Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet





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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2005-2016 ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved. Please ask permission before using any text or images on this website, except for reproducible
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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - a Taste of the 1920s with Amy Lowell

July 14, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poets, Amy Lowell, ponderings, poetry, imagists, hokku



Greetings, Friends! Happy Poetry Friday. Not exactly sure how last week slipped sand-like through my fingers, but summer sometimes has that effect...

Speaking of such, I'm all about time today. Over at my art blog I have a short post about 1920s accents found on Etsy in our daughter's wedding a few weeks ago. So, time as in periods of time. That got me thinking about a book I recently bought, published in the '20s. I actually bought this one to read rather than to repurpose!

It's an edition of Amy Lowell's Pulitzer Prize-winning What's O'Clock (Houghton Mifflin Company). Isn't that a splendid title? It's from Shakespeare's King Richard III.

I'm a fan of Amy Lowell's - well, all those early 20th-Century imagists. She died in 1925, the year What's O'Clock was published, along with her biography of Keats.

I'm still exploring the poems, but because of my Lowcountry locale must share these two from the collection, as Charleston and Middleton Place (where my hubby and I stayed one weekend last fall) are just a bit up the road.


CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA


Fifteen years is not a long time,

but long enough to build a city over and destroy it.

Long enough to clean a forty-year growth of grass

            from between cobblestones,

And run street-car lines straight across the heart of

            romance.

Commerce, are you worth this?

I should like to bring a case to trial:

Prosperity versus Beauty,

Cash registers teetering in a balance against the com-

            fort of the soul.

then, to-night, i stood looking through a grilled gate

At an old, dark garden.

Live-oak trees dripped branchfuls of leaves over the

            wall,

Acacias waved dimly beyond the gate, and the smell

            of their blossoms

Puffed intermittently through the wrought-iron scroll-

            work.

Challenge and solution -

O loveliness of old, decaying, haunted things!

Little streets untouched, shamefully paved,

Full of mist and fragrance on this rainy evening.

"You should come at dawn," said my friend,

"And see the orioles, and thrushes, and mocking-

            birds

In the garden."

"Yes," I said absent-mindedly,

And remarked the sharp touch of ivy upon my hand

            which rested against the wall.

But I thought to myself,

There is no dawn here, only sunset,

And an evening rain scented with flowers.




[**NOTE/UPDATE: The Middleton Place poem below contains French references as well as words of sadness and of death. When I posted this on Thursday, it was before seeing reports of the extensive horror that occurred in Nice. Our hearts are, once again and much too soon, with the people of France.**]



THE MIDDLETON PLACE

Charleston, S. C.


What would Francis Jammes, lover of dear, dead

            elegancies,

Say to this place?

France, stately, formal, stepping in red-heeled shoes

Along a river shore.

France walking a minuet between live-oaks waving

            ghostly fans of Spanish moss.

La Caroline, indeed, my dear Jammes,

With Monsieur Michaux engaged to teach her de-

            portment.

Faint as a whiff of flutes and hautbois,

the great circle of the approach lies beneath the

            sweeping grasses.

Step lightly down these terraces, they are records of

            a dream.

Magnolias, pyrus japonicas, azaleas,

Flaunting their scattered blossoms with the same bra-

            vura

That lords and ladies used in the prison of the Con-

            ciergerie.

You were meant to be so gay, so sophisticated, and

            you are so sad,

Sad as the tomb crouched amid your tangled growth,

Sad as the pale plumes of the Spanish moss

Slowly strangling the live oak trees.


Sunset wanes along the quiet river.

the afterglow is haunted and nostalgic,

Over the yellow woodland it hangs like the dying

            chord of a funeral chant;

And evenly, satirically, the mosses move to its inef-

            fable rhythm,

Like the ostrich fans of palsied dowagers

Telling one another contendedly of the deaths they

            have lived to see.




And, finally, of course I must share a few gems from

TWENTY-FOUR HOKKU ON A MODERN THEME

(Hokku technically refers to the first verses of a renga. We would say "haiku" now, and it could be argued some of these are more "haiku-like." The imagists were influenced by Japanese poetic forms.)


            I

Again the lakspur,

Heavenly blue in my garden.

They, at least, unchanged.



            XIX

Love is a game - yes?

I think it is a drowning:

Black willows and stars.



            XXIV

Staying in my room,

I thought of the new Spring leaves.

That day was happy.




Thanks for spending YOUR time meandering through Amy Lowell poems over here today.

Please visit our Chief Rounder-Upper and wonderful poet and teacher herself, Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for today's Roundup.

[--& HUGE congrats this week to our own Irene Latham, who was just awarded the International Literacy Association (ILA) Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award! Also - still celebrating our own Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, recipient of the first Lee Bennett Hopkins SCBWI Poetry Award this spring. So much talent throughout these Poetry Friday rounds....]

Poetry Friday - On Weddings and Home....

June 9, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, wedding poems, ponderings



Happy Poetry Friday!

As some of you know, we are gearing up for a wedding around here... just a week from - Oh, My! - tomorrow.

Our oldest child and only daughter, Morgan, will wed her long-time honey and already a member of the family, Matt. (Our youngest child and only son, Seth, has enjoyed Bro-time with Matt for as long as he and Morgan have dated.)

My initial visions of composing some lovely poem for the happy couple have flowed right into reality - meaning I still have quite a long list of other to-do's. The big things are all done, but there are many little things!

Still, I wanted to honor this "theme" before taking a wee blog break for the wedding.

Morgan just got her things moved last weekend to a great older house in Georgia they bought this spring. Matt has been painting and sprucing up the yard, and looks like their HGTV obsession over the last couple of years has taken root in their nesting instincts! So I've been thinking a lot about "home."

The poem at the top of this picture is a print we let Morgan pick out in Ireland when she was four years old. Somehow the framed picture has remained in my, um, possession. Hmmm.... Wonder if she'll claim it now that they have their own house?

Anyway, I think the art and the words by W. M. Letts are lovely:


If I had a little house,
      A white house on a hill,
With lavender and rosemary
      Beneath the window sill,
The door should stand wide open
      To people of good will.



I also thought I'd peruse a few of my cherished art-fodder tomes in my studio for something appropriate. One of my favorites, Crown Jewels OR Gems of Literature, Art, and Music from 1888, has a whole section on "The Home Circle."


Well, there were some dark, sad options (Victorian book, after all!) and then a few like this one:



My Little Wife

Our table is spread for two, to-night -
No guests our bounty share;
The damask cloth is snowy white,
The services elegant and bright,
Our china quaint and rare;
My little wife presides,
And perfect love abides." ...



[I'll spare you the rest, but be content in knowing the anonymous writer and his little wife were still happy at the end.]

While that poem drew as much smirk as smile from me, especially in a week where a woman has clinched votes needed to be the Presidential nominee from a major party, I'm not completely without sentiment. In fact, I was rather drawn in by the language and images in this poem, also without attribution (& please forgive my not attempting to format - that to-do list calleth):

The Wife to Her Husband

Linger not long. Home is not home without thee:
Its dearest tokens do but make me mourn.
O let its memory, like a chain about thee,
Gently compel and hasten thy return!

Linger not long. Though crowds should woo thy staying,
Bethink thee, can the mirth of friends, though dear,
Compensate for the grief thy long delaying
Costs the fond heart that sighs to have thee here?

Linger not long. How shall I watch thy coming,
As evening shadows stretch o'er moor and dell,
When the wild bee hath ceased her busy humming,
And silence hands on all things like a spell!

How shall I watch for thee, when fears grow stronger,
As night grows dark and darker on the hill!
How shall I weep, when I can watch no longer!
Ah! art thou absent, art thou absent still?

Yet I should grieve not, though the eye that seeth me
Gazeth through tears that make its splendor dull;
For O, I sometimes fear when thou art with me
My cup of happiness is all too full.

Haste, haste thee home unto thy mountain dwelling,
Haste, as a bird unto its peaceful nest!
Haste, as a skiff, through tempests wide and swelling,
Flies to its haven of securest rest!


Sigh. :0)

Wishing all young couples beginning their lives and homes together as much joy as their hearts can hold, and then some, and comfort in each other when clouds obscure the sun. The sun comes back out!

Please join the creative and industrious Carol today at Beyond Literacy Link for gardens-ful of poetry, and a visit by J. Patrick Lewis. Happy June to all.

Poetry FROGday - a Student Poem Postcard and More...

May 19, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, nature, poets, frog poetry, toad poetry, Jone McCulluch, Buffy Silverman


Rrrribbittt!

That’s amphibian for, “So glad you’re here!”

I’m delighted to share one of Jone MacCulluch’s 2016 student “poem postcards” today. If you’re not familiar with Jone’s terrific project, each year during National Poetry Month (April), folks can email media specialist/poet/Cybills volunteer, and all-around wonderwoman Jone to receive an illustrated poem from one of the students at her Vancouver, Washington, elementary school. Last week, Jone posted about this projects ‘ripple effects’ here.

Glad to share another ripple from an appreciative recipient!

Please celebrate with me Dakotah’s fine work, pictured above.


                       Fantastic frog
                  I am as slimy as a slug
        Jumping gliding swimming are ways I move
                I can live seven to nine years
                     Rana catesbeiana



Dakotah L.
3rd Grade



SO much to love about this poem and illustration. First, don’t you love both the poetic imagery and the scientific information presented so seamlessly here? Dakotah’s attention to structure, her syllable count and line length, but not at the expense of the poem itself? And, how brilliant is it to use the Latin name for bullfrog as a lyrical last line?!

Then there’s the art. Take a look at the wonderful facial expression on our dear bullfrog, and the hat! I love that hat. The cattails are beautiful, and the composition of the whole picture works wonderfully, with strong lines leading our eyes into and out of the poem and around all the elements.
Congratulations to Dakotah on a terrific piece!

Here’s a link to some National Geographic info about the American bullfrog.

As I prepare this post, we’re in the midst of a yearly occurrence around these parts, especially with all the recent (& current) wet weather. We have a cute plague of baby toads hopping all over yards and sidewalks. Zillions of them it seems. (That’s one on my hand in the picture.) And crazy choruses from the swampy low areas to the tops of trees at various times of the day and evening. Is this a springtime event in your corner of the world?

Not sure if these wee ones were frogs or toads (I found opposing opinions online), I did what any Poetry Friday hanger-outer would do: I emailed our own Buffy Silverman. Of COURSE she knew right away. In fact, she wrote a whole book on it! (I should have figured.)

Buffy says:

          That cute little critter is a toadlet (American toad.) We have swarms of them too, but ours are still in the toadpole stage. (HA! “toadpole”....) To be accurate, frogs and toads are really not distinct biological groups, more groupings that we use in common names.

(Hold on a sec. Let us pause, close our eyes, and delight in the word, “toadlet”.… Yep – it is in the Oxford Dictionary.)

When Buffy hosted Poetry Friday last month, she included some great pictures and an original poem paying homage to her own resident noisy toads. Here’s the link in case you missed it.

She also shared a couple of links for further hops into this field. This one from Animal Diversity Web tells us more about the little fellow on my fingers in the picture. (Did you know an American toad can eat up to 1,000 insects in one day?!) And this link at Wonderopolis explores the frog/toad question. Enjoy!

Then catch yourself a lily pad and glide on over to Margaret’s for this week’s Roundup at Reflections on the Teche. Something tells me she knows a few things about frogs and toads over there in Louisiana.

Many thanks to Dakotah, Jone, and Buffy for contributing to this fun froggy (toady) post today!

Poetry Friday: A taste of Robin Hood from Percy's RELIQUES OF ANCIENT ENGLISH POETRY

May 12, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ballads, Robin Hood, Robyn Hood




A couple of weeks ago I was innocently checking items out of my local library (audiobooks for all my recent miles crisscrossing the state wedding planning for my daughter, including Neil Gaiman’s STARDUST - Raise your hand if you’d happily listen to Neil Gaiman read from the telephone directory in any language, or perhaps instructions about how to use a power saw… But I digress.)


Anyway, though I headed for the exit, a magnetic pull somehow overtook me and I ended up in the little room devoted to sales of donated books. I love/hate when that happens. There is always good reading in there, and sometimes I stumble upon an antique volume that’s been stored for decades on a quiet shelf in somebody’s home.


A hefty leather-bound tome with gilded letters called my name. It was Thomas Percy’s RELIQUES OF ANCIENT ENGLISH POETRY.


Could you have resisted? Me neither. This particular book was an 1873 edition, though the work was first published in 1765 by Percy (1729-1811). One of my favorite classes in college was my medieval literature class with my favorite Furman English professor, William Rogers. Sigh. Of course this book went home with me – supporting my library, of course.


My “own” name greeted me as I flipped through, what with the frontispiece sporting an illustration of “The Grave of Robin Hood.” For fun, I found a ballad about the noble outlaw. Here are a few lines for your pleasure:


(from Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne)


Lythe and listen, gentylmen,
That be of free-bore blode:
I shall you tell of a good yeman,
His name was Robyn hode.

Robyn was a proude out-lawe,
whiles he walked on grounde;
So curteyse and outlawe as he was one,
Was never none yfounde. &c.

...



It’s reassuring to know the outlaw I’m named for was a courteous fellow.

Other fun book notes: The inscription reads, "Ida, from Mama - Xmas, 1874." I wonder who they were, where they lived? Also, tucked into pages I found some dried ferns and flowers in favorite spots. From what creek bank were these plucked as bookmarks, many years ago?


Whether your tastes run to the “ancient” or contemporary or all stops in between, please take your quivers on over to Violet Nesdoly Poems, where our lovely host is rounding up this Friday the 13th.

Poetry Friday - The Progressive Poem Parks Here!

April 21, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, 2016 Kidlit Progressive Poem


Happy Poetry Friday. What Fun! The 2016 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem, brainchild of our ever-ambitious and generous Irene Latham, parks right here today.

A couple of nights ago, my husband and I were strolling along the beautiful Waterfront Park here in Beaufort. Out in the river, coming into the harbor, was one of the Intracoastal Waterway cruise ships we see docked here a few times each month. Only this one wasn’t yet docked. It was gliding toward us under guidance from its unseen captain and crew.

The big boat slowly powered forward, then swung itself around in the opposite direction in a move that would make a falling cat proud. It gradually drifted sideways and backwards, parallel to the dock. When it got very close, crew members tossed out ropes to another shipmate who had hopped ashore.

It was quite the orchestrated event, and after its trip the big boat was settled for a few days. I was thinking how this communal poem is just a bit like that – a journey directed by different folks along the way, from Laura’s first line to the last one which Donna will provide. And lots of us in between, who don’t wan’t to toss out the ropes before the dock is in sight!

Many thanks to those who have penned lines up to this point, and the next several to come…

2016 Progressive Poem

A squall of hawk wings stirs the sky.
A hummingbird holds and then hies.
If I could fly, I’d choose to be
Sailing through a forest of poet-trees.

A cast of crabs engraves the sand
Delighting a child’s outstretched hand.
If I could breathe under the sea,
I’d dive, I’d dip, I’d dance with glee.

A clump of crocuses crave the sun.
Kites soar while joyful dogs run.
I sing to spring, to budding green,
to all of life – seen and unseen.

Wee whispers drift from cloud to ear
and finally reach one divining seer
who looks up from her perch and beams —
West Wind is dreaming May, it seems.



Golden wings open and gleam
as I greet the prancing team.
Gliding aside with lyrical speed,
I’d ride Pegasus to Ganymede.

To a pied pocket, the zephyr returns
blowing soft words the seer discerns



Now our poem travels to Ramona at Pleasures from the Page!

And if you’ll make your way to Jama's Alphabet Soup, our inspiring-as-always Jama has the Roundup this week. (Be sure to tell her thanks for rounding up all the great Kidlitosphere activities during National Poetry Month, too!)

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

April 14, 2016

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


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

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

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


April’s Extra Credit Q & A

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poetry Friday - Spring Haiku from Terri L. French

April 6, 2016

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


Happy 2nd Poetry Friday of National Poetry Month!

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

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



oodles of daffodils--
the beauty of an empty vase


Bottle Rockets, 2011



a succession of sneezes--
forsythia blossoms




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




wind
blowing on the child
blowing on the pinwheel



Poems ©Terri L. French. All rights reserved.



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

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

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


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

Poetry Friday - EVERY DAY BIRDS and Extra Credit Q&A with Amy LV!

March 30, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poets, birds, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, book tracks, National Poetry Month


Dear Poetry Friends,

Such a special treat today – No April Foolin’! If you’re a Poetry Friday regular, you know that our own Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is fluttering around with a beautiful brand-new book, EVERY DAY BIRDS, published by Orchard/Scholastic. If you’re a PF newbie, Welcome!

I’m one of those lucky ducks who can call Amy friend, as well as poetic inspiration in human form. You can learn more about Amy and her work here. And in case you haven’t heard… her debut poetry picture book, FOREST HAS A SONG, illustrated by Robbin Gourley (Clarion) just won the inaugural SCBWI Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award!

EVERY DAY BIRDS, her second picture book for young readers, offers a closer look at many common birds, brought to colorful life with papercut illustrations by Dylan Metrano. Kirkus calls it “beginning birding at its best.” Here's a taste:


Hawk hunts every day for prey.

Cardinal flashes fire.

Woodpecker taps hollow trees.

Crow rests on a wire. …



Click around the Kidlitosphere and Poetry Friday blogs, and you’ll find lots of love for this book. Amy’s post celebrating its lift-off ihere. I thought it wouldt be fun to ask Amy just a few “Extra Credit” questions inspired by EVERY DAY BIRDS to give us a peek behind the scenes of her life poetic. Here we go!

Amy’s Extra Credit Q&A


Early bird or night owl?

I am a night owl who is trying to be an early bird!

Hummingbird drinks flower nectar. Coffee, tea, or something else for you?

Tea. I have a glass teapot, and my children and I enjoy trying all different kinds of tea, from flowery tea to fruity tea to herby tea. I like the varied colors of teas brewing, and holding a warm mug in my hands feels so cozy. This said, I am always happy to go out for coffee with a friend. And since I live in chilly Western New York, I am a fan of hot cocoa (lots of whipped cream) too.

Are you more chirpy bluebird or boisterous blue jay?

People often think of bluebirds as cheerful creatures, and I am a cheerful soul. To be truthful, though, I can also be bossy as a blue jay.

Chickadee wears a black cap. What’s your favorite hat?

My current favorite is a new crazy bird hat, a superb gift from Librarian Jim Worthington. I cannot stop laughing when I wear it because the birds’ wings flap on springs. Someone told me that she could not take me seriously in this hat, and I like this idea of not being taken too seriously.

In addition to being a poet, you’re a traveling speaker and teacher. How many times a year do you fly?

I try not to fly too frequently as I love being in my nest with my nest mates, but I do take three or four sky-trips each year.

Gull stares at the sea. What do you stare at when you are waiting for inspiration to strike?

Sometimes I stare out my window and sometimes into deep nothingness. Sometimes I stare at my empty paper and sometimes into my own head.


Thank you to my friend-with-the-beautiful-bird-name-Robyn for inviting me to your blog home today. I am a big fan of your work. xo, a.


Thank YOU, Dear Amy, for lighting on a branch over here this week to spread your sunshine!

For more great poetry sure to have you soaring, wing it on over to Amy’s home turf, The Poem Farm, where she happens to be our gracious host ringing in National Poetry Month today. Her blog is also celebrating its sixth anniversary this week. I’m sure there are still some cake crumbs around… (Which, by the way, Mr. Cornelius might find as he visits blogs for Jama’s roundup of National Poetry Month special events here, including links the 2016 Kidlit Progressive Poem organized by Irene.)

Poetry Friday - Sea Change

March 24, 2016

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, loss, workshops, ponderings


A writer friend and I were talking this week about the importance of retreats and workshops. I’m grateful to have participated in both, and I have no plans to stop any time soon. Last September I basked in “Poetry by the Sea” in Jupiter, Florida, with Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard.

This poetic dynamic duo is making plans for a second seaside gathering this fall, and they are also teaming up to lead workshop this September with the fantastic Highlights Foundation folks. [That one seems to be calling to me....]

As Serendipity would have it, yesterday I was waiting on my car in the shop and had taken my colorful art bag with some work and reading. In the pocket I found some index cards. They were comment cards from last fall’s retreat! We had each shared a poem written that weekend and everyone offered short, written responses just for the poet. It filled my heart to once again read the words of fellow participants, and I thought I might share that poem here today.


Sea Change


The Sea has hazel eyes.
She mirrors changing skies –

glint of green on sheen of blue
churning into grayish hue.

The Sea has hazel eyes –
capricious fall and rise.

Waves caress or overcome –
in pretty parts, a deadly sum.


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Reading poetry sometimes makes surprising connections for the reader, and writing poetry does so for the writer, at least for me.

I had started out planning to simply record the changing colors of the sea. Then it hit me that exactly where I was on the beach in South Florida was only a few miles always from where a college classmate of ours had drowned just months before in a deadly rip tide, while vacationing. We had not kept in touch with his family (he’d married his college sweetheart as well), but he was a beloved husband, father, community volunteer, and respected attorney, very close to my best friend’s family. Such a shock. Such a loss. In a few days, it will be exactly a year since he died.

On the Christian calendar, these are holy days, but dark ones. As we make our way toward Sunday, to the joy that is Easter, I pray for those on the journey who need comfort and solace. And for those on any journey.

Please visit Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe for this week's Roundup. Thank you, Heidi.

Poetry Friday - The Roundup is HERE! Along with Terrific Student Haiku...

March 15, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, student work



HAPPY POETRY FRIDAY!

So glad you're joining the party. I'm delighted to host today. Everyone is welcome - new faces and PF veterans alike.

In addition to the Roundup, it's my pleasure to share a few accolade-winning student haiku this week.

Tom Painting, language arts teacher at The Paideia School in Atlanta and haiku poet extraordinaire, sent along some poems by his eighth-grade students which recently appeared in the "Youth Corner" of The United Haiku and Tanka Society's online publication, cattails. (To read more about cattails, click here to read my interview with its Youth Corner editor, Kala Ramesh.)


The following haiku received honorable mention recognition in cattails in January. Also, each young poet agreed to share a personal thought about haiku, which appear just beneath his or her name.



shower steam
my off key notes bounce
on the tiled walls


©Taylor Clay
"I enjoy writing and reading haiku because of the satisfaction in creating a beautiful scene with only a few words."


setting sun
the scarecrow whistles
in the wind


©Cole McCord
"Haiku allows me to remove a moment from my memory and place it on a page for safekeeping. "


the rocks
water glides down
the river


©Hunter Collins
"I choose the moment that strongly urges to be put down on paper. Then, I let the moment write itself."


bound diary
what secrets do
you hold?


©Naiima Paul
"Haiku is like any art form, one needs inspiration. Anything can inspire you, from the sound of raindrops to a photo of your cousin."


Many thanks to Taylor, Cole, Hunter, and Naiima for sharing their work. I'm always inspired by the haiku of young poets!

And I must share a fun comment from one of my daughter Morgan's third graders this week. (I've been traveling across SC to her classroom for some classroom poetry adventures in recent weeks, tagging wedding planning appointments to these visits in the process.) I told the kids I'd see them in April, after spring break. Out of the blue, one of Morgan's enthusiastic young poets, Krish, made my day. He said, "Spring Break is a great time to write nature haiku!"

Indeed it is. Wishing you warmth and inspiration as the calendar pages turn to spring.

Please leave your links (& a brief description) in the comments below, and I'll round up as we go along. NOTE: We'll actually be on the road again this afternoon, so links left after lunch might not get rounded up until this evening. [I also just bought a laptop I'm trying to figure out how to use. It will go with me - wish me luck!] Thanks for your patience, and feel free to scan the comments to visit everyone's posts today in the meantime.


Onward to Poetry!

At Random Noodling, Diane is generously sharing a pot of fresh coffee to celebrate WORLD POETRY DAY, along with a tray of original coffee-themed poems from recent years. Cheers!

For a bit more about WORLD POETRY DAY and a poem about what girls wanted 500 years ago, pop in over at Diane’s Kurious Kitty. Mrow.

CB Haneck chimes in with poetic praise for our noses. And, no, not because they can smell.

Michelle joins CB in responding to Amy LV’s TLD Challenge herself at Today’s Little Ditty, ringing in spring with some amorous cicadas.

Speaking of Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, Laura celebrates Amy’s exciting news at Writing the World for Kids. (What? You haven’t heard? Laura’s got it covered, with a couple more wonderful shout-outs, too.) Laura also shares the link to Penny’s post about a project by Ken Slasarik inspired by Laura’s WATER CAN BE. Yes, there’s a lot of mutual poetry love being passed around today!

Matt offers up the “Naani” poetry form from India at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, with an invitation (challenge?) to try one yourself.

What’s the weather doing outside your window, and did it change from five minutes ago? Lovely Linda captures the topsy-turvy-ness of spring’s arrival with an original poem and picture at Teacher Dance.

Carol has rolled out the St. Patrick’s Day green at Beyond Literacy Link - go grab yourself some poetry, and a lovely Irish blessing to boot!

Rubber boots handy? Brenda’s leading us on a mud-luscious puddle romp over at Friendly Fairy Tales. with an original poem and a couple others. Enjoy – you can clean up later!

Jone’s in this week with an appreciative limerick for her assistant and info about how to receive an illustrated poem post card from her students for Poetry Month. Check it Out!

Responding to one of Tricia’s terrific challenges, Catherine shares a moving ekphrastic poem today at Reading to the Core. (Maybe grab a tissue….)

Tabatha joins in today with two powerful poems by Kathryn Stripling Byer from Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia at The Opposite of Indifference. (And a certain beloved Monster gearing up for April.)

Julie’s been busy! At The Drift Record, she presents a list poem by Nobel-prize winner Wislawa Szymborska, and an invitation to write a response poem.

Over at Books Around the Table, she’s exploring phrenology and bumps in the night – you can’t resist clicking on that one, can you? Hmm? What might your skull say about YOU?

At A Year of Reading, Mary Lee shares an original poem, “Bygones,” to announce her fantastic Poetry Month project. (Diane Mayr, you must check this out! Everyone else, too.)

Penny’s collaborative series, A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt, continues today with a special treat : Guest poster is Ken Slesarik, in with a whole roomful of first-grade poets! They produced a collaborative work inspired by Laurie Purdie Salas’s WATER CAN BE. Your day will not be the same if you miss this colorful feast.

At Dori Reads, the ever-lovely Doraine is in this week with a perfect-for-spring poem by Abigail Carroll, an adult poet who's stepping into the children's poetry world and shares her thoughts on that, too. [If the air is yellow with pollen where you are, you’ll particularly enjoy! We're swimming in it down South.]

Inspiration wafts from life to life around here. Margaret Simon, at Reflections on the Teche., offers up a poem inspired by an emailed quote from Laura Shovan and a photo Tabatha posted on her blog. Beautiful words and profound thoughts.

Heidi extends an invitation to participate in her Poetry Month project at My Juicy Little Universe. Pass the ketchup, please, and a napkin? (To write poems on, of course!)

Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town generously offers “a touch of sanity” from Wendell Berry today. Yes, please. Enjoy his “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.”

Irene – yes the same one whose DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST just garnered an SCBWI Lee Bennett Hopkins poetry honor book designation – shares Don Tate’s amazing book, POET: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate at Live Your Poem.

Ramona’s in the mix with poems from Tracie Vaughn Zimmer’s 42 Miles (plus another one) at Pleasures from the Page. Another book for my must-read stack!

Tara’s a woman after my own heart today, sharing Gary Short’s beautiful “Teaching Poetry to Third Graders” over at A Teaching Life. She also shares a way in which poetry ended a very challenging day in the classroom with a bit of affirmation.

More Tuesday Slice of Life Goodness (I love that PR and Slice of Life collide so often!) from Molly, sharing an original poem, “The Nightly Struggle,” that captures the experience of so many of us I’m sure, yearning to turn another page before turning out the booklight!

Yay – more haiku today! Thanks to the oh-so-talented Elizabeth Steinglass for sharing two gorgeous spring haiku (and a picture of one of the prettiest Poetry Friday cats in the realm) as well as her thoughts about crafting haiku – well worth the short read if you are a haikuist or an aspiring one.

Though no one would blame Amy if she were still up in the clouds after FOREST HAS A SONG just won the inaugural SCBWI Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.– (!!!) – she’s her usual down-to-earth-self over at The Poem Farm today, with an original poem, “Lesson From a Stone Bowl,” that just proves why her writing is so award-worthy, and how she embraces life as a poet.

Please join Violet (the perfect Spring name!), who is outside with her camera and stellar eye taking pictures and poetic inspiration for her “Spring Journal” she’s sharing with all of us.

Cathy’s been taking inspiration from nature this week, too, at Merely Day by Day. Join a cacophony of blackbirds with her lively original poem, “Bird Games.”

And now up to Maine, where Donna at Mainely Writeshares another delicious slice of life experience-put-to-poetry, “Book Club and a Mug”set against the dark mornings after the time change.

Little Willow’s in this week with “Babylon” by Robert Graves at Bildungsroman - a perfect companion to so many posts today about young poets, and young-at-heart poets inspired by Spring.

Jama doesn’t have a regular PF post today, but she’s putting forth the call to send in YOUR Poetry Month features for her April round-up! She and Mr. Cornelius do a great job keeping track of the many ambitious projects. If you have something special planned (one of these years, I keep saying to myself!) just send your addition to her website email address at jamarattigan.com. Thanks, Jama and Mr. C.!

Over at Teaching Authors, the wonderful JoAnn is featuring an Avis Harley poem from African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways. (Isn’t that a great book title?) She’s also not alone, I’m sure, in her struggle with taking the perfect selfie,which she’s written about in a chuckle-worthy original poem.

At All About the Books with Janet Squires, Janet is serving up Georgia Heard’s anthology of found poems, THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK. (I’m personally partial to this collection, as it includes two poems by yours truly!)

{--We interrupt this Roundup for its host to hit the Road. I'll check back this evening for any afternoon link-leavers! Thanks.--}

Evening Update: I'm having computer AND network connection issues, and my attempts to update keep getting swallowed into a cyber-black-hole. My apologies! PLEASE scroll down to the end of the comments for a few more great poetry links - canine poetry & a challenge from Joy, a post from Karen, and, all the way from Guam, news from Sylvia V! Thanks, and have a great weekend, all!
THEN, check out the posts from Lisa and Fats at the end!

Poetry Friday - Driftwood Dolphin

March 10, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, animals, ponderings, spring


It's ALMOST Spring.

Our youngest, Seth, spent the first part of his college spring break this week hiking in the mountains with his Appalachian Trail class. Then he came to the coast for some fun in the sun. [Finally - a spring break for him here that's warm, sunny, and dry! ] Not a bad way to spend a week.

Thursday he drove out to Hunting Island, the lovely natural state park where we go to the beach, less than 20 miles from our driveway. We'll probably all head out there Friday afternoon.

A couple of weeks ago, I went there by myself for a long walk and an inspiration break. There was only a handful of other folks around, plus a couple of horses. Couldn't resist snapping the picture above, and wondering about a poem to accompany it.



Driftwood Dolphin


A driftwood dolphin
slices sand,
in search of driftwood fish.

What kind of dolphin
swims on land?
The kind in my driftwood wish.



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Thanks for stopping by! Even if you don’t have a spring break per se, here’s hoping you’ll take some time out to relax with poetry! My dear friend and Poetess Extraordinaire Irene has the Roundup today at Live Your Poem.

Be sure to circle back HERE next week, when I'll host the Roundup!

Poetry Friday - Margarita Engle's "Young and Old Together"

March 3, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Margarita Engle, poets



I know there’s snow on the ground in some parts (my future son-in-law sent a picture from a north Georgia Thursday evening), but trees and flowers are beginning to bloom here at the coast. Folks are either digging in the dirt already or browsing seed catalogs, depending on zip codes.

So today I have a simple share – a beautiful poem by Margarita Engle found in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science (Pomelo Books). You might say it’s about gardening, or about radishes - and there are some great veggie-inspired "Take 5" activities in the anthology - but it’s also about so much more…



Young and Old Together


I love to help Grandpa in his garden,
planting tiny radish seeds
so we can watch the swift growth
of leaves and stems,
like green towers
on top of
tasty
red
roots.



And in Spanish, also in the anthology:


Jóvenes y Viejos Juntos


Me encanta ayudar a mi abuelo en su jardin
sembrando semillitas de rábano
parar mirar cómo crecen tan rápido
las hojas y los tallos,
como torres verdes
encima de
sabrosas
raíces
rojas.



©Margarita Engle. All rights reserved.


This poem makes me smile, the way it celebrates a tender relationship between grandfather and grandchild. I imagine the grandfather wondering at “the swift growth” of his “nieto” or “nieta”!

My thanks to Margarita for sharing this poem with us today. If you are not already a fan, please seek out her work! She’s won multiple Pura Belpré Awards and Honors. She’s also the recipient of Américas Awards, Jane Addams Awards and Honors, International Reading Association Award, the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, and many others.

Just this year, Enchanted Air won the Pura Belpré Author Award, was selected as YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist, and won a Walter Award Honor from We Need Diverse Books.

Her Drum Dream Girl, illustrated by Rafael López ,won the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award! It also won the Charlotte Zolotow Award for best picture book writing of 2015, was selected as Asian Pacific American Library Association Children's Book Awards Honor, is an Amelia Bloomer Top 10 of 2016 and a 2016 Notable Book for a Global Society, International Literacy Association

And, just a week and a half or so ago, Enchanted Air received the 2016 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award , granted by Penn State University Libraries, the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, and Lee Bennett Hopkins!

We are all richer for Margarita’s mind, heart, and pen.


Here’s wishing you and your garden a hearty, poem-filled spring… Enjoy more inspiration with our wonderful Linda, rounding up today at Teacher Dance.

Poetry Friday - Haiku by Paideia Teacher Sydney Cleland

February 25, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, haiku, poets, poetry


Hello, Dear Poetry Lovers!

Today we have a special treat, as yet another teacher from The Paideia School in Atlanta has caught the haiku bug from teacher and haiku poet extraordinaire Tom Painting.. I'm happy to welcome Sydney Cleland, whose selections are especially appropriate as we wave a rosy goodbye to February, a month for lovers.

Let's enjoy some of her haiku, and then we'll find out how she fell in love with the form.



new lover
last year’s roses
pressed between pages


he loves me
he loves me not
giri-choko only


Johnny-jump-ups
the earth sends
a valentine


sweet tart hearts
the long married
fight and make up


chocolate on the pillow
romance conjured
by the hotel staff


icicles liquefy
a heart knows
what it wants


cardinal couples
pair up today
hope struts the yard



poems© Sydney Cleland. All rights reserved.

[Confession - I had to look up "giri choco" and Wikipedia tells me it's "obligation chocolate"given by women to men on Valentine's day in Japan... (a) relatively inexpensive type of chocolate women give to male co-workers, casual acquaintances, and others to whom they have no romantic attachment.] Well, how about that?

And now, a few questions for our guest poet:

How has your understanding of haiku changed over the last year?

Thankfully, Tom has brought haiku into my classroom. I teach poetry by reading contemporary free verse poems with students, focusing on close reading by just spending time with a poem. Haiku is such a short form that at first I found it rather like eating a snack instead of a meal. But now I understand not only the requirements of the form but some of the complex artistry, especially how a haiku poet connects images and lines without forming a sentence.

What do you most enjoy about reading or writing haiku?

The challenge. In the compact haiku space, I don’t have room to elaborate, so I’m learning to begin with an image, rather than an idea. That’s a huge challenge for me because I tend to begin with ideas. I also enjoy how spare it is. The form itself reminds me to slow down my life, to get rid of the unnecessary, to find joy in the simplest things. Writing haiku provides a mental break, almost meditative in nature. I’m a crossword enthusiast and (for whatever reason), writing haiku delivers the same feelings as noodling over the Saturday New York Times puzzle.

How does writing haiku benefit your students?

We haven’t done as much as I’d like, and that’s the biggest obstacle to discovering its potential benefits. We learn about and write haiku during only 4 or 5 class periods a year. But I am seeing some positive effects. For students who have trouble elaborating, the simplicity of haiku can be freeing. Students who are visual artists enjoy finding imagery for the form. We’ve done drawings to accompany the writing, which some students love. Those who, like me, have trouble accessing imagery, begin to do that. But possibly the chief benefit is that I am writing, which I hope makes me a better teacher of writing.

Why haiku?

Short answer: haiku because of my enthusiastic, collaborative colleague Tom, without whom I would not have explored this form. In fact, I feel so grateful at this moment, I’m going off to write a haiku of thanks for him….


Much appreciation to Sydney for joining us today and for sharing her poetry! Don't you want to sit in on her class?

In a few weeks we'll enjoy some more student poetry from Paideia, so stay tuned.

Thanks in advance for leaving your comments below, and apologies in advance if I don't respond right away. I'm back on the road for another poetry/creative writing session across the state with Morgan's third-graders - :0) - but I'll check in later!

Be sure to check out all the great Poetry Friday offerings rounded up this week by our Lovely Liz Steinglass, an all-around-wonderful writer and published haiku poet herself!

Poetry Friday - Old Haiku Still Rings True!

February 18, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, ponderings


Greetings! I hope you felt some extra love on Valentine’s Day. My hubby and I were on the same wavelength – we each got each other 1.) a card 2.) a chocolate bar [his vegan, of course] and 3.) a book of haiku! I bought him a collection pertaining to a particular interest of his (another story for another day) and he found me a delightful old book at our wonderful new bookstore featuring old stock, Nevermore Books.

This slim volume is called simply, Japanese Haiku, ©1955, 1956 by The Peter Pauper Press. and compiled by Peter Beilenson (1905–1962). It has a lovely paper cover and simple block print illustrations beside each poem. I cannot speak to the accuracy of these translations, especially compared to others who were publishing anthologies and such mid-century, but I did enjoy the brief introduction. Here’s a liberal sampling:

It is usually impossible to translate a haiku literally and have it remain a poem, or remain in the proper seventeen-syllable form. There are several reasons for this: Haiku are full of quotations and allusions which are recognized by literate Japanese and not by us. They are full of interior double-meanings almost like James Joyce. And the language is used without connecting-words or tenses or pronouns or indications of singular or plural – almost a telegraphic form. Obviously a translation cannot at once be so terse and so allusive.

In the texture of the poems there is a further difficulty: Japanese is highly polysullabic. The only way to reproduce such a texture in English is to use Latinized words – normally less sympathetic than the Anglo-Saxon. For all these reasons, the following versions make no pretense to be literal or complete, and some variations in the five-seventeen-five syllable have been allowed.

... One final word: the haiku is not expected to be always a complete or even a clear statement. The reader is supposed to add to the words his own associations and imagery, and thus to become a co-creator of his own pleasure in the poem. The publishers hope their readers may here co-create such pleasure for themselves!


I recognized names of the “masters” throughout, but there are some names I didn't know that I need to explore. Here are a few of the poems from the pages pictured above (click the photo to see all), from three of the major four names associated with the development of early haiku. [I didn’t include any from Issa, as there weren’t any on this spread and I usually turn to David G. Lanoue’s translations for those!] The 17 syllables make some poems in this volume sound forced, but these I particularly enjoyed:



SILENT THE OLD TOWN . . .
THE SCENT OF FLOWERS FLOATING . . .
AND EVENING BELL

Basho



DEEP IN DARK FOREST
A WOODCUTTER’S DULL AXE TALKING . . .
AND A WOODCUTTER

Buson



VENDOR OF BRIGHT FANS
CARRYING HIS PACK OF BREEZE . . .
OH! WHAT AWFUL HEAT!

Shiki



VOICES OF TWO BELLS
THAT SPEAK FROM TWILIGHT TEMPLES . . .
AH! COOL DIALOGUE

Buson



Okay, this last one I’m sharing (by the Venerable ‘Anonymous’) cracks me up this week, because I live in South Carolina, and you can imagine all the political ads running rampant here lately, and the politicians, too! ;0)


FRIEND, THAT OPEN MOUTH
REVEALS YOUR INTERIOR . . .
SILLY HOLLOW FROG!

Anon.



I do hope you “co-created pleasure” reading those! I’m exploring haiku and other types of poetry today with third and fourth graders at Morgan’s school in Greenville, SC. (Got snowed in on our earlier attempt last month, but sunny skies prevail right now.)

We'll round out February here next week with some lovely, love-themed haiku from another of Tom Painting’s fellow teachers at The Paideia School in Atlanta. Be sure to circle back! (I’ll be on the road AGAIN that day – continuing a poetry-writing project with Morgan’s class and attending a wedding shower for her. Poetry and love all month long….)

Thanks for coming by, and please visit the wonderful Donna at Mainely Write for more poetry-love in this week’s Round Up. Also, remember to check out Laura Shovan's lively "found object" poetry project this month - lots of great poems!

Poetry Friday: Running Hot and Cold with Irene Latham…

February 10, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poets, animals, seasons, Irene Latham


Happy Valentine’s Day weekend, Poetry Lovers!

Is it warm where you are? Cold? Frigid?

Today I offer up poetic goodies for climates of either extreme, with big heartfuls of thanks to our own Irene Latham, who agreed to stick around for a fun mini Q-and-A after the poetry.

First, let’s enjoy a couple of her poems from books featuring completely different parts of the planet. Both of these animal-friendly collections are from Millbrook Press, with lively paintings by English illustrator Anna Wadham.

From DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST – And Other Poems from the Water Hole:


Dust Bath at Dusk


Trunks become
dust hoses;
beasts strike poses

and preen in silhouette
created by the
hazy screen.

Soon skin
is powdered
in a red-grit shower

that banishes bugs
and becomes next day’s
sunscreen.

one final
wallow,
one last trumpet –

all clean!


©Irene Latham. All rights reserved.


That’s one way to splash around – if you’re an elephant on the blazing African savanna.

If you are way too cool for that, (and you are young and have flippers for wings), maybe this next poem’s for you.

From WHEN THE SUN SHINES ON ANTARCTICA – And Other Poems about the Frozen Continent:



Gentoo Penguin Jumps In


After cozy days
in the nest,

after meals delivered
by my parents,

after guarded naps
and hunting lessons,

after shedding fluff
and sprouting new feathers,

after long, sunny days
spent with others my age –

suddenly
      the sea

doesn’t seem
            too vast for me.

Splash!


©Irene Latham. All rights reserved.

Are you curious about which environment our oh-so-talented poetess might prefer? Let's ask her.

--Hot or Cold - Are you more of a warm-weather warrior or a cold-weather conqueror?

I am very much a fair-weather kind of gal... love spring and fall and don't tolerate so well the extremes! I enjoy the view of the beach far more than the heat-sticky-sunburn, and the best thing about winter are other people's pictures of snow -- and my cozy boots & scarves.

--What's your favorite hot drink? What's your favorite cold drink?

Hot chocolate! I visited Frankfort, KY a few years back and was introduced to Bourbon Ball Hot Chocolate...it's a bourbon truffle dropped into steaming hot chocolate, and it is divine! And for cold, there's Zaxby's Birthday Cake shake... sinful, and I love it. On a daily basis, I love hot tea (Harney & Son's "Paris" tea, anyone?) and iced tea (these days I take it unsweetened).

--Favorite summer activity? Favorite winter pastime?

Summer: Camp Buttercup (for Brave, Creative Girls) with my wee nieces & very young sister! I am the mom to 3 sons, so a few years ago I created an annual just-girls camp at my house. Highlights include poetry, outdoor adventures (horseback riding, tubing,...), movies, live theater, local attractions, art, food... each year it has a different flavor, and it is always an exhilarating, exhausting week.
Winter: I love to cozy up -- and read. (And quilt and play cello and write poems and make Valentines and work on scrapbooks and blog and make soup and ...)


--Favorite warm color? Favorite cool color?

I love a warm butter yellow and any shade of cool purple. (Which, I recently learned, are the colors representing the women's suffragist movement.)

--And, since you're a quilter, which fabrics: light cottons, soft flannels, or fleece?

Cotton, for sure! Anything soft and light and flow-y.

Many thanks for playing along, Irene! Raising our cups of hot chocolate to you.... (No worries - I won't ask anyone what's inside.)

For some great posts on Irene's ANTARCTICA book, which, incidentally, is HOT off the press, please visit these great features by other Poetry Friday bloggers:

Catherine at Reading to the Core and

Margaret at Reflections on the Teche and

Linda at Write Time. [Note - I couldn't successfully call up this link of Linda's when I posted this; if you have one that works, do tell!]

Be sure to dive in and wallow around at Written Reflections for this week's Poetry Friday Roundup!

Poetry Friday - Groundhog Day and Ms. Betty

February 4, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poets, seasons, winter, spring, ponderings


Greetings, Poetry-Friday-ers! Ah, the weather. Last week I recounted being snowed in at my daughter’s the weekend before (always a big deal in the South), and now we've had a steady chilly rain here on the coast, followed by chilly temps. But Tuesday, Groundhog Day, was glorious.

I let our tiny dog out on the screened-in front porch and couldn’t resist a break for me, too. Ms. Betty was busy just up the street, and she inspired a poem.

Ms. Betty inspires admiration from a lot of folks. She’s always on the go defending green space or Little Free Libraries or helping with some church project. When I first moved here, she called from her walk with her dog – “Do you like potatoes? I just picked a basket. They’re on the steps. Go help yourself.”

Not one to turn down such kindness, or yummy red potatoes, I did go grab a few and scrawled a little thank you note to leave in their place. They were delicious, and I told her so later. I learned it was the first time she’d attempted a vegetable garden without her husband, who had passed away not long before I moved here.

Three mornings a week, Ms. Betty gets up at 5:30 to drive herself to go work out. Rain or shine, she makes sure Buddy, the rescue dog her daughter gave her after the loss of her husband, gets in all his walks.

She is always quick with a kind word, witty observation, or handwritten note.

Yep, I want to be just like Ms. Betty when I grow up.


Groundhog Day


You’d think it spring -
sunny and 74.

Ms. Betty
(88, give or take)
smartly dressed as always
ties her scruffy dog to a tree

wields a shovel in her
garden-gloved hands

stoops to adjust a root

straightens, then stomps
on the blade’s end
to scoop the earth.

Her white cat
serpentines
around leg, tree

plops herself on the grass
to roll and paw at the dog.

You’d think it spring.



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

No matter the weather, go stock up on lots of great poetry today with the ever-energetic Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Poetry Friday - Snow-Bound with Whittier... and Bunnies

January 28, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poets, seasons, winter


Confession: I was just looking online for a few fun, classic verses on snow to go with these silly pictures from last weekend, when I'd gotten snowed in in upstate South Carolina with my teacher-daughter Morgan (whose birthday happened to be last Saturday).

I ended up stumbling upon John Greenleaf Whittier's "Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl" (1866). If I ever read it in college, I forgot it. Is this one you remember?

Since I've been somewhat stuck in the mid-nineteenth century lately (hence my Industrial Revolution haiku and Bill Bryson book gift to Diane Mayr in the Winter Poem Swap a few weeks ago), I fell right into this long and layered Whittier poem.

Now, I was certainly rewarded with some wonderful snowy imagery just a few stanzas in:

...
Unwarmed by any sunset light
The gray day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
As zigzag, wavering to and fro,
Crossed and recrossed the wingëd snow:
And ere the early bedtime came
The white drift piled the window-frame,
And through the glass the clothes-line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts. ...



--but there is oh-so-much-more. The poem opens with a dedication:

"To the Memory of the Household It Describes
This Poem is Dedicated by the Author"


and excerpts from Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's Occult Philosophy, Book I and Emerson's poem, "The Snow Storm."

And then there are 700-plus lines of Whittier's observations, reminiscences, abolitionist philosophy, character sketches of family members and associations, plus musings on religion (Quaker and otherwise), time, death, and hope for reunion in the afterlife. We even see "witches making tea" whispered from an old rhyme (and many allusions I didn't fully get but fully recognized as allusions).

Sounds overwhelming, but I found myself floating through it, meeting these endearing earth-bound folks from Whittier's memory, alive in their quirks and capacities through his words - though he is now long gone, too.

No wonder the Poetry Foundation has this vast collection of subjects listed under the poem: Family & Ancestors, Religion, Living, Youth, Nature, Home Life, Winter, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Weather. Click here to read the poem in its entirety, and be prepared to fetch a second cup of coffee or tea in the process! But if there's snow on the ground outside, what better way to spend the day than in some cozy corner reading poetry?

When you do come up for air again, drift like snow over to Reading to the Core, where the lovely Catherine has the Roundup, and a perfect-for-winter interview with my amazing bud, Irene Latham. (And if you need a break from all this substantive fare, be sure to catch Michelle's roundup of "nothing" poems this month at Today's Little Ditty!)

Poetry Friday - A Thesaurus-y Celebration

January 14, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, book tracks


Got your party hats and blowers ready? Monday is the birthday of Peter Mark Roget. You know, the Thesaurus guy! (And much more, too.) He came to us via London on January 18, 1779.

Right after New Year’s – I’m not sure why – I gave MYSELF a gift. I finally purchased THE RIGHT WORD – ROGET AND HIS THESAURUS by the very gifted Jen Bryant and illustrated by the so-very-talented Melissa Sweet . Published in 2014 by Eerdmans, it won the Robert F. Sibert Medal and was named a Caldecott Honor Book in last year’s flurry of ALA awards.

I’ve so enjoyed savoring, pouring over, and relishing my own copy! Research doesn’t overwhelm the personal story in this inspiring, quirky biography, and the illustrations are clever and wondrous. [Those endpapers! Oh, my….]

Our own Keri shared a lovely post when this book came out over at Keri Recommends, with great links and such. I know there are many fans of THE RIGHT WORD among the Poetry Friday crowd.

I learned from the book’s timeline that it was nearly birthday time, hence this post. And hence my need to share our own Heidi Mordhorst’s ever-clever poem honoring this venerable volume which makes Roget’s name a familiar one two centuries later. Heidi’s poem is found in THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL (PFAMS) from Pomelo Books (2013).

If you haven’t yet read it, you’ll see why Sylvia and Janet couldn’t pass it up:


Meet The Saurus


I sound like a lizard, a dino or fossil;
Instead I’m a reference, a volume, a book.
If you need some help or require assistance,
check in for a peek, a perusal or look.

I’m small, undersized, miniscule or compact
but I’m powerful, potent, I’m mighty or strong.
Please trust in, rely on, depend on, believe me–
I won’t misinform or mislead, steer you wrong.

When you need to state or express or convey
a specific idea or notion or thought,
I can offer, propose, recommend or suggest
the word or expression that hits the right spot.

See me for that nuance, that hint or that shade
of meaning that captures what you want to say,
for I am The Saurus, Synonymous Rex,
King Onomasticon! Extinct? No way!



©Heidi Mordhorst. All rights reserved. Posted with very last-minute-permission, because that’s how I roll.


For a video of Heidi reading this poem herself, paddle on over to No Water River, where Renee included it in her PFAMS Poet Palooza. (Scroll down the post to find Heidi.)

You can enjoy another video created by Karey Pustejovsky on the PFAMS blog from April 2013.

Like Mr. Roget’s Thesaurus, I don’t think Heidi’s poem or THE RIGHT WORD will go out of style any time soon.

For more stylish words today, visit our Round-up host, - WAIT – look who it is! That delightful Keri, at Keri Recommends. (I really didn’t know until I just clicked to see!) She’s got some “big magic” over there.

[And a heads’ up for next week – I’ll be on the road as a visiting poet in a school next Friday – at Morgan’s school as a matter of fact! – and will be too involved with poem-loving kids to post. Hmmm… what’s a great word for, “can’t wait”?! See you at the end of the month!]

Poetry Friday - Happy New Year! Sharing Diane Mayr's Postcard...

January 1, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, haiku, haiga, poetry


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Just stepping in for a wave and a wish that you and yours are having a joyful start to 2016. Diane Mayr kindly said I could share her "Year of the Monkey" postcard she created and included with my Winter Poem Swap goodies. For more about the postcard project she's participating in, please go visit her blog!

Poetry Friday is ringing in the New Year with our fearless leader/PF host rounder-upper Mary Lee at A Year of Reading .

Here's to a CREATIVE 2016 all around.... Cheers!

Poetry Friday: Winter Poem Swap Treasures from Diane Mayr

December 17, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poets, poetry, poem swap, holidays, winter



Opening my Winter Poem Swap goodies from Diane Mayr was like having my own little sleigh of perfectly personalized poetic treasures. (Hearty thanks as always to Tabatha Yeatts for organizing the Swap!)

I was lucky enough to be Diane's Swap partner again. More lucky than she - all she's gotten from me this week is a groveling email or two about how I'm running late with hers... :0! (I have high hopes for getting her packet to the P.O. today.) She has responded with nothing but graciousness.

Here's what Diane sent:

A package tied up not with string, but taped with purrrfectly delightful cat tape - the kitty expressions have an edge, as Diane's own poetry sometimes does! Inside...

--a poem I'll post below. It''s presented on a photo collage in sepia with other subtle, aged-looking tones. No random photographs here - Diane researched Beaufort, SC (my new-ish hometown) and included wonderful pictures and images of ephemera from Beaufort's rich history! She even put in a photo of the The John Mark Verdier House (a Beaufort landmark since the 1790s), which she remembered is right next door to the building where I have my art studio. I look through my windows at the side of the Verdier house many times each day.

--A hot-off-the-press edition of NEST FEATHERS - a collection of haiku from the first 15 years of The Heron's Nest. I almost bought this for myself this fall, but restrained myself since we're on a "wedding budget" around here til June. But I REALLY wanted it. Jackpot!

--An intriguing postcard with an original poem paying tribute to the New Year. That's all I'm saying at the moment, because I want to share it for A New Year's post in a couple of weeks!

Here is Diane's wonderful poem from the historical montage she created.


HISTORY


WE CANNOT CHANGE HISTORY
WE MUST RESEARCH IT
REVIEW IT
REINTERPRET IT

WE MUST NOT FORGET HISTORY
WE MUST PRESERVE IT
RECREATE IT
TEACH IT

WE SHOULD NOT REPEAT HISTORY
WE MUST ACKNOWLEDGE IT
LEARN FROM IT
AND NEVER FORGET THE WHY OF IT


©Diane Mayr. All rights reserved.


I especially love that last line, don't you? Such a poignant poem for my neck of the woods. On the way to my studio, I pass both the "Secession House" (where the decision for South Carolina to secede from the Union was put into motion - now a private residence) and also the grave and historical marker of Robert Smalls - escaped slave, Civil War hero, and five-term United States Congressman.

Speaking of Diane the Amazing, guess who is rounding up Poetry Friday this week? Yep! Click on over to Random Noodling and enjoy all the offerings.

Poetry Friday - A Few Spring Haiku for December

December 10, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poets, seasons, spring, holidays



Hello, Poetry Lovers!

I hope you are not too crazed now that we're reaching mid-December.
Confession: I'm a little crazed.

I always know I'm too busy when I have to stop and think of the last time I jotted a haiku in my journal, or on a Post-it note, or even on a note in my phone. But, having lived through many December moons, I know things will settle down again, too.

And I look forward to the reasons things are hopping - kids coming home to visit, Christmas gatherings to attend or help host, sparkly decorations overtaking the living room, and greeting cards both to send and to savor.

In sharing a few haiku I've had published this fall, I see that there's a spring theme! For many of us across the country, it feels more like spring than winter. And for others of us (Linda B?!), winter has raged before the calendar gave it permission. Here are a few spoonfuls of spring for your December:



spring equinox
an egret one
with the marsh


The Heron's Nest XVII.3, Sept. 2015



spring light
jasmine’s heavy scent
from every fence




spring breeze
the sailboat
pixilated



A Hundred Gourds, Sept. 2015

poems ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

In other haiku news, I'm happy to report that after November elections of the Haiku Society of America, I'll be the new HSA Southeast Regional Coordinator. Woo-hoo! Look for fun programs to attend in my neck of the woods in the future. But not TOO soon - our amazing outgoing coordinator, Terri L. French, and outgoing president, David G. Lanoue, agreed to let me ease into the role as I'm a little swamped planning my daughter's wedding, among other things. I think I fully take the reins about five minutes after the reception's over in June.

Now, for poems perfect for any season, go catch the Poetry Friday party at A Teaching Life, where the all-around wonderful Tara is rounding up this week!

Poetry Friday: In Praise of Tinkering, and Science, and Such...

December 2, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Friday Anthologies, poetry, art, artsyletters, poets, ponderings




Greetings, Poetry Tribe!

I hope your December is off to a great start. I’m buzzing around trying to get my studio ready for an Open House tomorrow (Sat.) – it’s a big holiday weekend in our little town. Lately I’ve been spending lots of time in it – well, tinkering!

Isn’t “tinker” a great word? It has a playful, metallic sound. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Some of my best creations are the result of tinkering!

Here are a couple of examples of this kind of endeavor – the results of my prowling in vintage books and in my old metal cabinet drawers looking for odd bits of metal, old watch parts, vintage keys….

The first is a bit of text I've altered and an illustration both from HILL'S MANUAL - SOCIAL AND BUSINESS FORMS: GUIDE TO CORRECT WRITING, Nineteenth Edition (Chicago: Moses Warren & Co. Publishers, 1879), adorned with a vintage watch face and set in a vintage Italian metal frame, whose patina shows its age! (Oh - and I dangled a couple of very old black glass drops from either side.) The revealed text reads simply:

WRITE
                  very often.


And my Victorian obsession continues in the next mixed media collage, which features illustrations from the same volume, but a found poem/message from Constance Fenimore Woolson's "Miss Grief," featured in Lippincott's Magazine in May, 1880 and reprinted in STORIES BY AMERICAN AUTHORS, Volume 4 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1904). I had fun with this one; the "new" text reads:

the divine spark of genius
I felt as
a woman over fifty


(Can I get an "Amen"?!)
While I’ve been knee deep in artistic messes this week, I’ve also been enjoying the newest incarnation from Pomelo Books powerhouses Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong: a student-friendly “Remix” of poems from the Poetry Friday Anthology for Science. (I’m thrilled to have three poems in that collection.) It’s called The Poetry of Science: The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science for Kids.

Not only does it include the original 218 poems from the Teacher Edition, but there are 30 bonus poems tossed into the beaker! Pen and ink illustrations by Frank Ramspott and Bug Wang enliven the poetry-filled pages but don’t overwhelm the text. While this is the perfect complement to the Teacher Edition, this hearty paperback would also make a terrific gift on its own for any young science fans out there – Hint, hint, Santa!

It also got a “Hot Off the Press” write-up by the Children’s Book Council!

If you’re wondering how I’m going to connect my messing around in the studio and the new PFA for Science Remix for Kids, I give you this poem from it, by the amazing Janet Wong herself, which she kindly agreed to let me share:


Tinker Time

by Janet Wong

In Grandpa’s basement you can find
gears and wheels and wire and twine,

lots of nuts and bolts and hooks
and one whole shelf of build-it books.

If we need help during Tinker Time,
we go to the computer and look online.

What will we build when we’re all done?
We don’t know yet – that’s half the fun!


©Janet Wong. All rights reserved.


Don't you want to visit that basement and make something fun?

It just so happens our host for this Poetry Friday is a PFA for Science poet who has written poems, books, and a zillion great articles about science - Buffy Silverman. Enjoy exploring the Roundup, and tinkering, and whatever else this December finds you doing….

Poetry Friday: Welcome to Paideia Teacher and Haiku Poet Becca McCauley

November 19, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poets, teachers, poetry, haiku




Greetings, Poetry Friday-ers! A special treat today. We often feature the fine work of young haiku poets at The Paideia School in Atlanta, Ga., under the guidance of Language Arts teacher and seasoned haiku poet Tom Painting. Today, we welcome one of Tom's colleagues, someone who has embraced haiku as something much more than "a nature poem written in 5-7-5."

That was initially the way Becca McCauley taught haiku, but when she learned there was more to it, she embraced the opportunity to learn and even to write some herself. In fact, Tom recently initiated a monthly haiku "contest" for Paideia students, staff and parents called HaiC (Haiku Challenge), and she has been recognized each of the first three months.

“One of the greatest challenges the haiku community faces is getting informed and inspiring educators on board,” Tom says. "Becca is an inspiration to her 5/6 graders. All 32 of her students write and enter the contest."

We asked Becca a few questions about her exploration of haiku, but first - let's enjoy a handful of her poems.


silent moon
the scarecrow’s shadow stretches
on a barren field


pulsing through
the warm, damp night
cicada symphony


tiny shadows
skitter across the lake
the moon's reflection shattered


pink flamingos
littering the lawn
my fiftieth


parking lot
under the full moon,
a newborn's head emerges



Poems©Becca McCauley. All rights reserved.


Now, a few questions for Becca....


How has your understanding of haiku changed over the last year or so?

[Tom] has definitely honed my understanding, especially the idea of it being conversational in tone, and the importance of including, rather than excluding articles, along with the emphasis on showing rather than telling.

What do you most enjoy about reading and or writing haiku?

I love playing with words, both meanings and sounds, and I just love words in general. I probably enjoy writing haiku more than reading it, but I love hearing the kids' haiku, and I really enjoy ones that surprise me. I am very impressed by some of their contributions.

How does writing haiku benefit your students?

Again, playing with words and vocabulary and sounds is just a great thing to do. It's creative, it's accessible, and it is not too intimidating. Experimenting with synonyms is also both fun and beneficial. We actually do not do all that much with the haiku -- I would like to carve out a bit more time here and there for them to share with each other. I love being able to see another side of a kid -- and the twists and turns of how they are thinking and feeling.

What is the biggest challenge to either you or your students in writing haiku?

Fitting in the time to talk about it -- we are doing so much already....

To sum up with one of our favorite questions for haiku poets: Why haiku?

I have really been enjoying working with haiku this year because life is incredibly busy and hectic. It is very relaxing to mull over words, and it can be done in the odd moments here and there. I have to do this series of stretches and back exercises every morning, and it can be tedious, though it is definitely essential. There is one stretch which does not involve counting or much mental focus, and I often find myself in those moments pondering the next haiku topic, searching for images in my mind that might inspire me, and starting to manipulate words and phrases that might fit together to bring the images to life. Haiku is short enough to capture in some of the small moments that I have available. Also, each word really matters, and I enjoy that idea greatly.

Becca also likens haiku to photography.

I love photography, and sometimes haiku fits it with those mental snapshots, even though they are still in slight motion because they are breathing.

This world is so fast paced, and I think it is really healthy for both me and the kids to have to slow down and and focus on a single moment.

I love to see the kids' humor when it comes out in their haiku as well as their poetic side. The twist, the "aha" moment, allows for that, another reason I enjoy the twist. I also love trying myself to figure out how to arrange the lines to best set up a scene to make an aha possible.


Many thanks to Tom and Becca for this inside peek into how a teacher has embraced haiku, for herself and for her lucky students!

For more inspiring poets and poems this week, be sure to check out the poetic cornucopia over at The Miss Rumphius Effect, where the ever-delightful Tricia has the Roundup.

Pssst.... PS - HUGE thanks to our amazing Jama for featuring me and everything you'd ever want to know about artsyletters Monday at Jama's Alphabet Soup Thanks to so many of you for stopping by!

A Little Wild...

November 8, 2015

Tags: Wild Roundup, poetry, Irene Latham, ponderings, nature, animals



HAPPY TENTH BLOGIVERSARY to my dear friend and fellow poet, IRENE LATHAM! Couldn't resist the party at her place this week to honor this milestone - she's hosting a Wild Roundup (like the Poetry Friday Roundup) around the theme of her "One Little Word" for this year - wild!

I wrote an original poem with a nod to one of the most inspiring folks I know - thanks for all you generously share with the world, Irene. Here's to the next 10 years! XO


               A Little Wild


            You have a little wild in you.
            How do I know? I do too.

           When we stop to look around,
           hush ourselves to hear each sound….

           You have a little wild in you.

            Curl of leaf, expanse of sky –
            read each scent that shimmies by.

           You have a little wild in you.

            I do too.

            Grrrrr.


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Check out all the wild posts here at Irene's Roundup. Wishing everyone a wild and wonderful week....

Poetry Friday - Boo!

October 30, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, seasons, holidays, Halloween, poetry

Pumpkin carved by my hubby, Jeff...

Boo!

I'm winding up a week of school visits just north of Atlanta - one of several authors here for "Literacy Week" sponsored by Cobb EMC and Gas South. By the end of Poetry Friday, we will have collectively spoken to 19,000 students!

So I'll offer up another classic this week, to celebrate Halloween. I know you've likely read it, but it's always worth reading, especially the delicious last line.

Theme in Yellow
by Carl Sandburg

I SPOT the hills
With yellow balls in autumn
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
...



Please read the rest of this short poem here.

Happy Halloween!

What kind of poetry is in the truck-or-treat bag today? Hmmm... Better go Check It Out with Jone, our wonderful host this week!

Poetry Friday - "To Autumn" with Blake

October 22, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poets, seasons, autumn




We've been on the road a good bit this fall, lucky enough to catch the beginning of the color up in the Southern Appalachians this past weekend while traveling to see our kids.

In late September, before the record-breaking SC floods, we spent a delightful weekend near Charleston at The Inn at Middleton Place, adjacent to a historic plantation home site and the country's oldest landscaped gardens.

Fall is my favorite time of year (as I think it is among many Poetry Friday folks!). Raise your mug of coffee or cup of tea to "Autumn" with our dear Mr. Blake.

To Autumn

by
William Blake, 1757 - 1827

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou mayst rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

“The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.

“The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.”
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.



I hope you are singing "the lusty song of fruits and flowers"!

I'm back on the road next week, with a week of school visits in north Georgia. Can't wait to share lots of poetry with lots and lots of students!

And see even more of those dazzling fall leaves....

For this week's poetic feast, please visit our very dazzling host Jama for the Roundup at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

Poetry Friday: Poetry by the Sea Cont., with Moon Snail...

October 8, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, writing life, workshops, sea poetry



Greetings, Poetry Friday Peeps!

Last week you kindly indulged my sharing a wee bit about the Poetry by the Sea Retreat in Jupiter, Florida, led by the amazing duo of Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard. And thanks for the kind words about my snail poem.

I mentioned fellow attendee Mary Glover in the post -- an educator, yoga instructor, poet and artist from Phoenix. She generously shared the poem she wrote about that same kind of shell in the comments, but her poem and her thoughts deserve more light, so I asked her if we could share them this week. I’m glad she agreed!

After reading her insights and her lovely poem, you’ll want to meet her, too:

Like Robyn, I was also fortunate to have participated in Poetry by the Sea. It was truly a magical time, between the moon, the lovely ocean setting, and most importantly, the extraordinary circle of poets gathered.

Being from the desert, I spent all my spare moments wandering the beach, looking for shells and sending out prayers for our planet to be healed of all the plastic littering its oceans. I was fascinated by the moon snails I found, one of which I gave to Robyn. I love what she wrote about it and have been thinking about "the mathematics of home." There are so many layers of meaning in that line.

To complete the circle of this story, here is my poem:



Moon Snail


You are a spiral, soft eggshell
brown with a tint of rose.

Wave-dropped at my feet,
I hold you in my hand as
you teach me about life.

I think of my own, spinning
faster than I can believe
to its outer edges.

Until I found you, I thought
the spiral closed in, diminished.
I can see now it's quite the
opposite, that what's left
is the expansive part.

Widening into open space,
I notice near your final curve
a well-placed opening--
a portal, perhaps,
to somewhere else.



© Mary Kenner Glover, all rights reserved.


Many thanks to Mary for sharing her evocative work. For more of the same, and for pictures of her beautiful artwork, please visit her site, Life is a Practice.

For more inspiring poetry, please drift on over to Writing the World for Kids, where the always-awesome Laura has this week’s Roundup (and her own poem about a natural wonder).

Poetry Friday - Poetry by the - Ahhhh.... - Sea!

October 1, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, writing life, workshops, sea poetry



Happy Poetry Friday!

I'm freshly back from a sweet and salty word-filled adventure by the sea, in Jupiter, Florida, led by Poetic Forces of Nature Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard.


Yes, it was as amazing and wonderful as you're imagining. :0) For three glorious days we met, mingled, jingled (don't ask), waxed poetically, waned after fulsome readings and discussions, all to the yin and yang rhythm of ocean tides, and even under the Super Harvest Moon - gorgeous over the water - and its eclipse a couple of hours later into that intriguing Blood Moon.


How delightful to catch up with poet friends: leaders Rebecca and Georgia, and fellow attendees Stephanie (Fla.) and Dale (Ga.); and also to meet new poet friends Dorian and Jude (Fla.), and Mary, Karen, Pat, and Kitty - all from Arizona!

We wrote, read, shared and breathed poetry pretty much the whole time. Okay, maybe we ate some good food and drank a little wine, too. The last morning, I even got to share a whirlwind mini-introduction to haiku!


I found a kindred spirit in Mary Glover, an educator, yoga instructor and artist from Phoenix. (She makes rich and colorful collages, incorporating words and text.) She showed me a handful of shells she'd found, and a snail shell with a small hole in one side. Later, she presented me with its "cousin" she'd found on another beach walk - the very same kind of shell, with a little hole of its own.


Naturally, that became the subject of one of many poems I wrote during our time together.


Spiraling

for Mary

No bigger
        than my thumbprint -
this honey-dipped,
        putty-colored shell.

Snail long gone.
        Edge a little worn.

A perfect Fibonacci spiral -
        the mathematics of home.

A hole in one side
        hints of eclipse.
I see the emptiness inside.

Yet, this hole ushers in
        unexpected
        light.


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


(Mary wrote a gorgeous poem about her shell, by the way.)

Perhaps you can tell mine is written by a relatively new empty-nester?

I might tinker with other poems from the weekend with an eye to submitting them for publication somewhere. But our few days, refreshingly, did not detour into conversations about business and publishing so much as they focused on craft - on carefully considering each word we or fellow poets set to paper.

I'm already looking forward to next year!

By the way, I left my home office for a few minutes while composing this post, and below is what May, my ancient office kitty, contributed in my absence. I'm not sure what it means, but maybe it was inspired by this week's moon (?), or the idea of mathematical sequences, or both. I thought you or your cats might also enjoy. It is unedited:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++787878787878787878787878787878787878787878787878787878

For poetry that makes a little more sense today, please go savor all the links rounded up by poet and teacher extraordinaire Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe .

Poetry Friday - Fan Girl-ing for Georgia Heard

September 24, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poets, teachers, writing life

Top: Morgan, Georgia Heard, and moi at the Upstate Schools Consortium Nonfiction Writing Workshop at Furman University.
Bottom: Just a few of my favorite Georgia Heard books. She has a brand new one out, too -
The Woman in This Poem.

I am one lucky dog.

Not only did I travel to Greenville, SC, to attend a bridal fair this week with Teacher-Daughter Morgan, but she was also signed up for a Thursday workshop at Furman University (alma mater of her, me, and my hubby) on nonfiction writing with - drumroll... - Georgia Heard.

When I found out about it, I emailed the amazing and generous Dr. Nelly Hecker, who is the head of Furman's Education Department. You see, many moons ago, I was in Dr. Hecker's children's lit class at Furman! She was always so encouraging about my writing. You know, if you've ever been fortunate enough to have a teacher or professor believe in you, how important that is! Anyway, soon I received a reply that she'd registered me for the seminar as a guest. :0) [By the way, this lovely lady has not aged at all in these intervening decades. Not a bit. I have.]

At the seminar, sponsored by the Upstate Schools Consortium, Morgan took pages of notes to use in her classroom. I took pages of notes to refer to as a writer and to enrich school visits. If you've had the pleasure of hearing Georgia speak at a meeting or conference, you know how terrific she is. She talked about poetry as an important element in nonfiction writing, and if you've read any of her books, you also know how she uses different genres with students to bring forth their very best writing. Her teachings encourage students of any age to think, AND to write from the heart.
{{-sigh-}} She nurtures and celebrates wonder.

Meeting Georgia was especially special for me because my first poems published in a children's anthology appeared in her collection of found poems, THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK (Roaring Brook, 2012). (Here's my blog post about it.) I've been in love with found poetry ever since.


Here is the first part of Georgia's poem, "Where Do I Find Poetry?" -


Where Do I Find Poetry?


I open my eyes and what do I see?
Poetry spinning all around me!

In small ants trailing over the ground,
bulldozing dry earth into cave and mound.

In a hundred grains of ocean sand,
that I cradle in the palm of my hand. ...


©Georgia Heard. All rights reserved.

For the rest, please click here for the Poetry page on Georgia's website, which includes lots of information and resources. The full poem appears in Climb Inside a Poem: Reading and Writing Poetry Across the Year by Georgia Heard and Lester Laminack (firsthand, An imprint of Heinemann, 2008).

Speaking of cradling ocean sand in the palm of one's hand, this weekend I'm on the road again, headed down the coast to South Florida, for a poetry retreat with... wait for it... Georgia Heard and Rebecca Kai Dotlich! I know, I can't believe it either. We will be meeting, writing, and enjoying inspiration for a few days by the sea. I've had the good fortune to workshop with Rebecca before (workshop is a verb, right?) and can't wait to see her again. We will all be in good hands with Rebecca and Georgia, I know.

If you're still even talking to me next week, I'll let you know how it was!

Speaking of Poetry Goddesses to Fan-Girl For, guess who is rounding up today? Poetry Goddesses Sylvia and Janet are hosting a Hispanic Heritage party over at Poetry for Children. Enjoy!

Poetry Friday: The Round Up is HERE! And Remembering...

September 10, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, student work, ponderings


Welcome, Poetry Lovers!

Thank you for finding your way here. I’m wrangling the Poetry Friday Roundup and look forward to your contributions. You early birds/night owls: go ahead and leave your links in the comments. Friday folks, drop by any time during the day with your links. I’ll settle in with a hearty supply of coffee Friday morning and round up throughout the day.

While we all look forward to the change of seasons, and many are settling in to the freshness of a new school year, today’s anniversary also stops us in our tracks. It’s hard to believe 14 years have passed since one of the defining events in our country’s history unfolded in slow horror. I know exactly where I was that day and what I was doing; I’ll bet you do, too. For those who lost loved ones in the tragedy of 9-11, I hope the pain has been tempered with the passage of time, and rest assured we will never forget.

The poem I share today comes from a young poet who must have been born after that tragic day. Yet she conveys its weight and significance. Many thanks to Catherine C. for sharing her writing and art:



            What Does 9/11 Know?

            It knows the taste of ash
          It knows the smell of smoke
        It knows the sound of screaming

        What does 9/11 know?
 It knows the sight of burning buildings
          It knows the pain of death


©Catherine C. All rights reserved. (Grade 5 last year; now in middle school.)


Catherine’s poem was part of Jone MacCulloch’s annual Poetry Month “Postcard Project” celebrating student work. If you haven’t been a lucky recipient, here’s how it works. Jone, media specialist at Silver Star Elementary School in Washington state, inspires students to create poems and art on postcards, and lucky folks like you and me can send her our address to have one mailed to us. A very special way to celebrate April.

She also posts postcard poems on her school library blog throughout the month. You’ll find many thoughtful “What Does […] Know?” poems among this year’s collection, including some more commemorating September 11th. Click here to scroll through the great student work from this past April.

How did this project come about?

“I love postcards. I love teaching poetry,” Jone explains. “So in 2008, I decided that this would be a great project for our school.

“We start writing poems in the library in about January or February. I usually teach a form such as a cinquain. I have done a modified Fibonacci in the past. I also use these poems for submission to the National Schools Project which publishes the Young American Poetry Digest .”


Where do the poetry topics come from?

“To me, poetry is a great way to synthesize learning, so I usually try to tie it to what they are studying in the classroom,” Jone says. “With the fifth graders, they get to elect a topic for research. I saw Michelle H. Barnes' post with Joyce Sidman's ‘Deeper Truth’ poem and thought that would be perfect for fifth grade this year.”

Perfect, indeed. Don’t you love how members of the Poetry Friday community inspire each other, and that often ends up blossoming in the minds and works of students?

You can learn more about Jone’s own writing here, including her book of haiku. Also, many of her poem-worthy, swoon-worthy photographs are posted here.

Thanks to everyone for joining in today. Bring on the poetry!

Here we go:

Hang onto your hat. And you pencil and your iPad - Buffy "The Thief" Silverman is guest posting at Michelle's Today's Little Ditty, continuing an earlier theme of stealing/borrowing from fabulous poems. (She offers examples from two of the best poets ever, and some of her own fine work.)

A warm Poetry Friday Welcome to newcomers cbhanek , a mother-daughter teacher-author duo. Today the blog features a beautiful 9-11 tribute and discussion of a special book celebrating babies born in this country on that day, as well as Emily D’s timeless “Hope is the thing with feathers.”

Diane delights us today with a grin-inducing illustrated poem from her Angel Sketchbook Project, “Saved by the Bowl,” at Random Noodling.

And at Diane’s Kurious Kitty, find a thought-provoking poem by Polish poet, Anna Swir, titled "Poetry Reading" from an anthology with an irresistible title.

Donna at Mainely Write has lots of goodness up today. First, she shares Margart Simon’s Summer Poem Swap poem, “Cynthia’s Garden,” and then links to two of her own poems on “Spark,” - one inspired by an image from fellow Spark-er Tish Carter and one which inspired an image from her.

Laura continues to open our eyes to the wider world at Author Amok, featuring first generation American Poet Leona Sevick and her poem "Lion brothers," a powerful look inside her mother’s life as an immigrant woman working in an American factory. (Timely in light of all the current international news.) She leaves us on a lighter note, though, chewing a little poetic cud.

Iphigene offers up a stunning original poem, "Fighting Dragons," and bold painting about depression – such an important subject we often shy away from. Visit Gathering Books for a powerful and beautiful personal post.

Lovely Linda at Teacher Dance shares remembrances we commemorate and personal ones too in an original poem, “Missing,” that says much in few words.

Make your mark in life with the ever-gracious Carol at Beyond Literacy Link, where you’ll find the celebration for International Dot Day (Sept. 15) already starting. Great ideas for teachers, and an original poem and images, too! And, pssst… circle back this weekend, when Carol will unveil her newest poetry gallery, “Summer Splashings.”

Catherine has rather brilliantly connected Keith Urban’s new hit, “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16" with George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From” – with terrific ideas of how this pairing will appeal to older students and spark their own poetic connections. Country music fan or not, click on over to Reading to the Core for the goods, and a video (worthy of a Jama Rattigan Eye Candy swoon, I might add)!

Speaking of country music, do you know Brad Paisley’s “Letter to Me?”, wherein he writes some advice to his 17-year-old self? I don’t know if the Teaching Authors know this song, but JoAnn, Esther and Carla have shared “Dear Younger Me” letters on the blog, and our good buddy April is chiming in with a few (very good!) “words to the wise” to new writers, a great original cartoon, and an original poem to her own teen self.

Kat is joining the poetry party from Down Under with some terrific news at Kats Whiskers. Let’s just say she was so busy engaging with young readers at a literary event that she was “late” to her OWN congratulatory party… (Congrats, Kat!)

Write much? Then you’ll relate to Mary Lee’s perfect imagery in “Parched,” a poem about a writerly dry spell, over at A Year of Reading. (Don’t worry – there’s a bit of hope at the end!)

Tabatha’s always bringing us treasures, and today she has a trove of gorgeous and poignant poems from Paul Hostovsky at The Opposite of Indifference. Can you pick a favorite?

With more helpful ways to commemorate September 11 in the classroom, Free Range Readers brings us a profound poem by young Mattie Stepanek written on 9-12 2001, as well as links to additional resources.

Oh, how I do love the cross-pollination of Poetry Friday. Margaret was inspired by a recent post on Tabatha’s blog to try something fun with her students, resulting in some rollicking pairings over at Reflections on the Teche: “You be the Pencil, I’ll be the Poem…”. Enjoy!

Amy’s back with her boots on at The Poem Farm, with a heartfelt poem called “I Love Them Both.” Poetry helps folks of all ages articulate family dynamics that might be hard to talk about.

Irene, curator of all-things-for-the-poetic-life, shares a bounty of inspirations today: her artist’s prayer after working through The Artist’s Way, a movie recommendation(sounds wonderful!) and two poems she reads for us on Soundcloud. Thanks, Friend!

At Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme , Matt shares an original poem/photograph combination. He didn’t write “Fata Cumulonimbus” specifically with 9-11 in mind, but it’s appropriate for the day.

If you’ve been following Penny’s “A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt” series, or if you haven’t, you’ll enjoy a gallery of amazing art by Landon (the great nephew) - a super-talented and poetry-inspiring fifth-grader. Keep up the awesome work, Landon!

Violet Nesdoly reminds us of the loveliness of September with a trip to a peaceful island in her “Savary Island in September.” She’s included a beautiful picture, but the words themselves will carry you away.

At Poetry for Children, Sylvia shares a special treat – Don Tate’s new book, Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, the first book he’s written as well as illustrated. As Syliva says, the book “celebrates literacy, poetry, and the human spirit.” She’s included slides of some of the stages of Don’s work for this book – don’t you love a peek into process? (I once met Don at a conference, and he’s just a super nice guy, too! Happy to see all these rave critical reviews.)

Little Willow shares Mary Oliver’s “If I Were” at bildungsroman. A welcome coutnerpoint about life’s exuberant moments in the midst of a sober anniversary.

Sheri’s in today connecting us to a review she wrote of of The Complete Poetry by Maya Angelou, and a backstory of her first encounters with the book when it came out in the spring -- and its possible adventures! Okay, you’ll just have to click over to see what I’m talking about.

At All about the Books with Janet Squires, Janet offers a brief review of Irene Latham’s Dear Wandering Wildebeest And Other Poems from the Water Hole, illustrated by Anna Wadham. One of our favorites!

Holly is after my own heart today with a poetic and pictorial look at New England’s Great Marsh – I wonder about the similarities and differences between the marsh there, and here in the Lowcountry? She’s penned a poem I’m jealous of, "Marsh Hair,"at Hatbooks.

{Wee break time. Other work calls. I'll be back in a little while to round up stragglers!}

Tricia at The Miss Rumphisu Effect offers a moving poem in light of this anniversary, “Sepember Twelfth, 2001” by the amazing X. J. Kennedy. Thanks also to Tricia for links to collections of/guides to poetry commemorating 9-11.

Jone is here with a few more thoughts on today's remembrance, plus she's added the other two 9-11 poem postcards from students last year to her post today at Check it Out. Many thanks again to Jone and her former students for helping us commemorate this day.

Katie of The Logonauts shines the light on Flutter and Hum – Animal Poems by Julie Paschkis , or Aleteo y Zumbido: Poemas de Animales , because this book is bilingual! (I am crazy about Julie’s work and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy, so I love this sneak peek.)

Ramona appropriately ends the day with Georgia Heard’s This Place I Know – Poems of Comfort, for the children and all those impacted by 9-11, at Pleasures From the Page. Thank you, Ramona.

Poetry Friday: ONE SMALL CANDLE: Enlightening Haiku from Young Paideia Poets

August 25, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, student work


It's always a pleasure to share the work of young haiku poets from The Paideia School in Atlanta. You've grown to look forward to our Student Haiku Poet of the Month each school year, n'est-ce pas? Have no fear - we'll be doing that again this year!

This week, however, is a special treat, featuring work from some talented fifth-graders. They are in sixth grade now, but these poems were composed for a project this past spring.

Creative writing teacher Tom Painting teamed up with Kate Murray and her 5th grade chorus class at The Paideia School in Atlanta.

“The idea was to have students perform their haiku to music as part of the spring choral concert” he says. “The book, one small candle, features one haiku from each of the 40 students in the class."

Stanford M. Forrester (Sekiro), publisher of haiku, senryu and other small poems at bottle rockets press, designed the small book and published it under buddha baby press.

It features the lovely line art of Ajanta Ferrell on the cover.

The title comes from this entry by Audrey Felske:


one small candle
warms the room
cold shivers down my back



Here is a larger sampling of the many fine poems:



sunset glowing
cows in the field
chewing their cud


Sean Zheng



autumn afternoon
sun burning
the golden field


Duncan Kelly



autumn
wrapped in a blanket
by the candlelight


Morgan Cobb



autunm day
golden leaves fall
on the dirt road


Luna McCauley



leaves fall
I sweep them
from my shoulders


Reid Celestin


In addition to the poems above, the following four haiku received recognition in the United Nations International School Haiku Contest this year:



smell of pine
lingering in the air
faint whisper of the woods


Ajanta Farrell



winter’s night
an owl hoots
through the silence


Jesse Chang-Friedan



the flower
opening up
shared secrets


Emma Delman



winter’s end
ice on the river
gives way


Sean Zheng


All poems © their respective authors. Posted with permission.

Congratulations to each student poet, whether highlighted here today or not. Your haiku warms the room and helps light the darkness!

For poetry of all temperatures today, please visit the incredible Sylvia at Poetry for Children for this week’s Roundup. Sylvia has recently returned from South Africa, where she’s been sharing and receiving all kinds of poetic light.

Poetry Friday: PFAC and "Thrift Stories"

August 20, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Friday anthologies, poetry, ponderings


You celebrated on Monday, right? National Thrift Shop Day, August 17?

If you had your Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (PFAC) handy, compiled by the thrifty and wonderful Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, perhaps you turned to pages 224-5 and read my buddy April Halprin Wayland's delightful "Box for the Thrift Shop."

I'm happy to share that a poem of mine continues the Thrift Shop celebration over at poetrycelebrations.com this month, the site from Pomelo Books dedicated to this year-long poetic treasure chest. (Janet and Sylvia have included bonus "transmedia" poems on the website from a baker's dozen-or-so poets, designed to extend a particular holiday and offer a different perspective.)


      Thrift Stories


     Ding says the bell.
     We walk through the door
     to treasure hunt in our favorite store.
     Look! A toy I haven’t seen before.

     It isn’t new,
     but it’s new to me.
     Like this jacket, these books, this pitcher for tea.
     We want to find something; what will it be?

     Each of these things
     has a story to tell.
     Recycled, donated, cleaned up to sell –
     We’ll pick something special and love it as well!



     ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.



You can find both April's poem and my poem here - just look for the cute bear! And check out the home page to begin a year of journeying through highlighted poems in the PFAC.

For a little background, several Poetry Friday folks shared some PFAC love when this latest anthology came out just in time for National Poetry Month in April. Janet and Sylvia were special guests on my blog, too: click here for the interview. A little teddy bear (Mr. Cornelius) tells me more PFAC celebrations have come to a blog near you - Jama's Alphabet Soup!

Now, even if you didn't actually throw a thrift store party this week, do their doors beckon you to enter? What is your favorite thrift shop find?

My latest favorite is the small pewter pitcher in the photo. I found it on a top shelf at a church thrift store here in Beaufort, during a treasure hunting afternoon with a dear friend, so the memory AND the little pitcher are things I now cherish. It's about 6 1/2 inches tall and has the loveliest soft patina. I wonder about its story.

It's my new favorite prop for my Etsy shop photos. Guess what it cost? One dollar. A dollar!

Many thanks to Catherine at Reading to the Core for rounding up lots of poetry for us this week - all priceless.

Poetry Friday - Back to School and Love in the Air...

August 13, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, ponderings, love


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

Many of you are just back in school - in classrooms and media centers - or getting ready to return to school, or sending kiddos off to school, or otherwise in the balance between summer and early fall - perhaps in your first year of retirement after years of teaching!

My daughter Morgan is hosting "Meet the Teacher" today for her second year wrangling third graders in upstate SC. AND (drumroll...) she's receiving her Masters in Education Saturday evening at Furman University. AND (fireworks, canons, bird murmurations...) she JUST GOT ENGAGED! It's been a busy week and a half. She and long-time honey Matt have their eyes and calendars set on a June wedding.

We were thrilled that Matt arranged to propose while we were all together last week, at the beach and bopping around Beaufort. I hid my camera in my purse and behind my back until he popped the question at the waterfront, then was so excited that I kept accidentally turning it off between snapping shots! But I still got a bunch of good pictures. Seth, who returns to the mountains next week for his junior year of college, took some great video. And Matt pulled off a surprise - hard to do with our aforementioned teacher-daughter, who is usually on top of everything.

In unrelated but coincidental news, Jeff was cleaning out some boxes and came across an old notebook from our early married days. I'd had the grand idea that we should start a collection of "Poems for Sundays," in which we'd each present the other with a poem or two each week. We seem to have kept up with that for, um, about three weeks.... But for some reason we still have that notebook from 1987.

We were hopeless romantics for sure. My first entry was Elizabeth Barrett Browning's famous love song from Sonnets of the Portugese:


How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.



And, to my surprise and delight I'd included this the next week:


old pond
a frog leaps in
water's sound


Basho


Confession: I have NO recollection of any familiarity with Basho those few decades ago! Where did I come across his most famous poem? What spoke to me then? The seeds of my love affair with haiku in recent years were planted long ago, it seems.

Another poem I included was Wordsworth's "Intimations" Ode, still one of my favorite poems ever, and one which I quoted in response to a question our pastor posed recently about what we believe, but that's another story.

Jeff included a poem he found in the front of Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine, author unknown. "Days when it all gets too busy/I drift away to the sea/or where sunshine filters through trees..." (anyone know this one?) and an excerpt from "These Things Are Ours" by Gwen Frostic - "The sun reflects upon the moon.../the moon upon my heart..." I looked her up online. Though she died in 2001, her block prints and words live on. I MUST go savor that website! On the "About Gwen" page, it reads:

Long before her death she wrote her epitaph:

"Here lies one doubly blessed.
She was happy and she knew it."


That's quite profound, if you think about it for a moment. And that's the kind of happiness I wish for Morgan and Matt, and for you!

For more great poetry to help you pivot toward new seasons of life, visit the incomparable Heidi - teacher, poet, and leader of the Mighty Minnows, at My Juicy Little Universe for our Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: Jacqueline Woodson's BROWN GIRL DREAMING and some thoughts from SC....

June 25, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poets, ponderings, book tracks


Greetings from South Carolina on this summertime Poetry Friday.

Just shy of a couple of weeks ago, I finally turned my attention to one of my “TBR” ’s (To Be Read’s) in my always-toppling stack. Jacqueline Woodson’s BROWN GIRL DREAMING (Nancy Paulson Books, Penguin, 2014) – with its shiny gold National Book Award Winner sticker – had even traveled with me in May, but I hadn’t cracked it open yet. I’d been anxious to read it, and it had certainly been praised on Poetry Friday in recent months.

Then the multiple-award-winning author was named our new Young People’s Poet Laureate by The Poetry Foundation at the beginning of this month, and I jumped into this autobiographical journey told in verse. I was immediately captivated – and not just by the exquisite writing. I hadn’t realized before that Jacqueline Woodson was born less than two weeks after I was in early 1963 (about 350 miles apart, and in some ways, worlds apart).

I was intrigued by how our early memories might be alike in many ways and drastically different in others. I was born in Tennessee and grew up in Florida; she was born in Ohio and grew up in Greenville, SC, and in New York. (Greenville is where I went to college, met my hubby, and where my daughter currently lives.)

I was not really aware of racial tensions as a very young child; I never saw “Whites Only” signs. They certainly might have existed in places where we traveled when I was tiny, but I would have been too young to read them. I have no recollections of races being separated in my early world.

In BROWN GIRL DREAMING, Woodson masterfully shows how the people she most loved and looked up to as a child had been affected by Jim Crow laws and racial injustice, how life was different in the North and South in the ’60s (and ’70s). Reading the book, you see through her eyes as a child trying to make sense of her family’s past and present.

She describes walking past a Woolworth’s with her grandmother in Greenville, because even after the laws changed, her grandmother had been ignored in that store before:

Acted like
I wasn’t even there.
It’s hard not to see the moment –
my grandmother in her Sunday clothes, a hat
with a flower pinned to it
neatly on her head, her patent-leather purse,
perfectly clasped
between her gloved hands – waiting quietly
long past her turn.


I remember Woolworth’s – one of the department stores of my childhood. I remember ladies wearing gloves and carrying patent-leather purses. I never remember feeling discriminated against, because that was not my reality. Of course I learned about racial inequality as I grew up and matured, but I didn’t have to endure it directly, or hear that my parents, siblings or grandparents had suffered because of it. I don’t have to battle it now.

It’s been an interesting half-century to be alive. I remember watching President Obama’s first inauguration on TV, seeing his two precious daughters and thinking they were about to move into the White House, and recalling that I had been an infant on this earth when four little girls were blown up in a church in Alabama, and I just cried.

Anyway, this month, I had been reading along in BROWN GIRL DREAMING each night when, 10 short days ago, news broke of the atrocity at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (That’s just a little over an hour up the road from here.) I was numb. I texted my husband, who was on a church service trip with my son in another part of the state.

I cannot pretend to fathom what those families have been going through. Each of those nine souls was a shining light in their homes, communities, and in the greater world. The reactions of many of family members have demonstrated the message that love is stronger than hate. It’s been humbling and inspiring to see these grieving individuals embody such deep faith and verbalize it so simply and eloquently. Grace personified in the midst of unspeakable loss.

Of course, the timing of my reading Jacqueline Woodson’s beautiful book has made it that much more poignant for me. In case you haven’t yet read it, I don’t want to leave you with the impression that it’s only about race. It’s about joy and loss and self-discovery, about a young writer falling in love with words and finding her voice – in vivid memories from a full childhood laced with warmth and wonder.

In addition to the poems, there are black and white family photos to enjoy as well. To me, the whole book is like a carefully and lovingly designed photo album. Each poem evokes a picture's thousand words of possibilities and connections. Artfully chosen details and descriptions create a strong, sturdy, and inspiring story – especially for someone creative, of any color and of any age. Especially for any young reader who might struggle a bit with reading or writing, but who has something to say.

For more inspiring poetry this week, please visit the lovely Carol at Carol's Corner for the Roundup.

Poetry Friday - Anne Bradstreet for Father's Day...

June 18, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, history, ponderings


Greetings, Poetry Friends -

The Academy of American Poets (poets.org) email in my inbox had some suggestions for Father's Day, and because I'm a bit of a 17th-Century buff, I had to click on an offering from Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), an unusual-for-the-times female voice of letters in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Here is the poem; I love the title:


To Her Father with Some Verses

Anne Bradstreet


Most truly honoured, and as truly dear,
If worth in me or ought I do appear,
Who can of right better demand the same
Than may your worthy self from whom it came?
The principal might yield a greater sum,
Yet handled ill, amounts but to this crumb;
My stock’s so small I know not how to pay,
My bond remains in force unto this day;
Yet for part payment take this simple mite,
Where nothing’s to be had, kings loose their right.
Such is my debt I may not say forgive,
But as I can, I’ll pay it while I live;
Such is my bond, none can discharge but I,
Yet paying is not paid until I die.



Father's Day is a mixed holiday for me, as my dad died 20 years ago, less than three months before our youngest was born, when I was almost 32. I loved him dearly; it was complicated. [Alcohol, among other things, will do that.]

My mother remarried about five years after my folks divorced, and I've been blessed to have a wonderful stepdad for 35 years now. My hubby Jeff has been close to his dad all his life, and he's still with us.

Two of my dear friends have lost their fathers since this year began, so I know the weekend is going to be difficult for them, their mothers, and their families. Two men who graduated with or near us years ago at Furman also have died unexpectedly this year, leaving behind wives and teen and young adult children. They were devoted dads.

Of course, being just down the highway from Charleston, I am numbed with other South Carolinians and citizens of the world by the senseless loss of life there Wednesday night - not just people who gave of themselves to their families but who selflessly served their community and beyond in lives that embodied faith. Our thoughts and prayers are especially with them this weekend.

I'm looking forward to Father's Day on the home front celebrating my wonderful husband, and welcoming him and our son back from a week-long church service trip in the upper part of the state, where it was triple digits most days. We'll have a special surprise here for him. And air conditioning.

Whatever this weekend holds for you and yours, I hope it brings joy - in present moments or in memories. And may we all hold up others who are shouldering tragedy or heartache. Like Anne, if we've had loving guidance, we can "pay it while [we] live," as did those precious souls gone from us in Charleston this week.

Mary Lee, the Rounder-upper of Poetry Friday Round-Up hosts, is hosting today over at A Year of Reading. Actually, she's at a writing conference on Friday, but she's left Mr. Linky to collect posts while she's away. I'm sure we'll all find poetry there to comfort, celebrate and enjoy.

Poetry Friday: Hush-a-bye, Rock-a-bye...

June 11, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, nursery rhymes


Well, last week's pairings of treatments new and old for a familiar nursery rhyme was such fun I couldn't help but want to continue in the same vein this week. Only a little different.

I'm still enjoying OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY collected by Elizabeth Hammill (Candlewick - England in 2014, US in 2015): a new chock-full treasure of 150 nursery rhymes from around the world, illustrated by 77 stellar international artists, featured recently by our good friend Irene Latham.

I've now gone crazy for one illustrator's work in particular, Olivia Lomenech Gill, who illustrated "Hush-a-bye, baby,...". She's an award-winning printmaker and artist working in northern England. Her first children's book, Michael and Clare Morpurgo's poetry anthology, WHERE MY WELLIES TAKE ME (Templar Publishing ), won the English Association 7-11 Picture Book Award and was shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal in 2014.

Take a look at her work on her website (and her agency website), and perhaps you'll be left sighing as well. Rich, sumptuous, lively, and my favorite subdued but deep color palette, with lots of gorgeous dark line!

But I digress, even if it was delicious. Back to OVER THE HILLS....

I couldn't find "proof" of the "Hush-a-bye" lullaby's origins, though it seems to be held by many that it was written by early English visitors to America, who noted how Native American mothers hung birch-bark cradles in trees, allowing the wind to rock their infants. There are other theories as well, but in OVER THE HILLS..., Gill's illustration depicts the Mayflower and pre-colonial coastline, and it's opposite a Chippewa lullaby ("Little baby, sleep,/Mother swings your hammock low...) and a lovely painting of a Native American mother and baby.

"Hush-a-bye" seems to have evolved into "Rock-a-bye" In the picture above, I placed my little volume of Kate Greenaway's MOTHER GOOSE (Frederick Warne) opened to "Rock-a-bye Baby,..." above the "Hush-a-bye" spread.
Here are the two nursery rhymes, not the same but related?:


from OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY:

"Hush-a-bye, baby,
On the tree top,
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock;
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall,
Down will come baby,
Cradle and all."




and from Kate Greenaway's MOTHER GOOSE

"Rock-a-bye baby,
Thy cradle is green;
Father's a nobleman,
Mother's a queen.
And Betty's a lady,
And wears a gold ring;
And Johnny's a drummer,
and drums for the king."



I'm betting some of you super-smart Poetry Friday-ers know more about the history of these English rhymes and lullabies than I do. If so, please share in the comments!

Here's what I remember about lullabies in my own youth. My wonderful mother sang "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean," because that's the song her mother rocked her by. So that's what I sang to my own two babes for endless hours on the porch swing. Maybe they'll sing it to their own babies one day!

And my brother and I used to cackle at the following little song:

"Go to sleep,
Little creep -
I am tired and beat.
Go to sleep,
Little creep -
before I DROP YOU!"



I still remember the tune, but I'd hate for that to be my maiden voyage on Sound-Cloud, so I'll leave it at that. ;0)

Thanks for visiting, and if you're still awake, please share your own lullaby thoughts.

Then rock on over to the incomparable Jama's Alphabet Soup, where she and Mr. Cornelius have the Round-up. And blueberries, lots of yummy blueberries... mmmmm.

Student Haiku Poets of the Month Place in UN Contest

June 11, 2015

Tags: haiku, student work, Student Poet of the Month, poetry


Greetings! Apologies for the earlier confusion, but here are the UN International School haiku contest winners from our featured student poets of the month, announced last weekend in New York. I’d like to thank so many of you for supporting another year of our “Student Haiku Poet of the Month” feature, wherein we celebrate promising young poets from The Paideia School in Atlanta each month with examples of their poetry and some of their thoughts about haiku.

This monthly treat is made possible by the efforts of Tom Painting, an award-winning haiku poet and teacher or former teacher of these wonderful young writers. [Click here for a post about Tom from my blog in 2013.]

Several of them recently won awards in a big international contest – the 2015 Student Haiku Contest hosted by The United Nations International School, the Northeast Council of Teachers of Japanese, and the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations.

Of our featured poets from this year and last, the following students were recognized in this year’s competition:


First place, Junior High division - Olivia Graner


creak of the door
the attic's smell
floods the hallway



©Olivia Graner. All rights reserved.

[Click here for Olivia’s Student Poet of the Month feature.]



Honorable mention, Junior High division - Cole McCord


spring cleaning
the smell
of expired milk



©Cole McCord. All rights reserved.

[Click here for Cole’s Student Poet of the Month feature.]



Second place, High school division - Marisa Schwartz


boardwalk
the taste of the ocean
in a pretzel



©Marisa Schwartz. All rights reserved.

[Click here for Marisa’s Student Poet of the Month feature.]



Third place, High School division - Emma Jones


sliding over
grandma's rough hands
soap bubbles



©Emma Jones. All rights reserved.

[Click here for Emma’s Student Poet of the Month feature.]



Paideia had winners in the elementary division and several more honorable mentions in the junior high/high school divisions. Congratulations to all these young poets, and hats off to each student who entered from all over the world.

The judge for English poems for the Elementary, Middle School, High School, and Teacher categories was John Stevenson . Submissions in the English Division came from 19 different schools/programs in the US and around the world. Finalists came from schools in New York, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, and also from Belgium, Kenya, and Japan.

Poetry Friday: How Does YOUR Garden Grow?

June 4, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, nursery rhymes, illustrators, art


Happy June!

Despite the fact that I gave away box after box of books in our big downsizing move last year, every once in a while Poetry Friday is responsible for my adding another, though I really have no place to put one.

A recent PF post by my dear buddy Irene Latham featured OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY collected by Elizabeth Hammill (Candlewick - England in 2014, US in 2015): a new chock-full treasure of 150 nursery rhymes from around the world, illustrated by 77 stellar international artists. Oh, be still my heart. Worth making room for.

I am still perusing and enjoying this delightful book. (Irene confessed: "I want to live inside it.") I thought it might be fun to take one of the rhymes and compare it to a more traditional treatment. Hence the image above with Kate Greenaway's MOTHER GOOSE ( Frederick Warne) turned to "Mary Mary, quite contrary" and the same verse featured from the new anthology.

I was immediately drawn to this whimsical, purple Mary (with stripes!) , illustrated by Niamh Sharkey. Turns out she is Ireland's second Children's Laureate (2012-2014) and has a trail of awards. She also created Disney Jr.'s animated Henry Hugglemonster. Wow!

Back to Mary.

Here is the text of the familiar rhyme.

Kate Greenaway's version:

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
and cowslips all of a row.


And from the new collection:

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells
and pretty maids all in a row.


Guess it all depends on whether you prefer cowslips or pretty maids, and whether you like them "in" or "of" a row!

Also in the photo are a couple of cuttings from our yard - all brand new as the garden has gotten gobs of water via thunderstorms the past few days. My hubby Jeff loves to play in the dirt, and he's planted zinnias and mums (seen here, along with a cute little yellow flower that I INSISTED we buy last year at the home and garden store, because I fell in love with the name -- butter daisy! What could be more adorable than butter daisies?!) Also coming up are the requisite daylilies, sunflowers of varying heights, calla lilies, lavender, and some purple-spikey magenta plant that looks to be a show-off.

What's in your garden? Do you live where color already abounds, or are seedlings just now pushing their way through the dirt? Wherever you are, wishing you a summer of sunshine and flowers and lots (& lots) of poetry.

Go pick out a poetic bouquet today at Buffy's Blog where wild things and growing things are always celebrated!

Poetry Friday: International Student Haiku with Kala Ramesh

May 28, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, student work, poets

Kala Ramesh

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

On this final Friday of May, we have a special treat. The talented and generous Kala Ramesh of India has dropped by to tell us a bit about herself and haiku, and to share some wonderful student poetry featured in the "Youth Corner" of The United Haiku and Tanka Society' s online publication, cattails.


Welcome, Kala! I’m thrilled you can join us today and share a bit about student haiku poets from around the world. But first, let’s get to know you a little better.

I’ve read that your professional background in India is as a musician, and that you discovered haiku in 2005. Apparently you jumped right in with both feet, and no looking back. What is it about haiku you find so captivating?


A million thanks, Robyn, for wanting to focus on “Youth Haiku” in your blog.

In answer to your question, I come from a culturally rich south India family, and began having music lessons from professionals from the age of six – the resonance is what captured me when I came into haiku. What is resonance one might ask? For me it was close to the concept of ‘rasa’ theory in Indian aesthetics. What is it that lingers in your mind long after you’ve heard a piece of melody . . . and which gives you joy? Indians call it ‘rasa’ – the resonance, the distilled emotions that happen within us.

I found that haiku worked in the same way in my mind – I would linger over a haiku to see how in just 9 or 10 words the author could say so much. When I started I had no access to haiku books. Even now you can’t find a single haiku book in any bookstore in India. Ninety-nine percent of the haiku books are self-published. Now the internet is flooded with haiku information and literature!


I’ve enjoyed reading your work in leading haiku journals. I’m struck that you plunged into English-language haiku with such vigor, when English is not your first language. Is this a particular challenge, or do haiku just “come to you” this way?

Thanks a ton, Robyn. Yes, I’m a Tamilian from South India. People wrongly assume that Hindi is our national language, but it’s not! I don’t know Hindi. In India we have around twenty-two languages, so English becomes our common tongue, and I don’t see that dependence on English decreasing. I can think in English, though my ‘thinking’ is coloured by Indian aesthetics and culture.

A few years ago, Gisele LeBlanc sent me your haiku publications for children from Katha, Haiku and My Haiku Moments. These are such colorful, fun introductions for young writers (writers of any age, really). Why do you have such a passion for nurturing haiku among young people?

Children take to haiku like fish take to water – I know this is a cliché but it gives a true picture. Children are easily malleable and haiku has some very good tools that help to hone their writing skills. Editing is so important in haiku and this tool is most needed in our fast galloping lives. Who has the patience to read through volumes of uninteresting stuff, tell me! This art of saying a lot in few words is something a child should be exposed to!

Along those lines, you currently serve as the Youth Corner Editor for “Cattails,” the online publication of the United Haiku and Tanka Society. Tell us a little about the Youth Corner, and from what corners of the world you receive submissions?

When an’ya invited me to become the “Youth Corner” editor, I had mild trepidations, for no other journal had this feature and starting off anything for the first time is always a challenge. We have nothing to fall back on. I’m now into my fourth issue and I’m happy about this little corner!

Submissions are still not coming from all parts of the world. Maybe they aren’t aware about cattails Youth Corner. I do get a few from the US. I got a lovely cartoon submission from Indonesia this time and I’m hoping children from all over the world will begin to submit their haiku to cattails Youth Corner soon.

India has opened to haiku in a big way! But all this didn’t come on a platter to me. I’ve worked hard since 2006. I approached dozens and dozens of schools and colleges, but just couldn’t get beyond the office doors! Slowly, schools opened their doors, and now respected organizations like Katha.org, Bookaroo Children’s Literary Festival, The Hyderabad Literary Festival, Muse India - online poetry site, The Central Board of Secondary Schools (CBSE) all over India, and of course the Symbiosis International University have opened not just their doors, but their hearts to haiku. It’s exciting “haiku” time for India!

I used to have a HaikuWALL in almost all my workshops, where along with the masters' haiku, the children’s haiku would be pinned up on a huge make-shift wall. Excited parents would take pictures of their child next to their first haiku! Pune Biennale 2015 offered to paint the chosen haiku on our street walls. That was the start of another venture, where we have school children’s and college students’ haiku painted on city walls in Pune and Chennai. A few of my haiku are included too. I call it the HaikuWALL India – it’s an ongoing project.


That sounds wonderful, Kala. Finally, let’s enjoy some haiku!

Robyn, I’ll proudly showcase the youngsters’ haiku. They need all the encouragement! A million thanks to you for presenting them in your blog. We need more haiku lovers like you!

Enjoy!


yawning wide . . .
I watch the leaf settle
on a bed of brown

R. Hariharan (age 14)
CBSE School, Chennai, India



still water . . .
a zebra runs away
from itself

      stira jalarasi . . .
      Vayakari dhainjaye zebra tiye
     dekhi nija pratibimba


Aditya Ashribad (age 17)
CBSE School, Orissa, India


long journey
pausing for water
I drink the moon


Iqra Raza (16 yrs)
CBSE School, Delhi, India


maple leaf parachuting down upon soldiers’ graves

Rose Anderson (age 18)
USA


broken ladder
a spider weaves a web
into the web itself


Tanvi Nishchal (age 16)
CBSE School, Delhi, India


icy night
all the city streets
clear of people


Pruthvi Shrikaanth (age 7)
United Kingdom


dancing without
knowing who holds my waist
masquerade ball


Aashna Banerjee
Symbiosis International University, Pune


war cry—
my nephew gets ready
for the pillow fight


Vividha Bhasin
Symbiosis International University, Pune


creeping up
the rocky wall—
vines


Aaliyah Saleem (5 1/2 yrs)
USA

All poems are copyright their respective authors.


I want to end this collection of children’s haiku on a high. I am ecstatic to announce that one of my students, Jhanvi Tiwari, was awarded an Honourable Mention in the international 2014 ANNUAL MOON VIEWING HAIKU CONTEST, a competition held by the Australian Haiku Society.

Congratulations to Jhanvi for this lovely haiku!

hunter’s moon
a werewolf growls in
nani’s* stories


Jhanvi Tiwari
Symbiosis International University.
*Nani – maternal grandmother in Hindi


And lastly how can I not include a school student’s work picked up by Don Wentworth for Wednesday Haiku!


windy day…
the pages turn
to the last line


Sneha Mojumdar (15 yrs)
CBSE School, Delhi.


Sneha, studying in Sanskriti School Delhi, wrote this haiku during the Katha Utsav haiku workshop I conducted in December 2014. I vividly remember exclaiming that it was beautiful when Sneha read this haiku out.

Don Wentworth of Wednesday Haiku says:
My very best to Sneha ... a deep bow from me to honor a spirit that cuts so quickly to the essence. And thank you for your wonderful work with your students, Kala. With this type of devotion, the future is assured.



Many thanks, Kala – and I will agree with Don. Thank you for all you do to promote haiku among young readers and writers.


Kala has also kindly provided the following links:

Premier issue cattails Winter 2013
cattails May 2014.
cattails September 2014.
cattails January 2015. (Note - In this issue, you’ll find that Kala chose a haiku by one of our Haiku Student Poets of the Month, Emma Jones, as one of the “Editor’s Favourites.”)
cattails May edition is expected to go online soon.
Wednesday Haiku link – Yesha Shah & Sneha Mojumdar: Wednesday Haiku, #205.

What’s that, readers? You’d like to read some of Kala’s work as well? Have no fear. You will find it in leading haiku journals, and I’ve also asked her to please visit again in the fall to share her haiku.

For more great poetry of all kinds today, please visit the lovely Margaret at Reflections on the Teche, where she’s rounding up Poetry Friday as she winds up the school year.

Poetry Friday - OOPS - Student Winners from the United Nations International Haiku Contest coming in June...

May 14, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, Student Poet of the Month, haiku, contests, poetry


Oops...

Update: My apologies, but we needed to wait until after June 6 to celebrate the Haiku Student Poet of the Month writers who placed in the United Nations International School Student Haiku contest. Click here for the link!

Speaking of haiku, our own amazing master of haiku and soooo many other things, Diane, has rounded up Poetry Friday this week at Random Noodling. Thanks, Diane!

Poetry Friday: Haiku Student Poet of the Month Dylan Levy

May 7, 2015

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


Happy Poetry Friday!

Can you believe another school year is coming to a close? Neither can I.

We will ring it out in style, though, with several oh-so-talented student haiku poets for these last few weeks of this month. In fact, today’s special guest is our Student Haiku Poet of the Month for May, Dylan Levy.

Dylan is a seventh-grade student at The Paideia School in Atlanta. She claims her life is like any other typical teenage girl’s, full of volleyball and writing. She says she is always thirsty for something new and is never satisfied, noting that her words “tremble and soften” when she reads in front of a group. Her days are spent at home, using her free time to write. Dylan “never keeps secrets” because “her blue eyes and wide smile always tell the tale” -- her words do as well, as you'll see.

Why haiku? Here are Dylan’s thoughts, with some insightful "how-to's" folded in:

In appearance a haiku is just a few words on a page, but in reality haiku is much more,” she says. ” A good haiku is not choppy or too wordy; it should flow. Haiku doesn’t have to be complicated, it’s simple. Haiku cannot be forced; it is something you find and can be difficult in this way; each word painting the picture of an image.

Here is a sampling of Dylan’s poetry, which I think you’ll agree demonstrates those characteristics.



silence broken
the little girl hums
a lullaby



classical music
my palm to the air
catching each note



red bird
softly cooing
fire in my hands



thunder storm
the deaf lady
covers her ears



one-way road
a downpour
carries the leaves



Poems ©Dylan Levy. All rights reserved.


Many thanks to Dylan for sharing these fine poems here this week. For more posts in this series featuring talented students, please click here.

Our Poetry Friday host today has been known to wrangle a haiku or two. Please visit Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty for all the great poetry posted around the Kidlitosphere!

Poetry Friday - What We Leave Behind

April 30, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, ponderings

morguefile.com

Whew! It's May.

I hope you had a terrific Poetry Month.

I am looking forward to circling back to visit some of the wonderfulness I missed on so any great blogs.

I'm also looking forward to sharing some great haiku here this month, including poems from talented student writers.

For today, a short post - just one poem of mine in the current issue of Acorn.. (I'm traveling all week. Actually driving through some of my former stomping grounds.)


contrail
in the sunset sky
what I left behind



copyright Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

Acorn, #34, Spring 2015



Keep the poetry love going! Today you'll find the Poetry Friday Roundup at Space City Scribes - https://spacecityscribes.wordpress.com. UPDATE: Actually, today you can find the links temporarily parked in the comments at Mary Lee's: http://readingyear.blogspot.com/2015/05/poetry-friday-emotional.html#comment-form (Thanks, Mary Lee!)

See you next week with our final Student Haiku Poet of the Month for this school year.

Poetry Friday: Haiku from the EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration

April 23, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku

Yay Images

It’s still Poetry Month! Hope you are enjoying April wherever you are.

One thing I love about Poetry Friday is the web of connections we make each week. Last Friday, I was so focused on celebrating The Poetry Friday Anthology of Celebrations with Janet and Sylvia, and rounding up posts, that I almost missed something special: the inaugural “EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration” from The Haiku Foundation celebrating International Haiku Day (April 17).

Lucky for us, Joy Acey and Diane Mayr were on it and shared the link. Here’s the description from The Haiku Foundation:


"Welcome to the largest collaborative poem on the internet. This year’s theme is the Year of Light, as designated by decree of the United Nations. Please add your poem(s) in the Comment box below, ideally at dawn at your location, but any time that you are able… ."

A “seed” poem was offered:

will anyone
not be taking up his pen?
tonight’s moon


— Onitsura (1660 – 1738)

That writerly challenge might have been issued three centuries ago, but I couldn’t resist! I took a break from rounding up posts (the sun had just come up here) and went outside to exhale and invite a haiku moment that I could add to the thread.
Here was my contribution:


april morning
the reach of seedlings
toward the sun


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


More than 400 haiku from around the world were posted! I appreciated seeing some familiar names and asked a few of my poet friends if I might have permission to share some of their entries. Each one generously obliged (such a great group of folks). Many participants posted one poem, as I did, while others posted several. Some also shared previously published work that fit with the theme.

Enjoy this sampling...



a streak of light…
my cat alarm clock
goes off


©Diane Mayr. All rights reserved.



sun rise radiates
through a dew drop on the limb
a prism rainbow


©Joy Acey. All rights reserved.



a flicker of light
from my pen to yours
rising sun


©Peggy Bilbro. All rights reserved.



heat lightning
a fox
in the blink of an eye


©Michael Henry Lee. All rights reserved.



first light what’s not to believe

©Michael Henry Lee. All rights reserved.



morning fog
the sober glow
of streetlights


©Ben Moeller-Gaa. All rights reserved.
A Hundred Gourds 1:2 (2012)



morning prayers
the rising sun between
my hands


©Kala Ramesh. All rights reserved.
Ambrosia– Journal of Fine Haiku, Spring 2009



slipping in
beneath the kitchen door
– first sunlight


©Kala Ramesh. All rights reserved.



first light
the ethereal phrase
of a wood thrush


©Tom Painting. All rights reserved.



You probably recognize Tom Painting’s name – In addition to being an award-winning poet, he is the teacher behind our Student Haiku Poet of the Month series here.

Be sure to tune in next month, when it will be All-Haiku Every Poetry Friday! We’ll spend a couple of those days with Tom’s students, and then we’ll welcome international students at the end of the month with Kala Ramesh (see her poems above.

Many thanks to all the poets sharing their work here today. If you are new to haiku, The Haiku Foundation is a treasure of resources. For more great poetry of all kinds, paddle over to No Water River, where the amazing Renée has the Poetry Friday Roundup!

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

April 15, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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


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

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


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

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


On Halfway Day
by Janet Wong

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

***The Roundup***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 14, 2015

Tags: Progressive Poem, poetry, Poetry Month


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

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

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

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


Progressive Poem 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Lifted high, she gulps strange air - stares clearly into



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

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

2015 Kidlitosphere
Progressive Poem

1 Jone at Check it Out

2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy

3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids

5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog

6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page

7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson

8 Irene at Live Your Poem

9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository

10 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

11 Kim at Flukeprints

12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

13 Doraine at DoriReads

14 Renee at No Water River

15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

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

17 Buffy at Buffy's Blog

18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro

19 Linda at Teacher Dance

20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots

21 Tara at A Teaching Life

22 Pat at Writer on a Horse

23 Tamera at The Writer's Whimsy

24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect

25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference

26 Brian at Walk the Walk

27 Jan at Bookseedstudio

28 Amy at The Poem Farm

29 Donna at Mainely Write

30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme


Poetry Friday: Sincerely...

April 9, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, book tracks, letter writing





I hope you are having a great Poetry Month! If you're like me, you might already be wishing for a couple-few extra days to get to some of the great blog posts you haven't been able to visit yet. I'm hoping to catch up a bit next week.


Speaking of next week, yours truly will be hosting Poetry Friday, and GUESS WHO will be here? Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong! [I KNOW... I can't wait either!] These two Poetry-Forces-to-be-Reckoned-With will share the inside scoop on how the new bilingual Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations came to be, and where they hope it's going. BYOC - Bring your own confetti!


Today I'm sharing my poem in the book, "Sincerely." It was written to celebrate National Write a Letter of Appreciation Week, the first week of March. (If you just missed it, get a jump on next year! I'm sure there are lots of folks you appreciate.)


I was thrilled to get a bona fide Pomelo Books Pocket Poem™ Card with my poem printed on it as well. These cards have sure made me smile. I mailed some to my daughter Morgan for her classroom of third-graders, and she texted me with a picture of each student holding them up and smiling.



Then I took a few with me to a tutoring session with children of local migrant farm workers, an effort spearheaded by a wonderful couple in our church. My student partner that evening was Leslie, a fourth grader. Just so happens one of Leslie's vocabulary words we were practicing was "Sincere" - and it was one of the few words tripping her up a wee bit.



I pulled out the cards, and she was happily surprised. The most fun part, though, was when I asked her to help me with the Spanish pronunciation on the other side of the card. She was a willing and capable teacher, patiently coaxing me as I stumbled over "agradecido" and "Afectuosamente." I was grateful for her guidance! And I think she enjoyed passing out cards to the rest of the students before we left the library.




Here is the poem in English and Spanish:

SINCERELY

Dear Friend,

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

I noticed!
And I'm thanking you.

Sincerely,
Me


AFECTUOSAMENTE

Querido amigo,

Eres muy amable y atento,
y tus palabras son siempre de aliento.

¡Lo he advertido!
y te estoy agradecido

Afectuosamente,
Yo


Poem©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

Thanks for sharing a little pre-game celebration with me this week, and see you next Friday! For this week's Roundup, visit the always-much-appreciated Laura at Writing the World for Kids.


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

April 8, 2015

Tags: Poetry Month, poetry


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

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

Poetry Friday - Of Carolina Wren Connections...

March 26, 2015

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


It's almost here... National Poetry Month! Most of you know the Academy of American Poets and the poets.org site.

"Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month, held every April, is the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture."

[Many of our Poetry Friday peeps go all out in April - Jama will be compiling a whole menu of special blog events and links over at Jama's Alphabet Soup.]

You might also subscribe to the Academy's "Poem-a-Day" feature, in which a new poem magically appears in your inbox each day. I was enchanted by an offering earlier this week, both its subject and luscious writing.

The poem is "The Carolina Wren" by Laura Donnelly. Here's a bit from the middle, to send you off to read the whole poem:

from The Carolina Wren

...
Only later, this other, same-same-again song,
a bird I could not see but heard

when I walked from the house to the studio,
studio to the house, its three notes

repeated like a child’s up and down
on a trampoline looping

the ground to the sky—
....


Copyright © 2015 by Laura Donnelly. Click here to read the entire lovely poem.

I've enjoyed watching and hearing a wren or two in our "Carolina" yard this week. At our former house in Georgia, our back patio was a regular nesting site each spring for a wren pair. I was so impressed by the industry and care they would take in building a carefully sheltered nest, and then tending their offspring from first shell-crack to first tentative flight. It was a lot of work!

And then this week, a kind note from friend - Poetry Friday-er, talented author, and - I'm happy to say - artsyletters customer Jan Godown Annino. (Check out her new bloggie look at Bookseed Studio - you'll love it!)

Jan had bought some of my wren and books notecards (design above) and sent me a message. We ended up swapping wren stories. Mine was simply that one year the aforementioned nesting pair built their twiggy home in a pot on our patio. I really wanted to make a relief print of a Carolina wren and some old books, so I set the stage. Though I knew my finished art would be simplified and stylized, I wanted a reliable reference picture. I placed a small stack of vintage books next to the pot, thinking Mama Wren would probably perch there for a wee second while tending her peeping babies.

Then I stashed myself across the patio, hunkered low in a chair with my camera, and waited. And waited. And waited. She did come back and forth a few times, but it took more than one attempt on my part to click at just the right moment, and from far away. The pictures were not National Geographic quality, but they provided enough visual information for me to sketch by, and I was able to get to work.

Now this current rambling would be incomplete without my also mentioning another friend: writer/author/editor extraordinaire and public relations expert P. J. Shaw (Peggy, to me!). I was so thankful to get to catch up with Peggy at our recent SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle in Atlanta. Peggy was my editor for WOLVES (Intervisual Books, 2008) a few moons ago, and I was always impressed by her quick eye and ear when wrangling a manuscript.

In addition to her job as Public Relations Director at a large private school in Atlanta, Peggy offers editorial services to individuals and organizations through her business, Wren Cottage. Isn't that a wonderful name? The masthead on her website features a rich and gorgeous painting of a wren sitting atop some books by artist Camille Engel . That image obviously spoke to me as I watched "our" wrens making so many trips to and fro on the patio, where I used to shoot all my Etsy product pictures before we moved to South Carolina and I landed a real studio space.

I suppose along with Laura Donnelly's "looping" images in her poem, I can't help connecting the sight or sound of a wren with my memories of other wrens that I checked on daily for weeks and weeks, or my associations with wren-loving creative people like Jan and Peggy. Poetry loops us all together.

Please wing your way back here next week, when we'll kick off Poetry Month with another talented Student Haiku Poet of the Month! Until then, enjoy all the great poetry rounded up this week and set to flight by the multi-talented Jone at Check It Out!

Poetry Friday - SPRING!

March 19, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poetic forms, spring


(Aa-chooo!) Pollen has left a cover of yellow over everything here in the South this week. And then, we got some much-needed rain to wash some of it away in thick golden rivulets.

I hear from my first-year-teacher-daughter that the elementary natives are a bit restless, ready for their spring break. Brought to mind a poem I wrote several years ago, and dug up - like something is digging up my hubby's fresh new gardening.

This was an attempt at a triolet, a form you can read about here.

You can also read the triolet adventures of the "Poetry Seven" - a group of Poetry Friday regulars who challenge each other to write in different forms and share the goods. My poetry buddy and teacher/blogger extraordinaire Tricia over at The Miss Rumphius Effect kicked off this new year hosting Poetry Friday, offering up a very touching original triolet and links to the rest of the Seven. (Click here to go on that triolet journey.)

Wait - here, read mine real quick before you click. ;0)
A lighthearted reminiscence of this time of year in the classroom...

Spring Fever

Will that bell ever ring?
I just want to go home.
I’m not learning a thing.
Will that bell ever ring?
Outside calls – it is spring!
All my mind does is roam.
Will that bell ever ring?
I just want to go home.


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

Happy Spring Equinox, Happy Blooming Things, and Happy Birthday to my youngest, who turns 20 next week! (We'll be celebrating in spirit from over here, Seth.)

Wonderful words are always blooming over at Reading to the Core, where Catherine has this week's Roundup!

Poetry Friday: Student Haiku Poet of the Month Cole McCord

March 5, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, Student Poet of the Month, haiku, David G. Lanoue, poetry, student work




Greetings, Poetry Fans!



I’m serving up our Student Haiku Poet of the Month on the early side, as we welcome the month that comes in like a lion. (Next Friday I’ll be at our SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle in Atlanta – and away from a real computer.)



Please join me in welcoming Cole McCord, a seventh grade student “with a passion for poetry.” Cole lives with his parents and sister Layney and attends The Paideia School in Atlanta.



Cole explains that when he was first introduced to haiku, he was “misled into thinking that haiku has to be written in five, seven, five. “ He credits language arts teacher Tom Painting for guiding him in his current haiku journey, and “derives haiku from every aspect of the world” around him.



“To me, Haiku is a way of life,” Cole says. ”Every moment you withhold haiku, a piece of you goes missing. Even if no one ever sees it, Haiku needs to be released. Haiku reveals who you are; it reveals your view on life and the world around you. Haiku is the one form of writing that is pure and must not be forced. According to haiku poet David Lanoue "Haiku is life; life is haiku.”



(You can read my post featuring Haiku Society of America President David G. Lanoue here .)







Here are some of Cole’s wonderful haiku:




Sunday morning
in my sister’s room
retrieving something stolen


spring dawn
in the meadow
blooming avens


autumn afternoon
on easel and canvas
pond landscape


school morning
on the bus
blather bullies my ears


spring cleaning
the smell
of expired milk


starlit night
a diamond ring
in the riverbed



Poems ©Cole McCord. All rights reserved.


Many thanks to our guest poet today. Cole, you’re one to watch! (That "blather bullies my ears" line is something else.)

For more posts in this series featuring talented students, please click here.

And for the Poetry Friday Roundup, please visit Robyn Campbell this week. [Thanks, Robyn. Look – we spell our name the same way!! :0) ].

Poetry Friday: Lee Bennett Hopkins is Here with LULLABY...!

February 20, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, babies and toddlers, Lee Bennett Hopkins, book tracks, poetry


Shhhh.... Don't wake the ba- ... Oh, never mind. The baby's awake! And ready to enjoy wonderful poetry from the incomparable Lee Bennett Hopkins!

Before we dive into poetry for the very youngest listeners, let's congratulate Lee on some big news. You likely know of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award. This week, it was announced that The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Lee have joined forces to establish the SCBWI Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, which "recognizes and encourages the publication of an excellent book of poetry or anthology for children and/or young adults." This award will given every three years. [Click here here for the Publishers Weekly article, and here for the SCBWI award page with details. ]

Our guest of honor today is no stranger to awards - among his many honors are the NCTE National Council of Teachers of English Excellence in Poetry for Children (2009), the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for “outstanding contributions to the field of children’s literature” (1989); and recognition by the Guinness Book of World Records as "the most prolific anthologist of poetry for children" (2011).

With more than a hundred books under his belt, including original works as well as collections he's carefully compiled and brought to life, Lee is simply a force for children's poetry like no other. The countless (who could count them?!) children who have entered the magical world of poetry because of his work might not know of the accolades behind a poetry book held in their hands, or one read to them. But Lee knows these children. He knows the power of poetry for one child.

Warmest Greetings, Lee – Poetry Friday folks are always thrilled when you join us! I’m also thrilled to share your thoughts about your new collection of poems to be released from Abrams next week (Tuesday, March 3). It’s for the very youngest readers and listeners, LULLABY & KISSES SWEET – Poems to Love with your Baby. What inspired you to create a book of poems for babies?

I have been at work compiling LULLABY & KISSES SWEET for a long time. I feel it is of the utmost importance that babies are exposed to oral language, hearing words, knowing books, as early as being in the womb! The sooner we get our children to read, to appreciate words, the faster they will become lifelong readers.

And what could be more important than instilling children with the music of poetry?


Why is it important to expose babies and toddlers to rhymes and verse?

Hearing rhymes and verse opens children to experience the world around them. I chose topics for LULLABY… that are both universal and an integral part of growing up… Family, Food, Firsts, Play and Bedtime.

What could be more enjoyable than reading a poem about something that is a new childhood experience – a first tooth coming in, riding a tricycle for the first time, or having a teddy bear tucked near one’s head at bedtime? Experiences to cherish, to share, via verse.


From your perspective as a poet – what are the challenges of writing for this very youngest of ages?

Poems written for LULLABY… were not only challenging to compose but tricky to create. Since this was being produced as an oversized board book no poem could be more than eight lines long, all had to rhyme, and each poet was assigned to a specific subject. The poets and I worked back and forth, sometimes altering many, many drafts before the verse was right for this collection. Oh, how I admire the tenacity of poets.

Compared to over l00 anthologies I have compiled for children and young adults, LULLABY… was a constant, ongoing challenge.


Tell us about the title of the book; it’s just delicious.

The title comes from the first line in Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s poem “Sandman”. Rebecca told me she made up this poem as a song and sang it bedside to her young nephew when he had just moved and was homesick the fist night. From that time on he knew the verse by heart, as did the entire family. Rebecca’s mother begged her for years to publish the poem. Finally, she will get to see it come to life on the page – a gift Rebecca so wanted to give to her aging mother. I am so happy I could fulfill a few dreams. “Sandman” though only four lines long is filled with a lifetime of memories, generations of ‘kisses sweet ’now published for forthcoming generations to read, read aloud, and share.

Alyssa Nassner's illustrations are so fresh and lively. How would you describe the way pictures and text work together in this project?

Alyssa’s artwork is perfect for this collection. The varied anthropomorphic full-color drawings are perfect for this age level.

What child (or adult) wouldn’t fall in love with kittens, bears, lions, or a bunny with pink ears playing in a sandbox?


This is a case-bound board book (perfect for gift-giving, folks!). Was it important to you that the collection be sturdy enough for babies to handle themselves, not just listen to? How do you hope this special audience interacts with this poetry?

It was my brilliant editor, Tamar Brazis at Abrams, who led this project on to become a board book. And it is one of the biggest board books I’ve seen in a very long time – 30 poems each getting their own page.

On an end note I thank you, Robyn, for the amount of time and work you put into your poem, “Milk” in the Food section. Writing a gem featuring a baby, a grandmother, a father and a sippy cup is no small feat. And in five-lines you managed to bring in so much familial love. Wow!

LULLABY… is subtitled: “Poems to Love with your Baby”. Each poet’s words resonate with the concept – love.


Many thanks for joining us today, Lee (and for those blush-worthy kind words). Your gifts to readers of all ages know no bounds.

Let's close with a few poems from the book, shall we?

The spread pictured above features these two terrific poems in the "Play" section.

Sandbox

by Stephanie Salkin

Sand on my fingers, on my toes,
Sand on my chin, my ears, my nose,
Sand on my elbows, neck, and knees.
Take me out of this sandbox -

Please?


©2015 by Stephanie Salkin. Used by permission.



My Tricycle

by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

How many seats? One.
How many pedals? Two.
How many wheels?
One, two, three.

I am riding by myself.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!


©2015 by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. Used by permission.

[Many thanks to Stephanie and Amy for sharing these fine poems.]

What? All that playing has made you sleepy? I have just the thing. Among many lovely poems in the "Bedtime" section is one of Lee's own:

Read to Me

by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Read to me.
Read to me.

Read to me - then -
read to me
read to me
again and again.


©2015 by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Used by permission.

There now, didn't that make you... what's that? You want to hear it again!

Read these poems and more - again and again! - this coming Tuesday, when LULLABY AND KISSES SWEET is officially launched from Abrams.

To tide you over til then, please visit My Juicy Little Universe, where the lovely Heidi is marching forward to round up Poetry Friday today.

Poetry Friday: LULLABY AND KISSES SWEET Pre-Preview...

February 19, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, Lullaby and Kisses Sweet, poetry, babies, toddlers, Lee Bennett Hopkins, book tracks

Poem ©Robyn Hood Black; Illustration ©Alyssa Nassner. All rights reserved.

Greetings! Unless you are checking in today from the Western edges of the US (or another country), you are likely tapping a keyboard with fingerless gloves and peering out from under a toboggan! I hope you have a cuppa something warm close by.

NEXT week, our special guest here at Life on the Deckle Edge will be...
(drumroll, please.......)

LEE BENNETT HOPKINS!

Lee will kindly drop by to share a peek behind the scenes of his brand-new poetry collection, LULLABY AND KISSES SWEET - Poems to Love with your Baby, illustrated by Alyssa Nassner. The official release date is March 3, from Abrams Appleseed. The casebound board book features 30 original poems from 27 poets. [I'm beyond delighted to be one (!), along with other familiar faces from our Poetry Friday community.]

No spoilers - we'll dive in deeply next week. In the meantime, I'm grateful to share my poem above, featured in the section, "Food."

                    Milk

      by Robyn Hood Black

    Grandma holds my sippy cup.

        Daddy helps me pour.

    I love my milk each morning

                      But

        I love them even more.



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


[Can't wait for next Friday? Click here here for the Publishers Weekly review.]

Raising a cup of steaming coffee - no, Milk! - to the warm and wonderful Linda at Teacher Dance as she rounds up Poetry Friday this week. Stay cozy! And see you here next week....

Poetry Friday: Student Haiku Poet of the Month Olivia Graner

February 12, 2015

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


Happy Valentine’s Weekend, All!

I won’t pry into anyone’s love life, but I’m glad you poetry lovers are out and about this Poetry Friday. As promised, I have much for you to love here today.

Our Student Haiku Poet of the Month series continues with Olivia Graner.

Olivia lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She is (almost) thirteen years old and is in seventh grade at The Paideia School. She lives with her mom, her dad, her nine-year-old brother, her thirteen-year-old golden retriever, and her six-year-old goldfish. Olivia is an avid writer and reader. She also enjoys musical theater, piano, ukulele, and pogo stick-ing.

“I tend to enjoy haiku because of its simplicity (or lack thereof),” Olivia says. “An American haiku must be written with fewer than seventeen syllables, which can be a blessing or a curse. Granted, with nine or ten words, not much physical writing goes in to the actual poem, but painting a scene in which to transport the reader in three or less short lines can be rather challenging (in a good way).”

I think you’ll agree Olivia is up for the challenge! Enjoy these examples of her poetry:


morning radio
voices weave their way
into my dreams


pronation
a left shoe’s sole
worn away


creak of a door
the attic’s smell
floods the hallway


silent night
wax drips from
the memory candle


frozen bird bath
feathers
atop the ice


one night only:
stage fright
killing dreams



Poems ©Olivia Graner. All rights reserved.


I’m really struck by “silent night,” though each poem “transports” as Olivia says - don't you think?

For more posts in this series featuring talented students, please click here.

And for more poetry to love this week, please visit talented teacher and author Cathy, rounding up poems to fill your heart at Merely Day by Day.

Poetry Friday: Ahoy! Sea Songs, Pirates, Valentines....

February 5, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, sea, Etsy, art, ponderings, pirates

a peek into mini sea-themed works-in-progress.... ©Robyn Hood Black

At the beginning of last year, I shared an amazing gift sent to me by my friend and fellow writer Kim Siegelson (who has a keen antique sense and a great Etsy shop, too, Perfect Patina).

It was a nearly 700-page book – sumptuously covered and illustrated, titled:

Crown Jewels
OR
Gems of Literature, Art, and Music
BEING
Choice Selections from the Writings and Musical Productions of the Most Celebrated Authors, From the Earliest Times


compiled by Henry Davenport Northrop, D. D., and published in 1888.

(To read my post about this wonderful book from Kim, in all its over-the-top Victorian glory, click here.)

In my art life for this new year, I’m working on more locale-friendly pieces to offer in my kiosk space at Fordham Market.
As in, things that might appeal to tourists and visitors of our delightful coastal town.

Lucky for me, CROWN JEWELS has many poems and songs about the sea! Though written a hundred (or few hundred) years ago, surely the words still ring like a ship’s bell to those who dock at our lovely marina, just across the street from my tucked-away studio. I’ve got some small shadow-box mixed media pieces in the works, featuring everything from excerpts to short entire poems to found poems I’ve "uncovered" in prose passages.

This week I broke out my printmaking supplies (have stayed away from since my neck/shoulder/hand/nerves injury in the fall), and it felt wonderful to carve into a small block of wood and later to breathe in the ink, hearing and feeling its sticky snap on glass as I rolled my brayer… even if I was making just a wee image. The mini prints are backgrounds for the clipped pieces of text, and, of course, there must be some vintage-y bling involved. I usually use actual old metal pieces. Occasionally, if I find just the right element offered by an artisan, I’ll use that. Just take a look at that lovely tiny anchor in the picture – it’s blackened pewter, handmade in the USA and cast as opposed to stamped, and available from Fallen Angel Brass on Etsy. Yep, I bought a few!

For these first few mini shadow boxes, I clipped this refrain from CROWN JEWELS. Warning: if you read it more than once, it will start sailing around in your head. A lot. Come on, read it out loud in your best gravelly pirate voice:

from THE TAR FOR ALL WEATHERS

by Charles Dibdin

But sailors were born for all weathers,
     Great guns let it blow high or low,
Our duty keeps us to our tethers,
     And where the gale drives we must go.

….

Our Mr. Dibdin (1745-1814) wrote many songs over the course of his life and career.

Now, this excerpt, printed as a poem, is from a song. Which got me wondering about songs of the sea, which led me to looking up sea shanties. A sea shanty was a song sung by the crew of tall sailing ships back in the day – usually call-and-response, with simple lyrics. The songs helped everyone keep to the same rhythm, and likely kept boredom at bay on long journeys as well.

Hungry for more, ye say? Well, y’ave plenty of time to read up before International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19), so ye might look in on this fun website I found,: The Pirate King.

Now, where were we?

Oh – CROWN JEWELS!

In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up, here’s another poem from this literary treasure chest. I might just have to tuck it into my hubby’s Valentine – shhh; don’t tell!

Associations of Home

by Walter Condor

That is not home, where day by day
I wear the busy hours away;
that is not home, where lonely night
Prepares me for the toils of light;
‘tis hope, and joy, and memory, give
A home in which the heart can live.
It is a presence undefined,
O’ershadowing the conscious mind;
Where love and duty sweetly blend
To consecrate the name of friend
Where’er thou art, is home to me,
And home without thee cannot be.


Wishing you the comfort of “a presence undefined” among friends and loved ones this month.

Be sure to row back over next week, when we’ll enjoy some lovely haiku from our February Student Haiku Poet of the Month!

And now please visit our always-original Liz (Elizabeth) Steinglass, rounding up the fleet of Poetry Friday posts today at her blog .

Poetry Friday - Celebrating a Birthday, Beatrix Potter Style...

January 22, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, nursery rhymes, ponderings

Top: Morgan and her supervising teacher from last year, Susan Gray, as they prepare for this school year. How special that they are now teaching on the same hall!

Bottom: Morgan's First Birthday, over-the-top Beatrix Potter. And lots of pink.

Happy Birthday to my Firstborn!

Shortly after midnight twenty-three years ago, when January 22nd became the 23rd, I became a mom. I was blessed with a healthy dose of those new mommy hormones, for no amount of exhaustion could dampen the shine on my amazement at our little bundle. I was awestruck.

In the years between then and now, there were a few more emotions, too. (Mothers of daughters? You know….) But now that I’m the proud mom of a grown-up young woman, I’m awestruck once again.

I remember being so excited to celebrate Morgan’s first birthday that I could hardly sleep the night before. Beatrix Potter theme – cake, wrapping paper, coordinating ribbons and decorations, and the obligatory pictures of cake smeared on the faces of our little one-year-old and her baby buddy, McCamy.

So I thought it would be fun to share a few verses from Beatrix Potter today, from CECILY PARSLEY'S NURSERY RHYMES For Little Peter in New Zealand (Frederick Warne & Co., Ltd., 1922).

After all, Morgan’s middle name is Cecily, and she’s been to New Zealand!

Here we are:

Cecily Parsley lived in a pen,
And brewed good ale for gentlemen.

Gentlemen came every day
Till Cecily Parsley ran away.



Hmmmm. On second thought, perhaps not the most appropriate poem for a mother to honor her daughter on her birthday? Well, for one thing, Morgan is far too busy teaching her third-graders and juggling her masters degree classes to have time to brew ale, and I don’t think her honey would like all those gentlemen callers.

Have no fear, Beatrix Potter included lots of fun verse in her little volume, and it’s worth clicking over to The Gutenberg Project to enjoy the illustrations.

You might know that our Beatrix had quite the life beyond Peter Rabbit. One of my most treasured books is
Beatrix Potter's Art: A Selection of Paintings and Drawings
by Anne Stevenson Hobbs (Warne, 1990).
Though out of print, you might find a used copy here .

Its description reads:

“As the creator of one of the world's most celebrated children's characters, Beatrix Potter has rarely been seen as a talented and versatile artist in her own right as in many ways the outstanding success of her 'little books' has overshadowed her other achievements.” The book offers an array of beautiful paintings and studies of The Lake District and also sheds light on the author’s work for conservation.

So, hearty cheers for Beatrix – and even more for our Morgan Cecily today. We are all in awe of you.

Speaking of wonderful teachers, you can keep the poetry party going by hopping over to A Teaching Life, where the terrific Tara is our host this week!

Poetry Friday: Won’t you toss me a line?

January 15, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, ponderings

photos ©Robyn Hood Black


Help! Nothing leaves me less inspired than being covered up in tax stuff. The hubby is way better at numbers, but these kinds of things don’t make it to his “urgent” list, and since I do all the household money wrangling anyway, I just scramble as best I can.

So scrambling right now I am, generating mounds of (recycled, but still…) paper spewing out of my temperamental printer, tracking down receipts from what seems like eons ago in another state but was really just last year, etc. etc. We’re both more or less self-employed, and that makes everything complicated! We DO have a great accountant, but I have to give them something to work with.
Here’s a little haiku I wrote in my journal last year:


15 April
Titanic and taxes
start with T…


©Robyn Hood Black

(I’d recently read Allan Wolf’s compelling verse novel, THE WATCH THAT ENDS THE NIGHT, about that dreaded night of April 15, 1912.)

Enough of all that. Don’t you feel dusty and sluggish just having to read it? I do. So, I’m tossing out a couple of pictures that I posted on my my artsyletters blog this week. – this wonderful old typewriter sprouting pansies in the garden of a local antique shop (Bay St. Trasures), and antique buttons from another shop (Reflections Old & New).

Do either of these pictures inspire something poetic – even just a turn of phrase? When I linked the post on Facebook, our wonderful Diane Mayr
commented: “Buttons = character. Find which go with which (in your mind's eye) and write about them.” I think Button Queen Amy Ludwig Vanderwater
would like that idea! She started a “Button Project” about this time last year on The Poem Farm.

Well, if a blooming typewriter or some hundred-year-old buttons lead to a line or two or a few from you, please share below! That would be so much more fun to read than (– Sigh –) the most current calculations for mileage expense.

Thanks!!

And for lots of truly inspiring poetry, please visit the ever-dreamy Irene at Live Your Poem. She has the MLK edition of Poetry Friday today! Thank you, Irene.

Poetry Friday: Student Haiku Poet of the Month Pearl Sullivan

January 8, 2015

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


Greetings, haiku lovers! I hope this new year continues to sparkle with new inspirations for you. There's a guaranteed shine from my blog each time I get to share a student poet and his or her work.

Today, we have a special luster to enjoy - our Student Poet of the Month is Pearl Sullivan, a former student of Tom Painting's at The Paideia School in Atlanta, Georgia.

Pearl is 15 years old and a sophomore at Paideia.

She has lived in Atlanta for most of her life but she lived in Dublin, Ireland, for two years, moving there with her family when she was five and moving back at age seven.

"I like hanging out with my friends and family, reading, and playing sports," she says. "I started writing haiku in 7th grade as homework and grew to really love how every poem is simple but also has a deeper meaning."

Here are some of Pearls' wonderful poems:



my excuse
to rise from slumber
blood moon



raindrops
slide off the shingles
singing in the rain



history class
I discover
myself



an old song
on the radio
my breath quickens



new snowfall
blood red berries
among the thorns



frozen mid-laugh memories



Poems ©Pearl Sullivan. All rights reserved.


Many thanks to Pearl for sharing her thoughtful poetry with us today. Which ones especially strike you? [I'm a sucker for the punch of a great one-line haiku (sometimes called a monoku), and the final poem here I find very effective!]

For more posts in this series featuring talented students, please click here.

To continue our journey in a new year of wonderful poetry, please make your way to The Opposite of Indifference, where the ever-shiny Tabatha hosts our Roundup today.

Poetry Friday - a Haiku for the New Year

January 1, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, ponderings, birds, awards

Yay Images
Happy New Year!

I hope you and yours have enjoyed a lovely holiday, and you are ready to leap head-first into a new year filled with poetry. Like my crazy hubby and son leaped into the chilly Atlantic today as part of the "Pelican Plunge" at Hunting Island....

Last year, I was still in the foothills of north Georgia, where I'd penned the following haiku:


new year
the twitter of a hundred robins
in the oak



Modern Haiku, Volume 45.1, Winter/​Spring 2014

©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


I haven't seen those huge flocks of robins here in my new yard near the coast, but there is plenty of wonderful bird life. And it's very nice to greet the new year from the same nest this year, rather than two different locations on the map!

Please make a migratory stop here next week, as we'll celebrate our January Student Haiku Poet of the Month. Such a treat for me to feature the work of these fine young poets.

Rounding up our first Poetry Friday for2015 is the wonderful Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Be sure to also check out her post featuring the Cybils finalists for poetry - the rounds have included books by some of our own amazing Poetry Friday community. Congratulations to all the nominees! [If you're a PF regular, you'll recognize the talented judges' names, too.] The incomparable Syliva Vardell has featured the shortlist at Poetry for Children, and there you can also find all of the 36 nominated poetry titles for 2014. I'll take one of each, please.

Poetry Friday: Student Haiku Poet of the Month Carson Race

December 11, 2014

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


Happy Holidays, Poetry Folks!

Today I invite you to take a wee break from the hustle and bustle, and have a long sip of short-form poetry with our Student Haiku Poet of the Month. I’m delighted to share the work of Paideia student Carson Race.

Carson was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1999. The middle of three children, he has an older brother and a younger sister. He started at The Paideia School in the third grade and has attended there ever since. His interests include soccer, football, and mock trial. He’s been writing haiku for three years since his 7th grade year.

“Why haiku?” for Carson? He writes:

Haiku is a poetic form than can be written anywhere and about anything. This is the main reason I like it. I enjoy haiku because it doesn't require much effort to get one started, but to end up with a good haiku, you need to put something into it.

(I say Amen to that.) Please enjoy some of Carson’s fine poetry:



winter morning
a bird
picking at its bath



road trip
fog rolls
over the mountains



summer lake
a crawfish
clouds the water



so full of leaves
so full of air
the tree



new moon
darkness
overcomes me



late winter day
the first cineraria
slowly rises



Poems ©Carson Race. All rights reserved.

Many thanks to Carson for sharing his poems with us today. Which ones most resonate with you today?

For more posts in this series featuring talented students, please click here.

And for more rejuvenating poetry in this hectic season, please visit our host Paul at These4 Corners.

[If you have any time after making the rounds, I’m delighted I'll be a featured guest today on the Nerdy Chicks Rule blog – with huge thanks to Kami Kinard!]

Poetry Friday: Micro Found Poetry for the Holidays... Kid-Friendly Project!

November 27, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, micro found poetry, holidays, students, found poems

©Robyn Hood Black

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

One of the top items on my "Thankful" list is our Poetry Friday community - old hats, new faces, the spontaneous community of what must the world's most wonderful folks. Thank you for your friendship and your ever-inspiring posts.

My post today is about wee things. Just when I think I can't downsize any more....

Here I was this week in my studio, trying to concoct a few Christmas ornaments to make available in my Etsy shop this weekend. I've searched high and low for any kind of ornament frames similar to the great ones I found last year for the miniature version of my "Writer Mouse" print. But, alas, no luck.

So I've been experimenting with some smaller vintage ones that I found online. I hand-cropped my wee literary mousie and put it in the front of some gold-tone tiny frame ornaments I snatched up. These are only about 2 inches by 1 1/2 inch. The back had its own clear plastic covering for an image as well. What to do?

Eureka! I've also been playing around with my beloved old books this week, planning mixed media/found poem/collage pieces now that I'm on the mend. Why not conjure up wee little holiday found poems from these very old texts to share? A tiny piece of history to hang on the tree! [My first children's poems published in a book were in Georgia Heard's THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK (Roaring Brook), and I've been addicted ever since. Kids love creating found poems, too - more on that in a sec.]

Here are the highlighted texts, in case they are difficult to read in the pictures:

********************

      merry making
telling of stories

carries us back


********************

reindeer
     travel upwards


********************

practice
under the mistletoe


********************



[From LITTLE FOLKS - A Magazine for the Very Young, London, Paris & New York, Cassell & Company, LTD., bound collections from 1877 and 1884.]

Not really sure you'd call these poetry, maybe micro found poems? (If that's a thing, I couldn't find it online, though you can read plenty about "found poems" and "micropoetry.")

Now, Teachers - and Parents about to have kids home over the next break - students seem less intimidated about "writing poetry" if they have something in front of them as inspiration instead of a blank page. I kid you not, I've even seen "cool" eighth grade boys eager to come to the front of the room and share a found poem they created together during a workshop. [That is a beautiful thing!]

Maybe you could try an ornament activity like this as a fun little project? Students would not need to cut up 100-year-old books, of course. They could start with a die-cut blank cardstock circle, or cut their own "base" in a shape they like, and punch a hole in the top for a piece of ribbon. Are there any kid-friendly magazines or other text goldmines in the recycling pile? All the poet-artists need now are some scissors, glue, and imagination! One option for them (or you) is to simply cut out some words from within the text and glue these onto their cardstock base.

If you'd like to try the "highlighted" effect I show above, the top of a sticky note (the sticky part) is your best friend. (I borrowed this technique from the terrific Seth Apter.) Just cut a text-high strip to cover the words you want featured. Paint over the rest of the text (a light "wash" - acrylic or watercolor paint thinned with water - works great, to let some of the other words peek through just a bit). Before the paint is completely dry, gently lift away the sticky note strip(s). Tweezers might help here.

When the found-poem ornament is dry, a coat of acrylic gloss will give it a sheen and add some protection. That's not necessary, though, if supplies are limited or you've got very young artist/poets!

***All you talented teachers, poets, artists, parents - please add your two cents' in the comments if you've got thoughts to share on this project!***

For poetry of all shapes and sizes, and a thoughtful post from our host today, please visit Carol's Corner.


Thankful for Open Doors... and a Perfect Thanksgiving Poem

November 20, 2014

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, ponderings, seasons

©Robyn Hood Black

This Thanksgiving will be a little different – the first time we haven’t spent the actual day of with our kids. Alas, hubby Jeff has to work Wednesday and Friday, and we’re a bit too far now to come and go to his folks’ home in one day. (Our kids, both in that foothills-neck-of-the-woods, will partake of the big meal and happy crowd chaos and re-charge their cousin batteries.)

I pondered making a quick turn-around trip to be part of all that, but my neuromuscular massage therapist said NO to driving that distance solo just yet. We’re adaptable – Morgan and Seth will come here for the weekend, and we’ll have Thanksgiving again – vegetarian-style – on Saturday.

This year, each one of us has dug up roots in one location and started a new life in another. Jeff got a head start by moving here to the coast before the end of last year. Then I made a zillion trips in the spring bringing over animals and furniture and way too many boxes. Morgan graduated from Furman, moved to a lovely little rental house in the area with friends, and started teaching third grade (and taking grad classes!) Seth completed a strong freshman year at Belmont, but traded in his Nashville city slicker pass to hang his hammock in the mountains of North Georgia at Young Harris College. (Perfect fit.)

Jeff and I have been getting used to the fit of our Empty Nester jackets. We joined a terrific church and have received kind welcomes from neighbors and new friends. We’ve taken lots of walks, downtown and on the trail over the marsh, and even taken in a play or two. And, okay, sometimes we spend evenings watching TV, at least when The Voice is on. (Morgan’s fault.)

When we were first looking into Beaufort, I hunted SCBWI members and found Kami Kinard , author of THE BOY PROJECT and THE BOY PROBLEM from Scholastic (books I wish I’d had for Morgan back in the day!) I stalked contacted Kami right off, and she was not only a wealth of helpful info, she’s become a good friend. Thursday evening, she hosted a get-together to introduce me to other writers in the area. Though self-conscious about those dynamics, I'm honored and thrilled to meet more members of the tribe. [One mutual writer friend I met soon after moving here – she’s a neighbor! Confirmation that we’d settled in the right spot.]

I’d love to say everything is orderly and flowing smoothly, but I’m still wrangling with storage challenges and realistic work schedules and such. Yet mostly I’m grateful – for long-time friendships unaffected by years and miles, and by new friendships we’ve been graced with. And for my online friends – some I’ve met in person and others I hope to.

In DAYS TO CELEBRATE, the incomparable Lee Bennett Hopkins shares an anonymous poem for Thanksgiving. (The anthology is one of many collaborations with illustrator Stephen Alcorn; I recommend buying all of them!)

The words are simple yet full of truth and warmth.

Thanksgiving

Anonymous

The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest is all gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.

Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway –
Thanksgiving comes again!


Posted here with permission - many thanks to LBH!

May your doorway be open to those you hold most dear. And wishing you comfort and peace if you are facing an empty chair at the table this year.

For a heaping feast of delicious poetry, please visit fellow South Carolinian Becky at Tapestry of Words for today’s Roundup!

Poetry Friday: Student Haiku Poet of the Month Lucas Mavromatis

November 13, 2014

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


Greetings, Poetry Friday Fans! As promised, today we have a visit from our Student Poet of the Month courtesy of The Paideia School and teacher extraordinaire Tom Painting.

Meet Lucas Mavromatis. (Isn’t that an awesome name?) Lucas was born and raised in Atlanta and is in the tenth grade at The Paideia School. He lives with his parents, Juliet and Kreton, and with his younger sister, Elena.

Lucas is an “avid fan of music” and enjoys playing the saxophone. He is also a devoted soccer player. Other hobbies include running, watching sports and spending time with friends.

About haiku, Lucas says:

I have enjoyed writing haiku since I was introduced to the poetic form in seventh
grade by my literature teacher, Tom Painting. I was instantly drawn to
haiku’s ability to express powerful imagery in a quick, concise way.


Lucas’s interests in sports and music seem to inspire his writing: I find these poems powerful, concise, and musical! Enjoy.



under the spotlight
of the moon
a woman dancing



a young boy
at the funeral
his imaginary friend



sheltered
by an old oak
a sapling



old wedding photo
a bottle of rum
holds his hand



92nd birthday
the cake too small
for the candles



snack time
the underlying taste
of hand sanitizer



Poems © Lucas Mavromatis. All rights reserved.

Many thanks to Lucas for sharing his work here today.

For more posts in this series featuring talented students, please click here.

Poetry Friday is brought to us this week by the wonderful Keri at Keri Recommends. She has just lost her father, and she shares a beautiful tribute to this man and this veteran this week.
{Sending warmest thoughts.}

Poetry Friday - A Few Haiku; Writers Wrule...

November 6, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, artsyletters, writing life

© Robyn Hood Black
Happy November!

Next week, we'll enjoy another Student Haiku Poet of the Month. To tide you over, here are a few of my recent (fairly recent anyway) published haiku:



lingering afternoon
the ebb and flow
of birdsong



This World - Haiku Society of America 2013 Members' Anthology




firelight -
old friends meet
for the first time



gazing at flowers - Haiku Society of America Southeast Region 2013 Anthology



and, I can't believe it's been almost a year since I wrote this next one. (Not sure the fog ever completely lifted...):



december fog my to do to do to do list



Modern Haiku, Volume 45.3, Autumn 2014


All poems ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


How about you - are you glancing at the calendar in shocked disbelief, stocking up on extra boxes of Wheaties? [Note to self: insert blatant self-promotional segue here... ;0) ]

Many of you have kindly purchased from my Etsy store, artsyletters , the last two holiday seasons. Though this past year has involved a complicated interstate move and a late summer injury that knocked me out of work for a couple of months, I'm slip-sliding back into the crazy stream here just in time for the holidays. While I haven't been able to make intricate fine art (but I'm almost back enough for that!), I've been busy making some new items for literary and artistic types.

In addition to the Book Nerd gift pack and Poet gift pack I conjured up last year, I've just added a Teachers Rule gift pack , a Writers Wrule gift pack, and a Maker Magnet gift pack for your favorite artisan. I'm listing new items each week.

Now, wish me luck - I'm opening the doors of my studio this evening for downtown Beaufort's "First Friday" fun, where businesses stay open from 5 to 8 and folks meander and mingle. (There's a lot of meandering and mingling in the "slow"-country.)

Thanks!! I'll lift a cup of hot cider to all our Poetry Friday peeps. All busy, of course, posting wonderful poetry - and we're rounded up today by the amazingly talented Diane, PF host extraordinaire, at Random Noodling. Diane also offers a perfect welcome to November in poem & picture.

Poetry Friday: Spooky and Spinelli!

October 30, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, Halloween, poets, poetry

Oliver, 15+, and Rita, 2 1/2 and weighing in at 3 1/2 pounds, wish you HAPPY HALLOWEEN from the 'Black Forest'!

***HAPPY HALLOWEEN!***

I hope yours is perfectly spooky and fun.

No tricks for you today, just a special TREAT from Eileen Spinelli .

Now, if you've been magically blessed like I have to meet the Spinellis and to learn poetic tricks and tips from Eileen, you know that no time of year or holiday goes un-celebrated in their family. What a delightful combination they live out - serious devotion to art and craft, coupled with serious joie de vivre and carpe deim-ing!

Eileen graciously agreed to share a perfect-for-today poem with us. Enjoy.


OCTOBER MELODY


by Eileen Spinelli


Listen to the laughter

spilling from the pumpkin patch,

listen to the windy afternoon,

listen to the swish of brooms,

the swoosh of leaves,

the crackle of a fire.

Listen to the cricket's final tune.



Listen to the noisy twilight geese,

listen to the last cry of the jay,

listen to the bursting milkweed pod

before October's music

falls away.



©Eileen Spinelli. All rights reserved.


Sigh-worthy, n'est-ce pas? Many thanks to Eileen for sharing.

Now, grab your broom and hightail it over to Teacher Dance , where our amazing Linda is hosting (ghosting?) Poetry Friday!


Poetry Friday - Robert Frost's "October"

October 23, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poets

Cupid Falls, Young Harris, Georgia
This was last weekend, but that green is on its way to colorful splendor as the month goes on, I'm sure!

Happy Poetry Friday!

Actually, like last week, it's a Friday on the road for us. Headed to our - gulp! - 30th college reunion at Furman. The leaves are sure to be glorious.

Last week we enjoyed Family weekend at the college Seth transferred to this year - Young Harris up in the north Georgia mountains. [He tried to convince us that if he just lived in a yurt, it would save all that housing money....] The landscape was tinged with honey gold and crimson but hadn't quite given up its green yet. The weather was divine.

Seth told us that whole area is called the "Enchanted Valley" - it certainly looks the part. And look, here's that lovely "enchant" word in this poem by our Dear Mr. Frost. I've enjoyed the Frost poems shared on Poetry Friday the last few months. If someone has already posted this one this year, forgive the redundancy - I missed out! Then again, one can never have too much Frost...


October

By Robert Frost


O hushed October morning mild,

Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;

Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,

Should waste them all.

The crows above the forest call;

Tomorrow they may form and go.

O hushed October morning mild,

Begin the hours of this day slow.

Make the day seem to us less brief.

Hearts not averse to being beguiled,

Beguile us in the way you know.

Release one leaf at break of day;

At noon release another leaf;

One from our trees, one far away.

Retard the sun with gentle mist;

Enchant the land with amethyst.

Slow, slow!

For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,

Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,

Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—

For the grapes’ sake along the wall.



Here is The Poetry Foundation link.

May your lands be enchanted as we stroll through the end of October, and your mists be gentle! For more wonderful poetry, visit Cathy at Merely Day by Day for this week's Roundup. She has the lovely word "gentle" in an original poem and its title. Must be a theme....
(And give your favorite teacher a high-five. We'll give Morgan one when we cross paths this weekend in Greenville.)

Poetry Friday: Haiku Student Poet of the Month Grace Futral

October 9, 2014

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

Grace Futral
Greetings, Poetry Fans! I know you've been patiently waiting for this year's "Haiku Student Poet of the Month" series. Last year you met accomplished haiku poet and teacher at The Paideia School in Atlanta, Tom Painting. [Click here for my feature on Tom as part of our WE HAIKU HERE series last fall, and here for a few recent poems.] And you met several of his current and former students sharing their incredible haiku. [If you missed any, you may click here to get caught up.]

We are delighted to kick off the 2014-15 series with Grace Futral. Grace is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and lives in Druid Hills with her parents and older brother. At 15, she is a committed soccer player, artist, and writer.

She says:

My inspiring junior high teacher, Tom Painting, introduced me to the art of haiku. Haiku nurtures my poetic side and makes me more aware of the subtle, beautiful aspects of life.

Please enjoy some of Grace's fine poetry:



morning sun
dad knee deep
in the river


late autumn
his callused hands
feed the line

[*note* The above poem was a national winner in the 2012 Nicholas Virgilio Memorial Haiku Competition]


skylight
we blend in
with the stars


summer night
frogs make the silence
so loud


the sky
sheds a lick of light
crescent moon


old mansion
the dust settled
memories


Poems ©Grace Futral. All rights reserved.


I've enjoyed re-reading these and find something new to delight in each time. While strong haiku poetry generally eschews excessive poetic devices, a particularly irresistible turn of phrase or bit of alliteration can often sneak in to make a haiku memorable. For me, that "lick of light" in Grace's "the sky" poem is just perfect. And the way the sounds of frogs make you realize how quiet it is at night - a great observation.

Which poem particularly draws you in?

Thanks for coming by to share in the series, and be sure to check out terrific poetry of all stripes at this week's Roundup, hosted by the wonderful Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Poetry Friday - Haiku with Tom Painting (& Student Haiku to come...)

September 25, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, haiku, poetry, student work, poets

Haiku poet and teacher Tom Painting and students at the 2013 quarterly Haiku Society of America meeting in Atlanta.
What's that I hear? (Cups ear with hand...) It's a new school year, and you are wondering when those FABULOUS student haiku poets will be sharing their work with us?

Have no fear. Tom Painting, acclaimed haiku poet and teacher at The Paideia School in Atlanta, has no shortage of talented young people to present. We will be delighted to continue our "Student Haiku Poet of the Month" series again in October. Just a few weeks!

To whet your appetite, I asked Tom if he might share a few of his own recent poems today. [Click here for my feature on Tom as part of our WE HAIKU HERE series last fall, highlighting speakers from the quarterly meeting of the Haiku Society of America held in Atlanta.]

He kindly obliged. Enjoy:


under cover
of darkness
our heart to heart



reading
till the stars come out
I mark my place



the talk
my son throws stones
into the river



Indian summer
bison graze the shadow
of the Bitterroots



Poems ©Tom Painting. All rights reserved.

Do you have a favorite? I'm delighted or dazzled by each one. The second poem, "reading," while it offers a sense of calm, challenges us with expansiveness and perspective - we "mark our place" in the universe. As a parent whose children are now young adults, "the talk" draws a smile. And bison grazing a shadow is just a beautiful, surprising image.

Wouldn't it be great if haiku were taught in every school by such a master? I hope you'll return for more haiku from Tom's classroom this year! If you missed any of last year's featured student poets, click here to meet these amazing young writers and read their work.

And for all kinds of wonderful poetry, please visit the ever-talented Laura at Writing the World for Kids for this week's Poetry Friday Roundup. [While there, be sure to check out her great "15 Words or Less" poetry features/challenges! Helps to sharpen the haiku mind.... And learn about her new book series for teachers! :0) ]

Poetry Friday: Here, Have a Cup of Shelley for a New Season...

September 11, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poets, seasons

Yay Images

Happy Almost-Fall Greetings...

Here's hoping your summer will fold into a golden, sparkly fall - rich in experience and poetic inspiration.

What the heck - let's fling ourselves toward it with some ever-effusive Shelley, shall we?

Enjoy!

Ode to the West Wind

by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)

I
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear!

II
Thou on whose stream, mid the steep sky's commotion,
Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,

Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
On the blue surface of thine aëry surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head

Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith's height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge

Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
Vaulted with all thy congregated might

Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: oh hear!

III
Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lull'd by the coil of his crystalline streams,

Beside a pumice isle in Baiae's bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
Quivering within the wave's intenser day,

All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic's level powers

Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know

Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: oh hear!

IV
If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O uncontrollable! If even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be

The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,
As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
Scarce seem'd a vision; I would ne'er have striven

As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

A heavy weight of hours has chain'd and bow'd
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.

V
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like wither'd leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguish'd hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken'd earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?


http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174401

I know, if you're in my part of the country, you are still wearing shorts. But the weather folks have been showing pictures where some of you might live, and there's already white stuff on the ground!

For poetry appropriate for any clime, please visit lovely Renée at No Water River for today's Roundup. (What's the weather like in Italy this week, Renée ?)

Poetry Friday: Final Summer Poem Swap Featuring a "Moving" Poem by Keri Collins Lewis

September 4, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poem Swap, poetry


Poem©Keri Collins Lewis. All Rights Reserved.


It's sunny and hot outside, but the calendar says summer is drawing to a close. I'm happy to share my final Summer Poem Swap 2014 gift here to mark the transition.

It's all about transition!

Many thanks to the multitalented and thoughtful Keri Collins Lewis for this wonderful cinquain reflecting this big move we've just made. (I hope you can see the poem well enough in the picture; it's hard to format indentions on my blog, and I'm trying to do much of this with my left hand anyway. Sigh.)

For a little more about cinquains and writing them with students, check out this post at Kenn Nesbitt's Poetry4Kids site. (Do you need to double-check your pronunciation of the form? Hmmm?)

And for more great poetry of all kinds, visit the endlessly talented Laura over at Author Amok for this week's Roundup!

Poetry Friday: Summer Poem Swap Haiga from Heidi Mordhorst

August 14, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, haiku, haiga, Poem Swap, birds, poetry


Happy Middle-of-August!

I’ve just returned from helping our daughter Morgan set up her new third grade classroom in Greenville, SC, and we’re about to head out to the north Georgia mountains to get our son Seth settled into his college apartment on campus. I hope your back-to-school-ing is going well if you are a parent or teacher or media specialist or student or such! Whether your August involves school or not, I’m sure you’ll enjoy stopping just for a moment to enjoy another Summer Poem Swap treasure.


sodden robin
unmiserable to the
naked eye



©Heidi Mordhorst. All rights reserved.


This gem is from our ever talented Poetry Friday host this week, Heidi Mordhorst (who greets this time of year as a teacher and a mom herself!). How lovely that she paired her haiku with this wonderful photograph of my namesake in the bird world. In an accompanying note, Heidi said she loved the “resilience” of this feathered friend. We’ve certainly seen our share of “sodden” this summer; our back yard flooded last weekend. Many cities (including Greenville) in several regions of the country have dealt with serious flooding this week.

You might know from Diane and her wonderful blog that a haiku and visual image presented together is called a “haiga,” and I’m honored Heidi sent me one!

As Stephen Addis explains in the jacket flap of his book, THE ART OF HAIKU (Shambhala, 2012):

All the great haiku masters created paintings (called haiga) or calligraphy in connection with their poems, and the words and images were intended to be enjoyed together, enhancing each other, and each adding its own dimension to the reader’s and viewer’s understanding.

Many thanks to Heidi for this haiga, and to Tabatha for organizing our sensational SWAP.

Here’s hoping you are unmiserable - nice and dry in fact, and ready to enjoy more poetry! Join the flock over at Heidi’s My Juicy Little Universe.

Poetry Friday: What Do Teachers Make?

August 7, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poets, teachers, ponderings

Our daughter Morgan, new grad student and brand-new third-grade teacher!

Teachers. It’s that time of year.

For me, it’s that time of life. My baby girl, the one who used to dress in prairie dresses channeling the Ingalls girls, and drag out some small congregation of dolls and/or stuffed animals, and hold court under the sun and on the grass with them – this same child has a brand new teacher badge and her name on a door a few hours away in a South Carolina elementary school. Third grade.

I could not be more proud, and I’m looking forward to a quick trip to help her finish setting up her classroom in a couple of days. I remember with utmost fondness my third grade teacher in Florida, Mrs. Ashton, and I’m certain there will be a few wide-eyed young faces in this state who will remember Morgan decades down the road, too.

So, today, this Poetry Friday is for you, Morgan! And ALL of you wonderful Poetry Friday folks who give yourselves to the next generation in schools, libraries, on school visits…. This poem might not be appropriate for the wall of a third-grade classroom, but it’s appropriate for the walls in every teacher’s heart. (Many of you know it already, I’m sure, but maybe the newbies don’t – and it’s worth reading again!)


What Teachers Make

by Taylor Mali

He says the problem with teachers is
What’s a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life
was to become a teacher?

He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true
what they say about teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.
I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the dinner guests
that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.
Because we’re eating, after all, and this is polite conversation.

I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor.
Be honest. What do you make?


And I wish he hadn’t done that— …



(Please click here to read the rest. You have to read the rest!)

Our youngest, Seth, actually got to go to the Dodge Poetry Festival a couple of years ago, where Taylor Mali was a featured poet (and Seth’s favorite). Why was my son there? An incredible teacher took him.

Speaking of incredible teachers, Mary Lee has today’s Roundup over at A Year of Reading . Enjoy!

Poetry Friday - Summer Poem Swap and Poetic Procrastination from Buffy Silverman

July 31, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, Summer Poem Swap, ponderings, poetry

Buffy's poem arrived with the wonderful blackbird graphic (credited below) and a small envelope with two treasures: fossils from Lake Michigan!

During The Summer Poem Swap, I’ve enjoyed a little banter with fellow participant Buffy Silverman about our – um – lack of ability to, technically, meet the deadlines. :0! [Aside: I had the privilege of meeting Buffy a couple of years ago at a Highlights Founders workshop in poetry, along with a few other Poetry Friday-ers. What a treat!]

This deadline business all started with the very first swap poem; I’d noticed a comment Buffy left on another blog with a wee apology that her poem would arrive a little late. I emailed her that her confession gave me comfort, because I was already running behind too! Little did we know we’d be swapping with each other just a couple of rounds later.

And little did I know she could turn that week’s suggested prompt into this poetic series that literally had me laughing out loud. My office cat, May, was in my lap while I read it, and she looked alarmed, wondering what all the fuss was about.

I’m sure you will enjoy Buffy’s offering as much as I did!


Thirteen Ways of Looking at Procrastination
(an apology poem for Robyn, with thanks to Wallace Stevens)


I
Among the pile of unfinished tasks,
The one that tore my soul
Was the poetry-swap poem for Robyn.


II
I was of three minds,
Like a blank page
In which there are three imaginary poems.


III
The unwritten poem whirled in the background of my day.
It was a small part of the pantomime of being a writer.


IV
Facebook and sudoku
Are one.
Facebook and sudoku and a week up north
Are one.


V.
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of Robyn’s poem for me not yet written
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The busy writer with assignments
That no one need know were completed seven days ago.


VI
Would icicles fill the study window
Before the summer swap poems were written?
The shadow of procrastination
Grows when Robyn’s poem arrives.
The joy of her gift
Traced with guilt
A decipherable cause.


VII
O idling writer of Augusta
Why do you imagine golden words?
Do you not see how the page
Still blank dances with rhythm
Of the writers before you?


VIII
I know about spiders and webs
And nimble, unpredictable rhymes;
But I know, too,
That frittering delay is involved
In what I know.


IX
When the excuses flew out of sight
The words marked the end
Of the empty screen.


X
At the sight of stanzas
Crowing in black and white,
Even the mistress of procrastination
Would cry out sharply.


XI
She rode to
Beaufort in a manila envelope.
Once, a fear pierced her,
In that she mistook
The lateness of her words
For ineptitude.


XII
The neurons are firing.
The missive will soon be flying.


XIII
It was easier to write than to delay.
It was sunrise
And it was going to glow.
The words poured
From the writer’s pen.


--Buffy Silverman, July 2014

Image from http://www.julianjardine.co.uk/alisonread.html

©Buffy Silverman. All Rights Reserved.

Now, don’t procrastinate – get thee hence to this week’s Roundup over at Reflections on the Teche , hosted by the lovely and talented Margaret. (You can see Margaret’s Round One Summer Poem Swap gifts to me here .)

And… BLATENT COMMERCIAL WARNING: If you have a little correspondence to catch up on yourself this summer, I’ve just added a couple of beach-themed note card designs to the artsyletters stable. You can see them on my art blog here.

Poetry Friday - Tribute to Mary Lee. A Different Mary Lee...

July 17, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, animals, ponderings


Our Fearless Poetry Friday Roundup Leader, Mary Lee, of A Year of Reading blog and her poetrepository website, is certainly worthy of a tribute. But today I bring you a different Mary Lee. One with fins.

Let me back up. Today in our new hometown, a 10-day extravaganza known as the "Water Festival" begins. While this part of the lowcountry is also called the “slowcountry,” my understanding is that for the next week or so, it’ll be the slowcountry on steroids. Concerts, dragon boat races, parades – on land and in the water, and lots of dancing, lots of beverages…. Well, at least we live within walking distance to downtown!

Thinking about celebrating the water, I was also reminded of a news story which came in on the tide this week. We’d heard about Mary Lee, a great white shark who pays visits to Beaufort County waters. (She even has her own Facebook page .)

She was tagged in 2012 by OCEARCH and now scientists monitor her movements, and those of other sharks, around the world. (Pretty cool – click here here to explore!)

Anyway, seems our new little personal nest is more or less surrounded by what just might be a prime nursery site for great white mamas in the Northern Atlantic! Port Royal sound is teeming with diverse aquatic life, perfect for baby shark buffets. Here’s this week’s article which caught my eye.

(Did you click over? Please pause and wrap your mind around that: 16-plus feet long. 3400-plus pounds.) Ah, motherhood.

I decided to shine the light on Mary Lee for Poetry Friday this week – from a distance, of course. From land, in fact. Inside my house.


MARY LEE


Mary Lee, Oh, Mary Lee –
you’ve come back to the bay.
To these waters where we swim
and fish - and row - and play.

Come to leave your pups with us
in deep Port Royal Sound.
Yes, we’ll keep an eye on them.
We hear you’re Northern-bound?

Not to worry. Go on now.
Though you might find it odd,
we’ll sleep a bit more soundly here
when you’re back in Cape Cod.



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Please remove your silver jewelry and paddle and splash your way on over to Terrific Tabatha's, where she has this week's Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference.

Poetry Friday: Summer Poem Swap Surprise from Margaret Simon

June 26, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, Summer Poem Swap, poetry, ponderings

painting and poem ©Margaret Simon


First, Summer Poetry Swap Confession: I so enjoyed the Winter Poem Swap - these things are conjured up by the amazing Tabatha Yeatts - that I signed on for this year's Summer Swap. "I'll be all settled and organized by June," I says to myself. "I'm in!"

Got my first secret recipient info - it was Diane Mayr! I'm a not-so-secret admirer of her poetry, her quick wit and thoughtfulness, her art sense, her ability to juggle three blogs simultaneously and hold down a real job and keep her feline companions happy... . "I'll come up with some lovely haiku for her," I says to myself. Well, that first "deadline" zinged right past me, and I sent her a little groveling message that I was already behind! (Of course, she sent a "no worries"-type message back. But she SHOULD get my offering in the mail today according to the P. O., not haiku but something else. When I saw Buffy's message to her first Summer Swap partner that hers would be a little late, I emailed Buffy about how much better that made me feel!)

Anyway, I was delighted to open my own mailbox and find a special envelope with Margaret Simon's return address! Margaret is just one of those people you want to drive all the way to Louisiana to meet up with and talk with for hours over some strong Louisiana coffee, just by reading her blog posts and her thoughtful comments all around. BUT - I was also feeling a little guilty. Her poetic gift arrived on time, and I just knew it would be something wonderful.

When a quiet moment finally presented itself, I opened the envelope, feeling inadequate already. A hand painted card was inside, and it looked like my new surroundings! At first I thought, "Does the bayou look like our lowcountry?!" Then I read that she'd looked online for a picture of "South Carolina beaches" and she painted, in watercolor, a scene she found! (I didn't even know she painted - did you?)

If that wasn't enough to grab me - and actually, it was! - I read the beautiful poem she'd penned inside. Talk about humbled. And uplifted. I was struggling to feel like I could slow down enough (even in this "slowcountry") to write some new poetry, and I fell right into these words:


Poem in the Sand


Let a poem find your voice.
Real things can happen there,
even imaginary ones
Dreams…yes,
dreams, too.

Poems hide in unexpected places,
buried in the sand, tossed from the sea.
Turn the grains over in your hand.
Take them to where you want to go.

Whisper softly like ocean waves.
I’ll know when I hear your voice.
Your words will find me watching.
Your words will find my heart waiting.


©Margaret Simon


Sigh. I felt so grateful. And less stressed. What a gift! And the imagery of sand experienced in different ways - it reminded me of time, too, and nudged me not to fight it all the time!

Isn't the last stanza something? I think anyone who reads it will feel encouraged. I sure did.

[By the way - Buffy, if you're reading this, and at the risk of spoiling a surprise - guess who my next poem is going to?? ;0) ]

AND, guess who is hosting us today? BUFFY! Go check out all the great offerings at Buffy's Blog (and tell her to watch her mailbox, but maybe not with bated breath....)

Poetry Friday: Dog Goodbyes

June 12, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, animals, writing life



A few children's lit folks I'm friends with on Facebook have posted tributes to dogs they've had to say goodbye to recently. We were in the same boat last Saturday. Our dachshund mixes, Asper and Oliver, joined our family as pups (rescues) back in 1999. Asper has knocked on Heaven's door a couple-few times in recent years, only to rebound and romp with us for a little while longer.

Last week, after enjoying a few days with us at the beach following Morgan's college graduation, he began his journey across that Rainbow Bridge. Morgan was in second grade, just seven years old, when we got him. (Oliver became Seth's dog when Seth was just four - and now he's a rising sophomore in college. Oliver does not quite know how old he really is, and we're not telling him.)

In my own Facebook post, I lauded Asper as our "Playful Pup, Defender of the Realm and Bodyguard to Morgan, Toy Hoarder, Copperhead Slayer, Couch and Bed Buddy, Trouper to the End..." - he was all that and then some.

I'm sharing all this because recently my father-in-law forwarded an email from a family friend. Here was the message: "Do you have a copy of Robyn's poem. If not would you forward this to Robyn. I have a friend who is grieving over his dog now. He needs her Poem."

I remembered the poem - it was one I'd written for my husband's brother when their family lost their wonderful Australian Shepherd, Gracie - back in 1998! I couldn't find the poem in my files (piles of boxes) at the new house, but emailed our friend that perhaps it was still in my old home office. Lo and behold, on my last trip to clean out that office, I found a copy. It went like this:

MEMO

To: God
Date: 10/30/1998
Re: Gracie

A good dog came your way today -
By now, I'm sure you know.
Please show her to the tennis balls
with an angel who can throw.

Her people down here miss her.
When you can, help them to see
they helped her have a playful heart
that's now forever free.



©Robyn Hood Black, but free for others to borrow and adjust name/date, if it might comfort any family who's lost a good dog....

Now, that poem won't win a Pushcart prize, but I was touched that those few lines were brought to the mind of my dog-loving friend after all these years, and that he wanted to share them with his grieving friend. Perhaps the most surprising part of the story, however, is that when I took the newly-found copy by my in-laws' house, my mother-in-law not only remembered the poem - she recited it by heart! We should have just asked her in the first place.

I was humbled, and comforted that poetry has the power to soothe when "regular" words don't quite seem enough. Thanks for letting me share.

For today's Poetry Friday Roundup, please visit the lovely Catherine Johnson.

Poetry Friday: Bicycle Poetry Contest and Thoughts on Spinning in Circles...

June 5, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, contests, poetry, ponderings, art

“Six Degrees of Separation”
photo ©Stephanie Salkin. All rights reserved.


The wheel has spun around again – it’s time for the poetry (and art) contest that my friend and fellow poet Stephanie Salkin helps coordinate each summer down in sunny Florida. In fact, it’s the third annual bicycle art and poetry competition co-sponsored by the Flagler County Art League (FCAL) and the Gargiulo Art Foundation.

“This year, the theme has been expanded to include 'plein air' art which, in terms of poetry, would translate to the outdoors/scenery. A poem could be about bicycles or the outdoors or some combination,” says the entry form.

What kind of poem should you create? Stephanie responds:

“Write any kind of bicycle or motorbike kind of poem, perhaps a reflection from childhood, or, if that doesn’t move your gears, write a poem about the beauty of the world around you—paint it in words the way a painter of the outdoors would create it in brush strokes.”

Here’s the nitty gritty:

Theme: bicycles or the outdoors, or a combination of both.

Send an entry form and non-refundable entry fee of $3 per poem ($5 for two poems), to be RECEIVED by July 2, 2014. (Questions & forms? Call Stephanie Salkin at 386-693-4204 or email ssalkin@cfl.rr.com)

You may also drop off form and entries at the FCAL gallery in Palm Coast.

Winning entries will be read at the GAF-FCAL Bicycle/Plein Air Art Show Opening, Saturday, July 12, 2014, at 7 P.M. (NOTE: If you would like to participate in an 8:30 p.m. POETRY SLAM on Opening Night, the entry fee for that event--if you participate in the theme poetry competition, too—is $3. If you wish to participate only in the SLAM, the fee is $5.)

Cash awards will be presented for first through third place theme poems. (You do not have to be present at show to win.)


One of these years I’m going to have my act together to enter this contest. Seems I frequently pedal down the road to you-know-where with good intentions. For instance, I thought for sure I’d be settled enough in our new digs to enter a particular haiku contest, whose deadline just passed, - but, alas, I waved as it went by. This past year has taught me that in some seasons in our lives, we just need to cut ourselves a little slack.

In the span of the past 10 months, my family went from all four under the same roof last summer to hubby starting a job six hours away, oldest child off to her last year of college and youngest off to his first in different states, and myself dealing with paring down and packing up almost 30 years of stuff – and trying to get a rather quirky big rambling 70s house ready to sell or rent or something. We bought a small cottage in our new hometown of Beaufort, SC, in the fall.

I finally got myself, the few pieces of furniture that would fit in the new space, and our mostly geriatric menagerie over here to the lowcountry from Georgia this spring. Many, many trips – even after the movers came. [When I told my good friend Paula B. Puckett that half the time I don't know which state I'm in, she replied: "I know - you're in a state of confusion!"]

I just got back with the last load from the house this week (!). In the meantime, said oldest has graduated and has moved to a rental house to start grad school and her teaching career, and said youngest has decided to transfer colleges and will be moving to yet a different town this fall. (He just got here for the summer and an internship, though - yay!)

I have had to let many things slide in recent months, too often including making the rounds of Poetry Friday. What a wonderful community, though – it’s still here. Even when some of us have to skip now and then. I am so looking forward to settling into a (creative) rut from this new address.

Happy to report that my studio in an 1889 building downtown is almost unpacked and set up – well, the tornado décor is just in half of it at the moment, not all of it. There is light at the end of the tunnel of moving boxes! (I’ll share pix and a tour soon on my artsyletters art blog.)

Thanks to the folks who have come by here to visit sporadic posts in recent months, even when I couldn’t always reciprocate. The last year has felt a bit like that exhilaration (and hint of fear) one experiences while splashing in the ocean, and a huge wave comes. You know it’s going to knock you off your grounded feet, swirl you around and upside-down a little maybe, but you’ll eventually surface. For those balancing big life transitions, hold your breath a minute and give yourself a break! You’ll breathe again. And for those experiencing a more settled year, perhaps with time and energy to spare - pen a wonderful bicycle/outdoor poem and send it to Stephanie!

You can go glean inspiration from all the great poetry rounded up at Carol's Corner today - Thanks, Carol!

Poetry Friday: Happy Birthday, Will Shakespeare!

April 24, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, Shakepseare, poetry

Date night - Macbeth on Shakespeare's 450th BDay



Did you have some cake on Wednesday? I did!


For our first foray to a play in our new hometown, I got tickets for my husband and me to the inaugural season of the new Shakespeare Rep, presenting Macbeth in partnership with the USC-Beaufort Center for the Arts. Wednesday's performance honored the 450th birthday of the Beloved Bard, complete with cake and bubbly.



The production included some very talented and seasoned theater and Shakespeare veterans as well as newcomers to the stage.


It was lively and original, with images sometimes projected on the large wall behind the stage, and costumes more modern than period. (Army fatigues, black scrubs for Lady Macbeth's nurse, that kind of thing.) All in all, we enjoyed it and enjoyed an evening out.



I was going to post some "Toil and Trouble" - so deliciously dark - but that hardly seems to go with the end of April and the fullness of spring.


Instead, I offer up a sonnet:





From you have I been absent in the spring... (Sonnet 98)

by William Shakespeare

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him,
Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odor and in hue,
Could make me any summer's story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew.
Nor did I wonder at the lily's white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
Yet seemed it winter still, and, you away,
As with your shadow I with these did play.


- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15556#sthash.tcGJjnC2.dpuf

Our Poetry Friday Roundup for this last Friday of National Poetry Month is hosted by the ever-clever Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference. Be sure to wander through her Imaginary Places series while you're there!

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

April 17, 2014

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

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


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

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

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

First, introductions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about the new grade-level student editions.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Brink

by Janet Wong

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


©Janet Wong. All rights reserved.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evening arrivals:

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

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

2014 Kidlitosphere PROGRESSIVE POEM parks here today...

April 16, 2014

Tags: Poetry Month, Progressive Poem, poetry

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


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

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

Should I trumpet like an elephant emoting to the moon,

Or just ignore the warnings written in the rune?

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

The possibilities are endless! Who could have known?

Gathering courage, spiral like an eagle after prey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Poetry Friday: Student Haiku Poet of the Month Liana Klin

April 10, 2014

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

Liana Kiln

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



Here’s Liana’s bio:

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


Liana kindly shared her thoughts on haiku as well:

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


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


a crack
in the parking lot
I tightrope to the car


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


banging hangers
a million sweaters
soft to the touch


old photo album
a past hidden
between pages


icy dewdrops
the crunch
beneath my feet


wooden paint pallet
I brushstroke
a starry night


clay court
I step on footprints
making them my own



All poems ©Liana Klin. All rights reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: 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!

HAPPY POETRY MONTH!

April 1, 2014

Tags: poetry, Progressive Poem, writing life



Happy National Poetry Month!

(Click here for more on that from The Academy of American Poets.)

What's going on in the Kidlitosphere to celebrate? Glad you asked. First, the amazing Jama has rounded up a month of goodies and links over at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Better warm up the fingertips for all that clicking into wonderfulness.

Second, I'm thrilled to be participating again in the 2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem

coordinated by the ever generous and talented
Irene Latham.

Here's the schedule - Just click the link for the current day of the month and follow along as the poem magically develops!


1 Charles at Poetry Time

2 Joy at Joy Acey

3 Donna at Mainely Write

4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!

5 Carrie at Story Patch

6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro

7 Pat at Writer on a Horse

8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

9 Diane at Random Noodling

10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference

11 Linda at Write Time

12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

13 Janet at Live Your Poem

14 Deborah at Show--Not Tell

15 Tamera at The Writer's Whimsy

16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

18 Irene at Live Your Poem

19 Julie at The Drift Record

20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman

21 Renee at No Water River

22 Laura at Author Amok

23 Amy at The Poem Farm

24 Linda at TeacherDance

25 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books

27 Kate at Live Your Poem

28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose

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

30 Tara at A Teaching Life

Poetry Friday: Workshopping a Haiku... (from HSA Meeting)

March 27, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, HSA, conferences, writing life

clipartpal.com



Greetings, Dear Poetry Friends!

Talk about inspiration overload lately. Today I'm back in Atlanta for our Illustrator Day and Springmingle conference this weekend. Last weekend, I was in a different Atlanta hotel with another creative tribe for the quarterly Haiku Society of America national conference/meeting.

March has been good to my creative soul.

I thought I might offer a peek into "workshopping" a haiku poem from that meeting. (Curtis Dunlap and I facilitated an informal process much like this at our Southeast regional conference back in October.)

Every workshop last weekend was stellar, thanks to conference planners HSA President David G. Lanoue, Terri L. French, and Tom Painting. Our second session was a haiku-writing workshop called "The New Traditional Haiku" led by Lee Gurga, award-winning poet and former HSA president. He is currently editor of Modern Haiku Press.

I'm not going to give away Lee's talk - join HSA and come to a fabulous meeting! - but I'll share a taste. After considering a variety of examples of and approaches to contemporary haiku, we were given handouts with three poems (not haiku) by well-known poets (19th and 20th centuries). We also received blank index cards. Lee invited us to borrow images from these poems, or be inspired by them, and craft some new haiku, keeping our discussion in mind.

While I usually take my time to develop poems and create them from some direct personal experience, it's fun in these settings to just turn loose the Muse and understand that everyone's efforts are first drafts. We each turned in our cards with our anonymous poems, and Lee selected a few for us to take a look at. I was delighted when one of mine came up for discussion. My original scribble on the index card went like so:

spider
her light escape into the dark


(The three words, "her light escape," were from Dickinson and grabbed me. Though referring to Summer in the original poem, I already had a spider image in my mind from another of the handout poems, and I've written a few haiku about spiders. I love playing with opposing forces in a haiku, so "into the dark" just wrote itself.)

Terri was our scribe to pen these haiku on a large pad, and it's interesting that she wrote the second line as, "her light escape into dark" without the "the". (Terri is a sharp, fine poet.) She quickly amended it to reflect what was on the card, but we all agreed the poem certainly didn't need the "the". (I also hear the voice of Lee Bennett Hopkins in my ear when I've let an unnecessary article or other little word slip through, and as soon as I saw the phrase written out, I thought, Did I put that "the" in there?! I hope I would have struck it on a second draft!)

Our workshop talk then turned to lines and construction. Should the poem be set up more traditionally, as:

spider
her light escape
into dark


or one line:

spider her light escape into dark

Well, I like either of these options better than what I originally put down.

A suggestion was also made to play with spacing, maybe drawing out the moment:

spider    her light escape      into     dark

or some such.

Looking at all of these suggestions, I might pick the three-line construction as my favorite for this poem, even though it's the most traditional. One, the "spider" and "her light escape" are not jammed awkwardly together if separated by the line space, and, Two, that short pause as the reader goes from the second to the third line gives our little arachnid just enough time to make a surprise exit!

Hopefully this brief romp has offered a hint at the myriad decisions and options available in writing a "one-breath poem." It was an honor and treat to meet some of the genre's best practitioners and advocates, and to get to know a few I've met before a little better!

The Poetry Friday Roundup today is hosted by none other than our wonderful Mary Lee at A Year of Reading. Quick - make your escape over there for lots of great poetry!

Poetry Friday - Haiku Student Poet of the Month Abby Shannon

February 21, 2014

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

Abby Shannon


Hellooooooo from the South Carolina Lowcountry (madly waving palm fronds)! I've missed you all. Last Friday ended up being moving day (rescheduled from the snow-and ice-laden middle of the week), and I'm still navigating mazes of boxes.



I'm delighted to have gotten the computer up and going yesterday to bring you, finally, February's featured Haiku Student Poet! You'll see she's worth the wait.


Abby Shannon is the third in our series spotlighting a Haiku Student Poet of the Month from among Tom Painting’s students at The Paideia School in Atlanta. (You can read more about this award-winning poet and teacher here and meet our first featured student poet, Emma Jones, here, and our second student poet, Stuart Duffield, here.)



Abby is in the ninth grade and goes to The Paideia School in Atlanta. Abby’s favorite subjects in school are literature, history, and science. In her free time she loves to read books, and spend time with her friends.


Here are some of Abby's thoughts about haiku:



Haiku is universal. The thoughts of people scattered on paper, then carefully rearranged, to make a poem. Haiku is everywhere from the space under my bed to the dog-eared page in a favorite book to the first fallen leaf of autumn. Haiku is life, and life is Haiku. Any person can relate to a well-written haiku, because they are all from the observations of other humans. Which is what makes Haiku so incredibly special.



And now, a few of her wonderful poems:



barren trees
she hangs
upside down


breast cancer parade
the little boy reaches
for his balloon


morning wind
the blossoms
tangle with her hair


late morning
the icy moon hangs
on a bright blue sky


public library
the shy boy
wipes dust off a book


white blossoms
softened
by the rain



All poems ©Abby Shannon. All rights reserved.

Well, I can't quite pick a favorite (though I'm partial to the white blossoms). Can you? Many thanks to Abby for sharing her poetry with us this month!

For more inspiring poetry, curl, ice dance, or slalom on over to see the wonderful Karen at her blog with the shockingly clever title, for this week's Roundup!

Poetry Friday Heads' Up: Best Laid Plans...

February 12, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, writing life, ponderings

(And it's still just morning! - We have many hours to go....)

If you're reading this post on Friday, it's because I put it up on Wednesday (while I still have power!), and Mother Nature has decided to postpone our next Student Haiku Poet of the Month post until next week (the 21st).

I had scheduled the movers to come here (north Georgia) Wednesday and finish moving us to Beaufort (coastal South Carolina). But instead on this Wednesday I'm hearing echoes in Scottish from Robert Burns (1759-1796):


But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,

In proving foresight may be vain:

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

Gang aft agley, ...



You can read the rest here.

I might still be snowed on Friday, or loading a moving truck, or on the road, or - who knows?! But if I'm not here to enjoy your good company, I'll look forward to sharing our next wonderful student poet with you next week. (And, if you ARE reading this on Friday - Happy Valentine's Day! - & be sure to ski on over to see the Lovely Linda at TeacherDance for this week's Roundup.)

Poetry Friday - Hide and Seek & Be Back Soon...

January 23, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, art, writing life, poetry, contests, illustration, workshops, Highlights

Adventure hides in boxes, waiting for me to set up shop in my Beaufort, SC, studio!

Greetings, Poetry Peeps!


I'm heading into the home stretch of this gradual move from the north Georgia mountains to the Lowcountry (SC), so I'll just be waving and sending good vibes these next couple of weeks.

This weekend I'm squeezing in an all-day workshop for illustrators in Greenville, SC, with Highlights Art Director Cindy Faber Smith and prolific illustrator Tim Davis. I've met both of these fine folks at workshops before, and I know we're in for a treat. (And, years ago, I had a Hidden Pictures submission make it through a couple of rounds of revisions before it got the axe. It's about time to tackle these wonderful puzzles again!) I'll also get to take my wonderful daughter out for her birthday while in Greenville.. :0)

My also-wonderful hubby helped me move furniture and boxes into my new art studio space in Beaufort this week. During my whirlwind trip, I finished jumping through the business license/codes/taxes hoops to make artsyletters all official there. Can't wait to unpack and set up shop! More on that soon.


In honor of "Hidden Pictures," today I offer up this delightful poem by Walter De LaMare (1873-1956):


Hide and Seek

by Walter De LaMare


Hide and seek, says the Wind,
In the shade of the woods;
Hide and seek, says the Moon,
To the hazel buds;
Hide and seek, says the Cloud,
Star on to star;
Hide and seek, says the Wave,
At the harbour bar;
Hide and seek, say I,
To myself, and step
Out of the dream of Wake
Into the dream of Sleep.



I'll be playing some hide-and-seek with more back-and-forth travel in these next couple-few weeks. But I'll be back! In the meantime, enjoy all the great poetry warming up this cold winter. Today, please visit Tara at A Teaching Life for the Roundup. Next week (Jan. 31), Tricia's got it covered at The Miss Rumphius Effect. And Renee will keep the poetry flowing on Feb. 7 at No Water River. If I come up for air from the boxes, I'll try to join in - but if I'm treading water in Styrofoam peanuts, I'll see you on Valentine's Day! AND, be sure to check in then, as we'll be spreading the haiku love with our Student Poet of the Month. (As you've come to expect, here's another young poet who will blow your Valentine candy wrappers off!)

Finally, my friend Stephanie Salkin passes along that she's helping with another art and poetry contest for the Flagler County (FL) Art League, with the theme of "Art Inspiring Poetry; Poetry Inspiring Art" - and the deadline is looming! It's Jan. 29. Please contact her at ssalkin@cfl.rr.com for details!

Hope you find whatever you're seeking this week!

Poetry Friday - Sunshine, Daisies, and Emily Dickinson

January 16, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, Sunshine Awards, writing life, poetry

Yay Images


Feel those rays? There’s been a lot of sunshine in the blogosphere in past weeks. Folks have been bestowing “The Sunshine Award” on fellow bloggers whose posts brighten their days.


The Rules go something like this:
Acknowledge the nominating blogger. Share 11 random facts about yourself. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love! Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)


As usual, I’m late to the party, but thankful to these three folks who nominated me (with links to their Sunshine Award posts) – Betsy at Teaching Young Writers , Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty, and Keri at Keri Recommends .

And, as usual, I’m not playing by the rules. So many wonderful Poetry Friday bloggers (and others) have been nominated, I’m already behind on visiting those posts! Also, I’m in the midst of this big move and pretty stretched these few weeks. So I will end this post with my 11 random facts and answer some of the questions from each of the three posts above. Then I’d like YOU to either share a random personal fact in the comments, or answer one of the questions yourself. :0) (I stole this idea from Jama’s comments on other Sunshine posts…!)


But first, let’s enjoy some sunshine with Emily D, shall we?

The daisy follows soft the sun

by Emily Dickinson

The daisy follows soft the sun,
And when his golden walk is done,
Sits shyly at his feet.
He, waking, finds the flower near.
"Wherefore, marauder, art thou here?"
"Because, sir, love is sweet!"

We are the flower, Thou the sun!
Forgive us, if as days decline,
We nearer steal to Thee, —
Enamoured of the parting west,
The peace, the flight, the amethyst,
Night's possibility!


You can hear Garrison Keillor read the poem here.

I learned a thing or two about Emily from the Academy of American Poets site while exploring this poem. For one, “one-third of her brilliantly idiosyncratic poems have wildflowers or other flowers as their subject.” And, at 14, our Emily created “a herbarium, a popular pastime for girls in the mid-1800s.” Click here for more. Also, this daisy poem is most likely romantic – though I think I had that figured out on my own.


Now, turning the daylight on my random facts:


1. In elementary school, I was a background person in an Eastern Airlines commercial at Walt Disney World.

2. I once made up a song about my pet lizard (a green anole, really) with the oh-so-creative-title, “Little Bobby Lizard.” I’ll sing it for you if you like…

3. Like Michelle, I’m an INFJ. And an Aquarius. (Guess that was two facts, so we’ll skip to #5.)

5. I’m not great at math.

6. Willie Nelson once jammed in my living room when I was little. (My dad managed a country radio station way back when.)

7. I learned to take care of and haul horses in my 30s. (We moved back toward town from our farm, though, several years ago.)

8. I hung out with captive wolves in my 40s.

9. Just over a year ago, I rescued a tiny Chihuahua from the middle of what’s technically a highway through town. (I have since learned it’s not terribly smart or legal to stop your car in the middle of a highway. We both must have nine lives. I mean, eight….)

10. I could pretty much live on granola and Greek yogurt.

11. Daisies were the flowers at my wedding, 30 years ago this coming June!


Here are the questions, hand-picked because I’m making up my own rules. (Hey - Mary Lee did it!)


--from Betsy:

Who was the most influential teacher in your life?


Doris Jarvis. Sixth grade and also Junior High English. She believed I could write, so I did, too.

What is the best thing you've ever written? What was it about?

Probably a very short haiku! And probably about my late father.

Where would you love to vacation?

Italy. ( Renée, are you listening? One of these days, I’m showing up at your doorstep!)

Do you collect anything? What?

Well, with my artsyletters adventure, I collect old typewriter keys, teetering stacks of vintage books, little rusty pieces of twisted metal I find on the side of the road….

--from Michelle:

What is your secret snack or guilty pleasure?


Dark chocolate in the door of the fridge. I break off pieces as needed.

Favorite music?

'70s rock. The soundtrack to my mid-teenage years that’s now considered “classic” (as in “old”!).

What are you reading now?

David G. Lanoue’s Haiku Guy series. Except, where did I put the one I was just reading? Have you seen it? It’s here somewhere….

What was the best advice ever given to you?

It will look different in the morning.

--from Keri:

A book you wish you had written?


Because of Winn Dixie by Kate diCamillo.

Unusual skill you possess?

I can wiggle my eyes.

Early bird or night owl?

Hooooot! hooot!

Something you loathe?

Brussels sprouts.

Something you love?

Reading with dogs (or cats) on the couch in front of a fire. The call of a red-shouldered hawk. Poetry Friday. Vulture silhouettes. The smell of ink. (Okay, okay - I’ll stop, but I love a lot of stuff…!) Puppy breath….

Now, speaking of Keri, go see what all she’s rounded up for Poetry Friday at Keri Recommends!

And leave some random fact or delicious tidbit about yourself below…. :0)

Poetry Friday -Student Haiku Poet of the Month, Stuart Duffield

January 9, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, Student Poet of the Month, student work, student poets, writing life

Stuart Duffield


This new year brings a continuing treat – the second in our series featuring a Haiku Student Poet of the Month from among Tom Painting’s students at The Paideia School in Atlanta. (You can read more about this award-winning poet and teacher here and meet our first featured student poet, Emma Jones, here.)


Today’s featured poet wowed the adult attendees at our recent Haiku Society of America Southeast Region ginko haikufest in Atlanta in October. Please welcome Stuart Duffield.

Stuart was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, and was raised in
Atlanta Georgia, where he currently attends The Paideia School. He was
first introduced to haiku by his 7th and 8th grade literature teacher,Tom
Painting, and has loved it ever since. Stuart’s other hobbies and
interests include general fitness, swimming, hiking, computer hardware,
and fashion.


Stuart shares a few of his thoughts about the genre:


It is often the most ordinary and common moments in my life that
haiku captures with its full breadth. These moments, many times ignored in
my fast paced life, are often most worthy of my attention, not because of
the immediate satisfaction of capturing the intricacies of nature in a
single breath, but rather the comfort it provides when I am most removed
from the things I love. Through this perspective, beauty is no longer
bound by the spindling webs of social structures and culture, but freed by
the feel of warm, moist sand underneath your feet, the warm breath blown
over the tip of your nose, the winds whipping at your cheeks and the
syncopated beats of crickets at dusk.





Now, please enjoy some of Stuart’s poems:



desert road
a javelina hides
behind a prickly pear



lazy afternoon
the cat
watches the bird feeder



desert sunrise
a cactus wren calls
from the ocotillo



sunlight through the garage window
the first chords
kick up dust



train whistle
ravens burden
a leafless tree



All poems ©Stuart Duffield. All rights reserved.

Many thanks to Stuart for sharing his fine work here this week!

Thanks as well to the Delightful Donna, hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Mainely Write.

Poetry Friday: Happy New Year with a Treasure from the (Victorian) Past...

January 2, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, history, Etsy, art, writing life, home

CROWN JEWELS - And, as the steel engravings suggest, "Looking into the Future," I wish you a year of "Health and Beauty."

I went for a brisk walk New Year's Day morning, only to discover a package in the carport - evidently left by the postal carrier the afternoon before. Let's just say a holiday of opening presents continued... .

You've heard me gush before about my author friend and resident Etsy "expert" Kim Siegelson, who always keeps an eye out for perfectly imperfect vintage treasures. She has a wonderful Etsy shop, Perfect Patina. The last time we met for lunch and antiquing (is there a more perfect way to spend an afternoon?) she'd mentioned having an old book to send me, but I couldn't have imagined. Well, the title speaks for itself:

Crown Jewels
OR
Gems of Literature, Art, and Music
BEING
Choice Selections from the Writings and Musical Productions of the Most Celebrated Authors, From the Earliest Times:


(I'll omit the list of genres here, but "The Whole" does indeed form "A Vast Treasury of the Gems of Poetry, Prose, and Song"!) Its 632 pages, compiled by Henry Davenport Northrop, D. D., were published in 1888.

Here are some opening and closing lines from the Publisher's Announcement printed inside:

"This magnificent work, which comprises many books in one volume, is a vast treasury of the Choicest Gems of English Literature, in prose and poetry. It contains those resplendent jewels of thought, feeling and sentiment which fascinate, instruct and entertain the reader....
The Prospectus is very attractive, and shows at a glance the great superiority of this book over other similar works that are illustrated with cheap woodcuts. ..."


Gotta love those Victorians! Well, let's just say this collection will fuel some artsyletters inspiration for years to come. Thank you, Kim!

The poem I've chosen to share is from the first section, "The Home Circle." I suppose it's because we've been between homes lately - making this move from north Georgia to coastal South Carolina, with kids in colleges several hours away. Transitions are never easy, but I look forward to this adventure in our new home town, greeting each day from our new front porch. With afternoon tea out there, too, of course!

THE DEAREST SPOT OF EARTH IS HOME

by W. T. Wrighton

The dearest spot of earth to me
      is home, sweet home!
    The fairy land I long to see
      is home, sweet home!
There, how charmed the sense of hearing!
There, where love is so endearing!
All the world is not so cheering
    as home, sweet home!

      The dearest spot of earth to me
      is home, sweet home!
    The fairy land I long to see
      is home, sweet home!

I've taught my heart the way to prize
   My home, sweet home!
I've learned to look with lovers' eyes
On home, sweet home!

There, where vows are truly plighted!
There, where hearts are so united!
All the world besides I've slighted
    For home, sweet home!

      The dearest spot of earth to me
      is home, sweet home!
    The fairy land I long to see
      is home, sweet home!


Wishing a happy 2014 to your home, sweet home! Poetry Friday is at home today at I Think in Poems, where the Bedazzling Betsy has this week's Roundup.

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 - WE HAIKU HERE winds up with Terri French

December 19, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, HSA, We Haiku Here

HSA President David G. Lanoue and Regional Coordinator Terri L. French at the 2013 HSA SE Ginko Haikufest in Atlanta
photo by Curtis Dunlap


Thanks to everyone who's been tagging along for the adventure in our WE HAIKU HERE series, featuring speakers from our recent Haiku Society of America (HSA) Southeast Region's"ginko haikufest" in Atlanta. Today I'm thrilled to introduce Terri L. French, our hard-working, organized, and oh-so-talented regional coordinator.

Shortly after I stumbled into the HSA, and started looking around for a tribe in my area, magical emails appeared from this go-getter poet in Alabama. Terri had volunteered to take the reins in this part of the country with a history of terrific poets. She coordinated a regional meeting/weekend retreat in the Alabama mountains in 2012 (I couldn't make that one), and another this year in Atlanta (I did make this one!). What a special treat to meet people in person whom I'd only known by their bylines in journals, and a few by email. We are all grateful for Terri's vision and follow-through!

First, let's meet Terri:

Terri L. French referred to herself as a Massage Therapist who writes, but she has come to realize that she is truly a Writer who does massage therapy. Terri’s degree in journalism helps her to appreciate the short, concise elements in haiku and other haikai forms.

Her work has appeared in various journals, such as Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Daily Haiku, Contemporary Haibun Online, A Hundred Gourds and Moonbathing. She serves as the Southeast Coordinator of the Haiku Society of America and is editor of the online senryu and kyoka journal, Prune Juice. Terri and her husband, Ray, have four grown children and reside in Huntsville, Alabama.




Now, please enjoy some of Terri's poetry:



waiting room—
a fly climbs the stairs
on an Escher print


3rd Prize 2012 HSA Gerald C. Brady Memorial Contest




first freeze—
brushing frost
from the pansies' faces


Feb. 18, 2011 DailyHaiku




evening meditation
on the tao of the next wave
everything rests


haiga online, Issue 12-2, 2011




he brings flowers
the same shade—
bruises


Frogpond 34:3 and
2011 The Haiku Foundation Touchstone Award




distant thunder
the sound of an ellipsis


commendation The Haiku Foundation HaikuNow! Contest, 2013



smothered in face cream
grandmother reads
A Wrinkle in Time


A Hundred Gourds, 2:4, September, 2013



catching tadpoles
this summer he wades

d

e

e

p

e

r



from Terri's book, A Ladybug on My Words, available on Amazon. [Bought and recommended by yours truly!]

All poems ©Terri L. French. All rights reserved.



Finally, I asked Terri, "Why haiku?"

I tend to be a planner and often find my thoughts centered on the future. Haiku, much like my yoga practice, or performing massage, helps me to stay focused and to pay attention to what is happening in my current environment.

Thank you, Terri, for joining us today, and for all you do to promote haikai arts. And thank you for sharing your fine work here this week!

For more wonderful poetry, visit the wonderful Buffy at Buffy's Blog for this week's Roundup.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! Next week I'll be sharing my special treasures received, poetic and otherwise, during the Winter Poem Swap.

Poetry Friday is HERE with Haiku Society of America President David G. Lanoue

December 5, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, haiku, poetry, Haiku Society of America, David G. Lanoue, poets

David G. Lanoue shares some of his favorite poems by Issa at the 2013 HSA SE Ginko Haikufest in Atlanta
photo by Raymond French


Greetings, Poetry Friday Friends! I'm hosting today from my soon-to-be home of Beaufort, SC, where we're slated for sunshine and highs in the 70s today. I send this freely to those of you whose windows are caked in ice and snow.

It's my great honor to continue our "We Haiku Here" series today with Haiku Society of America (HSA) president David G. Lanoue. He delivered a reading of Issa's work at our recent HSA Southeast Region's"ginko haikufest" in Atlanta. I've been featuring our speakers and their poetry the last few weeks. We'll welcome a special student guest next week, and then regional coordinator Terri L. French will round out the series.

Our gathering was called "gazing at flowers," in honor of haiku master Issa's 250th birthday, and it was a special treat to have our HSA president participate!

David G. Lanoue is a professor of English at Xavier University of Louisiana. He is a co-founder of the New Orleans Haiku Society, an associate member of the Haiku Foundation, and the president of the Haiku Society of America. His books include Pure Land Haiku: The Art of Priest Issa, Haiku Guy, Laughing Buddha, Haiku Wars, Frog Poet, Dewdrop World and Issa’s Best: A Translator’s Selection of Master Haiku. He maintains The Haiku of Kobayashi Issa website, for which he has translated 10,000 of Issa’s haiku.


I asked David to please tell us a little bit about Issa and share a few of his favorite Issa haiku.

Issa, which literally means "One Tea," is one of the great haiku poets of Japanese tradition. He lived from 1763 to 1828 (even though most sources still make the mistake of assigning 1827 as his death year). He was brilliantly prolific, writing over 20,000 haiku in his lifetime. Down to earth, human, sympathetic to all life--from noble horses down to tiny fleas; Issa is loved by readers all over the world. Despite many hardships--losing his mother when he was a child, enduring the abuse of a hateful stepmother, having to go into exile at a young age, and, later in life, mourning the deaths of four children and his first wife--Issa remarkably retained his sense of humor and love for life throughout his poetry. As for sharing some of my favorite Issa haiku, I've culled 1,210 of them from my online archive of 10,000 and put them into a book (Issa's Best—available from Amazon as a paperback and as e-books for Kindle and Nook, hint, hint), so it’s terribly hard for me to narrow it down further. So, I’ll just flip through the book and pick five random ones that catch my eye. Enjoy...

chin-deep
in the fallen blossoms . . .
a frog

on the high priest’s
head . . .
flies making love

lightning flash –
no way to hide
the wrinkles

blooming
with butterflies
the dead tree

resting
on the big dog’s head
dragonfly


I also asked David to share a few of his own...

Translating Issa for 26 years inspired me to try my hand at writing original haiku. Here’s a sampling of five:

the old priest dines
his wine
just wine

a "Lost Dog" sign
nailed deep
into the oak

one star
over the airport
another Beatle has died

pizza parlor
after the murders
help wanted

when he reaches the square
the beggar
becomes lame


Poems ©David G. Lanoue. All rights reserved.

The above were first published in Modern Haiku 30.1 (1999); Frogpond27.2 (2004); Frogpond 31.1(2008); Haiku Wars(2009); and Senryu Therapy: American-Romanian Anthology(2012).

Of course, I asked David my "Why haiku?" question:

Here's something I wrote recently for the Haiku Foundation blog about where my haiku come from:

My haiku always begin with some sort of stimulus—a glimpse, a scent, a memory—about which I suddenly have a strong feeling that “There’s a haiku in this.” I’m curious to find out what I will say about this “this.” When I take out pen and paper, or more recently, the iPhone, I’m trying to catch the momentum of an impulse to discover. The first image is always easy; it’s the spark that ignited the curiosity. The second image or, perhaps, thought, will be the discovery which, if I’m lucky, will make the quick journey from part A to part B a haiku. For this step I rely on everything I know and have felt, my deep intuitions, my lifelong love affair with the English language, and, trusting in all this, nine out of ten times the second part comes even as I am writing it down—and I have a haiku. Whether or not it’s a good haiku is a matter to be decided later, but for the time being I’m content to add it to the computer file titled “MyKu” that contains over 3,000 similar bursts of discovery, from 1983 to yesterday.



AND, I asked David who should join the HSA...

Who should join the HSA ? Anyone who'd like to cultivate an interest in haiku, as a reader of it, a writer of it, or both. The HSA provides a great opportunity for the English-speaking haiku community in North America to stay in touch and share their love of haiku. Workshops, conferences, an annual members' anthology, a subscription to our journal Frogpond (published three times a year) and one-on-one mentoring opportunties are all available to HSA members. I've been a member since forever, and I've always felt that I've gotten more out of the HSA than the annual membership fee ($35 these days for US citizens) could ever pay for. In fact, as I write this note I'm reminded that I haven't rejoined for 2014, so I'll do so today!

To learn more about David or Issa, please visit his Haiku Guy website. You can even sign up in Yahoo groups for an Issa poem to be sent to you each day! Also, this week I blogged about Haiku Guy, the first in David's series of haiku novels, at Janice Hardy's writer blog, The Other Side of the Story.

Now, what are you offering up today? Please leave your link in the comments, and I'll round them all up between sunshine breaks.

Good Poetry Friday Morning!

If you have a pulse and an inbox, you will relate to Michelle’s hilarious original “Cyber Seduction” poem about ringing in the online holiday spending season over at Today’s Little Ditty

At Bald Ego, Charles combines two of my personal favorites: Van Gogh and the villanelle! He also has Couplets for Picasso if that’s your couplet of tea. (Wonderful art by son Chip, too.)

Laura brings us another of Joyce Sidman’s poems from WHAT THE HEART KNOWS – “Song of Bravery” at
Writing the World for Kids. (This one seems especially appropriate today, as the world mourns the loss of Nelson Mandela.)

Along the theme of world leaders, Linda at Teacher Dance marks the recent 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy with a post about Robert Frost and Kennedy – how Frost wrote the first presidential inauguration poem yet read another at the ceremony, and links to more about all that.

Catherine at Reading to the Core has a poem by Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen, “What the Heart Cannot Forget” – made me sigh out loud.

Who wants pie? Get over to Gottabook and have an original slice with Greg! It’s pre-fib pie. (You’ll have to click to see what I mean.)

If your hunger is of a more serious vein, be sure to read Myra’s offering at Gathering Books - a striking poem called “Hunger” by Nerisa Guevara (& check out previous posts featuring her work, too).

Dear Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference brings us a terzanelle by Lewis Turco, and an ornament made by yours truly. (I didn’t pay her, I promise!) Don’t you just love the word, “terzanelle?”? And in the featured poem, don’t you just love the word, “hourdust”?

At Carol’s Corner, Carol features a powerful new poetry picture book by Daniel Beaty, KNOCK KNOCK, illustrated by Bryan Collier. (I couldn’t make it dry-eyed through the video either, Carol.) Carol comments that she has shared the picture book about Issa, COOL MELONS TURN TO FROGS (on my shelf too, of course!) for years. “In some sense,” Carol writes, “Beaty and Issa have a lot in common--both men have had really difficult lives and have used poetry to create meaning.”

Mary Lee at A Year of Reading is in with an ode to – her big toe?! (Please do check out the bandage art. And, heal fast, Mary Lee!)

**ALSO** – Mary Lee is issuing a call for Poetry Friday Roundup hosts for Jan. – June , so get thee hence and claim a date! (I’m off to go do that right now. Back in a minute….)

At The Drift Record, Julie has William Ernest Henley’s (1849–1903) poem, “Invictus,” honoring the man who will always be associated with it, Nelson Mandela.

Greg had pie, Laura has cookies… Go visit Author Amok for Myra Cohn Livingston’s “Christmas Cookies,” PLUS directions on how to make “Paintbrush Cookies” (now that’s right up my artist’s alley) PLUS other poetically tasty links.

Do you hear some jingling? Well, then you must be near Betsy’s I Think in Poems blog, where she shares some “Jingling Chatter” today. Drop in with one of Laura’s cookies.

Tara at A Teaching Life honors Nelson Mandela today with two poems, “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley and John Matshikiza’s 1974 poem, “And I Watch it in Mandela.”

Caw! Caw! Maragret at Reflections on the Teche shares her poetic observances of a murder of crows which came to play at their school playground this week.

If tiny mice are more your thing, skitter – rather, sail – on over to Alphabet Soup, where Jama’s serving them up. Well, she’s not REALLY serving up REAL mice – Jama would never do that – but she has Janis Ian's adorable new picture book, THE TINY MOUSE, delightfully illustrated by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert. And, of course, there’s food.

Thanks to Becky for the warm SC welcome! Becky’s ringing in St. Nicholas Day today at Tapestry of Words with “A Song for St. Nicholas” by Mary Mapes Dodge (1831-1905).

Katya is trying to make the best of a frigid situation with Emily Dickinson’s “Snow flakes” atWrite, Sketch, Repeat. (And I’m hoping Mary Lee’s toes will soon be up to this kind of jig.)

Collette brings us former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky and “The Favorite Poem Project,” along with a powerful video – a 20-year-old student’s reading of Gwendolyn Brooks’s “We Real Cool” at Used Books in Class.

At Enjoy and Embrace Learning, Mandy offers some words of encouragement for Mary Lee and her poor toe.

Diane (one of David’s “Daily Issa” subscribers, BTW) brings her usual Triple Threat of poetic goodness:

At Random Noodling, she offers an original ekphrastic poem, “Interior.”

St. Nicholas Day gets some more love at Kurious Kitty, with “The Festival of St. Nicholas” by Mary Mapes Dodge from Hans Brinker, or, the Silver Skates.

And a quote for creatives by Mollie Hunter is yours for the pondering at KK’s Kwotes.

At The Blog with the Shockingly Clever Title, Karen shares Mark Jarman’s “Prayer for our Daughters” (touching to me as I’m waiting on my college daughter to come visit this afternoon!). She also added links to haiku-related posts on her blog.

Donna’s in with a poem for the “musicfully inclined” over at Mainely Write. Dare you to read it without tapping your toes.

Lovely Cathy brings us a timely poem and post today with “A Wish is a Start” at Merely Day by Day (Our second post featuring coins – good luck, I’m thinking. No, wishing….)

Jone checks in from Check it Out with a Mary Oliver poem, “In Blackwater Woods” – and some lovely thoughts about how poetry can help heal in times of loss.

Garrison Keillor fans? (Raises hand wildly…) Keri is giving away a signed copy of his latest book, O, WHAT A LUXURY – VERSES LYRICAL, VULGAR, PATHETIC and PROFOUND at Keri Recommends. (Hmmm… Maybe I’ll leave TWO comments over there….)

Violet takes up Laurie Purdie Salas’s great 15-words-or-less challenge this week with an original response, “Katniss’s Dilemma,” at Violet Nesdoly Poems. (There – you "hunger" to know more, I can tell – my work here is done.)

(Must take a wee break - back in just a bit.)


I'm back!...


Anastasia sparkles with the magic of icicles today at a Poet! Poet!

Little Willow chimes in at Bildungsroman with “The Singer” by Anna Wickham. (To me, it seems an especially appropriate choice for today in light of Mandela’s passing.)

Janet lightens things up for us with I’VE LOST MY HIPPOPOTAMUS: MORE THAN 100 POEMS by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic, at
All About the Books. (Now, that looks like fun.)

JoAnn over at Teaching Authors serves up some terrific book recommendations, and links to others, that should go straight to your gift list (or maybe on your own letter to Santa?) She also shares a most delicious love poem from Joyce Sidman’s new WHAT THE HEART KNOWS: CHANTS, CHARMS & BLESSINGS.

MM Socks opensThe Drawer to share an original poem, “Nobody Wants to Hold My Hand.” (Well, I'm sure after folks visit his blog he'll get some offers... ;0) )

Ruth also has an original poem this week, “Sounds from this House,” at There is no Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town. It was published in their school’s brand-new online literary journal and will transport you immediately to life in Haiti. (That last stanza is gorgeous, gorgeous.)

Okay – you’ve been working hard all day. Now it’s time to play! Amy has just the thing at The Poem Farm, with a poem inspired by a young teacher-in-training and her dolls and stuffed animals – and from Amy’s own memories, as well.

Joy lives up her name today with an acrostic poem she wrote for Kwanzaa at Poetry for Kids Joy. Terrific sentiment! She invites us to check out her haiku from earlier this week, too.

Well, the sun is setting here, and we're about to head out for a little while. Hope you can cozy up with some of this great poetry, and I'll check back in later.

Poetry Friday: WE HAIKU HERE with Dave Russo

November 28, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, We Haiku Here, haiku, poetry, poets

Dave Russo speaks at the 2013 HSA SE Ginko Haikufest in Atlanta
photo by Raymond French


Happy Thanksgiving weekend! I hope you're settling into some time for reflection after the big day - or at least moments of noticing between all the Black Friday sales.



In our WE HAIKU HERE series, speakers from our recent HSA (Haiku Society of America) Southeast Regional “Ginko Haikufest” in Atlanta have graced my blog. We've gotten to know poets Curtis Dunlap, Tom Painting and Laurence Stacey.



Today's guest hails from North Carolina, and if you've enjoyed the great resources on The Haiku Foundation website, you have him to thank.



At our weekend gathering, Dave and Bob Moyer led a fun and lively interactive session on "Haiku from Scratch."



Dave Russo’s haiku have appeared in Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Acorn, and other journals. He is included in the New Resonance 5 anthology from Red
Moon Press. Dave organizes events for the North Carolina Haiku Society and is the web administrator for the NCHS and The Haiku Foundation.




Now, I know you saved some room for haiku. Please enjoy these examples of Dave's poetry. (Those haiku poets among you might appreciate the progression from the "5-7-5" structure of his earliest published poems to the shorter, more condensed recent works.)



All through the meeting,
your calm face by the window.
Bright, darkening trees


Frogpond, xx:2 1997



It's late, the office
almost empty. Your bare feet
whisper by my door


Modern Haiku, xxvii:3, 1997



ice melting the shape of the branch it fell from

The Heron’s Nest, June 2013



    olive blossoms . . .
the sound of a hive
    in the abbey wall


Snapshot Press Haiku Calendar for 2013, Runner Up for August


All poems ©Dave Russo. All rights reserved.


In response to the question, "Why haiku?" - Dave's words are likewise concise and meaningful:

"Because haiku can express a depth of feeling with an economy of means that is not often found elsewhere."

Amen! Many thanks, Dave, for joining us today and sharing your work.

Next week the Poetry Friday Round Up is HERE with poet, author, Issa scholar and Haiku Society of America president David Lanoue.

For today's poetic feast, please take your plate over to Carol's Corner.
[AND (blatant commercial warning): should you want to do any Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday shopping between poetry stops, feel free to use Coupon Code PFPEEPS13 in my artsyletters Etsy shop for 15 percent off now through Monday! Poet Gift Packs, notecards, altered vintage books, typewriter key jewelry, bookmarks, and more!] :0)

Poetry Friday: WE HAIKU HERE - Class in Session with Laurence Stacey

November 21, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, We Haiku Here, HSA, poets, writing life, journals

Top: Laurence delivers a talk at our recent HSA SE regional haikufest. Below: I appreciated a nice long walk and talk with Laurence; we discussed poetry, animal rights, and education – among other things!
photos by Raymond French




Welcome back! I’m glad so many folks are enjoying our end-of-the-year haiku journey, led by some of the speakers at our recent HSA (Haiku Society of America) Southeast Regional “haikufest” in Atlanta.

Have you missed the introduction to the series, or any of the fun so far? Please click here to get to know poet Curtis Dunlap and click here to meet Tom Painting, poet and teacher extraordinaire.


Today we have a special treat. And, continuing along an educational theme, we have a poet who is also a teacher.


Laurence Stacey lives in Marietta, Georgia, and is an English Instructor and tutor at Reinhardt University. In his spare time, Laurence enjoys hiking and is an avid student of the martial arts. His educational background includes an MA in Professional Writing, with an emphasis on poetry. He is interested in incorporating haikai into the high school and university curriculum. (RHB note – “haikai” generally refers to haiku and related arts, including senryu, haiga, and haibun.)


Laurence’s poetry has been featured in Prune Juice, Simply Haiku, Tinywords, The Heron’s Nest, and several other journals. He is also the coeditor of Haiku News, a journal dedicated to engaging sociopolitical events through haiku, tanka, and senryu poetry.


Please visit Haiku News at http://www.wayfarergallery.net/haikunews/
. (another RHB note: Poetry Friday regulars, you can find several poems by Diane Mayr in the Haiku News archives.)


At our weekend conference, which celebrated the 250th birthday of haiku master Issa, Laurence delivered a lecture that was enthusiastically received Saturday morning. His talk, “Issa and the African American Perspective in Haiku,” invited us to explore poetry by African American writers as well as to think about ecology , and to consider these subjects in the context of haiku. An enlightening and inspiring morning!


I look forward to more of Laurence’s work on these themes in the future.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy some of his poetry, shall we?




deep in debt…
I answer the phone
as my son


Tinywords, issue 13.2, August 2013



election day
choosing the devil
I know


Haiku News, Vol 1 No. 22



her illness
beyond our care
winter birds


The Heron’s Nest, September 2011, Vol XIII



spreading my cards
the gypsy covers
a yawn


Simply Haiku, Autumn 2009, Vol 7 No 3



AM jazz
the phone line rocking
with crows


3Lights, Winter 2010

All poems ©Laurence Stacey. All rights reserved.


In response to “Why haiku?”, Laurence shares the following:

My reasons for studying and writing haikai (haiku, senryu, and tanka) continue to evolve as I learn more about the art. However, the reason that most quickly comes to my mind is joy. For me, haikai is a way of connecting to the people around me and recording the stories that make us unique. In addition, haikai encourages what I believe is a true respect for the natural world and the creatures that live in it.

What more could you ask for as a reason to pursue a discipline? We are very grateful to have Laurence in our region, and I’m grateful he took the time to visit us here today! Thanks, Laurence.

And hearty thanks to hearty Katya, hosting our Roundup for Poetry Friday this week. Go unpack all the great poetry over at Write. Sketch. Repeat.

(And be sure to return here next week, as our series continues...!)

Poetry Friday: WE HAIKU HERE welcomes Tom Painting

November 14, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, We Haiku Here, poes, HSA, writing life, student work

Welcome back, Poetry Friday Friends! Our haiku series continues today. In late October, The Southeast Chapter of The Haiku Society of America met in Atlanta for the 2nd Annual Ginko Haikufest: “gazing at flowers” in celebration of Koboyashi Issa’s 250th birthday. (We’ll revisit Issa in a later post with HSA President and Issa scholar David G. Lanoue.) I’m shining a spotlight on our speakers here, week by week.

Last week, we kicked off the series with North Carolina poet Curtis Dunlap, who kindly provided some thoughts on haiku and several fine poems. This week, I’m thrilled to introduce Tom Painting. (If you already hang in the haiku world, Tom needs no introduction.)

One of the highlights of our recent weekend was welcoming Tom’s current and former students from The Paideia School in Atlanta, where Tom teaches junior high. (He taught my niece Olivia in fact, and she has penned some award-winning haiku, which I’ve featured here the last two years.)

These eighth and ninth graders each shared a few thoughts on haiku and then some of their own poems. I cannot adequately describe how articulate, thoughtful and talented each student was – or the tangible impact they had on us grown-up listeners! There were many moist eyes in the room during the readings. Beyond impressive.

Since 2000, Tom’s junior high and high school students have had winning haiku in the Nicholas Virgilio Memorial Haiku Contest. His students have also been recognized in the United Nations International School Haiku Competition.Tom is obviously an amazing teacher, and he is eager to share his students’ work.

For today, I convinced him to let us meet him first! This teacher, husband and father is one of our best haiku poets writing today.

In addition to regular inclusion in the top haiku journals,Tom’s haiku have appeared annually since 1998 in The Red Moon Anthology of English Language Haiku, published by Red Moon Press. He was the 2012 winner of the Haiku Society of America haibun contest. One of his poems is included in Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years recently published by W.W. Norton and Company (see last week’s post for my aside raves).

Here are some examples of his work:



crickets
the pulse in a hollow
of her neck


Acorn #10, 2004



spring plowing
a flock of blackbirds
turns inside out


Frogpond XXV:2



detour
she returns my hand
to the wheel


Frogpond XXVI:3



year's end
the weight of pennies
in the mason jar


Modern Haiku 39:2



Indian summer
bison graze the shadow
of the Bitterroots


Modern Haiku 43:1



summer stars
my children ask me
to name a favorite


The Heron’s Nest, June 2011


All poems ©Tom Painting. All rights reserved.


Now, to the question, “Why Haiku?” – Tom’s insightful answers runneth over. In fact, I’ll feature just a few of his helpful thoughts about haiku here today and try to work in more in future posts.

“In haiku circles you’ll often hear reference to the haiku moment,” Tom explains. “In so short a form as haiku the poet must get right to the point and show the particular thing that captures her or his attention- the one among the many, the close-up in the general scene, the last, the first, the opposite.

"Haiku work with the ordinary facts of life. One of the great surprises of this form of poetry is that in the ordinary, the every day, one can find the sublime. Haiku poets write in present tense to help the reader feel as if the haiku moment were happening now. Simple, uncomplicated images, common language, objective presentation and musical sensitivity to language are additional hallmarks of a successful haiku."


Told you he was a teacher. As to why he teaches haiku:

“I teach haiku because I love it. I teach haiku because kids of all ages generally like it and some love it. I teach haiku because I feel it provides a cornerstone to literacy.”

Tom even makes his students a promise: “ If you commit yourself to the practice, you’ll learn more about the world, about writing and especially about yourself.”

If you scan the 7th through 12th grade winning entries in the Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Contest at the Haiku Society of America website, you’ll see how Tom has inspired many of the winners.

But wait! There’s more! I will be featuring one of Tom’s students each month beginning one month from today! That’s right, a student haiku poet of the month. You will be blown away, I guarantee it.

The accolades of placing in a contest are all well and good, but beyond that - when a young writer is able to engage in the world in an authentic way and express his or her experience in just a few profound words… I told you you’d be blown away, right? So stay tuned in coming weeks for more haiku from our featured speakers, and then keep circling back for our bright and shining student of the month.

As for today’s Round Up, please go see what the ever-surprising and insightful Jama is cooking up over at Alphabet Soup . It’s always Mmm-mmm good.

Poetry Friday: WE HAIKU HERE series kicks off with Curtis Dunlap

November 7, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, We Haiku Here, poets, HSA, writing life

Curtis Dunlap leads a critique panel at the 2013 HSA SE Ginko Haikufest in Atlanta
photo by Raymond French
Welcome, Poetry Friday Friends! I’m excited to kick off a series today which will feature several notable haiku poets – the speakers from a recent regional celebration of haiku. In late October, The Southeast Chapter of The Haiku Society of America met in Atlanta for the 2nd Annual Ginko Haikufest: “gazing at flowers” in celebration of Koboyashi Issa’s 250th birthday. (We’ll revisit Issa in a later post with HSA President and Issa scholar David G. Lanoue.)

The event was organized by our amazing and talented regional coordinator, Terri L. French. (More on her later, too.) This region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and the United States Virgin Islands. Our wonderful weekend included a handful of terrific poets from North Carolina as well. As you can imagine, I’m thrilled I’ll stay in this region after moving from Georgia to South Carolina!

At our conference, I had the good fortune to be on a panel with Curtis Dunlap. We read anonymously submitted haiku and then discussed/critiqued them as a large group. I was struck by 1.) the level of excellence of the drafts and 2.) the very insightful comments and suggestions from all in attendance. It was a great learning experience all around.

I asked Curtis if he would be willing to lead off with this end-of-the-year series, and he kindly obliged.



Curtis Dunlap lives near the confluence of the Mayo and Dan rivers in Mayodan, North Carolina. His poems have been published in a variety of journals and anthologies including The Christian Science Monitor, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Frogpond, Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years, Magnapoets, Modern Haiku, Rusty Truck, and The Wild Goose Poetry Review. He was awarded the Museum of Haiku Literature Award in 2008. Click here for his tobaccoroadpoet.com website.

[Note from RHB: Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years came out in August from W.W. Norton & Company. Edited by Jim Kacian, it features an introduction by Billy Collins and more than 800 poems guiding the reader through the form’s development in English. I bought a copy and am enjoying it tremendously.]

Here is a sampling of Curtis’s fine haiku:



after the burial . . .
my father’s smile
on so many faces


The Heron's Nest, Volume VIII:4 - 12, 2006



tobacco market
the auctioneer pauses
to catch his breath


Chasing the Sun: selected haiku from Haiku North America 2007



a rusty still
by the dry creek bed –
blood moon rising


The Heron's Nest, Volume X:1 - 3, 2008



school closings —
the snowmen arrive
flake by flake


The Heron's Nest, Volume XII, Number 2: June, 2010



robbing the bees
she speaks of
lip balm


The Heron's Nest, Volume XII, Number 4: December, 2010



afternoon lull...
a mercy bullet
for the rabid dog


The Heron's Nest, Volume XV, Number 2: June 2013

All poems ©Curtis Dunlap. All rights reserved.


To the question, Why Haiku? – Curtis responds:

To preserve, share, and savor snapshot moments that are as fleeting as the small poems used to convey the experience to the reader. Time goes by at an incredible pace, especially now that I've passed the half century mark. To me, writing haiku is akin to taking the finger off of life's fast forward button, slowing the pace down, and revisiting events that struck a chord with my artistic soul. …

You can follow the rest of this discussion here at Curtis’s blog. While there, please peruse the “Three Questions” interviews with links in the right-hand column– a treasure-trove of interviews in recent years with contemporary haiku poets. Some of these poets, including William J. Higginson and Peggy Lyles, are no longer with us; it’s a privilege to read their thoughts from just a few years ago.

Many thanks to Curtis Dunlap for joining us today! Stay tuned – we’ll enjoy a different poet from the HSA SE Haikufest speaker’s circle each week through the end of the year.

Now, I think it only appropriate that today’s Poetry Friday host is also an accomplished (and prolific!) haiku poet, among many other things. Please go see the amazing Diane at Random Noodling. (Oh, and let me know if you catch her napping. My theory is she doesn’t sleep.)

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: Mortimer Minute Stops Here. (Really, but I hope someone will jump in...)

October 24, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, Mortimer Minute, poets, poetry, dogs, animals, ponderings, writing life

Greetings, Friends!

Ever since I first heard about the Children's Poetry Blog Hop from my wonderful, talented buddy April Halprin Wayland, I've been delighted to see "The Mortimer Minute" hopping around the Poetry Friday blogosphere. I've been dodging Kind Mortimer (and invitations from fellow poetry bloggers) for weeks, however, because of a crazy travel schedule and crazy life in general this fall.

I came up for a wee bit of air last week to find a tag invite from the wonderful, talented Tricia Stohr-Hunt, whose Mortimer Minute blog post is here on her terrific Miss Rumphius Effect blog (definitely worth hopping around there). You feel bonded with a person after sharing a few moments of white-knuckled airplane-seat-gripping on a little plane taking off from Scranton, PA, following a Highlights Founders poetry workshop, into uncertain skies.... Thanks, Tricia, for thinking of me years later!

Here's how the Mortimer Minute works:

• Answer 3 questions. Pick one question from the previous Hopper. Add two of your own. Keep it short, please! This is a Blog Hop, not a Blog Long Jump. This is The Mortimer Minute—not The Mortimer Millennium!
• Invite friends. Invite 1-3 bloggers who love children’s poetry to follow you. They can be writers, teachers, librarians, or just plain old poetry lovers.
• Say thank you. In your own post, link to The Previous Hopper. Then keep The Mortimer Minute going — let us know who your Hoppers are and when they plan to post their own Mortimer Minute.


Okay, methinks, I can do that. Answer 3 questions, check. Thank you to previous Hopper, check. Invite friends.... well, that's where the hopping didn't go so well this past week. I did invite poetry blogger friends - several - but they'd all been previously Mortimer-ed and were already posting soon, or their schedules wouldn't allow them to participate, or memes in general just weren't their thing. Now, I don't particularly want Mortimer to stop at my place - really, I have a houseful of rescued animals already. (No offense, Mortimer.) They don't always play nicely with others, at least not the 16-pound somewhat demon-possessed kitty in the basement.

If you are reading this and would like a tag-after-the-fact, please by all means consider this an invitation to play along! I'll try to post a link to your site as soon as my car rolls to a stop again (traveling again this weekend and next week - author visits in schools.)

In the meantime, here's my Minute:

Mortimer: Do you have a favorite poetry book from childhood?

I can’t place my memory on one particular book, though I remember loving poems as a child, and reading was a favorite pastime in our house growing up. (I do remember thinking “Eletelephony” by Laura Richards was hilarious.)

But, spurred on by Tricia’s “well-worn and much beloved book” she shared from 1968, I dug one out of the shelves which technically belonged to my older brother, Mike, published in 1966. It is a big Western Publishing collection with photos and illustrations, My Dog, My Friend in Pictures and Rhyme. (Guess I'm continuing last week's canine theme.) Its opening poem pretty much describes the attitude both Mike and I have had since we were babes. (And congrats, Bro, on the newest doggie rescue in your house this week!)

Birthday Present
by Aileen Fisher

White?
Oh yes, a woolly white one.

Black?
Oh yes, a black-as-night one.

Tan?
I think a tan or brown one
perfect for a farm or town one.

Sleek?
Oh yes, a sleek and trim one.

Shaggy?
Any her or him one.
Tousled, frowzled,
big or small,
I’d like any kind at all –
just so it’s a dog.


Please scroll up one post for a picture of the book. And don’t miss Renée LaTulippe’s ongoing series with the incomparable Lee Bennett Hopkins on NCTE Poetry Award winners – click here for the video posted this month featuring Lee’s interview about Aileen Fisher.

Mortimer: Do you write several drafts of a poem or dash off publishable gems the first time around?

I find most writing, especially poetry, needs to "cure" - at least overnight, usually many overnights, and sometimes over a month or year or more. That is just part of the process. It would be rare that something needing fixin' doesn't jump out upon a second or twentieth reading.

Mortimer: Do you have a favorite poetic genre?

Many kinds of poetry make me swoon. Blake (1757–1827) wrote, in the opening lines of "Auguries of Innocence":

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour....


Click here for more.

Good poetry allows me that magic. The way poetry crystallizes a moment, an experience - that's probably why I'm so drawn to haiku. Speaking of which, I need to go pack. I'm participating in a Haiku Society of America regional "haikufest" this weekend in Atlanta.

So if you'll excuse me, and if any Poetry Friday bloggers want to take Mortimer...

Now, jump on over to see the wonderful, talented Irene at Live Your Poem , where she's hosting this week's Roundup AND celebrating her 1000th post. Woo-hoooo! That's enough to make you want to twitch your whiskers.

Poetry Friday: Mary Oliver's Dog Songs

October 17, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poets, poetry, animals, dogs




Greetings, Poetry Packmates! It's the tail end of Wolf Awareness Week, so I thought a canine post might be in order.

A very dear friend (and high school teacher - one of the main reasons we shelled out private school tuition for both of our kids if truth be told) surprised me with a special gift this month: Mary Oliver's new book, Dog Songs (The Penguin Press, 2013). Michael has quite a soft spot for dogs himself and is regularly seen romping around town with their two soft and lively cinnamon pups.

My family's own pack includes two male 14-year-old dachshund mixes (littermates) who think they're still puppies and a year-old dainty, feisty, utterly charming female Chihuahua, all three and-a-half pounds of her, that I rescued from a busy road last year. (That's another story.) I can't imagine life without dogs as part of the family.

Apparently neither can Mary Oliver, whose unassuming and accessible poems in this collection at turns imagine what our canine companions are thinking, feeling and saying, celebrate their unique and wild qualities, and mourn the brevity of their time with us.

A phrase Michael pointed out, from "School," asks:

How many summers does a little dog have?

If you journey through these poems you'll meet Percy, and Bear, and Ricky, and Benjamin, to name a few - all dogs with something to say.

Here are the opening lines from "The Sweetness of Dogs" - because I'm actually at the beach right now myself, and tonight is a full moon.

What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. It's full tonight.

So we go

....


Click here to read a review of this new collection in The New York Times.

And because it's almost Halloween, and I would hate for any picture book loving friend of dogs (and children) to miss it, please continue to celebrate with me one of my favorite works ever, Bone Dog (Roaring Brook, 2011), by the amazing Eric Rohman. Here's my my 2011 blog post featuring Bone Dog - the difficult topic of grief handled in such a brilliant way.

Now, romp as fast as you can without a leash over to this week's Roundup hosted by Cathy at Merely Day by Day. Woof!

Poetry Friday - A Few Lines of Rumi for Rumination

October 3, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, writing life, conferences, ponderings, SCBWI, Southern Breeze


Next Saturday, Oct. 12, I’ll start the day presenting a workshop called “Poetry Tips for Prose Writers” at one of my favorite places – our SCBWI Southern Breeze Fall Conference in Birmingham, Alabama. We’ll look at ways poetic language can enliven our fiction and nonfiction writing.

I offered a little sneak preview as my column returned from vacation to Janice Hardy’s The Other Side of the Story blog this week. In that post, I shared a few excerpts from Khaled Hosseini’s powerful first novel, The Kite Runner, now celebrating 10 years in print. What piqued my curiosity about Hosseini’s writing was a recent television interview about his newest novel (And the Mountains Echoed), in which he described growing up in Kabul with poetry all around - a natural part of daily life. As a child, he kept close company with Rumi, Hafiz and Omar Khayyám. (Hosseini mentions ghazals too - a poetic form explored by some of our Poetry Friday keepers. [See Margaret’s post at Reflections on the Teche from April here.]

So, today – something sweet to chew on from Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks):


What Was Told, That

by Jalal al-Din Rumi
translated by Coleman Barks

What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.

What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was

whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever …



Please click here for the rest of the poem.

Wishing you a Poetry Friday “filled with gratitude.” For today’s Roundup, go share some sweet tea with one of my favorite Southern Breezers, Doraine, at Dori Reads. Doraine is presenting a "Nuts and Bolts" workshop at our conference, too!

Poetry Friday: Carpe-ing Diem with Andrew Marvell and His Coy Mistress

September 19, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, birds, ponderings

© Robyn Hood Black

Okay – my posts are usually pretty tame; but today young children and eighth-grade boys should probably leave the room. ;0)

Wednesday night I caught the “Europe” episode of a PBS Nature series, “Earthflight.” Fascinating stuff: cameras literally capture a bird’s eye view of our planet as birds migrate across the continents. I was rather charmed with the way male cranes and storks go ahead of their mates to spiff up the nest and put their best avian foot forward to impress their ladies for breeding season.

I thought of that again today (bear with me) when I was playing around with some cool 1950s metal letters I’ve been framing for this weekend’s Art in the Square here in north Georgia. Why? Well, I made the above “Carpe d’ M” picture, which got me pondering the concept (I’m a seize-the-day kind of gal), which led me to looking at a “carpe diem” poem I probably haven’t read since college.

You, know, English poet Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress.” Marvell (1621-1678) penned these lines toward the end of his “invitation” to a certain young lass:

“Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey… .”

The PBS birds weren’t birds of prey (though there was some amazing footage of a Peregrine falcon trying and failing to nab a starling in a murmuration), but they were certainly amorous. How odd to read this poem again when I’m not quite crone (though that is not terribly far away), but I’m w-a-y past maiden. I find myself chuckling at the 300-year-old pick-up lines.

Here they are:

To His Coy Mistress

By Andrew Marvell

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast;
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart;
For, Lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapt power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.



I mean, “The grave's a fine and private place/
But none, I think, do there embrace” – that’s better quipped than late night TV monologues, don’t you think?

Please click here to learn more.

This poem also brought to mind a piece of the soundtrack of my teenage years – anybody else remember? – “Only the Good Die Young” by Billy Joel. Of course, this song got the young Joel in a heap of trouble with Catholics, though its banning only resulted in skyrocketing sales. Click here for a little more on that.

I suppose if we banned all carefully crafted entreaties of lusty young men from our literature, our books would weigh far less. And then, if we found ourselves missing all that strutting and preening, we could just look to the birds.

Now, flap your way over to The Opposite of Indifference to enjoy today's Roundup with Tabatha, who keeps a bird's eye view of just about everything.

Poetry Friday: September

September 5, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, authors, book tracks, haiku

YAY Images

I caught it - just for a hint of a moment, just through my fingers and teasing my face - walking at dusk last night. Have you caught it? That wispy slight chill in the air wafting over the scent of grass - the promise of fall?

Fall has always been my favorite season. As a little girl, when that chill in the air and the smell of fresh grass meant I was running around my grandparents' back yard in Tennessee, I loved the start of a new school year. Growing up in Florida, I didn't move to where the leaves change color until college. I am still at a loss each year when the canopy transforms into a yellow golden scarlet aubergine cathedral, shedding stained glass leaves into a carpet. Fall is a time to breathe deeply, to both contemplate and start new things.

On my side of the family, the first great-grandchild for my folks was born Wednesday night to my lovely niece. New life makes everyone pause and feel hopeful. We also discovered that there's a baby due on my husband's side of the family - the first great-grandchild for his folks, so fall will be full of promise. New babies always make me think of Lee Bennett Hopkins's collection AMAZING FACES, with exquisite illustrations by Chris Soentpiet (Lee & Low, 2010). Rebecca Kai Dotlich's opening poem begins:

Amazing Face

Amazing, your face.
Amazing.

It shows there will be trails to follow,
porches to wave from, wonder from,
play on. ...


©Rebecca Kai Dotlich. All rights reserved.

Please click here to read the rest.

There's something about the bittersweet nature of fall that captivates me, too. All that glorious color and fresh air harbors the reality that stark winter is next on the wheel. We are fragile, after all - strong, but impermanent. This sensibility accompanies the best haiku, one reason I'm so drawn to the form.

Somewhat related, the imagist poets often call to me, too. This poem in particular seemed perfect for today, and even relevant with our current concerns around the globe.

September, 1918

by Amy Lowell (1874–1925)

This afternoon was the colour of water falling through sunlight;
The trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves;
The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves,
And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows.
Under a tree in the park,
Two little boys, lying flat on their faces,
Were carefully gathering red berries
To put in a pasteboard box.
Some day there will be no war,
Then I shall take out this afternoon
And turn it in my fingers,
And remark the sweet taste of it upon my palate,
And note the crisp variety of its flights of leaves.
To-day I can only gather it
And put it into my lunch-box,
For I have time for nothing
But the endeavour to balance myself
Upon a broken world.


Click here to see the poem at The Poetry Foundation; you can click on Lowell's biography on that page and read more about her extraordinary career.

Finally, let the autumn winds blow you over to Author Amok, where the lovely and talented Laura has thoughts on friendship, more classic poetry, and a terrific Round-Up this week!

Poetry Friday: Haiku and a Deja Vu

August 30, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, conferences, ponderings, journals, workshops

©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

I've missed you this month!

You've missed me, too, right?

I'm waving on my way to the Decatur Book Festival this weekend (where I'll have my artsyletters booth). But I wanted to share some treats before I go. Last year about this time, I featured a couple of haiku from myself and my niece, Olivia, which were in the same issue of Frogpond. Olivia had been one of the winners in the Nicholas Virgilio Haiku Contest for students. Well, guess what? We share bylines in the same issue again! One of Olivia's poems appears in this year's small collection of wonderful winning entries.


autumn wind
the spool
feeding the thread



©Olivia Babuka Black. All rights reserved.

The judges offer thoughtful commentary on each winning poem, adding that Olivia's has "a kind of lonely beauty."

Hers was, again, not the only winning entry from The Paideia School in Atlanta. No surprise - their teacher is award-winning and widely published haiku poet Tom Painting. I look forward to meeting Tom in person at our upcoming "Ginko Haiku Fest" in Atlanta October 25-27.

In the meantime, he graciously agreed to let me post my favorite of his poems in this same Frogpond issue:


damp earth by turn some understanding


©Tom Painting. All rights reserved.

Such richness and depth in those few words, don't you think?


And, okay, here's my poem in the current issue:


temple gift shop
no one minds
the register



©©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

Finally... Drumrolllll, pleeeease.... our own Elizabeth Steinglass (Liz to me) makes her haiku publishing debut with this fine poem, ALSO in this issue of Frogpond:


after lunch...
the slight smile
of the hammock



©©Elizabeth Steinglass. All rights reserved.


Congratulations, Liz! And that's just the beginning for her. More of her poems are in the pipelines of respected haiku journals.

(Also, a shout-out to Jone Rush MacCulloch, who has made her haiku journal debut this year as well, I believe.)

One more thing. I'm looking forward to presenting a workshop on "Poetry for Prose Writers" at our SCBWI Southern Breeze fall conference, Writing and Illustrating for Kids, on October 12. Our region features presenters in a "blog tour," and I had the good fortune to be a guest on the blog of my author friend Donny Bailey Seagraves this week. Donny lists the schedule for all of the wik Southern Breeze Wik blog tour participants.

In the mood for some more poetry to fuel your day? Ever-talented Tara has our Roundup today (and a William Blake offering) at A Teaching Life. Enjoy!

Poetry Friday: "August Morning" by Albert Garcia

August 2, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, ponderings

YAY Images
Happy August to you!

I have looked at my calendar and must declare myself an honorary European this month; with a trip or two yet to go, and with getting two kids settled into college (first year for one; last for the other) in two different states, and with the Decatur Book Festival at the end of the month where I'll have my artsyletters booth, I'm going to need to take some blog vacation days here in the Dog Days.

But I'd like to share a poem I stumbled across, and it only makes me want to read more of this poet's work. Albert Garcia teaches college English in California. His work has been published in many respected journals and has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. His poetry collections include Rainshadow (Copper Beech Press) and Skunk Talk (Bear Star Press). Here are the opening lines from a poem in Skunk Talk:

August Morning

by Albert Garcia

It’s ripe, the melon
by our sink. Yellow,
bee-bitten, soft, it perfumes
the house too sweetly.
At five I wake, the air
mournful in its quiet.
My wife’s eyes swim calmly
under their lids, her mouth and jaw
relaxed, different.
What is happening in the silence
of this house? ...


©Albert Garcia - please click here to read the whole poem.

For lots of great poetry to start off your August, please paddle over to visit lovely Margaret at Reflections on the Teche.

(If you're interested, here's a peek at some new artwork I'm conjuring up for that book festival Aug. 30-Sept. 1. Especially for Book Nerds!)

Poetry Friday: Margarita Engle is here!

July 25, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, authors, ponderings, verse novels, poetry, animals


Earlier this summer I was honored to feature a poem by Margarita Engle from her gorgeously crafted The Hurricane Dancers. That only whet my appetite to offer a more fulsome post featuring this talented, generous, adventurous and multi-award-winning poet. But what to focus on - her journalistic career and NPR segments? Her scientific expertise? Her picture books and animal knowledge? (Did you know she "hides" in the wilderness to help search and rescue dogs learn their trade?) Her precision regarding historical figures, some of whom wouldn't otherwise have a voice today? Verse novels?

Well, this column today is mainly about verse novels, with some of those other dynamics woven in. Like me, you'll want to explore more than just one work or form! I'm so pleased to welcome Margarita, whose many awards include a Newbery Honor, the Pura Belpré Award, the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Honor, just to name a few.

Your body of work (and that’s just so far!) includes a treasure of stories about Cuba’s history. First, can you share a bit about your rich family history and your visits to Cuba growing up?

My mother is from the beautiful town of Trinidad, on the south-central coast of Cuba. My father is an American artist who traveled to her town after seeing photos of the colonial architecture and traditional customs in the January, 1947 issue of National Geographic. He arrived on Valentine’s Day, and they met on the terrace of a palace that was an art school at that time, but is now known as El Museo Romántico, because it is a museum of Romantic Era art. Since they couldn’t speak the same language, they communicated with drawings. It was love at first sight (or first sketch). They were soon married, and they moved to my father’s hometown of Los Angeles, where I was born and raised. Summers spent visiting my mother’s relatives in Cuba are my fondest childhood memories. During those trips, I bonded with the extended family, including my grandmother and great-grandmother. I also fell in love with tropical nature and the family farm, setting the foundation for a later career in botany and agriculture. The 1962 Missile Crisis, and my loss of the right to travel freely, was the defining moment of my adolescence. I think that might be why I tend to write for eleven-year-olds, since that is the age at which my life was abruptly severed into distinct before and after segments.

Your writing sensitively conveys both the courage of ordinary people as well as the horror of humanity’s dark side in conditions such as war and slavery. How were you able to actually write difficult scenes, such as the recurring tortures endured by Juan Francisco Manzano in The Poet Slave of Cuba?

Thank you, I’m glad it does come across as sensitive. Those scenes were adapted directly from Manzano’s autobiographical notes. On my own, I never would have imagined such terror, but I felt obligated to retain both the facts and the spirit of his notes about his childhood. The stunning illustrations by Sean Qualls really helped soften, and at the same time, strengthen, those disturbing images.

Turning specifically to the form of verse novels, I’d like to share some correspondence with you earlier this summer that helped click this form into place in my mind. You wrote:

The two things I sacrifice in exchange for using the verse novel form's magic are:

1. dialogue---When I encounter dialogue in a verse novel, it usually feels disorienting, so I search for other ways to have characters communicate.
2. detail---I feel the need to research like a maniac, and then omit most of what I have learned. This forces me to only include those aspects of history that seem most important to me. In other words, it forces me to remain constantly aware of what I am really trying to say to young readers.


What terrific thoughts for folks exploring this form! Would you like to share a little more about its magic? Why is the verse novel a vehicle of choice for sharing your stories?


I fell in love with the verse novel form after struggling to write about Manzano in traditional prose, and falling short over and over, for ten years. As soon as I switched to poetry, the life of The Poet Slave of Cuba sprang to life. I think it’s because Manzano was a poet, and I was only able to retain the spirit of his voice by honoring his love of verse. He wrote poetry while struggling to stay alive. I write in safety and comfort, yet we meet on common ground. I have never been a slave or a boy, but I feel a kinship to this enslaved boy who taught himself to read and write poetry. After that first verse novel, I just kept going. The Surrender Tree was next, and the first draft was so unfocused that it was rejected by my wonderful editor, Reka Simonsen. I’m fortunate that she gave me a second chance to re-write it from scratch, because the result was a Newbery Honor. I don’t think that would have been possible for me in any other form. If I’d written a nonfiction book about a wilderness nurse during Cuba’s independence wars, it would have needed footnotes, instead of feelings. Someone else could write that, but I can’t. I need to experience my protagonist’s emotions. After The Surrender Tree, I followed with Tropical Secrets, The Firefly Letters, Hurricane Dancers, The Wild Book, and The Lightning Dreamer. Each of these verse novels explores some aspect of freedom and/or hope, my two recurrent themes.

While we’re on the subject of form, I’d like to take this opportunity to give a bit of advice to anyone teaching poetry to young people. Personally, I would tell kids (and aspiring adult writers) to turn off their gadgets, string up a hammock, and write with pen and paper, just letting words flow. Write as if time does not exist. Write as if rejections and critics don’t exist. Just write because you have something to communicate, deep down inside your heart, mind, and soul. Go exploring.

(I LOVE that advice!) Your main characters are full of light in dark circumstances, and often deal with being perceived in unfair and negative ways. In The Surrender Tree, Rosa (modeled after Rosario Castellanos Castellanos, who lived in the 19th and early 20th century) is a nurse who helps the injured on both sides of conflict in Cuba’s three wars of independence. She must do her healing in hiding, deep in the tropical forests and caves of the countryside:

The Spanish soldiers dress in bright uniforms,
like parakeets.
They march in columns, announcing
their movements
with trumpets and drums.

We move silently, secretly.
We are invisible.


Rosa is called a witch and pursued relentlessly. Under the weight of extreme weariness, hunger, lack, and fear, she carries on. What keeps her going?


Compassionate perseverance is the reason I chose to view 30 years of war through her eyes. I don’t understand that level of generosity and courage. I admire modern nurses for the same reason: they stayed with their patients during Hurricane Katrina. They don’t receive the respect granted to doctors, but they accomplish daily tasks that would exhaust the powers of superheroes. Nurses amaze me. Where does that dedication come from? I think it’s hope, and that’s the reason I admire Rosa la Bayamesa enough to write about war, when all I want to think of is peace.

In your speech at the 2010 National Book Festival (available on the Macmillan Authors site and your own website, and echoing your advice above, you said, “writing is an exploration.” Any projects in the works you want to talk about, or do you prefer to keep creative endeavors under wraps until they’re ready for the world?

I have taken a brief rest from Cuban history to write some animal books. When You Wander, a Search and Rescue Dog Story (wonderful illustrations by Mary Morgan!), is my new picture book, and Mountain Dog is a middle grade chapter-book-in-verse (magnificent illustrations by Olga and Alexey Ivanov, and edited by the amazing Ann Martin!). Both of these dog books were inspired by my husband’s volunteer work, training our dogs to find hikers lost in the Sierras. My role in their training is hiding out in the woods, so the dogs can practice finding a “lost” person. I also have some other picture books pending, about other subjects, including a couple of biographies, one of the most difficult p.b. forms to publish these days.

{Note: When you leave here, please take a moment to enjoy When You Wander, read aloud by Margarita in a video over at Renée's No Water River! An interview follows, and she'll be a special guest over there again soon, too!}

In March, 2014, Harcourt will release a picture book inspired by a Cuban folktale: Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish(gorgeous illustrations by David Walker!), as well as Silver People, Voices From the Panama Canal (spectacular cover illustration by Raúl Colón!), a verse novel about the Caribbean Islanders who were recruited to dig the canal, while subjected to U.S.-imposed apartheid. Caribbeans and southern Europeans were paid in silver, while Americans and northern Europeans were paid in gold, hence the title. Silver People is also my personal love letter to tropical rain forests. In this book, every living thing has a voice, including monkeys, ants, birds, snakes, cockroaches, and trees.

That sounds beyond wonderful. I have to mention that among many other things you write, you are a haiku and tanka poet. Do these short forms inform your other writing?

Absolutely! Since childhood, I have loved the short Japanese forms of poetry. They help me remain aware of immediacy, and of the senses. They also help me discover universal images that are extremely useful for triggering emotions in a reader’s mind, so that I don’t have to go on and on in a melodramatic way, naming and describing those emotions. I think haiku and tanka help me fill the blank spaces between lines of verse with unstated thoughts and feelings. It can be described as resonance, like the vibrations that continue after the sound of a bell has faded. It makes reading interactive, without any electronic gadgets, just words.

Readers and writers are always curious about an author’s work habits and inspiration. Will you play along with a short Q & A? Here we go:

Morning or Evening? (or Middle of the Night?!)

Morning. I get up early, work early, and exhaust my creative energy early. By evening, my mind is a sponge, and all I can do is read.

Coffee or tea?
Coffee, the stronger the better.

Beach or Mountains? (or maybe Tropical Forest?)
All of the above. I don’t swim, but I love the seashore. Our search and rescue dog training takes us to the mountains once or twice each week. I visit tropical rain forests whenever our budget has room for travel. Most recently, we went to an orangutan reserve in Borneo (after the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore, a great conference for any Western authors who want to meet authors and readers from the East). And before you ask, yes, one sort of writing project or another often does grow out of each adventure, so there is an orangutan book in my future (illustrated by…no, sorry, I can’t reveal that exciting secret yet, but it’s edited by Noa Wheeler at Holt...)

(Oooohhh... can't wait!)
Music (What Kind?) or Silence?


Silence. I’ve never understood authors who can write in crowded places. I need to be alone with my characters, whether fictional or historical. Noise or modern music would interfere with my time travel experience.

What’s on your Night Stand? (Or would that be a Kindle?)

I just finished the best grownup biography I’ve ever read: Second Suns, by David Relin, about a heroic Nepali eye surgeon who cures blindness in remote villages. I don’t know whether this book captivated me just because it’s fantastic, or because my son-in-law is from Nepal, and I’m eager to go meet his family---probably both.) Tragically, the author killed himself right after writing this masterpiece. He was discouraged by criticism of Three Cups of Tea, his previous book. Even though accusations against that book’s authenticity were dropped in court, the discouragement must have been overpowering. I think there’s a lesson for all authors here---we can’t let critics destroy us. We have to ignore all the media buzz, noise, whining, and bullying. We have to just focus on doing our best, and ignore attacks by cruel people.

Some of your favorite-sounding words (this week!)?

The following word is on my mind: travel. That’s because I just finished writing a memoir in verse about my childhood travels, and now I’m waiting for news from my agent, hoping the book has found a home.

Thank you, Margarita, for gracing us with your talent and generous spirit today. I’m glad you write so many books, because I can’t wait for the next one!

Thank you, Robyn! It’s an honor to answer such thoughtful and challenging questions.

For more about Margarita, please visit her website.

And to explore more poetry, please check out Semicolon, where Sherry has the Poetry Friday Roundup!
(Note - as of Friday morning, I'm not seeing a Roundup there - but there are some great PF posts in the kidlitosphere today. UPDATE: Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme stepped up to post links he knows of today. Thanks, Matt!)

Poetry Friday - Award-Winning Bicycle Poem by Gretchen Fletcher

July 18, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, bicycles

©Stephanie Salkin. All rights reserved.

In an earlier post, I mentioned a poetry and art contest in Florida, the poetry portion of which was coordinated by the talented and lively Stephanie Salkin.

Inaugurated by the Gargiulo Arts Foundation (GAF) last July, the Flagler County Art League (FCAL) co-sponsored the art and poetry event, running July 13-August 3.

Hollingsworth Gallery and FCAL studio space are exhibiting bicycle-theme art. In addition, winners of the bicycle-theme poetry competition read their entries at FCAL during the opening reception last Saturday.

Stephanie arranged for me to share the winning poem with you here today - thanks, Stephanie! Judges were Al Hubbs (Actor/Teacher/Comedian/Writer/Poet/Photographer) and Joyce Sweeney, author of fourteen novels for young adults and one book of poetry (and SCBWI volunteer).

Many thanks to first place winner Gretchen Fletcher for sharing her beautiful, haunting poem with our Poetry Friday community.


CITA ENTERS THE LIGHT: AN ELEGY

"Make of yourself a light,"
said the Buddha,
before he died.

The Buddha's Last Instruction
Mary Oliver


Pedaling from spring into the sparkling heat
of early Florida summer, your golden hair
flames out behind you, halos your flushed face.
The alchemy of the day causes gravel in the hot asphalt,
struck by the sun, to become as gleaming precious jewels.
He couldn't see you in the heat's dazzling haze,
couldn't separate you from the bright glare of the sun
on his windshield as you biked into his path
where you and the light became one.
The wheels of your bike continued to spin,
silver spokes shooting out sparks of reflected sun.


©Gretchen Fletcher. All rights reserved.

Stunning, no? For more great poetry, please peddle over to see the multi-talented Jone, rounding up Poetry Friday for us at Check it Out.

Poetry Friday - Island Time?

June 28, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, ponderings, haiku, poetry

Jamaica from plane - photo by Morgan Black

I've never been to Jamaica. But Jeff and Morgan went there on a mission trip back in 2008, and I sometimes think of their description of "Island Time," which Jeff has also encountered on trips to Central and South America. It goes something like this: Busses get there when they get there. "Don't worry." The pace can be different from our hectic, sometimes over-scheduled days in the states.

I feel like I've inadvertently slipped into "Island Time" this week - probably because of the hectic, over-scheduled bit. My "Art Break Wednesday" post this week on my artsyletters blog got put up late yesterday (Thursday). Here it is well into Poetry Friday, and I'm tapping away this morning.

At this stage of our lives, with this being the last summer to have both kids at home (Morgan will be launched into an apartment and masters in teaching program this time next year), I'm thinking a lot about time and change. We've been adapting to a big change for a little more than a year now, after my husband went through an unexpected and extremely trying job change in the spring of 2012. A haiku I wrote during that period appears in the current issue of Modern Haiku:

spring winds
a shift
of circumstance


Modern Haiku
Vol. 44.2, Summer 2013

I'll leave you with some thoughts from current U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey (just appointed to a second term). This poem was written in 2007, about the Gulf Coast. (That, I'm much more familiar with!)

Theories of Time and Space

by Natasha Trethaway

You can get there from here, though
there’s no going home.

Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you’ve never been. Try this:

head south on Mississippi 49, one-
by-one mile markers ticking off

another minute of your life. Follow this
to its natural conclusion—dead end

at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where
riggings of shrimp boats are loose stitches ...


Please click here to read the rest.

From there, mosey on over the The Poem Farm, where the Amazing Amy has our Roundup this week. Take your time.

Poetry Friday: Full Hearts, Empty Nests, and Emily Dickinson

June 13, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, school visits, students, teachers, ponderings, birds

Willow Tree figure, "Happiness," with student cards...


On Wednesday I grabbed a quick catch-up coffee with a dear friend. Years ago, she taught both of my kids when they were in fourth grade, and I was her room mother each time! Now the youngest, Seth, has just graduated (though not before visiting her classroom to talk about song writing with her students), and I’ve been continuing the tradition of visiting her class to talk about writing each spring. A couple of years ago, my oldest (Morgan, my rising college senior/ed major) tagged along. It’s been a great arrangement; I “experiment” with different writing activities with the students, and they get a little outside spice with their language arts.

Sharon has given me the most thoughtful, perfect gifts over the years as a thank-you. When the creative writing theme involved butterflies (catching ideas!), the class gave me a butterfly coffee cup, matching journal, and bookmarks. Once they gave me a heavy duty pen holder for my desk, decorated with pens on the outside. The most precious gifts are notes and cards from the students, which I think every author cherishes.

This week, along with a bow-tied stack of cards, Sharon gave me the lovely Willow Tree figure in the picture above. This one is called “Happiness” – and Sharon said it made her think of me. Well, that just fills me with joy, and much appreciation.

Willow Tree creator Susan Lordi says of this figurine, “I hope this piece is very open to viewer interpretation. For me, it is the pure joy that comes from creating — in all of its forms. A side note … I love bluebirds.”

I told Sharon the birds were appropriate, as the last thing I’d done before sunset the night before was fish a newly-fledged robin out of our pool. I scooped it up and set it on the ground, where, after sitting there not knowing what to do for a time while its parents fretted, it eventually hopped toward Mom, who escorted it up the hillside and out of my sight.

This baby was the last one to leave this year’s nest in the camellia bush. A big baby bird, I’d already mentioned to it that it was about time. That mama and papa robin had worked tirelessly harvesting gobs of worms to take to the nest day in and day out.

Obviously we have empty nests on our minds these days. My husband said he even got misty watching some baby robins outside at work the other day. They were learning to fly. So, let’s have a bird poem today, in which Miss Emily so beautifully renders the image of flight:

A Bird Came Down the Walk

by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

A Bird came down the Walk—
He did not know I saw—
He bit an Angleworm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw,

And then he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass—
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
To let a Beetle pass—

He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all around—
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought—
He stirred his Velvet Head

Like one in danger, Cautious,
I offered him a Crumb
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home—

Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam—
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon
Leap, plashless as they swim.


Click here for more information about Emily Dickinson and links to many of her poems.

Now, flap your wings and glide on over to Reflections on the Teche , where the thoughtful and talented Margaret has the Poetry Friday Roundup!

Also, if you want to see some gorgeous oil paintings, I featured works by my fellow-brand-new-empty-nester-to-be friend and amazing artist Ann Goble on my artsyletters blog this week.

Poetry Friday: A Poem from Margarita Engle's HURRICANE DANCERS

June 6, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, ponderings, verse novels

(Note: the book cover now is covered with many wonderful award stickers! Here's a former library copy, so you can see the art - ©Cathie Bleck...)

Happy Caribbean-American Heritage Month! (Click here for the Presidential proclamation.)

Today I have a poem from the amazing Margarita Engle, from her book, Hurricane Dancers , (Henry Holt, 2011). This novel in verse presents poems in five voices – our main character, Quebrado (the “broken one” – half native Cuban and half Spanish), survives a hurricane and shipwreck in the dawning of the 16th century to escape his life of slavery. The ship’s ruthless captain, Bernardino de Talavera (the first pirate in the Caribbean) survives, too, as does his cruel captive, former conquistador/governor of Venezuela, Alonso de Ojedo. Quebrado befriends Caucubú, daughter of a Ciboney chieftan, and the young fisherman she loves, Naridó.

Of course, these stories and fates become intertwined, and Quebrado must make decisions that affect them all and determine his own character. Around the middle of the book, he shares this poem:

Quebrado (p. 63, Hurricane Dancers)

Storms follow me
wherever I go.

Once again,
the sky looks so heavy
that I would not
be surprised
if black clouds
sank to earth
and grew roots
in moist soil,
creating a wispy forest
of drifting air.

Mysteries follow me
wherever I go.


©Margarita Engle. All rights reserved. (Many thanks to the author for permission to post.)

I borrowed the characters from this book on Wednesday for a kind of quirky, visual-art oriented writing exercise for my monthly column over at Janice Hardy’s THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY. Because I was so taken by the art and design of this book, I also sang its praises on my art blog this week with a link to more incredible art from cover artist Cathie Bleck.

I know all this just whets your appetite. Perhaps like me you’ve long been enchanted by Margarita’s award-winning picture book, Summer Birds , illustrated by the oh-so-gifted Julie Paschkis. Or perhaps you were captivated by The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor Book and winner of the Pura Belpré Award, the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Honor, to name a few. The Poet Slave of Cuba has a long trail of awards as well, and then there are her dog books, her NPR segments, her haiku (ahhhh…!) – Well, have no fear. Margarita has agreed to return for an interview sometime soon, so stay tuned.

Today, turn your dial over to The Opposite of Indifference, where the multi-talented Tabatha has our Poetry Friday Roundup. But wait, there’s more: If you have some bicycle-themed poetry (or art) that you’d like to submit to an upcoming contest in Flagler County, Fla., follow today’s tropical breezes to my post with information from my friend and Highlights Founders Workshops poetry alum, Stephanie Salkin. (& Thanks, Stephanie!)

Bicycle Lovers: Fla. Contest for Poets and Artists is for You!

June 4, 2013

Tags: poetry, art, contests

From a 1998 (!) sketchbook ; Fripp Island, S. C. ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

I met Stephanie Salkin at my first Highlights Founders poetry workshop up in Honesdale, Penn., and I'm happy we've stayed in touch. Stephanie always has something fun going on, and she's very involved with a variety of creative endeavors in her home state of Florida.

She's chairing a poetry contest and asked me to pass along the information. There's an art contest, too - both on the theme of "bicycles." (I grew up in Florida, at least half of the time on a bicycle.) What a fun theme! The deadline is the end of this month, so get those wheels turning. Here's the scoop and contact info from Stephanie:

2013 Bicycle-Theme Poetry Art & Poetry Show

A bicycle-theme poetry competition will be held in conjunction with the Bicycle and Poetry Show inaugurated by the Gargiulo Arts Foundation (GAF) last July. This summer, the Flagler County Art League will co-sponsor the art and poetry event, to run July 13-August 3.

Both Hollingsworth Gallery and FCAL studio space will exhibit bicycle-theme art. In addition, winners of the bicycle-theme poetry competition will read their entries at FCAL during the opening reception, Saturday, July 13, at 7 p.m. (Judges will read aloud entries of those winners not able to be present.)

Copies of the poetry will also be on view in display books at both galleries.

FCAL’s Stephanie Salkin will chair the poetry portion of the event:

*Entrants may send up to three bicycle-theme poems: one poem for $5, three poems for $10. Checks should be made out to FCAL.

*Poems (any form) can be no longer than one page and must be typed in 12-point type. Please include three copies of each poem: two without your own name, only one with your name.

*Two qualified judges (TBA) will choose first, second and third place winners, who will receive monetary prizes and certificates, and two honorable mentions, which will receive certificates only, if the judges deem two poems worthy of such merit.

*All poetry entries and fees should be mailed to Stephanie Salkin’s attention at: Flagler County Art League, P.O. Box 352772, Palm Coast FL 32135-2772.

*In addition, a copy of each poem entered (including your name) must be emailed to Stephanie (ssalkin@cfl.rr.com) for purposes of display printing.

*Deadline for receipt of poems is June 30, 2013.

If you have any questions, you can call Stephanie at (386) 693-4204. Also, visit FCAL’s Website: www.flaglercountyartleague.com.

Poetry Friday: A Jane Hirshfield poem for Will and Emily's wedding

May 30, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, occasions, authors

Yay Images


This weekend, our family is celebrating the union of my nephew, Will, and his lovely bride, Emily. (She’s a new teacher, by the way – I knew you’d like her!)

In scouting around online, I found a website in the UK that has everything a busy or procrastinating couple might need to plan their special day, including dozens of poems and thousands of speeches uploaded by others. Really – groom, father of the bride, maid of honour/best woman … you get the idea! Toasts, jokes, etc. There are even links to help you plan your “Stag” and “Hen” nights! I do love those Brits.

But today I’d like to share a poem by one of America’s poetic treasures, Jane Hirshfield .

Here are its opening lines and those near the end:

A Blessing for Wedding

By Jane Hirshfield

Today when persimmons ripen
Today when fox-kits come out of their den into snow
Today when the spotted egg releases its wren song

Let the vow of this day keep itself wildly and wholly
Spoken and silent, surprise you inside your ears
Sleeping and waking, unfold itself inside your eyes
Let its fierceness and tenderness hold you


© Jane Hirshfield.

Please do click over to read the poem in its entirety here. And click over to Teaching Young Writers, where the creative Betsy has the Poetry Friday Roundup and Chalk-a-Bration pictures, too!

Poetry Friday - Some Early 19th Century Limericks for Children

May 23, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, history, limericks, ponderings, bookstores, anthologies, illustration


Over Mother's Day weekend, my family travelled to Beaufort, SC - recently named America's Happiest Seaside Town by Coastal Living magazine. I was magnetically pulled into a wonderful little bookshop, where my daughter Morgan quickly found a large, hefty volume to put in my hands: A TREASURY OF ILLUSTRATED CHILDREN'S BOOKS - Early Nineteenth-Century Classics from the Osborne Collection by Leonard de Vries (Abbeville Press, 1989). Despite its equally hefty price tag, I didn't protest too much when the family suggested it as a Mother's Day present. In fact, I ventured to ask the proprietor for a Mother's Day discount, and he even obliged! Very kind.

I'm quite the sucker for these volumes chronicling early children's literature. (I posted about that on my art blog earlier this year, here, after Tabatha's gracious gift along these lines during our December poetry/gift swap.)

Here are the opening sentences from the jacket flap:

This beguiling volume reproduces thirty-two of the most enchanting English children's books, dating from 1805 to 1826. That brief period - sandwiched between the harsh didacticism of earlier centuries and the refined moralizing of the Victorian era - witnessed the first flowering of children's books meant to delight and amuse rather than simply to instruct.

Because Liz Steinglass inspired a limerick-laced spring over here, I was particularly delighted to discover two collections in this volume. From p. 223:

...Today the name most commonly associated with the limerick is that of Edward Lear (1812-1888), whose Book of Nonsense (1846) has inspired many imitations. But the limerick came into being at least two decades before Lear's famous book, and one of the earliest appearances of this delightful verse form is The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women, published by Harris and Son in 1820. ...

Here are a couple of examples:

There was an Old Woman at Glos'ter,
Whose Parrot two Guineas it cost her,
      But his tongue never ceasing,
      Was vastly displeasing;
To the talkative Woman of Glos'ter.


There lived an Old Woman at Lynn,
Whose Nose very near touched her chin.
      You may well suppose,
      She had plenty of Beaux:
This charming Old Woman of Lynn.


And here's one from "Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Gentlemen." The final word is not printed in the reproduction, so I'm relying on my own poetic license for it - kind of like the limerick challenge on "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" on NPR.

An old gentleman living at Harwich
At ninety was thinking of marriage
      In came his grandson
      Who was just twenty-one,
and went off with the bride in his carriage.


(I'm assuming it was carriage!)

Today's poetic fare was light, though our hearts are heavy for those in Oklahoma this week. Continued thoughts and prayers for all affected by the tornadoes and other recent tragedies across our country.

For all kinds of poetry today, please visit Alphabet Soup, where our wonderful Jama is serving up the Roundup and some mango-laden poetry and bread! Here, take a napkin before you go - it's really juicy....

Poetry Friday - Some Rumi for my Son upon his Graduation

May 17, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings

Seth, like his sister, Morgan, has attended the same college prep school since kindergarten - he and others will receive a "Crayons to Commencement" recognition this weekend. photo on right by Sommer Daniel


Hope you are having a terrific poetry Friday.

My household is hopping with graduation preparations for this weekend – events and incoming family and general hoopla. Our youngest, Seth, is about to become a high school alumnus on his way to college.

What would be a good poem to share with him here? Dr. Seuss’s OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO comes to mind, as does Frost’s “The Road Less Traveled,” of course. The Academy of American Poets has a list of appropriate poetic offerings for graduates here.

I’ve decided to borrow one from a THE ESSENTIAL RUMI that Seth recently received at a school honors program as co-president of the Honor Council. This is the New Expanded Edition of translations by Coleman Barks (2004, HarperCollins). Selected and presented by a teacher much beloved to our whole family, and one of the hands-down smartest (and most compassionate) folks I know, this book will be treasured by Seth, I’m sure.

Perhaps he’ll like this selection, which speaks to me:

TENDING TWO SHOPS

Don’t run around this world
looking for a hole to hide in.

There are wild beasts in every cave!
If you live with mice,
the cat claws will find you.

The only real rest comes
when you’re alone with God.

Live in the nowhere that you came from,
even though you have an address here.

That’s why you see things in two ways.
Sometimes you look at a person
and see a cynical snake.

Someone else sees a joyful lover,
And you’re both right!

Everyone is half and half,
like the black and white ox.

Jospeh looked ugly to his brothers,
and most handsome to his father.

You have eyes that see from that nowhere,
and eyes that judge distances,
how high and how low.

You own two shops
and you run back and forth.

Try to close the one that’s a fearful trap,
getting always smaller. Checkmate, this way.
Checkmate, that.

Keep open the shop
where you’re not selling fishhooks anymore.
You are the free-swimming fish.


Congratulations to all who are moving the proverbial tassel this season!

For more great poetry, visit Ed at Think Kid Think for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup. (And find out what Doritos could possibly have to do with the history of Poetry Friday....)

Poetry Friday - Check It Out!

May 9, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku

HAPPY POETRY FRIDAY!

I am tooling around in beautiful Beaufort, South Carolina today. So instead of a post here, I'll just direct you to the wonderful Jone MacCulloch with many thanks that she's featured me this week on her Check It Out blog. Today she's scheduled to feature a few of my recent haiku. On Wednesday, she posted a Q and A interview with me.

Thanks so much, Jone, and wishing everyone some poetry and sunshine this weekend.
Thanks also to Anastasia Suen, who has the roundup today at http://www.asuen.com/poetry/ .

Poetry Friday: Student Work and Lively Limericks!

May 2, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, students, school visits, student work

Insert: Sharing a wonderful school visit at Fair Street with Media Specialist Extraordinaire Amy Hamilton. Artwork: Here is a terrific creation from David in Dr. Lacey's kindergarten class. He made this right after my presentation. I'd run from this wolf, too - wouldn't you?

I LOVE student work.

The art, stories, plays, and poetry of children often stop us in our tracks, don’t they?

If I’m in front of a few dozen or hundred kids at a school visit and I solicit some creative contribution from them, there’s a moment of sheer delight when some young mind tosses out an idea or association that I wouldn’t have thought of in a million years. It’s an honor to explore the creative process together.

As we wrap up another school year, I’m thinking of author visits from this year as well as two school visits I still have coming up. Also, my middle school Language Arts teacher friend left me a message yesterday asking if I could judge some work for the county’s creative writing contest (again!). A young student from a school visit years ago has gotten back in touch asking for some guidance regarding his writing. It’s a privilege to be welcomed into a young person’s creative pursuits. And while I hope I can provide a little guidance here and there, the most important thing I can offer is encouragement. On a good day, maybe a dash of inspiration.

Speaking of inspiration, today’s Poetry Friday host and talented poet Elizabeth Steinglass got me to playing with limericks afresh this spring, with her posts about them. (Here's a terrific one from just last week.)

Right before spring break, I visited one of my favorite groups of people around: the students and faculty/staff at Fair Street School, An International Baccalaureate World School, here in north Georgia. We talked all about writing and rang in National Poetry Month. Limerick-fueled, I decided to adapt a creative writing exercise with them especially for Poetry Month.

I started out in my usual way, in the last few minutes of each presentation, asking the students to come up with a humorous character. This character is always a combination of two very different animals, which they name and classify, and which I draw on a large easel pad. Instead of going on to make a group story about this character as is my custom, we made a limerick about it!

The fun we had speaks for itself. You’ll see in these poems that I provided a basic structure for them to jump from. (We discussed the limerick form and clapped out the rhythm before diving in.) Here are the poems from the presentations, combinations of K-5 classes. Since I don’t have the goofy portraits to show (I leave these at the school with the writing), I’ll mention the animal combo before each one.


*************

(Kangaroo/Wolf)

There once was a kangawolf named Ferret
who said, "I think I would like a parrot!
Because it is spring
I must tie a string
and I'm eating a juicy carrot!"

*************

(Horse/Frog)

There once was a horsefrog named Kevin,
who said, "I wish I was eleven!
Because it is spring
I must sing with a ring,
And act my own age, which is seven!

*************

(Cheetah/Snake)

There once was a cheesnake named Mimi,
who said, “I want a boyfriend named Jimmy.
Because it is spring,
I must buy a ring,
And cruise in my new Lamborghini!”

*************

(Bird/Dog)

There once was a birddog named Tuchi,
who said, "I think you're a moochie.
Because it is spring, I must find the king,
and give him a great, big smoochie!"

*************


Aren’t those terrific?

Several of our creative, multi-tasking Poetry Friday bloggers who are teachers feature student creations now and again. Here are a few recent favorites of mine; please feel free to leave more links in the comments!

Mary Lee brought us a wrap-up of her “Common Inspiration – Uncommon Creations” project at a A Year of Reading, with all kinds of enchanting results, including some original sculptures and poetry from some of her students.

At Hubbard’s Headlines, Betsy shared colorful, dusty student masterpieces from her Chalk-A-Bration! 2013 project.

Jone shared lots of student poetry in April at Check it Out
– So, go check it out!

Last but not least, you know there’s always something exciting going on at My Juicy Little Universe, when Heidi shares the adventures of her Mighty Minnows. Enjoy the wonderful kindergarten poetry she posted this week!

(Friday a.m. update) - Just saw Laura Shovan's wonderful post today featuring third graders writing poetry about math. Really! The poems are wonderful. She'll be posting more as her residency continues.

(Sat.) Margaret has some wonderful Mother's Day poetry from students over at Reflections on the Teche.

For more great poetry from writers of all ages, head back over to see what Liz has rounded up for us this week!

(Oh - and for more about how Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's Drawing into Poems project has continued to inspire me to think about drawing, writing, and blind contours - :0) - check out my column this month at Janice Hardy's The Other Side of the Story.

Poetry Friday: The Progressive Poem Parks Here Today!

April 25, 2013

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


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

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

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

Here’s the poem:

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

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

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

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

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

All yours, Ruth!

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


April

1  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

2  Joy Acey

3  Matt Forrest Esenwine

4  Jone MacCulloch

5  Doraine Bennett

6  Gayle Krause

7  Janet Fagal

8  Julie Larios

9  Carrie Finison

10  Linda Baie

11  Margaret Simon

12  Linda Kulp

13  Catherine Johnson

14  Heidi Mordhorst

15  Mary Lee Hahn

16  Liz Steinglass

17  Renee LaTulippe

18  Penny Klostermann

19  Irene Latham

20  Buffy Silverman

21  Tabatha Yeatts

22  Laura Shovan

23  Joanna Marple

24  Katya Czaja

25  Diane Mayr

26  Robyn Hood Black

27  Ruth Hersey

28  Laura Purdie Salas

29  Denise Mortensen

30  April Halprin Wayland



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

Happy last week of National Poetry Month 2013!

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

April 18, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

a spot of blood
on the unfinished quilt -
harvest moon


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

reflecting pool
trying to see past
what she's not


Frogpond, 34:3, 2011

Poems ©Terri L. French. All rights reserved.

Many thanks for joining us today, Terri!

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

*** a couple of different notes:

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

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

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

Recovered Comments from 4/4/2013 - Poetry Friday

April 18, 2013

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


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

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

-- The Knights of the Internet

HAPPY NATIONAL HAIKU POETRY DAY!!!

April 17, 2013

Tags: poetry, haiku, Poetry Month

Today, April 17, is National Haiku Poetry Day!

Go get lost in the links at The Haiku Foundation!

Here's a recent one of mine:

my small insights
a hummingbird
at the trumpet flower

Modern Haiku, Winter-Spring 2013

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

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

Enjoy!

Poetry Friday - Poetry Month Continued with Eileen Spinelli

April 8, 2013

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

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


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

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

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

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

Today

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


©Eileen Spinelli. All rights reserved.

This poem is particularly delicious when read aloud!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poetry Friday Recap & Poetry Friday Anthology

April 8, 2013

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

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

HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

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

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

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

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

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

In the Word Woods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


©April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

Quick, April, answer these fast!

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


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


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

Free verse or forms?
I have to choose?

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

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

Favorite place to read poetry?
In my home office.

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


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

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


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

Backpack

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

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

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

©Irene Latham. All rights reserved.

Q & A time, Irene – hit it!

Coffee or tea?
tea

Milk or dark chocolate?
dark

Beach or mountains?
beach at night, mountains by day

Free verse or forms?
freeeeeeeee!

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

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

Favorite place to read poetry?
in bed

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

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

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

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

Snack Rules

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

©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

And my 10 answers:

Coffee or tea?
Morning coffee; afternoon tea

Milk or dark chocolate?
dark

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

Free verse or forms?
Sucker for forms…

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

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

   Working out -
Ummmm…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Progressive Poem 2013 Schedule

April 2, 2013

Tags: poetry, Poetry Month

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






April

1  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

2  Joy Acey

3  Matt Forrest Esenwine

4  Jone MacCulloch

5  Doraine Bennett

6  Gayle Krause

7  Janet Fagal

8  Julie Larios

9  Carrie Finison

10  Linda Baie

11  Margaret Simon

12  Linda Kulp

13  Catherine Johnson

14  Heidi Mordhorst

15  Mary Lee Hahn

16  Liz Steinglass

17  Renee LaTulippe

18  Penny Klostermann

19  Irene Latham

20  Buffy Silverman

21  Tabatha Yeatts

22  Laura Shovan

23  Joanna Marple

24  Katya Czaja

25  Diane Mayr

26  Robyn Hood Black

27  Ruth Hersey

28  Laura Purdie Salas

29  Denise Mortensen

30  April Halprin Wayland



It's National Poetry Month!

April 1, 2013

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

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

Happy Poetry Month!

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 28, 2013

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


Happy Spring!

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

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


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

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

[in Just-]

by E. E. Cummings
(1894–1962)

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

whistles far and wee

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



Please click here to read the poem in its entirety.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: Taking Flight with Monique Gagnon German

March 21, 2013

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

Top: Monique Gagnon German (Feathers from Yay Images)


We Poetry Friday regulars are used to being moved, amused, or challenged by poems we come across online. Have you ever stumbled upon a poem that takes you out of blog surfing mode, out of whatever you’re also thinking about, and steals you into itself? I’d like to share a poem that had such an effect on me, and then I’ll tell you about the poet and the PF connections that led me to it!

Down



I don’t see it until I rise, a feather
on the chair across from mine
as if a tiny ashen bird

landed while I was gone
to other landscapes in my thoughts
and stayed just long enough

to leave evidence of his visit,
a small memento of flight
before lifting back into sky,

the tiniest quill
which might write
so many notes to you now,

each one fluttering down
confetti-style, beneath this sturdy
layer of cloud to ask you how

you are in such minuscule script
you might mistakenly think each slip
of paper is just a blank

prompting you further
to think of stories unwritten,
novels unread or the way

even the newest words
can dissipate
on the jet streams

of surrounding phrases and refrains
but maybe, by some fluke
of free association, you’ll think

of the lightness of paper instead,
how it carries its freight of words
as medium, impartial

to both statement
and intent, as if the words,
were a mere flock of birds

that caw, crow, peep,
whistle, chirp, and sing
but always end the performance

the same way: a ruffle of feathers,
a preening beak, the whisk of purpose,
the air of flapping wings.


Copyright ©2012 Monique Gagnon German

Maybe now you’ve fallen in love with it, too! How did I find it? The ever-amazing Tabatha Yeatts sent an email to Linda Baie, and myself, remembering that we had each posted about St. Francis before. (This was a couple days before the world had a new Pope by that name, by the way!) Tabatha gave us a link to a lovely post about the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi,, including a beautiful musical portrayal sung by Sarah McLachlan. As I was clicking some other links she provided, I came across this issue of a wonderful journal, Assisi, an “An Online Journal of Arts & Letters” published by St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY. That’s where I found Monique’s poem! In thanking Tabatha for the link, she told me she had learned of the journal from our own Matt Forest Esenwine, whose poetry has appeared in the journal as well.

I contacted Monique to seek permission to share her poem. She kindly obliged. In addition to writing delicious poetry, she’s a busy mom of two young children and married to a Marine who is also a writer. Her poetry has appeared in the anthology, "e, the Emily Dickinson Award Anthology Best Poems of 2001," and in journals such as Ellipsis, California Quarterly, Kalliope, The Pinehurst Review, The Bear Deluxe, High Grade, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Calyx, The Ledge, Rosebud, Assissi, The Sierra Nevada Review, Xenith, The Innisfree Poetry Journal and Atticus Review . This year, her poems are forthcoming in Canary and Tampa Review.

Monique has a B.A. in English Literature from Northeastern University and an M.A. in English from Northern Arizona University. She’s lived all over the US and worked in technical publications for many years. You can learn more about Monique and read more of her poetry at her website.

Another fun find? She’s a copy editor for Ragazine, “The On-Line Magazine of Art, Information & Entertainment” – You’ll want to check it out, too!

Speaking of fun, don’t forget to check in on March Madness Poetry 2013 at Think Kid, Think . I had the pleasure of sparring with the aforementioned Matt in Round One, and I was bested by the talented Gotta Book has the Roundup! (At time of posting, this link is being persnickity. Google Greg Pincus if it's not cooperating!)

Poetry Friday - Julie Hedlund and A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS

March 14, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, book tracks, digital, ponderings, writing life

As you're enjoying the frenzy of March Madness Poetry 2013
(and do head over and vote for your favorite poems!) I offer you a different and very special treat today. I met Julie Hedlund last year at the “Poetry for All” Highlights Founders workshop , and I’m happy to share a peek into her brand new rhyming storybook app, A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS. It’s illustrated by Pamela Baron and offered by Little Bahalia Publishing for the iPad. (I don’t have an iPad, but my in-laws were happy to purchase it on theirs for me – and for the grandchildren!)

A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS is a romp through the collective nouns of animals, written in rhyme. It offers a fun way to explore the habits and habitats of a variety of animals (as well as subject-verb agreement!).

A pride of lions licks monster-size paws

A float of crocodiles snaps mighty jaws.


My favorite line is:

A quiver of cobras hisses and shakes.

And my favorite illustration accompanies

a leap of leopards lounges in trees,

in which one of the leopards napping on a tree limb opens one eye and twitches an ear.

The animals on each page exhibit the behavior described in the verse, and kids will have fun touching the screen to make the colorful subjects spring to life.

Now, you almost have to sneak up on Julie, safari-like, to grab her for just a few minutes – what with her popular 12 X 12 Picture Book Challenge and her sold-out Writers Renaissance Retreat in Italy coming up in April. Let’s find out more about Julie and her work before she’s off on her next adventure.

Welcome, Julie!

Oh, where to start?! Let’s begin with writing, and we’ll explore other endeavors in a minute. When did you discover a love of writing, and how have you developed your craft?


I've ALWAYS loved writing. It's how I understand myself and the world. The first word I ever wrote was "HOT," and for a year or so it was how I signed all of my cards to grandparents, etc. I think it's gone uphill from there. :-)

With respect to craft, I've cultivated it by doing a lot of writing and a lot of listening. By listening, I mean attending conferences, workshops and retreats where I could learn from experts and then work on incorporating those lessons into my own work. What amazes me is how the more you learn, the more you realize you still have yet to learn. There's never a dull day in the writing life!


How did you come up with the idea for A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS?

I came across a list of collective nouns for animals and was surprised to find how few of them I knew. I was delighted by the fact that the names for the animal groups reflected something about the animal's behavior, habitat, appearance, etc. I figured if I had that much fun learning the names, surely others would too - especially kids, who almost always love animals.

Did any verses come straight from the Muses, and were there others you had to hunt down?

"A kaleidoscope of butterflies flutters through daisies" was one of the only lines that survived intact from my first draft. Otherwise, the verses required a lot of work. I did a great deal of research on each animal so I had several options for the line pertaining to that animal. Then I had to match animals up with each other in such a way to create compelling rhyming couplets.

Let’s talk about apps. First, what’s your definition of a storybook app?

A storybook app is an illustrated book for children that contains interactions on each screen, some of which may be required in order for the story to proceed. The interactivity can be sound-based, touch-based or device-based (such as tilting or shaking the device). Ideally, the interactivity is designed to enhance rather than detract from the story and to increase comprehension.

How is composing text for an interactive app similar to writing for print? How is it different?

What's similar is that the story (or in this case poem) must be excellent. No amount of technical bells and whistles can elevate a sub-par story. What is different is that in addition to thinking about text and illustration, now you need to consider sound, movement, animation. You have to think about your story on a screen instead of a page, which changes the function of "page turns." Although you still move from screen to screen, tension and drama can come from sound and animation as well as text and illustration. There's also no set number of pages for apps, so the onus is on the author to determine how many screens are required to tell the best story.

How much input do you as the writer have in terms of the interactive elements – choosing what might be animated, layout/design, that sort of thing? Or are all visual decisions left to the illustrator and designers?

The answer to this question depends on how you are publishing the app. If you hire a developer to create your app or use an app creation tool, all of those decisions are your own. In my case, I sold my manuscript to an e-publisher, so the publisher made most of the decisions about the animation and design. However, I did submit a storyboard containing my "vision" for the animation, and many of those ideas were incorporated into the app. I'm fortunate because Stacey Williams-Ng, the founder of Little Bahalia, has a huge amount of experience both illustrating, designing and producing apps. Because of her expertise and passion, the finished product is far better than I could have imagined had I done it on my own.

You’ve got terrific resources on your blog about the publishing industry as well as tips for creating apps. What’s the first thing you tell someone who asks you about creating digital content?

Go for it! It's the future. BUT, don't do it as a shortcut to traditional publishing. Make sure your story is the best it can be. Don't skimp on editing, illustration, design, etc. Also, evaluate whether your story makes sense in digital form. The story should drive the format, and not the other way around.

What do you think about the co-existence of traditionally published books, apps, and e-books in the marketplace – is there room for all, or do you think digital content will take over for the youngest readers?

I certainly hope there is room for all, as I still want to traditionally publish a print book! In fact, I want to publish any way I can that both makes sense for my stories and gets my work into the hands of more children. I see no reason why different types of books can't co-exist. As for the farther-off future, I do think digital content will become predominant in all forms of publishing, but I can't envision print going away entirely, especially for board books and picture books.

As a world-traveling, horse-riding, nature-loving gal from Colorado, you strike me as someone always up for an adventure. Were there any challenges during the process of creating this app that surprised you?

The challenge all came BEFORE the actual creation of the app. The biggest hardship I faced was learning about all the options available to publish the app, which direction I wanted to take, and then how to submit my idea, especially since I am an author-only and came without illustrations. What surprised me was how few answers I found to my questions. I guess that's why, after I developed my own proposal, I decided to turn it into a template for other authors and illustrators to use - to avoid the pain and suffering I endured - LOL.

You participate in “Gratitude Sunday” by posting things you are grateful for each week. How does an attitude of thankfulness inform your creative life? (And life in general?)

My gratitude practice, over time, has helped me understand that there is good in all situations, even if that doesn't seem to be the case on the surface. Spending time each week reflecting on what I am grateful for grounds me, and sometimes requires me to "dig deep" into my feelings and experiences. Rather than serving to oversimplify situations, my gratitude practice makes me realize the complexity that's inherent in people, our actions, our emotions. This serves me by enriching my writing, but it's also made me a great deal less judgmental and far less inclined toward knee-jerk reactions.

How do you balance your own creative work with the demands of nurturing not only your family, but the online network of inspiration and support you’ve created for other writers?

I'm not sure I do, but I keep trying!! Lately I've been taking things one day at a time, focusing on the most pressing things that need to get done work-wise. I'm also getting far better about "letting it all go" when I'm with my kids. Our work is of the kind that is never "finished." There is always something more that could be done. But there's no point in worrying about all of that when I'm with the kids. It's taken me a while to come to this realization, but I'm far better off spending quality time with them and coming back to my work refreshed from the break. Next on the list of "creating more balance" in my life is figuring out how to take time for me, as I've been slack on my exercising and pursuit of other hobbies lately.

Finally, any sneak peeks into projects on the horizon that you’re at liberty to share?

I'm not sure I'm at liberty to share the title yet, but my next app in the "animal groups" trilogy will be released in May, and it features animals leaving in or near the ocean. I am excited about this one because many of these collective nouns will be brand new to most people and they are SO fun.

A third app featuring insects, reptiles and amphibians will be coming in October, and before that, a print book that combines the "best" of all three apps. So it's a very exciting year!


Exciting indeed! Congratulations all around, and thank you for visiting with us today.

Thank you so much for hosting me today Robyn. I think digital publishing is going to be a very exciting avenue for poets of all stripes, and I hope my experience gets the creative gears turning for your Poetry Friday compatriots.

Told you she was fascinating! And if you visit her list of 100 random things, you'll learn Julie used to drink pickle juice straight from the jar, and that she has an MA in International Political Economy from the University of Warwick in England.

No telling what you'll learn making the Poetry Friday rounds today, but please go see the wonderful and talented Jone at Check it Out and enjoy!

March Madness Poetry 2013

March 11, 2013

Tags: poetry

And the MADNESS begins!

Click HERE to visit Think Kid Think and keep up with this year's lively tournament! We start out with 64 poets, but there will soon be only 32... etc. etc. Enjoy some great poetry - which must include an assigned word (some of these I'm having to look up) and which must be posted within 36 hours of receiving said assigned word - and VOTE for your favorites!

Poetry Friday: Family Time with Anne Bradstreet

March 7, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, history, ponderings, women

Here I am with daughter Morgan this week on the Buzz Lightyear ride at Walt Disney World. Are we both intent on hitting those targets (and beating each other's score) or what?!

In a roundabout way, I’m celebrating International Women’s Day along with our lovely and talented Poetry Friday host today, Heidi Mordhorst .

This week I got to spend cherished time with the two women I’m closest to in life – my mother, Nita Morgan (Hi, Mom!) and my daughter, Morgan. Morgan is home for spring break from college, and we travelled to Florida for my niece’s wedding. (Left hubby and son here to keep the fort.)

While at my folks’ house, Morgan and I bunked together in the guestroom. It was cold – and I don’t mean just “Oh, those Florida people think anything below 70 degrees is cold,” I mean it really was nippy with wild winds while we were there. So we added a quilt made by my grandmother to the top of our cozy bed. Another generation, another family layer. My mother’s mother died before Morgan was born, but they would have loved each other.

I wanted to find some appropriate poem to share today – something the relationships of mothers and children. Anne Bradstreet sprang to mind.

You remember Anne (1612-1672).... She came over in the Arabella in 1630 with husband Simon and the Winthrop contingent. She’s intrigued me for years. Very well educated, and – gasp! – a writer. Yet unlike her friend Anne Hutchinson whose outspoken views got her banished, Anne Bradstreet managed to remain in the community, raising eight children and writing when she could. (Jeannine Atkins has a marvelous picture book about Anne Hutchinson, by the way.)

Bradstreet didn’t seek publication, though her brother-in-law had her some of her poetry published (the story goes without her knowledge) in England in 1650, in a collection called The Tenth Muse, Lately Sprung Up in America (1650). The rest of her publications came posthumously.

She wrote of her family and her faith with sincere devotion and in the midst of the grueling challenges of those early years in the colonies, and personal health woes and trials as well.

Here are the opening lines of
“In Reference to her Children”


I had eight birds hatcht in one nest,
Four Cocks were there, and Hens the rest.
I nurst them up with pain and care,
No cost nor labour did I spare
Till at the last they felt their wing,
Mounted the Trees and learned to sing.
Chief of the Brood then took his flight
To Regions far and left me quite.
My mournful chirps I after send
Till he return, or I do end.
Leave not thy nest, thy Dame and Sire,
Fly back and sing amidst this Quire.
My second bird did take her flight
And with her mate flew out of sight.
Southward they both their course did bend,
And Seasons twain they there did spend,
Till after blown by Southern gales
They Norward steer'd with filled sails.
A prettier bird was no where seen,
Along the Beach, among the treen.



She continues with thoughts about each child.
And, toward the end:

When each of you shall in your nest
Among your young ones take your rest,
In chirping languages oft them tell
You had a Dame that lov'd you well, …


Read the rest of the poem here. (And learn more about Anne Dudley Bradstreet here and here and here.)

While I admire Bradstreet’s devotion to family and her spiritual life, I also relish the feminist-friendly notions she let seep through in her writing more than 350 years ago, such as these lines from “The Prologue”:

"I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits,
A poet's pen all scorn I should thus wrong.
For such despite they cast on female wits:
If what I do prove well, it won't advance,
They'll say it's stol'n, or else it was by chance."


Pretty spunky for a Puritan woman, no? For more great poetry by female, as well as male, wits, sail on over to see Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe.

Poetry Friday: Unlocking PFAMS!

February 28, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, anthologies, standards, teaching, authors, book tracks

When the Poetry Friday Anthology debuted last fall, I heard a couple of teachers say they’d love to see something like that for older students. Well, today’s the day!

It’s the official launch of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School (PFAMS), brilliantly brought to life by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.

Here’s the official scoop:

The Poetry Friday Anthology is a series for K-5 and Middle School (6-8) designed to help teachers meet the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in the English Language Arts (ELA). “Take 5” teaching tips for each poem provide step-by-step poetry lessons that address curriculum requirements.

PFAMS offers many of the same features as the original PFA. In fact, the same theme is used for each week in grades 6 through 8 as is used for K-5. Each grade section opens with a “Poem for Everyone” and then a suite of weedkly poems for each grade level for the whole year, tied in with the “Take 5” activities to grade-level standards. Pretty nifty, eh?

In fact, the first poem in the collection, a poem for everyone, is “First Day at a New School,” penned by none other than our Poetry Friday host today, Julie Larios .

One difference in this volume from the K-5 version is that each poem here claims a whole spread, rather than a poem and its activities presented one per page as laid out in the K-5 edition. As you can imagine, the “Take 5” lesson ideas are a bit more sophisticated, but still very user-friendly.

I’ll share one of my two in the collection to demonstrate how it works. (The other will show up here sometime soon, too!)

My poem “Locker Ness Monster” appears in the Sixth Grade section for Week Two, for the theme, “More School.”


Locker Ness Monster


Twenty-four
Eighteen
Six.


Arrrgh. That’s not it.

Twenty-six
Fourteen
Eight.


Nothing. Nada. Nyet.

Twenty-six
Eighteen
Four.


CLICK. That’s it!

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


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

For the “Take Five” element on the opposite page, there are five different activities a teacher could choose to use with this poem. I won’t give them all away, but the first is particularly intriguing:

1. Add a bit of fun to sharing this poem with a “poetry prop” – hold up a locker lock before reading the poem aloud. Spin the wheel and stop at the numbers in the poem (24/18/6; 26/14/8; 26/18/4). See if you can do that WHILE reading the poem aloud!

(I love a challenge - but I'd probably have to pass this one on to someone more coordinated!)

A teacher might pick one activity or all five. You really can introduce a poem and lead a related activity in five minutes, if that’s all you have to work with. The number 5 in each “Take 5” is one always one of my favorite elements of these anthologies: a connection to another poem in the book (and sometimes to a published collection if it particularly relates). In the case of my poem here, readers are encouraged to check out another poem “involving confusion over numbers” – it’s “Fourths of Me” by Betsy Franco, in the 7th grade section, a terrific poem about identity. Another poem that connects back to mine emerges for the “In the Water” theme a few weeks later in sixth grade – “Dear Monster of Loch Ness” by Jack Prelutsky. (Great poem; amazing poet!) You get the idea.

One of my favorite things about these anthologies is the first “key to remember” in the opening pages:

A poem should first be enjoyed for its own sake.

This is vitally important. These anthologies enable teachers to present what can be an intimidating subject in accessible, fun, age-appropriate ways, while at the same time touching on the new Common Core standards. I wish this had been around back in the day when I taught middle school English!

Reminder: Sylvia and Janet have done an amazing job making this material accessible in a variety of ways. The anthology is available in a print version with all of the 6th through 8th grade entries; as an e-book; and by grade-level as e-books for a nominal price. Teachers who want to share a poem with students can do so quite easily with a Smartboard. But wait - there's more.... While the book cover pictured above is the CCSS version, educators in Texas can purchase the anthology with activities tailored to the TEKS standards. Ordering info for any of these can be found here.

I have really enjoyed reading the poems included in this collection and exploring the connections and activities they inspire. For more great poetry today, drift on over to see Julie at The Drift Record.

Poetry Friday - Dare to Dream with Jill Corcoran's Collection

February 15, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, book tracks, poetry, authors

Can’t believe it’s already Springmingle time again in our SCBWI Southern Breeze region . I’ve coordinated that conference off and on for several years, but this time I’m attending as a civilian. I look forward to meeting many great speakers, including multi-talented Jill Corcoran – agent, author, poet, anthologist, and busy mom of three for starters! (She’s also just launched A Path to Publishing, offering unique online workshop opportunities with agents, editors, art directors and other industry professionals.) A recent interview with Jill
was posted by my fellow Southern Breezer and friend Donny Bailey Seagraves.

Do you know Jill’s poetry collection released in the fall from Kane Miller, Dare to Dream… Change the World? With poems from thirty contributors, including some of the most revered names in the field, the book “pairs biographical and inspirational poems focusing on people who invented something, stood for something, said something, who defied the naysayers and not only changed their own lives, but the lives of people all over the world.”

Subjects include Jonas Salk, Temple Grandin, Christa McAuliffe, Steven Spielberg, Ashley Bryan, and many other past and contemporary voices and talents who chose to make a difference in the world.

J. Beth Jepson’s colorful illustrations are finely tuned to each poem’s theme, and they deftly unify pairs of poems across each spread.

Too many of my favorite poets are included to single them out, so let me whet your appetite with the whole list: Jill Corcoran, J. Patrick Lewis, Alice Schertle, David L. Harrison, Jane Yolen, Joan Bransfield Graham, Ellen Hopkins, Georgia Heard, Hope Anita Smith, Elaine Magliaro, Curtis L. Crisler, Janet S. Wong, Denise Lewis Patrick, Joyce Lee Wong, Jacqui Robbins, Julia Durango, Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, Lisa Wheeler, Hope Vestergaard, Carol M. Tanzman, Stephanie Hemphill, Alan Katz, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Marilyn Singer, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Joyce Sidman, Rose Horowitz, Bruce Coville, Kelly Ramsdell Fineman, Laura Purdie Salas.

One of my favorite spreads, big on blue sky and desert colors, celebrates Georgia O’Keeffe. It features some brief biographical information and a couple of O’Keeffe quotes, plus two poems. The first is “Painter” by Lee Bennett Hopkins, opening with these evocative lines:

Sky will always be.
So shall I.


The facing page features Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s “Cloudscape,” which includes:

In the center of a day,
each day, are lines upon a canvas,
an abstract image that floats
like a spirit somewhere…


*Please see this amazing post by Jama Rattigan at Alphabet Soup to read these two poems in their entirety, and for background information on this spread!*

The collection provides several opportunities for use in the classroom. While targeting 6th through 8th grade Common Core standards, it is easily adaptable for 3rd through 5th as well. Click here for the book’s website with teaching resources and a free30-page Common Core State Standards Curriculum guide. You’ll also find information about the Annual Dare to Dream Poetry Contest for Kids with prizes of donation of $1,500 worth of Kane Miller and Usborne books to the winner’s school library or a library of their choice plus an ebook to be published by Kane Miller of the top 30 poems.

I appreciate the potential of this anthology to connect with kids on so many levels. As someone who has written for a national character education curriculum the past few years, I like the cross-over avenues all these poems provide for character ed as well as for language arts, science, social studies, and more.

One of the poems with very strong kid appeal is Laura Purdie Salas’s

Just Like That

Clickin on this clip –
I wanna click like that,
      Be quick like that.
My footworks’ gonna be
sick like that.

I never saw a kid
Who could move like that,
      Groove like that,
I’ll show you what I got
I’m gonna prove like that.


You can find the rest of Laura’s poem here, along with links to other blogs and resources. Oh, and while you’re over there, make sure you click on Laura’spost for today – and add your hearty congratulations that she just won the CYBILS award for poetry for her collection, Bookspeak. (I featured it here.) Woo-hoo!

Then please enjoy the rest of today’s Poetry Friday offerings rounded up by the lovely and talented Linda at TeacherDance.

Note – Next Poetry Friday, I’ll be in a verse novels workshop with Nikki Grimes for our Springmingle conference. (I know, lucky me!) The conference runs til Sunday, so I’ll skip posting for Poetry Friday next weekend and will see you on March 1st. I’ll try to send out a tweet or two!

Poetry Friday: Time for Tea!

February 7, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, tea

When we welcomed the New Year over here, we welcomed a new (old) tradition. My husband Jeff and I have been sitting down each late afternoon for tea! I’m not exactly sure how and why we started this as a daily practice, but it’s been refreshing.

He’s been working from home the past several months, and since I do as well, it became a possibility. (Jama approves, of course!) So far, it’s been just on weekdays, but you never know if it might spill over into the weekend. And, I should note, it’s the hubby who’s done the primary tea-making and scone-baking.

Our youngest (17) was interrupted in his studies at the kitchen table the first day we tried it.

“I didn’t know you were going to have tea!” he said, appropriately annoyed that we crashed his quiet homework on Pride and Prejudice (at which he was also annoyed, until I later made him watch the film, which he admitted was better than he’d expected it to be… .) Funny how he’s ended up pulling up a chair, though, several times, especially after grueling days at tennis practice!

Our oldest (just turned 21) and I exchanged these exact text messages when we first started:

(Mom –with pic of table) Week 2 of new tradition – tea! :0)

(Deprived Daughter) Since when do y’all have tea? :0(

(Mom) Since last Monday. I figured since we would be empty nesters this year, we should practice having conversations.

(Daughter) Hahahahaha

Last month, I caught a few moments of an interview on NPR about proper English tea. Seems the Brits are most fond of Earl Gray or Darjeeling, and they always take their tea with milk. One of my fondest memories of our little trip to England in 1994 was taking part in that custom each afternoon. Time to slow down, relax, and partake of the most wonderful scones along with that cup of hot tea – mmmm…..

So today I offer you a cup of your favorite leafy brew, and a couple of tea-time poems. The first I wrote a million years ago. I was recalling those adorable miniature china tea sets I had as a child, and probably still have remnants of around here somewhere.


Tiny Tea Time


My teeny tiny tea set

is lots of fun for me.

I have to pinch the tiny cup

to take a sip of tea.


A little speck of sugar,

a teensy drop of cream -

I close my eyes and drink it up –

delicious as a dream!



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


The second is more grown-up, and makes me smile:


Green Tea


by Dale Ritterbusch


There is this tea

I have sometimes,

Pan Long Ying Hao,

so tightly curled

it looks like tiny roots

gnarled, a greenish-gray.

When it steeps, it opens ….



Read the rest of this poem here. (And a very brief commentary/introduction by Ted Kooser here.)

I found a blog, Garden Party Teas, with a section of tea-related quotes, including this one:

Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one.
Ancient Chinese Proverb

(Okay, but by the second day, I’d be clamoring for some scones…!)

I’ll send you on your way with this quote from C. S. Lewis. (I could not authenticate with an original source. - Maybe someone knows it? It’s on a variety of places online, so I hope I’m passing it along correctly.)

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
C. S. Lewis

Indeed! Now sit back with your comforting cup of tea and peruse all the great poetry waiting for you for Poetry Friday, rounded up by the tea-rrific Tara at A Teaching Life.

Poetry Friday: Irish Doors and Metaphors

January 31, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, art, ponderings, authors

Print: Handcoloured Print No. 270, A Little House, picture by E. C. Yeats, words by W. M. Letts. © The Cuala Press Limited, Dublin, Ireland; Collage: © Robyn Hood Black

Happy Poetry Friday, and Happy February! If you caught my artsyletters post this week, you discovered I’ve become rather obsessed with doors. In that post, I shared new art I’ve started making (and will offer soon in my Etsy shop) - collages with altered vintage books-as-doors, and a literary surprise inside each one (Emily Dickinson is featured in this first one.) This door obsession grew out of a year pondering some doors closing and others opening, not just for me but for family members.


Sharing all this with my husband, Jeff, he mentioned hearing something on NPR this week about how, when we walk from one room to the next and can’t remember what we were looking for, it’s because of the DOOR. Such a powerful metaphor, a door. (I searched in vain for the NPR piece but discovered articles online about the 2011 study at Notre Dame which prompted this idea of “the doorway effect.”)


The collage pictured here and on my art blog this week was made with a 100-year-old book embellished with some fun vintage finds. The doorway image surrounding it is a relief print. I carved a simplified version of those wonderful Georgian doorways one finds all over Dublin. (It was fun pulling out the photo album from a family trip there in 1996.)


Speaking of family, I’ve been doing some freelance writing for another family member. Our current project has involved research into faerie lore, and for that I turned to our esteemed Mr. Yeats, who chronicled much Irish folklore. (Click here and here for William Butler’s biographical info.) Deciding to post something else door-related here today, I remembered the framed print that we bought on that trip to Dublin – Morgan, age 4 at the time, picked it out.

The information sheet accompanying the art explains some history. It’s a hand-colored print from Cuala Press, originally Dun Emer Press, founded by Elizabeth Corbet Yeats (William Butler’s sister) in 1903 . W. B. Yeats served as editorial advisor to the press until his death (1939), and many notable writers including Ezra Pound saw their work first published by it.


The sheet continues, W. B. Yeats in the original 1903 prospectus wrote that all the things made at the press are beautiful in the sense that they are instinct with individual feeling and have cost thought and care. ... (I love that phrase, “cost thought and care.”)




The illustrated poem, written by W. M. Letts,
shows both:

If I had a little house
      A white house on a hill,
With lavender and rosemary
      Beneath the window sill,
The door should stand wide open
      To people of good will.



To close with one last door reference and an eye to Valentine’s Day, I’ll leave you with a stanza near the end of Yeats’s poem, “The Cap and Bells,” which sprang from a dream Yeats experienced and describes a jester’s love for a queen.


She opened her door and her window,
And the heart and the soul came through,
To her right hand came the red one,
To her left hand came the blue.


To read what leads up to this stanza and the ending, click here.

And, would you believe it? The ever-talented and generous April is rounding up Poetry Friday and has a poem about… DOORS! Head over to Teaching Authors and enjoy.

Poetry Friday: "I Am Cherry Alive" (Delmore Schwartz)

January 24, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors

Image courtesy of Pixomar/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thursday afternoon at the grocery store, I was picking out apples. With a forecast of ice on the way here in north Georgia, a trip for some provisions was in order.

Elsewhere in the produce section, I overheard a very young voice conversing with his mom.

“I want some cherry juice!”

“Cherry juice?!” Mom said, a hint of amusement in her voice. “When have you ever had cherry juice?”

A moment of softest silence. Then, with resolve: “When I was a baby!”

I only remembered this exchange hours later when poring through a couple of anthologies, looking for a poem for today. That’s when I found it, in The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (selected by Jack Prelutsky, 1983). Yes, Delmore Schwartz’s “I Am Cherry Alive”! The poem was made into a picture book in 1979 with illustrations by Barbara Cooney. That book is no longer in print, but you might find a used copy online. (I may have to get one myself.)

Schwartz (1913-1966) was a critically acclaimed, award-winning writer whose personal life was often rocky. He caught, I think, the spirit of that little boy I overheard today in these impish, if wistful, verses.

I Am Cherry Alive

by Delmore Schwartz

“I am cherry alive,” the little girl sang,
“Each morning I am something new:
I am apple, I am plum, I am just as excited
As the boys who made the Hallowe’en bang:
I am tree, I am cat, I am blossom too:
When I like, if I like, I can be someone new,
Someone very old, a witch in a zoo:
I can be someone else whenever I think who,
And I want to be everything sometimes too:
And the peach has a pit and I know that too,
And I put it in along with everything
To make the grown-ups laugh whenever I sing:
And I sing : It is true; It is untrue;
I know, I know, the true is untrue,
The peach has a pit,
The pit has a peach:
And both may be wrong
When I sing my song,
But I don’t tell the grown-ups, because it is sad,
And I want them to laugh just like I do
Because they grew up
And forgot what they knew
And they are sure
I will forget it some day too.
They are wrong. They are wrong.
When I sang my song, I knew, I knew!
I am red, I am gold,
I am green, I am blue,
I will always be me,
I will always be new!”


Cheers with cherry juice! Tip your glass to more great poetry at The Opposite of Indifference , where the very lively Tabatha is rounding up Poetry Friday. By the way, I featured a lovely old book Tabatha gave me during our December poetry swap, ENGLISH BOOK ILLUSTRATION 1800-1900 by Philip James, over at artsyletters this week!

Poetry Friday: New Look for Frogpond

January 18, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, journals

If you follow haiku journals, you might have noticed a new look for Frogpond, the journal of The Haiku Society of America, with its most recent issue (Volume 35:3, Autumn 2012).

It's a heftier volume and features a new masthead on the cover designed by Christopher Patchel. He also contributed a new look for the title page - very classy!

Frogpond is edited by Francine Banwarth, and Michele Root-Bernstein serves as Associate Editor.

You can enjoy some "Online Splashes" of the current issue with the journal link above, including sample haiku and senryu. Frogpond also regularly features haibun, rengay and renku (short and long sequences), essays, and book reviews.

I'm honored to have two haiku in this issue:

**************************


gathering dusk
the unanswered call
of a dove


tornado watch
something to talk about
at the viewing


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

***************************

The lovely Violet is rounding up Poetry Friday at Violet Nesdoly Poems, where you can splash around in all kinds of poetry today!

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: Joyce Sidman and some verse novelists, too!

January 3, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, illustrators, book tracks, writing life

Happy New Year!

So maybe I haven’t put away the Christmas decorations yet, but I’ve started off the New Year with a couple of poetry posts on other blogs.

First, I was thrilled to be able to interview our most recent recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, Joyce Sidman, for the PACYA (Poetry Advocates for Children and Young Adults) blog.

I’ve admired Joyce’s work for a long time, and she kindly agreed to let me share a poem here today, too.

From one of my favorite books, the Newbery Honor-winning DARK EMPEROR & OTHER POEMS OF THE NIGHT, illustrated by printmaker Rick Allen (Houghton Mifflin, 2010), here is the opening poem:

Welcome to the Night

To all of you who crawl and creep,
who buzz and chirp and hoot and peep,
who wake at dusk and throw off sleep:
Welcome to the night.

To you who make the forest sing,
who dip and dodge on silent wing,
who flutter, hover, clasp, and cling:
Welcome to the night!

Come feel the cool and shadowed breeze,
come smell your way among the trees,
come touch rough bark and leathered leaves:
Welcome to the night.

The night’s a sea of dappled dark,
the night’s a feast of sound and spark,
the night’s a wild, enchanted park.
Welcome to the night!


©Joyce Sidman. All rights reserved.

To read the PACYA interview, click here, and to peruse Joyce’s wonderful website brimming with resources for readers, writers, and teachers, click here.

Second, my monthly poetry column on Janice Hardy’s terrific blog for fiction writers, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY, has moved to the first Wednesday of the month this year. (Though it won’t appear in Feb.) This week we’re exploring verse novels, and I have some amazing book excerpts and insights from three wonderful, award-winning authors: Eileen Spinelli, April Halprin Wayland, and
Susan Taylor Brown.

I’m so thankful to each of these poets – Joyce, Eileen, April, and Susan – for sharing their gifts and their thoughts in this bright New Year.

For more great poetry, go visit the multipl-y gifted Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme for today’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday - Celebrating the Winter Solstice with Tabatha Yeatts's "In the Great Book of Winter"

December 21, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, winter, art

My husband, Jeff, carved this beautiful moon and village scene from a pattern he found this year. [photo ©Robyn Hood Black]

Happy Winter Solstice! My husband and son will actually be leading a winter solstice ceremony Friday evening at a friend’s farm. Should be interesting!

I was thrilled to participate in Tabatha’s “Winter Poem Swap” this month and doubly thrilled to be her swap partner. Her poetic gift to me is perfect to share as we welcome the slow return of light to a darkened world. (Her work is shared here with permission.)

In the Great Book of Winter

by Tabatha Yeatts

for Robyn

In the Great Book of Winter,
The vast gray pages
Are covered with steadfast brown branch words.
Black bird apostrophes swoop into place,
And snowflakes spiral down
To end sentences with chilly white periods.
Cardinals surprise with red question marks,
And squirrels skitter through with their
Exclamation mark tails.
Slowly, slowly,
The Moon turns the pages
Of the Great Book of Winter,
Reading til Spring.


©Tabatha Yeatts. All rights reserved.

I love these delicious natural images – and on the Solstice today, I particularly love the Moon turning the pages.

Wishing you and yours love, light, and peace this holiday.

To turn more pages of light-filled poetry, visit Heidi, shining brightly today at My Juicy Little Universe .

Poetry Friday is HERE!

December 6, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, animals, magazines, writing life, illustrators

Image ©Hyewon Yum; text ©Carus Publishing.

Happy Poetry Friday, and Happy Holidays!

I’ll be rounding up throughout the day, so come on in and have a cup of hot chocolate or tea and enjoy all the great poetry posted today. Please leave your link and a short description in the comments.

Today, I’m celebrating that one of my poems appears in the current issue of LADYBUG . Several years ago, when we lived on a small farm, I encountered a beautiful fox where our yard met our woods. Weather-wise, it was probably much like today – chilly, with one season was making way for the next. I remember the fox and myself suspended in a moment of stillness just looking at each other – a fleeting moment that was gone as quickly as it came.

I wrote this poem from that experience and was delighted when it was accepted for publication at Carus. It was originally accepted by SPIDER, but they ended up not publishing it, and in the meantime the LADYBUG editor had expressed interest. Suffice it to say that after a few years of waiting, I’m thrilled it has found a home in the Nov./Dec. 2012 issue.

Even more thrilled that it is so beautifully illustrated by the talented Hyewon Yum , who kindly shared the original art above with us today. It's a linoleum cut print - isn't it perfect? Yum is an acclaimed author/illustrator of many books including: MOM, IT’S MY FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN (2012), THE TWINS’ BLANKET (2011), THERE ARE NO SCARY WOLVES (2010), and LAST NIGHT (2008) all from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. More books are soon to hit the shelves, which she either illustrated or wrote and illustrated.

Many thanks to Hyewon for sharing her artwork, and to The LADYBUG/Carus folks for granting permission to post my poem for you today. Here it is:

GRAY FOX

by Robyn Hood Black

At the edge of winter,
at the edge of the wood,
at the edge of the brush,
a gray fox stood.

I took a small step,
I took a breath in –
then nothing was there
where the gray fox had been.


© 2012 by Carus Publishing

Click here for a link to the LADYBUG Teacher’s Guide. (It says October, but scroll halfway down and you’ll come to a couple of suggestions/questions re. “Gray Fox.”)

Thanks so much for coming by today, and here’s to appreciating moments and poems! (Remember to leave your link with your comments if you want to be rounded up.)

Oh – and if you’re a fiction writer, you might enjoy my column from yesterday over at Janice Hardy’s blog, The Other Side of the Story, in which I talk about writing mask poems as a way to get inside your character’s head. (Thanks to the lovely Amy Ludwig VanDerwater for loaning a poem for the post!) In 2013, my column at Janice's will move from the first Thursday of each month to the first Wednesday of each month (except Feb.).

Carry on!

HERE'S THE ROUND-UP:

Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff has delightful feline fare today: JRR Tolkien's "Cat."

At Gathering Books, this month's water tales theme continues with Mary Oliver's "Blackwater Pond," presented by the lovely Myra in a visual setting befitting the words.

Father Goose is here today with "The Christmas Box" (from his CHRISTMAS IS COMING!) with a homemade gift idea that would thrill any parent.

Violet has a fun and yummy original ABC poem called "Appetite Affair." If you haven't yet had breakfast, this will make your stomach rumble....

At Poetry for Kids Joy, Joy brings us her original poem, "The Elf." I like that this elf is female! :0)

Jama at Alphabet Soup serves up another stunning haibun by Penny Harter, the title work from ONE BOWL.

After reading Jeff's cat post above, you must head over to Carol's Corner, where Carol is featuring Rose Fyleman's classic "Mice" with Lois Ehlert's magnificent collage illustration.

Tara at A Teaching Life has Mark Strand's moving "Lines for Winter" (and a gorgeous photograph to go with it).

At Teacher Dance, Linda shares an original poem about a weather phenomenon she noticed while at school - I won't spoil the fun, but I'm happy to say she was quick with her camera as well as her pen!

Matt Goodfellow at Poems and things! is in with a triple play of original poems today: "Yew Tree", "Different Eyes" and "Ghost Bike."

(Off to make coffee - back in a short bit....)

Wondering how to start writing your next poem or creating your next piece of art? Susan Taylor Brown has a wonderful poem by David Whyte today, "Start Close In" - food for the creative soul!

At The Poem Farm, Amy offers an original poem from her SPARK 18 project to accompany Amy Souza's gorgeous collage. (If you had a grandmother like mine, "Quilt Map" will fill your heart.)

Join Tabatha for some touching low-tech communication celebrated in two delightful poems: "Father's Story" by Elizabeth Madox Roberts and "The Telephone" by Robert Frost.

Visit Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe for a new take on "Squandering" - an original poem inspired by a kindergarten teacher's comment during a challenging day.

Speaking of the classroom, over at A Year of Reading, Mary Lee has a simple and powerful original poem about teaching.

Take a moment to s-l-o-w down with a very clever original poem, "The Snail's Lament," penned by Liz at Growing Wild. She also offers a discussion of how she revised this poem - great to share with students (or others!) expecting to write a perfect draft the first time.

Laura, our resident Author Amok, shares the history of the haunting Coventry Carol, including a video of the Westminster Choir singing it. This thoughtful post literally gave me chills. (As Laura kindly points out, if you've recently suffered miscarriage or the loss of an infant, you might want to skip for now and come back at a later date.)

Our other Laura is in with a poem from David Harrison's newest book, COWBOYS. She's sharing "Stampede." (Does anyone else think she might be partial to that title?) ;0)

Also, Laura's got quite the lively party going on at 15 Words or Less Poems. Check out today's larger-than-life picture prompt and join the fun.

Margaret at Reflections on the Teche shares the most wonderful poems in a "Preposition Parade" today - her own poem and then several samples from students. (The kids came up with 50 prepositions as part of this exercise - can you??)

Another terrific teacher in our pack of poets, Betsy, takes a look back at warmer days with an original poem, "Summer Dandilion," over at Teaching Young Writers.

At Charlotte's Library, Charlotte shares her son's first sestina. (Note: Link is working now.)

Steve is in today with a "thoughtful-wondering poem about chance events and parents getting older" at Inside the Dog. This is one of the sharpest poems I've read today - exemplifying this repeating theme of observing a moment. (Beautifully wrought, it has great prepositions we've been discussing, too!)

At Random Noodling, Diane offers up a few humorous poems from a 1937 anthology. Kurious Kitty
has a gorgeous poem by Rumi accompanied by a perfect photo , and, Kurious K's Kwotes' Poetry Friday quote is by Rumi, too.

At There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town, Ruth ponders the winners of the Academy of American Poets "best poems of the year" and shares a fun poetic look at love poems from Rafael Campo.

David's in with celebratory voyage of poetic nonsense (very cleverly crafted) at fomagrams. Happy Birthday, David! (I would like to note that my birthday is coming up next month and I am younger than David, though not by much, but I'm younger.) ;0)

Speaking of birthdays, Karen is celebrating Willa Cather's birthday today with the poem, "L'Envoi," which Cather wrote for Fr. Scott.

Lovely Sylvia has two offerings today: a list of more than a dozen books featuring poetry for Hanukkah (which begins this weekend) at Poetry for Children, and Constance Levy's fun "penny" poem with accompanying activites at The Poetry Friday Anthology blog.

At Paper Tigers, Marjorie offers a look at anonymous seventeenth-century English nonsense/puzzle poem, "I Saw a Peacock With A Fiery Tail," and a lovely discussion about Gond artist Ramsingh Urveti's stunning illustrations of it in a recent version published by Tara Books. Warning: I read this post and immediately ordered the book online. Yes, I did.

JoAnn Early Macken is here! She's a guest today at Teaching Authors with a student poem from WRITE A POEM STEP BY STEP, her new book which shares tips for teaching poetry gleaned from years of experience. AND, she's giving a copy away... so go sign up like I just did.

Little Willow at Bildungsroman has a gorgeous poem by Siegfried Sassoon, "Butterflies."

At The Small Nouns, Ben is also featuring Willa Cather's "L'Envoi" poem, and a discussion about careful planning versus shooting from the hip. Which way do you approach a task?

MotherReader has a glowing review of J. Patrick Lewis's new anthology, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY, with a taste of Robert Frost for you to sample. She dares you to click the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon and not end up buying this book. (I dare you, too.)

Lunch break! Afternoon posters, add your links in your comments and I'll circle back around.

Break out the footy pajamas! Bridget has an original poem paying homage to the ultimate winter comfort wear at wee words for wee ones.

Remember all the madness this past March at Think, Kid, Think? Well, Ed has just unveiled "The Thinkier", a celebration in bronze to commemorate each year's poetic champion.

Matt is getting us in the holiday spirit with a poem celebrating Christmas trees from his winter collection of poetry, AND he has a lovely give-away offer. Of what? You'll have to click over to find out.

Any bugs knocking on your door for winter housing? Check out Jone's look at two bug poetry books at Check It Out for some fun with lots of legs, and some great classroom tie-ins to boot.

A hearty welcome to children's author Dia Calhoun, who ventures into Poetry Friday for the first time with a lovely original poem, "A Room With No View."

And in the Fashionably-Late-to-the-Party-and-Always-Welcome-Dept., we have:

The Write Sisters with (one of my personal favorites!) a wild Carl Sandburg poem, and an equally cool photo.

Donna at Mainely Write has been finding inspiration in lost gloves this week. Click the blog link for today's succinct and clever offering, and, if you want more, that poem's pink predecessor was posted on Tuesday. ("They have jobs to do while they wait," says Donna.)

Here's some more humor to transition into the weekend: Janet at All About the Books offers a taste of Douglas Florian's LAUGH-ETERIA. (You can't even get through this plug without smiling, can you?)

If, like Irene, you are searching for the perfect breakfast casserole recipe for this weekend, try this poetic little treasure she found in the back of a cookbook. Wishing you heaping servings.

An evening surprise:

Carlie at Twinkling Along shares a lovely cinquain about cherry blossoms in December. Yes, cherry blossoms!

Weekend Update:

At On Point, Lorie Ann has an original haiku this week - and you must see the accompanying photograph!

Poetry Friday: Longfellow, Luscious Art, and Lovely Writer Friends

November 29, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, writing life, art, authors, illustrators

The Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Boyd Hanna (The Heritage Press, NY, 1943)

If you've peeked in over at my other blog on artsyletters, you know I'm a sucker for vintage treasures. (I'm becoming one myself, you see.) So imagine my delight when, for my friend's birthday outing yesterday, I took her to a lunch spot she chose (Vietnamese - yummy!) and she took me to a couple of her favorite antique haunts in her part of Atlanta.

Imagine my further delight when she presented me with a surprise gift she'd found and been keeping for me - a beautiful 1943 copy of THE POEMS OF HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW (The Heritage Press, NY), with the most delicious wood engravings by Boyd Hanna (1907-1987).

This friend is well-versed in writing AND vintage, with a keen eye for art - Kim Siegelson, whose many award winning books for young people include the Coretta Scott King Award winner, IN THE TIME OF THE DRUMS. Kim has also been an invaluable guide on my new Etsy adventure, as she runs a busy and delightful shop, Perfect Patina. She's always keeping an eye out for vintage wonders, and I'm lucky that she spied this poetry book and thought of me. (It came with a lovely, inspiring note from her, too - now happily presiding above my computer shining down sparkly warm beams of encouragement.)

Kim thought I would enjoy the gorgeous wood engraving illustrations, printed in browns and greens, especially the one above featuring the bold bird in winter. She's right, of course! And since it's been dipping into the 30s here this week in north Georgia, I thought sharing the Longfellow poem it illustrates would be appropriate:

Woods in Winter

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(1807-1882)

When winter winds are piercing chill,
And through the hawthorn blows the gale,
With solemn feet I tread the hill,
That overbrows the lonely vale.

O'er the bare upland, and away
Through the long reach of desert woods,
The embracing sunbeams chastely play,
And gladden these deep solitudes.

Where, twisted round the barren oak,
The summer vine in beauty clung,
And summer winds the stillness broke,
The crystal icicle is hung.

Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs
Pour out the river's gradual tide,
Shrilly the skater's iron rings,
And voices fill the woodland side.

Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out their mellow lay,
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day!

But still wild music is abroad,
Pale, desert woods! within your crowd;
And gathering winds, in hoarse accord,
Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud.

Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year,
I listen, and it cheers me long.


Remind me to come back to this post around February! And I hope if winter winds are already blowing where you are, you'll hear a bit of "wild music" with them. I also hope you'll come back here next week, when I have the honor of hosting the Poetry Friday Round Up. Today, it's over at The Poem Farm, lassoed by the ever-talented Amy.

Poetry Friday: Poetry and Photographs from Susan Taylor Brown

November 16, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, authors, poetry, art, writing life, birds, Etsy

© Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.


I am humming with joy this morning – award-winning author, poet, and artist Susan Taylor Brown is here! Well, some of her work is here, and now there are more options for you to own some yourself.

Perhaps you know Susan primarily through the writing side of her life – dozens of books for children for the trade and educational markets, hundreds of stories and articles in newspapers and magazines, and a speaking schedule that has included SCBWI conferences, Highlights workshops, and artist in residence experiences in which she’s taught poetry to at-risk and incarcerated youth. Or perhaps you’ve visited her blog and website for spot-on writing advice shared with wisdom and plenty of heart and personal experience. If, like me, you might have missed the incredible interview posted by Jone in June over at Check It Out, you will definitely want to, well, check it out!

Perhaps as a faithful Poetry Friday-er, you’ve popped over to Susan’s website or seen her pictures on Facebook. Has your jaw dropped and have your eyes popped at her glorious photographs of the wildlife she’s invited into her California back yard? Thought so. Did you mourn a few months ago after following the daily activities of Lily, the lovely hummingbird who graced Susan’s yard with a nest and then lost her precious eggs just before they were to hatch? Yes, me too.

Lots of folks were moved by Susan's photographs. It wasn’t long before Susan’s friends clamored for her to offer her incredible nature pictures for sale.

She made a page for her greeting cards with the delightful name, “Poppiness.” And just this month, she opened her own Etsy shop! As a new Etsy shop owner myself, I was thrilled to catch this bit of news and track her down. Oh, and order some gorgeous cards.

I asked Susan if she might share some of her hummingbird photographs and poems with us. The poems appeared on other blogs this year (terrific Poetry Friday ones!), but they bear re-sharing.

In My Backyard

iridescent wings dip, dive
between branches
of the scraggly Toyon bush
not yet six feet tall

pointed beak
weaves bits of moss
with spider webs
tucks in a single strand of grass
a dainty dandelion seed
then flies away

cat quiet, I creep
peek
stare
compare
tiny nest cradles
tiny eggs, two
no bigger than my thumb

whirling wings
hum hello
now go
she settles, spreads
herself atop the eggs
watches me
watching her

the wind blows, blustering
never flustering her
she sways a branch dance
keeping safe
tiny nest
tiny eggs
where rainbows wait to hatch


© Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.

Previously here:
http://gottabook.blogspot.com/2012/04/susan-taylor-brown-in-my-backyard.html
on Greg's great blog.


******************************************

13 Ways of Looking at a Hummingbird

1
wings whirl
in place
my face
smiles
swivels
tiny dancer
chirps
cheeps
chitters
hello

2
greengold glitters glides
lands atop the waterfalls
shimmy shakes
a water dance

3
spider silk
blades of grass
lichen
moss
one gray hair
two red threads
building blocks
a mini mansion

4
picture pose
turn left
now right
chin up
hold still
I'll keep my distance

5
in out
out in
tall wall
soft floor
ready wait
wait some more
egg one
egg two
soon
each morning
each evening
I check
just in case

6
the plum tree a
perfect preening place
ruffled nest feathers
bugs picked flicked
feathers smoothed
stretch once
stretch again
bask in the sun
before babies come

7
stormy days
stormy nights
quivery
shivery
forgetting generations
that came before
I worry
flashlight in hand

8
she disappears deep
within the overgrown honeysuckle
seeking bugs
protein power
for motherhood
alone
I measure
one nest
one half a walnut shell
one egg
one jellybean
one miracle
waiting to happen

9
my days equal
part
inspection
observation
research
photographs
my days equal
bliss

10
camera ready
I await her homecoming
hidden only slightly behind the fence
fifteen minutes
two hundred photographs
my mini model
is a star

11
morning comes
empty
no mama snug atop her nest
no tiny eggs safe and sound
no babies waiting
to say hello world
sometime between
the darkness and dawn
disaster

12
overcast and gray
rain soon
but I am stubborn
searching beneath the bushes
until I find evidence
until I find a tiny white shell
until it hits me
miracles don't always come true

13
crying
crying
crying
camera clicks
shot after shot after shot
most will be out of focus
unable to capture the pain I feel
at all the days that should have been ahead
suddenly suspended beside me
close enough to almost touch
no chirp
no cheep
no chitter
she hovers there
ten seconds maybe more
just long enough
to say goodbye


© Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.

Previously here:
http://maclibrary.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/poetry-friday-5/
on Jone’s wonderful blog.

I asked Susan: What is it about hummingbirds that compels you to write about and photograph them? Take it away, Susan!

I am a perpetually nervous person often filled with worry about things I can't change or control. I was spending so much time worrying about what did happen and what I could have done differently and what might happen and how I could avoid it that I was forgetting to live my life in the here and now. I had a wonderful life and I was missing out on it. All around me friends were going to yoga, beginning to meditate, and learning how to be here, now, living in the present moment. I couldn't seem to get the handle of yoga or meditating but I did spend a lot of time in my native garden. Usually it was because my dog Cassie was pestering me to step away from the computer and go outside. In my typical hurry-up fashion I wanted her to hurry-up and take care of business so I could hurry-up and get back to work worrying about whatever the day's worry might be.

Cassie had other ideas. She meandered around the yard, each visit outside taking a similar path, dipping a head into the sage to sniff at bees, pausing under the maple tree to wait for squirrels, stopping at the elderberry to watch the birds flit from branch to branch. I got tired of standing and waiting for her so I sat down. And when I sat down, the critters in the yard got used to me and turned brave, coming closer to feed at the bushes close to me and play in the bird pond. My fingers itched for my camera. The more I sat and watched, the more I saw. I had found a meditation that worked for me. I had learned to see more by being still and I had discovered how to live in the present moment.

What does that have to do with photographing hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds are so fast that one would think you need to be fast in order to get a photo of them in flight. But really the opposite is true. You need to be slow. You need to be patient. You need to learn to be still. Because when you do that you will be forced to watch, hundreds of times, the way the hummingbirds around you act when they are coming in to feed. You learn their dipping, diving behavior. You begin to understand their dance. I spent hours just watching the birds in my garden and other gardens before I tried to pick up the camera. And even then I shot thousands of blurry photos or photos of plants where the birds USED to be, before I snapped the shutter. But with practice, I found it easier to get into the dance and sometimes I get lucky and capture just the photo I had hoped to capture.

So I guess the easy answer is that I feel compelled to photograph hummingbirds, as well as the other wildlife in my garden, because it continually reminds me to be here, now, in the moment and to give thanks for the opportunity to witness these gifts of nature.


Click here for a link to a published slideshow Susan did for Bay Nature Magazine on photographing hummingbirds.

And now let me leave you with some lovely news you can use. Susan has gorgeous photographs available in her Etsy shop – hummingbirds, flowers, other stunning flora and fauna. And, she and I have decided that we’d like to offer a Poetry Friday discount for holiday shopping. From now through Dec. 31, just visit either of our shops – Poppiness or artsyletters – and type in the Coupon Code: PF2012 for a 10 percent discount! (You can look each of us up on Twitter, too, @poppiness and @artsyletters.)

Thanks, and many thanks to Susan for sharing her work here today.

Also, much appreication to Julie Hedland for featuring me on her terrific blog on Wednesday, and to Renée LaTulippe for welcoming me to No Water River today! Such an honor, ladies - thank you.

For more poetic treasures, hop over to Booktalking, where the amazing Anastasia is rounding up Poetry Friday.

Poetry Friday - Catching up with Nikki Grimes

November 9, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, SCBWI, Southern Breeze

I had the lovely good fortune to interview bestselling author and NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children winner Nikki Grimes for the PACYA (Poetry Advocates for Children and Young Adults) blog, as part of the series on NCTE award winners. Nikki will also be our keynote speaker for our SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle in Atlanta at the end of February.

What a treat to read and reread some of Nikki's books. She has written picture books, chapter books, novels, and verse novels and always has something exciting on the horizon. She's a visual artist and sought-after speaker as well as being a prolific, mulitple award-winning writer.

Before you click over to read the interview if you haven't yet seen it, please enjoy this taste of her poetry, posted here with permission. This comes from The Poetry Friday Anthology.

Waiting

by Nikki Grimes

The orphanage
put my picture
on a postcard.
My smile says
"Pick me! Pick me!"
But mostly, people say
I'm too old to adopt,
like I'm a run-down clock
and the big hand says
Julie is half-past loving.


©Nikki Grimes. All rights reserved.

My thanks to Nikki for sharing her time and her poetry.

Click here for the PACYA interview.

Then head on over to Think Kid Think, where the ever-entertaining Ed Decaria is rounding up more great poetry on this Poetry Friday.

Poetry Friday: Poetry in Fiction - a Pinch or a Pound

November 1, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, writing life, authors, fiction

A poetry-to-prose exercise in A PROGRESSIVE GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE: BASED ON THE RESULTS OF MODERN PHILOLOGY by William Swinton, 1876,Harper & Brothers, New York.
Happy Poetry Friday!

I've been thinking of so many of our Poetry Friday regulars this week up in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Thoughts and prayers for all touched by the storm.

My post today is more of a link. Yesterday was my second monthly poetry column on Janice Hardy's amazing blog for writers, The Other Side of the Story. Janice is the author of The Healing Wars triology (Balzer + Bray) and other forthcoming works.

Yesterday I wrote about calling on poetry - a little or a lot - when writing fiction. The wonderful Joyce Ray gave me permission to share some of her post from last month about Arundhati Roy's 1998 novel, The God of Small Things. If you missed that one on her blog, Musings, get thee hence.

I also threw in some Harper Lee, Nancy Willard, and Janice herself. If you're interested, jump on over to my post.

I'm heading to Atlanta today to sell my artsy wares at a fall festival/art show this weekend, so will try to play catch-up upon my return. There are cornucopias of good poetry over at Donna's Mainely Write blog for Poetry Friday, where Donna invites us to ponder "plain old November."

Poetry Friday: robin’s egg blue haiku

October 25, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, ponderings

If you read haiku journals, you’ll notice that sometimes more than one poem might share a line (typically the first line), especially a seasonal reference such as “autumn dusk” or “winter chill,” etc. This fall I was surprised to discover that the poems I had accepted to a couple of journals shared the same first line. Not that I’d forgotten the line, of course, but that out of the 10 or so poems sent to each publication, the editors at each chose the one poem in each batch that started with “robin’s egg blue.”
Here are the poems, and then I’ll add some thoughts.

-----------------------------------------------------------

robin's egg blue an empty shell

Modern Haiku
43:3, Autumn 2012

-----------------------------------------------------------

robin's egg blue
how my father would have loved
my son


Acorn
No. 29, Fall 2012

-----------------------------------------------------------

Now, if you like the way one or both poems speak to you and you’d rather not hear any backstory, please – you may be excused! (Head on over to Linda at Teacherdance.)

If you’re still reading, I’ll tell you how these haiku came to be. I often get ideas as I’m walking in my neighborhood, or even just around the house outside. I did not write these two poems at the same time. We’ve had a lot of lively robins this year!

For the one-line haiku, I came across an empty robin’s shell on a walk. I was feeling a little “blue” about circumstances beyond my control, and I guess somewhat empty that day as well. (The journal editor, in some brief correspondence about the poem, suggested my name was probably working subconsciously, too. I’m sure that’s the case!)

For the three-line haiku, I saw another empty robin’s shell about a month later on the side of the road a half-mile from my house. Who knows what triggers usually hidden feelings? As any parent of a high school senior understands, the year brings mixed emotions which lurk like shadowy stalkers. I guess the broken egg symbolized young leaving the nest, for sure – but I probably had the previous poem in my mind somewhere as well.

And as I was thinking about how proud I was of my son (you’ve heard me brag on my daughter before, but we are doubly blessed), I had a tug of wishing my dad could have known him. Dad got to meet Morgan when she was a toddler, but he died two and a half months before Seth was born. Dad would not have won any Father of the Year awards. He wasn’t what you’d call reliable. And yet, I loved him. I know he would have appreciated so many things about his grandson.

Not the least of which might be Seth’s love of music. He’s been playing guitar since he could hold one and leading the youth band at church for a long while. He had years of guitar lessons (though not a whole lot of theory) and a few voice lessons, but primarily he sings and plays by ear. My husband’s family thinks Seth’s musical ability flows from that side (and understandably – there are rivers of musical talent there).

But they never heard my dad sing and play his guitar, or attack a piano with improvised bluesy-jazz. They weren’t awakened at 3 a.m. to shake hands with Willie Nelson in their living room, or lulled to sleep by jam sessions through the wall. Perhaps they didn’t catch that Dad’s eyes were blue. We all have someone we miss in unexpected moments.

For some unexpected and creative poetry today, please do go visit the lovely Linda at Teacherdance.

Poetry Friday: poetry book give-away at my OTHER blog...

October 18, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, illustrators, art, poetry, SCBWI, Southern Breeze

Dearest Poetry Friday Friends,

Forgive this short post, but I'm on my way to Birmingham for our SCBWI Southern Breeze fall conference this weekend. Yee-hi!

I'm checking in, though, with a link to this week's "Art Break Wednesday" post on my new artsyletters blog, because you might be interested in:

1.) a Q and A with the exuberant Melanie Hall - artist, teacher, and award-winning illustrator of many children's books (including several poetry collections), and

2.) a give-away of one of said poetry collections. A lucky commenter will be randomly selected to receive a copy of Every Second Something Happens - Poems for the Mind and Senses, selected by Christine San José and Bill Johnson (Wordsong). Just post a comment ON THAT ARTSYLETTERS BLOG POST linked above by Monday at midnight, EST. (I will approve and post comments as I can throughout the weekend, internet connections willing.)

Finally, you MUST go see what Poetry Friday Rounder-Upper Irene has over at Live Your Poem. She invited participants in the 2012 KidLit Progressive poem to pen a couplet for an original "zoo" poem - in honor of Irene's brand-new novel, Don't Feed the Boy from Roaring Brook (which I can't wait to scoop up this weekend). My two lines were based on a somewhat slithery encounter at the Mule Camp Festival here last weekend. Go sssseeeeeee....

Thanks for visiting!

Poetry Friday: Where Do Second Graders Find Poetry?

October 11, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, students

I'll be busy at a booth all weekend at our town's Mule Camp Festival (really - back in the day, people used to come to "Mule Camp Springs" with their wagons and mules and exchange goods!). But I had to share a couple of goodies.

First, my youngest, Seth, is at this moment at the Dodge Poetry Festival! I can't wait to hear all about it. He and five other high school seniors got there Thursday morning, after about a 15-hour ride straight through. Their fearless driver/leader is our inspired and intrepid history teacher, Michael McCann. He and his wife make this journey for each festival. Isn't that grand?

Second, my oldest, Morgan (the one who used the new Poetry Friday Anthology in her Literacy Education class at college!) is spending quality time with a second grade class near Furman as part of her junior year studies. The teacher in this class recently asked the students where poems come from. Then that wonderful woman wrote their answers on Post-it Notes and displayed them. Morgan asked if I could share them with you, and she kindly obliged.

Here is the list typed out:

Where do We find Poetry?

snow, happy, babies
school, sun, reptiles,
spring, sad, anger
treasure, race cars, hearts,
cheetahs, dinosaurs, tree-tops,
teacher, friends, lonely,
joy, games, secrets,
dreams, bugs, rain,
ants, spring, funny, nightmares


A few of my favorites are: hearts, tree-tops, cheetahs, race cars, rain, and dreams!

What are yours, or where do you find poetry?

Well, off to Mule Camp. Please forgive me if I'm an inattentive blog host (and follower) this weekend, but wish me and artsyletters luck! (Oh - I have a new relief print celebrating teachers which I've just also had printed on note cards. If you leave a comment on my art blog by Monday, you'll be entered to win a pack.)

To see where more poems come from this Poetry Friday, please visit Betsy at Teaching Young Writers.


Poetry Friday - St. Francis and a link to my new poetry column

October 4, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, haiku

Page featuring a detail of Giotto’s SERMON TO THE BIRDS (1297-1300)


At my house, we’re an ecumenical bunch. My oldest was dedicated in a Baptist church, baptized in a Presbyterian church, and confirmed in a Methodist church. My husband got a degree from a Baptist seminary before going to med school, and his brother recently became an Episcopal priest. One brother-in-law is a Baptist youth minister. Our in-laws started their own now non-denominational church, my folks are still Baptist, and we’re Methodist – at least in this decade. My son is even looking toward a future in ministry; we’ll see! (I’m getting to poetry, promise.)

As a kid, I was raised in the Baptist church but was always a bit of a closet Catholic. I knew nothing of theological differences; the art and even the ritual called to me. The closest I usually came was an occasional peek into the Episcopal church nearby – dark carved wood and glorious stained glass windows. That’s what I think I remember, anyway. And one of my prized possessions, you can see I still have it, drawn out of an old wooden box for this photo – is this little plastic framed picture, with its oval portraits of Jesus and Mary. (Familiar Anglo-Saxon versions, so perhaps not accurate if indeed still lovely.) I think it might have come from my Arkansas grandmother's treasures bought and sold at local sales. (Oh yeah, she was Church of Christ.) Of course, I also ran wild in the woods communing with God and every creature which crossed my path, with no need of an intercessor, so I was pretty inclusive even back then.

A year or so ago I picked up this lovely chunky little tome at a used bookstore: Saints – A Year in Faith and Art (Rosa Giorgi, Abrams, 2006). I’ve come across all kinds of folks and stories I’d never heard of before. And lots of liturgical art across the centuries. Well, yesterday's honored saint was the beloved Saint Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226. Tell me, after all these centuries, isn’t his Canticle of the Sun still moving and beautiful?

The Canticle of Brother Sun
(excerpt)
By St. Francis

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.
Praise be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
….


Visit this website of The friars of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis for the rest of this translation.

If you’re in the mood for haiku, yesterday I began a monthly poetry column on my friend and YA author Janice Hardy’s terrific blog for writers, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY. Actually, the post is about submissing haiku, rejection, and keepting track of it all. Here’s the link. I’ll be over there the first Thursday of each month exploring some aspect of poetry and writing. (Thanks, Janice!)

For more great poetry today, go see what the talented and ever generous Laura has rounded up at Writing the World for Kids.

Poetry Friday - Hello to Fall with a few lines from Longfellow

September 28, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings

Image from Yay Images

When the season officially turned from summer to fall this past week, we enjoyed a tease of cool days here in Georgia. [Where are my socks, anyway…?]

A warm front barreled on through the last couple of days, but the acorns are falling and the leaves of the sassafras tree out front have begun to turn. Isn’t sassafras one of the most delicious words ever?

Fall is my favorite season. The excitement of a new school year has always infused me, not just the couple of years I taught, but every year. The cool, crisp air rejuvenates the spirit after sultry summers. And it seems the perfect time to begin new things – like the art business I mentioned last week, and the new monthly poetry post I’ll begin on Janice Hardy’s blog for writers, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY , this coming Thursday.

On the home front, we have high school homecoming and my daughter’s Family Weekend at college. Much to remember and celebrate. So my offering today is simply some timeless lines honoring the season. They’re from a poem whose origin is a rather sentimental story in Boccaccio’s 14th Century Decameron (which I won’t pretend to know much about). But they’re fitting for the season.

Excerpt from “The Falcon of Ser Federigo”

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The morrow was a bright September morn;
The earth was beautiful as if new-born;
There was that nameless splendor everywhere,
The wild exhileration in the air,
Which makes the passers in the city street
Congratulate each other as they meet.


Sending congratulations to all! Remember, it's good luck to catch a falling leaf. :0)May Autumn bring you harvests of inspiring words.

Also remember, tomorrow is the world-wide celebration of 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

The wonderful Marjorie at Paper Tigers has our Poetry Friday Roundup today. Go enjoy!

Poetry Friday - Found Poem and artsyletters

September 20, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, art, ponderings

Happy Poetry Friday!

Today I'm offering a found poem and a bit of, well, blatant self-promotion. (Feel free to excuse yourself if you must - I felt I had to warn you.)

I've just launched a new art business, artsyletters, featuring "Art for Your Literary Side" and gifts for readers and writers. My first art show since life B. C. (Before Children) was last weekend, and I was delighted with the feedback and response. Actually, the most popular item in my booth was the old Underwood typewriter I had set out for folks to type in their email addresses for a forthcoming quarterly newsletter. I lost track of how many kids I "taught" to type (kid being the appropriate label all the way up to 20-somethings) - You have to kind of punch the key down, see? And listen for that wonderful ding as you get to the end of the line....

The littlest kids enjoyed finding the letters to their name on the strange contraption; the young at heart reminisced about typewriters their parents had had, machines that used to be in attics and oh-how-I-wish-I had-that now, or Smith Caronas they had typed on in school. (I personally churned out college papers on a typewriter - albeit an electric one, though a job soon out of college at a community newspaper came with an ancient, heavy, wonderful old black typewriter!)

Well, I'm paying homage to typewriters and old books and letters and poetry and more with my new art. It includes pen and ink, relief prints, calligraphy, bookmarks and note cards, in addition to more of these altered page collages which yield found poems. Here's one for today, pictured above:

THE POET

A young man
in spite of the
moment
the hour
proved that
observing
filled
the
studio
with fantastic
curious
verses
mysteries of thought
and
graceful words!


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

This collage began as page 206 of the 1922 JOURNEYS THROUGH BOOKLAND (Vol. 6) compiled by Charles H. Sylvester. It's the first page of a story called "The Poet and the Peasant" by French novelist Emile Souvestre. I added some bling to the initial letter A - a bit of 23 karat gold leaf. The beautiful old watchface, vintage key, and the vintage Remington typewriter part were all Etsy finds!

And here's all my links: To peruse my wares, please visit my new Etsy shop. Click here for my new blog, which will soon feature weekly musings and art discussions among creative folk (I hope - come see me!), plus some give-aways. I wouldn't object if you wanted to "Like" my artsyletters Facebook page - thanks to those of you who have already!, and before too long I'll figure out how to Tweet. I think.

Huge thanks to Cathy C. Hall, who stumbled on some of the aforementioned and asked if she could do a "Fun Friday" post about it today. Um, YEAH. Here's the link to her fabulous blog.

And, finally, Renee has more poetry than chocolate in a candy store today at her incredible No Water River. Indulge yourself! (And for those who read to the end, my humble thanks.)

Poetry Friday: Jump-Start your Morning with Janet Wong…

September 6, 2012

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

This image, like most of the fun ones I find online, from the company YAY Images.

What’s that – a yawn? Oh, I see – you’re just perusing a few Poetry Friday blog posts while the coffee pot is sputtering and clicking. Well, then, today’s poem is for you!

If you’re a Janet Wong fan (I know - that’s everyone!), perhaps you’ve taken BEHIND THE WHEEL – Poems About Driving for a spin around the block already. Originally published by Margaret K. McElderry in 1999, Janet made these wonderful poems available as an e-book last year and a paperback this year for a new set of young drivers and poetry lovers.

Of course, the collection is about so much more than driving: family relationships, love, authority, choices, beliefs. As expected, the poems unfold in simple language, sometimes with more than a dash of humor, and leave the reader nodding, “Yes – I’ve felt that way, too.”

Today we’ll enjoy a lighter one, and this will get us back to coffee.

Not these lines from “One Hand On the Wheel,” but I have to share them because I love them so:


My mother was one of them
when –
who knows what happened.

Now she’s driving 65,
one hand holding a cup of coffee,
one hand on the wheel


No, here is the poem I want to leave you with as you smell that aroma from your kitchen. It’s shared with gracious permission of the author.

Jump-Start

by Janet Wong

can’t turn over
battery’s dead

need
jumper cables
in
my
head

clamp them on
start me up

pour some coffee
in my cup
dark strong coffee

start me up



To learn more about Janet and her robust, full-flavored, high-octane body of work, visit her website. Check out terrific resources for educators at her Poetry Suitcase! For Janet’s amazing collaborations with Sylvia Vardell, including the Poetry Tag Time books and the hot-off-the-press Poetry Friday Anthology, visit Pomelo Books.

And for cup after cup of delicious poetry, sit a spell this morning with the lovely Katya, who is rounding up Poetry Friday at Write, Sketch, Repeat.

Cream and sugar, anyone?

Poetry Friday: Thinking about Imagination and Change with a Steven Withrow poem...

August 31, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, writing life

On September 29, a few hundred thousand folks will celebrate the second "100 Thousand Poets for Change." Click here to get a taste of that ambitious endeavor.

According to a press release, this event "brings poets, artists and musicians (new this year) around the world together to call for environmental, social, and political change. Voices will be heard globally through concerts, readings, workshops, flash mobs and demonstrations that each focus on their specific area of concern, within the framework of peace and sustainability, such as war, ecocide, racism and censorship.

“Peace and sustainability is a major concern worldwide, and the guiding principle for this global event,” said Michael Rothenberg, Co-Founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change. “It’s amazing to see how many people have joined in around the world to speak out for causes they believe in, and to see so much heart and creativity expressed in their diverse approaches to this event.”


While no one might agree with each and every individual issue being advocated on that day, I certainly believe in the power of poetry. I believe in the power of positive change and appreciate that the freedom of expression I so often take for granted in the U.S. comes at great risk in other parts of the world. So hats off to creative folks trying to better the planet!

In contemplating the theme of change for today, I wondered where it originates. I think it originates in the imagination. So today I'm bringing you a wonderful poem posted with permission of its author, Steven Withrow. (We had a nice chat with Steven here back in October.)

            On the Jetty

    Boy who sits upon a bridge of stones
over Plymouth Harbor shuts his eyes,
silences all seagull-circus cries,
guides the tide-lines in by thoughts alone.
    He thinks that if he hooks one where it forms,
soft, a foam of wave-wash at his feet,
angles right where rock and waters meet,
he’ll know the reeling power of a storm.
    He dreams that he’s a pilgrim on this landing,
scrawny Myles Standish, émigré,
anchorage mud deep in Plymouth Bay.
    These reveries exceed his understanding,
no soldier he, nor seeker of the new,
narrow buoy, adrift in world-wide blue.


©Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

I think the reference to Myles Standish certainly points to change - in fact, the Pilgrims must have done more than imagine a new life; they must have envisioned it. And poetry helps us envision connections we might otherwise overlook. What does this poem kindle in your imagination today?

Thanks to Steven for sharing this poem today! Be sure to visit Steven's great Poetry at Play blog, where you can also learn about Poetry Advocates for Children and Young Adults.

The amazing Sylvia Vardell is rounding up more great poetry this week at Poetry for Children. Check it out!

(Note - I'll be at the SCBWI Southern Breeze Illustrators' Day all day today and will check back later.)

Thanks to Poet Joy Acey for the Shout-Out

August 26, 2012

Tags: poetry, poets, book tracks, ponderings, animals

Joy Acey had some fun with the new Poetry Friday Anthology, and with my poem, "Snack Rules." Click here to see what resulted when she mis-read the title, then followed that wondering and pondering into a new poem of her own. (And you might check out her follow-up post exploring rhythm.)

Joy has two fun poems in the anthology as well. I've had the privilege of meeting Joy at the two Higlights Founders Worskhops in poetry I've attended. She's an enthusiastic voice for children's poetry!

Poetry Friday - Remembering a Good Old Dog

August 24, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, animals, ponderings

Lucky at Christmas, patiently donning a wreath for the camera

The summer before our youngest, Seth, entered first grade, we rescued a five-week-old hound/shepherd mix. This Wednesday, Seth began his senior year of high school, and it was Lucky's last day with us.

The vet said he had lived up to his name, especially this past year, as he had dodged a myriad of health problems. He went blind in the spring, but, like most trusting, devoted dogs - he took it in stride as long as he could be near us.

I think he wanted to spend one last summer with the kids. Morgan moved back up to college last weekend and posted a beautiful tribute to Lucky on her Facebook page. I'm glad he hung around long enough to meet a new school year.

We still have two little dachshund mixes - they just turned 13 and haven't slowed down, despite their white muzzles. Time is less kind to the larger breeds.

Rest in Peace, Lucky - we were the lucky ones.

Here's a poem I wrote earlier this summer:


My Old Dog


This dog of mine

was once a pup.

He’d romp and lick

the sunshine up.


This dog of mine

when he had grown

could guard the yard

and grind a bone.


This dog of mine

now old, now gray –

needs me to guide

him through his day.


This dog of mine

so slow and frail

wears years of love

from nose to tail.



©Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved

For the Poetry Friday Roundup, visit the ever-talented and all-around wonderful Doraine at Dori Reads.

VOICE LESSONS with Irene Latham

August 22, 2012

Tags: SCBWI, Southern Breeze, authors, book tracks, poetry, conferences, workshops, writing life


Poetry buffs who frequent this blog know about Poetry Friday regular Irene Latham – her COLOR OF LOST ROOMS (2010) was a National Indie Excellence finalist and winner of the 19th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Award. She just sold her first collection of children's poems, DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST, set at an African watering hole, to Millbrook Press/Lerner. Look for it in the fall of 2014! Irene has been poetry editor of the Alabama Arts Journal since 2003.

She’s also an accomplished novelist. LEAVING GEE’S BEND (Putnam, 2010) won the Alabama Library Association 2011 Children's Book Award and was a SIBA Book Award finalist. Her new novel, DON’T FEED THE BOY (Roaring Brook, Oct. 2012), is soon to be let loose!

At the SCBWI Southern Breeze fall conference in Birmingham in October, Irene is presenting a workshop on that elusive, crucial, desired-by-any-editor element of a story: voice. She was kind enough to drop by today and give us a sneak peek.

Take it away, Irene!

Confession: when I sold LEAVING GEE’S BEND, I thought “editing” meant someone somewhere sending my words through some fancydancy spell-check program. I really had no idea how to revise.

Guess what I learned?

The best and quickest way to educate oneself about editing and revision is to actually DO it. And what I’ve found in the years since is that for me, revising is most successful if taken in stages. By which I mean, I read over the manuscript multiple times, addressing one specific issue during each pass.

I generally start with plot, because that’s easiest (for me). Then I move to character arc – one pass for each major player, then another pass for supporting characters. Then, eventually, I move to voice. It’s during this pass that the magic happens: ordinary words take on flavor and personality. Dialogue quirks emerge. Similes and metaphors become consistent with the character. Gone are the modern words in a historical piece, while invented words manifest themselves in a fantasy piece.

One of the best ways I have found to teach about voice is to show examples of writing without voice. Take, for instance, the first line from a household favorite book FEED by M. T. Anderson.

line STRIPPED of voice, by me:

“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon was boring.”

actual line, written by M.T. Anderson:

“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.”

That, fellow readers and writers, is VOICE.

Want to learn more? Come to the SCBWI Southern Breeze region annual Writing and Illustrating for Kids conference in Birmingham, Oct. 20. (There’s an optional novel intensive Oct. 19.) Here’s the official description for my workshop:

Voice Lessons: Revising for Voice

Got a book with great plot, characters, but no distinctive voice? This workshop provides revision techniques and advice on how to create a voice that’s authentic and memorable. *Attendees should bring at least one page up to an entire chapter of a work-in-progress to revise.

Handout includes a list of strategies, a voice-revision checklist and three before/after excerpts to illustrate effectiveness of the suggested techniques.


Sounds terrific, Irene! Thanks for the preview.

To learn more about Irene and her books, check out her website and blog.

And to register for the Writing and Illustrating for Kids (wik) fall conference in Birmingham , click here.

Hope to see you there!

Poetry Friday: The Poetry Friday Anthology!!!

August 17, 2012

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

It's here!

Well, the official, official launch date is Sept. 1 - but THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY is here! Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (of the Poetry Tag Time books) have outdone themselves with this jam-packed resource featuring more than 200 poems by 75 poets. Each poem is presented in a specific grade level, K-5, and connected to curriculum standards with FUN activities for students. (Sylvia has done an amazing job connecting each poem to Common Core, and there's a Texas version of the book with TEKS standards, too!)

I was beyond excited to get my copies because I have a couple of poems included. But almost immediately, I was just plain excited - this book is so very well laid out and thought out, it couldn't be easier for a busy teacher to use. Just a few minutes once a week (hopefully more if time allows), and elementary students of all ages will get to hear, read, explore or act out a short, child-friendly poem. They'll leave the school year with a few dozen poems under their belts and no doubt several favorites. I've already let teachers and the media specialist at our school know about it.

Can't wait to get your copy? The paperback is available on Amazon, with the e-book soon to follow. (Just enter THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY in the search.) To learn more about this creative dynamic duo and Pomelo Books, click here.

I'll leave you with one of my poems, this one in the First Grade section:

Snack Rules

Don't talk with your mouth full --
full of peanut butter:
Anything you try to say
wll cmmm out as a mmmttrr.

©Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved

For lots more lip-smacking poetry, visit Rounder-Upper Mary Lee at A Year of Reading.

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

August 16, 2012

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

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

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

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

Aug. 15 Sharon Pegram at Writers and Wannabes

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

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

Aug. 20 Chuck Galey at Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog

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

Aug. 22 Irene Latham HERE!

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

Aug. 24 Doraine Bennett at Cathy Hall’s blog

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

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

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

Aug. 30 Donna Jo Napoli at Writers and Wannabes

Poetry Friday: Splashing around in Frogpond

August 3, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku

YAY Images


I was especially happy to receive my copy of Frogpond in the mailbox this week for two reasons. One, a haiku of mine appears in the journal for the first time! Two, a haiku written by my lovely 14-year-old niece, Olivia, appears in the same issue.

I get to take zero credit for Olivia’s haiku. Her teacher is Tom Painting, a name familiar to those in the haiku world (you’ll see one of his poems in the online samples of haiku in the current issue, linked above), and his students are lucky to have his guidance, encouragement, and expert instruction. His students submitted their work to the 2012 Nicholas Virgilio Haiku Contest sponsored by the Haiku Society of America. This year’s contest drew 457 poems, and I’m happy to report Olivia’s was among six winners chosen. They received cash prizes and publication of their poetry.

Here’s Olivia’s poem:

winter dusk
the crows
clotting the wind


Olivia, age 14 (all rights reserved)
~ Frogpond 35:2, Summer 2012

Judges Geoffrey Van Kirk and Patricia Doyle Van Kirk offered comments following each winning entry. Of this poem, Mr. Van Kirk writes, “…The poet’s choice of the word ‘clotting’ here is powerful. It is a wonderful alliterative fit with ‘crows,’ and the open vowels of the two words together also suggest, as you say them aloud, the round clumps that are forming in air.” Ms. Van Kirk writes, “…And because these creatures of the air are so agile and perhaps so numerous, they seem to have power over the very wind itself, ‘clotting’ it with their numbers and their flight. The combination is unusual and magical.”

Well done, Olivia!

My poem is perhaps more lighthearted than my niece’s. I wrote it as one year turned to the next, while our old hound mix kept his vigil on the kitchen floor for another trip around the sun.

new year’s eve
the thump
of the old dog’s tail


Robyn Hood Black
~ Frogpond 35:2, Summer 2012

Speaking of sun, my blog will take a mini end-of-summer break the next couple of weeks, as kids get ready to head back to school in our household (high school and college). See you later this month with some great posts planned!

Enjoy more poetry with Rena as she dives into hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at On the Way to Somewhere.

Haiku Fest in Alabama Sept. 28-30

July 30, 2012

Tags: haiku, poetry, workshops, conferences

Haiku Greetings!

Passing along information for what is sure to be a spectacular, refreshing weekend - a haiku fest in Alabama at the end of September! The workshop is sponsored by the Haiku Society of America (HSA), Southeast Region.

I have a couple of family events that weekend that conflict, so I won't be able to make this one. But it sounds wonderful. Here's the info:

GINKO HAIKUFEST

Friday September 28 – Sunday September 30, 2012

Lake Guntersville State Park

1155 Lodge Drive

Guntersville, AL 35976

$45 members / $50 non-members (Saturday only)

$60 members / $65 non-members (Friday through Sunday)

Registration checks are payable to the H.S.A. Regional Coordinator:

Terri L. French

1901 W. Tupelo Dr. SE

Huntsville, AL 35803

Phone: 256-303-8305

Email: terri.l.french@gmail.com

Call 1-800-548-4553 Lake Guntersville Lodge to reserve rooms - “haikufest code 2716” – bluff-side with two queens at $105 per night (1-2 people) plus $10 for each additional person. The reservation deadline is August 15th.

Tom Painting, Laurence Stacey and Robert Moyer are conducting creative educational sessions.

Following the Ginko Walk, $100 worth of Issa Prizes will be awarded to attending poets whose haiku are deemed to be closest in spirit to the beloved Kobayashi Issa (1762-1826).

H.S.A. members, their guests, teachers and all other poetry lovers are encouraged to attend this intimate, casual and supportive gathering of haiku devotees.

Poetry Friday - Lee Bennett Hopkins and MARY'S SONG

July 27, 2012

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

MARY'S SONG by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Eerdman's, 2012

Illustrations ©Stephen Alcorn

This page reads:

"I even thought I heard a whisper

from spider above the manger,

spinning her web -

though I know what silent spinners

spiders are.

Merry Christmas! Christmas in July, I mean, and we’re unwrapping a very special gift today. Instead of a poem, we have a renowned poet and a magical, lyrical picture book.

Lee Bennett Hopkins is here! THE most prolific children’s poetry anthologist, Lee has received the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for “outstanding contributions to the field of children’s literature,” the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Poetry for Children Award and the Florida Libraries’ Lifetime Achievement Award, just to name a few.

In addition to his award-winning anthologies, Lee’s own poetry collections, picture books and professional texts have won countless awards, and he established two coveted awards “to encourage the recognition of poetry.” He’s also a popular keynote speaker at literature conferences.

Busy as he is, he agreed to stop by and tell us about his newest book. MARY’S SONG, hot off the press from Eerdman’s and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn, is sure to become part of family traditions and treasures this Christmas and for years and years to come.
I’ve been anticipating this book for a long time. When my copy arrived last week, my first reaction was not so much that the writing is brilliant (it is) or that the art is amazing (it is) but that I wished I’d had this book to share with my own children when they were small.

I love the magical interplay of text, which describes a new mother’s longing for a quiet moment with her baby, and the gorgeous art with its warm palette and cross hatchings which seem to invite readers to find connections between halos, spider webs, the light of the sun, The Light of the World… I’m getting carried away. Let me turn it over to Lee.

You’ve referred to Mary’s Song as “my nativity lovesong.” Do you remember how the idea came to you? How long did it drift around in your mind before you wrote the text?

I have always wanted to write about Mary. There are so many books about her yet so few about Her! I knew deep inside I needed to write a tribute to Mary being with HER child -- alone. I remember my niece, Jennifer, giving birth to my grand-niece, Erin Elizabeth, after years of trying to bear a child. So many rushed to the hospital bringing balloons, gifts, wanting to see and hold the baby. I remember looking at my niece, her eyes almost shouting how she wanted to be alone with this precious gift. In some ways the idea clicked then. In all nativity stories we hear of the hubbub, the fuss, Wise Men bearing gifts, shepherds, animals crowding the manger. I am certain Mary might have felt the same way. Thus, I wanted MARY'S SONG to BE a tribute to Motherhood. More than a Christmas story, it is about Motherhood.

I was struck, as a reader, not only that the tale is told from Mary’s perspective, but that it’s all about sound. Poetry is all about sound. Was this a natural way for you to explore Mary’s feelings, after your own life’s work immersed in poetry?

Truly, I do not remember writing this piece. Looking back on my notes I began the book on December 3, 2007, finished a fourth and final draft on December 6th. The words simply flowed. I wanted sounds of noise in the text; I also wanted the one word QUIET emphasized. Stephen Alcorn created a work of splendor in the double-page spread with simply the one word.

How did you put yourself in Mary’s place to imagine all these rich, sensory details?

Another oddity. I wrote the text, it went through the near five-year publishing process, I saw proofs, read them through, was thrilled to hold the first bound copy in my hand. One night my brother-in-law, Anthony, came to the house and began poring through the pages. He looked at me and said: "This is all told from the voice of Mary. How could you do this?" I never realized I had done that. I still read through the text and find it fascinating that the whole book IS Mary's point of view. If Anthony hadn't seen this would I have ever? Ah, the mysteries of writing.

I was delighted to see the appearance of a spider in the story, such symbolic little creatures. Was she there from the beginning?

Spider came about in the second draft. I thought the idea of this quiet creature was so allegorical. Or was it because I've always been 'caught in Stephen Alcorn's “web”?

Speaking again of Stephen Alcorn, what glorious illustrations! Another great collaboration between your words and his art. (MY AMERICA, DAYS TO CELEBRATE, and AMERICA AT WAR also spring to mind.) His gentle depictions in MARY’S SONG reflect the story so beautifully and of course add magic of their own. How did you react when you saw the illustrations?

Stephen and I have done many books together. I only wanted him as the artist. Before the manuscript was even submitted I knew he had to do the artwork. It wasn't hard to convince anyone at Eerdmans; the art director, Gayle Brown, knew and loved his work. While attempting the first draft of MARY'S SONG, I saw his work throughout the writing. I saw his spider and her web. I could feel his ever-changing palette - his mood, rhythm, his sense of distinct design. Stephen was taken with the text immediately. How lucky I am to have him in my life. When I first saw Stephen's sketches, and after the goose bumps went away, I cried. I feel as if he and I became one on this book. It is interesting to note that his wife, Sabina, is the model for Mary. And the Dedication to my beloved sister was penned the moment the text was finished.

Thank you for being my special guest today to share Christmas in July! Any other upcoming projects you’d like to whet our appetites for?

Scheduled for Fall, 2013 is ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE to appear from Creative Editions. The book, based on Shakespeare's famed monologue from AS YOU LIKE IT, is a young adult collection following "Seven Ages of Man" from ENTRANCES: 'At first the infant' to ENDS: "Last scene." It is, I hope, a powerful collection illustrated by Guy Billout, another remarkable artist.

Oooh, now I’ll be eagerly anticipating this one! Can’t wait. Thank you again for joining us today and for the generous behind-the-scenes peek at MARY’S SONG.

To learn more about Lee and his incomparable body of work, please visit his website.

And for more Poetry Friday surprises, hop over to Life is Better with Books for this week’s Roundup.

Poetry Friday: Scaling Machu Picchu

July 19, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, authors

from hubby's iPhone


My hubby just returned from a two-week trip to the mountains of Peru, where, among other spiritual experiences, he hiked up Machu Picchu.

In searching for something poetry-related, I stumbled upon a website by poet, author and translator John Curl.

His book, Ancient American Poets (published by Bilingual Press/Arizona State University), features several poets including Pachacutec, the ninth and most powerful Inca emporer. Machu Picchu was most likely built during his reign in the mid-15th century.

Curl's website features selections from part of his book, “The Sacred Hymns of Pachacutec.” These poems are known as jaillis, the sacred ones being considered the highest poetic form. Their lyricism and direct appeal to God remind me of our biblical Psalms.

Curl writes: “Traditions of poetry and song were deeply engraved in Inca culture, encompassing both sacred and secular forms, shared by the common people and the aristocracy. Prayer songs, ceremonial songs, work songs and love songs were part of the texture of daily life. …”

These were my kind of poets, as Curl goes on to say: “Quechua poets liked their verses brief and without obvious artifice.” Reminds me of haiku!

Here are the first few lines from the first poem (No. 1) in this selection:


Oh Creator, root of all,

Wiracocha, end of all,

Lord in shining garments

who infuses life and sets all things in order,

saying, "Let there be man! Let there be woman!"

Molder, maker,

to all things you have given life: …



I also found the following lines from the middle of the fifth poem (No. 5) poignant and timely, as today I listened to reports of the drought savaging our own country’s heartland:


...

Increase the potatoes and corn,

all the foods

of those to whom you have given life,

whom you have established.

You who orders,

who fulfills what you have decreed,

let them increase.

So the people do not suffer and,

not suffering, believe in you. …



Please see the entire poems and a few others here.

Hungry for more poetic knowledge? The terrific Tara at A Teaching Life is rounding up Poetry Friday this week!

Poetry Friday: Found Poetry, Found Art, Found Time...

July 13, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, art, ponderings

© Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved
Happy Friday the 13th!

Today I have time on my mind… how there never seems to be enough of it, how it flies by so quickly even in the summer, how we need to savor each moment, etc.

And, of course, I always have poetry on my mind. Since writing poems for THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK – A Book of Found Poems released in the spring, I can’t help but “find” poems in unlikely places. I’ve been working on some artwork incorporating found objects, so now I’m combining the two (found art and found poetry).

The photo above is of a 6 X 8 piece featuring an ad for Snowdrift shortening from a 1927 Good Housekeeping magazine. It also includes a vintage keyhole, clock face, flat key, and an old frame (all found in antique stores or on Etsy). The paint is acrylic and gouache mixed with gesso and finished with gel medium.

The ad was called, “Next Time You Make a Cake.” That would be a great title for a poem in itself, but I decided to wonder about time as an ingredient one could manipulate like flour or shortening. What if we could “shorten” time to capture it – stir it up and taste it?

Time

by Robyn Hood Black
(Found in a 1927 advertisement for Snowdrift shortening appearing in Good Housekeeping.)


Shorten

and find

how it

is so good –

sweet as new cream.


You’ll find

it’s a

pleasure to use,

wonderfully tender,

naturally found in

today.



Make the most of your time today with great poetry rounded up by the wonderful Jone at Check It Out .