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









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 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

Poetry Friday - Summer Poem Swap Splendor from Michelle Kogan

August 28, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poem Swap, Michelle Kogan, art


**[POETRY FRIDAY is such a wonderful way to fill our baskets with what feeds the soul. This week, I know we are all keeping those in Texas and Louisiana foremost in our thoughts, hearts, and prayers. There are no adequate words to offer, but I'm grateful for the selfless actions of those brave neighbors and first responders, and outreach of present and future help from across the country.]**


What a delight to receive a colorful package in the mail, open it, and find more color spilling out in every direction.

Today I'm happy to share my generous Summer Poem Swap goodies from Michelle Kogan.

I arranged the contents on our dining room table to take a picture of the whole lot, and, as you see, our kitty, Lance (Lancelot), photo-bombed it. But since Michelle is such an animal lover, as I am, I thought a live animal was actually an appropriate addition!

I received an oh-so-cheery collection of cards made from Michelle's paintings, including a beautiful notecard, a sampling of haiku/art cards in such an intriguing size and narrow shape, and a gallery show postcard. PLUS, the "August Fairy and Luna Moth" card showcased above had a lovely personal note to me on the back. The card features art originally created with watercolor, watercolor pencil, and pen, and an original poem by Michelle:


lovely luna, my
august fairy heart skips a
beat for your beauty...


©2017 Michelle Kogan. All rights reserved.

I've always loved Luna moths! And how delightful to consider each one of us can have a personal "fairy heart."

To see more of Michelle's art and read more of her poetry, flutter on over to her website and blog. Michelle also did the cover art for Michelle Heidenrich Barnes's The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2014-15 anthology, published last November.

Michelle is also a fellow Etsy shop owner! Check out her watercolor paintings, prints, cards and other irresistible items for sale here.

Etsy has invited sellers to participate in its first ever Labor Day Sale, which you can enjoy in Michelle's shop right now.

[I'm running a Labor Day Weekend sale as well, in my artsyletters shop. Enjoy!]

Many thanks to Michelle for these beautiful treasures, and for letting me share them with you this week. For more inspiring poetry, just flap those fairy wings and fly all the way to Australia, where the purrrrfectly enchanting (& VERY busy these days) Kat Apel, has September's first Roundup.

Poetry Friday - Deep Thoughts, Deep Space, & a Dose of Blake

August 24, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, Eclipse, Space, William Blake, ponderings, Voyager, The Farthest on PBS

Detail - William Blake, 1757–1827, British, Jerusalem, Plate 78, "The Spectres of...", 1804 to 1820, Relief etching printed in orange with pen and black ink and watercolor, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection


To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour…


William Blake (1757-1827), from “Auguries of Innocence.” Subsequent verses are also excerpted from this poem.

Such a week. On Monday, despite the drenching deluge between back door and car, I set out to chase the eclipse. I only needed to go about 65 miles to be safely inside the edge of the Path of Totality. All single-lanes; no crowded interstates for me. I stopped halfway at a wonderful little café/antique shop for some iced tea to go, and my margin of scheduling safety was quickly eaten up by the friendly chatter of the proprietors. In addition to the drink, I left with two tiny framed Victorian miniatures for $5 apiece and some miniature homemade beignets.

Through more rain and breaks of sun, I tooled along woodsy back roads, listening to eclipse coverage across the country via NPR. I stopped just shy of my target point because there was a nice paved spot with an older couple and their equipment set up, and room for a couple more cars. I turned around and joined Mike and Marlene, who had driven up from Jacksonville.

Between our cars, another whipped in – a family from Beaufort, like myself, with two older elementary/young teen-aged kids. They tumbled out from the back seat - the daughter immediately noticing a dead butterfly on the ground, fragile and beautiful. The son, eager for the sky show, negotiated regular glasses and eclipse glasses. (The butterfly was an Eastern Black Swallowtail - it looked just like the one in Brenda's post today.)

Conditions were cloudy, but with our special glasses, we were able to see the crescent of sun and moon. Lightning flashed on one part of the horizon, while sunset hues materialized behind us. The temperature dipped. Crickets chirped. Day quickly turned to night. For totality, we took off our glasses and gazed, amazed at the circle and corona visible to the naked eye even through a veil of cloud. A magical moment of wonder, shared with fellow curious earthlings.

If the Sun & Moon should Doubt
Theyd immediately Go out
To be in a Passion you Good may Do
But no Good if a Passion is in you …


On Tuesday evening, I paused in front of the TV to catch the beginning of the President’s speech in Arizona, before heading to the shower. I didn’t make it to the shower until midnight. I felt like I was driving by an accident scene on a highway – not wanting to look, but unable to avert my gaze. “Unhinged” is the word that kept floating in my mind. Divisive speech, dangerous ideas. I truly felt distressed.

We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night


On Wednesday night, after catching part of an interview on NPR, I tuned in to a two-hour special on PBS, “THE FARTHEST – Voyager in Space.” I expected to be amazed; I didn’t know I would be moved to tears more than once. Through contemporary interviews with scientists who made it happen and vintage footage, the documentary portrays four decades of discovery, from planning stages to weak signals now received from interstellar space beyond our own galaxy. The interviews got me - those serious-minded men and women who devoted energies and brilliant intellects to such a gamble couldn’t talk about it without occasionally getting misty. How could you? The Voyager images give us not only wonder, but perspective. What a little speck we live and die on, love and fight on.

Each Voyager (I & II) contains a “golden record” – literally a metal record designed to last a billion or two years at least – with images of people and nature and sounds (such as Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" and salutations in dozens of languages), and pictorial instructions on how to play it on an enclosed phonograph - 1977 technology. The grooves of the record only had room for 100 pictures. When the generators of the small crafts finally do fail, they will be time capsules floating around with this greeting from our planet, which may or may not itself be around at the time the golden record is discovered, if it ever is.

I paused my DVR to write down these words from golden record designer Jon Lomberg: “It was a process of distillation. You can’t describe the earth in 100 pictures. You can’t describe the earth in 1,000 pictures. But what art is about is taking something small, but can represent the whole.”

Isn’t that a perfect description of poetry?

Spoiler alert – the last image in the film is of our home planet, a minute mote caught in a sunbeam and caught on camera one last time before Voyager sailed farther and farther away. Such a tender, tiny thing.
Worth saving.

When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day


[An encore presentation of “THE FARTHEST” is scheduled for Wed., Sept. 13, at 9 Eastern/8 Central on PBS, or catch the streaming version. For the complete Blake poem, click here , and for more of Blake’s art, click here and here. ]

The always curious and caring Jone at Check it Out is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today – Enjoy!

Poetry Friday - Seeking Solace in Old Poetry

August 17, 2017

Tags: Words or phrases to categorize this post for the tags section


Greetings, Friends. I had another idea brewing for today, but this week…

In times of trouble I often take comfort in words left behind by others, even centuries ago.
I dove into my studio stash of vintage poetry books, and thought I might find something in one for children – so I thumbed through THE YOUNG FOLKS’ SHELF OF BOOKS, THE JUNIOR CLASSICS 10 – Poetry, Reading Guide, Indexes, part of The Junior Classics Series by Collier.

It was published in 1938, the year my mother was born, and features everything from riddles and nursery rhymes to Shakespeare.

1938 – the year of Kristallnacht, “Night of Broken Glass.”

I was born in 1963 – the year a bomb ripped through 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing four precious girls.

I suppose this past week has reminded me that we can’t just rest, settle, and assume the worst of all that is behind us in this country (or any country). In the mid-1980s, my husband and I, as a young married couple, joined most of a small town in North Carolina in a street-lined protest of marching KKK members. At first those marching thought the crowds had turned out to support them, but then their faces changed as they realized we were all standing calmly, singing I think?, to counter their message of hate that day. I wouldn’t have dreamed then that the headlines would be what they are today, late in the second decade of the 21st Century.

This poem by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) though likely about the journey of life and a spiritual journey particularly, spoke to me somehow in the midst of these heavy days.


UP-HILL

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
      Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
      From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
      A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
      You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
      Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
      They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
      Of labor you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
      Yea, beds for all who come.




I was heartened this week, when on a rare check of my Facebook feed, I saw two posts show up by friends who are also kidlit people, both in Georgia. The posts were back to back, and strangely both were about small acts of civility and warmth in grocery stores. The folks involved were black, Hispanic, white… looking out for the needs of others – strangers – and offering a cup of kindness.

This next poem reminded me of staying grounded in the midst of chaos. Four hundred years have passed since it was written, but the words still ring fresh to me. This one is by Thomas Campion (1567-1620).



INTEGER VITAE

The man of life
     Whose guiltless heart is free
From all dishonest deeds,
      Or thought of vanity;

The man whose silent days
      In harmless joys are spent,
Whom hopes cannot delude,
      Nor sorrow discontent;

That man needs neither towers
      Nor armor for defense,
Nor secret vaults to fly
      From thunder’s violence;

He only can behold
      With unaffrighted eyes
The horrors of the deep
      And terrors of the skies;

Thus, scorning all the cares
      That fate or fortune brings,
He makes the heaven his book,
      His wisdom heavenly things;

Good thoughts his only friends,
      His wealth a well-spent age,
The earth his sober inn
      And quiet pilgrimage.



Note: I didn't really absorb the similar "inn" symbolism in both poems until posting them here... I'll ponder and sleep on that.

{ Prayers for all who are oppressed or grieving this day, and prayers for peaceful days ahead. }

Many thanks to Kay at A Journey Through the Pages for Rounding Up today - her first time hosting! She, and I’m guessing many of us, are all on a similar path this week, seeking the solace and light of poetry.

Poetry Friday - A Big Black Boot & Bottle Rockets Press (Haiku)

August 10, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, haiku, poetry, bottle rockets press




Greetings, Summer Poetry Friends!

I hope your season has brought fun in the sun and freedom to linger over late sunsets.

We've had a good summer over here on the coast, with a week of vacationing at the beach late last month with our visiting kids (& their dogs). I missed long walks on the beach, though, and proper frolics in the waves, as I've been trying to keep my Achilles tendon (what's left of it) in one piece since early June. It's the one I ruptured seven years ago, and for all those years until now its been fine - until an "overuse" injury sent me to my neuromuscular massage therapist/PT. (I still have to see her because of a neck injury three years ago, but that's another story.)

Anyway, she suggested the dreaded black boot. I evidently tossed the one I had before when we moved, so I had to go purchase one. I'm not in it every waking moment; I also wear an ankle brace when I have to drive, etc. - but it's been a couple of months of soaking in Epsom salts and icing and such. Soft sand is the worst for tendons and muscles, so I wore the boot clunking down the boardwalk and onto the beach, with one kitchen-sized trash bag inside as a liner and two on the outside. That actually worked to keep out sand, by the way.

One reason I'm recounting all this is because it was inspiration, as it were, for a haiku just published in the brand new issue of bottle rockets:


years later
my Achilles heel
still just that



bottle rockets, #37, Vol. 19, No. 1

If you don't know bottle rockets, it's a well respected print journal of haiku, senryu, & short verse published by Stanford M. Forrester, whom you've met here before! In addition to the journal, he also offers specialty letterpress printing services through Wooden Nickel Press. (His books are gorgeous.) Click here for more information about both.

Now, it's hard missing a big black boot, and I've actually high-fived similarly attired perfect strangers on the street in recent weeks, or at least exchanged knowing nods. Not all challenges are front and center like that, however. Did you read Tabatha's thoughtful, kind post about "invisible illnesses"? Here's the link if you missed it. I was also touched by the comments, including Margaret's, who reminds us that you might meet a cancer patient and not know it from that person's appearance.

My own wonderful mom starts chemo for colon cancer next week, after a successful but intensive surgery last month. Her attitude and faith are strong - I don't know if I could be so positive myself in her shoes! She's taking everything as it comes and responding in inspiring ways. My folks live in Orlando, and most of the rest of my family members live in neighboring counties.

I want to drive down and be with her for some of those treatment weeks (she's scheduled for a six-month course), so I've extricated myself from some volunteering, namely, the Regional Coordinator position for the Haiku Society of America. I'll still be a supportive cast member in the wings. I'm grateful that one of our generous members and oh-so-talented poets, Michael Henry Lee, has stepped up to take over.

And I'm grateful for Tabatha's insights, reminders, and open heart.

And speaking of Margaret, I just clicked to see that she is rounding up Poetry Friday today at Reflections on the Teche! Thanks, Margaret. I do love this community so!

Poetry Friday - Head up to Maine for the Roundup with Donna!

August 3, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday

Greetings! Somehow all my hours this week have been at the studio, trying to get new items finished and surfaces found to open for our downtown "First Friday After Five."
I conjured up a lovely blog post or two, but, alas, only in my head.

To enjoy some REAL posts this first Friday in August, visit the ever-delightful Donna at Mainely Write
for the Roundup. (Mmmm... she has roses, too!) See you next week.

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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!
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