Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet








Hannah enjoying poetry workshop

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


POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP SCHEDULE



July


4   Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

11  Linda at Write Time

18 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference

25 Sylvia and Janet at Poetry For Children







August


1   Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

8  Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

15 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

22 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

29 Jone at Check it Out







September


5   Laura at Author Amok

12 Renee at No Water River

19 Amy at The Poem Farm

26 Laura at Writing the World for Kids







October


3   Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup

10 Monica at The Poem Trail

17 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

24 Cathy at Merely Day by Day

31 Linda at TeacherDance







November


7   Diane at Random Noodling

14 Keri at Keri Recommends

21 Becky at Tapestry of Words

28 Carol at Carol's Corner







December 


5   Anastasia at Booktalking #kidlit

12 Paul at These 4 Corners

19 Buffy at Buffy's Blog

26 Holly at Reading, Teaching, Learning




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 2005-2014 ©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 (Slightly Creepy?) Peek Inside the Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, with a Real Look Still to Come!

April 3, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, students, science, nature, animals

Sharing the new Poetry Friday Anthology at our recent SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle in Atlanta.
photo by Jo S. Kittinger

Happy Poetry Month!

I have some fun posts to share in the next few weeks. Next Friday (April 11), we'll feature a very talented young poet in our Student Haiku Poet of the Month Series. The week after that, I host Poetry Friday (Woo-hoooo! And crossing fingers the cyber gremlins don't steal any responses this year. Took major technical intervention by some Authors Guild hired heroes to find those entries days later....)

That will be April 18, and be sure to circle back because my guests will be - drumroll, please ....- Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong! They'll tell us all about the hot-off-the-press Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, which includes 218 poems by 78 poets. You can read their launch post here (on Sylvia's blog). Also, the collection has been featured by Mary Lee at A Year of Reading and by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. Also check out these posts by Jeannine at View from a Window Seat and Linda at Teacher Dance. Catherine at Reading to the Core highlighted it, too, and there's a delightful nod from Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe. Also, those terrific Teaching Authors will be blogging about it this month, too. And - PSSST - Amy at The Poem Farm is giving away a copy each week this month! Click here for details. (If I missed anyone, correct my omission in the comments and I'll add your link here!)

I'm thrilled and honored to again be among the contributors, so I thought I'd share a couple of my poems here today. I'll share the fifth-grade poem here soon. (I "crashed" our book launch at our SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle last weekend with these - so fun to share and to spread the word about this new collection!)

Here are my poems from the Fourth Grade section:



FOOD FOR THOUGHT


You won't find a character, setting, or plot
on the side of the cereal box Dad bought.

But wait! There's still something tasty to read.
The food label has information you need.

Ingredients tell you what is inside.
(See sugar and salt? They were trying to hide.)

Your body needs protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
A good bit of this, just a little of that.

Vitamins help keep you active and strong -
minerals, too, when they tag along.

Check out the calories per serving size.
Then make a choice that is healthy and wise!



And now, my personal favorite - especially because Janet said she saw a link to this story and thought of me? Hmmmmm....



ROCKY RESCUE


In the South Pacific,
Lord Howe Island has a tale
of how a giant stick bug,
thought extinct, might prevail.

"Land lobsters" as they're called
had lots of woe in store
when, back in 1918,
a ship wrecked on their shore.

Rats skittered from the boat
and found the black bugs tasty.
"They're gone!" the experts said. "Each one!"
-- a conclusion that proved hasty.

For not so long ago,
some scientists, at night,
climbed a sea stack miles away
and found an awesome sight.

Look! The giant stick bugs!
They counted twenty-four.
Now with help from science,
there are many, many more.



Poems © Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


[Okay, you have GOT to check out these gi-normous stick insects, formally known as Dryococelus australis. Start here - and if you just can't get enough, look for "Lord Howe Island Stick Insect" videos on YouTube as well. ]

Thanks for reading along! Now, creep or crawl thee hence to The Poem Farm , where the amazing and aforementioned Amy kicks off our Poetry Month Roundups!

Poetry Friday - Here's the Buzz! Winter Poem Swap with Keri Collins Lewis

December 26, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, nature, ponderings, writing life



Happy Holidays! I hope yours are brimming with magic and poetry. I had the pleasure of participating once again in the "Winter Poem Swap" whipped up by our own sparkling and generous Tabatha Yeatts. I was paired with the delightful Keri Collins Lewis, who sent me the poem below.

I felt like the Universe was smiling, because Keri's family has a beekeeping farm, and she also sent me a box of goodies from it (wish you could smell the candle and taste the honey!), in addition to this marvelously educational poem. I had, just a few weeks before, met a beekeeping family at a holiday market - their booth was across from my artsyletters booth. I ended up buying jars of honey and little beeswax candles and such for Christmas presents for friends and family. And, as I told Keri, I'm the kind that buys something for others that I really want myself - ;0) - so I was more than thrilled to be on the receiving end of all the honey goodness from her Prairie Blossom Bee Farm. And just what are her bees up to this time of year...?


T'was the Day Before Solstice


T’was the day before Solstice and far from the hive
The beekeeper worried if her bees were alive.

She’d left supers full of fine honey, pure gold
in hopes that her bees would survive winter’s cold.

When out in the bee yard there ‘rose such a buzz,
The beekeeper dashed to see what the fuss was.

The sun shone so brightly the temperature soared
And out of the hive all the worker bees roared.

They dipped and they swooped as they stretched their cramped wings
They explored the bare landscape and longed for warm Spring.

As afternoon passed, sun and temperature dropped,
The bees’ winter waltzing slowed down and then stopped.

And she thought that they hummed, racing home for the night,
“A sweet season to all, may your new year be bright!”


©Keri Collins Lewis. All rights reserved.


By Keri Collins Lewis
For Robyn Hood Black
December 2013
Winter Poem Swap

Author’s Note:

The Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, marks a turning point in the bees’ season. Once the days begin to get longer, the queen gears up for her egg-laying season to begin. To read more, visit http://romancingthebee.com/2012/12/21/the-winter-solstice-and-the-bees/.


Now, bet you learned something too, eh?

[If you'd like to see the poem I wrote for Keri, buzz on over to her blog, Keri Recommends. I had to work a bee into my poem as well.]

And then catch all the poetry buzz over at A Year of Reading, where Fearless Poetry Friday Leader Mary Lee has our Roundup today. (I'll try to catch up later - on the road doing a bit of holiday hive-hopping on our side of the world!)

Poetry Friday: Seaside Haiku and a Haiku Blog Series, Coming Up!

October 31, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, writing life, haiku, nature

photo by Morgan Black
Last weekend I had the lovely good fortune to participate in our Haiku Society of America- Southeast Region's haikufest - a weekend conference titled, "Gazing at Flowers" and celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birthdate of beloved haiku master, Issa. Actually meeting so many talented folks I previousy knew just by bylines was beyond wonderful. SOOO... please come back next Friday as I kick off a blog series featuring our fine speakers. But wait - there's more! We will also soon begin celebrating a student "poet of the month" from among Tom Painting's classes at The Paideia School in Atlanta. A group of these young people read original poems for us at the conference, and the phrase "blown away" drifted from the mouths of many seasoned haiku poets..

When life gets too crazy-busy, I find I don't write as much haiku, though of course that's the time I need to s-l-o-w down the most. We're in the midst of some major -- good, but major -- life transitions. In August we sent our youngest off to college, and now my husband and I are moving. He was offered a great job opportunity in Beaufort, SC - so we'll be packing away the winter coats needed here in the north Georgia mountains, and heading for the coast.

Beaufort was voted "The Happiest Seaside Town" by Coastal Living magazine this past spring. And it has a reputation for friendliness - we've already found that to be the case while visiting. The pace is noticeably slower, the scenery breathtaking. It feels very familiar to me, as I grew up romping under the Spanish moss in central Florida with frequent trips to the beach. The quality of light is different near the coast, more brilliant. I've already rented a space in an old historic building downtown to use as a studio for my art business. {Happy sigh.}

So, today, I offer up a couple of haiku published this fall. They were written while visiting Harbor Island, just 15 miles from downtown Beaufort. (And each happens to have a literary, as well as a seaside, reference!) Here they are:


lapping waves finding a you or a me

©Robyn Hood Black
Modern Haiku, Vol. 44.3, Fall 2013


telling it slant
a ghost crab slips into
a hole


©Robyn Hood Black
Acorn, No. 31, Fall 2013

Thanks for reading! Let the ocean tides carry you over to Lovely Linda at TeacherDance, where the catch of the day is lots of great poetry. (And, calling all haiku lovers - please plan to circle back for our end-of-the-year special series starting next week!)

Poetry Friday: Laura Shovan's Poetry Postcard 5

January 10, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, nature, authors, history

Have you read about how the lovely Laura Shovan is commemorating another trip around the sun this year? Her birthday isn't until late February, but she's launched a Poetry Postcard project to celebrate. I signed up through her blog to receive on of her special offerings, which are intriguing vintage postcards that she's graced with one of her original poems.

How delighted I was to receive my mailbox surprise this week! You can see in the image above that the glossy picture on the front is of butterflies. Not just any butterflies, but vintage illustrations of "Papillons du Brésil" (or, "Butterflies of Brazil" in French). The five specimens are identified, with each name apparently hand written originally with calligraphy in brown ink.

How perfect is this card to start my New Year? Well, I do have a "thing" for butterflies, as I do many wonderful beasties, not only for their beauty but for what they might symbolize on a personal level for those who encounter them. I certainly have a thing for calligraphy. I even took French in high school and college. And I've actually been to the location described on the back of the card: Callaway Gardens, which boasts the incredible Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, where these living works of art flit above and around entranced visitors of all ages. It's in Pine Mountain, Georgia, south of Atlanta. This postcard makes me want to visit again sometime soon!

[Oh, and did you notice this is Poetry Postcard "5", and there are five butterflies in the picture? I have a thing for the number 5, too....]

Okay, I know - you want to read Laura's poem! It appeared previously on her own blog, but just in case you missed it, as I did, I'm thrilled to share it here with her permission:

Symmetry

Trick mirrors reveal
the human face is never folded
in perfect halves. Perhaps
this is true of the butterfly, too.
Pin one up and there's
a cuffed wing, damaged tail,
scales so thin with wear
sunlight comes through.
After hundreds of miles,
one might call them frail.


©Laura Shovan. All rights reserved.

Much to ponder and appreciate there, no? Can you pick a favorite image or phrase or line?

After you do, wing your way over to NO WATER RIVER, where the ever effervescent Renée LaTulippe is rounding up Poetry Friday! (Doesn't she have a name any butterfly would love?)

Poetry Friday: Nesting with Robins

May 25, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, nature, birds, Highlights, authors, illustrators, workshops

©Cory Corrado



Is this a great picture or what? At the Poetry for All Highlights Founders workshop last week, I shared my cabin with some special guests. Well, the inside top of the porch of my cabin. A pair of robins dutifully flew in and out and in and out to tend their nest.

The photo was taken by fellow workshop attendee Cory Corrado, a lovely and talented poet and amazing nature photographer who hails from Quebec, Canada. She spent a little time patiently waiting – okay, a long time patiently waiting – balancing herself standing on a deck chair holding out for just the right shots when the birds wouldn't fly away. See how her patience paid off?

Cory’s book of photos and poetry, “Pho-etry,” called Nature Inspires, was featured earlier this year on Poetry for All co-leader David L. Harrison’s blog (click here for the link.) You can also get a virtual look at Cory’s stunning work in the book by clicking here.

Well, I’ve been thinking about those robins. And I’m enjoying all the varied birdlife outside my own doors this spring. (Oh – and Susan Taylor Brown’s amazing bird photos on her Poppiness website! – Have you seen those or followed her bird stories there or on Facebook?)

Back to robins. Here’s a fun poem for today from The Golden Book of Poetry(1947) as shared on The Poetry Foundation website.

The Secret

By Anonymous

We have a secret, just we three,
The robin, and I, and the sweet cherry-tree;
The bird told the tree, and the tree told me,
And nobody knows it but just us three.

But of course the robin knows it best,
Because she built the--I shan't tell the rest;
And laid the four little--something in it--
I'm afraid I shall tell it every minute.

But if the tree and the robin don't peep,
I'll try my best the secret to keep;
Though I know when the little birds fly about
Then the whole secret will be out.


Now wing your way over to TeacherDance for more great poetry, where Lovely Linda has today’s Roundup.

Poetry Friday: Poetry for All Workshop, and Jean Craighead George

May 18, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, illustrators, writing life, Highlights, nature, workshops

Top: Eileen Spinelli, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Rebecca Davis, Melanie Hall, David L. Harrison

middle: cabin, and having fun with Rebecca S.,

Rebecca K. D., Bill, and Jacqueline (and Cindi taking pix)

with Marjorie Maddox; Joy Acey and David

bottom: happily in the middle of a Spinelli Sandwich

What a week! I was blessed and thrilled to spend the last several days in Pennsylvania up at beautiful Boyds Mills with a few fellow Poetry Friday folks (Heidi! Joy! Liz! Julie!), and some wonderful new friends, and our fearless leaders of the Highlights Founders "Poetry for All" workshop: Rebecca Kai Dotlich, David L. Harrison, and Eileen Spinelli, along with special guests editor Rebecca Davis, illustrator Melanie Hall, and poet Marjorie Maddox. Whew!

We had serious literary discussions and explorations of craft, and some rather silly times, too, and of course amazing food from gourmet chef Marcia and her wonderful staff. And wine every afternoon!

Relishing the natural beauty up there, I managed to get in a couple of walks, though we had lots of rain. I even had a family of robins nesting up in the corner of my cabin's porch.

It was wonderful dropping in on the Highlights and Boyds Mills folks Wednesday (Hi, Joëlle! Hi, Larry!), and on the way back from that trip to Honesdale, the driver of my car, Pam, slowed down for a bear crossing the road! A beautiful, agile young creature which bounded off into the woods.

For a taste of the amazing wit, wisdom, and experience shared with us, I'll offer just one quote (from my notes) from each of our speakers:

David: "I had 67 rejections for writing stories for kids. Friends magazine bought the 68th...."

Rebecca: "Brainstorm - noodle and doodle in sketchbooks. Visualize details."

Eileen: "The deeper we go into our hearts, the richer our lives become."

also,

Melanie: "We have to try to pull something new out of ourselves. That's the task for the creative person."

Rebecca Davis: "I love it when a poetry collection can be greater than the sum of its parts."

Marjorie: "As poets, we're witnesses of the world."

(We also had a special treat of a dinner visit and a few comments from Boyds Mills Press Executive Editor Liz Van Doren!)

If you've been to a Highlights workshop, you know why several of our 21 attendees had been before. If you've never been, try to get to one someday - your Muse will thank you!

Speaking of inspiration, I was saddened to learn, when I got home late Thursday night and reconnected a little with the world, that Jean Craighead George had passed away on Tuesday (just one week after we lost Maurice Sendak). I'd like to close today's post with the last few lines of her picture book, THE WOLVES ARE BACK (illustrated by Wendell Minor; Dutton, 2008). This is a picture book rather than poetry, but the words are lovely and rich.

The grasses grew tall; the riverbank stopped eroding. Willow and aspen trees flourished. Beavers built ponds. Birds sang. Flowers bloomed.

The wilderness is in balance again.

The wolves are back.


Thank you, Jean Craighead George.

(For more, see the author's website, The New York Times, and Publisher's Weekly, inlcluding a tribute from
Wendell Minor.)

And thanks to everyone for making the poetry workshop a resounding success. For more great poetry and for thoughts about living in the moment, stop in to see Katya at Write. Sketch. Repeat. for today's Roundup.

Poetry Friday: Cherry Blossoms, Anyone?

March 22, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, conferences, nature

Beautiful and sneeze-worthy!
Greetings! I'm busy presenting a "Haiku How-To" workshop at the 43rd Annual Children's Literature Conference at the University of Georgia in Athens this weekend. Will try to make the Poetry Friday rounds after the conference!

In preparing materials for teachers and media specialists, I decided to add a new HAIKU page to my website. It has links to download a 4-page Resource guide, as well as handouts with simple guidelines for creating haiku with grades 3-5 and K-2. Help yourself!

The pollen count in the greater Atlanta area has been off the charts this week. (Something like above 9,000?) Here in north Georgia, the tree canopies and the pathways are covered in cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms, of course, have always been an important and favorite subject for haiku.

But today I think we'll revisit a few familiar lines from A. E. Houseman (1859–1936):

A Shropshire Lad II: Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

By A. E. Housman

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more. ...


Please click HERE to read the final stanza.

And please click HERE for the Poetry Friday Roundup, hosted by our Fearless Poetry Friday Roundup Leader, Mary Lee, at A Year of Reading. Don't forget the Madness Poetry Tournament at Think, Kid, Think - good luck to everyone still "in"! Everyone vote for your favorites!

Poetry Friday: Happy Haiku-ing

March 8, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, Berry Blue Haiku, journals, nature, writing life

I’ve been happily immersed in haiku, as I’m thrilled to be presenting a "Haiku How-To" workshop at the 43rd Annual Children's Literature Conference at The University of Georgia in a couple of weeks.

Also, the spring issues of several haiku journals are out, and I’m honored to have my work in a few of them. In addition to the Modern Haiku link I shared week before last, I’ve got a poem each in The Heron's Nest, and A Hundred Gourds. (Click to read.)

The work of my terrifically talented friend and Berry Blue Haiku editor Gisele LeBlanc is featured in these issues as well. Unbeknownst to each other, we both just received acceptances for the April issues of Acorn as well as for Prune Juice.

Gisele’s work also appears in Shamrock this month, and I just received an acceptance from Chrysanthemum for the April issue.

I’m humbled and thrilled about all of these. One thing I love about the English-language haiku journals is that they are published in so many different countries and the works of poets from all over the world can appear on the same page.

If you don’t have time to click and enjoy the haiku on the pages above, I’ll leave you with Gisele’s and my poems from the new issue of The Heron’s Nest:


the big dipper
my dog keeps searching
for the right spot


G.R. LeBlanc


cicada song
Spanish moss dipped
in sunlight


Robyn Hood Black


My haiku formed itself as I walked in my folks’ Orlando neighborhood last year during a trip to my hometown. While I love the beauty of the north Georgia mountains, there’s something so singular about the nature of light in Florida that always seizes me when I visit. I grew up there and didn’t really notice this difference in the quality of the sky, the brightness of those tropical colors, until I moved away. The landscapes here near the Appalachians are lovely, but the colors are generally more subtle, the light less intense. And unless you head to southern and coastal parts of Georgia, we don’t have all that dramatic Spanish moss dripping from the trees.

For lots of great poetry to light up your day, visit the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by the delightful and insightful Myra at Gathering Books . Be sure to wish her Happy Birthday!

Poetry Friday: In the Wilderness with Carl Sandburg

March 2, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, animals, nature, wolves

illustration © Colin Howard from WOLVES.

Yesterday the spring-like sun was shining and the wolves (and other animals) were frisky and full of themselves at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, and I had a terrific time visiting with them. That put me in a mind to find a good, wild poem for today. I really love Carl Sandburg's "wilderness that will not let (him) go." Here are the first and fourth sections, but you'll want to click the link at the end to read the whole poem:

Wilderness

by Carl Sandburg


There is a wolf in me … fangs pointed for tearing gashes … a red tongue for raw meat … and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.

[...]

There is a fish in me … I know I came from saltblue water-gates … I scurried with shoals of herring … I blew waterspouts with porpoises … before land was … before the water went down … before Noah … before the first chapter of Genesis. ...


Please click here to enjoy the whole poem. (If you have time, leave a comment below with your favorite fun phrase - one of mine is the "saltblue water-gates" above.)

And then run, creep, slither, swim, fly or otherwise get thee to Dori Reads where Doraine has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: David L. Harrison is here!

December 16, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, book tracks, writing life, nature, Highlights, nonfiction

David L. Harrison and the hot-off-the-virtual-press Goose Lake, illustrated by Sladjana Vasic.
If you didn’t quite get enough of David L. Harrison from last week’s spiderwebs poem , you’re in luck. I’m thrilled to welcome him here today for an interview – and more poetry, of course!

David is the author of 80-some books (whew!), from poetry to easy readers to fiction to nonfiction to books for teachers on writing instruction, and his books have sold millions of copies. His work has been anthologized in more than 100 books and has appeared in dozens of magazines and journals. If I listed all his awards, we wouldn’t have space for the interview. David keeps a busy schedule of traveling and speaking, yet manages to stay in touch with readers and writers through his terrific blog.


Welcome, David – Thank you for joining us, and Happy Holidays!

You’ve written so widely, but let’s focus on poetry today. Your first book of poetry, Somebody Catch My Homework, was published in 1993 by Boyds Mills Press (publisher of several of your collections since then). How and when did you become a poet?


Hi Robyn. I’m delighted and flattered to be here. Thanks for inviting me!

I became a poet by stages. First came the fun of making rhymes. (“Sometimes I wish/I had a fish/Upon a dish.” Age 6).

Next came the vague sense of intellectual snobbery from reading Shakespeare’s sonnets and Omar Khayyám’s finger having writ. That, of course, came in college.

In my twenties, the gift of a book about poetry made me wonder if I could become a poet. I didn’t. Not for a long time. Not until I reached my fifties. That’s when I took off three years from all other writing and threw myself into writing poems. By then I had long been a children’s author so naturally my poetic efforts were written with young people in mind. I knew very little about children’s poetry but had read some of Silverstein’s work and figured I might as well try my luck with humor.

The first to see my work was Christine San Jose, who was associated with Highlights and knew about Kent Brown’s fledgling line of books called Boyds Mills Press. There was even an imprint for poetry. Christine urged me to send my poems to Bernice Cullinan, editor-in-chief for Wordsong, the line of poetry. Bee liked what she read and urged Kent to publish my poetry. The first title was Somebody Catch My Homework. It was also my first collaboration with Betsy Lewin. Homework did well with combined sales in hardcover and paperback of over 40,000 and still growing. The only serious poem in that collection is the last one in the book – “My Book!” – and it’s the one that has been quoted most widely, painted on a bookmobile in Colorado, and sandblasted into a sidewalk in Arizona.

One thing I love about your work is its appeal to boys. In The Purchase of Small Secrets (illustrated by Meryl Henderson, Wordsong/Boyds Mills, 1998), we tag along as a boy interacts with the people and animals he lives with. You tackle many subjects unflinchingly – a rabbit killed crossing the road, the wandering off of a strange old neighbor, the loss of a pet which never returns. But there’s much humor in the poems, too. And an abiding appreciation of nature. One of my favorites is:

A Chip of Flint

See this?
Too thin
for an arrowhead.

Maybe a chip
from the weapon
being made
by a master craftsman,
flint in one hand
antler tip in the other,
strong wrists
fashioning
a new stone point.

Did he pause
in these woods
silent, alone
or was he surrounded
by chuckling comrades
who winked at secrets
as chips fell?

It doesn’t matter
the chip was rejected
by the arrowhead.

I accept it
as a gift
from an unknown hand.


Do you think poetry can help reconnect kids with the natural world today? If so, how?


Thank you for selecting that poem, Robyn. It’s one of my own favorites too. Yes, I think poetry can lead young readers to see nature in a more personal way. A good nonfiction book can, too, and so can adventure stories set in nature. But most poems are brief and rich in imagery. In a way, a collection of poems is like a scrapbook of photographs. Enjoy a picture, turn the page forward or backward, and enjoy another.

When I wrote The Purchase of Small Secrets, I wanted to share the period of my boyhood when I spent every possible hour outside. I began by making a list of moments I remember: finding a chipped piece of flint in the woods, exploring a cave, wondering about animal tracks in the soft earth . . . From these bits and scraps of my past grew the group of poems that became Small Secrets. Children of the city may not ever experience such opportunities. They may never gaze down at their feet in a field of tall grass and discover the empty shell of a long-dead turtle or sit still by a stream and watch a muskrat swim across the quiet water. But I can take them there with my word pictures and help them understand something more about the natural world we live in and must take care of.

Other poems in Secrets deal with issues that can be painful or sensitive. Boys and girls both know what it feels like to lose a pet or experience the serious illness or death of an adult. Boys (and yes, sometimes girls) get into fights or know someone who does. When I write about a rabbit beside the road, I take the time to reflect on its loss and hope that my young readers will see the value of pausing to think about what they see in their own lives.

Speaking of kids today, we have to talk technology. Your work has been included in all three of the PoetryTagTime e-book anthologies produced by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong this year. As far as reaching young readers, how do you see poetry fitting into changing publishing landscapes?

When Sylvia and Janet invited me to contribute poems to the PoetryTagTime series, I was happy to accept and eager to learn more about this whole e-publishing world. Changes can be exciting and obviously the concept of publishing on the Internet for an audience of people holding some form of electronic reading device is a huge change. I don’t know where this is headed. I hope it means good things for authors who have something to say but don’t have enough traditional outlets to share their work. Poetry is always hard to place with publishers. As much as we want them to sell well, most books of poems do not. But this doesn’t mean that there is no audience for poetry! The trick is to find our readers and entice them to buy our wares instead of something foolish such as food or clothes. We are a chorus of vendors, each shouting, “Me! Me! Me!”

E-publishing tends to level the field by allowing poetry fans to find their favorite poets from home and download their work for less money than they spend on hard copies. There are plenty of questions. How does e-publishing impact on traditional publishers? How does it affect authors’ incomes? Will the market become diluted with so many new entries? I’m sure we’ll find out over time but for now I want to think there is a blessing in all this somewhere.

And, you have your own hot-off-the-virtual-collection poetry collection, right? Tell us about it!

Yes! Waiting for Christmas when I was a kid was never as hard as waiting to introduce Goose Lake.

I wrote the first poem in this collection three years ago. Sandy and I have lived beside a lake for twenty-two years. I love to look at the water and all the life around, in, and above it. I have two degrees in biology and have always been a nature lover so you can imagine how much I needed to write about this lake!

This may be precisely the kind of collection made for e-publishing. Nature lovers everywhere can find it easily at Barnes & Noble.com, Amazon.com, and iTunes.com. Teachers looking for poetry about nature can download it inexpensively. This is not a book specifically for young readers but some who have already read it think it is. There is a sad poem in the collection that nearly made one girl cry. I think the audience will be quite broad and include a high percentage of adult readers.

Can you tempt us with a poem or excerpt?

I’d love to! This one is called, “Free at Last.”

Free at Last

Fish are rolling,
rippling the surface
with fins and bellies.

Fish are bucking,
throwing water
off slippery backs.

Fish are leaping,
tail-dancing,
slinging droplets
like glistening sweat
into the suddenly spring.



Let’s close with a peek back into your creative process. Both sides of your brain are obviously nimble, with a B.A. in zoology from Drury College and a masters in parasitiology from Emory. (Parasitology, people!) How does your background in science inform your writing life?

I grew up collecting arrowheads, insects, snake skins, turtle shells, animal hides, bird wings, fossils, minerals, seashells, skulls, and so on. In college I majored in biology and minored in geology. The scientific approach teaches one to observe and record, check facts, draw conclusions carefully. After college I became a pharmacologist in a pharmaceutical laboratory. I suppose it was inevitable for me to write numerous nonfiction books, including a series of seven titles called Earthworks. My most recent nonfiction book is Mammoth Bones and Broken Stones, a recounting of the archaeological search for signs of the first migrants to reach and populate North America. National Science Teachers Association recommends the book, which was five years in the making, and it was nominated for the Society for American Archaeology’s 2010 Book of the Year for “a book that is written for the general public and presents the results of archaeological research to a broader audience.”

My poetry is frequently informed by my science background too. Pirates, which was chosen for the Texas Bluebonnet (2010) and Indiana Young Hoosier (2011) master reading lists, was named by VOYA for its Nonfiction Honor List. It’s unusual for poetry to win a spot on a nonfiction list but Pirates was well researched and presents the life and times of those outlaws of the sea who have so often been portrayed as dashing heroes.

On a similar “note” (sorry), I understand you are a musician. Tell us about your music, and how this talent contributes to your work as a poet.

I’m smiling at that! It reminds me of all the sour notes I listened to as a young trombone teacher in my teens as one kid-who-hadn’t-practiced after another zombie-walked through my door on Saturdays. I spent much of my youth playing in marching bands, concert bands and orchestras, German bands, jazz and Dixieland combos. I played professionally in dance bands, including a summer in Springfield, Illinois and was principal trombonist in the Springfield, Missouri symphony. With so much variety in the music I played, I can tell you for sure that my poetry is very much influenced by my background.

Oh, and unrelated but too cool not to mention - you have an elementary school named after you! Where is it, and how did that come to be?

Beginning with a six year stint on our school board in the early 80s, I’ve been involved in a number of educational projects over the years. I helped start an annual teacher appreciation banquet, joined with three others to start a foundation for our public schools, created a reading challenge for students called SKY HIGH ON READING and, when the district libraries needed more books, spearheaded a book drive called Reading Roundup. Most recently I’m co-chairing a project called Family Voices that encourages parents of children under five to read to their kids on a regular basis.

I like to think that a school was named for me because of the body of my work. But I suspect it was the total package that led the school board to grant me the honor of a lifetime by naming David Harrison Elementary School (Springfield, Missouri) after me. The school was new in 2009-10, cost $10 million dollars to build, sets on seventy-two acres, and provides classes for preK-4. Thirty-two feet of glassed cases display a collection of my work. I can’t tell you how it feels to walk into that place except in terms of goose bumps and uncontrollable smiles.

You are very involved in educational markets – what are some of the poetry contributions you’ve co-written for the classroom?

My partners have included former IRA president, NYU professor Bernice Cullinan (Poetry Lessons that Dazzle and Delight, Scholastic), Kathy Holderith (former 3rd grade teacher in Colorado (Using the Power of Poetry, Scholastic), Kent State professor Tim Rasinski (Using Partner Poems to Build Fluency, Scholastic), and I wrote the poetry chapter for Children’s Literature in the Reading Program (co-edited by Deb Wooten and Bernice Cullinan, IRA). I’m currently under contract for five new books with Mary Jo Fresch (Ohio State, Teacher Created Materials) and have six other books under development. I’m nearing an agreement with another educational publisher to partner on my new DVD series of writing tips for the elementary classroom called This Week with David Harrison. A three-hour graduate course from Drury University will be offered with the series and I’ll co-author a book and student workbook to accompany it.

You are one busy man! Finally, pretty please with spiderwebs on top, share a fun fact not many people know about you….

Hmmm. How about this? I was an athlete. I lettered as a baseball pitcher in high school and once carried a 190 bowling average. Now you know all my secrets!

Robyn, thank you again for inviting me onto your blog today. I’ve had a fine time.

Thank you, David! To learn more about David and his incredible body of work, visit his website.
And remember…. Poetry makes the perfect gift!

For more great poetry, go see Kate at Book Aunt.
(And I'll see you after Christmas break!)

Poetry Friday is Here! A Web of Treasures…

December 9, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, animals, Highlights, writing life, nature, book tracks, workshops

Greetings! I’m thrilled to be hosting Poetry Friday today.

My Christmas gift this year, a really nice one, is a trip back to Honesdale, Pennsylvania, for another Highlights Founders Workshop in poetry. I’ll be attending Poetry for All in May (there are still a few spots available!) co-led by poet and friend Rebecca Kai Dotlich (click here, here and here for previous posts featuring Rebecca), David Harrison, and Eileen Spinelli.

You're looking at the picture and thinking, What does this have to do with spiders?

David Harrison has this wonderful poem in his collection, Bugs – Poems about Creeping Things, illustrated by Rob Shepperson (Wordsong, 2007):

spiderwebs

by David Harrison

Webs sparkle
on the lawn
like diamond
necklaces
at dawn.

Shiny droplets –
small oases –
beckon spiders
To their places.

Silently they
look and lurk.

Time now for
spider work.


(Used with permission from the author.)

And Eileen Spinelli has this wonderful picture book, Sophie’s Masterpiece, with gentle illustrations by Jane Dyer (Simon and Schuster, 2001).

Sophie was no ordinary house spider. Sophie was an artist.

The talented heroine has a hard time finding a place to live and create, however, as she is chased away from corner to corner of Beekman’s Boardinghouse.

By this time, many spider years had passed. Sophie was older. She only had energy to spin a few small things for herself… a tiny rose-patterned case for her pillow, eight colorful socks to keep herself warm.
But mostly she slept.


Until she meets someone who appreciates her and inspires her to create a very special gift - something that takes her all and becomes a loving legacy. I won’t spoil the story, but I will say my eyes were a bit misty by the end. And then, when I read the author’s note… okay, I cried.

In cultural traditions across the world, the spider represents creativity – a keeper of ancient wisdom, and sometimes a trickster. (And now you’re thinking of E. B. White’s Charlotte , aren’t you?)

Whatever your “spider work” is today, let it be inspired by a World Wide Web-ful of poetry. Include your link in the comments, and I’ll weave them all together throughout the day.

POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP:

Julie at The Drift Record is waking up with a cold snap and the poem, "Icicles," by Todd Boss.

Over at The Poem Farm, Amy
shares a terrific original poem, "Umbrella Path," inspired by Alix Martin's colorful painting in the collaborative SPARK 14.

Tabatha,at The Opposite of Indifference, explores poetry holiday and gift ideas (including a really cool ornament).

Myra chimes in that at Gathering Books, Iphigene discusses another Joel M. Toledo poem, "Learning to Swim" - beautiful and thought-provoking!

Jama serves up a poignant haibun by Penny Harter, "Moon-Seeking Soup," written after the death of her husband, William J. Higginson, in 2008 (both have made immeasurable contributions to the haiku world).

Heidi's in today at My Juicy Little Universe with some delightful poetry by her kindergarteners, and a discussion of their poetry collage projects.

Ruth brings us Keats and an original poem describing how a poem idea will not leave you alone at There is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town.

Need a little romance today? Maria at A Poem a Day from the George Hail Library brings us Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning - and in the continuing series on sonnets, one from the latter you might not have read before.

Irene is caught up in the spirit of giving. She’s got a copy of Shel Silverstein’s EVERY THING ON IT for some lucky re-tweeter.

Join Laura today here for Janet Wong’s yoga poem, “Tree,” and here for her 15-words-or-less poem, also tree-related, and a photograph you just have to see for yourself.

Diane has an original poem, “Pie Town Family – 1940” inspired by a historical photograph, at “Random Noodling.

Her Kids of the Homefront Army features a poem about one reality of war, “Certain Advantages.”

And, Kurious Kitty is asking with Aileen Fisher, “Do Rabbits Have Christmas?” featuring one of the sparkly poems from the book, published five years after Fisher’s death.

K K’s Kwotes has a quote by Truman Capote.

Linda at TeacherDance helps us to remember those for whom the holidays are a lonely time, with “The Transparent Man” by Anthony Hecht.

How about some Ogden Nash? Sally’s got you covered at The Write Sisters with “Everybody Tells Me Everything.”

At Picture Books and Pirouettes, Kerry shares Doreen Cronin’s picture book, Wiggle, sure to get you moving this morning.

Debbie takes another look at giving with the poem “Altruism” by Molly Peacock.

Feeling a little batty? Join Joyce at Musings to enjoy thoughts about Randall Jarrell’s The Bat-Poet (and a few verses from the poetry).

Sally at Paper Tigers brings us Oh, Grow Up: Poems to Help You Survive Parents, Chores, School and Other Afflictions by Florence Parry Heide and daughter Roxanne Heide Pierce.

Check out The Stenhouse Blog for a reverse poem, “Framing My Future,” written by Rebecca, one of Kelly Gallagher’s students.

Mary Lee at A Year of Reading encourages us to “Have a _________ Day.” (You have to click to find out!)

At Dori Reads, Doraine shares a Tennyson poem that still perfectly captures difficult emotions.

Over at Wild Rose Reader, Elaine keeps the spirit of giving going with another terrific e-book from Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, Gift Tag, and a fun, original poem to fit the theme.

Brace yourself to face the animal life in a hoarder's home with Mandy's original poem at Write on the World.

David E. has a thought-provoking original poem, "how great?" - which he describes as "a found poem, a cross-out poem, a little bit of random poem." Check it out!

Lorie Ann at readergirlz also features the Gift Tag e-collection from Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, and shares her poem in it, "Tucked Between Branches." If you enjoyed/enjoy those little pudgy trolls as much as I did/do, you'll love it!

At All About the Books, Janet is all about Douglas Florian's wonderful volume, mammalabilia.

Shelley at Dust Bowl Poetry shares many different poems about families facing hard times.

Tara is celebrating libraries today with a couple of terrific poems and pictures. Go join the party at A Teaching Life.

Like a little moonshine with your Chicken Spaghetti? Susan has an original found poem and a review of Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition by Karen Blumenthal.

Over at A Wrung Sponge, Andromeda (Andi) has a very clever idea for combining nature and learning to read! And, after my own heart, a haiku written on rocks. Really!

Mmmm... Smell cookies baking? Follow your nose to Twinkling Along and enjoy an original poem cooked up by Carlie. And some very cute pictures.

The talented Liz over at Liz in Ink is thankful for the change of seasons (brrr!) and offers "Relearning Winter" by Mark Svenvold.

If you're hosting family for a holiday meal, do check out Kelly's original "Holiday Dinner To-Do List" at Writing and Ruminating What would Martha Stewart make of it?

Joy has lots of fun holiday poems and prompts at her blog. Grab a mug of hot chocolate and head over!

Just in time for supper, Jone has a review of Katherine B. Hauth's What's For Dinner? over at Check It Out.

Poetry Friday - Lunar Legacies

November 4, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, nature, authors, Elachee Nature Science Center

© Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved
Last night was the last of the “Master Naturalist” classes I took this fall at Elachee Nature Science Center, with astronomy on the menu. Wouldn’t you know it – the only rain we’ve had all week fell last night. We couldn’t use the telescopes, but astronomer Robert Webb didn’t let that stop him from presenting a terrific program (including a squeeze of adults inside the small, inflatable star lab dome in the museum!)

So I’m feeling rather lunar, appreciating the spectacular orb that’s 1/48th the size of our earth, 238,855 miles away, and which travels at a couple thousand miles per hour. If you stop to think about what an amazing feat it was to get the lunar module landed safely up there in 1969, well – it’s mind-boggling. Those folks had guts. And smarts.

Here are some moon-related morsels:

First, some 13th-Century praise from St. Francis of Assissi’s Canticle to the Sun (Note: Katherine Paterson and Pamela Dalton’s book from this summer is on my “to-buy” list!)

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.


Click here for the entire song.

Now, let’s jump ahead 600 years to see a different view with a fragment from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s

To The Moon
[excerpt]

Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing Heaven, and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,--
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?


(It’s here.)

Later in the 19th Century, we’re back to celebrating – I can’t ever resist these closing lines from Edward Lear’s
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
[excerpt]

They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.


And don’t you just love that runcible spoon? The full poem can be found here.

Finally, jump ahead to just 42 years ago. Not that long ago in the space/time continuum! Here are a few lines from current Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis’s 2001 poem,

First Men on the Moon
[excerpt]

That afternoon in mid-July,
Two pilgrims watched from distant space
The moon ballooning in the sky.
They rose to meet it face-to-face.
Their spidery spaceship, Eagle, dropped
Down gently on the lunar sand.
And when the module's engines stopped,
Rapt silence fell across the land. …


Click here for the rest of that poetic account of an event that changed our lives and changed history.

The next full moon is just a week away! Plan now to go outside and then write a “moon viewing” haiku or other poem, or read more celestial offerings. For more down-to-earth poetry, check out today's Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by Laura at Writing the World for Kids.

Itsy Bitsy Tomato...

October 5, 2011

Tags: nature

© Robyn Hood Black

(yep, that's a penny!)
Just for fun!

So I've been a little, um, obsessed? with wee things from the garden this year. Here's the wee-est of all: an itsy bitsy cherry tomato hanging from a plant this week. It's about the size of a pea. Really - you could put it under a stack of mattresses to check the pedigree of a princess....

Birds on the Wing and a poem by Linda Pastan

September 29, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, Elachee Nature Science Center, nature, animals, birds

© Robyn Hood Black

detail from my illustration in the March 2011 issue of Berry Blue Haiku
My Master Naturalist Class yesterday at Elachee Nature Science Center Center was one I’ve been looking forward to – Peter Gordon led a session on birds, followed by all of us heading out with binoculars and optimism to see what we could see! Despite the warm afternoon and shifty winds, we checked off about 18 species in our short trek by the lake.

What fun to distinguish a turkey vulture from a black vulture, the Cooper’s hawk from the more familiar red-tailed hawk, and the persistent chatter of a red-bellied woodpecker from the almost as persistent calls of a blue jay. We saw a flycatcher and a kingfisher, both having very good luck, and more common grackles than could be counted as they moved in and took over treetops.

Fall is such an exciting time to look for birds. Each year, ten billion birds leave the northern hemisphere to head south. And a whole bunch of them fly through my state, Georgia.

By the way, if you’re looking for an excuse to read poetry this weekend rather than do yard work, here it is: “Birds abhor a clean yard.” So forget the pristinely trimmed lawn if you want to attract them. Migrating birds appreciate the simple things: space, food (feeders, or berry-filled dogwood trees and the like – even poison ivy!), water (they really love a misting feature), and shelter (unkempt trees, and dead snags if they don’t threaten your property, are wonderful).

Today I found the perfect poem for this subject and this time of year – “The Birds” by Linda Pastan.

excerpt from The Birds
by Linda Pastan

The Birds

are heading south, pulled
by a compass in the genes.
They are not fooled
by this odd November summer,
though we stand in our doorways
wearing cotton dresses.
We are watching them

as they swoop and gather—
the shadow of wings
falls over the heart. …

(
Do click here to read the complete poem – the second half is my favorite part!)

Wishing you uplifting winds and welcome spots to rest along your journey this week. Fly on over to Read Write Believe for today's Poetry Friday Roundup.


Snakes on a Blog, and a Jane Hirshfield poem

September 23, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, authors, nature, Elachee Nature Science Center, animals, Berry Blue Haiku, haiku

Georgia's state herpetologist John Jensen holds a king snake. I held her, too - she was quite lovely!
I am loving the Master Naturalist class I’m taking this fall at Elachee Nature Science Center . Yesterday, the Georgia Department of Natural Resource’s chief herpetologist, John Jensen, led us through a litany of reptiles.

I didn’t realize my state housed the largest venomous snake in the U.S. (the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, which is also the world’s largest rattlesnake), as well as the smallest (the Pygmy Rattlesnake), as well as the largest snake in general in the U.S. (the gentle Eastern Indigo), as well as the smallest native snake (the Florida Crowned Snake) and the country’s smallest /shortest snake, though not originally a Georgia resident (the Braminy Blind Snake). Those lengths, by the way, range from 8-and-a-half feet or more to just six inches.

In searching for an appropriately slithery poem to share this week I stumbled upon one which does mention a snake, but is so much more. Here are a few lines from Jane Hirshfield:

excerpt from “The Envoy”

Jane Hirshfield

One day in that room, a small rat.
Two days later, a snake.

Who, seeing me enter,
whipped the long stripe of his
body under the bed,
then curled like a docile house-pet.

I don’t know how either came or left.
Later, the flashlight found nothing.

For a year I watched
as something—terror? happiness? grief?—
entered and then left my body. …


(For the complete poem, and a moving reading of it by the poet, please click here.)

Now, speaking of Jane Hirshfield, I’d also like to put in a good word for her wonderful article, “The Heart of Haiku,”
available on Kindle for just 99 cents. I downloaded it to my PC. It’s a terrific introduction to the life and poetry of Bashô.

And speaking of Bashô and haiku, let me offer a shout-out that submissions are welcome over at the Berry Blue Haiku
blog, now a general online journal celebrating fine haiku. Click here for guidelines.

Finally, for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup , please wriggle your way to Picture Book of the Day with Anastasia Suen.

Just to Say...

August 19, 2011

Tags: nature, animals, poetry, Poetry Friday

Can you smell how sweet it was? At least somebody enjoyed it...
This is Just to Say from the Critter that Raided my Garden…

- apologies to William Carlos Williams:


I have eaten
the cantaloupe
that was in
the garden

and which
you were probably
saving
for lunch

Forgive me
it was delicious
so sweet
and so (mmmmm…) juicy



Was it a raccoon? Groundhog? Rat? Something else? Well, I’m glad someone enjoyed it. But it smelled oh-so-sweet, freshly open there on the ground (what was left of it). I did scoop up some seeds for next time.

Perhaps in a few months I’ll be able to discern from claw marks and such just which critter had been there. Next week I begin a “Master Naturalist” program at our local nature/science center . I’ve wanted to take the course for a while, but last year’s torn Achilles set me back from hiking.

May your own steps be sure, and the fruits of your labors sweet! Indulge in some great poetry at today’s Poetry Friday Roundup, hosted by fellow Georgia peach Doraine Bennett.

Watching the River Flow with Bob Dylan

May 27, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, nature

So Tuesday was Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday!

Garrison Keillor included some great Bob Dylan info on The Writer’s Almanac on Tuesday, including the fact that he’s been nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature every year since 1996. Tuesday’s program also quotes from the liner notes for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan about the distinction between poetry and songs: “Anything I can sing, I call a song. Anything I can’t sing, I call a poem.”

Be SURE to check out Jama Rattigan’s great review of the new picture book biography written by Gary Golio and illustrated by Marc Burckhardt, When Bob Met Woody – The Story of the Young Bob Dylan (Little, Brown, 2011).

Thoughts and prayers for those reeling from storms, and so many have suffered devastating floods in past weeks. With an image of a calmer river, here are some lines from Dylan’s “Watching the River Flow,” Copyright © 1971:

People disagreeing everywhere you look
Makes you wanna stop and read a book
Why only yesterday I saw somebody on the street
That was really shook
But this ol’ river keeps on rollin’, though
No matter what gets in the way and which way the wind does blow
And as long as it does I’ll just sit here
And watch the river flow


For the entire song, click here.

and for the Poetry Friday Roundup , enjoy Heidi's great blog, My Juicy Little Universe.

"Nature rarer uses yellow..."

April 22, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, nature

Cherry tree in early April
It's Good Friday and Earth Day, and the cherry blossoms have drifted away, leaving a canopy of lush green outside my studio window. White dogwood blossoms are gone, too – those trees all green now. Azaleas, in light and dark pink, are still going strong, as is the rhododendron and the neglected but exuberant rose bush out back.

These ever-changing colors of spring conjure up this gem from Emily Dickinson:

Nature rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets,--
Prodigal of blue,

Spending scarlet like a woman,
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover's words.


What a blessing to live in a world of color. And poems - isn't "Spending scarlet like a woman" a provacative line? Next week I’ll have some colorful haiku poems from fourth graders!

Enjoy the Poetry Friday roundup today hosted by Kate at Book Aunt.

To Sing of Spring

April 14, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, nature, school visits

A field of fourth-grade poets
This morning I had the privilege of leading two classes of fourth graders outside on a nature walk/poem safari to collect sensory details that they are writing into poems. Though we are focusing on haiku, today I'm sharing a longer classic celebrating the natural world this time of year.

I read that Gerard Manley Hopkins gave up writing poems for Lent while in college (and then for many years). And I thought giving up chocolate was tough! Happy Spring - and apolgies that my blog swallows indentations.

Spring

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Nothing is so beautiful as spring—
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden.—Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

The Poetry Friday round-up is at RANDOM NOODLING.

Exploring Big Cats and Little Kitties (and more) with Author Scotti Cohn

February 28, 2011

Tags: authors, book tracks, nature, SCBWI, wolves, animals

It's been a fun month of featuring nonfiction nature writers! For our last visit, I'm happy to host Scotti Cohn. I “met” Scotti online when her fellow Sylvan Dell author and my good friend Gail Karwoski told me about Scotti’s gorgeous rhyming picture book, ONE WOLF HOWLS (illustrated by Susan Detwiler). Needless to say, Scotti and I discovered we are pretty much from the same pack! The Illinois writer, who is planning to move to South Carolina in a few months, tackles a wide range of subjects for readers of all ages, and you should check out her great blogs. Today we welcome her for a sneak preview of her new book from Sylvan Dell, also illustrated by Susan Detwiler, BIG CAT, LITTLE KITTY.

Welcome, Scotti! We share a lot of passions, including members of the canine and feline families – wild or domestic. Tell us about your new book, BIG CAT, LITTLE KITTY. What does it have in store for young readers, and how did you come up with the idea for it? (more…)

Keeping Nature in Focus with Sarah C. Campbell

February 21, 2011

Tags: authors, illustrators, book tracks, nature, SCBWI, Southern Breeze

You can’t really say “nonfiction,” “nature,” and “SCBWI Southern Breeze” in the same sentence without saying Sarah C. Campbell! In addition to being a wonderful volunteer in our region (hailing from Mississippi), Sarah is an award-winning author and illustrator of spectacular books for children.

Her first book, WOLFSNAIL – A Backyard Predator (illustrated with photographs by the author and her talented husband, Richard P. Campbell) has won too many awards to list here (really!), including being named a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book and a Notable Children’s Book from the American Library Association. GROWING PATTERNS – Fibonacci Numbers in Nature is a 2011 ALA Notable Children’s Book and a 2011 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12. Both have won Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices awards, and both books are published by Boyds Mills Press.


Welcome, Sarah! I’m so happy you’ve dropped by for our “nonfiction nature writers” focus this month. Let’s start way back. What were you like as a kid?

I was a bit of a sickly child. I was slow to gain weight, slow to speak, and very fussy. Once my parents started feeding me soy milk, I was transformed -- virtually overnight. I went from not speaking to reciting full sentences. My first words, apparently, were “Have you turned my de-humidifier on?” My dad believes I developed my determined spirit during those rough early years.

By the time I was in school, I was very inquisitive and always interested in how things worked. I conducted an unauthorized survey in kindergarten. I followed a different classmate home each day for a week to find out what each was having for lunch. I gave up my quest only when I learned that my classmates were all having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, too. (more…)

The Great Backyard Bird Count

February 17, 2011

Tags: birds, nature

Looking for a fun way to spend time outdoors and contribute to a good cause at the same time? The Great Backyard Bird Count is this weekend! The Cornell Ornithology folks explain it best, so here's the blurb lifted directly from their promotional email:

From: Cornell Lab Bird News, Feb. 17, 2011
Great Backyard Bird Count
Join Us, February 18–21

Top 5 Reasons to Do the GBBC

1. The birds you see will be recorded for all time. Just count for at least 15 minutes on one or more days and enter your checklist at www.birdcount.org

2. Your counts ensure that the birds in your town or favorite birding locales will be represented in this continentwide event.

3. Scientists and birders alike can see the tallies as they roll in for more than 600 bird species.

4. Now in its 14th year, the GBBC provides data to track dynamic bird populations through time, a feat that would be impossible without the participation of tens of thousands of people like you.

5. Celebrate birds by watching them at your favorite spot. See photos of birds submitted from around the continent or send in your own for a chance to win birdy prizes.

Please help spread the word by asking your friends and family to participate! They’ll find easy instructions at www.birdcount.org.

For more news about the count, read this week’s article in The New York Times.



From the LeBrea Tar Pits to Outer Space - take a safari with Author Donna H. Bowman

February 14, 2011

Tags: authors, book tracks, nature, SCBWI, Southern Breeze

On this Valentine's Day, I'm thrilled to welcome someone for whom I have a lot of love - Donna H. Bowman, children's author, long-time critique group buddy, and former Co-Regional Advisor for SCBWI Southern Breeze.

Her books include (two versions of) BIG CATS (Intervisual Books/Piggy Toes Press), and two nonfiction titles from Picture Window Books: DID DINOSAURS EAT PEOPLE? – And Other Questions Kids Have About Dinosaurs, and WHAT IS THE MOON MADE OF? - And Other Questions Kids Have About Space. Donna also has an entrepreneurial streak we'll hear more about in a moment.


Hi, Donna! Let’s start at the beginning. I know you grew up running wild – in a good way – in California. Tell us a little about your childhood adventures in the great outdoors. (more…)

Nature Author Heather L. Montgomery on Snakes and More...

February 7, 2011

Tags: authors, book tracks, nature, SCBWI, Southern Breeze

Author photo by Sonya Sones
I'm thrilled today that Alabama author and SCBWI Southern Breeze Assistant Regional Advisor Heather L. Montgomery has come out of the woods for a spell to spend time with us! What a great way to kick off a month of guest nature writers for children.

Heather's newest books are RATTLESNAKES and GARTER SNAKES in Capstone's
Wild About Snakes series. Her other books explore how to stay safe in an earthquake, what soil is made of, why teeth fall out, and mummy secrets! She's written many articles appearing in Highlights, Science World, Know Fun for Kidz, and Fandangle, and in professional publications as well.

But wait - there's more! Heather runs Dragonfly Environmental Education Programs, bringing folks of all ages and nature together. She helped develop McDowell Environmental Center in Alabama and currently serves as its Education Coordinator.

Heather, where do we start? (more…)

Nonfiction Nature Focus for February!

January 31, 2011

Tags: authors, book tracks, nature, nonfiction

Okay, this is a commercial. But I want to give you a heads-up that February around here will celebrate some wonderful nature writers for children!

I had the blessed opportunity to grow up in a place and time that afforded hours of unsupervised time in the woods at the edge of my Florida neighborhood, and hours of solo bike rides to nearby lakes and parks. For many of today's children, the natural world is, well, unnatural to them.

Read Richard Louv's LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS - Saving our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. It was originally published in 2005 and revised/expanded in 2008.

Another book I'm crazy about is A PLACE FOR WONDER - Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades by Georgia Heard and Jennifer McDonough. The authors present creative ways teachers (and other adults) can open the doors of exploration for young students and help them to express these connections to the natural world. (more…)

Quick Clicks

Poems
Explore a poem or two or five....
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!
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.
Haiku
Explore this genre of sparely crafted poetry which offers endless depth. Resources for students, teachers, and writers.
Portfolio
illustrations
Media
bio, photos, interview links, etc.