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
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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: Poetry for All Workshop, and Jean Craighead George

May 18, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, illustrators, writing life, Highlights, nature, workshops

Top: Eileen Spinelli, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Rebecca Davis, Melanie Hall, David L. Harrison

middle: cabin, and having fun with Rebecca S.,

Rebecca K. D., Bill, and Jacqueline (and Cindi taking pix)

with Marjorie Maddox; Joy Acey and David

bottom: 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. Whew!

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, JoŽlle! 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
Wendell Minor.)

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.


  1. May 18, 2012 7:29 AM EDT
    When I was a child (and spent my summers exploring the woods behind my house) Jean Craighead George was my through-the-woods neighbor. She came and read her books aloud to my 5th grade class. I read and re-read My Side of the Mountain until it started to fall apart.
    - Katya at Write.Sketch.Repeat
  2. May 18, 2012 7:58 AM EDT
    Oh, Katya, you must be feeling her loss deeply. She has been one of my absolute life-long heroes, as a writer and as an advocate for nature. Thanks for sharing that, and for hosting today.
    - Robyn Black
  3. May 18, 2012 8:04 AM EDT
    What a beautiful post, Robyn. I almost feel like I was there. One of these days! It's so important to take enriching time for yourself and your writing.
    - Laura Shovan
  4. May 18, 2012 8:14 AM EDT
    Thanks, Laura! And congrats (and good luck!) on your exciting poetry news.
    - Robyn Black
  5. May 18, 2012 8:48 AM EDT
    Thanks for sharing all this goodness today. I like how the robins nested near their favorite Robyn :). Glad you had such a fruitful, invigorating time!
    - jama
  6. May 18, 2012 9:26 AM EDT
    Glad you had a good time! I've got to get up there one of these days! :) e
    - elizabeth dulemba
  7. May 18, 2012 11:03 AM EDT
    Hi, Jama! Thanks. One of the other attendees, Cory, thought it amusing that the robins were near a Robyn. ;0)

    e, you'd love it. One to tempt you - There's another great illustrators workshop cooking up for Labor Day weekend. Of course, all the sessions are great.
    - Robyn Black
  8. May 18, 2012 1:03 PM EDT
    The robins knew how to find a human named Robin. That's an idea for a poem. Your time at Honesdale sounds like a dream come true. I'm glad you had a great learning experience with the faculty and your buddies.
    - Patricia Cruzan
  9. May 18, 2012 1:26 PM EDT
    Thanks, Patricia - it was special to be able to go.
    - Robyn Black
  10. May 18, 2012 2:02 PM EDT
    I know it was wonderful. Now, you need a week or two to just let it all absorb into your skin, deep in the pores where poetry grows.
    - Doraine Bennett
  11. May 18, 2012 2:19 PM EDT
    Thanks for a great post. sorry for your loss of a great friend.
    I'm glad you were at the workshop and that you found your robins inspiring. Lucky you to see the bear.
    - Joy Acey
  12. May 18, 2012 2:40 PM EDT
    The Highlights workshop sounds fantastic. It's on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing the quotes, and the inspiration.
    - Jim Hill
  13. May 18, 2012 3:07 PM EDT
    Hi, Doraine! Thanks - I think thoughts from the week will be seeping into my psyche for a long time to come.

    Joy, Thanks to you for all your enthusiasm before and during the workshop! And I appreciate the kind thoughts. Interesting to learn that Katya actually lived next to Jean Craighead George.

    Jim, definitely keep one of these trips on your list! It's a very special gift to yourself. Thanks for dropping by.
    - Robyn Black
  14. May 18, 2012 9:07 PM EDT
    This is the second post I've read about the workshop! It sounds great.
    - Ruth (
  15. May 18, 2012 9:25 PM EDT
    Hi, Ruth - thanks for visiting. We did have a blast!
    - Robyn Black
  16. May 19, 2012 5:30 AM EDT
    Wolves!!! Now I know why you chose to end this post with those beautiful lines. Such lovely photos and you look great, dearest Robyn! I knew you had a fun and productive time. Thank you for sharing these beautiful moments with us.
    - Myra from GatheringBooks
  17. May 19, 2012 7:24 PM EDT
    As I said to Heidi -- I'm jealous! Seriously jealous!
    - Mary Lee
  18. May 19, 2012 7:39 PM EDT
    Myra - thanks for such kind words! And you know me well re. the wolves. ;0)

    Hi, Mary Lee - the workshop was seriously wonderful and I loved meeting Heidi in person.
    - Robyn Black
  19. May 19, 2012 8:28 PM EDT
    So wonderful to meet you - such a magical time! You captured the spirit of our retreat so well.

    I, too, love Jean Craighead George and her picture books on wolves - we own two of them.
    - Julie Hedlund
  20. May 19, 2012 10:05 PM EDT
    Thanks for passing on your experience and those wonderful quotes!
    - violet
  21. May 21, 2012 9:48 AM EDT
    This is SO inspiring!! I am going to get there.
    - Andromeda Jazmon
  22. May 21, 2012 10:36 AM EDT
    Julie, it was so wonderful to meet you! I look forward to staying in touch.

    Violet, thank you for visiting! I could have filled up a page with terrific quotes from our leaders.

    Hi, Andi! You will LOVE it when you go one of these days. It's great that the poetry workshops are so well-received.
    - Robyn Black
  23. May 23, 2012 9:37 PM EDT
    sounds wonderful! Fun and hard work joyously combined.

    Blessings, Robyn.

    - Jean Hall - Write2Ignite!
  24. May 24, 2012 8:41 AM EDT
    Thanks for stopping by, Jean - and you described the workshop perfectly. :0)
    - Robyn Black
  25. April 26, 2013 11:23 PM EDT
    I found this post just now. I was barely aware of all that Poetry Friday had to offer at this point last year. (Meeting wonderful poetry folks, reading new poems, learning so much new about the poetry world and on and on....) AND I am heading to Rebecca's poetry workshop in a few weeks. Color me happy. Thanks for this peek into what I know will be an enlightening retreat for the poetry soul.
    - Janet F.
  26. April 26, 2013 11:30 PM EDT
    Oh, Janet - color me happy FOR you! A magical time awaits. I look forward to hearing about it! Thanks for visiting. :0)
    - Robyn Black
  27. April 11, 2014 8:46 AM EDT
    I have learned so much from JCG & also MS - I remember how we lost them both so close together. I just found this part of your site which is so overflowing with nifty resources & most important, feeling, Robyn.
    Sometime if you are collecting a caravan of poets going up to a Highlights workshop (poetry, first choice, but others... too.) please if you remember, message me. If I could drive to S.C., leave my car with you & ride the rest of the way up in good company, that might we wonderful. If you wanted one more.
    Thank you for the quotes you shared. It's a dream to go to one of the Highlights events.
    And this line about wolves... things in balance... what an appropriate share.
    - jan /bookseedstudio
  28. April 11, 2014 9:34 AM EDT
    Hi, Jan! Oh, you would LOVE a Founders workshop. It's been a blessing to get to go to three over the years (two poetry; one illustration) and I hope to make it back up there again sometime. Generous, creative folks all around.
    - Robyn Black

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