SCROLL DOWN FOR POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP SCHEDULE
Hannah enjoying poetry workshop
(Scroll down this column for tags, archives and blogroll....)
POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP SCHEDULE
I will get all these linked ASAP, but in the meantime, here's the schedule:
Radio, Rhythm & Rhyne
January 4, 2013
No Water River
January 11, 2013
Violet Nesdoly / poems
January 18, 2013
The Opposite of Indifference
January 25, 2013
February 1, 2013
A Teaching Life
February 8, 2013
February 15, 2013
February 22, 2013
The Drift Record
March 1, 2013
My Juicy Little Universe
March 8, 2013
Jone at Check it Out
March 15, 2013
A Year of Reading
March 29, 2013
Read, Write, Howl
April 5, 2013
April 12, 2013
Live Your Poem...
April 19, 2013
Writing the World for Kids
April 26, 2013
May 10, 2013
JamaĀfs Alphabet Soup
May 24, 2013
Teaching Young Writers
May 31, 2013
The Opposite of Indifference
June 7, 2013
Reflections on the Teche
June 14, 2013
June 21, 2013
The Poem Farm
June 28, 2013
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
© Robyn Hood Black
five hungry mouths mid-may
© Robyn Hood Black
five fat feathery babies may 25
© Robyn Hood Black
Fresh from the nest! May 27, 2009
Southern Breeze Kudos Kites 09 - Donna, Robyn, Heather, Sarah, and Peggy
Robyn with Kathleen Duey, author extraordinaire
Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller
photo by Robyn Hood Black
Paul B. Janeczko http://www.paulbjaneczko.com
Copyright 2005-2013 ©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.
January 10, 2013
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 Brťsil" (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:
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 Renťe LaTulippe is rounding up Poetry Friday! (Doesn't she have a name any butterfly would love?)
May 25, 2012
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 Ė okay, a long time patiently waiting Ė 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?
Coryís book of photos and poetry, ďPho-etry,Ē called Nature Inspires
, was featured earlier this year on Poetry for All co-leader David L. Harrisonís blog (click here
for the link.) You can also get a virtual look at Coryís stunning work in the book by clicking here
Well, Iíve been thinking about those robins. And Iím enjoying all the varied birdlife outside my own doors this spring. (Oh Ė and Susan Taylor Brownís amazing bird photos on her Poppiness
website! Ė Have you seen those or followed her bird stories there or on Facebook?)
Back to robins. Hereís a fun poem for today from The Golden Book of Poetry
(1947) as shared on The Poetry Foundation website.
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 todayís Roundup.
May 18, 2012
Top: Eileen Spinelli, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Rebecca Davis, Melanie Hall, David L. Harrisonmiddle: cabin, and having fun with Rebecca S.,Rebecca K. D., Bill, and Jacqueline (and Cindi taking pix)with Marjorie Maddox; Joy Acey and Davidbottom: 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
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, JoŽlle! 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."
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
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.
March 22, 2012
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 (1859Ė1936):
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!
March 8, 2012
Iíve been happily immersed in haiku, as Iím 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 Iím honored to have my work in a few of them. In addition to the Modern Haiku
link I shared week before last, Iíve 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
Giseleís work also appears in Shamrock
this month, and I just received an acceptance from Chrysanthemum
for the April issue.
Iím 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 donít have time to click and enjoy the haiku on the pages above, Iíll leave you with Giseleís and my poems from the new issue of The Heronís Nest
the big dipper
my dog keeps searching
for the right spot
Spanish moss dipped
Robyn Hood Black
My haiku formed itself as I walked in my folksí Orlando neighborhood last year during a trip to my hometown. While I love the beauty of the north Georgia mountains, thereís something so singular about the nature of light in Florida that always seizes me when I visit. I grew up there and didnít 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 donít 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!
March 2, 2012
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:
by Carl Sandburg
There is a wolf in me Ö fangs pointed for tearing gashes Ö a red tongue for raw meat Ö and the hot lapping of bloodóI keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.
There is a fish in me Ö I know I came from saltblue water-gates Ö I scurried with shoals of herring Ö I blew waterspouts with porpoises Ö before land was Ö before the water went down Ö before Noah Ö 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.
December 16, 2011
If you didnít quite get enough of David L. Harrison from last weekís spiderwebs poem , youíre in luck. Iím thrilled to welcome him here today for an interview Ė and more poetry, of course!
David L. Harrison and the hot-off-the-virtual-press Goose Lake, illustrated by Sladjana Vasic.
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 wouldnít 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 Ė Thank you for joining us, and Happy Holidays!
Youíve written so widely, but letís 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. Iím delighted and flattered to be here. Thanks for inviting me!
I became a poet by stages. First came the fun of making rhymes. (ďSometimes I wish/I had a fish/Upon a dish.Ē Age 6).
Next came the vague sense of intellectual snobbery from reading Shakespeareís sonnets and Omar KhayyŠmís 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 didnít. Not for a long time. Not until I reached my fifties. Thatís when I took off three years from all other writing and threw myself into writing poems. By then I had long been a childrenís author so naturally my poetic efforts were written with young people in mind. I knew very little about childrenís poetry but had read some of Silversteinís 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 Brownís 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 Ė ďMy Book!Ē Ė and itís 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 Ė a rabbit killed crossing the road, the wandering off of a strange old neighbor, the loss of a pet which never returns. But thereís much humor in the poems, too. And an abiding appreciation of nature. One of my favorites is:
A Chip of Flint
for an arrowhead.
Maybe a chip
from the weapon
by a master craftsman,
flint in one hand
antler tip in the other,
a new stone point.
Did he pause
in these woods
or was he surrounded
by chuckling comrades
who winked at secrets
as chips fell?
It doesnít 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. Itís 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 donít know where this is headed. I hope it means good things for authors who have something to say but donít 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 doesnít 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, ďMe! Me! Me!Ē
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 authorsí incomes? Will the market become diluted with so many new entries? Iím sure weíll 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?
Iíd love to! This one is called, ďFree at Last.Ē
Free at Last
Fish are rolling,
rippling the surface
with fins and bellies.
Fish are bucking,
off slippery backs.
Fish are leaping,
like glistening sweat
into the suddenly spring.
Letís 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 Archaeologyís 2010 Book of the Year for ďa book that is written for the general public and presents the results of archaeological research to a broader audience.Ē
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. Itís 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 ďnoteĒ (sorry), I understand you are a musician. Tell us about your music, and how this talent contributes to your work as a poet.
Iím 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-hadnít-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, Iíve 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 Iím 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 canít 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 Ė what are some of the poetry contributions youíve 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 Childrenís Literature in the Reading Program
(co-edited by Deb Wooten and Bernice Cullinan, IRA). Iím currently under contract for five new books with Mary Jo Fresch (Ohio State, Teacher Created Materials) and have six other books under development. Iím 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 Iíll 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 youÖ.
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. Iíve had a fine time.
Thank you, David! To learn more about David and his incredible body of work, visit his website.
And rememberÖ. Poetry makes the perfect gift!
For more great poetry, go see Kate at Book Aunt.
(And I'll see you after Christmas break!)
December 9, 2011
Greetings! Iím 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. Iíll be attending Poetry for All
in May (there are still a few spots available!) co-led by poet and friend Rebecca Kai Dotlich
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 Ė Poems about Creeping Things
, illustrated by Rob Shepperson
by David Harrison
on the lawn
Shiny droplets Ė
small oases Ė
To their places.
look and lurk.
Time now for
(Used with permission from the author.)
And Eileen Spinelli has this wonderful picture book, Sophieís 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 Beekmanís Boardinghouse.
By this time, many spider years had passed. Sophie was older. She only had energy to spin a few small things for herselfÖ 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 wonít spoil the story, but I will say my eyes were a bit misty by the end. And then, when I read the authorís noteÖ okay, I cried.
In cultural traditions across the world, the spider represents creativity Ė a keeper of ancient wisdom, and sometimes a trickster. (And now youíre thinking of E. B. Whiteís Charlotte
, arenít you?)
Whatever your ďspider workĒ is today, let it be inspired by a World Wide Web-ful of poetry. Include your link in the comments, and Iíll 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
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!
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.
is caught up in the spirit of giving. Sheís got a copy of Shel Silversteinís EVERY THING ON IT for some lucky re-tweeter.
Join Laura today here
for Janet Wongís yoga poem, ďTree,Ē 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, ďPie Town Family Ė 1940Ē inspired by a historical photograph, at ďRandom Noodling
Her Kids of the Homefront Army
features a poem about one reality of war, ďCertain Advantages.Ē
And, Kurious Kitty
is asking with Aileen Fisher, ďDo Rabbits Have Christmas?Ē featuring one of the sparkly poems from the book, published five years after Fisherís death.
K Kís Kwotes
has a quote by Truman Capote.
Linda at TeacherDance
helps us to remember those for whom the holidays are a lonely time, with ďThe Transparent ManĒ by Anthony Hecht.
How about some Ogden Nash? Sallyís got you covered at The Write Sisters
with ďEverybody Tells Me Everything.Ē
At Picture Books and Pirouettes
, Kerry shares Doreen Croninís picture book, Wiggle
, sure to get you moving this morning.
takes another look at giving with the poem ďAltruismĒ by Molly Peacock.
Feeling a little batty? Join Joyce at Musings
to enjoy thoughts about Randall Jarrellís 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, ďFraming My Future,Ē written by Rebecca, one of Kelly Gallagherís students.
Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
encourages us to ďHave a _________ Day.Ē (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
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
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
November 4, 2011
© Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved
Last night was the last of the ďMaster NaturalistĒ classes I took this fall at Elachee Nature Science Center
, with astronomy on the menu. Wouldnít you know it Ė the only rain weíve had all week fell last night. We couldnít use the telescopes, but astronomer Robert Webb didnít 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 Iím feeling rather lunar, appreciating the spectacular orb thatís 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 Ė itís mind-boggling. Those folks had guts. And smarts.
Here are some moon-related morsels:
First, some 13th-Century praise from St. Francis of Assissiís Canticle to the Sun
(Note: Katherine Paterson and Pamela Daltonís book from this summer is on my ďto-buyĒ 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.
for the entire song.
Now, letís jump ahead 600 years to see a different view with a fragment from Percy Bysshe Shelleyís
To The Moon
Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing Heaven, and gazing on the earth,
Among the stars that have a different birth,--
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?
Later in the 19th Century, weíre back to celebrating Ė I canít ever resist these closing lines from Edward Learís
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
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,
They danced by the light of the moon.
And donít 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 Childrenís Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewisís 2001 poem,
First Men on the Moon
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. Ö
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 ďmoon viewingĒ 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.
October 5, 2011
© 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....
September 29, 2011
© Robyn Hood Blackdetail 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 Iíve been looking forward to Ė 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 Cooperís 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 youíre looking for an excuse to read poetry this weekend rather than do yard work, here it is: ďBirds abhor a clean yard.Ē 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 Ė even poison ivy!), water (they really love a misting feature), and shelter (unkempt trees, and dead snags if they donít threaten your property, are wonderful).
Today I found the perfect poem for this subject and this time of year Ė ďThe BirdsĒ by Linda Pastan.
excerpt from The Birds
by Linda Pastan
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 gatheró
the shadow of wings
falls over the heart. Ö
Do click here
to read the complete poem Ė 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.
September 23, 2011
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 Iím taking this fall at Elachee Nature Science Center
. Yesterday, the Georgia Department of Natural Resourceís chief herpetologist, John Jensen, led us through a litany of reptiles.
I didnít realize my state housed the largest venomous snake in the U.S. (the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, which is also the worldís 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 countryís 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 ďThe EnvoyĒ
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 donít know how either came or left.
Later, the flashlight found nothing.
For a year I watched
as somethingóterror? happiness? grief?ó
entered and then left my body. Ö
(For the complete poem, and a moving reading of it by the poet, please click here
Now, speaking of Jane Hirshfield, Iíd also like to put in a good word for her wonderful article, ďThe Heart of Haiku,Ē
available on Kindle for just 99 cents. I downloaded it to my PC. Itís a terrific introduction to the life and poetry of BashŰ.
And speaking of BashŰ 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
Finally, for this weekís Poetry Friday Roundup
, please wriggle your way to Picture Book of the Day
with Anastasia Suen.
August 19, 2011
This is Just to Say from the Critter that Raided my GardenÖ
Can you smell how sweet it was? At least somebody enjoyed it...
- apologies to William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
that was in
you were probably
it was delicious
and so (mmmmmÖ) juicy
Was it a raccoon? Groundhog? Rat? Something else? Well, Iím 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 Iíll be able to discern from claw marks and such just which critter had been there. Next week I begin a ďMaster NaturalistĒ program at our local nature/science center
. Iíve wanted to take the course for a while, but last yearís 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 todayís Poetry Friday Roundup
, hosted by fellow Georgia peach Doraine Bennett.
May 27, 2011
So Tuesday was Bob Dylanís 70th birthday!
Garrison Keillor included some great Bob Dylan info on The Writerís Almanac
on Tuesday, including the fact that heís been nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature every year since 1996. Tuesdayís program also quotes from the liner notes for The Freewheeliní Bob Dylan
about the distinction between poetry and songs: ďAnything I can sing, I call a song. Anything I canít sing, I call a poem.Ē
Be SURE to check out Jama Rattiganís great review
of the new picture book biography written by Gary Golio and illustrated by Marc Burckhardt, When Bob Met Woody Ė 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 Dylanís ďWatching the River Flow,Ē 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 olí river keeps on rolliní, though
No matter what gets in the way and which way the wind does blow
And as long as it does Iíll 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.
April 22, 2011
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 Ė 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 Iíll have some colorful haiku poems from fourth graders!
Enjoy the Poetry Friday roundup today hosted by Kate at Book Aunt
April 14, 2011
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.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Nothing is so beautiful as springó
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.óHave, 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
February 28, 2011
It's been a fun month of featuring nonfiction nature writers! For our last visit, I'm happy to host Scotti Cohn. I ďmetĒ Scotti online when her fellow Sylvan Dell author and my good friend Gail Karwoski told me about Scottiís 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 Ė 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…)
February 21, 2011
You canít really say ďnonfiction,Ē ďnature,Ē and ďSCBWI Southern BreezeĒ 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 Ė 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 Childrenís Book from the American Library Association. GROWING PATTERNS Ė Fibonacci Numbers in Nature is a 2011 ALA Notable Childrenís Book and a 2011 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12. Both have won Cooperative Childrenís Book Center (CCBC) Choices awards, and both books are published by Boyds Mills Press.
Welcome, Sarah! Iím so happy youíve dropped by for our ďnonfiction nature writersĒ focus this month. Letís 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 ďHave you turned my de-humidifier on?Ē 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…)
February 17, 2011
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 18Ė21
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! Theyíll find easy instructions at www.birdcount.org.
For more news about the count, read this weekís article in The New York Times.
February 14, 2011
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? Ė 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! Letís start at the beginning. I know you grew up running wild Ė in a good way Ė in California. Tell us a little about your childhood adventures in the great outdoors. (more…)
February 7, 2011
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.
Author photo by Sonya Sones
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…)
January 31, 2011
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…)
Explore a poem or two or five....
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!
In schools or other settings, Robyn shares her passion for writing and encourages creativity. Presentations for all age groups.
In addition to writing books, Robyn has sold her writing to major children's magazines.
Explore this genre of sparely crafted poetry which offers endless depth. Resources for students, teachers, and writers.
bio, photos, interview links, etc.
(Click here to visit Robyn's art business)
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
National Council of Teachers of English
Click here for KidLitosphere's links to current poetry round-up