Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet, artist









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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

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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: robin’s egg blue haiku

October 25, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, ponderings

If you read haiku journals, you’ll notice that sometimes more than one poem might share a line (typically the first line), especially a seasonal reference such as “autumn dusk” or “winter chill,” etc. This fall I was surprised to discover that the poems I had accepted to a couple of journals shared the same first line. Not that I’d forgotten the line, of course, but that out of the 10 or so poems sent to each publication, the editors at each chose the one poem in each batch that started with “robin’s egg blue.”
Here are the poems, and then I’ll add some thoughts.

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robin's egg blue an empty shell

Modern Haiku
43:3, Autumn 2012

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robin's egg blue
how my father would have loved
my son


Acorn
No. 29, Fall 2012

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Now, if you like the way one or both poems speak to you and you’d rather not hear any backstory, please – you may be excused! (Head on over to Linda at Teacherdance.)

If you’re still reading, I’ll tell you how these haiku came to be. I often get ideas as I’m walking in my neighborhood, or even just around the house outside. I did not write these two poems at the same time. We’ve had a lot of lively robins this year!

For the one-line haiku, I came across an empty robin’s shell on a walk. I was feeling a little “blue” about circumstances beyond my control, and I guess somewhat empty that day as well. (The journal editor, in some brief correspondence about the poem, suggested my name was probably working subconsciously, too. I’m sure that’s the case!)

For the three-line haiku, I saw another empty robin’s shell about a month later on the side of the road a half-mile from my house. Who knows what triggers usually hidden feelings? As any parent of a high school senior understands, the year brings mixed emotions which lurk like shadowy stalkers. I guess the broken egg symbolized young leaving the nest, for sure – but I probably had the previous poem in my mind somewhere as well.

And as I was thinking about how proud I was of my son (you’ve heard me brag on my daughter before, but we are doubly blessed), I had a tug of wishing my dad could have known him. Dad got to meet Morgan when she was a toddler, but he died two and a half months before Seth was born. Dad would not have won any Father of the Year awards. He wasn’t what you’d call reliable. And yet, I loved him. I know he would have appreciated so many things about his grandson.

Not the least of which might be Seth’s love of music. He’s been playing guitar since he could hold one and leading the youth band at church for a long while. He had years of guitar lessons (though not a whole lot of theory) and a few voice lessons, but primarily he sings and plays by ear. My husband’s family thinks Seth’s musical ability flows from that side (and understandably – there are rivers of musical talent there).

But they never heard my dad sing and play his guitar, or attack a piano with improvised bluesy-jazz. They weren’t awakened at 3 a.m. to shake hands with Willie Nelson in their living room, or lulled to sleep by jam sessions through the wall. Perhaps they didn’t catch that Dad’s eyes were blue. We all have someone we miss in unexpected moments.

For some unexpected and creative poetry today, please do go visit the lovely Linda at Teacherdance.

Poetry Friday: poetry book give-away at my OTHER blog...

October 18, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, illustrators, art, poetry, SCBWI, Southern Breeze

Dearest Poetry Friday Friends,

Forgive this short post, but I'm on my way to Birmingham for our SCBWI Southern Breeze fall conference this weekend. Yee-hi!

I'm checking in, though, with a link to this week's "Art Break Wednesday" post on my new artsyletters blog, because you might be interested in:

1.) a Q and A with the exuberant Melanie Hall - artist, teacher, and award-winning illustrator of many children's books (including several poetry collections), and

2.) a give-away of one of said poetry collections. A lucky commenter will be randomly selected to receive a copy of Every Second Something Happens - Poems for the Mind and Senses, selected by Christine San José and Bill Johnson (Wordsong). Just post a comment ON THAT ARTSYLETTERS BLOG POST linked above by Monday at midnight, EST. (I will approve and post comments as I can throughout the weekend, internet connections willing.)

Finally, you MUST go see what Poetry Friday Rounder-Upper Irene has over at Live Your Poem. She invited participants in the 2012 KidLit Progressive poem to pen a couplet for an original "zoo" poem - in honor of Irene's brand-new novel, Don't Feed the Boy from Roaring Brook (which I can't wait to scoop up this weekend). My two lines were based on a somewhat slithery encounter at the Mule Camp Festival here last weekend. Go sssseeeeeee....

Thanks for visiting!

Poetry Friday: Where Do Second Graders Find Poetry?

October 11, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, students

I'll be busy at a booth all weekend at our town's Mule Camp Festival (really - back in the day, people used to come to "Mule Camp Springs" with their wagons and mules and exchange goods!). But I had to share a couple of goodies.

First, my youngest, Seth, is at this moment at the Dodge Poetry Festival! I can't wait to hear all about it. He and five other high school seniors got there Thursday morning, after about a 15-hour ride straight through. Their fearless driver/leader is our inspired and intrepid history teacher, Michael McCann. He and his wife make this journey for each festival. Isn't that grand?

Second, my oldest, Morgan (the one who used the new Poetry Friday Anthology in her Literacy Education class at college!) is spending quality time with a second grade class near Furman as part of her junior year studies. The teacher in this class recently asked the students where poems come from. Then that wonderful woman wrote their answers on Post-it Notes and displayed them. Morgan asked if I could share them with you, and she kindly obliged.

Here is the list typed out:

Where do We find Poetry?

snow, happy, babies
school, sun, reptiles,
spring, sad, anger
treasure, race cars, hearts,
cheetahs, dinosaurs, tree-tops,
teacher, friends, lonely,
joy, games, secrets,
dreams, bugs, rain,
ants, spring, funny, nightmares


A few of my favorites are: hearts, tree-tops, cheetahs, race cars, rain, and dreams!

What are yours, or where do you find poetry?

Well, off to Mule Camp. Please forgive me if I'm an inattentive blog host (and follower) this weekend, but wish me and artsyletters luck! (Oh - I have a new relief print celebrating teachers which I've just also had printed on note cards. If you leave a comment on my art blog by Monday, you'll be entered to win a pack.)

To see where more poems come from this Poetry Friday, please visit Betsy at Teaching Young Writers.


Poetry Friday - St. Francis and a link to my new poetry column

October 4, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, haiku

Page featuring a detail of Giotto’s SERMON TO THE BIRDS (1297-1300)


At my house, we’re an ecumenical bunch. My oldest was dedicated in a Baptist church, baptized in a Presbyterian church, and confirmed in a Methodist church. My husband got a degree from a Baptist seminary before going to med school, and his brother recently became an Episcopal priest. One brother-in-law is a Baptist youth minister. Our in-laws started their own now non-denominational church, my folks are still Baptist, and we’re Methodist – at least in this decade. My son is even looking toward a future in ministry; we’ll see! (I’m getting to poetry, promise.)

As a kid, I was raised in the Baptist church but was always a bit of a closet Catholic. I knew nothing of theological differences; the art and even the ritual called to me. The closest I usually came was an occasional peek into the Episcopal church nearby – dark carved wood and glorious stained glass windows. That’s what I think I remember, anyway. And one of my prized possessions, you can see I still have it, drawn out of an old wooden box for this photo – is this little plastic framed picture, with its oval portraits of Jesus and Mary. (Familiar Anglo-Saxon versions, so perhaps not accurate if indeed still lovely.) I think it might have come from my Arkansas grandmother's treasures bought and sold at local sales. (Oh yeah, she was Church of Christ.) Of course, I also ran wild in the woods communing with God and every creature which crossed my path, with no need of an intercessor, so I was pretty inclusive even back then.

A year or so ago I picked up this lovely chunky little tome at a used bookstore: Saints – A Year in Faith and Art (Rosa Giorgi, Abrams, 2006). I’ve come across all kinds of folks and stories I’d never heard of before. And lots of liturgical art across the centuries. Well, yesterday's honored saint was the beloved Saint Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226. Tell me, after all these centuries, isn’t his Canticle of the Sun still moving and beautiful?

The Canticle of Brother Sun
(excerpt)
By St. Francis

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Praise be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
….


Visit this website of The friars of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis for the rest of this translation.

If you’re in the mood for haiku, yesterday I began a monthly poetry column on my friend and YA author Janice Hardy’s terrific blog for writers, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY. Actually, the post is about submissing haiku, rejection, and keepting track of it all. Here’s the link. I’ll be over there the first Thursday of each month exploring some aspect of poetry and writing. (Thanks, Janice!)

For more great poetry today, go see what the talented and ever generous Laura has rounded up at Writing the World for Kids.

My New Art Blog at artsyletters

October 3, 2012

Tags: art, ponderings

Just a reminder that I have a brand new blog for artists over at artsyletters.com.

Art Break Wednesday features something new each week. Last Wednesday I shared how I make altered page art from vintage books and fun old finds, and this week I'm talking "Notan" (the Japanese concept of light-dark). Bring your dark side and come along! Also, there's still time to enter a comment under last week's post and be entered to win Pam Carriker's book, ART AT THE SPEED OF LIFE. (Contest ends Monday night.)

See you there!

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