina and size.

Thanks for indulging my poetic and artistic meanderings. If you'd like a little more haiku with your morning coffee, I had a short guest post over at the Grog Blog on Monday.

And for more poetry of all kinds this week, please visit the ever lovely Linda at Teacher Dance.

See you back here next week, when I'll have the Roundup!

Poetry Friday: ONE SMALL CANDLE: Enlightening Haiku from Young Paideia Poets

August 25, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, student work

It's always a pleasure to share the work of young haiku poets from The Paideia School in Atlanta. You've grown to look forward to our Student Haiku Poet of the Month each school year, n'est-ce pas? Have no fear - we'll be doing that again this year!

This week, however, is a special treat, featuring work from some talented fifth-graders. They are in sixth grade now, but these poems were composed for a project this past spring.

Creative writing teacher Tom Painting teamed up with Kate Murray and her 5th grade chorus class at The Paideia School in Atlanta.

“The idea was to have students perform their haiku to music as part of the spring choral concert” he says. “The book, one small candle, features one haiku from each of the 40 students in the class."

Stanford M. Forrester (Sekiro), publisher of haiku, senryu and other small poems at bottle rockets press, designed the small book and published it under buddha baby press.

It features the lovely line art of Ajanta Ferrell on the cover.

The title comes from this entry by Audrey Felske:

one small candle
warms the room
cold shivers down my back

Here is a larger sampling of the many fine poems:

sunset glowing
cows in the field
chewing their cud

Sean Zheng

autumn afternoon
sun burning
the golden field

Duncan Kelly

wrapped in a blanket
by the candlelight

Morgan Cobb

autunm day
golden leaves fall
on the dirt road

Luna McCauley

leaves fall
I sweep them
from my shoulders

Reid Celestin

In addition to the poems above, the following four haiku received recognition in the United Nations International School Haiku Contest this year:

smell of pine
lingering in the air
faint whisper of the woods

Ajanta Farrell

winter’s night
an owl hoots
through the silence

Jesse Chang-Friedan

the flower
opening up
shared secrets

Emma Delman

winter’s end
ice on the river
gives way

Sean Zheng

All poems © their respective authors. Posted with permission.

Congratulations to each student poet, whether highlighted here today or not. Your haiku warms the room and helps light the darkness!

For poetry of all temperatures today, please visit the incredible Sylvia at Poetry for Children for this week’s Roundup. Sylvia has recently returned from South Africa, where she’s been sharing and receiving all kinds of poetic light.

Poetry Friday: PFAC and "Thrift Stories"

August 20, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Friday anthologies, poetry, ponderings

You celebrated on Monday, right? National Thrift Shop Day, August 17?

If you had your Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (PFAC) handy, compiled by the thrifty and wonderful Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, perhaps you turned to pages 224-5 and read my buddy April Halprin Wayland's delightful "Box for the Thrift Shop."

I'm happy to share that a poem of mine continues the Thrift Shop celebration over at this month, the site from Pomelo Books dedicated to this year-long poetic treasure chest. (Janet and Sylvia have included bonus "transmedia" poems on the website from a baker's dozen-or-so poets, designed to extend a particular holiday and offer a different perspective.)

      Thrift Stories

     Ding says the bell.
     We walk through the door
     to treasure hunt in our favorite store.
     Look! A toy I haven’t seen before.

     It isn’t new,
     but it’s new to me.
     Like this jacket, these books, this pitcher for tea.
     We want to find something; what will it be?

     Each of these things
     has a story to tell.
     Recycled, donated, cleaned up to sell –
     We’ll pick something special and love it as well!

     ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

You can find both April's poem and my poem here - just look for the cute bear! And check out the home page to begin a year of journeying through highlighted poems in the PFAC.

For a little background, several Poetry Friday folks shared some PFAC love when this latest anthology came out just in time for National Poetry Month in April. Janet and Sylvia were special guests on my blog, too: click here for the interview. A little teddy bear (Mr. Cornelius) tells me more PFAC celebrations have come to a blog near you - Jama's Alphabet Soup!

Now, even if you didn't actually throw a thrift store party this week, do their doors beckon you to enter? What is your favorite thrift shop find?

My latest favorite is the small pewter pitcher in the photo. I found it on a top shelf at a church thrift store here in Beaufort, during a treasure hunting afternoon with a dear friend, so the memory AND the little pitcher are things I now cherish. It's about 6 1/2 inches tall and has the loveliest soft patina. I wonder about its story.

It's my new favorite prop for my Etsy shop photos. Guess what it cost? One dollar. A dollar!

Many thanks to Catherine at Reading to the Core for rounding up lots of poetry for us this week - all priceless.

Poetry Friday - Back to School and Love in the Air...

August 13, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, ponderings, love

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

Many of you are just back in school - in classrooms and media centers - or getting ready to return to school, or sending kiddos off to school, or otherwise in the balance between summer and early fall - perhaps in your first year of retirement after years of teaching!

My daughter Morgan is hosting "Meet the Teacher" today for her second year wrangling third graders in upstate SC. AND (drumroll...) she's receiving her Masters in Education Saturday evening at Furman University. AND (fireworks, canons, bird murmurations...) she JUST GOT ENGAGED! It's been a busy week and a half. She and long-time honey Matt have their eyes and calendars set on a June wedding.

We were thrilled that Matt arranged to propose while we were all together last week, at the beach and bopping around Beaufort. I hid my camera in my purse and behind my back until he popped the question at the waterfront, then was so excited that I kept accidentally turning it off between snapping shots! But I still got a bunch of good pictures. Seth, who returns to the mountains next week for his junior year of college, took some great video. And Matt pulled off a surprise - hard to do with our aforementioned teacher-daughter, who is usually on top of everything.

In unrelated but coincidental news, Jeff was cleaning out some boxes and came across an old notebook from our early married days. I'd had the grand idea that we should start a collection of "Poems for Sundays," in which we'd each present the other with a poem or two each week. We seem to have kept up with that for, um, about three weeks.... But for some reason we still have that notebook from 1987.

We were hopeless romantics for sure. My first entry was Elizabeth Barrett Browning's famous love song from Sonnets of the Portugese:

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

And, to my surprise and delight I'd included this the next week:

old pond
a frog leaps in
water's sound


Confession: I have NO recollection of any familiarity with Basho those few decades ago! Where did I come across his most famous poem? What spoke to me then? The seeds of my love affair with haiku in recent years were planted long ago, it seems.

Another poem I included was Wordsworth's "Intimations" Ode, still one of my favorite poems ever, and one which I quoted in response to a question our pastor posed recently about what we believe, but that's another story.

Jeff included a poem he found in the front of Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine, author unknown. "Days when it all gets too busy/I drift away to the sea/or where sunshine filters through trees..." (anyone know this one?) and an excerpt from "These Things Are Ours" by Gwen Frostic - "The sun reflects upon the moon.../the moon upon my heart..." I looked her up online. Though she died in 2001, her block prints and words live on. I MUST go savor that website! On the "About Gwen" page, it reads:

Long before her death she wrote her epitaph:

"Here lies one doubly blessed.
She was happy and she knew it."

That's quite profound, if you think about it for a moment. And that's the kind of happiness I wish for Morgan and Matt, and for you!

For more great poetry to help you pivot toward new seasons of life, visit the incomparable Heidi - teacher, poet, and leader of the Mighty Minnows, at My Juicy Little Universe for our Poetry Friday Roundup.

The Slough of The R-Word...

July 22, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, ponderings, writing life, rejection

[We interrupt our currently scheduled July break to say that we don't seem to be able to stay away from Poetry Friday for that long. We are popping in with a wave before mid-August!]

Anyone who’s ever seriously burned to see their work published has dealt with it, the dreaded R-Word: rejection.

But with a quick lick of the wound and a swallow of pride – gulp –, rejection can be a very good teacher. This week I noticed an email from an editor of a haiku journal about my latest submission. Though my work had appeared in it several times, the last time I submitted, no poems were accepted, so I had a bit of trepidation. I elected to open it right there from my phone – the print would be smaller and less intimidating, right?

It was big enough:

“I'm afraid I didn't really feel anything in this batch up to your usual work. …”

Ouch. The editor did offer specific feedback about one poem, which was plagued with a “vague” reference.

I’ve been around the publishing block a few times, so at least I have a seasoned “thought” response that eventually catches up with the initial emotional response to an editorial “No.” [There’s no easy way to get this, by the way, except by actually living through a good bit of rejection along the journey.]

The mind tells the heart: “Um, it’s not personal so you’re going to have to get over yourself a little. Editors are busy folks. When they reply with specific feedback at all, it’s to be considered at the very least, and appreciated when you are ready.”

I’ve had a taste of the editorial side of the computer screen, too, as assistant editor of a children’s haiku publication a few years ago. It’s a humbling and rewarding job, and looks like I need to put that hat back on for my own work a bit more.

On the brighter side, there are three P words I’ve often used in author talks with students: practice, persistence and patience.

When I first discovered real haiku a few years ago, I was hooked and couldn’t get enough. I read book after book and subscribed to the top journals, and read online journals as well. After a year or so of reading and regular writing, I sent off what I thought were my best poems to a few of them. Nothing was accepted.

But there was encouraging feedback from a few editors, so I buckled down and spent a good hunk of the next year reading, reading, writing, and reading haiku. I submitted again. And in almost every batch, a poem or two was accepted. I rolled along with acceptances for the next year or so – my pen was golden! – until, alas, the R word reappeared.

For one journal, after a few publications, I had a whole year’s worth of rejections. Sigh. I took a breather from that one for a little while (with my move & injury thrown in last year for good measure). A few weeks ago, I closed my eyes and hit “send” on a fresh batch of haiku to that publication. To my delight, the editor sent back an acceptance.

I’m really not selling any morals or lessons here, just offering some company along the journey. If you’re edging toward the Publication World’s Slough of Despond, either back up and turn around, or lift that chin up and slog your way on through. You'll find you are not alone, and most of us have a good bit of mud on our shoes.

by John Bunyan (1628-1688)

Who would true Valour see
Let him come hither;
One here will Constant be,
Come Wind, come Weather.
There's no Discouragement,
Shall make him once Relent,
His first avow'd Intent,
To be a Pilgrim.

Who so beset him round,
With dismal Storys,
Do but themselves Confound;
His Strength the more is.
No Lyon can him fright,
He'l with a Gyant Fight,
But he will have a right,
To be a Pilgrim.

, nor foul Fiend,
Can daunt his Spirit:
He knows, he at the end,
Shall Life Inherit
Then Fancies fly away,
He'l fear not what men say,
He'l labour Night and Day,
To be a Pilgrim.

Journey forth to the lovely and talented Margaret’s Reflections on the Teche where you are sure to find poetic refreshment and rejuvenation for the quest.

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.