Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet





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Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
photo by Steve Kolich

Susan Rosson Spain, Robyn Hood Black, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Myra Meade at the Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Ga.
photo by Mel Hornsby

Southern Breeze Kudos Kites 09 - Donna, Robyn, Heather, Sarah, and Peggy

Robyn with Kathleen Duey, author extraordinaire http://www.kathleenduey.com

Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller http://www.debbiemilleralaska.com

photo by Robyn Hood Black
Paul B. Janeczko http://www.paulbjaneczko.com

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Life on the Deckle Edge

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!

Poetry Friday: And the Crowd Goes Wild! with Carol-Ann Hoyte and Heidi Bee Roemer

April 27, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, book tracks, authors, editors

Carol-Ann Hoyte, left, Heidi Bee Roemer, and illustration by Kevin Sylvester
Curious about the upcoming sports-themed anthology, just in time for the Olympics, from poets Carol-Ann Hoyte and Heidi Bee Roemer ? Me, too! The collection will feature dozens of poems from emerging and familiar names alike, along with lively illustrations by Kevin Sylvester. It will be available as a paperback and also as an e-book.

After And the Crowd Goes Wild! was featured on Sylvia Vardell’s wonderful Poetry for Children blog, I asked these two poetic go-getters if they’d share a little more here for our final Poetry Friday post of National Poetry Month. They kindly obliged.

(For the Poetry For Children post, click here. You’ll find an interview by graduate student Abby Hancock and the poem “Pianoball” by Jocelyn Shipley.)

Let’s start with a poem from the collection:

Sore Sport

It stinks that the ref blew the call,
And you’re sore ‘cuz you took a bad fall.
    Well ponder this, fella,
    As your bruises turn yella,
For one day, try being the ball.

-- M Sullivan (United States)



Clever, eh? Now let’s go behind the scenes with the editors. How did you two meet, and how did you decide to create a poetry collection together?

HEIDI: Carol-Ann sparked the idea of creating a sports poetry anthology. To my great delight, she invited me to be co-editor on the project. We became acquainted through cyberspace; our communication has been almost solely by email. Believe it or not, to date we’ve only talked on the phone twice!

This collection promises to have something for everybody. Why was it important to you all to include sports experiences from all over the world?

CAROL-ANN: The Olympics inspired me to create this book so I wanted to embrace the event's spirit by bringing poets from around the globe together. The worldwide exploration of the theme is significant as it offers fresh perspectives into familiar sports, introduces readers to unknown sports and expands their knowledge of less-familiar sports, exposes them to different varieties of the English language, and conveys subtle clues as to which sports are popular in certain countries.

It’s wonderful to see that you’ll be highlighting Paralympics and Special Olympics athletes. Was your vision inclusive from the beginning, or did it grow and evolve as you worked on the project?

HEIDI: Priscila Uppal’s Winter Sport: Poems (2010) inspired me. I learned that the early Olympic Games (1912 to 1948) included five art categories: architecture, literature, music, painting and sculpture. From her book I also gained new insight about aboriginal sports and sports for disabled athletes. Yes, our intention from the get-go was to include poems about Special Olympians and Paralympians; Priscila's writings simply confirmed that these athletes’ tales of inspiration and courage needed to be represented in our collection. In addition, I’m honored that Priscila, poet-in-residence for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games, wrote the foreword for And the Crowd Goes Wild!

CAROL-ANN: I had initially envisioned an anthology aimed at readers aged 5 to 12. But then we received so many stellar, sophisticated poems which we felt would be most accessible and relevant to as well as appreciated by older elementary school children. As a result, we opted to narrow our target audience to 8- to 12-year-old children. Heidi also recommended that the collection feature a wide range of poetic forms so as to strengthen it, enhance its appeal, and heighten its marketability. As a result of following her recommendation, we ended up with a collection which features 20 different poetic forms.


What are some of your favorite sports or themes included in the collection? (I know – all of them! But pretty please give us a sneak peek….)

HEIDI: The inspirational poems about athletes with disabilities hold a special place in my heart. From Laura Purdie Salas’ roundel, readers learn about goalball, an official sport of the Paralympic Games designed for visually impaired athletes. Michelle Schaub penned a mono-meter poem about a courageous paraplegic who soars downhill at breathless speed on a mono-ski. Kimberly Douglas Hancock’s heartwarming verse in honor of her young nephew focuses on the winning attitude of special needs athletes, while Carmela Martino’s “At the Chicago Marathon” reveals the poet’s admiration of Richard Whitehead, a Paralympic runner born without legs.

CAROL-ANN: Patricia Cooley (U.S.) pays tribute to chess with her clever and dramatic poem "The King's Gambit." I am thrilled to feature this piece in the collection because I view chess as a truly international sport. While visiting other countries you might have trouble locating people who speak English but when abroad you’ll always be sure to find folks who know how to play chess. I am excited that children will “hear” how the English language “sounds” as it is spoken by poets living in other countries.

There are two poems which stand out for me because of their clever and surprising juxtaposition. Heather Delabre presents a dialogue between a football player and ballet dancer in her two-voice poem“The Master Dance." Jocelyn Shipley presents a youngster who tells of her desire to play baseball with her friends as she reluctantly practices playing the piano in “Pianoball.”


Fifty poems from established and emerging poets – from ten countries! How did you manage this feat logistically, and in such a timely way?

CAROL-ANN: We would have been pleased to feature poets from even more countries but unfortunately the material we received from six countries was not strong enough in content and/or writing quality to merit further consideration for inclusion in the anthology. I sought assistance from my network of children’s poets and other kidlit professionals to circulate the call for submissions. I also initiated contact with poetry organizations around the world to help do the same. The London 2012 Summer Olympics prompted me to complete the project in a timely matter. I wanted the collection to be released around the time of the Olympics so that we could tap into the energy and excitement of the event to promote our book.

What have been the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of becoming publishers?

HEIDI: Let’s just say I found tracking and logging in 300-plus poems a tad tedious. But unearthing a captivating, well-written poem in the cyberspace slush pile was a true spine-tingling delight, like a five-year old waking up on Christmas morning. Seeing the variety of perspectives on a single subject, sports, was astounding. I also enjoyed helping poets revise and polish their poems. Their zest for “story”, their humor, insightful musings, and skillful word-crafting amazed me. I hope our readers will find be captivated and inspired by the 50 poems presented in our collection.

CAROL-ANN: One challenge was attracting submissions from Europe and Asia. As I self-published the book, another challenge was dealing individually with several key tasks in the publishing process which have been divided among and handled by a handful of folks had I pursued the traditional publishing route. One unexpected though small challenge was having to explain to a few contributors why we had decided to not consider their work for the anthology. One reward is the knowledge of and pride in creating a poetry collection for children which differs from most of those currently being published.

Our book features a high proportion of emerging poets (as opposed to showcasing mainly high-profile poets) and offers an international treatment on a subject (compared to showcasing content crafted by poets living in only one country). Another reward is the success in demonstrating that a self-published book can possess top-notch quality in its writing, illustration, design, and production. One final reward is being able to donate a portion of royalties to Right to Play, an organization which enriches the lives of children through sport.


How has editing the poetry of others impacted your own writing?

HEIDI: As a writer, I’ve embraced this anonymous quote: “Poetry is a can of frozen orange concentrate. Add three cans water and you get prose.” In other words, when writing poetry less is more. Lee Bennett Hopkins brought that message home to me years ago when he surgically trimmed my 98-word poem to 12 words –and revealed a haiku “hidden” in my closing couplet, later included in one of his anthologies. Now working on the other side of the desk, I encouraged some of our poets to trim their words, to tinker, tweak, polish, pinch, and prune their poems—and they did so with remarkable results. As an editor, I am reminded that astute writers are willing word-crafters who can lasso an idea, wrestle words, images, and emotions to paper, and succinctly tie up the loose ends of a poem with a satisfying closing line that elicits a response from the reader.

Like athletes, nothing is more joyful to poets than knowing they’ve found their passion, learned the disciplines, overcome challenges, mastered their fears, tested their limits, and honed their skills, all the while keeping sight of their goals. Being a poet—or an athlete—is not for the faint-hearted, but for those who persist… and never give up on their dreams.


Great advice, Heidi! Thanks to both you and Carol-Ann for joining us, and wishes for wild success with the book.

Now, run, pole-vault, or doggie paddle over to The Opposite of Indifference, where Tabatha is rounding up more great poetry today.

Conference Call...

January 19, 2012

Tags: SCBWI, Southern Breeze, editors, illustrators, conferences

Breaking News: Sandy Fry made us a great TRAILER on facebook, with yours truly narrating. Enjoy!

Just a shout-out on behalf of the SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle Conference, which I'm coordinating in Atlanta Feb. 24-26. Early-bird discount registration ends THIS Sat., Jan. 21 (Note: the online registration site will be down for a few hours tomorrow night).

We've got a GREAT weekend planned, with Newbery Honor winner Kirby Larson as our keynote and optional novel-writing intensive leader, editors Greg Ferguson (Egmont), Kristin Daly Rens (Balzer&Bray/Harpercollins), and agent Mary Kole (Andrea Brown Literary), plus a workshop from OWLY graphic novel series creator Andy Runton.

Click here and then click SPRINGMINGLE for conference info.

To Poetry Friday folks, I'm sure it will be a great day of poetry, rounded up by Elaine at Wild Rose Reader. I'll jump back in next week; I'm covered up in Springmingle planning today. Enjoy!

Poetry Friday: G. R. LeBlanc to Offer Haiku Critique Service

November 11, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, Berry Blue Haiku, authors, editors, writing life

There’s definitely a change in the air as we transition from fall to right-around-the-corner winter – does it inspire you to write a haiku or two? Today I’m welcoming back poet and editor Gisele LeBlanc (who writes as G. R. LeBlanc), to share some news (click here for our earlier interview). She lives in Atlantic Canada with her husband, son, and canine companion. When not writing, she enjoys simple pleasures: reading, bird watching, and spending quiet evenings at home.

BREAKING NEWS - Friday, 11-11-11 - Gisele's entry into the First POLISH INTERNATIONAL HAIKU COMPETITION received a COMMENDATION today! This was from more than 300 entrants from 41 countries (myself included, but I'm thrilled for her) and the judge was Jane Reichhold. Click here to read her poem. WOO-HOO - OK, back to regularly scheduled programming....

Her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in children’s publications as well as in haiku journals such as The Heron's Nest, frogpond, Haiku Presence, Notes from the Gean, A Hundred Gourds, Haiku Pix Review, Ambrosia: Journal of Fine Haiku, Prune Juice: Journal of Senryu and Kyoka, A Handful of Stones, and Modern Haiku.

First, let’s enjoy some of Gisele’s haiku:


after the squall
the tinkling concerto
of sailboats


**Notes from the Gean, December 2010



wild rhubarb
that sudden yearning
for something more


**frogpond, Fall 2011



coastal map
the sand etched
by snails


**Notes from the Gean, June 2011



over stones
the ripple of water
birdsong


**Haiku Pix Review, Summer 2011


Poems ©G. R. LeBlanc
All rights reserved.

More of her haiku can be found here.

As editor of the online blog journal, Berry Blue Haiku, she’s extending a hand to those new to the field.

“I love discussing haiku and I look forward to helping other poets gain a deeper understanding of this wonderful form,” she says. “I hope that the knowledge and experience I have learned thus far can offer guidance to others who are just embarking on the haiku journey.”

Since I’m happily on the Berry Blue Haiku team, I always learn something from Gisele’s comments. If you write haiku, remember we’re open to submissions! We appreciate each one, even those we turn down as not the right fit. I can tell you that the privilege of reading submissions and the privilege of Gisele’s insights have made me a stronger poet.

Here are the details and guidelines about Gisele’s new service:

I am pleased to announce that I am now offering critiques for poets new to haiku. These critiques, which will be conducted through email, should be viewed as an educational opportunity and will aim to offer basic guidance and tips on writing haiku. Also included will be a list of resources, links, and markets.

I would like to offer these critiques to the first four participants free of charge. Once the free critique is completed, participants will need to answer a few basic questions and offer feedback or suggestions on the service.
After these four free critiques have been given, the cost of this service will be 15.00 US or CAD (for 5 haiku), payable through PayPal.

If you are interested in the free critique, or have any questions, please email me at berrybluehaiku(at)gmail(dot)com

**Please note that critiqued haiku will not be eligible for publication consideration for the Berry Blue Haiku Journal; however, participants are welcome to submit other haiku.

Critique Guidelines:

1. Include your name as well as a contact email.

2. Send 5 haiku, pasted in the body of the email to berrybluehaiku(at)gmail(dot)com Also indicate whether your haiku are intended for adults or children.

3. Put HAIKU CRITIQUE REQUEST in your subject field.

**4. Feel free to include any questions you may have regarding haiku, as well as a brief paragraph on how you came to discover the form. (**optional)

5. Please allow up to 2 weeks for completed critiques.
Thank you, and I look forward to reading your work.
Gisele LeBlanc


Click here for a direct link to the critique service page.

And for more great poetry, click here to visit April at Teaching Authors for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Catching up with editor Joëlle Dujardin of HIGHLIGHTS

October 15, 2010

Tags: SCBWI, editors, magazines

This weekend I’m co-presenting two workshops (with writer/media specialist Sharon Wright Mitchell) at our SCBWI Southern Breeze fall conference in Birmingham. One is “The Front Door, The Back Door, The Trap Door… Breaking into Magazines.” I asked HIGHLIGHTS Associate Editor Joëlle Dujardin for some fresh tips for our attendees. Her responses were so generous, I then asked if I could share them with you here! Enjoy.

(Joëlle edits fiction, and I’m personally grateful for the keen eye and sensibilities she brought to my story currently scheduled to run this April.) :0)

Thank you, Joëlle, for taking time to share your thoughts with us! Are there any story types or genres you are most interested in? (more…)

Springmingle and WinterWanders...

March 4, 2010

Tags: SCBWI, Southern Breeze, school visits, editors

Happy March!

Still feels like winter, but the sun is out and most of the snow has melted away. I drove through a mini-blizzard (OK, Georgia-style) to visit with the great kids at Cleveland Road Elementary School in Bogart, Ga., on Tuesday. First time I've been presenting at a school when it closed early! No, the kids weren't excited or anything....

Our SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle was a big success, with the highest attendance ever. (more…)

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Media
bio, photos, interview links, etc.
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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!
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illustrations