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 - Go visit Brenda today!

October 27, 2017

GREETINGS, Poetry Friday friends! I am, in Irene's words, "living my poem" this week and need to skip my own post, as I'm finishing up a week of 20+ school presentations for Cobb County EMC/Gas South Literacy Week in Georgia. But I'm sharing lots of poetry with more than 2,000 kids. (The program involves a dozen authors; we will collectively reach 24,000 students.) If you missed commenting on my blog last week (below), there's still a few days to be entered into a random drawing for a copy of Amy Ludwig Vanderwater's POEMS ARE TEACHERS, compliments of Heinemann. :0). Please visit Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales for the Roundup this week - https://friendlyfairytales.com/

Poetry Friday - POEMS ARE TEACHERS author Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, and a Giveaway!

October 18, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, teaching, students, book giveaway, poetry resources, Poems are Teachers



As I pack up for a week of school visits in the Atlanta area next week, I am SO excited to be tucking in a brand-new, soul-enriching resource, POEMS ARE TEACHERS – How Studying Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres, HOT off the press this week from Heinemann. It is the result of the passion, creativity and smarts of our own Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of The Poem Farm. A graduate of Teachers College, Columbia University, and a former 5th grade teacher, Amy is the author of picture books, professional works, and lots and lots of poems!

Each section of POEMS ARE TEACHERS includes a poem by a contemporary adult poet and two poems by students (grades 2 through 8). These are models exemplifying six topics: finding ideas, choosing perspective and point of view, structuring texts, playing with language, crafting beginnings and endings, and choosing titles. Of course, the poems are so rich that teachers and students will find cross-over examples of all kinds of techniques, leading to lively classroom discussions. And the book’s clear organization makes it easy to jump in and out according to specific objectives.

The quality of the poems by adults is a little breathtaking, with names you will surely recognize, including some familiar Poetry Friday contributors. I have to say, the student poems really choked me up (like “What Ifs” by Alex C., grade 8), or made me break out into helpless laughter (such as “A Bacteria Tragedy” by George M., grade 3). These and the other poems by young writers are honest and surprising and fully felt – terrific examples to share in any classroom. (Hats off to the teachers of these young writers.) Each student poem is presented in the author’s own handwriting, making the poetry personal and accessible.

Here’s a sample of a poem by a contemporary adult writer, Kristy Dempsey, in the “Writers Play with Language” section:


Rain Song

Rain taps out a rhythm,
a rapid skipping rhythm
a plitter-plinking, plopping,
hopping, bopping kind of beat.

It starts with just a drizzle,
a syncopated sizzle,
a sound that soon becomes a tune
as raindrops hit the street.

It sets my toes to tapping,
I’m twirling and I’m clapping,
Splashing, dashing, laughing
as I move my dancing feet.

Play the water music,
the thrilling, trilling music!
Spill the notes from every cloud,
DripDrop, PlipPlop. Repeat!


©Kristy Dempsey. All rights reserved. Used with permission. (Thanks for sharing, Kristy!)

Immediately following in “WORDS FROM THE POET,” Kristy says, …To me, all writing is made to be read out loud, to be heard and even performed! When I’m writing, both poetry and prose, you’ll find me tapping my hands or feet, dancing and jumping, and using my mouth and tongue to make sounds – almost like beatboxing – so I can listen to the rhythm of my words.

The book also offers a wonderful foreword by Katherine Bomer, and a heartfelt dedication to Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Ever Amy, the author encourages readers/users of this book to “fall in love first” with texts and poems, and then explore what techniques might be learned from the way those words are put together. The pages of this book are filled with play and with joy – I think lots of teachers will be falling in love! So happy Amy is joining us today for a behind-the-scenes peek.

Welcome, Amy! You are both an award-winning poet and a teacher of writing. How do your own poetic sensibilities inform your teaching?

Because I write and share regularly, I understand the terror associated with writing and sharing. So the more I write, the better I become at approaching young writers with gentleness. I know what it feels like to take a soul-risk, and so I work to listen carefully, to hear what is be most helpful to a writer now, be it encouragement or a tip.

How did the idea for this book come about? What is its own backstory?

Working in the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project office with Lucy Calkins back in the early ‘90s changed my life. During that time as a graduate student, I learned from many brilliant folks including Katie Wood Ray, Carl Anderson, Georgia Heard, and Isoke Nia. I got to carry Katherine Paterson’s backpack and listen in as great minds spoke to groups large and small. I heard gorgeous speeches and watched masterful teachers. Then, several years later, I met Lee Bennett Hopkins, my poetry teacher to whom this book is dedicated. My life changed again as I worked hard to write stronger, leaner poems. This book is a marriage of those two wonderful parts of my learning life.

No two students are the same, of course, but do you find students connect to poetry in a different way than they connect to other genres? (As readers and/or as writers.)

Poetry frees us. Many children and adults discover our beliefs and our voices through poems. Again and again, teachers share with me stories of students who did not connect - who even struggled - with other genres. But with poetry...their voices sang with rhythm, metaphor, and deep connection. Children know that poems are full of love.

What is an example of a bridge students can cross between poetry and fiction or nonfiction?

In poetry, we quickly see how repetition can tie stanzas and lines together. We speak often about repeating words and lines and sounds when we read poems. Yet we find repetition threading through narrative and information and opinion texts too: the recurring image, the last line echoing a first line, the surprising yet perfect alliterative phrase. Standing just on one page, a poem can illuminate all kinds of writing techniques. And once we understand, we can bring these techniques with us; we can welcome them to seep into our prose.

You’ve had lots of experience writing poetry and educational texts. What were some of the delights and challenges of being an anthologist of sorts, working with so many different poets, teachers and students?

It was a gift! To be in touch with so many fabulous poets of all ages and so many wise teachers...this whole thing was a gift for me. But difficult, as I am a disorganized person. And difficult, too, because I have read and admire mountains of professional books. I was scared to do this - What if it didn’t work out? Aside from that, the hardest part was knowing when to stop. How many poems? How many explorations? How many words for each? For there’s no end to the possibility. Fortunately, there was a deadline. My amazing editor, Katie Wood Ray, and everyone at Heinemann was marvelous, making extra space and bigger pages to fit so much goodness from so many talented people. POEMS ARE TEACHERS is: one third poetry anthology, one third professional book, and one third celebration of student writing. I can’t believe it’s out in the world.

Thank you, my friend Robyn, for having me at your place today. I am so happy to be able to share your clever poem “Word Wanted” in this new book...and now I think I’ll go celebrate by shopping at artsyletters!


[She really did, and she insisted on keeping that in there. Thank you, Amy!]

Here’s my poem; I’m beyond grateful to have it included in this treasure of a book:


Word Wanted

POEM seeking just the right word.
Must dazzle when written, spoken or heard.

Slight words, trite words need not apply.
Precise and concise words, give us a try.

Regardless of your part of speech,
a noteworthy job could be within reach.

Endowed with sound second to none?
Potential for growth, if you are the one.



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


But wait – there’s more! Heinemann has kindly offered to send a copy of POEMS ARE TEACHERS to one lucky reader of this post! Please leave a comment below by Tuesday, Oct. 31 (Boo!), and I’ll announce the random winner on that Poetry Friday. Many thanks to Heinemann, and bouquets of gratitude to Amy for visiting with us today.

Now, please enjoy ALL the instructive poetry this week over at A Day in the Life, where Teacher/Reader/Writer Leigh Ann has the Poetry Friday Roundup! (Thanks for hosting, Leigh Ann.)

Poetry Friday - Haiku Old and New (Anthologies)

October 12, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, anthologies, HSA, Chiyo-Ni



Happy Poetry Friday the 13th!

Are you a fan of Dover Publications? I seem to have a few in various bookshelves and stacks, including some at my studio with such titles as Masterpieces of Illuminated Letters and Borders and Florid Victorian Ornament, among others. While online recently, I came across a Dover Thrift Editions volume titled THE CLASSIC TRADITION OF HAIKU – An Anthology, edited by Faubion Bowers. At just $3 for a new copy, I couldn’t pass it up! I’m not sure how it had evaded my haiku shelves before.

Originally published in 1996, it includes a short foreword with a bit of history and explanation, and then more than 150 poems written between 1488 and 1902 by Japanese poets, with translations into English by more than 40 scholars. Often more than one translation is provided for a poem.

I am enjoying making my way through this slim volume!

Here is an autumn poem, translated by Patricia Donegan and Yoshie Ishibashi:

akikaze no / yama o mawaru ya / kane no koe

the autumn wind
resounds in the mountain –
temple bell


Chiyo-ni (1703-1775), one of the few female haiku master poets of her time


You can find this paperback collection at Dover Publications or on Amazon , with online versions free or nearly free as well.

Speaking of anthologies, I’m also enjoying the new Haiku Society of America Members’ Anthology for 2017, on down the road, edited by LeRoy Gorman. I don’t always have my act together to submit on time, but I did this year.
(Our own Jone Rush MacCulloch has a beautiful haiku in this collection as well.)

My poem seems timely right about now, so here you are:


sea fog
the ghost story
I almost remember


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Speaking of ghosts, in my studio I’m conjuring up several pieces of haunted jewelry and slowly getting them listed in my Etsy shop this Friday the 13th. Mwah haaa haaa. (Update - I made a separate little "haunted jewelry" section this weekend - Click here if you'd like to see!)

And one more thing about haiku anthologies - The Living Haiku Anthology is an ambitious, online project seeking to collect and present "all styles and approaches to haiku ... from a global perspective, for the benefit of those able to discern those true gems assurgent in the current foment," as described by Dr. Richard Gilbert, Professor, Graduate School of Social and Cultural Sciences, Kumamoto University, Japan, in his introduction at the LHA site. He adds, "Please reach out to other poets and let them know the LHA extends an open invitation to published haiku poets of all countries wishing to be presented and represented." I submitted several poems and my page was added this week. :0)

For all kinds of Friday the 13th fun, please visit our Irrepressible and Iridescent Irene, who is bravely rounding up this week!

Poetry Friday - Poe and Unexpected Gifts

October 5, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Poe, ponderings, artsyletters, Etsy


October Greetings, Poetry Peeps! I do love this month so.

At the moment, various projects with a spooky bent are strewn around my studio. I’ve been acquiring vintage or literary-themed postage stamps lately, and when I stumbled upon this recent 2009 image above celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allen Poe, well – more on that in a minute. The 42-cent stamp features a portrait by Michael J. Deas, who, according to the USPS web page about the stamp, is also an expert on portraits and daguerreotypes of the mysterious author and poet.

Even in miniscule form, I find Deas’s portrait haunting and full of life… the eyes really do follow you! I also recently discovered a wholesale supplier of hearty pewter shepherd’s hook bookmarks, ready for the addition of charms or oddities. And I found a wonderful pewter raven charm. Somehow I knew these things all needed to come together, so I placed the stamp on a vintage-y cardstock background (re-purposed from part of an old promotional postcard I’d had printed a few years ago) and made a magnet, then made a bookmark with a few links of black chain and the pewter components, and combined these with a pack of my raven note cards. Voilà – a Raven-Poe Gift Pack. (I’ve gone a little crazy with new gift packs to add to my regulars – other new ones pictured above, all made in a similar fashion, include a Bird Lover’s Pack, a Cat Lover’s Pack, A Book Lover’s Pack, and an additional Teacher Gift Pack.)

Back to Poe - Here are two excerpts from Poe’s 1850 poem, “The Bells”


                     The Bells
           by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

                            I

      Hear the sledges with the bells-
            Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
      How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
      While the stars that oversprinkle
      All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
      Keeping time, time, time,
      In a sort of Runic rhyme,
    To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
      From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
            Bells, bells, bells-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.


                            IV

          Hear the tolling of the bells-
              Iron Bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
      In the silence of the night,
      How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
      For every sound that floats
      From the rust within their throats
              Is a groan. …



For the poem its in entirety, click here.


Speaking of stamps, a Poetry Friday friend emailed to see if I ever used vintage stamps? And here I was, with little piles all around.

And speaking of gifts, I learned a new-to-me word on the subject this week, and I must share it with fellow wordsmiths. We had dinner with another couple Wednesday night, and my very dear friend pulled something from her purse and said, “Here – a sursy for you.”

“A what?” I asked, eyeing the fetching little box of pumpkin spice caramels.

“Sursy,” she said. “A little gift.” Well, I went crazy over the caramels AND the word, and was surprised I didn’t know it.

My friend’s husband started Googling and quickly determined that it didn’t share the same spelling with the goddess Circe – it’s just “s-u-r-s-y.” He found this definition in the Urban Dictionary: “A term commonly used in the South to denote a small, unexpected gift.”

Why didn't I know this word? – I am a Southerner after all, but – okay, perhaps growing up in Florida was not quite the same as growing up in the Carolinas. (A debate for another day.)

I told my friend that I had just received a lovely fall note in the mail from a far-away poetry friend, and it had a little Pumpkin Spice teabag enclosed. I guess it was a sursy?! And wouldn’t it be perfect to sip a cup of that tea with one of those caramels?

I’m grateful to these friends for unexpected gifts. Especially this week, when the horror has not been of the tingly Poe variety, but has seared our hearts.

Poetry Friday, for me, is always restorative. One soul-filling sursy after another. Enjoy each treasure today with our beautiful Violet, gathering all in the Roundup this week.

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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