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

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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - TRAVELING THE BLUE ROAD with Lee Bennett Hopkins, Margarita Engle, & Others...

January 18, 2018

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Traveling the Blue Road, poems about the sea, sea poems, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Margarita Engle, Bob Hansman, Jovan Hansman


I’m up to my knees in ancestral sleuthing lately, as mentioned in last week’s post. Copying what I’ve seen on other Ancestry.com family trees, I’ve been slowly adding sailing ship profile pictures to folks I can identify as immigrants in my own tree.

Our stories are borne upon waves.

TRAVELING THE Blue Road: POEMS OF THE SEA (Seagrass Press, an imprint of The Quarto Group, 2017) is a recent and breathtaking collection by Lee Bennett Hopkins, featuring works by a dozen of today’s most stellar poets and mesmerizing illustrations by Bob Hansman and Jovan Hansman.

First, the visual.

The violet- and indigo-hued cover is gorgeous, with its subtly-rendered small boat silhouette sailing along a horizon line of water above the title, against a backdrop of what I perceive as bubbly stars. Spot gloss on the boat and text adds to the appeal.

A variety of media is used in illustrations throughout the book, including pastels, charcoal, Conte crayons, cut paper and markers. An endnote about the artwork says, The images evolved over the course of the book, beginning with an entirely “archival” image, gradually blending archival images with drawn images, and ending with entirely drawn images. Even the art, which undulates between ethereal and gritty, is a journey.

The personal and creative story of father-son art team Bob Hansman and Jovan Hansman is amazing – Click here for a 2014 feature in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

There is also a note about the various type fonts employed. (This causes shallow breathing in a lettering & type nerd such as yours truly.) I learned a thing or two, and I so appreciate the care taken with this aspect of the book. Exquisite.

Then – the words.

      Wistful with wind and North Star,
      the sea sailed steamships, …


I fell overboard immediately with those opening lines from Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s Forward poem, “SEA.”

Readers embark on a journey through centuries, from Columbus’s 1492 voyage and The Mayflower in 1620 through The Middle Passage and desperate travels during the Irish Potato Famine, World War II, and the Mediterranean Refugee Crisis, among others.

Here is a poem toward the end of the book from Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle, about the Mariel Boat Lift in Cuba, which took place over six months in 1980:


      CARRIED ON SWAYING WAVES OF HOPE


      Adiós, Mariel, crowded port
      where boats swoop like seabirds,
      each vessel filled up with people
      who dream of seeing primos, tíos y amigos
      on the far shore
      in La Florida,
      where we will soon
      celebrate a fiesta
      with plenty to eat
      and freedom to speak
      of our past, present, future

      as families
      reunited…

      but still divided.

      Adiós, Abuelita, adiós.
      Will I ever see my grandma
      again?



©Margarita Engle. All rights reserved. Used with permission.


Other contributing poets include Paul B. Janeczko, J. Patrick Lewis, Allan Wolf, Marilyn Nelson, Denver Butson, Georgia Heard, Jane Yolen, Naomi Shihab Nye, G. Neri, and Lee Bennett Hopkins.

The oceans portrayed in this collection are weighty, powerful, full of both promise and threat, as described within the final poem by Lee Bennett Hopkins:


      seas seas smooth seas unfathomable seas titan seas …


After the poetry, brief, thoughtful notes explain the historical context of each poem and the dates of the events they describe. The collection targets ages 8 and up. It has been named a 2018 Notable Poetry Book for Children by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). (Congratulations, all!) Read more, including some stunning reviews, at the publisher’s website here .

What was it like putting together such a challenging collection? Lee Bennett Hopkins shares these thoughts:

      Compiling this anthology was an emotional experience for me. Each poet worked endlessly on each poem. We went back and forth to consider various points of view, honing not only lines and words but syllables! I wanted the poems to read like the waves of the ocean ... calling us, hugging us, showing its strength, power and what it had done, does, and will continue to do forever.

The imagery evoked gave me goose bumps: "Wistful with wind"; "fearless faith'; "facing the blue unknown"; 'the sea was never mine to see". Only poets can do this with language. They capture the sweeping, swooping, clinging, breathing sea.

I am indebted to know these marvelous talents. Ah, poetry. Ah, Poets.


(You caught that, right? The honing not only of lines and words, but syllables? That's why anthologies with Lee Bennett Hopkins's name on the spine are worthy of the accolades received, and then some!)

One final note: So delighted that Lee dedicated this book to Judith Mandell and Stephanie Salkin, whose persistence and organization of many moving parts supported Lee’s induction into the Florida Arts Hall of Fame last February, which I got to see with my own eyes. (A trip on land I’ll always treasure!)

Many thanks to Margarita Engle for sharing her poem here this week, and to Lee Bennett Hopkins for this brilliant collection, another wondrous and important addition to the bookshelf.

Speaking of journeys, for more fine poetry, steer your ship toward A Journey Through the Pages, where our good Captain Kay is rounding up Poetry Friday this week.

Poetry Friday - Margarita Engle's "Young and Old Together"

March 3, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Margarita Engle, poets



I know there’s snow on the ground in some parts (my future son-in-law sent a picture from a north Georgia Thursday evening), but trees and flowers are beginning to bloom here at the coast. Folks are either digging in the dirt already or browsing seed catalogs, depending on zip codes.

So today I have a simple share – a beautiful poem by Margarita Engle found in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science (Pomelo Books). You might say it’s about gardening, or about radishes - and there are some great veggie-inspired "Take 5" activities in the anthology - but it’s also about so much more…



Young and Old Together


I love to help Grandpa in his garden,
planting tiny radish seeds
so we can watch the swift growth
of leaves and stems,
like green towers
on top of
tasty
red
roots.



And in Spanish, also in the anthology:


Jóvenes y Viejos Juntos


Me encanta ayudar a mi abuelo en su jardin
sembrando semillitas de rábano
parar mirar cómo crecen tan rápido
las hojas y los tallos,
como torres verdes
encima de
sabrosas
raíces
rojas.



©Margarita Engle. All rights reserved.


This poem makes me smile, the way it celebrates a tender relationship between grandfather and grandchild. I imagine the grandfather wondering at “the swift growth” of his “nieto” or “nieta”!

My thanks to Margarita for sharing this poem with us today. If you are not already a fan, please seek out her work! She’s won multiple Pura Belpré Awards and Honors. She’s also the recipient of Américas Awards, Jane Addams Awards and Honors, International Reading Association Award, the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, and many others.

Just this year, Enchanted Air won the Pura Belpré Author Award, was selected as YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist, and won a Walter Award Honor from We Need Diverse Books.

Her Drum Dream Girl, illustrated by Rafael López ,won the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award! It also won the Charlotte Zolotow Award for best picture book writing of 2015, was selected as Asian Pacific American Library Association Children's Book Awards Honor, is an Amelia Bloomer Top 10 of 2016 and a 2016 Notable Book for a Global Society, International Literacy Association

And, just a week and a half or so ago, Enchanted Air received the 2016 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award , granted by Penn State University Libraries, the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, and Lee Bennett Hopkins!

We are all richer for Margarita’s mind, heart, and pen.


Here’s wishing you and your garden a hearty, poem-filled spring… Enjoy more inspiration with our wonderful Linda, rounding up today at Teacher Dance.

Quick Clicks

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