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

Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller

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Paul B. Janeczko

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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: Summer Poem Swap Delights from Irene Latham

July 10, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poets, Summer Poem Swap, book tracks

You can’t outclever Irene.

A couple of weeks ago it was my pleasure to share my first surprise in the 2014 Summer Poem Swap (dreamed up by the amazing Tabatha ), a lovely and poignant poem and hand painted card from Margaret Simon.

Thursday my mailbox offered up delectable poetic surprise # 2 – this time from my good friend and fellow SCBWI Southern Breezer, Irene Latham.

First, I howled at the packaging. A repurposed Little Debbies Star Crunch box! That bit of cardboard transported me back a few decades ago to summers when I worked at a daycare center– we took the kids skating and took along boxes of Little Debbies Star Crunch treats! Mmmm, still remember how yummy they were…

I opened that box to find another: a cute little take-out carton with wire handle! You know the ones. Irene collaged the outside of this with all kinds of pictorial wonders – images of a light bulb/idea; a big beetle; a pig wearing shades; the words yes! and Love; some eighteenth-century party-goers; some colorful men under a colorful umbrella; and a little girl in make-believe mode hanging out a costume to dry. Sooo very Irene!

Inside the box were some fortune cookies! And, a wee colorful scroll. Oh, I do love a scroll. I untied its ribbon to find this:

Fortune Cookie
for RHB

crisp, golden shell
    happy to hatch

nestled inside
    tender folds


singing itself


©Irene Latham. All rights reserved.

Is that delicious or what?!?! (And please forgive the less-than-perfect formatting.) I could read that last stanza over and over, and I’m sure I will.

In the interest of poetry of course, I opened one of the fortune cookies. To share whatever its message was with you …

If we only knew the real value of the day.

Now there’s a sentiment a poet can sink her teeth into! (And, yes, of course I ate the cookie… Am I wearing crumbs?)

Speaking of Irene, on the OFF CHANCE YOU’VE BEEN ESCAPING THE HEAT IN SIBERIA OR SOMETHING… Huge congrats on the starred reviews for her first collection of poetry for young readers, DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST, to be released from Millbrook in September. Says the one and only Lee Bennett Hopkins:

CHEERS to Irene Latham. Her latest book, DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST AND OTHER POEMS FROM THE WATER HOLE (Millbrook) received STARRED reviews from both SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL and KIRKUS reviews. The book is simply beautiful in every way. SLJ cites:
"This will be a much-sought after book...". Seek it out.

I always do what Lee says. Actually, I had the good fortune to see some of these fine poems in manuscript form, and I recently got to see a beautiful ARC from the publisher. To see the cover, and to learn about more poetry books for young readers Irene has coming down the pike, click here.

Many thanks to Irene for allowing me to share her work, and I’m ever grateful to share this journey in poetry with her as well.

All this talk of cookies must have whet your poetic appetite. Please visit lovely Linda at Write Time for more delicious poetic offerings in this week’s Roundup!


  1. July 11, 2014 6:19 AM EDT
    I was so wowed by the package and its contents that I almost forgot to leave a message! I was wandering off in a thoughtful stupor, thinking about what I would send my next swappee. "Fortune Cookie" is amazing, and how perfect was that fortune?!
    - Tabatha
  2. July 11, 2014 7:38 AM EDT
    Wow, what a delicious surprise you received! Thanks for sharing Irene's sequence. It is truly lovely.
    - Diane Mayr
  3. July 11, 2014 8:23 AM EDT
    Dear Robyn, you inspire me all the time.. and as for the star crunch box, what are poets, if not resourceful?! :) Love to you friend. And thanks Tabatha and Diane... who have each sent me a bit of poetic magic this summer! So happy making, this swap. And I am still swooning over LBH's kindness. Thank you for sharing. xo
    - Irene Latham
  4. July 11, 2014 8:40 AM EDT
    The poetry swap sounds so, so, so fun! Irene's poem is lovely- I will never eat another fortune cookie without thinking of that last stanza. And I can't wait to see her new book!
  5. July 11, 2014 9:07 AM EDT
    Oh, how precious the packaging and the poem! I love especially the last stanza. And the fortune sounds like the beginning of some new piece. BTW, yes, you should brush off those crumbs before you leave the house!
    - Donna Smith
  6. July 11, 2014 9:21 AM EDT
    "Wowed" is the right word, Tabatha! Thanks for sharing in the fun.

    Hi, Diane - not surprised Irene's poem appeals to you as much as to me - delicious, indeed!

    Well, hello, Star of the Day Irene. You are DEFINITELY resourceful. And ridiculously talented and creative. xo

    Hi, Carol! Please jump right into the next Swap. Fun all around. And you will LOVE Dear Wandering Wildebeest.... Thanks for popping in!

    Donna - ahhhh, you are right about that fortune cookie message! A poet's mind never rests. (& thanks for letting me know about the crumbs; only true friends are honest like that. ;0) )
    - Robyn Black
  7. July 11, 2014 9:27 AM EDT
    Irene Latham: WOW!
    - janet wong
  8. July 11, 2014 9:28 AM EDT
    So far you are hitting the JACKPOT this summer, Robyn- what a fun surprise and a thoughtful package of yummies! I'm with you when it comes to that last stanza-- straight out of the songbird's mouth, I think.
    - Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
  9. July 11, 2014 9:45 AM EDT
    The third stanza with its word bird taking flight -- what a lovely image. I'm thrilled for Irene that her new book is taking flight! Can't wait to read it.
    - Laura Shovan @AuthorAmok
  10. July 11, 2014 10:25 AM EDT
    I've been the beneficiary of some of Irene's creativity, & love the fortune sent to you, Robyn. That final verse of the poem does "wow"! Love the swapping, always a good thing in the mail!
    - Linda Baie
  11. July 11, 2014 10:26 AM EDT
    I just love the poetry swap. It's so fun to see what others are sending. It reminds me of my April project with students.
    - jone
  12. July 11, 2014 10:33 AM EDT
    Janet, Yep!

    I'm a lucky gal, Michelle! Loved your feature on Irene today, too. :0)

    Hi, Laura - with all your recent animal-speak, you'll love this book!

    Linda, our Poetry Friday community just fills me with awe. Thanks for being such a vibrant part of it!

    Hi, Jone - I love your project with your students. I almost didn't sign up for this Summer Swap (and truth be told I'm still running a bit behind on Round 2), but poetry is meant to be shared, so I couldn't resist. Happy Summer!
    - Robyn Black
  13. July 11, 2014 12:07 PM EDT
    Fun post, Robyn. I'm going to do what Lee says, too. ;)
    - Monica
  14. July 11, 2014 12:15 PM EDT
    The fortune cookie poem really grabs the reader with all the images. Thanks for sharing the words with us, Irene and Robyn. I can see the cookie hatching as I think about the words. My husband and I like to eat at The Grand Buffet, which sells Chinese, Japanese, and American food. I take delight in opening up each fortune cookie. There is a splendid fruit and salad bar at the restaurant. It's located off Georgia Highway 85, in Fayetteville, Georgia.
    - Patricia Cruzan
  15. July 11, 2014 12:32 PM EDT
    Monica - always a good plan! ;0) Thanks for stopping by.

    Hi, Patricia - sounds like a great restaurant! I'm glad you enjoyed Irene's poem. That "hatching" image is wonderful, isn't it?
    - Robyn Black
  16. July 11, 2014 1:17 PM EDT
    Thanks for the fun post. Irene is sooooo talented. I was fortunate to receive a poem from her too in the Summer Poetry Swap. Tabatha Yeats has really done something special by setting this up. I can hardly wait to send/ receive the next poems.
    - Joy Acey
  17. July 11, 2014 1:20 PM EDT
    Ok, for some reason i completely love the idea of a poetry swap. And i completely love how that poem was packaged and got to you. And on the poem, i love the last stanza and that last word jumps up beautifully.
    - GatheringBooks
  18. July 11, 2014 1:52 PM EDT
    Joy, Hi! Great to see you. Lucky you, too, and you are right about Tabatha - she's a treasure.

    Greetings, Myra! Thanks for coming by. Tabatha's Swap idea has just been fantastic. I agree about that last word of Irene's sequence - it does JUMP. :0)
    - Robyn Black
  19. July 11, 2014 2:04 PM EDT
    Irene's poems are always a delight! Thanks for also sharing the backstory. I'm pre-ordering Irene's new book and can't wait to read it!
    - Linda Kulp Trout
  20. July 11, 2014 2:56 PM EDT
    Linda, Thanks so much for hosting today! You're in for a treat with Irene's newest. :0)
    - Robyn Black
  21. July 11, 2014 3:03 PM EDT
    Thanks for sharing, Robyn. I see what Irene did there, beyond the wonderful packaging (why is it so much fun to send something other than a flat piece of paper?). She wrote 3 exquisite ways of looking at a fortune cookie, of which the third is my favorite, a brilliant piece of imagery. Looking forward to her new book!@
    - Heidi
  22. July 11, 2014 3:07 PM EDT
    Word-bird/unfurling -- love this! How do you guys have time for all this amazing and creative art-making? I'm stunned.
    - Laura Purdie Salas
  23. July 11, 2014 3:37 PM EDT
    Heidi - Hello! Thanks for coming over. Irene is always offering a new way to look at something familiar - and your word "exquisite" rings true.

    Laura, I often wonder when/if YOU ever sleep. ;0) Thanks for coming by. I think you picked my favorite sounds, too - "Word-bird/unfurling" - such lovely stuff.
    - Robyn Black
  24. July 11, 2014 4:27 PM EDT
    I loved the fortune cookie poem! Thanks for sharing your yummy surprise with us, Robyn. And congratulations to Irene--what wonderful words from LBH!
    - Becky Shillington
  25. July 11, 2014 4:33 PM EDT
    Hi, Becky! My pleasure. Irene sent enough to go around... ;0) And, yes, such praise from LBH - priceless.
    - Robyn Black
  26. July 11, 2014 5:38 PM EDT
    All I can say is I'm glad mine came first and does not have to measure up to Irene. The blogs are buzzing today about her new book. I am looking forward to it. I also am tempted to go it alone to a zoo just to try and win a class set of Don't Feed the Boy. I mean, really, that poem was just awesome "word-bird unfurling..." Thanks for sharing.
    - Margaret Simon
  27. July 11, 2014 7:40 PM EDT
    Robyn, I am truly inspired by this community of writers. Your blog was delightful and I am so glad that you captured the photos along with the poem. The phrase word-bird struck a cord with me. Thank you for sharing the poem and penning such a lovely post.
    - Carol Varsalona (@cvarsalona)
  28. July 11, 2014 9:41 PM EDT
    So much fun from packaging to poem!
    - Mary Lee Hahn
  29. July 12, 2014 8:46 AM EDT
    These poem swaps are a delightful treat even for those of us not participating - clever packaging and sublime poems, it doesn't get better than that!
    - Tara
  30. July 12, 2014 12:36 PM EDT
    Margaret, ha ha! No competition - your poem brought tears to my eyes and I soooo appreciated the beautiful painting on the card, which I see every day in my little home office. DON'T FEED THE BOY is a great read - if you enter Irene's generous give-away, good luck!!!

    Hi, Carol - So many of us are enjoying playing with that "word-bird" - :0) Thanks so much for the kind comments, and so glad you are part of Poetry Fridays!

    Mary Lee, You can imagine my smile when sitting on top of a couple of bills and such in my mailbox was that re-purposed Little Debbies carton... ;0)

    Tara, so glad you're enjoying! Treats all around, and I love the fact that little envelopes and packages are zooming from coast to coast all summer with POEMS inside. :0)
    - Robyn Black

Quick Clicks

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.
Author visits
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!