Hannah enjoying poetry workshop
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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
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 31, 2012
My daughter, Morgan, bungee jumps in Queenstown, New Zealand.
(That’s a Maori greeting from New Zealand). My daughter, Morgan, returned yesterday from a Furman University Education Dept. May-mester foreign study trip. On their last day, she was first in line to bungee jump from the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown (the world’s first commercial bungee jump!).
Watching the video, I was amazed at how she leapt without hesitation, and with grace to boot! You see, she had said she would do a Pocahontas swan dive, and she did.
And with her halfway through college, and my son Seth a rising high school senior, I can’t help thinking about leaps from nests. (Echoes of last week: my preoccupation with nests continues with wrens just outside the back door, and a new little peeping occupant – probably a robin – high up in a camellia.)
Morgan and I always loved the movie, “Fly Away Home” (1996),
about a 13-year-old girl sent to live with her sculptor father in Canada after the death of her mother. She ends up raising a motherless brood of Canada geese, and with her father’s knowledge of Ultralight planes, they lead the young geese on their first migration south, ensuring their survival. Inspired by a true story, there’s plenty of drama (and doses of humor) in this tale of growing up and of tricky family relationships. The movie also features one of my favorite songs of all time, “10,000 Miles," by the incredible Mary Chapin Carpenter
. (If you haven’t heard it, grab a hanky and treat yourself
. ("Fare thee well... ."
Thanks for indulging me in an original, personal poem this week.
When I was little,
my grandparents gave me
a Pocahontas doll.
I loved her red dress,
her smooth coffee skin,
her jet black hair.
I didn’t know I’d grow up
to have a real little girl
obsessed with Pocahontas , the Disney version.
In a flash she was a big girl, teasing her beloved AP History teacher:
Can’t we watch the movie in class?
I didn’t know this girl
would be so thirsty for the rush of air
that one day she’d leap
(held only by a cable)
40 meters down
from a bridge 10,000 miles away
in a perfect
Someday, I know,
she’ll leap from this nest.
I’ll dry my eyes,
smooth my feathers,
and sing to the wild, swirling world:
See that one there? Soaring with those iridescent wings?
©Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved
Thank you for visiting! Flap on over to Carol’s Corner
for today’s Poetry Friday Roundup.
May 25, 2012
Is this a great picture or what? At the Poetry for All
Highlights Founders workshop last week, I shared my cabin with some special guests. Well, the inside top of the porch of my cabin. A pair of robins dutifully flew in and out and in and out to tend their nest.
The photo was taken by fellow workshop attendee Cory Corrado, a lovely and talented poet and amazing nature photographer who hails from Quebec, Canada. She spent a little time patiently waiting – okay, a long time patiently waiting – balancing herself standing on a deck chair holding out for just the right shots when the birds wouldn't fly away. See how her patience paid off?
Cory’s book of photos and poetry, “Pho-etry,” called Nature Inspires
, was featured earlier this year on Poetry for All co-leader David L. Harrison’s blog (click here
for the link.) You can also get a virtual look at Cory’s stunning work in the book by clicking here
Well, I’ve been thinking about those robins. And I’m enjoying all the varied birdlife outside my own doors this spring. (Oh – and Susan Taylor Brown’s amazing bird photos on her Poppiness
website! – Have you seen those or followed her bird stories there or on Facebook?)
Back to robins. Here’s a fun poem for today from The Golden Book of Poetry
(1947) as shared on The Poetry Foundation website.
We have a secret, just we three,
The robin, and I, and the sweet cherry-tree;
The bird told the tree, and the tree told me,
And nobody knows it but just us three.
But of course the robin knows it best,
Because she built the--I shan't tell the rest;
And laid the four little--something in it--
I'm afraid I shall tell it every minute.
But if the tree and the robin don't peep,
I'll try my best the secret to keep;
Though I know when the little birds fly about
Then the whole secret will be out.
Now wing your way over to TeacherDance
for more great poetry, where Lovely Linda has today’s Roundup.
May 18, 2012
Top: Eileen Spinelli, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Rebecca Davis, Melanie Hall, David L. Harrisonmiddle: cabin, and having fun with Rebecca S.,Rebecca K. D., Bill, and Jacqueline (and Cindi taking pix)with Marjorie Maddox; Joy Acey and Davidbottom: happily in the middle of a Spinelli Sandwich
What a week! I was blessed and thrilled to spend the last several days in Pennsylvania up at beautiful Boyds Mills with a few fellow Poetry Friday folks (Heidi! Joy! Liz! Julie!), and some wonderful new friends, and our fearless leaders of the Highlights Founders
"Poetry for All" workshop: Rebecca Kai Dotlich
, David L. Harrison
, and Eileen Spinelli
, along with special guests editor Rebecca Davis
, illustrator Melanie Hall
, and poet Marjorie Maddox
We had serious literary discussions and explorations of craft, and some rather silly times, too, and of course amazing food from gourmet chef Marcia and her wonderful staff. And wine every afternoon!
Relishing the natural beauty up there, I managed to get in a couple of walks, though we had lots of rain. I even had a family of robins nesting up in the corner of my cabin's porch.
It was wonderful dropping in on the Highlights
and Boyds Mills folks Wednesday (Hi, Joëlle! Hi, Larry!), and on the way back from that trip to Honesdale, the driver of my car, Pam, slowed down for a bear crossing the road! A beautiful, agile young creature which bounded off into the woods.
For a taste of the amazing wit, wisdom, and experience shared with us, I'll offer just one quote (from my notes) from each of our speakers:
David: "I had 67 rejections for writing stories for kids. Friends
magazine bought the 68th...."
Rebecca: "Brainstorm - noodle and doodle in sketchbooks. Visualize details."
Eileen: "The deeper we go into our hearts, the richer our lives become."
Melanie: "We have to try to pull something new out of ourselves. That's the task for the creative person."
Rebecca Davis: "I love it when a poetry collection can be greater than the sum of its parts."
Marjorie: "As poets, we're witnesses of the world."
(We also had a special treat of a dinner visit and a few comments from Boyds Mills Press Executive Editor Liz Van Doren!)
If you've been to a Highlights workshop, you know why several of our 21 attendees had been before. If you've never been, try to get to one someday - your Muse will thank you!
Speaking of inspiration, I was saddened to learn, when I got home late Thursday night and reconnected a little with the world, that Jean Craighead George had passed away on Tuesday (just one week after we lost Maurice Sendak). I'd like to close today's post with the last few lines of her picture book, THE WOLVES ARE BACK (illustrated by Wendell Minor
; Dutton, 2008). This is a picture book rather than poetry, but the words are lovely and rich.
The grasses grew tall; the riverbank stopped eroding. Willow and aspen trees flourished. Beavers built ponds. Birds sang. Flowers bloomed.
The wilderness is in balance again.
The wolves are back.
Thank you, Jean Craighead George.
(For more, see the author's website
, The New York Times
, and Publisher's Weekly
, inlcluding a tribute from
And thanks to everyone for making the poetry workshop a resounding success. For more great poetry and for thoughts about living in the moment, stop in to see Katya at Write. Sketch. Repeat.
for today's Roundup.
May 11, 2012
Book Spine Poems (See end of post for text)
For Mother’s Day, I’m getting on a plane early Sunday morning and leaving my family. Mind you, I love my family! – but the oldest child is in New Zealand for foreign study, and the youngest, and of course my hubby, are used to my conference habit.
I’ll be heading up to rural Pennsylvania for my third Highlights Founders workshop
. (The first was a Poetry workshop in 2009 with Rebecca Kai Dotlich
and special guests Susan Pearson
and Alice Schertle
. The second was an Advanced Illustrators workshop
last fall with a stellar cast of leaders, and we got to break in Kent Brown Jr.’s new “barn” – an amazing space for creative exploration.) If you ever get a chance to attend one of these, get thee hence! Why?
1.) TIME to nurture your craft
2.) Amazing faculty who are seasoned at helping folks nurture their craft
3.) Networking with wonderful like-minded creative folk who speak your language
4.) Gourmet food – I’m not kidding; with a real chef and talented staff– and complete pampering and thoughtful attention from the Highlights Founders family
5.) Gorgeous natural surroundings and a trail or two (Last time I was there, I had ongoing conversations with Eric Rohman and Candace Fleming about fox and coyote scat. Really.)
6.) The cutest little cabins in the world – perfect for creative reflection at the end of a busy day
7.) Lots more!
Sort of related, I’ve just finished the first half of Art and Fear – Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING
(1993) by David Bayles and Ted Orland. This book has been on my “list” forever, and a friend recently gave me a copy. I’m treasuring it as much as reading it. It’s having the same effect on me that If You Want to Write
by Brenda Ueland had, years ago when my husband gave that to me. Both books are written with deep understanding of the creative psyche, and such plain language, and common-sense encouragement just to create what is yours to create.
Workshops like those at Highlights help you focus on just that. From p. 36 of Art and Fear
: “The lessons you are meant to learn are in your work. To see them, you need only look at the work clearly – without judgment, without need or fear, without wishes or hopes. Without emotional expectations. Ask you work what it needs, not what you need.”
The authors are not suggesting that writers and artists aren’t inspired by other works of art or that they shouldn’t read/view them. Or that creative people don’t need mentors. But I think they are suggesting that one’s work only grows with time actually spent considering it, and developing it. Again, the kind of time and attention one cultivates in a working retreat.
Next week’s workshop will be led by this wonderful line-up: Rebecca
again, and David L. Harrison
, and Eileen Spinelli
So for today’s poem, I’ve conjured up some book spine poems
made from some of Rebecca's, David's, and Eileen's books on my shelves. Enjoy!
Here’s the text of the “poems” from the picture above (punctuation added with poetic license…):
in the spin of things -
where I live
A family like yours -
Do you have a cat?
Do you have a dog?
Somebody catch my homework!
Wild Country -
Sophie's masterpiece: a spider's tale -
the purchase of small secrets.
When I return home, after spending a few days with these amazing poets (our three fearless leaders AND attendees), I know I’ll be inspired.
For a virtual poetic retreat today, head over to Live Your Poem...
, where the beautiful Irene Latham has the Poetry Friday Roundup.
May 4, 2012
Can it be that our wonderful, whirlwind Poetry Month unfurled itself right into May? I still have some catching up to do with all of the inspiring April posts in Kidlitosphere!
Today at our school (the pre-K-12 school which has helped raise both of my children – Morgan, now an elementary education major halfway through college, and Seth, a rising high school senior), a long tradition will be played out again. Fifth graders will wrap two colorful Maypoles in a lovely coordinated dance, and I imagine their parents will be snapping pictures galore. It’s part of a big May Day celebration, but for these fifth graders, it’s a rite of passage from elementary school to middle school. Seems like I just watched both of mine participate, and now they’re pretty much grown!
I thought we’d celebrate this (pagan!) tradition here, too – a tradition which drove the poor Puritan clergy, and others before them, crazy.
From the The Shepheardes Calender - Maye
by Edmund Spenser (published in 1579)
Yougthes folke now flocken in everywhere,
To gather may buskets and smelling brere:
And home they hasten the postes to dight
And all the Kirke pillours eare day light,
With hawthorn buds and swete eglantine,
And girlonds of roses, and sopps in wine.
[OK, 'far as I can tell: “brere” means briar; “dight” means adorn/dress; “sopps in wine” refers to the an old name for “clove pink,” or, carnation!]
If you’re up for struggling through the language for the whole month, which is an argument between “the persons of two shepheards Piers & Palinodie, be represented two formes of pastoures or Ministers, or the protestant and the Catholique…” here’s
For more great poetry, and more accessible I’m sure, please go gather ye some rosebuds for your garland at Wild Rose Reader
, where lovely Elaine is rounding up Poetry Friday.
bio, photos, interview links, etc.
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.
In addition to writing books, Robyn has sold her writing to major children's magazines.
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!
(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