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

Poetry Friday - Write a Letter of Appreciation Week, and HERE WE GO Giveaway!

March 2, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Pomelo Books, giveaway, Janet Wong, Sylvia Vardell


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

I missed being with you all last week, but I was honored and blessed to attend the induction of Lee Bennett Hopkins into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. I grew up in The Sunshine State, and I’m glad some of its warm light was directed toward Lee, who is a shining star there!

In fact, I’m just now getting around to writing a couple of thank-you notes for generosities last week. Did you know that this very week, the first week of March, is National Write a Letter of Appreciation Week? So break out the stationery & note cards, and brush up on the fine art of snail-mail correspondence!

(Do you enjoy Jimmy Fallon’s Friday evening ritual of writing humorous Thank You notes? You might enjoy this article in the New York Times from 2014, which highlights the regular Tonight Show skit and also explores the importance of handwritten appreciations with some contemporary fashion & business leaders.)

As I regularly swim in social and business correspondence books from the late 1800s in my art studio, I contemplate the past and future of handwritten notes. Despite this digital age, I'm heartened that at least the 20-somethings in my daughter’s circle - some of them settling down to get married and start families and such - still write and send actual notes. Have ye hope!

What does any of this have to do with poetry? Well, the reason I know about the actual calendar designation is because I wrote a poem about it for THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY OF CELEBRATIONS (Pomelo Books). “Sincerely” is pictured on the Pocket Poems® card above.


Sincerely

Dear Friend,

I see the thoughtful things you do.
Your words are always cheerful, too.

I noticed!
And I'm thanking you.

Sincerely,
Me



Here’s a link to my interview with Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong about the PFAC. And click here for an adorable video recorded by one of Sylvia’s students, featuring Leslie (age 7 at the time) reading my poem, with bloopers at the end!

The reason I’m bringing all this up again now is that my poem is also featured in the closing chapter/PowerPack of Pomelo Books’s HERE WE GO, which burst onto the kidlit world stage in January. (Its predecessor, YOU JUST WAIT, was published last fall and was selected as a 2017 NCTE Notable; click here for my post about it.)

HERE WE GO is another amazing, creative compilation by Janet and Sylvia for ages 8 and up, part of their POETRY FRIDAY POWER BOOK series. Once again, anchor poems help shape the theme for each “PowerPack.” HERE WE GO features anchor poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, Carole Boston Weatherford, Joseph Bruchac, David Bowles, Ibtisam Barakat, Eileen Spinelli, David L. Harrison, Kate Coombs, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, Renée M. LaTulippe, Margaret Simon, and yours truly.

These 12 poems join 24 new poems by Janet Wong to make an over-arching story – this one celebrating diversity and social justice, with protagonists Ameera, David, Jack, and Jenna tackling needs in their community (primarily, hunger) and struggling with how best, and how much, to help. Each PowerPack also includes “Powerplay” and “Power2You” pages which invite participation and imaginative poem-writing. Franzi Paetzold’s endearing pen and ink illustrations add just the right tone for kids of any age or background.

To see just how much poetry instruction is brilliantly folded into these pages, see Sylvia’s recent post here.

For lots of sneak peeks inside and insightful commentaries, here are some recent Poetry Friday blog posts highglighting HERE WE GO:

Irene Latham’s Blog

Poetry for Teaching - Lorrie L. Birchall

A Year of Reading - Mary Lee Hahn

Today’s Little Ditty - Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

Katie’s great post at The Logonauts

and

The Poem Farm- Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

(Please holler if I missed any.)

Last but not least, the oh-so-generous team of Janet and Sylvia are giving away a few more copies! In this case, the late bird gets the giveaway worm too, eh? And since Irene’s kitty picked winners on her post, I’ll let my ancient office kitty, May, help randomly pick five winners! Just leave a comment by March 12, and you’ll be entered.

For lots of poetry to be savored and appreciated, please visit the delightful Heidi today at My Juicy Little Universe, where she’s hosting the Roundup as well as a love-fest for Billy Collins! So much to be grateful for. Also, deep appreciations to my friend and our own Bookseed Studio keeper, Jan Godown Annino, for a beautiful tribute to Nancy Willard here. Such a loss for the poetry world and the world in general; she was luminescent. I am thankful to have met her 25+ years ago at a writers conference in Georgia, when she must have been about the age I am now. She was magical. I've treasured her books over the years and cherish them now, and somewhere I have a handwritten postcard from her, thanking me for some cat note cards I'd given her. Which, I just realized while typing this, brings me back to the beginning of this post... .

Poetry Friday - YOU JUST WAIT Giveaway (!) with Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

September 21, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, book tracks, Janet Wong, Sylvia Vardell, Pomelo Books, giveaway



Greetings, Poetry Friday-ers!

I'm freshly back from a glorious week up at a Highlights Founders Workshop with Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard, and beautifully blogged about by Linda and Catherine. I didn't unpack my suitcase, though – I’m heading out again, this time across the entire country to end up with more of my poetry tribe! I know, I know... I AM a lucky duck. Quack.

I'll finally (!) get to meet Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell IN PERSON at Western Washington University's POETRY CAMP - an awesome conference next Saturday, Oct. 1. Several participating poets will arrive a little early, and I'll be leading a "Makerspace" found poem/mixed media workshop Friday night at a local bookstore. Can't wait!

Speaking of waiting, I'm delighted to keep the celebratory blog party going for the newest member of Sylvia and Janet's Pomelo Books family, YOU JUST WAIT - A Poetry Friday Power Book. The indefatigable Vardell-Wong duo has come up with a truly one-of-a-kind resource for middle school students, sprung from their POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL (an NCTE Poetry Notable published in 2013).

Taking innovative inspiration from Lee Bennett Hopkins’s “groundbreaking work in creating poetry anthologies” (from the dedication), they’ve crafted a book that is part anthology, part novella, and totally interactive. Students are going to love it. I love it. (If I’d only had this book during those couple of years I taught middle school English…)

Nutshell: Janet took a dozen poems from the PFA for Middle School, added two dozen more original poems, and whipped up a complete narrative with living, breathing characters. Sylvia took this delectable main dish and served it up with fun side activities. Then she handed over ingredients and a bowl to the reader, offering a recipe of prompts for each chapter (and space on the pages!) to create his or her own poems.

The character names in YOU JUST WAIT came from Julie Larios’s gorgeous poem, “Names.”

Saturday morning means I buy pan dulce
with Tio Chepe and my cousin Lucesita
whose name means “Little Light” –
that’s what I call her, and she laughs
and pinches me and calls me “Peace”
because my name is Paz. …


(Side note - I get to present a picture book workshop next Saturday with Julie – I know, more lucky quacks! Quack quack!!)

The action part of the story comes from Paz’s trying out for the soccer team. Will she make it? Emotional connections come from relationships (cousins who are also schoolmates) between Paz, Lucesita, and Joe, who is a little older. Middle school students will see themselves in fresh, accessible poems about identity struggles, sports, fears, achievements, family, making it through the school day – and food! – to name a few themes.

Here’s some backstory from Janet:

We moved to a new town when I was a junior in high school. I felt very uncomfortable being “different-looking” in a school that was 90% white and suburban/semi-rural (after having been at a diverse urban school the previous year). My solution: to spend every lunch period in the library, reading alone. This wasn’t necessarily a bad solution, but I was very lonely until I finally started making friends a few months into the year. Something I’d love to see: lunchtime book clubs using YOU JUST WAIT to pull kids in and get them talking. Give them an excuse to join by giving them books!

YOU JUST WAIT provides an easy structure for a book club to follow; they can do one PowerPack a week.


What is a PowerPack, you ask?

Here are the spreads from the PowerPack which include my poem, “Locker Ness Monster.” (These small pictures don't do the type justice, but I wanted to lend a sense of how everything works together.)

The section opens with a PowerPlay pre-writing activity - in this case, a “Pick a Number” adventure with several possible options. Next are two poems: my “Outside Poem” poem from THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL and Janet’s “Response Poem,” (this one told from Paz’s point of view, carrying the story over from the previous Power Pack as well as tying into this one).


Locker Ness Monster


Twenty-four
Eighteen
Six.


Arrrgh. That’s not it.

Twenty-six
Fourteen
Eight.


Nothing. Nada. Nyet.

Twenty-six
Eighteen
Four.


Click. That’s it!

Unlock your head,
then your fingers,
then the door.



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.



PAZ:
Locked Out and Running Late


Usually I refuse to check a box.
I just let myself be blank.

But today I checked Other
and Hispanic and Asian

to get things over with because
I am in too much of a hurry

and who I really am
this very second is

locked out
and running late.



©Janet Wong. All rights reserved.


Then, a “Mentor Text” poem by Janet follows, this one again from Pax’s point of view:


PAZ:
Numbers


4            People would never guess
7            that my mind is such a mess
2            with numbers.

6            But I can memorize a poem,
9            read and read it to make it my own.
9            And then I can use it like a code.

3            Here’s a rhyme
4            when it comes time
7            to know my number. OK, let’s see:
3            (472) 699-3473!



©Janet Wong. All rights reserved.


Last in each PowerPack is the Power2You page, with terrific prompts created by Sylvia. In this one, it’s called “Numbers” and offers space to write under the following prompt: Write your phone number in a vertical column below. Then create a poem by writing a line for each number, adding that number of words in each line (so 9 = 9 words, 7 = 7 words, and so on). Or use another set of numbers that means something special to you.

Pretty brilliant, no? Here are some thoughts from Sylvia:

It was fun to explore this new project with Janet and think about ways to involve young people in looking at how poems work. I particularly enjoyed my role in thinking of creative "PowerPlay" and "Power2You" activities that were fun and playful and not like the usual school exercises. It was made easier by Janet's engaging poems that evoke a strong teen voice and persona. I thought about how to connect pre-writing with texting, movies and poems, and numbers and doodles, too. We hope young readers feel empowered to come at poetry in multiple ways and express themselves through their own writing.

[PowerPacks include poems by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, Joseph Bruchac, Jen Bryant, Margarita Engle, Charles Ghigna, Avis Harley, Julie Larios, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Charles Waters, Virginia Euwer Wolff, and Janet Wong. I'm beyond thrilled to be in such book company.]

But – WAIT! There’s MORE! Now you want your own copy, right? Janet and Sylvia are eager to get this jam-packed, brimming-with-resources, friendly-sized volume out into the world, inspiring young writers. They have tucked 5-count’em-FIVE copies right here in my blog to give away! Just leave a comment below by Wednesday, Oct. 5, and I’ll announce random winners on Friday, Oct. 7. Then don’t stray too far away – I’ll need to track down lucky ducks via email to find your real-world pond addresses.

Many thanks to Janet and Sylvia for visiting with us today and donating these wonderful books! [Don't want to leave things to chance? Click here for information on how to order this and other Poetry Friday Anthology editions.]

After commenting, be sure to go back to Reading to the Core, where the lovely and talented Catherine is hosting our Roundup this week.

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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!
Portfolio
illustrations