Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet





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Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
photo by Steve Kolich

Susan Rosson Spain, Robyn Hood Black, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Myra Meade at the Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Ga.
photo by Mel Hornsby

Southern Breeze Kudos Kites 09 - Donna, Robyn, Heather, Sarah, and Peggy

Robyn with Kathleen Duey, author extraordinaire http://www.kathleenduey.com

Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller http://www.debbiemilleralaska.com

photo by Robyn Hood Black
Paul B. Janeczko http://www.paulbjaneczko.com

Copyright 2005-2016 ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved. Please ask permission before using any text or images on this website, except for reproducible
"4 Kids 2 Do" and "Press Kit" pages.

Life on the Deckle Edge

Carrying Beauty with Laura Shovan

January 26, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, writing life

It's my honor to share today a poem from one of Poetry Friday's own - Laura Shovan, whose publishing credits and awards leave a long trail. Among other things, Laura has been an Artist-in-Education for the Maryland State Arts Council, leading poetry workshops for kids, since 2002. She's been active in the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation's Poetry Program as well.

I recently bought her collection, MOUNTAIN, LOG, SALT and STONE, and found myself nodding and pondering throughout. The book was published as the first winner of the Harris Poetry Prize, sponsored by CityLit Press. I love the peeks it offers into specific moments in our lives, especially as women - relationships with our grandmothers, our mothers, our children, our partners - as we grow from children to parents ourselves. In such short spaces she captures love and loss and also bits of the beauty and shock of the natural world.

2009 Contest Judge Michael Salcman puts it better than I: "Laura Shovan enlivens her quotidian subjects... with a shrewd and powerful use of metaphor, a critical strategy all too often neglected in contemporary work."

Let me share one of my favorites, the last in the chapbook, reproduced here with her permission - and then I'll share Laura's comments about how it came to be.

Because We Were Rushing to Catch the Bus


we did not notice the rain.
Too late for umbrellas,
we ran down the sidewalk,
wishing we'd taken the car.

Because we ran
under rain soaked trees,
the children's heads were damp
when I kissed them at the corner.

Because the children were gone,
I walked home alone.
Dishes in the sink
waiting.

Because of the dishes
I bent my head
before the kitchen window.
A petal fell from my hair -

a pink thumbprint against metal,
pink against the gray day,
pink against the absence of children.
It shook me awake.

Because we were rushing to catch the bus
I carried beauty, unknowing.


I was struck by the poem's comforting rhythm and seeming simplicity - and my "haiku sensibilities" immediately fell in love with that lone pink petal. Laura explains that it was written as a response to
William Stafford's "The Light by the Barn," which I trust it's all right to share here for purposes of discussion:

The Light by the Barn
by William Stafford

The light by the barn that shines all night
pales at dawn when a little breeze comes.

A little breeze comes breathing the fields
from their sleep and waking the slow windmill.

The slow windmill sings the long day
about anguish and loss to the chickens at work.

The little breeze follows the slow windmill
and the chickens at work till the sun goes down –

Then the light by the barn again.


Says Laura: I was trying to mirror both the tone and the form, which has a kind of “wrapped” effect. At the same time, my own poem deals with an important topic in my writing life – how paying attention, not getting “wrapped” up in the routine, can bring moments of awareness and beauty, moments of appreciation. That smoky smell of the children’s hair would probably be lost to me if I had not sat to write about the petal that morning.

Laura posted more about William Stafford, in honor of his birthday, in her blog post for last week's Poetry Friday over at Author Amok. That post, by the way, also featuers another great poem from MOUNTAIN, LOG, SALT, and STONE.

I love all the sparkly connections Poetry Friday can make!


Be sure to catch all the rest of the great poetry Jim as rounded up for Poetry Friday this week at Hey, Jim Hill!.

Conference Call...

January 19, 2012

Tags: SCBWI, Southern Breeze, editors, illustrators, conferences

Breaking News: Sandy Fry made us a great TRAILER on facebook, with yours truly narrating. Enjoy!

Just a shout-out on behalf of the SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle Conference, which I'm coordinating in Atlanta Feb. 24-26. Early-bird discount registration ends THIS Sat., Jan. 21 (Note: the online registration site will be down for a few hours tomorrow night).

We've got a GREAT weekend planned, with Newbery Honor winner Kirby Larson as our keynote and optional novel-writing intensive leader, editors Greg Ferguson (Egmont), Kristin Daly Rens (Balzer&Bray/Harpercollins), and agent Mary Kole (Andrea Brown Literary), plus a workshop from OWLY graphic novel series creator Andy Runton.

Click here and then click SPRINGMINGLE for conference info.

To Poetry Friday folks, I'm sure it will be a great day of poetry, rounded up by Elaine at Wild Rose Reader. I'll jump back in next week; I'm covered up in Springmingle planning today. Enjoy!

Happy New Haiku Year

January 12, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, authors, journals, speaking, writing life

I hope 2012 is off to a great start for you. I’m looking forward to a year of reading, writing, art and spending time with all kinds of readers, writers, and artists.

I’ll continue my haiku journey. What a thrill to learn my proposal for the 43rd Annual Children’s Literature Conference in Georgia this spring was accepted: a workshop titled, “Haiku How-to.” I look forward to sharing ways to explore haiku in the classroom with teachers, media specialists, and other lovers of children’s literature.

Also, I’m happy to celebrate some recent acceptances – my haiku will appear in the next issues of Modern Haiku, The Heron’s Nest, and A Hundred Gourds.

In the current (December) issue of Notes from the Gean, I have a lighthearted poem on p. 42:

autumn breeze
escorted to the mailbox
by an acorn


~ Notes from the Gean, December 2011

and then this one, on the same page:

same blue
as ten years ago
empty sky


~ Notes from the Gean, December 2011

I wrote that haiku on a cloudless early September day, when the depth of my sadness upon the tenth anniversary of 9/11 caught me off guard.

(Be sure to check out Diane Mayr’s wonderful haiga in this same issue on p. 47.)

Poet, friend, and Berry Blue Haiku editor Gisele LeBlanc (click here and here for recent posts featuring Gisele) has had haiku in several issues of Notes from the Gean, including these two:

in an urban sky
birds shift in unison-
drifting ice


~ Notes from the Gean, September 2010

Virgin Islands-
laughing gulls mingle
on the beach


~ Notes from the Gean, June 2011

Notes from the Gean features haiku, tanka, haiga, haibun, linked forms, and resources (interviews, essays, reviews). Published quarterly, it’s one of several great resources for enjoying and learning about haiku and related genres.

To enjoy more great poetry in a variety of forms, check out the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted today by Tara at A Teaching Life.

Smiles all around for the New Year

January 11, 2012

Tags: school visits, authors, illustrators, SCBWI, Highlights, writing life

Paula B. Puckett and her alpaca photo essay in the Feb. 2012 Highlights! (In our critique group, we celebrate publications with "the crown of success" - a pic with a tiara and cape, of course!)
This week has been one with lots of smiles in the writing realm.

On Monday, I presented writing workshops to three groups of fifth graders and one group of fourth graders at Dyer Elementary School in Dacula, Georgia. The kids were enthusiastic and creative. (So were the teachers! I love it when the teachers have fun with the writing activities, too.)

Special thanks to Media Specialist Paula Flageolle and also to Teresa Ellis for taking care of every possible detail. (Not just bottled water, folks, but little bite-sized donut holes – perfect to pop in your mouth between sessions!)

Last night, at a critique group meeting, we got to Snoopy-dance with my extra-special writing/art buddy and friend Paula B. Puckett. Her nonfiction feature, “Cutting Cowboy’s Hair” is smack-dab in the middle of the February issue of Highlights .

Way to go, Paula! She is not only the author of the piece, but she provided photo illustrations as well.

Cowboy, by the way, is one of Paula’s very own alpacas. He thinks he runs the farm. Click here for my post last spring about Paula and her 'pacas.

You know, Paula and I have traveled to so many SCBWI conferences together I figure we’ve shared more hotel rooms than my hubby and I have. It’s so great to also share successes with folks who have persisted a long time to make their dreams come true.

What an enriching way to start off a new year – celebrating creative endeavors from kids and adults alike. I love this job.

Poetry Friday - "The Words Under the Words" by Naomi Shihab Nye

January 6, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry

Happy 2012!

I've missed Poetry Friday these last couple of weeks - both Fridays found us on the road chalking up miles and memories with holiday travelling.

I'm looking forward to reading and writing lots of poetry this year. In March, I'll be presenting a workshop on haiku at the 43rd Annual Children's Literature Conference at the University of Georgia. In May, I'll head up to Boyds Mills to attend the "Poetry For All" Founders workshop.

So I'm starting the year off thinking about words, and acknowledging the need to slow down and ponder and appreciate. I came across this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, and I'm thinking the words and hands of a wise grandmother from a different culture can help light the way, not just for poetry but for peaceful living.

The Words Under the Words

by Naomi Shihab Nye

for Sitti Khadra, north of Jerusalem

My grandmother's hands recognize grapes,
the damp shine of a goat's new skin.
When I was sick they followed me,
I woke from the long fever to find them
covering my head like cool prayers.

My grandmother's days are made of bread,
a round pat-pat and the slow baking.
She waits by the oven watching a strange car
circle the streets. Maybe it holds her son,
lost to America. More often, tourists,
who kneel and weep at mysterious shrines.
She knows how often mail arrives,
how rarely there is a letter.
When one comes, she announces it, a miracle,
listening to it read again and again
in the dim evening light.

My grandmother's voice says nothing can surprise her.
Take her the shotgun wound and the crippled baby.
She knows the spaces we travel through,
the messages we cannot send—our voices are short
and would get lost on the journey. ...


Read the rest of this poem and its powerful ending here.

And for more great poetry to lead you on your way this new year, catch the Poetry Friday Roundup rounded up by JoAnn at Teaching Authors.

Quick Clicks

Media
bio, photos, interview links, etc.
Poems
Explore a poem or two or five....
Haiku
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.
Magazines
In addition to writing books, Robyn has sold her writing to major children's magazines.
Books
A rhyming tale of a young boy's knightly adventure with an imagined dragon.
Nonfiction, interactive book on wolves featuring giant pop-up and tons of info!
Portfolio
illustrations