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


Click links below to follow our Progressive Poem for Nat'l Poetry Month!

April

1 Heidi at my juicy little universe

2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference

3 Doraine at Dori Reads

4 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

5 Diane at Random Noodling

6 Kat at Kat's Whiskers

7 Irene at Live Your Poem

8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

9 Linda at TeacherDance

10 Penny at a penny and her jots

11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page

12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem

13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

14 Jan at Bookseedstudio

15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales

16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy

17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect

18 Buffy at Buffy's Blog

19 Pat at Writer on a Horse

20 BJ at Blue Window

21 Donna at Mainely Write

22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch

23 Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town

24 Amy at The Poem Farm

25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

26 Renee at No Water River

27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme

28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan

29 Charles at Poetry Time

30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids








Hannah enjoying poetry workshop


(Scroll down this column for tags, archives and blogroll....)

Archives

Tags


Enjoy these Great
Children's Lit Blogs and Websites:


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 - A Poem Postcard from Silver Star Elementary

May 11, 2017

Tags: </br>Poetry Friday, poetry, student work, Poetry Month, Jone Rush MacCulloch

Happy Poetry Friday!

Today's post is short, but big on color and creativity.

Many of you know that each year for National Poetry Month, our own tireless and terrific Jone Rush MacCulloch, a librarian in Washington State at Silver Star Elementary, puts together a Poem Postcard project. Students write and illustrate poems, which are sent out to lucky recipients (like me!) just for the asking in April.

I'm delighted to share the one I received this year, showcasing the talent of fourth grader L. G.:


                  Amazing American Eel
    I am as stealthy as a jar of cough syrup
                  sleek, slimy, and skinny,
                  I hope you're not hungry,
          because I am served as a delicacy
                  in some parts of the world.
                        Anguilla rostrata.


L. G.
Grade 4

Thanks for sharing, L. G.! ("Stealthy as a jar of cough syrup" - Ha!)
That eel would be safe in our house, since we're vegetarian. But maybe not safe from the big cat....

For more terrific student poetry from Silver Star, click here, and then scroll through April's posts.

For more delightful poetry of all kinds today, swim on over to A Teaching Life, where busy teacher Tara has the Roundup.

Poetry Friday - Our Earth Day Haiku Weekend Recap!

April 27, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Month, haiku, Epworth by the Sea, Earth Day, nature, David G. Lanoue, Tom Painting, Stanford M. Forrester, HSA, Haiku Society of America, HSA SE

“HONORING THE EARTH” – that was the theme of our Haiku Society of America Southeast Region’s meeting and workshop last weekend, over Earth Day. Eighteen of us from eight states gathered under the Spanish moss and ocean breezes at Epworth by the Sea, a Methodist conference center in St. Simons Island, Georgia. Epworth is home to natural beauty and a staff beyond compare.

Not sure how we managed it, but the weather was perfect. As regional coordinator and facilitator of this shind-dig, I was thrilled that even things out of my control went pretty smoothly, including travel Friday from New Orleans for speaker David G. Lanoue - poet, professor, Issa scholar, past president of the Haiku society of America, and author of several books You’ve met him here, when I recapped a terrific meeting put on by my predecessor, Terri L. French. Be sure to check out David’s multi-layered Haiku Guy website, where, like our lovely Linda Baie, you can learn how to sign up for Daily Issa poems!

Friday evening we got acquainted over dinner and later enjoyed readings by the “Coquina Circle,” a handful of haiku enthusiasts in the northern Florida/southern Georgia area. Paula Moore had a few poems by each member printed up on a gorgeous broadside and gave one to each attendee. (Thank you, Paula!)

I shared Robert Epstein’s new animal rights haiku books , and just before wrapping up, our other two speakers appeared at the door – Tom Painting and Stanford M. Forrester. Both are award-winning haiku poets; Tom and his students have been “regulars” here, and you might recall a brief blog wave to Stanford, a past president of the Haiku Society of America and founder and publisher of bottle rockets press.

The two travelers had driven from Atlanta, after Stanford’s flight from Connecticut was delayed. Stanford was not too weary to share his latest work – a wonderful, hand-printed, hand-bound mini chapbook titled “matcha.”

On Saturday, we added a commuting attendee to our ranks – our own Michelle Heidenrich Barnes! I loved having another Poetry Friday-er in the room. Tom led a workshop about bird haiku, and facilitated a writing exercise that was rich and inspiring. Then we grabbed binoculars and followed him outside. The birds were beginning to quiet down for the middle of the day, but we still encountered several, including an osprey and her chick on their nest at the top of a pole. Over the course of the weekend, expert Tom filled a list of 34 species; he said some more would no doubt come in the day after we left, because of an approaching front. (Of course, Tom was up and out at the crack of dawn each morning, and dusk, too.)

After lunch we had a business meeting, and then the aforementioned lovely and talented Terri L. French led us in a 10-minute standing yoga break outside on the grass. Perfect for loosening up muscles and brain cells. (Thank you, Terri!)

David led an afternoon workshop in an ongoing series he’s developed called “Write Like Issa.” Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), perhaps the most beloved of the haiku masters, expressed compassion for human and nonhuman animals through his poetry, and touches of humor, despite his personal history of loss and poverty. Children in Japan are well acquainted with his work. According to David, one trick to writing like Issa is to express emotion without using emotional words. (Perhaps not as easy as it first appears, eh?)

During an afternoon break, many of us took Tom up on his offer to lead another bird walk, and we were soon rewarded with observing some active blue-gray gnatcatchers flitting up in the trees, and a couple of gorgeous wood storks, striking in black and white, soaring overhead.

We also came upon a discovery that stopped us in our tracks. On the Epworth campus, in a peaceful setting looking across green space to the river, is a memorial plaque set along a walk in memory of Peggy Willis Lyles. Peggy was a very fine, highly regarded poet, and she had been active in a north Georgia haiku group among many other endeavors. I happened to get serious about haiku around the time she passed away. I remember feeling such a loss that I would never have the chance to meet her. A few folks last weekend had known Peggy, and it was a poignant moment to discover her and her work celebrated in such a way. The plaque is shown above; here are a few poems featured on it:


wind and rain
the hand I reach for
in the dark


I brush
my mother’s hair
the sparks


waves beat
against an ocean
full of stars


spring sunbeam
the baby’s toes
spread apart


dragonfly
the tai chi master
shifts his stance


into the afterlife red leaves



All poems by Peggy Willis Lyles, from a plaque in her memory at Epworth by the Sea, St. Simons Island, Georgia.


On Saturday evening we enjoyed some informal haiku sharing and folks finished up entries for a modified kukai (haiku contest). One of our attendees, Joette, is also a musician and played some beautiful Japanese songs for us. (Thank you, Joette!)

(A few of us might have gone out afterwards to a somewhat hidden local watering hole for more discussion and even some pool-playing....)

Sunday morning, Stanford presented a session on Santoka Taneda (1882-1940). Santoka’s life, like Issa’s, had been wrought with pain and heartache, and his haiku reflect Nature in a much harsher light than in Issa’s poetry. It was fascinating to look at this aspect of works from both men as we assembled on Earth Day decades, and centuries, later.

David led the last session, sharing from his new book, Issa and Being Human. Issa wrote about every class of people, David reminded us, with ability to see from each person’s perspective. (We could use some more of that these days.) Issa could see life from the perspective of even the “lowliest” animals, too.

Our last scheduled event before our farewell lunch was the announcement of the kukai winner. Dennis Holmes (a.k.a. Gobou) judged our contest – and took photographs all weekend. (Thank you, Dennis!) He didn’t know who penned each poem, but the winning haiku he chose was by one of my favorite haiku poets, and all-around great guy, Michael Henry Lee. (Congrats, Michael!!) He received a nice monetary prize donated by a generous member. I’m not including Michael’s poem here, in case he has designs on submitting it somewhere.

But I did ask Dennis for permission to share one of the haiku he posted with his photos. It’s the perfect way to end a post about a weekend which filled our minds and hearts with inspiration and camaraderie.

a tern
in the sunset...
Earth Day


©Dennis Holmes, aka, Gobou

(Thanks again, Dennis.) I’m deeply grateful to Tom, David, and Stanford for leading us, for all who helped behind the scenes, and to all who came - each talented, fun, kind person I’m honored to swim in the haiku soup with: Joette, Sandi, Terri, Raymond, Paula, Michael, Kent, Dennis, Shirley (from Oregon!), Robyn (like the way she spells her name...), Michelle - :0) - , David, Jane, Perry, and Toni (long-distance). Thanks as well to our current HSA president, Fay Aoyagi, who planned to attend but could not because of a family emergency. We missed you!

And now for this last Poetry Friday of National Poetry Day, enjoy all the great offerings rounded up by JoAnn today at Teaching Authors.

Progressive Poem Parks Here Today!

April 25, 2017

Tags: Kidlit Progressive Poem, Progressive Poem, poetry, Poetry Month

Greetings! The Progressive Poem parks here today. Thanks for coming by. (The Progressive Poem is the brainchild of our own Irene Latham. Here's a little history & previous poems if you've stumbled upon this for the first time. See the sidebar at left for links to this year's contributors. )

I think this is the first time I’ve chimed in this late in the poem. The trick is to stay true to the poetic tale as told so far, and hand off something usable to the poets who will wrap it up. (While realizing, of course, that everybody interprets the poem differently. My thoughts are much in line with Ruth's from a couple of days ago.)

The lines between fantasy and real experience feel a bit blurred, but that works for our creative child protagonist, I think. My take is that we still have a young storyteller who has overcome obstacles/fear to share a fanciful adventure from the stage.
A freckled youngster who was a knight in the second stanza is now on stage as a “dragon pirate,” weaving colorful tales of Dragonworld sea adventures for the audience.

With only five lines to go, I feel it’s my duty to help turn this pirate ship toward its storytelling port for whatever ending awaits. Of course, the parrot has been called upon to provide a little literary “echo.”) (Many thanks to Amy for naming the parrot – Ha! I’m happy to share this bit of poetic posterity with our other Poetry Friday Robyn, too.)

My line is at the end.

------


I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges–
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile,
and warm to the coals of conversation.
Enticed to the stage by strands of story,
I skip up the stairs in anticipation.

Flip around, face the crowd, and freeze!
Shiver me. Look who’s here. Must I disappear?
By hook or by crook, I deserve a second look!
I cheer. Please, have no fear. Find the book.

But wait! I’ll share the lines I know by heart.
Mythicalhowls, fierytones slip from my lip
Blue scales flash, claws rip, the prophecy begins
Dragonworld weaves webs that grip. I take a trip…

“Anchors aweigh!” Steadfast at helm on clipper ship,
a topsail schooner, with sails unfurled, speeds away
As, true-hearted dragon pirate, I sashay
with my wise parrot, Robyn, through the spray.

“Land Ho!” (“Land Ho!”) We’ve hooked the whole crowd.



-----

It's all yours, Renée! (Feel free to remove/adjust that period at the end if needed.)

Poetry Friday - Haiku Flies When You're Having Fun...

April 20, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Poetry Month, birds, nature, HSA, Haiku Society of America, Issa, David. G. Lanoue, workshops, conferences


Whew - I don't know about you, but I feel like April is flying by.

I can't believe it's already time for the Haiku Society of America/Southeast Region HONORING THE EARTH meeting & workshop I'm coordinating in St. Simons Island, Georgia! Hence, I'll keep this short, since the road beckons.

For our Earth Day celebration, part of our time will be spent on a birding ginko (haiku walk), led by haiku poet and teacher extraordinaire Tom Painting of Atlanta.

With birds on the brain, I thought I'd share this haiku of mine that appears in the current Frogpond:


our different truths
the rusty underside
of a bluebird



© Robyn Hood Black
Frogpond, Vol. 40, No. 1


Speaking of haiku and birds... Another of our speakers - poet, author, past HSA president and professor, David G. Lanoue - has agreed to allow me to use some of his ISSA translations in art and such. (His translations of haiku by Kobayashi Issa, who lived from 1763 to 1828, number more than 10,000.)

I got out my pointed calligraphy pen, ink, and pencils and such and designed a note card, above, with one of the poems David said he particularly liked. The colors might be more fall-like than spring, but I've gone ahead and listed it in my artsyletterEtsy shop. :0)

Here's the poem pictured above:


traveling geese
the human heart, too,
wanders


Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue


Thanks for lighting on a branch over here today, and enjoy all the poetic flights of fancy rounded up for us this week by the amazing Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.

Poetry Friday: Edith Holden's Country Diary

April 6, 2017

Tags: Poetry Month, Poetry Friday, poetry, Edith Holden, English poetry, nature


Volatile weather, blankets of yellow pollen, blossoms and buds and greening of trees large and small – spring is definitely here! This week I turn to Edith Holden – do you know her? She lived a hundred years ago and captured spring, and all seasons, with her pen and paints. Best known for her “Nature Notes” which became THE COUNTRY DIARY OF AN EDWARDIAN LADY, she offers us a glimpse into a life connected to the land, and to words, and to art – much like that of Beatrix Potter.

Years and years ago, Jeff gave me a paperback copy of Edith’s COUNTRY DIARY, and I’ve managed not to lose it in all of our moves. I love that it’s reproduced as she penned it, with lettering in brown sepia and images brought to life in watercolor.

One hundred and eleven years ago today, on April 7, 1906, she recorded this:

Another glorious day. Cycled to Knowle. On the way found some Marsh Marigolds and Blackthorn in blossom. The Tadpoles have come out of their balls of jelly and career madly about the aquarium wagging their little black tails. A Gudgeon which had put into the aquarium has made a meal of a good many of them. Ground ivy in blossom.”

Isn’t that lovely?

She shared some poetry on these April pages as well. Here are the shorter excerpts:

”And wind-flowers and violets
Which yet join not scent to hue
Crown the pale year weak and new.”


Shelley


“Long as there’s a sun that sets
Primroses will have their glory
Long as there are violets
They will have a place in story.”


Wordsworth


”Now lav’rocks wake the merry morn
Aloft on dewy wing:
The merle, in his noontide bower
Makes woodland echoes ring
the mavis wild wi’ many a note
Sings drowsy day to rest,
In love and freedom they rejoice
We’ care nor thrall oppressed.

Now blooms the lily on the bank,
the primrose down the brae;
The hawthorn’s budding in the glen
And milk-white is the slae!


Burns


The book is apparently not currently in print, though I found some used copies online. I also found an English website devoted to it, and to Edith, at http://www.countrydiary.co.uk/ .
From the biography there:

As was common at the time Edith and her sisters were educated at home by their mother and they were taught to appreciate literature, including poetry which was a particular interest of Edith's parents. Sketching, painting and knowledge of nature were also considered an important part of a girl's education.

Here is also a short, interesting bio on a Unitarian Universalist site, which highlights her work as an illustrator of children’s books.

Happy Spring, to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and Happy Fall, to those in the Southern. And Happy Poetry Month to all! Enjoy poems blossoming all over this week at Live Your Poem, where the Incredible Irene has our Roundup, AND today’s line in the Progressive Poem, which is her brainchild, AND a new poem in her ARTSPEAK series. Enjoy!

Poetry Friday - Old Words to Ring in New Poetry Month

March 30, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, artsyletters, found poem, Victorian, poetry, Poetry Month


Helllooo, Poetry Lovers!

Tomorrow we ring in "our" month - National Poetry Month! Read all about it here, at The Academy of American Poets.

I decided to celebrate in my studio with a new collage, made from antique elements.

The words simply read:


POETRY


poetry has

beauty


arrayed in

truth



poem found by Robyn Hood Black

The image is from the May 2015 issue of Woman's World. The text was clipped directly from A. A. Smith's introduction to Poetry and Art, Columbia Publishing Company, 1892. The "title" was clipped from The Poetry Book 5, Huber-Bruner-Curry, circa. 1926. Two vintage topaz-colored glass hearts dangle from the bottom of the fancy vintage bronze-colored metal frame (made in Italy).

Much poetic goodness will be springing up all over the Kidlitosphere this month. Our wonderful Jama wrangles together events and keeps a running list over at Jama's Alphabet Soup .

One highlight is always The Progressive Poem, started and coordinated by our lovely Irene Latham. It travels each day to a different blog, adding a line each day, and it's always surprising to see where the words take us. (It parks right here on April 25.)

A terrific-sounding new adventure this year will be The Poetry Mosaic at Bookology. A different poet reading his or her poetry will be added each day of the month. (I'm thrilled to get to participate, along with some other Poetry Friday regulars. (-- *hint*, you'll have to wait a while for mine... ;0) )

Many more celebrations are in the works, and terrific poetry posts throughout April. Visit the ever-amazing Amy at The Poem Farm today for a launch into Poetry Month!

Poetry Friday - DAYENU & Extra Credit Questions for April Halprin Wayland

April 14, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Poetry Month, authors, book tracks, April Halprin Wayland


We’re slap-in-the-middle of Poetry Month! Does it get much better? Well, it does if you get to hang out with one of my all-time favorite people and poets, April Halprin Wayland.

Welcome to Life on the Deckle Edge, April, where I’m always running a wee bit ragged. Until I spend a few moments with something as wonderful as your just-launched More Than Enough - A Passover Story (Dial Books for Young Readers), which invites us to slow down and savor and be grateful. Katie Kath’s exuberant illustrations brim with joy, depicting a loving family’s preparations for their special Passover meal.

Today, I appreciate your playing along for a few “Extra Credit” questions!


April’s Extra Credit Q & A

“We wander the market surrounded by colors – Dayenu.”
First, what is Dayenu? Second, where are your favorite places to wander?


Dayenu (pronounced die-AYE-new) is the title of a song we sing at Passover . It's bright and bouncy and the chorus is a true earworm—it's simply the word Dayenu repeated over and over.

Dayenu means, "It would have been enough." So, for example, we say, if we had only been freed from slavery, that would have been enough—Dayenu! And, if the Red Sea had split and that was all, that would have been enough...etc.

Dayenu is a reminder to be aware of and grateful for the blessings in each moment.

Favorite places to wander? Meadows. And on verdant green hiking trails with my dog or my hiking buddies. Although I live within walking distance of the ocean in Southern California, rolling green hills are what light me up.

“We reach through the bars to lift one purring kitten.” Please, tell us about your pets!

Gladly, Robyn. I include an animal in all of my books.

• Eli is our licky, lanky dog (part Doberman, part German Shepherd, part knucklehead);
• Snot is our tiny tortoiseshell cat (she was the runt of the litter) with a squeaky kitten voice. (And don't blame me—my husband named her);
• Sheldon is our California desert tortoise. We had to get a permit from the state to adopt him because these tortoises are listed as a threatened species.
• We have about ten 10-cent gold fish in our pond (who have grown the size of submarines),
• and we have two red-eared slider turtles. We used to have four, named after the Beatles; we're not sure who survived, so their names could be any two of these: John, Paul, George or Ringo.

“We soak in blue bubbles and dress up for dinner.” What was your most recent dress-up occasion, or one on the horizon?

You can bet that I dressed up for the official More Than Enough book launch at our wonderful local independent bookstore. It was so much fun! I wore a bright hearts-and-rainbow dress, read the book, taught the Dayenu song and played the fiddle as the audience joined in.

Then we passed out coloring pages and I talked to the grown-ups about the hilarious behind-the-scenes story of how this book was born. [This is a must-read, Folks – click here for a tale of flexibility & determination!]

We served my favorite Passover food, charoset. Charoset symbolizes mortar which Jewish slaves used between bricks to build edifices for the Pharaoh. It's made of chopped apples, walnuts, honey, cinnamon, dates and either wine or grape juice. Put it on matzoh and it's yummy-crunchy-sweet—divine!

“We search high and low for the lost afikomen.” Do you have a favorite “found object”?

Such an interesting question, Robyn. My father was a farmer and an artist—and an appreciator of all things great and small. He found a crooked old plumbing pipe about the size of a child's arm, bent at the elbow; he stuck flowers and a chicken hawk feather in it, and brought it home. So quirky-beautiful... and so my father. That's the first thing I thought of.

(Not gonna lie… that made me tear up a little!)
“She wraps us in blankets, then sings Eliyahu.” You’re no stranger to music. Do you sing to the radio or iTunes while stuck in LA traffic? What station? Are you a humble hummer or a belter-outer?


Actually, I usually listen to National Public Radio 24/7—news, not music. And audio books. In terms of music, I'm all about sitting-around-the-living-room playing acoustic instruments and singing folk music with friends. Songs written by songwriters like Tom Paxton and Stan Rogers, to name a few.

But lately when I'm driving listen to the songs from the musical, Hamilton. Wow. I've never understood hip-hop before, I'd never taken the time to really listen to it. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the lyrics, the music, the book, and who stars in the musical knocks it out of the stadium. (I also listen to In the Heights, which Miranda wrote and starred in, too).

When I'm in the car, I'm a belter-outer. Which are you, Robyn?

Ha! Well, I’m an NPR addict as well. But bring on a classic rock anthem, and I’m belting it out -- if it's just me in the car, anyway!

The children enjoy “… a Passover sleepover.” Best rest for you – rain on a tin roof? Ocean? Crickets? Birdsong and window blinds?

Rain on the roof. (The alarm on my cell is birdsong. It's an almost liquid way to transition from dreaming to real life.)

Thanks so much for joining us today, April. We could never get enough of YOU!

Thank you for having me, Robyn—I love your questions (and you!)

Readers, for some extra fun today, I’m happy to report I’m a guest over at Penny Klosterman’s terrific blog as part of her “A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt” series, where you’ll also get to meet my super-talented niece, Sara, and my delightful great nephew, Carter.

And for even more Poetry Month celebrating than you think you can stand, bop on by Today’s Little Ditty, where the magical Michelle has our Roundup this week.
Dayenu!

[Note: I'm attending a history conference here in Beaufort today and will try to check in at the mid-day break. Go ahead and leave some love for April!]

Poetry Friday - Spring Haiku from Terri L. French

April 6, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Poetry Month, book tracks, haiku, Terri L. French, Haiku Society of America


Happy 2nd Poetry Friday of National Poetry Month!

I'm on the road but wanted to share a few lovely spring haiku by my friend, Terri L. French. Terri has been the fearless leader of our Southeast Region of the Haiku Society of America for several years, bringing lots of lively opportunities to our part of the country. I'm taking the reins this year, but she and the organization's powers-that-be have kindly agreed to let me get past a very busy spring first, including planning daughter Morgan's out-of-town June wedding. (Thank you, Terri and HSA!)

Much appreciation to Terri for sharing these poems here this week. Enjoy!



oodles of daffodils--
the beauty of an empty vase


Bottle Rockets, 2011



a succession of sneezes--
forsythia blossoms




gentle rain...
the chant of spring peepers
joins my zen




wind
blowing on the child
blowing on the pinwheel



Poems ©Terri L. French. All rights reserved.



These last two poems are from Terri's collection, A Ladybug on My Words, available from Amazon.

Terri was a guest on my blog three years ago during Poetry Month; click here for a bit of her background and more of her haiku!

Speaking of haiku and Poetry Month, The Haiku Foundation will once again celebrate International Haiku Day with a global "rolling haiku" on April 17. Mark your calendar and click here for more details!


If you're a fan of short poems, you've probably ventured over to Laura Purdie Salas's blog. She's our host today for the Roundup, so make like a ladybug and fly on over to visit Writing the World for Kids.

Poetry Friday: The Roundup is HERE - Let's CELEBRATE with Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong!

April 15, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Month, poetry, poets, Poetry Friday anthologies, teachers, media specialists, librarians, Pomelo Books

Syliva Vardell, left, and Janet Wong celebrate National Poetry Month with a brand-new anthology!

Did you bring your confetti? We’re smack-dab in the middle of Poetry Month, and the Poetry Friday party is HERE. Let’s ~*§!^}celebrate{^!§*~ !!

I’m thrilled to welcome the incomparable team of Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong with The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations from Pomelo Books, featured as a “Hot off the Press” title from the Children’s Book Council in March. This is fourth in the series of praise-garnering Poetry Friday Anthologies, which offer fun and accessible ways to bring poetry to life in the classroom. Learn about each collection and connections to the Common Core and other teaching standards here. [I posted my own PFAC poem last week.]

This new volume explores more than 150 holidays and celebrations – 156 poems by 115 poets (!), including many familiar Poetry Friday names. And – in a welcome and wonderful feat – each poem is presented in both English and Spanish.

In the PFA tradition of “Take 5,” let’s ask Sylvia and Janet five questions about this terrific new resource.


Happy Poetry Month, Janet and Sylvia! What an undertaking. Whose Muse insisted on such a project, and what does this new volume bring to the world of poetry for children?

JW: It was definitely the Sylvia Muse on this one, the "Christmas-tree-in-every-room-of-the-Vardell-house" and "Happy Half-Birthday" Sylvia. The emphasis on Picture Book Pairings and the idea to have Spanish translations for every poem were also hers; Sylvia, please take a bow!

SV: Thanks, Janet! I do like savoring life’s many special moments and I think kids find something to celebrate in the smallest, silliest things, too. Plus, I think our poems offer great hooks for specific celebrations, but are also worth reading and sharing any ol’ time for their humor, lyrical language, or thoughtful themes.



The breadth of these poems is staggering – from silly to profound, acknowledging cultures across the globe. In the introduction you write, “A poem on an unfamiliar celebration is a thirty-second look out the window at what brings meaning to another group of human beings.” Why is that thirty-second look important?

JW: The best way to reach global understanding is to share in our happiness. You don't see the enemy in a smiling child.

SV: We need diverse literature that focuses on real and important issues such as discrimination—but we also need examples of joyful diversity for balance. Some of the diverse and joyful poems that you can find in our book are: Uma Krishnaswami's Diwali poem, Ibtisam Barakat's Ramadan poem, Debbie Reese's poem about making bread in Pueblo cultures, Margarita Engle's poem about the Dashain festival of Nepal, Renée M. LaTulippe's poem featuring friendship and disabled children, and Lesléa Newman's Gay Pride Day poem. I love that each of these poems offers a glimpse at something new (to many), but also points to familiar connections with family, play, friendship, etc.



I know faithfully translating poems from English to Spanish (as well as from Spanish to English) was very important to you both. How did you accomplish that?

SV: At a lunch after our ALSC Institute session last September, we brainstormed with Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy about ways to expand what we had done with The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, which includes a dozen poems translated by the poets themselves into Spanish. They liked the idea of having more poems in Spanish for this book and connected us with Liliana Cosentino, a professional translator whose work they admire. After we received the translations, we sent them to more than a dozen additional readers, including Alma Flor and Isabel, poets Pat Mora and Julie Larios, and David Bowles, winner of the Texas Institute of Letters (TIL) Translation Award.

JW: And then the shaping and reshaping began: one reader would suggest a change; another reader would modify it further; a third reader would suggest the original translation; and so on. Some of the most useful feedback came from a high school student who grew up in New Jersey but speaks Spanish daily with her friends and her Guatemala-raised parents and grandparents. She and I sat down together, discussing poems line-by-line. I still remember how pained she felt over one particular (now-revised) translation, saying, "Well, yes, those words might be correct; but no one would ever say it that way!" It was important to us that the poems be musical and poetic in Spanish too—and not necessarily word-for-word translations of the English poems.



This collection is offered in a teacher/librarian edition as well as a student edition, featuring just the poems with illustrations. How do you hope each book is used?

SV: The teacher/librarian edition is our “usual” format that provides guidance in sharing and teaching the poems. But we’ve often heard that people would like to be able to share the poems with children without the instructional component on the page and so the illustrated “children’s” or “student” edition was born. We hope classrooms and libraries will have BOTH—so that the poems can be savored on their own, but teaching tips are also available for anyone who wants to lead a poem lesson or poetry celebration.


Finally, you’ve set up a nifty website just for the Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations at PoetryCelebrations.com. What will virtual visitors find there?

JW: This month at PoetryCelebrations.com, the featured piece is a lyrical Poet's Note by Ibtisam Barakat that accompanies her audio reading plus an illustrated mini-poster of her "Tree Day Celebration" poem, our Arab American Heritage Month poem (you can click on a link to see a translation of the poem in Arabic). In future months we'll feature videos of poems, additional holiday poems that do not appear in our book and also longer versions of some of the poems that do appear in the book. In August, there will a super-neat Thrift Shop Day feature; make sure to check the website in August!


Oh, I will! HUGE thanks, Sylvia and Janet, for sharing your anthology magic with us today.

Since we’re just past halfway through Poetry Month, let’s close with Janet’s wonderful poem from July 2:


On Halfway Day
by Janet Wong

We each had half a sandwich
then we waited half an hour –
so the food could sink
halfway to our feet.

Then we halfway-ran
to the neighborhood pool,
three whole blocks,
at the end of the street.

We shook off our shoes
and set down our towels.
My sister made sure
my suit was on right.

We swam until dinner –
half a dog and half a burger –
then we watched half a movie
and we said good night!


©Janet Wong. All rights reserved. [Thank you, Janet!]


Sylvia and Janet write, “We firmly believe that poetry is the ideal vehicle for inviting children of all backgrounds to enjoy language and literature.” Amen! Visit more with Sylvia at her Poetry for Children blog, and with Janet at her website .

[For more Kidlitosphere Poetry Month Goodness than any human could stand, remember to check Jama's Roundup of events at Jama's Alphabet Soup.]

What wonderful things are YOU celebrating for Poetry Month today? Please leave your links in the comments, and I'll round them up throughout the day. Thanks for coming by!

***The Roundup***

Penny Parker Klostermann starts us off with a terrific entry in her “A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt” series. Her guests, award-winning author Pat Zietlow Miller with daughter, Sonia, offer an illustrated poem that will have you tapping your toes all day long.

Over at Teaching Authors, they’ve also been celebrating the PFAC. (Three of them have poems included!) Today, my buddy April brings us a poem for National Thrift Shop Day. It’s bear-y fun, so Jama needs to make sure Mr. Cornelius sees it…

Turn out the lights! Just for a few minutes. Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids continues her “Poetry Tips for Teachers” series with her poem, "Flowerful Flood," and a suggestion for reading poems in the classroom.

What can dodo birds teach us about meter? Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty brings us the always-entertaining Renée LaTulippe to explain. (There might be a surprise poem over there, and a prompt, too!)

Joy offers up a light-filled haiku and tells us about “the world’s largest collaborative poem on the internet” at Poetry for Kids Joy. [She’s given us the link if you’d like to participate. Diane gives us some insight into all this as well today!]

Over at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, Matt offers up a fun challenge (Poetry Cubed? – click to find out) and shares his own poem in response. (There’s a book giveaway too!)

At Jama’s Alphabet Soup, Jama brings us Margaret McNamara's A Poem In Your Pocket (illustrated by G. Brian Karas) – the PERFECT book for perfectionistic poets of any age. Plus, Mr. Cornelius takes “Poem in Your Pocket Day” to new heights (or depths -- of pockets).

What is Catherine Johnson wearing? Author Amok’s Laura Shovan continues her fun and insightful guest-blogger series on clothes, and Catherine shares "Getting Dressed" by Alexander Resnikoff.

Tamera Will Wissinger shares a short review of the new verse novel AUDACITY by Melanie A Crowder. (She’s doing an ARC giveaway, too, which you’ll want to try for after reading the review!)

Robyn Campbell (Robyn with a “y,” like me!) shares a clerihew today, written in honor of a Poetry Friday-er we all know and love.

For the fourth year in a row, Donna at Mainely Write is participating in the “A to Z Challenge” (a poem each day prompted by a letter of the alphabet). Whew! Today is “O” – for “Oversize Load.”

The 2015 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem has progressed to Buffy’s blog today; a mysterious connection made…

What is a Zip Ode, you ask? Tara at A Teaching Life has got your number. Warning: these look terribly addictive.

Irene chimed in (sent me a text) from the Land of No Internet Connection, asking if we’d make sure she’s in the mix! She highlights Lee Wardlaw’s new WON TON AND CHOPSTICK and offers up another gem in her Poetry Month series, “Artspeak,” original poems written to image prompts from the National Gallery. (Today’s wind poem is one of my favorites so far.)

Carol at Beyond Literacy Link offers “A Cordial Invitation to peruse the Winter Whisperings Gallery” just unveiled last evening. Take a deep breath and savor these thoughtful poetry/image (& sound, too!) offerings from around the world. Guaranteed to lower your blood pressure for a few moments.

Ever-clever Liz Elizabeth Steinglass has been bringing items from her desk to life in poems this month. “I'm still exploring the desk with my daily National Poetry month poems, but I find myself moving away from the usual school supplies,” she says. Her short but punch-packing poem today is "Stolen."

Long live haiku! Before I got immersed in the form a few years ago, Diane Mayr was a seasoned, published poet. She has a great post at Kurious Kitty celebrating National Haiku Poetry Day TODAY. She’s also got some great book recommendations (most of which I must confess are already on my shelves). Super entry point if you’d like to learn more about haiku poetry.

Now, it’s also International Haiku Poetry Day and at Random Noodling, Diane explores the international aspect of haiku (it’s not just Japanese and English, folks!), including the Earthrise Rolling Haiku collaborative poem Joy mentions above.

Speaking of haiku (and Carol’s “Winter Whisperings”) this April morning finds Linda at Teacher Dance sharing weather-inspired haiku from snowy Denver! [Linda, my hubby was on the phone with a snow-bound Colorado colleague last night – if you get tired of the snow, head over here to the coast....]

Over at The Poem Farm Amy continues her “Sing That Poem!” series with poemsong #17 and a poemsong by Joy Keller's fourth graders - both to the same tune! [I dare you to visit Amy’s blog and NOT try this song-matching challenge. But even if you don’t, Ms. Keller’s class poem is a fantastic tribute to the oceans, with or without music.]

Linda K. at Write Time is wearing her PFAC party hat. She’s sharing her poems from the book – “Welcome” and “Dear Veteran” – and offering a chance to win a free copy as well! And, in addition to being a terrific poet and teacher, did you know Linda is a veteran herself? Check out her pictures in dress blues and fatigues (1974) in today’s post. Linda, sincerest thanks for your service.

Celebrating from Down Under is Sally, who shares a (lump-in-your-throat-inducing) excerpt from her new verse novel, verse novel Roses are Blue. Said novel (illustrated by Gabriel Evans) was just named a Notable Book by the Children’s Book Council of Australia book of the year judges. Congratulations, Sally!!

Iphigene is in today from Gathering Books with a post which makes my day. You might know the poem about growing old and wearing purple, and red hats – have you seen poet Jenny Joseph reading “Warning”? Pure delight.

Mary Lee brings us another terrific entry in the PO-EMotion series today at A Year of Reading - such strong imagery in two poems. (Have a tissue at the ready.)

Mary Lee also shares this: Poetry PSA: Janet and I will be hosting the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Poetry Month Twitter Chat (#NCTEchat) on this coming Sunday evening (4/19) at 8:00 pm ET. Our guiding question is "What is the Role of Poetry in Literacy Learning?" We wrote this blog post to get you thinking: http://blogs.ncte.org/index.php/2015/04/poetry-in-literacy-learning/. Hope to hear many of your poet-voices chiming in Sunday night!
A reason to join Twitter, if you haven’t already!

At The Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia continues exploring poetic forms (and the teaching of them) with some great article links (one from our own Laura Shovan) and examples from Ron Koertge and his character Kevin Boland (Shakespeare Bats Clean Up and Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs).

A hearty Poetry Friday welcome to newcomer Kathy at The Brain Lair, where today she features an intriguing original poem, “My Soul Looks Back.”

Much to ponder with Jan today at Bookseedstudio. She reminds us that it’s National Library Week, after all – and also Days of Remembrance (April 16-19). “The White Rose resistance of teens against Hitler is on my mind,” she explains, with links to resources and a call for others. Thinking about bullies, Jan offers up a poem about their cat, Ginger. (We have one of those! A bully cat, that is. Ours is black and white.)

Margaret shares some amazing acrostic poetry from a precocious third-grade student, Lani, at Reflections on the Teche. At the risk of repeating myself, you will be amazed.

At Reading to the Core, Catherine share’s Marilyn Singer’s poem “"Abraham Lincoln" to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's death on this past Wednesday. She’s got some great resources, links, and teaching ideas, too.

Oh, my! At Keri Recommends, you’re in for a treat. Ever have a moment when you are watching a video online and you realize you’re smiling? An encounter between scientists via a deep-diving camera and a deep-diving sperm whale inspired an original poem by Keri, “Curiosity.” Her post title today? “Poetry Friday and Scientists Geeking Out.”

Speaking of delights and oddities and light, Tabatha continues to bring us wonderful poems about poetry this month! Today at The Opposite of Indifference you’ll find words from Dylan Thomas and Conrad Aiken.

Whether you’re trekking through snow or enjoying beach breezes today, celebrate spring with Brenda at Friendly Fairytales. Her original poem, “Yellowist Green,” brings you daffodils on the cusp of blooming.

Katie at The Logonauts also celebrates Lee Wardlaw’s new WON TON AND CHOPSTICK – A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku, with more fetching illustrations by Eugene Yelchin. Tune in to find out about Won Ton’s new challenge…

Our incredible Heidi loves a challenge. She shows off takes a “flighty leap” and posts “an immediate response” to Matt’s Poetry Cubed challenge. Visit My Juicy Little Universe for a seize-the-moment buzz….

Kay at A Journey Through the Pages shares a lovely and moving original poem, “Darkness Falls,” in response to Mary Lee’s PO-EMotion challenge today (“sorrow”).

In a similar vein, Kortney shares remembrances of her poetry teacher, Steve Kowit, at One Deep Drawer. Such a touching post, and I know I’ll learn much when I can circle back later and explore the links.

At There is no such thing as a godforsaken town, Ruth is “still doing the mermaid thing” (Progressive Poem reference!). She brings us a haunting mermaid poem by Thomas Merton, and a link to an earlier post featuring a haunting Pablo Neruda poem. I mentioned haunting, didn’t I? For both? Hold your breath….

At Think, Kid, Think, Ed reveals the classroom winners of March Madness Poetry #MMPoetry! Grand (and Second and Third) Prize Giveaway winners will receive a stack of wonderful poetry books to add to their classroom shelves. My guess is, after investing such time in the tournament, the students won’t be leaving that poetry on the shelves for long.

Holly Thompson continues her The Language Inside series of 30 prompts at HATBOOKS. Today’s prompt calls for a list poem about time, place, change and emotion – with an excerpt from her award-winning verse novel as inspiration.

Our special guest Sylvia shares more PFAC fun at her own blog, Poetry for Children.. All month, she’s sharing some terrific videos produced by her graduate students of PFAC poems being read by students. Up today: a poem for “National Cereal Day” by our own Matt Forrest Esenwine, “Picky Eater”! [The reader is 14-year-old Andy, a good sport and a good cereal-box-catcher!]

A classic continuation of some of today’s PF images… light? shimmering water? bee? Little Willow shares D. H. Lawrence’s poem, “Coming Awake,” at Bildungsroman.

Anastasia brings us a roaring snippet from An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns by Betsy R. Rosenthal (Author) and Jago (Illustrator) at Booktalking #kidlit.

Doraine checks in from Antarctica again, at least poetically, at Dori Reads. (What would it feel like to lose your ship in a sea-field of ice?!)

Renée might be a little late to the party today, but she’s fashionably late and worth the wait. In her amazing series on NCTE poets, she posts another interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins. This time the No Water River spotlight shines on Eloise Greenfield. Grab a cuppa something – you’ll want to savor this rich feature on one of our most important poets for children and readers of all ages.

Karen’s in today with a poem by Richard Wilbur from 1974, a perfect and timeless tribute to spring.

Charles Ghigna (Father Goose®) invites us all to celebrate Poetry Month at the Urban Family blog, where his colorful quartet of board books leads a pack of recommended titles for young readers.

At Pleasures from the Page, Ramona shares some “essential” poetry anthology titles with us. [She had to winnow down to six for a local bookstore’s April newsletter – I know, can you imagine?! So she’s sharing a few more collections she loves in today’s post.]

Head over to Check It Out, where Jone has another young writer, Cathy, who is wise beyond her years. I just love reading student poems that blow me away, don’t you? OH - and participate by leaving a comment, and you just might win a copy of the PFAC!

Jone’s back! She has an original poem for the “LL” challenge word QUILLS at Deowriter. (My kind of poem – you’ll enjoy, too!)

At Writing and Ruminating, Kelly, another PFAC poet, shares a post about her chapbook, The Universe Comes Knocking with one of its well-crafted poems, “Socratic Method.” [Thanks for sharing, Kelly - I can't figure out how to leave a comment without signing over my firstborn to LiveJournal.]

Close out this Haiku Day with an original haiku by Cathy at Merely Day by Day.

Take a Break from Tax Day with the 2015 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem

April 14, 2015

Tags: Progressive Poem, poetry, Poetry Month


Take a refreshing dip away from numbers, forms, and lines at the post office today. Here we are, smack-dab in the middle of National Poetry Month!

One of my favorite Kidlitosphere events is this annual communal traveling poem (a different blog every day), the brainchild of talented poet and my dear friend Irene Latham.

This year's poem is especially intriguing; we have a character who seems to be a bayou mermaid, with a mysterious bracelet and wisdom-filled whispers from her grandmother. She went from land to water, and as she reached me she was reaching and seizing something, thanks to Renée yesterday, under a surprising (ominous?) shadow at the surface, with a paddle dipping, thanks to Doraine...

I suppose she could have been reaching for a literal pearl underwater, but I prefer to think of the pearl metaphorically. The rainbow-topped dewdrop would suggest she needs to find her way back to terra firma. So in my line, she has seized the paddle instead...


Progressive Poem 2015


She lives without a net, walking along the alluvium of the delta.
Shoes swing over her shoulder, on her bare feet stick jeweled flecks of dark mica.

Hands faster than fish swing at the ends of bare brown arms. Her hair flows,
snows in wild wind as she digs in the indigo varnished handbag,

pulls out her grandmother’s oval cuffed bracelet,
strokes the turquoise stones, and steps through the curved doorway.

Tripping on her tail she slips hair first down the slide… splash!
She glides past glossy water hyacinth to shimmer with a school of shad,

listens to the ibises roosting in the trees of the cypress swamp–
an echo of Grandmother’s words, still fresh in her windswept memory.

Born from the oyster, expect the pearl.
Reach for the rainbow reflection on the smallest dewdrop.


The surface glistens, a shadow slips above her head, a paddle dips–
she reaches, seizes. She’s electric energy and turquoise eyes.

Lifted high, she gulps strange air - stares clearly into



Into what? That's for the creative and insightful Ruth to decide! I'm quite curious to see where we go from here.

Below is the entire schedule, so you can follow along. If you'd like a peek at a Poetry-Month-themed little piece of art I just made (vintage mixed media/found poem) click over to my artsyletters blog ! Thanks for visiting today, and happy travels as you make your way through the rest of April.

2015 Kidlitosphere
Progressive Poem

1 Jone at Check it Out

2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy

3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids

5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog

6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page

7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson

8 Irene at Live Your Poem

9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository

10 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

11 Kim at Flukeprints

12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

13 Doraine at DoriReads

14 Renee at No Water River

15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town

17 Buffy at Buffy's Blog

18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro

19 Linda at Teacher Dance

20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots

21 Tara at A Teaching Life

22 Pat at Writer on a Horse

23 Tamera at The Writer's Whimsy

24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect

25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference

26 Brian at Walk the Walk

27 Jan at Bookseedstudio

28 Amy at The Poem Farm

29 Donna at Mainely Write

30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme


What Am I Wearing? You'll Have to Check Out Author Amok!

April 8, 2015

Tags: Poetry Month, poetry


I'm honored to have a guest post over at Author Amok today, where my good buddy Laura Shovan has engineered a wonderful project for Poetry Month - poems on the theme of clothing!

My post highlights one of my favorites - "Hand-me-down Sweatshirt" by the amazing Alice Schertle ( from Button Up - Wrinkled Rhymes, Harcourt).

Poetry Friday: Student Haiku Poet of the Month Lila Chiles

April 2, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Month, student work, Student Poet of the Month, haiku


Happy National Poetry Month! I’m thrilled to kick off April’s Poetry Friday posts here with our Student Haiku Poet of the Month, Lila Chiles.

Lila lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her mom, dad, big sister and a Goldendoodle named Teddy. She is a seventh grader at The Paideia School, and “will finally be a teenager” in June! She enjoys playing sports—especially soccer—writing, drawing, playing Poker and eating watermelon Sourpatch candy.

Here are some of Lila’s thoughts about haiku:

"When my teacher Tom told me about Haiku, my first thought was, 'Aw, man! Yet another form of poetry that I'm not so good at.' I wrote my first haiku later that night:


downpour
broken sign
swinging in the wind



I showed it and a few others to my mom and she told me that they were beautiful and that I should immediately send them to her and Tom. I'm proud that they both liked my haiku. Now, there have been four times I've been recognized for my haiku.

For me, haiku are both simple and complex. I can be anywhere and words will just start to fill my head and form an image, which is what makes it easy. It's complex, though, because you have to move words around and change them until they are in a perfect form. It's like a puzzle. That's my favorite part of all. I think that's pretty amazing."


Here are some more of Lila’s haiku – I think they’re all pretty amazing!


abandoned umbrella
the sun chases
the clouds away


aromatic flowers
I socialize
with the sun


summer night
mosquitoes here and there…
and everywhere


summer lingers
a ball kicked
into the tall grass


meadow breeze
a fresh stack
of hay



Poems ©Lila Chiles. All rights reserved.


These seem especially resonant as we shed winter to embrace the warm weather again! Which ones most speak to you?

For more posts in this series featuring talented students, please click here. Huge CONGRATULATIONS to our February featured poet, Olivia Graner, who won the UN International School Haiku Competition, junior high division. Way to go, Olivia!

Go bask in more Poetry Month Poetry Friday goodness over at The Poem Farm, where our always-amazing Amy is hosting this week’s Roundup. [Check out her month-long "Sing That Poem" project, too - guaranteed to have you humming for the next several weeks.]

The POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP is here! And so are Sylvia Vardell, Janet Wong, and the PFA for Science!

April 17, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Month, poetry, editors, poets, teachers, students

The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science with editors Janet Wong (l) and Sylvia Vardell (r)


Happy Poetry Month, and HAPPY POETRY FRIDAY! Please leave links in the comments with a short description of your post, and I’ll round them up throughout the day.

Today at Life on the Deckle Edge, I’m thrilled to welcome two very special guests. You’ve heard me gush about their newest compilation, The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science. [I’m thrilled to be among several Poetry Friday regulars who are contributors.]

Let’s go behind the scenes with the Poetry Friday Anthology creators and editors, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.

First, introductions:

Sylvia Vardell is Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Woman’s University. She has published extensively, including five books on literature for children and over 100 journal articles. Her current work focuses on poetry for children, including a regular blog, PoetryforChildren. She is also the regular “Everyday Poetry” columnist for ALA’s BookLinks magazine.

Janet Wong is a graduate of Yale Law School and former lawyer who switched careers and became a children’s poet. Her dramatic career change has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN’s Paula Zahn Show, and Radical Sabbatical. She is the author of 30 books for children and teens on a wide variety of subjects, including writing and revision, dumpster diving, diversity, and chess.

Together, Vardell and Wong are the creative forces behind The Poetry Friday Anthology series, launched last year and already adopted by hundreds of school districts nationwide.

Now, some questions for each. Welcome, Ladies! Sylvia first, and then Janet.

I love the “Poetry and Science” introduction to this collection. How do these two disciplines complement one another?

SV: Poetry and science are like first cousins that finish each other’s sentences. They both rely on the key elements of language and observation. Both poets and scientists pay close attention and search for specificity in communicating what they see, smell, hear, touch, and taste. Scientists want to capture exactly the moment so that other scientists can trust their findings and replicate their methods or results. Poets want to capture the moment so that readers (or listeners) can see what they see or feel what they feel.

Can you tell us a little bit about the “Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and how these poems address those?

SV: The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a new “framework” for learning and teaching science that moves instruction toward depth of understanding, rather than breadth of coverage. In the past, science teaching has often been “a mile wide, but an inch deep.” The NGSS framework addresses the usual disciplines of the physical sciences, life sciences, earth and space sciences, as well as engineering, technology and science applications. Plus, they focus on best practices (like asking questions, defining problems, using models, analyzing data, etc.) as well as what they call “crosscutting concepts” like cause-effect, patterns, systems, etc.

We used this framework to identify and develop our weekly science themes, for selecting (and commissioning) poems on a wide range of topics, and for organizing the 200+ poems in a searchable fashion. We also provide grids to show which poems relate to which NGSS discipline or NGSS practice in case teachers need to document their coverage of the Standards.


How tricky was it to keep both science standards and Common Core language arts standards in mind as you all selected poems?

SV: Not at all. We chose and arranged poems based on their science focus, but all the poems come ready-made for the Common Core because they’re each full of beautiful language, interesting structures, literary devices, etc. That part is easy! In the “Take 5!” activities that accompany each poem, we focus on highlighting the SCIENCE content of the poem as our focus on a curricular skill. But for each poem we also provide guidance in how to read it aloud effectively, invite students to read it aloud together, discuss the poem, and connect it with other poems, works of nonfiction, and websites—all essential elements of the Common Core (and curricular standards in every school district).

Sounds like your students have embraced this new compilation. [Click HERE to check out some of their recent poem-movie videos!] How do you envision these future teachers, and teachers across the country, using this resource in classrooms?

SV: We hope we have designed the book to be as user-friendly as possible and for a variety of approaches, too. Teachers can simply follow the “Take 5!” activities and introduce a poem that happens to be science-themed every Friday (or any day). Or they can use the index to search for a particular poem that fits a science lesson they have planned. Or they can simply share the poems for the fun of the language and the science content will be “gravy”—an extra bonus.

Did you encounter any particular challenges/celebrations putting together this large collection designed to serve another content area?

SV: My challenges came with creating the “Take 5!” activities and getting the science part correct. I did a lot of reading of science materials and teacher resources to get it right and attended NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) conferences to get familiar with the latest trends. I consulted a ton of web and blog resources for science teaching and we reference many of these within the “Take 5!” activities. In addition, we had science experts (science teachers, science writers, and university science professors) review all our content and give feedback. I learned a lot!

Tell us about the new grade-level student editions.

SV: I love these! We’ve added illustrations and removed the “Take 5!” activities so that the poems pop and have an added visual element too. We also added extra poems to each book, so that kids would have even more to ponder. Plus, each student edition has its own glossary and subject index.

I think kids will love these, too! Thanks so much, Sylvia. Now let’s welcome Janet.

When you all first began working on the Poetry Friday Anthologies, did you envision collections devoted to other subjects, or how did the idea come up?

JW: Two years ago we started working on The Poetry Friday Anthology (the "PFA") because teachers and librarians asked us to help make it easier to teach poetry for K-5. The heart of each book is Sylvia's "Take 5!" mini-lesson for each poem--a lesson that gives 5 consistent steps for sharing a poem in 5 minutes. After the first book came out, there was a flood of requests from middle school teachers, so we did The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School.

K-5 teachers started asking for an additional PFA at about the same time we started seeing tons of articles mentioning STEM and STEAM--resulting in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science. While we were compiling the Teacher's Edition of our science book, teachers then stepped up their requests for Student Editions (so all students could follow along in a book that doesn't show the "Take 5!" mini-lesson); because of that, we made Student Editions for each grade level (K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). As it turns out, the Summer Reading theme across the country this summer is science--great timing for kids (and us)!


More than 200 poems by 78 poets – Whew! What were some of the challenges in matching poetry submissions to the subject areas?

JW: The biggest challenge was that many poets wrote about the same (or very similar) topics, forcing us to make hard choices and omit some terrific poems. And very few (or no) poets wrote about some of the necessary but "less interesting" topics that we needed covered (per the NGSS and various state standards). Also, in some cases we wanted a few specific science "buzzwords" but didn't have a poem that did that, so I ended up filling some gaps.

You are not only an editor, but a contributing poet as well. Was there a topic you most enjoyed researching or writing about?

JW: My favorites are our Kitchen Science poems--your poem about reading nutritional labels, Robyn, Mary Quattlebaum's pancake science poem, poems about growing food, and my poem about ice cubes in a drink that is filled to the brink (which I conducted as an investigation while writing the poem). Kids will really enjoy Charles Waters's poem about the (disgusting) topic of mold!

Absolutely! As a poet, how do you think poetry can support learning across the curriculum?

JW: Poems are short. Easy to read, easy to talk about, easy to remember.

”A poem should first be enjoyed for its own sake” – that’s the first key in each of the Poetry Friday Anthologies. Any qualities among these science poems you particularly savor?

JW: Separate two groups of kids. With the first group, take a science paragraph that describes an unfamiliar subject, using unfamiliar vocabulary. With the second group, take a science poem. I'll guarantee that the Group 2 kids will wonder more--coming up with questions, guessing at the new vocabulary, WANTING to learn. A perfect experiment along these lines would be with kindergartners and Joy Acey's "Capillary Action" poem--one of my favorites because it really makes the science description visual and simple to understand.

The poems in the student books are accompanied by black and white line art illustrations by Frank Ramspott and Bug Wang. How does the art enhance these editions?

JW: Drawings really take the Student Editions to a whole new level, I think. You can talk for an hour about a drought, but seeing the parched, cracked ground sends the message home in one second.

What is the best way to order the Poetry Friday Anthology for Science?

JW: Amazon is the easiest way; all our books pop up when you search "Poetry Friday Anthology." If you have favorite booksellers who would like to carry the book, please tell them to contact us (info@pomelobooks.com) and we'll send them ordering info. And schools that need to use purchase orders can contact us for a list of terrific vendors who accept them.

Terrific. Now, I have to share your original poem you mentioned, which was an experiment as well as a writing project!

The Brink

by Janet Wong

I fill a cup to the top
with crushed ice,
pour juice to the brim,
neat and nice.
Mom thinks
it’s on the brink of disaster.
When I take just a sip,
she shouts, “Drink faster!”
When the ice melts,
will my drink spill out?
I think there’s nothing
to worry about
but I wait and I watch.
The ice seems to shrink.
PHEW! Okay –
time to drink!


©Janet Wong. All rights reserved.

Thanks again to both of you. Now, let's all grab a nice glass of pomelo juice and enjoy this week’s great poetry:

Starting us off with a big P for Poetry is Donna, whose A to Z Challenge continues at Mainely Write. Up today: two poems starring the letter P!

Linda at Teacher Dance offers a poem about being alone, letting in the quiet in our very noisy world.

At Gathering Books, Myra brings us a special message in keeping with Good Friday - Archbishop Desmond Tutu's Let there be Light, a beautiful picture book in verse illustrated by Nancy Tillman. Note -
I am having trouble accessing the post from the link; Will try again later! Not sure if it's just my computer.


Have you ever written a tritina? I haven't either, but Jone's gorgeous original poem today at Deo Writer will make you want to try, and to savor spring as well.

An Earth Day List Poem will make you think at JoAnn's blog today. Pssst- she's got a book give-away, too!

Jone continues to share student poetry this month at Check It Out - I dare you to read today's poems written by third graders and not smile.

Oh, you have GOT to go see what Tabatha Yeatts's animals are up to in Michelle's Haiku Garden at Today's Little Ditty today. Well, the pets are in Tabatha's kitchen, but they're all in Michelle's garden. You'll see what I mean.

[Also, big thanks to Michelle for reminding us that yesterday was National Haiku Poetry Day. I had intended to do a special post, but with hosting the Progresssive Poem on Wednesday and PF today and "hosting" my youngest who flew in for the weekend late yesterday, um - it didn't happen. Next year!]

If you haven't seen Charles's new Poetry Time Blog, today's a great day to visit - and drop by, even if you have! He also has a poetic case of animal-in-the-kitchen antics. (Hmmm. I'm sensing a theme today....)

Catherine brings us a wonderful & thoughtful poem by Louise Erdrich, "Advice to Myself", at Reading to the Core. (Reading it makes me feel a little better about my housekeeping...!)

Lace up those hiking boots and join Mary Lee at A Year of Reading, where Machu Picchu is on tap for her "Our Wonderful World" series.

Poetry Friday folks get around! At Tabatha's The Opposite of Indifference today, poems by Laura Shovan and Linda Baie have us pondering rabbits and hobbits as part of Tabatha's "The Directory of Imaginary Poems" series!

Speaking of Laura, her own series about Source Poems continues with another Poetry Friday frequent flyer, Janet Fagal. Janet shares the classic, "The Lake Isle of "Innisfree" today at Author Amok.

If you know Buffy Silverman, you know she's always up for a challenge. Today at Buffy's Blog, she has three original poems in answer to two online challenges. (What exactly is a homophoem? Ask J. Patrick Lewis, or, just click over to see!)

Irene, our fearless leader of the Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem (now in its third year), adds her own luminescent line today at Live Your Poem. She also continues her series of favorite quotes by favorite poets with a gem from Ellen Hopkins.

Over at A Teaching Life, Tara has a breathtaking poem by Julia Kasdorf - a perfect send-off for students about to take flight.

Matt offers up a found poem about his two vocations at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. Inspiration from voiceover websites? Sure!

Ed shares the split-decision summary results from this year's March Madness Poetry tournament at Think Kid, Think and invites your thoughts. He'll continue the discussion and share more data next week.

Despite a recent bout with the flu, Laura brings us two contributions today. First, at Writing the World for Kids, she continues her original riddle-ku series. Second, she shares one of her favorite poems, Rudyard Kipling's "Seal Lullaby," as a new member of the fabulous Teaching Authors! (Go, Laura - and feel better!)

Diane is here with her more-than-one contribution as well. (How does she do it?!) Well, at Random Noodling, she's not here so much as in her imaginary place, hosted by Tabatha earlier in the week, with "Máel Dúin, Seafarer of the Atlantic". And she's pondering earlier poems created for other online challenges in 2009, "Cartographer's Revenge" and "Echineis." How interesting to see all of these together!

Diane's Kurious Kitty features Paul Scott Mowrer, New Hampshire Poet Laureate (1968 - 1971), and a very delightful toad poem.

Kurious Kitty's Kwotes has a short Paul Scott Mowrer poem I am going to print out and enjoy again and again. And again!

Carol is taking on Mary Lee's Machu Picchu challenge over at Carol's Corner, with help from one of my favorite animals - the alpaca! (Carol had me entranced in just the first three lines...)

Liz brings us a celebration of yesterday's National Haiku Day (Yay!) with three spring haiku and a peek into her inspirations.

And while you're enjoying a Japanese sensibility, visit Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for some fun, foxy combinations of origami and poetry created by her youngest students.

Amy's always combining some of my most-favorite things - this month she's got poetry and thrift stores! And, today, a haiku, about a painting she found that's just perfect for her! :0) Trek on over to The Poem Farm and enjoy these hidden treasures.

More wonderful blog hopping going on for Poetry Month. Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe shares a link to Tricia's post from yesterday (which pairs Heidi's amazing PUMPKIN BUTTERFLY with Grace Lin's OUR SEASONS.) This is all part of:

Tricia's month-long series which celebrates poetry and science! Today at The Miss Rumphius Effect, enjoy a science/poetry pairing featuring animal collectives. Tricia's selection to share for Poetry Friday is Amy Lowell's poem, "By Messenger" (one of my all-time favorites, too!) Tricia's Science/Poetry series will wrap up April 30 with the POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR SCIENCE, so check back there for more with Janet Wong and with::

Sylvia Vardell, whose Poetry for Children post today features a poem-movie with terrific poem by the terrific Kristy Dempsey. Says Sylvia, "Today, it's dinosaurs and lab safety-- a fun and crazy combination!"

Amy at Hope is the Word is in today with Lin Oliver's new poetry book for the youngest listeners, Little Poems for Tiny Ears, illustrated by Tomie dePaola.

For Good Friday, Ruth brings us a hauntingly thoughtful song, "The Silence of God" by Andrew Peterson, at There is no Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town.

A warm Poetry Friday Welcome to writer/editor Sarah Monsma, joining the Roundup for the first time with a lovely original poem, "You can take a girl out of the woods..." . Thanks for joining in!

Continuing our science theme today, Emily Jiang brings us this week's lunar eclipse and the moon - considered in “Night Thoughts” by Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai, in an original haiku - :0) - and in her poem, "The Face of my Ruan" - from her brand-new (gorgous-looking) picture book from Shen Books, Summoning the Phoenix - Poems and Prose about Chinese Musical Instruments, illustrated by April Chu.

It's great to see Elaine today, in with a perfectly delicious poem for this Easter weekend, "Marshmallow Chicks," peeping over at Wild Rose Reader.

On the solemn consideration of Good Friday, Violet offers an unusual poem after Mark 15, "Evil’s Party (guest list)."

Literary Event Invitation: Carol Varsalona writes in about a new project for National Poetry Month: "I am sponsoring a Literary Event, April Awakenings, on my blog. Please see http://beyondliteracylink.blogspot.com/2014/04/poetry-alive-during-national-poetry.html for the invitation (scroll to the bottom). The first collection for March can be seen at http://beyondliteracylink.blogspot.com/2014/03/reflect-with-me-bringing-together.html There are other blogs about the invitation and the power of poetry on my blog: www.beyondliteracylink.blogspot.com." Thanks, Carol!

[Break Time! The traveling college student is up and about, probably searching for food; the other one's checking in by phone before driving tomorrow... Will be back after lunch.]

Hello again! Joy chimes in with a breezy pantoum for April (and thoughts about the form) at Poetry for Kids Joy.

Tricia is circling around again with another wonderful entry for today - book spine poems atThe Miss Rumphius Effect. They'll make you long for summer days, and nights!

She's not the only one with more than one thing to say today. The always-inspiring Julie has 1.) a heads' up that tomorrow, she pens the next line in our Progressive Poem, 2.) a link to her delightful and diverting Proust post at Books Around the Table - (bon voyage!) and 3.) a link to some of her (amazing) recently published poems in Numero Cinq. Links for all over at The Drift Record, so drift on over!

From Little Willow today, Mary Oliver's life-affirming "The Messenger" at Bilungsroman.

I don't know about you all, but the breadth of poetic offerings today takes my breath away. So many wonderful posts!

And just in time for afternoon tea, Cathy joins us with a colorful celebration of crayons at Merely Day by Day - continuing her series of original poems about objects.

Evening arrivals:

April shares a secret: she's having a "metaphoraffair!" Check out her metaphor-a-day posts at aprilwayland.com.

Over at Teach Mentor Texts, Jen has a colorful new rhyming alphabet book by Dallas Clayton, A is for Awesome. She also has some great insights about keeping a positive attitude, whether you're still a kid or all grown up!

2014 Kidlitosphere PROGRESSIVE POEM parks here today...

April 16, 2014

Tags: Poetry Month, Progressive Poem, poetry

Happy Wednesday - Here, pull up a rock. We're halfway through the week and halfway through our 2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem! I’m thrilled to participate again in one my favorite adventures for National Poetry Month, a poem that travels from blog to blog, adding a line each day. It's the creation of my good friend and fellow SCBWI Southern Breezer, Irene Latham. (Click over to Irene’s Live Your Poem as links are updated each day.) Tamera left me some special treasures yesterday with a "merry hen" and "sapphire eggs." Here we go, with my line added at the end:


Sitting on a rock, airing out my feelings to the universe

Acting like a peacock, only making matters that much worse;

Should I trumpet like an elephant emoting to the moon,

Or just ignore the warnings written in the rune?

Those stars can’t seal my future; it’s not inscribed in stone.

The possibilities are endless! Who could have known?

Gathering courage, spiral like an eagle after prey

Then gird my wings for whirlwind gales in realms far, far away.

But, hold it! Let's get practical! What's needed before I go?

Time to be tactical— I'll ask my friends what I should stow.

And in one breath, a honeyed word whispered low— dreams

Whose voice? I turned to see. I was shocked. Irene's

“Each voyage starts with tattered maps; your dreams dance on this page.

Determine these dreams—then breathe them! Engage your inner sage."

The merry hen said, “Take my sapphire eggs to charm your host.”

I tuck them close – still warm - then take my first step toward the coast.


I'm curious about those sapphire eggs – are they gifts of beauty? or will they be scrambled up for some enchanted meal? or do they contain baby merry hens who will peck their way out later in the poem? These will be the decisions of future contributors! For my line, I opted for a pivot as our narrator journeys to…. exactly where? Well, the poem itself travels to the bayou tomorrow, where our lovely Margaret will pen the next line at Reflections on the Teche. Grab your compass and follow along!

Poetry Friday: Student Haiku Poet of the Month Liana Klin

April 10, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Month, poetry, Student Poet of the Month, student work

Liana Kiln

Greetings! I hope you are enjoying National Poetry Month, and all the goodies our Poetry Friday community has conjured up. I’m celebrating here today with our Haiku Student Poet of the Month, Liana Klin.



Here’s Liana’s bio:

Liana is an 8th grader at the Paideia School in Atlanta. Since she moved to Atlanta in 2011, her favorite subject in school has been writing, but only recently has she discovered the art of Haiku with teacher Tom Painting. She also plays tennis and does tap dance. She enjoys spending time with her friends, parents, and two brothers. Liana hopes to continue writing in the future and will never forget the important form of poetry called Haiku.


Liana kindly shared her thoughts on haiku as well:

When I was younger, I was taught that Haiku was a type of poem with three lines. The first line had to be five syllables, the second had to be seven syllables, and third was five, and it had to be about nature. Recently I found out that these rules aren't necessarily true. A haiku may happen to come out like that though. Haiku to me is a little masterpiece that I can create with a thought and a few words. I enjoy Haiku because its like a small riddle. You read it and make a picture in your mind to figure it out. Haiku gives me something I can think about. I'm very fortunate that I have discovered the truth about Haiku and I hope to continue learning more and more about it.


And now, I think you’ll agree Liana can craft some stellar haiku.


a crack
in the parking lot
I tightrope to the car


(RHB Note: The haiku above was a winner in the 2013 Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Competition sponsored by the Haiku Society of America.)


banging hangers
a million sweaters
soft to the touch


old photo album
a past hidden
between pages


icy dewdrops
the crunch
beneath my feet


wooden paint pallet
I brushstroke
a starry night


clay court
I step on footprints
making them my own



All poems ©Liana Klin. All rights reserved.

Many thanks to Liana for sharing her rich poetry with us!

In cased you’ve missed any of our previous Student Poets, here are the links: Emma Jones (Dec.), Stuart Duffield (Jan.) , Abby Shannon (Feb.), and Marissa Schwartz (Mar.).

Remember to follow along with the 2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem – Irene is keeping the calendar and posts updated at Live Your Poem.

Jama has graciously rounded up lots of Kidlitosphere Poetry Events for this month at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

And TODAY, please go visit the aMazing Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty for Today’s Little Poetry Friday Roundup! (Oh, and sing Happy Blog Birthday to her this week - there are probably some cake crumbs left....)

Poetry Friday: The Progressive Poem Parks Here Today!

April 25, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Poetry Month, Progressive Poem


The talented and generous Irene Latham started the Progressive Poem last year and kindly coordinated a new one for 2013. Each day during National Poetry Month , the poem visits a different blog and receives its next line. We’re in the final stretch!

I’ve enjoyed seeing it take shape and peeking behind the scenes as hosts/poets share their ideas about lines they’ve contributed.

Because I can make over-thinking into an art form, I tried not to do that with my little part today. Diane Mayr offered a solid line with delicious ambiguity. (Thanks, Diane!) I liked Diane's idea about bringing the reader in for this last stanza. I wanted to leave room for our four strong finishers, so I hope I’ve left Ruth some play in the steering wheel, too. (The “them” – are they the readers, words, both, something else??)

Here’s the poem:

When you listen to your footsteps
the words become music and
the rhythm that you’re rapping gets your fingers tapping, too.
Your pen starts dancing across the page
a private pirouette, a solitary samba until
smiling, you’re beguiling as your love comes shining through.

Pause a moment in your dreaming, hear the whispers
of the words, one dancer to another, saying
Listen, that’s our cue! Mind your meter. Find your rhyme.
Ignore the trepidation while you jitterbug and jive.
Arm in arm, toe to toe, words begin to wiggle and flow
as your heart starts singing let your mind keep swinging

from life’s trapeze, like a clown on the breeze.
Swinging upside down, throw and catch new sounds–
Take a risk, try a trick; break a sweat: safety net?
Don’t check! You’re soaring and exploring,
dangle high, blood rush; spiral down, crowd hush–
limb-by-line-by-limb envision, pyramidic penned precision.

And if you should topple, if you should flop
if your meter takes a beating; your rhyme runs out of steam—
know this tumbling and fumbling is all part of the act,
so get up with a flourish. Your pencil’s still intact.
Snap those synapses! Feel the pulsing through your pen
Commit, measure by measure, to the coda’s cadence.

You've got them now--in the palm of your hand!
Finger by finger you’re reeling them in—

All yours, Ruth!

Here’s the lineup of where this poem has travelled, and where it has yet to go:


April

1  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

2  Joy Acey

3  Matt Forrest Esenwine

4  Jone MacCulloch

5  Doraine Bennett

6  Gayle Krause

7  Janet Fagal

8  Julie Larios

9  Carrie Finison

10  Linda Baie

11  Margaret Simon

12  Linda Kulp

13  Catherine Johnson

14  Heidi Mordhorst

15  Mary Lee Hahn

16  Liz Steinglass

17  Renee LaTulippe

18  Penny Klostermann

19  Irene Latham

20  Buffy Silverman

21  Tabatha Yeatts

22  Laura Shovan

23  Joanna Marple

24  Katya Czaja

25  Diane Mayr

26  Robyn Hood Black

27  Ruth Hersey

28  Laura Purdie Salas

29  Denise Mortensen

30  April Halprin Wayland



And, whether you prefer poetry that flits from place to place or stays put, you’ll find plenty more at Writing the World for Kids, where Laura is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup. Thanks, Laura.

Happy last week of National Poetry Month 2013!

Poetry Friday: Terri L. French visits with Haiku and Atlanta Haikufest Info

April 18, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Poetry Month, haiku, authors, conferences, workshops

Haiku Poet, HSA Regional Coordinator, and Prune Juice editor Terri L. French

Smack dab in the middle of National Poetry Month is National Haiku Poetry Day – on Wednesday the 17th this week. Let’s continue the celebration with a spotlight on a terrific poet/volunteer from my neck of the woods, and the amazing haiku weekend she’s cooking up for October in Atlanta.

When I started my own haiku journey nearly three years ago, I got in touch with a couple of folks listed as Haiku Society of America members in my region. They were very kind, but there didn’t seem to be an active group at the time.

Then lo and behold, in swoops Terri L. French from Alabama to reach out and rev up the Southeast Region. Before you could catch a falling cherry blossom, she’d arranged the first annual Ginko (haiku walk) Haikufest last fall in Alabama! I was out of town and unable to make it that weekend, so I was thrilled to learn she was putting together another one for this coming fall. More about that in a minute. First, meet Terri!

BIO: Terri L. French lives in Huntsville, Alabama. She is a Licensed Massage Therapist and has been writing haiku and various related forms seriously for the last seven years. In 2012, she placed third and received an honorable mention in The Haiku Society of America's (HSA) Gerald Brady Memorial Award senryu contest and third place in the HSA haibun contest. Terri currently serves as the HSA's southeast regional coordinator and edits the senryu and kyoka journal, Prune Juice .

Here’s Terri’s take on why she became so involved:

The southeast region of the Haiku Society of America has been a little inactive for the last few years. Geographically we are quite spread out. The region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands! Our first annual Ginko Haikufest was held last year in Guntersville, Alabama. This year the conference will be in Atlanta, Georgia. My hopes are that by moving the conference around the region we can garner more interest and become a more cohesive group.

This year's conference "gazing at flowers," celebrating the 250th birthday of Japanese haiku poet Kobayashi Issa, will be even bigger and better than last year's. We will have a special presentation by HSA's president, David Lanoue; an introductory workshop and "blind" critique; a sumi-e Japanese brush painting class; a performance by a taiko drum troupe; a ginko bird walk; and much, much, more.


I am thrilled to be participating and helping out for this event. Here’s the conference info in a nutshell – mark your calendar!

The 2113, SE Haiku Society of America, 2nd Annual Ginko Haikufest, "gazing at flowers," will be Friday October 25 - Sunday, October 27, at the Artmore Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. Contact Terri French at terri.l.french for registration information and see our events page and the Facebook Haikufest page.

Now, to whet your appetite, two original haiku graciously shared by Terri:

a spot of blood
on the unfinished quilt -
harvest moon


Sketchbook, Vol. 4, issue 5, Sept/Oct, 2009

reflecting pool
trying to see past
what she's not


Frogpond, 34:3, 2011

Poems ©Terri L. French. All rights reserved.

Many thanks for joining us today, Terri!

For a thoughtful haiku in response to the tragic events in Boston this week, see Daine Mayr’s poem at Random Noodling.

*** a couple of different notes:

1.) Guess What? The Authors Guild Folks - evidently also known as “Knights of the Internet” - recovered all my lost comments from Poetry Friday two weeks ago! The Roundup itself was lost, but you can find all the links here in the post just under this one (dated 4/18/2013). The content of my original post for that day is here.

2.) How about this for fun? April Halprin Wayland, Irene Latham, and yours truly made the Children’s edition of Publisher’s Weekly yesterday, with a picture of our “Take Five – Create Fun with the Poetry Friday Anthology” workshop at the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival in Hattiesburg last week. Click here (and scroll down) to see. Woo hoo!

Speaking of lovely Irene, go see what she’s rounding up for Poetry Friday today at
Live Your Poem.

Recovered Comments from 4/4/2013 - Poetry Friday

April 18, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Poetry Month, Knights of the Internet


YAY!!! See below - RHB (And thank you, Knights of the Internet!!)

We were able to wrestle free the comments abducted by goblins last week and attach them to this new blog post. Alas, the content of the old blog post itself may be lost. For further information or help with this contact Authors Guild.

-- The Knights of the Internet

HAPPY NATIONAL HAIKU POETRY DAY!!!

April 17, 2013

Tags: poetry, haiku, Poetry Month

Today, April 17, is National Haiku Poetry Day!

Go get lost in the links at The Haiku Foundation!

Here's a recent one of mine:

my small insights
a hummingbird
at the trumpet flower

Modern Haiku, Winter-Spring 2013

Friend and poet Elizabeth Steinglass posted some great thoughts for Poetry Friday last week on "Why Haiku?"

And there's always thoughtful haiku love over at poet/librarian Diane Mayr's Random Noodling, where you'll find her "Haiku Sticky" poems and "Happy Haiga Day" offerings, along with links to her other great blogs.

Enjoy!

Poetry Friday - Poetry Month Continued with Eileen Spinelli

April 8, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, book tracks, Poetry Month, animals

Eileen and Robyn at Highlights Founders Workshop in May 2012; Office Kitty May enjoying NORA'S ARK.


Greetings from Mississippi, where I’m heading home today after the wonderful Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at The University of Southern Mississippi. April and Irene and I had a blast sharing the Poetry Friday Anthology and the Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School (Sylia Vardell and Janet Wong, eds.) with workshop attendees! [Details in my post last week, which was to my utter shock gobbled up somehow in cyberspace, with all the dozens of links folks had left and I’d rounded up - 60-plus comments. Sigh. I reposted my text part here, with our PFA poems.]

I love connecting with other children’s poets, writers and readers. Almost a year ago I had the good fortune to attend my second poetry workshop up at Highlights (post about that here).

Guess whose small group I was in? Eileen Spinelli’s. Yes, that Eileen Spinelli, whose work I’ve admired for many years.

Eileen has poems in these Poetry Friday Anthologies as well. I asked her if I could share her PFA poem from Fourth Grade, Week 29 – “Poetry Poems” – because to me it’s just perfect for National Poetry Month. She kindly agreed.

Today

Today I’m going to pay attention.
To the broken blueness of sky.
To the high weeds in the vacant lot.
To the rusted pot in the alleyway.
Today I’m going to leap across puddles
and steep in green
and all the wild colors in between.
I’m going to listen to
what the birds are singing about,
and to the happy shouts of toddlers on swings.
Today I’m going to gather all my heart can hold
of lemony light and yawning cats
and the bright blur of traffic on the bridge.
Today I’m going to pay attention.
Today I’m going to find myself a poem.


©Eileen Spinelli. All rights reserved.

This poem is particularly delicious when read aloud!

Speaking of Eileen, who is an amazingly generous and prolific writer (of more than 40 books and counting), I’d like to offer a shout-out here for her brand-new picture book, NORA’S ARK (illustrated by Nora Hilb, Zonderkids, 2013).

The ark is just what you’d think, except in Nora’s case the “passenger list includes two backyard spiders, a pair of battery-operated monkeys, and a couple of unimpressed cats.” And Nora does everything just like Noah… well, not just like Noah.

Publisher’s Weekly praised “the respectful exploration of the power of a child’s imagination.”

I absolutely love this book and its ending – perfect for sharing with a child on a rainy day, or any day!

Now, are you ready for some more Eileen Spinelli poetry? Check out “April Foolery,” the poem of the month at her website.

For links to more great poetry all over the Kidlitosphere, please visit the terrifically talented, kitty-loving Diane at Random Noodling for today’s Round Up. Unless you are a cyberspace gremlin.

Poetry Friday Recap & Poetry Friday Anthology

April 8, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Month, poetry, book tracks, authors, conferences

UPDATE!!! The "Knights of the Internet" recovered all our comments! Click HERE for the links! Hi, folks - On Sunday afternoon a band of virtual Gremlins made off with my Poetry Friday Round Up post with all your wonderful dozens of comments. :0( I have no idea where it is hiding or if it can be retrieved... I've emailed the webhosting folks for help. Apologies if you've come looking for the Round Up (it was such a great week with so many great links!) and reached this message. Fearing the worst, I'll go ahead and re-post my original article here, so you can enjoy some Poetry Friday Anthology poems and interviews.

HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

(from Friday, April 5)
I’m thrilled to be your Poetry Friday Rounder-Upper today – please leave your links in the comments and I’ll post them as the day unfolds. [As noted above, these links have vanished! My apologies for this inconvenience. There were 65 comments...!]

I look forward to hitting the road next week on a long drive to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at the University of Southern Mississippi. (Yep – they have the wonderful deGrummond Collection, curated by the ever-effervescent Ellen Ruffin.)

April Halprin Wayland , Irene Latham and yours truly will present a poetry panel workshop on Wednesday: Take Five! Create Fun with the Poetry Friday Anthology. We get to share the Poetry Friday Anthology and the new Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School with eager teachers, media specialists, and other interested folks. Thanks to Pomelo Books editors extraordinaire Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell for helping to support this adventure.

Here’s a poem from each of us that we’ll share in our presentation, along with a 10-item Q & A just for fun.

First up, April. Here’s her poem from Grade 6 Week 29 (“Poetry Poems”) in PFAMS:

In the Word Woods

I’m sure there’s a found poem somewhere here.
There usually is this time of year.

Didn’t a red-haired boy lose words
that were found last May by a flightless bird?

And then that search and rescue hound
dug up sixteen poems he’d found.

Listen for falling bulletin boards,
and scowling poem-poaching hordes

who stomp all over this hallowed ground
until the hidden poems are found.

I’ll bring a flashlight, you bring a rake
we’ll get down on our knees and make

a poem from words that have trampolined
off an Internet ad or a magazine

into the woods some starry night
waiting for searching kids who might

find a poem if they’re brave and follow
the hoot of an owl to the end of the hollow.

©April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

Quick, April, answer these fast!

Coffee or tea?
Single shot soy latte in a huge cup so they fill it to the top with FOAM!
(My version of whipped cream without the cream)


Milk or dark chocolate?
Dark, sweetened with unsweetened pineapple juice & pear juice concentrate.
(Despite what my husband says, it tastes wonderful!)


Beach or mountains?
Mountain meadow. Even though I live a mile from the beach…

Free verse or forms?
I have to choose?

Drafts: pen and paper or digital?
Both. Either. Depends.

What’s usually playing on your iPod or on Pandora when you are:
Working –
instrumental folk, classical piano trios; sometimes NPR
Working out – whatever my gym class teacher is playing

Favorite place to read poetry?
In my home office.

Favorite place to write poetry?
In my home office.
(I love my home office. *sigh*)


Funniest question you’ve ever been asked at a school visit:
"How many books do you write in a week?"

Quick! Three of your favorite-sounding words:
cuspidor, bubble gum, tiddlywinks


Next, Irene’s poem from Grade 5, Week 2 (“More School”) from PFA:

Backpack

I’d say paper
Is my favorite feast –
I love it spiraled,
bound or loose-leaf.

(Pencils poke,
rulers break.
Textbooks give me
A belly ache.)

Whatever you feed me,
I’ll do my best;
you’re the one
Who takes the tests!

©Irene Latham. All rights reserved.

Q & A time, Irene – hit it!

Coffee or tea?
tea

Milk or dark chocolate?
dark

Beach or mountains?
beach at night, mountains by day

Free verse or forms?
freeeeeeeee!

Drafts: pen and paper or digital?
digital all the way

What's usually playing on your iPod or on Pandora when you are:
Working
- nada. I work best with silence (though I have learned to write through son's drumming)
Working out - shhhhh, I don't work out.

Favorite place to read poetry?
in bed

Favorite place to write poetry?
in bed (hey, I really like my bed!)

Funniest question you've ever been asked at a school visit:
Would you sign my arm?

Quick! Three of your favorite-sounding words:
honeysuckle, hydrangea, heliotrope

Finally, running out of room on the handout - ;0) – my short little poem from First Grade, Week 10 (“Food”) from PFA:

Snack Rules

Don’t talk with your mouth full –
full of peanut butter:
Anything you try to say
will cmmm out as a mmmttrr.

©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

And my 10 answers:

Coffee or tea?
Morning coffee; afternoon tea

Milk or dark chocolate?
dark

Beach or mountains?
Beach, but I love the mountains too.

Free verse or forms?
Sucker for forms…

Drafts: pen and paper or digital?
Scribbles in journals or on Post-It Notes

What's usually playing on your iPod or on Pandora when you are:
   Working -
Writing: *must*have*quiet*
            Drawing: Bach or Classic Rock, Carving/Printing: *must*have*Celtic*

   Working out -
Ummmm…..

Favorite place to read poetry?
On my couch with my dogs

Favorite place to write poetry?
In my head when I’m walking and talking to the birds

Funniest question you've ever been asked at a school visit:
From a kindergarten girl on a cafeteria floor with 400-plus K-2’s: How do you know if it’s a man wolf or a lady wolf? (Last week a second grader asked me AFTER my presentation, “Are you an author?”)

Quick! Three of your favorite-sounding words:
sassafras, twinkle, persnickety

Be sure to check in over at The Poetry Friday Anthology blog for ideas and inspiration on using the PFA in the classroom. The Poetry Friday for Middle School blog features short “poem movies” this month created by Sylvia’s graduate students, highlighting some of the wonderful PFAMS poems for grades 6 - 8!

For an extensive Poetry Month roundup of events in the Kidlitosphere, check out Jama’s gracious post on Alphabet Soup.

Two last links from me: On Wednesday at Janice Hardy’s great blog, The Other Side of the Story , I featured Irene’s new novel, DON’T FEED THE BOY (Roaring Brook), as a way to look at how a poet’s sensibilities might inform the way she writes fiction.

My art blog post this week celebrates found poetry and Austin Kleon.

Friday's now missing-in-action post then included the Round Up of dozens and dozens of wonderful poetry posts last week. Sigh. If you search for "Poetry Friday" and start visiting blogs of other commenters, you'll find some wonderful offerings.


Progressive Poem 2013 Schedule

April 2, 2013

Tags: poetry, Poetry Month

Here's the 2013 Progressive Poem Schedule, coordinated by the lovely Irene Latham - Click on the link for each day's host/line writer, and see how this poem grows!






April

1  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

2  Joy Acey

3  Matt Forrest Esenwine

4  Jone MacCulloch

5  Doraine Bennett

6  Gayle Krause

7  Janet Fagal

8  Julie Larios

9  Carrie Finison

10  Linda Baie

11  Margaret Simon

12  Linda Kulp

13  Catherine Johnson

14  Heidi Mordhorst

15  Mary Lee Hahn

16  Liz Steinglass

17  Renee LaTulippe

18  Penny Klostermann

19  Irene Latham

20  Buffy Silverman

21  Tabatha Yeatts

22  Laura Shovan

23  Joanna Marple

24  Katya Czaja

25  Diane Mayr

26  Robyn Hood Black

27  Ruth Hersey

28  Laura Purdie Salas

29  Denise Mortensen

30  April Halprin Wayland



It's National Poetry Month!

April 1, 2013

Tags: Poetry Month, poetry, school visits, Highlights, workshops

I kicked off National Poetry Month with a school visit to Fair Street International Baccalaureate School on Friday. Thanks to lovely media specialist Amy Hamilton, right, for hosting me again!

Happy Poetry Month!

The Academy of American Poets designates each April as a month-long celebration of poetry. Check out the many links and resources there.

SO many great things going on in the KidLit world for Poetry Month as well. A great place to start your treasure hunt is over at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup blog, where our wonderful Jama has compiled links to many month-long online celebrations.

I had the good fortune to usher in Poetry Month at Fair Street School (an International Baccalaureate World School) here in north Georgia on Friday. With groups from kindergarten through fifth grade, media specialist Amy Hamilton and I led students and teachers on a romp through different types of poetry. We even wrote group limericks in each presentation, and they turned out great! (I'll share a couple soon.) Thanks to Elizabeth Steinglass for filling my head with limericks lately. (Liz and I met at a Highlights Founders Workshop in poetry last year.)

Don't forget to travel along with the 2013 Progressive Poem! The wonderful Irene Latham is coordinating this special treat again, with a new line added by a children's poet every day. My line was toward th beginning last year; this year it will be toward the end! Can't wait to see what emerges. Click here for the schedule; also coming to a sidebar near you when I get it together.

How will you celebrate POETRY this month? I look forward to seeing you "on the links" - not for golf, but for poetry!
Fore......

Poetry Friday: Marchuary? and some E. E. Cummings

March 28, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, Poetry Month, school visits


Happy Spring!

Here’s what it said on my local page from The Weather Channel yesterday:

It's "Marchuary" in the Southeast!
Some Southeast cities have had a colder March than January.


I know we have no room to talk, what with all the blizzards you folks up north and to the west of us have endured this winter. But I must say I was thrilled to see the mercury creep up to 60 Thursday afternoon, without the cutting winds we’ve been swirling in!

Also yesterday, a dear friend sent an email with a nod to the famous spring poem by E. E. Cummings. I thought we should read it to keep luring in spring. Once a year at least we ought to ponder the word “mud-luscious,” don’t you think?

[in Just-]

by E. E. Cummings
(1894–1962)

in Just-
spring       when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
spring



Please click here to read the poem in its entirety.

I am thrilled to be visiting a local elementary school today – sharing poetry across K through 5! I know we’ll have a great time kicking off National Poetry Month.

Speaking of which, be SURE to check out Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup blog today and for the next several weeks, as she’s kindly compiled lots of great links for special Poetry Month celebrations throughout the Kidlitosphere.

Irene Latham is hosting the second annual Progressive Poem – Woo Hoo! Can’t wait to participate again. Click here for the dates to see who’s adding a line when.

Don’t forget to vote today in the FINAL FOUR round of March Madness Poetry! What a great offering of poems this year’s tournament has birthed. (And huge thanks to organizer Ed DeCaria.)

For more great poetry today, visit A Reading Year - Mary Lee always has a spring in her step.

AND, come right back here next week, where I have the privilege of rounding up the first Poetry Friday in April!

Bloggie Updates! Wik Blog Tour and good news over at Author Amok

August 16, 2012

Tags: poetry, haiku, SCBWI, Southern Breeze, conferences, Poetry Month

Howdy - Well, I'm breaking my mini-blog vacation because there are just too many good things to share! I have a fun Poetry Friday post for tomorrow, but before that, here are a couple of good bloggie nuggets:

1.) I was thrilled to learn that Laura Shovan's blog, Author Amok, was named a top ten Creative Writing teaching blog, winning a "Fascination Award" with the nominated post being a guest post by yours truly for Poetry Month this year! Woo-hoo! Congratulations, Laura - and I'm honored!

2.) The folks planning our SCBWI Southern Breeze Fall Conference in Birmingham have been hard at work, and we're spotlighting speakers in the Southern Breeze blogosphere this month. (I've been thrilled to present there the last two years, and look forward to enjoying workshops as a civilian this year.) I'll host Irene Latham HERE next week, but in the meantime, get on board and enjoy the tour:

Aug. 15 Sharon Pegram at Writers and Wannabes

Aug. 16 Sarah Campbell at Alison Hertz’s blog, On My Mind

Aug. 17 F.T. Bradley at Laura Golden’s blog

Aug. 20 Chuck Galey at Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog

Aug. 21 Jo Kittinger at Bonnie Herold’s blog, Tenacious Teller of Tales

Aug. 22 Irene Latham HERE!

Aug. 23 Vicky Alvear Shecter at S.R. Johannes’ blog

Aug. 24 Doraine Bennett at Cathy Hall’s blog

Aug. 27 Virginia Butler at Bonnie Herold’s blog, Tenacious Teller of Tales.

Aug. 28 Jodi Wheeler-Toppen at Diane Sherrouse’s blog,The Reading Road

Aug. 29 Ellen Ruffin at Sarah Frances Hardy’s blog, Picture This

Aug. 30 Donna Jo Napoli at Writers and Wannabes

Poetry Friday: Jazzing up Poetry Month with Carole Boston Weatherford

April 19, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Month, poetry, authors, book tracks, conferences

Did you know that in addition to National Poetry Month, April is Jazz Appreciation Month? Click here for the Smithsonian website. Today, we’re combining the two!

While presenting a workshop at the Georgia Conference on Children’s Literature last month, I met the incredible Carole Boston Weatherford, New York Times bestselling author of dozens of books – poetry collections, picture books, and nonfiction. Trailing her is a long list of awards, including the North Carolina Award for Literature in 2010, the state’s highest civilian honor. Her books have garnered a Caldecott honor, an NAACP Image Award, Coretta Scott King Honors, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Jane Addams Children’s Literature Honor, a Golden Kite Honor, and the Jefferson Cup from Virginia Library Association, just to name a few.

But back to jazz and Poetry Month, today we’re taking a look BECOMING BILLIE HOLIDAY (illustrated by the amazing Floyd Cooper, Wordsong, 2008), which was a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book and on many top lists. With starred reviews from Kirkus (“…A remarkable tribute well worthy of its subject”) and School Library Journal (…“Captivating”), the book is a fictional memoir – a collection of first-person poems chronicling the transformation of Eleanora Fagan (b. 1915) into the groundbreaking and iconic jazz singer Billie Holiday.

Weatherford doesn’t shy away from the hard facts of Billie’s early life – rape, prostitution, drinking and marijuana use – but rounds out the darkness with the irrepressible voice and spirit of this singular talent. Most of the poems take their titles from Billie Holiday’s songs. Here is one which captures the struggle and emotion of her very early years (reprinted with permission from the author):

Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do

by Carole Boston Weatherford

At eleven, I had the body
of a grown woman,
the mouth of a sailor, and a temper
hot enough to fry an egg.

What I didn’t have
Was anyone to hug me,
To tuck me in at night,
Or kiss me hello and good-bye.

So I got noticed the only way
I knew – cursing and screaming
in the streets, picking fights
with anyone half as mad as me.

For me, the back
of a hand was better
than the back of a head,
better than being ignored.



She soon discovered that she had a voice, too – which could change her life. (And this voice had power that would reach far beyond her own life, particularly when she lent it to “Strange Fruit,” the 1930s poem-turned-song about racial injustice.)

In the book's afterword, Weatherford explains that she chose to end her account at a point of success for the 25-year old Lady Day – “before heroin and hard living took their toll.”

I’m thrilled to welcome this wonderful poet here today.

Thank you for joining us, Carole, to jazz up Poetry Month!

In my notes from your speech at the Georgia Children’s Literature conference, I scribbled down this quote: “Poetry is my first language as a writer.” You described how you wrote poetry as a child (and you share photos on your website of some early works!). Have you always thought of yourself as a poet?


Over the years, I have dabbled in photography, fashion design, sewing, needle arts, graphic design, bookmaking, painting, and of course writing. Writing, specifically poetry, was my first avenue of creative expression. But I didn't think of myself as poet as a child any more than I considered being an author. I had no clue about literary careers. But as poetic expression became more and more a part of my identity, I declared myself a poet. I was around 25 and had just written a poem entitled "I'm Made of Jazz." That poem had Billie in it too. I guess she was my muse even then.

I enjoyed hearing you discuss how BECOMING BILLIE HOLIDAY took a little coaxing from your muse. Could you share a little of the background of how you came to write it?

I have been under Billie's spell longer than I can remember. My father played her records, but I became a die-hard devotee at age 16 after seeing the biopic Lady Sings the Blues. In 2006, Billie enlisted me to write a young adult book about her. But I was afraid the book wouldn't appeal to teens, so I ditched the idea. Then, at Baltimore's Great Blacks in Wax Museum, an eighth grade girl who swooned at Billie's wax figure unknowingly green-lighted the project. When I seemed surprised that she'd heard of Lady Day, the girl told me, "She could sing!" As the girl moved on, it was almost as if Billie said, "I told you to write my book."

Why did you think poetry was the best vehicle to use to tell this story?

Billie had a gift for imbuing lyrics with intense emotion. In fact, she really pioneered vocal lyricism in the jazz idiom. What she did with lyrics, poetry does with language.

I’m amazed at the way you balanced presenting the facts of Billie Holiday’s experiences, which were often brutal and hard, with the joy that singing brought to her life (and to her fans and followers). Was this as difficult as I’m imagining, and was there something in your process that helped you pull it off?

As the poems poured out of me, it was almost if Billie were whispering and humming in my ear. She provided the soundtrack and her life story the scenes for the narrative. The process was a bit mystical, like channeling her.

What aspect of Billie Holiday’s personality did you most want to share with young readers?

I wanted to capture her mood when she first experienced music and fame. More than anything, I depicted her as I thought she would want to be remembered.

In your picture books, whether a story is told in prose or in poems, there’s an easy rhythm to the language. You’ve written that “jazz was the soundtrack” of your preschool years - how would you say jazz has influenced your writing – in any genre?

I love music, especially jazz, female vocalists and world music. But I rarely listen to music while writing, because for me creating a poem is like composing a melody. I need to hear the nascent verses in my head. I'd like to think I write jazz poetry. My poems make the vernacular voice sing and swing. But if I could sing, I wouldn't write.

Your words definitely sing. Thanks so much for visiting with us today – Happy Poetry AND Jazz Month!

For more, please visit Carole’s website and her great Billie Holiday blog.

For more poetry, sashay over to see what Diane’s rounding up at Random Noodling.

Feeling Lucky to be in Jama's Poetry Potluck!

April 11, 2012

Tags: Poetry Month, poetry, illustration

I couldn't be more thrilled today - I'm in the pot at Jama Kim Rattigan's blog, Alphabet Soup, for her Poetry Potluck. There's a new poem, art, and a recipe for re-named oatmeal jam(a) bars in the mix. Click HERE to check it out, and don't blame me if you end up perusing her blog all day and look up to find the sun's going down outside...!

Poetry Friday is HERE - and The Arrow Finds Its Mark!

April 6, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Month, poetry, book tracks, authors, illustrators

My office kitty, May, appreciates the illustration homage to “Starry Night” below my poem, “We See With These,” opposite Bob Raczka’s delightful “Places I’d Love to Van Gogh Someday.”

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

Hope you’re enjoying all the great poetry offerings in Kidlitosphere this month. I’m thrilled to be hosting on the first Friday in April!

And I’m beyond thrilled to share Georgia Heard’s brand-new anthology of found poems, THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK , illustrated by Antoine Guilloppé, hot off the Roaring Brook Press. This is the first time my own poetry has appeared in an anthology for kids, and I couldn’t be more humbled and excited.

Thirty poets, including Lee Bennett Hopkins, Joyce Sidman, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Jane Yolen, Naomi Shihab Nye, J. Patrick Lewis, David L. Harrison, Janet Wong and many others contributed material for this collection, “finding” poetry in unlikely places.

Poets were encouraged to find existing text (some found sounds!) in a form other than poetry and present that text as a poem, and not to change, add or rearrange words (though some minor variations were allowed). Inspiration came from catalogs, signs, airplane magazines, social networking sites, advertisements – even a detergent box! One of my favorites is Bob Raczka’s “How to Write a Poem on Your Computer” using words from drop-down computer menus.

I wanted my submissions to be kid-friendly. The first poem I have in the book, “Battling Beams,” came from a LaserTag score report I found crumpled up on the laundry room counter. (Thank you, son Seth, for attending that birthday party.)

My second poem (below) came from a visit to a fourth grade classroom. Teacher extraordinaire Sharon Briggs (who taught both of my now-just-about-grown children) let me come in and hunt for poetic treasure. I jotted down notes from the whiteboard, work assignments, and the like. But I got obsessed when looking through activities in the Sitton Spelling and Word Skills Practice Book. One crossword puzzle highlighting plural words had all kinds of evocative-sounding clues sprinkled throughout “Down” and “Across.” I felt they needed to be herded together into something a little bit magical. I used one of the clues as the title, too.


We See with These



On a clear night, you can see lots of these
sparkling in the sky.

They help you see

Tooth Fairy collectibles,

more than one mouse,

more than one moose,

more than one elf,

more.


Copyright ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

In her introduction to the collection, Georgia Heard mentions several of the poems and writes: “… some poets chose to splice words together from a single source and make a kind of word collage, as in Robyn Hood Black’s ‘We See with These’.” A word collage. I love that! And I think that’s an idea kids can run with too. I’ll try it out with Mrs. Briggs’s current batch of fourth graders next week.

I also love this from the introduction, “…I want my readers to know that poetry is everywhere – if we only look at the world with poet’s eyes.”

Hats off to other Poetry Friday regulars with poems in the collection, including Amy Ludwig VanDerwater (“Artist’s Advice”) and Laura Purdie Salas (“They Don’t Want Speeding Tickets, So…” and “Top Ten Rules for our Zoo Field Trip”). I’ll have the good luck to post a terrific interview with Laura next Friday the 13th (with a poem that you haven’t seen before!) and, on the following Friday (April 20) we’ll be jazzing things up here with the multi-award winning Carole Boston Weatherford. What a special month.

(I’ll be popping in on these wonderful blogs myself: Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup Poetry Potluck on Wed., April 11, and Laura Shovan’s month-long celebration at Author Amok on Friday, April 13. Thank you, Ladies!)

There are so many great celebrations out there TODAY – please leave your links in the comments, and I’ll round them up throughout the day.
(more…)

2012 KidLit Progressive Poem stops HERE today

April 4, 2012

Tags: poetry, Poetry Month

The talented and generous Irene Latham began a wonderful bit of fun for Poetry Month - the 2012 KidLitosphere Progressive Poem! Each day the poem will travel to a different blog for the addition of a new line. I can't wait to see how it unfolds. I have the honor of adding line 4 today:


If you are reading this

you must be hungry

Kick off your silver slippers

Come sit with us a spell



Next stop for the poem is the magical virtual pen of Susan Taylor Brown. For the full schedule with links, see my blog post imediately preceeding this one. Happy Traveling!

HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

April 1, 2012

Tags: Poetry Month, poetry

Yay! It's Poetry Month. So much is going on in the Kidlitosphere, and I'm tickled to be participating in a few fun blogs. (Click HERE for a rundown and check out these great blogs all month.) Irene Latham has organized a KidLit Progressive Poem for starters - see below for the schedule! (And check back here April 4 to see what I come up with when the poem stops by here.) I'm thrilled I'll be visiting the terrific blogs of Jama Rattigan and Laura Shovan this month, and hosting Poetry Friday here this week. I've got some great interviews with poets lined up for Poetry Fridays, too. So be in touch, and Happy Poetry Month!

2012 KidLit Progressive Poem:  watch a poem grow day-by-day as it
travels across the Kidlitosphere! April 1-30




Schedule


1  Irene at Live Your Poem 


2  Doraine at Dori Reads


3  Jeannine at View from a Window Seat


4  Robyn at Read, Write, Howl


5  Susan at Susan Taylor Brown


6  Mary Lee at A Year of Reading


7  Penny at A Penny and her Jots

8  Jone at Deo Writer


9  Gina at Swagger
Writer's


10  Julie at The Drift Record


11  Kate at Book Aunt


12  Anastasia Suen at Booktalking



14  Diane at Random Noodling



16  Natalie at Wading Through Words 


17  Tara at A Teaching Life


18  Amy  at The Poem Farm


19  Lori at Habitual Rhymer



21  Myra at Gathering Books


22  Pat at Writer on a Horse


23  Miranda at Miranda Paul Books 


24  Linda at TeacherDance


25  Greg at Gotta Book


26  Renee at No Water River


27  Linda at Write Time

28  Caroline at Caroline by Line

29  Sheri at Sheri Doyle

30  Irene at Live Your Poem



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