Click links below to follow our Progressive Poem for Nat'l Poetry Month!
Hannah enjoying poetry workshop
(Scroll down this column for tags, archives and blogroll....)
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.
November 23, 2016
Happy Thanksgiving Weekend/poetry Friday!
I hope you and yours have enjoyed good company and good food. Warmest thoughts for those with an empty chair at the table this year.
I made a fun discovery while cleaning up my studio recently - I found a few more of those miniature frames I made "found poem ornaments" from two years ago (with a how-to)
. Who knew these extra frames were hiding in the supply closet? (Or stashed in a box under a table...?) Those little ornaments sold right away, so I figured I'd better conjure these into shape for this year.
As before, I put a tiny print of my "Writer Mouse" drawing on one side, and a found poem/phrase on the other. Below are the highlighted texts. They were all clipped directly from GOLDEN DAYS For Boys and Girls
, Vol. XVIII -- No. 6, December 26, 1896, Philadelphia: James Elverson, Publisher.
The first two were found in "A Perilous Sleigh-Ride" by A. E. Conard:
And the third came from "Frankincense and Myrrh" by Mary N. Prescott:
see Santa Claus
in the world
(More pictures of these in my Etsy shop.
.) Update: Click on "Sold" items number on the left-hand side to see the listing pictures - at least two of them!
Wishing you and your jolly crew comfort and fun during these holidays and beyond. More poetry is just waiting to be discovered at Carol's Corner
, where thoughtful Carol has our Roundup this week!
November 17, 2016
Happy Poetry Friday!
Many of you are at NCTE in Atlanta - what a wonderful weekend of poetry is planned in many of those sessions! Do report back.
I'm on the road too, just slightly north of that, in the North Georgia mountains. On Friday, I'll be helping daughter Morgan lead a small group of young poets (2nd and 3rd grade) at her school. We'll be playing with found poems, and I can't wait to see what they come up with.
I love sharing any kind of poetry with students. This week over at The Haiku Foundation
, I'm honored to have a guest post about teaching haiku to Morgan's third graders last spring in Greenville, SC. Click here
If you've been watching the news, you know the Southern mountains have been plagued with wildfires in recent weeks. Our youngest, a college senior near the Georgia-North Carolina border, started sending us pictures of smoke and haze a couple of weeks ago. (We plan to see him too this weekend, as he's on his college's homecoming court!) And though I wouldn't relish driving in rain, I do hope they get rain, and soon.
I'll close today with a recent haiku of mine, written when afternoon showers prevailed here on the Lowcountry coast:
pavement steam rises
to meet rain
©Robyn Hood Black
Acorn, No. 37, Fall 2016
Whether you're hanging out with other poetry-loving teachers or savoring Poetry Friday in some quiet corner, thanks for coming by, and be sure to follow the trail at Friendly Fairy Tales
, where Beautiful Brenda has our Roundup this week.
November 10, 2016
The poem: DAY AND NIGHT After day comes night, after night comes day. From where can I see this long, long rope, its one end, and the other?
Greetings, Poetry Friends. In a week when we could all use more poetry celebrating the human spirit, Iím delighted to welcome David Jacobson, author of the recently released and much-lauded ARE YOU AN ECHO?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko
(Chin Music Press, September 2016). This gorgeous 64-page picture book biography and poetry collection was also translated by Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi and was illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri.
Misuzu lived 100 years ago in Japan. She possessed a keen ability to interpret life from the perspectives of others, even objects. Her poems are taught in schools and beloved by the population there, though largely unknown here, at least until now.
If you donít know this book yet, these recent features are superb, and they offer many more links. [Youíll have to click back to return here, but please do Ė David offers a glimpse into the many moving parts behind the bookís creation as well as some history of childrenís literature in Japan.]
For Jamaís rich review at Alphabet Soup
, click here
for Janet Wongís behind-the-scenes interviews with David and Sally Ito at Sylvia Vardellís Poetry for Children
Julie Danielson at Kirkus
interviewed David here.
For an interview on Playing by the Book
with Zoe Toft, click here
ís the Misuzu Kaneko/ARE YOU AN ECHO? site.
The posts above offer insights into the hardships and tragedy of Misuzu's life, and discussions of how these are sensitively handled in the text and art, as well as showcasing her beautiful poetry.
Now itís my turn to interview David!
Tell us a bit about yourself - your career as a writer, your interest (and fluency) in Japanese, how you spend your days?
My writing career started inauspiciously as a copy boy at the New York bureau of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Japanís Wall St. Journal), where I would retrieve wire copy and fetch dinner for the correspondents. I then progressed through a series of reporting and editing jobs at the Associated Press, NHK (Japanese public broadcasting), and CNN. Following a long transition during which I got an MBA and had 2 kids, I ended up at Chin Music Press in Seattle, where Iíve worked ever since doing a variety of editorial and marketing jobs.
Iíve been interested in Japan ever since going there as an exchange student during high school. I obtained a degree in East Asian Studies from Yale, and undertook advanced language instruction at Middlebury and the Stanford Center in Tokyo. After obtaining my degree at Yale, I lived in Japan for 5 years, first as a graduate student and then as a journalist. My work has involved Japan in various ways ever since.
Today, Iím the principal caregiver to my two children, and am forever trying to complete my writing and publishing obligations during the time they are at school. I also try to fit in some time to play the piano, a hobby Iíve pursued since I was five.
How did you first discover the poetry of Misuzu Kaneko?
A Japanese friend of many years sent me an anthology of her work in the fall of 2013. In reading her poems, I was first struck by how relevant they were to me and my own kids, even though Misuzu wrote them nearly 100 years ago. And then I was utterly charmed by the compassion she shows Ė to the fish on her plate, to a dog who has broken its leg, to a boy and a girl on a first date.
What compelled you to create a book about Misuzu and her poetry?
I started out loving her poetry. Then once I started looking into the possibility of translating her work, I realized that she was really a dream subject. Her poems had hardly been translated into English, and her backstory was both fascinating and tragic. But then the idea of pitching a poetry book (not a favorite of most US publishers) about what some might consider a fairly esoteric subject (a Japanese poet from a century ago) set inÖ Fortunately, though, Chin Music Press liked the idea.
I was struck by how she maintained her voice, despite the times and the culture in which she lived, as well as her illness. How do you think she kept her sense of self in these circumstances?
Itís really astonishing, isnít it? She must have been a truly amazing woman. She grew up in a family of women, in which her mother and grandmother were in charge (her father had died when she was 3 and her grandfather was out of the picture). They let her get much more education than most Japanese girls got in those days. So I think her family must have encouraged her to become a strong, smart, and self-possessed young woman.
But when you look at how she responded to her very difficult marriage, her illness and the impending takeaway of her daughter, she displays such tremendous courage and will, based on her personal values, that you get the sense of a woman of great internal strength. I think thatís what enabled her to get through such difficulties.
As a student of haiku, I heard echoes of Issa as I read Musuzu's beautiful, original poems. What might have been some of her literary influences?
For someone who grew up in a fairly remote and provincial part of Japan, Misuzu was extremely well educated and cosmopolitan. There are multiple references to Hans Christian Andersen in her work, as well as to Western stories and characters like Jack and the Beanstalk, Robinson Crusoe, and King Midas. She became familiar with English poet Christina Rossetti, after her mentor said her poetry was reminiscent of Rossettiís.
As for Japanese influences, she kept a scrapbook of works by contemporary poets she admired, offering a direct window into her literary tastes (poets included Kitahara Hakushu, Saijo Yaso, Horiguchi Daigaku, etc.). I canít name any specific classical Japanese influences; however, her work often (though not always) follows 5-7 or 7-7 rhythms, suggesting close understanding of Japanese traditional forms such as tanka and haiku.
What was the publishing world like for children's literature in early 20th-Century Japan?
It must have been quite an exciting and liberating time to be in childrenís literature in Japan in the 1920s when Misuzu was writing. Prominent writers such as Akutagawa and Shimazaki were joining the field. For the first time in Japanese literary history, Japanese writers were attempting to depict childrenís inner lives, and they were encouraging each other to experiment. Moreover, there were amazing opportunities to be published. At one point there were 66 different childrenís magazines published in Tokyo alone!
This book is a sparkling feat of collaboration. How did you, Setsuo Yazaki, Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi come to cross paths? What was it like to work together?
There are so many collaborators on this book that reviewers canít seem to keep straight who did what!
With the approval of my boss at Chin Music Press, Bruce Rutledge, I selected Sally and Michiko from a list of several translators. I liked the fact that Sally was herself a poet, and had already translated a considerable number of Misuzuís poems with Michiko. Most important, though, was their sometimes motherly, sometimes girlish, but always accessible tone. We needed a voice that would speak to children, and I think Sally and Michiko provided it.
The collaboration between Sally, Michiko and me was much more intense than I expected, but very rewarding too. We lived in 3 different countries with 3 different time zones, so the most effective way to communicate was by email or Skype. Starting in early summer of last year, we exchanged comments and suggestions about the narrative and the poetry nearly daily. Each poem went through multiple drafts, as did the narrative. It was frustrating at times, but exhilarating, too, to get to the bottom of what Misuzu was trying to accomplish and then to convey that to English readers.
As for Yazaki, I met him in Japan during my September 2015 trip there. He and the head of JULA Publishing Bureau, Misuzuís Japanese publisher, met me, illustrator Toshikado Hajiri and translator Michiko Tsuboi in Senzaki, where Misuzu grew up. They showed us around the Kaneko Memorial Museum (which Yazaki directs) and a number of other places in town connected with Misuzu. They had flown all the way from Tokyo (at least a half dayís travel) to meet us.
Toshikado Hajiri's art is breathtaking, capturing joy as well as solemnity. Did you see the paintings before publication, and how do they help tell the story?
Yes, I was in close contact with Toshi from early on in the process, and showed him multiple copies of the manuscript before he even began sketching. In September of 2015, the two of us, along with translator Michiko Tsuboi, visited Misuzuís hometown of Senzaki together, so that Toshi could get a feel for the look of the place where she grew up. After a month or so, he submitted sketches, which we commented on, and then once we reached agreement, he painted them.
I feel his work adds a lot to the text: the look and feel of early 20th century Japan; and tone and emotion, particularly to the darker parts of the story where the text is spare. His art also amplifies the meaning of some of the poems. I love, for instance, his interpretation of ďDay and Night,Ē a poem in which a child is wondering about time: when does day end and night begin? Toshi brilliantly reinterprets the rope, a metaphor for time, as a jump rope!
Finally, tell us about your travel plans for January!
I am not familiar with all the details yet, but from what I understand I will be participating in three events with poet Setsuo Yazaki in Kyoto, Tokyo and Asahikawa, Japan. They are being organized by Misuzuís Japanese publisher, JULA Publishing Bureau, and are intended to celebrate the launch of ARE YOU AN ECHO? in Japan.
Sounds wonderful! Many thanks for joining us today, David, and sharing so much of how this treasure of a book came to be. (My thanks as well to Janet Wong for introducing me to David last month at POETRY CAMP at Western Washington University.)
For this weekís delectable Poetry Friday Roundup, please visit the aforementioned one-and-only Jama at Alphabet Soup
November 3, 2016
Greetings, Poetry Peeps! I missed everyone last week while I was winding up a week of school presentations (20, give or take) in Georgia.
It's the only week of the year that I actually take naps.
Maybe next year, I'll take along the hot-off-the-press collection getting so much buzz this week, Kenn Nesbitt's ONE MINUTE TILL BEDTIME
(Little Brown and Company, illustrated by New York Times
illustrator and celebrated artist Christoph Niemann). Click here
for more about Kenn's first anthology on his extensive and colorful website, Poetry4Kids
The Night Sky certainly seems to approve, with showers of sparkly stars from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly
, and School Library Journal
. The anthology has also been selected by Publishers Weekly
as a Best Book of 2016
Easy to see why, with 140 new poems by many of the best children's poets writing today. That includes quite a few Poetry Friday folks - so many that if I tried to mention, I'd leave someone out. Congratulations to everyone whose work lies between the intriguing purple covers!
It was a treat for me to meet Kenn (Children's Poet Laureate, 2013-15) at Western Washington University's POETRY CAMP a few weeks ago. He's kindly agreed to let me share one of his poems from the book today. There are seven sections, chock-full of poems that can be read in about a minute each. Every section is launched with a poem by Kenn. Here is one of my favorites, just over mid-way through.
Ted, Ted, Climb in Bed
climb in bed.
Grab that book
we've read and read.
Tuck the blanket.
Tuck the spread.
Here's a pillow
for your head.
Get ready, Ted.
Here come poems
©Kenn Nesbitt. Used with permission.
I predict this book will be "read and read," and read again! And, hey - it's out just in time for your holiday gift list. Sleepy parents will enjoy it as much as their tired tykes.
For more great poetry morning, noon, or night, visit the lovely Laura at Writing the World for Kids
. (Yep - she's in the book, too!)
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