Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet







SCROLL DOWN FOR POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP SCHEDULE

Hannah enjoying poetry workshop

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


POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP SCHEDULE



July


4   Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

11  Linda at Write Time

18 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference

25 Sylvia and Janet at Poetry For Children







August


1   Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

8  Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

15 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

22 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

29 Jone at Check it Out







September


5   Laura at Author Amok

12 Renee at No Water River

19 Amy at The Poem Farm

26 Laura at Writing the World for Kids







October


3   Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup

10 Monica at The Poem Trail

17 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

24 Cathy at Merely Day by Day

31 Linda at TeacherDance







November


7   Diane at Random Noodling

14 Keri at Keri Recommends

21 Becky at Tapestry of Words

28 Carol at Carol's Corner







December 


5   Anastasia at Booktalking #kidlit

12 Paul at These 4 Corners

19 Buffy at Buffy's Blog

26 Holly at Reading, Teaching, Learning




Enjoy these Great
Children's Lit Blogs and Websites:


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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2005-2014 ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved. Please ask permission before using any text or images on this website, except for reproducible
"4 Kids 2 Do" and "Press Kit" pages.

Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: 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!

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 poets, 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 .

Poetry Friday: Eavan Boland's House of Shadows

July 6, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, art, ponderings


Diane posted a wonderful ekphrastic poem from Eavan Boland last week. I’m feeling a bit Irish and wistful this week, so I’m going to continue on that path and post another Boland poem here. (I featured her “Irish Interior” in March.)

While celebrating the Fourth at my in-laws’ house this week, I looked over the shoulder of my brother-in-law as he flipped through a scrapbook I’d made for our 1996 family trip to Ireland. (When my father-in-law retired as a Delta pilot, he took the whole fam, little bitties and all, over to Dublin for his final commercial flight.)

This afternoon, I’ve been working on some art involving Celtic knots. Whenever I make relief prints, I have to play Celtic music on Pandora as I carve, and sometimes when I draw. I want my art to have movement and life, and if you don’t feel movement and life while listening to Celtic music, you might want to check your pulse.

Anyway, hence my need to read and share a bit more of Eavan Boland. The poem below particularly appealed to me because we’ve just had an afternoon of welcome “summer rain,” and also because I’ve been collecting all kinds of rusty-ish, old objects and scrap pieces of metal for other art projects, haunting antique stores and Etsy vintage shops and the good old ground. So the discovery of an old coin was right up my alley this week.

And don’t you love the title?

House of Shadows. Home of Simile

by Eavan Boland

One afternoon of summer rain
my hand skimmed a shelf and I found
an old florin. Ireland, 1950.

We say like or as and the world is
a fish minted in silver and alloy,

an outing for all the children,
an evening in the Sandford cinema,
a paper cone of lemonade crystals and

say it again so we can see
androgyny of angels, edges to a circle,
the way the body works against the possible— …


Please click here here to read the rest.

It won’t cost you a florin or even two cents to indulge in more great poetry – just check out The Opposite of Indifference, where wonderful Tabatha has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.

Poetry Friday - Hot and Cold with H. D. (Hilda Doolittle)

June 28, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings

H. D. (Hilda Doolittle) c. 1921. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (Wikipedia)

Triple days of triple digits. Yep, that’s what they say. And since much of the country is now under a blanket of heat, if you're in the States, chances are you’re sweating in your Cheerios, too.

We have warm summers in Georgia, of course, but here in the foothills of the Appalachians a forecast like this is not the norm.

For today, I thought first we’d experience a poem to confirm our toasty experiences, and then I’d offer another as a respite. Both are from H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), a poet whose work spanned much of the 20th century, including two world wars and the dawning of feminism. She was born in 1886 in Bethlehem, PA. In 1911 she went to Europe for the summer and stayed there, except for stateside visits, for the rest of her life. She died in 1961. (Poems and a long and rich biography - including an examination of the origins of imagist poetry and a look at H. D.’s complicated personal and literary relationships throughout her life - from the Poetry Foundation.)

First, feel the sizzle:

Heat
by H. D.

O wind, rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters.

Fruit cannot drop
through this thick air—
fruit cannot fall into heat
that presses up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes. ...


Read the rest here.


And now, a long cool drink:


Wash of Cold River
by H. D.

Wash of cold river
in a glacial land,
Ionian water,
chill, snow-ribbed sand,
drift of rare flowers,
clear, with delicate shell-
like leaf enclosing
frozen lily-leaf,
camellia texture,
colder than a rose; ...


Read the rest here.

Stay Cool! And to take a refreshing dip into more poetry, dive on into Paper Tigers, where Marjorie has our Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday - A Wordsworth Wren-dition...

June 22, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, birds, haiku, ponderings, Berry Blue Haiku

art and photo ©Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved

All week long I’ve heard the eager peeps of three tiny wrens from their nest just outside our back door, where Mama built a nest in an abandoned flower pot on a ledge. I’ve watched her tirelessly fly hither and yon and back again with (presumably yummy?) wriggly snacks, pretty much all hours of the day.

A couple of years ago, we had front row seats for a wren family just outside the other back door. They inspired a poem which appeared in Gisele LeBlanc’s then-magazine-for-kids, Berry Blue Haiku (now the name of her personal online journal ) :

Carolina wrens
twig by leaf by twig by leaf
build a cozy home


©Robyn Hood Black
Berry Blue Haiku, Sept. 2010

I’ve always admired the nest-building skill of wrens. This year’s architect was especially smart, making her snug little home under shelter and away from any harm, except for the inconvenience of humans walking by as we go in and out of the house.

Well, our friend William Wordsworth was admiring wren nests long before I was – back in the 1830s to be more precise, and at his home, Rydal Mount, where the inspiration for the following poem was hatched.

A Wren’s Nest

by William Wordsworth

AMONG the dwellings framed by birds
In field or forest with nice care,
Is none that with the little Wren's
In snugness may compare.

No door the tenement requires,
And seldom needs a laboured roof;
Yet is it to the fiercest sun
Impervious, and storm-proof.

So warm, so beautiful withal,
In perfect fitness for its aim,
That to the Kind by special grace
Their instinct surely came.

And when for their abodes they seek
An opportune recess,
The hermit has no finer eye
For shadowy quietness.

These find, 'mid ivied abbey-walls,
A canopy in some still nook;
Others are pent-housed by a brae
That overhangs a brook.

There to the brooding bird her mate
Warbles by fits his low clear song;
And by the busy streamlet both
Are sung to all day long. …


Click here to read the rest.

Finally, an anniversary tweet-out to my nest-building mate, Jeff, for 28 years of flocking together TODAY! :0)

Amy at The Poem Farm is rounding up everything for the Poetry Friday flock. Thanks, Amy!

Poetry Friday: Hospitality Through the Centuries

June 14, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, SCBWI, Southern Breeze, workshops, ponderings, history, writing life

with Claudia, who even loaned me a hat!, and fabulous Hostess with the Mostest Joan. The bottom photo is from 1994 - at Penshurst with the Harrises.


At last month’s Poetry for All Highlights Founders Workshop, Eileen Spinelli told us that a writer needs time to meander. So please bear with me – I’m meandering today!

Last weekend, I had the terrific good fortune to attend the SCBWI Southern Breeze summer retreat, “Show Don't Tell: How Acting Techniques Improve Writing” led by Hester Bass. At first I thought I’d find a poem celebrating acting for today, and then I wanted to celebrate hospitality – shown by Hester in her leadership, shown by Joan Broerman, our region’s founder, who along with hubby Neal welcomed all of us into their home for sessions and meals, and shown by co-RA Claudia Pearson, who graciously offered me her gorgeous guest room to bunk in for the weekend.

A search for poems on “hospitality” led to Ben Jonson’s 1616 poem, “To Penshurst.” Well, this poem led me to an old photo album. Jeff, myself and Morgan, age two at the time in 1994, made a trip to England for our 10th anniversary. We were covered up with hospitality and wonderful day trips by friends of Jeff’s family – John and Pauline Harris, and their son Chris. Their home was in Sevenoaks, Kent, not far from the Penshurst estate, and off we went. John and Pauline are both gone now, but I will always remember their warmth and enthusiasm.

I’ll also always remember that trip to Penshurst – the medieval banquet hall and its chestnut beams and long, long tables transported us back to the fourteenth century! According to my notes, we stopped for a decadent cream tea in the Tea Room on the way out, where we were bid goodbye with double rainbows outside.

I figured since the poem was written by Ben Jonson, dramatist and contemporary of Shakespeare, it qualified as both acting-related and hospitality-related. It’s an “estate poem” which looks at nature, culture and social relationships. Here’s a taste with the beginning and a bit from later on:

To Penshurst

by Ben Jonson
(excerpt)

Thou art not, Penshurst, built to envious show,
Of touch or marble; nor canst boast a row
Of polished pillars, or a roof of gold;
Thou hast no lantern, whereof tales are told,
Or stair, or courts; but stand’st an ancient pile,
And, these grudged at, art reverenced the while.
Thou joy’st in better marks, of soil, of air,
Of wood, of water; therein thou art fair.


But all come in, the farmer and the clown,
And no one empty-handed, to salute
Thy lord and lady, though they have no suit.
Some bring a capon, some a rural cake,
Some nuts, some apples; some that think they make
The better cheeses bring them, or else send
By their ripe daughters, whom they would commend
This way to husbands, and whose baskets bear
An emblem of themselves in plum or pear.
But what can this (more than express their love)
Add to thy free provisions, far above
The need of such? whose liberal board doth flow
With all that hospitality doth know;
Where comes no guest but is allowed to eat,
Without his fear, and of thy lord’s own meat …


For the entire poem, click here.

Oh – and did you know Ben Jonson is the only person buried in an upright position in Westminster Abbey? (Click here for more. Told you I was meandering.)

Thanks for visiting, and meander on over to Mary Lee’s A Year of Reading for the Poetry Friday roundup!

Poetry Friday: Of Pocahontas, Bungee Jumping, and Motherhood

May 31, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings

My daughter, Morgan, bungee jumps in Queenstown, New Zealand.


Kia Ora! (That’s a Maori greeting from New Zealand). My daughter, Morgan, returned yesterday from a Furman University Education Dept. May-mester foreign study trip. On their last day, she was first in line to bungee jump from the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown (the world’s first commercial bungee jump!).

Watching the video, I was amazed at how she leapt without hesitation, and with grace to boot! You see, she had said she would do a Pocahontas swan dive, and she did.

And with her halfway through college, and my son Seth a rising high school senior, I can’t help thinking about leaps from nests. (Echoes of last week: my preoccupation with nests continues with wrens just outside the back door, and a new little peeping occupant – probably a robin – high up in a camellia.)

Morgan and I always loved the movie, “Fly Away Home” (1996), about a 13-year-old girl sent to live with her sculptor father in Canada after the death of her mother. She ends up raising a motherless brood of Canada geese, and with her father’s knowledge of Ultralight planes, they lead the young geese on their first migration south, ensuring their survival. Inspired by a true story, there’s plenty of drama (and doses of humor) in this tale of growing up and of tricky family relationships. The movie also features one of my favorite songs of all time, “10,000 Miles," by the incredible Mary Chapin Carpenter. (If you haven’t heard it, grab a hanky and treat yourself . ("Fare thee well... .")

Thanks for indulging me in an original, personal poem this week.

Pocahontas

When I was little,
my grandparents gave me
a Pocahontas doll.
I loved her red dress,
her smooth coffee skin,
her jet black hair.

I didn’t know I’d grow up
to have a real little girl
obsessed with Pocahontas , the Disney version.

In a flash she was a big girl, teasing her beloved AP History teacher:
Can’t we watch the movie in class?
(No.)


I didn’t know this girl
would be so thirsty for the rush of air
that one day she’d leap
(held only by a cable)
40 meters down
from a bridge 10,000 miles away
in a perfect
Pocahontas
swan
dive.

Someday, I know,
she’ll leap from this nest.

I’ll dry my eyes,
smooth my feathers,
and sing to the wild, swirling world:

See that one there? Soaring with those iridescent wings?
She’s mine.


©Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved

Thank you for visiting! Flap on over to Carol’s Corner for today’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: Nesting with Robins

May 25, 2012

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

©Cory Corrado



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

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

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

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

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

The Secret

By Anonymous

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

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

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


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

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

May 18, 2012

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

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

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

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

with Marjorie Maddox; Joy Acey and David

bottom: happily in the middle of a Spinelli Sandwich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

also,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The wilderness is in balance again.

The wolves are back.


Thank you, Jean Craighead George.

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

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

Poetry Friday: Art, Fear, and Founders Workshops

May 11, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, conferences, writing life, Highlights, authors, workshops

Book Spine Poems (See end of post for text)


For Mother’s Day, I’m getting on a plane early Sunday morning and leaving my family. Mind you, I love my family! – but the oldest child is in New Zealand for foreign study, and the youngest, and of course my hubby, are used to my conference habit.

I’ll be heading up to rural Pennsylvania for my third Highlights Founders workshop . (The first was a Poetry workshop in 2009 with Rebecca Kai Dotlich and special guests Susan Pearson and Alice Schertle . The second was an Advanced Illustrators workshop last fall with a stellar cast of leaders, and we got to break in Kent Brown Jr.’s new “barn” – an amazing space for creative exploration.) If you ever get a chance to attend one of these, get thee hence! Why?

1.) TIME to nurture your craft
2.) Amazing faculty who are seasoned at helping folks nurture their craft
3.) Networking with wonderful like-minded creative folk who speak your language
4.) Gourmet food – I’m not kidding; with a real chef and talented staff– and complete pampering and thoughtful attention from the Highlights Founders family
5.) Gorgeous natural surroundings and a trail or two (Last time I was there, I had ongoing conversations with Eric Rohman and Candace Fleming about fox and coyote scat. Really.)
6.) The cutest little cabins in the world – perfect for creative reflection at the end of a busy day
7.) Lots more!

Sort of related, I’ve just finished the first half of Art and Fear – Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING (1993) by David Bayles and Ted Orland. This book has been on my “list” forever, and a friend recently gave me a copy. I’m treasuring it as much as reading it. It’s having the same effect on me that If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland had, years ago when my husband gave that to me. Both books are written with deep understanding of the creative psyche, and such plain language, and common-sense encouragement just to create what is yours to create.

Workshops like those at Highlights help you focus on just that. From p. 36 of Art and Fear: “The lessons you are meant to learn are in your work. To see them, you need only look at the work clearly – without judgment, without need or fear, without wishes or hopes. Without emotional expectations. Ask you work what it needs, not what you need.”

The authors are not suggesting that writers and artists aren’t inspired by other works of art or that they shouldn’t read/view them. Or that creative people don’t need mentors. But I think they are suggesting that one’s work only grows with time actually spent considering it, and developing it. Again, the kind of time and attention one cultivates in a working retreat.

Next week’s workshop will be led by this wonderful line-up: Rebecca again, and David L. Harrison, and Eileen Spinelli.

So for today’s poem, I’ve conjured up some book spine poems made from some of Rebecca's, David's, and Eileen's books on my shelves. Enjoy!

Here’s the text of the “poems” from the picture above (punctuation added with poetic license…):

Lemonade Sun
in the spin of things -
castles
where I live



A family like yours -
Do you have a cat?
Do you have a dog?
Somebody catch my homework!



Wild Country -
bugs
writing stories...
Sophie's masterpiece: a spider's tale -
the purchase of small secrets.


When I return home, after spending a few days with these amazing poets (our three fearless leaders AND attendees), I know I’ll be inspired.

For a virtual poetic retreat today, head over to Live Your Poem..., where the beautiful Irene Latham has the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday - May Day Musings (with Edmund Spenser)

May 4, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry

Can it be that our wonderful, whirlwind Poetry Month unfurled itself right into May? I still have some catching up to do with all of the inspiring April posts in Kidlitosphere!

Today at our school (the pre-K-12 school which has helped raise both of my children – Morgan, now an elementary education major halfway through college, and Seth, a rising high school senior), a long tradition will be played out again. Fifth graders will wrap two colorful Maypoles in a lovely coordinated dance, and I imagine their parents will be snapping pictures galore. It’s part of a big May Day celebration, but for these fifth graders, it’s a rite of passage from elementary school to middle school. Seems like I just watched both of mine participate, and now they’re pretty much grown!

I thought we’d celebrate this (pagan!) tradition here, too – a tradition which drove the poor Puritan clergy, and others before them, crazy.

From the The Shepheardes Calender - Maye
by Edmund Spenser (published in 1579)

Yougthes folke now flocken in everywhere,

To gather may buskets and smelling brere:

And home they hasten the postes to dight

And all the Kirke pillours eare day light,

With hawthorn buds and swete eglantine,

And girlonds of roses, and sopps in wine.


[OK, 'far as I can tell: “brere” means briar; “dight” means adorn/dress; “sopps in wine” refers to the an old name for “clove pink,” or, carnation!]

If you’re up for struggling through the language for the whole month, which is an argument between “the persons of two shepheards Piers & Palinodie, be represented two formes of pastoures or Ministers, or the protestant and the Catholique…” here’s a link.

For more great poetry, and more accessible I’m sure, please go gather ye some rosebuds for your garland at Wild Rose Reader, where lovely Elaine is rounding up Poetry Friday.

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

April 27, 2012

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

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

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

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

Let’s start with a poem from the collection:

Sore Sport

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

-- M Sullivan (United States)



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Poetry Friday: Jazzing up Poetry Month with Carole Boston Weatherford

April 19, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Month, poetry, authors, book tracks, conferences

Did you know that in addition to National Poetry Month, April is Jazz Appreciation Month? Click here for the Smithsonian website. Today, we’re combining the two!

While presenting a workshop at the Georgia Conference on Children’s Literature last month, I met the incredible Carole Boston Weatherford, New York Times bestselling author of dozens of books – poetry collections, picture books, and nonfiction. Trailing her is a long list of awards, including the North Carolina Award for Literature in 2010, the state’s highest civilian honor. Her books have garnered a Caldecott honor, an NAACP Image Award, Coretta Scott King Honors, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Jane Addams Children’s Literature Honor, a Golden Kite Honor, and the Jefferson Cup from Virginia Library Association, just to name a few.

But back to jazz and Poetry Month, today we’re taking a look BECOMING BILLIE HOLIDAY (illustrated by the amazing Floyd Cooper, Wordsong, 2008), which was a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book and on many top lists. With starred reviews from Kirkus (“…A remarkable tribute well worthy of its subject”) and School Library Journal (…“Captivating”), the book is a fictional memoir – a collection of first-person poems chronicling the transformation of Eleanora Fagan (b. 1915) into the groundbreaking and iconic jazz singer Billie Holiday.

Weatherford doesn’t shy away from the hard facts of Billie’s early life – rape, prostitution, drinking and marijuana use – but rounds out the darkness with the irrepressible voice and spirit of this singular talent. Most of the poems take their titles from Billie Holiday’s songs. Here is one which captures the struggle and emotion of her very early years (reprinted with permission from the author):

Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do

by Carole Boston Weatherford

At eleven, I had the body
of a grown woman,
the mouth of a sailor, and a temper
hot enough to fry an egg.

What I didn’t have
Was anyone to hug me,
To tuck me in at night,
Or kiss me hello and good-bye.

So I got noticed the only way
I knew – cursing and screaming
in the streets, picking fights
with anyone half as mad as me.

For me, the back
of a hand was better
than the back of a head,
better than being ignored.



She soon discovered that she had a voice, too – which could change her life. (And this voice had power that would reach far beyond her own life, particularly when she lent it to “Strange Fruit,” the 1930s poem-turned-song about racial injustice.)

In the book's afterword, Weatherford explains that she chose to end her account at a point of success for the 25-year old Lady Day – “before heroin and hard living took their toll.”

I’m thrilled to welcome this wonderful poet here today.

Thank you for joining us, Carole, to jazz up Poetry Month!

In my notes from your speech at the Georgia Children’s Literature conference, I scribbled down this quote: “Poetry is my first language as a writer.” You described how you wrote poetry as a child (and you share photos on your website of some early works!). Have you always thought of yourself as a poet?


Over the years, I have dabbled in photography, fashion design, sewing, needle arts, graphic design, bookmaking, painting, and of course writing. Writing, specifically poetry, was my first avenue of creative expression. But I didn't think of myself as poet as a child any more than I considered being an author. I had no clue about literary careers. But as poetic expression became more and more a part of my identity, I declared myself a poet. I was around 25 and had just written a poem entitled "I'm Made of Jazz." That poem had Billie in it too. I guess she was my muse even then.

I enjoyed hearing you discuss how BECOMING BILLIE HOLIDAY took a little coaxing from your muse. Could you share a little of the background of how you came to write it?

I have been under Billie's spell longer than I can remember. My father played her records, but I became a die-hard devotee at age 16 after seeing the biopic Lady Sings the Blues. In 2006, Billie enlisted me to write a young adult book about her. But I was afraid the book wouldn't appeal to teens, so I ditched the idea. Then, at Baltimore's Great Blacks in Wax Museum, an eighth grade girl who swooned at Billie's wax figure unknowingly green-lighted the project. When I seemed surprised that she'd heard of Lady Day, the girl told me, "She could sing!" As the girl moved on, it was almost as if Billie said, "I told you to write my book."

Why did you think poetry was the best vehicle to use to tell this story?

Billie had a gift for imbuing lyrics with intense emotion. In fact, she really pioneered vocal lyricism in the jazz idiom. What she did with lyrics, poetry does with language.

I’m amazed at the way you balanced presenting the facts of Billie Holiday’s experiences, which were often brutal and hard, with the joy that singing brought to her life (and to her fans and followers). Was this as difficult as I’m imagining, and was there something in your process that helped you pull it off?

As the poems poured out of me, it was almost if Billie were whispering and humming in my ear. She provided the soundtrack and her life story the scenes for the narrative. The process was a bit mystical, like channeling her.

What aspect of Billie Holiday’s personality did you most want to share with young readers?

I wanted to capture her mood when she first experienced music and fame. More than anything, I depicted her as I thought she would want to be remembered.

In your picture books, whether a story is told in prose or in poems, there’s an easy rhythm to the language. You’ve written that “jazz was the soundtrack” of your preschool years - how would you say jazz has influenced your writing – in any genre?

I love music, especially jazz, female vocalists and world music. But I rarely listen to music while writing, because for me creating a poem is like composing a melody. I need to hear the nascent verses in my head. I'd like to think I write jazz poetry. My poems make the vernacular voice sing and swing. But if I could sing, I wouldn't write.

Your words definitely sing. Thanks so much for visiting with us today – Happy Poetry AND Jazz Month!

For more, please visit Carole’s website and her great Billie Holiday blog.

For more poetry, sashay over to see what Diane’s rounding up at Random Noodling.

Happy Haiku Day! and Playing Laser Tag over at Cathy C. Hall's blog

April 17, 2012

Tags: poetry, writing life, book tracks, haiku, Southern Breeze


Howdy. Happy National Haiku Poetry Day!

I'm thrilled to be a guest on the blog of the fabulous, funny, fellow Georgia peach Cathy C. Hall today! Click here for the post, where we offer a taste of haiku humor in the form of a couple of senryu I've just had published in Prune Juice, and also for a behind-the-scenes look at my other (slightly weird) poem in THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK, "Battling Beams." Some days you have to multi-task.

Thanks for inviting me to come play on your blog, Cathy!

Poetry Friday: Laura Purdie Salas speaks about BOOKSPEAK

April 12, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, book tracks

The fabulous Laura Purdie Salas is here! A prolific writer of poetry and nonfiction for children, and a busy blogger, Laura is a tireless voice for excellence in writing for kids.

Before we ask her a few questions (and read a NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN poem!), let’s take a look at one of her newest books, BOOKSPEAK – Poems About Books, illustrated with warmth and whimsy by Josée Bisaillon (Clarion Books, 2011). Some of its awards include being a Minnesota Book Award finalist, an NCTE Notable book, an Honor book for the inaugural Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award, a White Ravens 2012 book, and a Librarians’ Choice book.

For a hint of the variety of flavors in this collection, let me share just a few lines from a few poems:

From “Skywriting”

Line after line of inky black birds
Forming the flocks that shift into words. ...



From ”Index”

P s s s t!
Hey, kid – yeah, you.
So you want some facts, huh?

Forget that pretty picture on the front cover –
don’t you know they lie?

And the Table of Contents?
That only tells you where each chapter starts!
Pretty vague, you know what I’m saying?
I can give you specifics. …



From ”Bookplate”


I’m not that kind of plate.

Write your name upon me.
I’m a paper love tattoo. …


From “I’ve Got This Covered”

I’m the first thing you see when you walk by a book.
My picture is shouting, “Please stop! Take a look!”



Okay, now is your appetite whetted for a colorful collection of poems celebrating all things book? Laura was kind enough to answer some behind-the-scenes questions about how THIS book came to be.

One amazing aspect of BOOKSPEAK is its range – you cover everything from the look of letters on a white page to how a book feels being checked out of the library, to plot, character, and even the index and cover! How did these poems come about, and when did you know you had a collection?

I didn’t! I was invited by Lee Bennett Hopkins to submit poems for his book-related anthology, I AM THE BOOK. I was on cloud 9, because combining poems and books—what could be better? And the chance to appear in one of Lee’s anthologies? Oh my gosh. I sent in 13 poems and was heartbroken when none was selected. He was very kind about it, of course. I relayed my sad story to my then-agent, Karen Klockner, who asked me to send the poems to her. She promptly submitted them to Jennifer Wingertzahn, my then-editor at Clarion (she acquired and edited STAMPEDE). To my surprise (and, to be honest, sort of to Karen’s surprise, as well), Jennifer acquired the collection. I kept saying, “But…[Lee is already doing an anthology on this topic], “but…” [the poems had already been rejected], “but…” [was it OK to do this when they came about because of someone else’s project?] They kept saying, “It’s OK. Breathe. Relax.” Lee was extremely gracious about my collection coming out, and of course I adore I AM THE BOOK and am happy to see many poet friends in there.

How did the final collection end up with 21 poems?

I started with 13, but they wanted more. I think I eventually had about 25, which Jennifer and the editor who took over the project, Daniel Nayeri, narrowed down to 21. I know offhand of at least three that got cut, “Why Aren’t All Books Happy?,” “Stellar Books,” and “Ocean Tales.”

Here’s the never-before-seen (oooh!) Stellar Books:

Stellar Books

Long-ago stars spark the sky
Books spill their tales in a day
Echoes of both light your way
Stories and stars never die

There were probably a few others that either got cut by the editor(s) or that I discarded along the way. I was sad to lose the above three, though. I really liked them. But I’ll share them online or submit them to other markets, when I have time (right).


I have a thing for star poems! Thanks so much for sharing that.

I’m guessing teachers love this book. Have you discovered any particularly fun ways students are interacting with the poems?


The one thing that has come up several times is classes having fun reading “The Middle’s Lament: A Poem for Three Voices” out loud. Which is exactly what I hoped they’d do with it. I’m hoping that BOOKSPEAK’s status as an NCTE Notable book (yay!) will give it more exposure, and that I’ll get to hear how teachers use it.

I do have a teaching guide and some parts-of-the-book worksheets on my website for teachers to use.


How do you think all your nonfiction writing experience informs your poetry, or vice-versa? Is your writing process different for different genres?

I think my nonfiction informs my poetry more than vice-versa. I love poetry with nonfiction content, using words and sounds to emphasize the meaning of what you want to say. It was really fun, though, to write actual nonfiction in verse in A LEAF CAN BE…. That was one case where it was vice-versa:>)

Congratulations on your recent publishing successes. (A LEAF CAN BE is just exquisite!) You are always frank on your blog about the joys and challenges of being a writer. Do you have any favorite nuggets of advice for aspiring children’s poets?

Thanks, Robyn! This IS a challenging career. I have all sorts of Poetic Pursuits essays on my site and each one covers some aspect of writing poetry for kids. My favorite basics regarding the mechanics, though, are:

1. Condense!

2. Don’t rhyme unless you have to.

3. Get rid of the filler words (a, the, etc.)

Great advice. Thanks for visiting, Laura!

Thanks for having me here! Despite it being Friday the 13th, I feel lucky to be here!

P.S. There is scheduled to be a video of me reading “This Is the Book” from BOOKSPEAK over at today Katie Davis’s blog and one of my reading “Hydrophobiac” earlier this month at Renee LaTulippe’s No Water River blog . I do not like seeing recordings of myself, and I need to get better at reading poems aloud. So I’m sort of afraid to share those links.


Have no fear, Laura! You’re great on video, and you have so many wonderful things to share. Thank you for sharing so much here today! For more Laura, visit her website, and her blog.

Today I have the good luck to be featured on Laura Shovan's Author Amok blog, and next week, right here, we'll be jazzing things up with Carole Boston Weatherford!

Now, put BOOKSPEAK on order at your favorite library or bookstore, and then go see what everyone else is saying on this Poetry Friday. The Roundup today is hosted by the amazing Anastasia Suen at Booktalking. (Check out Anastasia’s contribution to the 2012 KidLit Progressive Poem yesterday, and keep following the mystery….)

Feeling Lucky to be in Jama's Poetry Potluck!

April 11, 2012

Tags: Poetry Month, poetry, illustration

I couldn't be more thrilled today - I'm in the pot at Jama Kim Rattigan's blog, Alphabet Soup, for her Poetry Potluck. There's a new poem, art, and a recipe for re-named oatmeal jam(a) bars in the mix. Click HERE to check it out, and don't blame me if you end up perusing her blog all day and look up to find the sun's going down outside...!

Poetry Friday is HERE - and The Arrow Finds Its Mark!

April 6, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Month, poetry, book tracks, authors, illustrators

My office kitty, May, appreciates the illustration homage to “Starry Night” below my poem, “We See With These,” opposite Bob Raczka’s delightful “Places I’d Love to Van Gogh Someday.”

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

Hope you’re enjoying all the great poetry offerings in Kidlitosphere this month. I’m thrilled to be hosting on the first Friday in April!

And I’m beyond thrilled to share Georgia Heard’s brand-new anthology of found poems, THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK , illustrated by Antoine Guilloppé, hot off the Roaring Brook Press. This is the first time my own poetry has appeared in an anthology for kids, and I couldn’t be more humbled and excited.

Thirty poets, including Lee Bennett Hopkins, Joyce Sidman, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Jane Yolen, Naomi Shihab Nye, J. Patrick Lewis, David L. Harrison, Janet Wong and many others contributed material for this collection, “finding” poetry in unlikely places.

Poets were encouraged to find existing text (some found sounds!) in a form other than poetry and present that text as a poem, and not to change, add or rearrange words (though some minor variations were allowed). Inspiration came from catalogs, signs, airplane magazines, social networking sites, advertisements – even a detergent box! One of my favorites is Bob Raczka’s “How to Write a Poem on Your Computer” using words from drop-down computer menus.

I wanted my submissions to be kid-friendly. The first poem I have in the book, “Battling Beams,” came from a LaserTag score report I found crumpled up on the laundry room counter. (Thank you, son Seth, for attending that birthday party.)

My second poem (below) came from a visit to a fourth grade classroom. Teacher extraordinaire Sharon Briggs (who taught both of my now-just-about-grown children) let me come in and hunt for poetic treasure. I jotted down notes from the whiteboard, work assignments, and the like. But I got obsessed when looking through activities in the Sitton Spelling and Word Skills Practice Book. One crossword puzzle highlighting plural words had all kinds of evocative-sounding clues sprinkled throughout “Down” and “Across.” I felt they needed to be herded together into something a little bit magical. I used one of the clues as the title, too.


We See with These



On a clear night, you can see lots of these
sparkling in the sky.

They help you see

Tooth Fairy collectibles,

more than one mouse,

more than one moose,

more than one elf,

more.


Copyright ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

In her introduction to the collection, Georgia Heard mentions several of the poems and writes: “… some poets chose to splice words together from a single source and make a kind of word collage, as in Robyn Hood Black’s ‘We See with These’.” A word collage. I love that! And I think that’s an idea kids can run with too. I’ll try it out with Mrs. Briggs’s current batch of fourth graders next week.

I also love this from the introduction, “…I want my readers to know that poetry is everywhere – if we only look at the world with poet’s eyes.”

Hats off to other Poetry Friday regulars with poems in the collection, including Amy Ludwig VanDerwater (“Artist’s Advice”) and Laura Purdie Salas (“They Don’t Want Speeding Tickets, So…” and “Top Ten Rules for our Zoo Field Trip”). I’ll have the good luck to post a terrific interview with Laura next Friday the 13th (with a poem that you haven’t seen before!) and, on the following Friday (April 20) we’ll be jazzing things up here with the multi-award winning Carole Boston Weatherford. What a special month.

(I’ll be popping in on these wonderful blogs myself: Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup Poetry Potluck on Wed., April 11, and Laura Shovan’s month-long celebration at Author Amok on Friday, April 13. Thank you, Ladies!)

There are so many great celebrations out there TODAY – please leave your links in the comments, and I’ll round them up throughout the day.
(more…)

2012 KidLit Progressive Poem stops HERE today

April 4, 2012

Tags: poetry, Poetry Month

The talented and generous Irene Latham began a wonderful bit of fun for Poetry Month - the 2012 KidLitosphere Progressive Poem! Each day the poem will travel to a different blog for the addition of a new line. I can't wait to see how it unfolds. I have the honor of adding line 4 today:


If you are reading this

you must be hungry

Kick off your silver slippers

Come sit with us a spell



Next stop for the poem is the magical virtual pen of Susan Taylor Brown. For the full schedule with links, see my blog post imediately preceeding this one. Happy Traveling!

HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

April 1, 2012

Tags: Poetry Month, poetry

Yay! It's Poetry Month. So much is going on in the Kidlitosphere, and I'm tickled to be participating in a few fun blogs. (Click HERE for a rundown and check out these great blogs all month.) Irene Latham has organized a KidLit Progressive Poem for starters - see below for the schedule! (And check back here April 4 to see what I come up with when the poem stops by here.) I'm thrilled I'll be visiting the terrific blogs of Jama Rattigan and Laura Shovan this month, and hosting Poetry Friday here this week. I've got some great interviews with poets lined up for Poetry Fridays, too. So be in touch, and Happy Poetry Month!

2012 KidLit Progressive Poem:  watch a poem grow day-by-day as it
travels across the Kidlitosphere! April 1-30




Schedule


1  Irene at Live Your Poem 


2  Doraine at Dori Reads


3  Jeannine at View from a Window Seat


4  Robyn at Read, Write, Howl


5  Susan at Susan Taylor Brown


6  Mary Lee at A Year of Reading


7  Penny at A Penny and her Jots

8  Jone at Deo Writer


9  Gina at Swagger
Writer's


10  Julie at The Drift Record


11  Kate at Book Aunt


12  Anastasia Suen at Booktalking



14  Diane at Random Noodling



16  Natalie at Wading Through Words 


17  Tara at A Teaching Life


18  Amy  at The Poem Farm


19  Lori at Habitual Rhymer



21  Myra at Gathering Books


22  Pat at Writer on a Horse


23  Miranda at Miranda Paul Books 


24  Linda at TeacherDance


25  Greg at Gotta Book


26  Renee at No Water River


27  Linda at Write Time

28  Caroline at Caroline by Line

29  Sheri at Sheri Doyle

30  Irene at Live Your Poem



Poetry Friday: Nancy Raines Day brings us A IS FOR ALLIGUITAR

March 30, 2012

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

Fans of Nancy Raines Day’s wordplay are in for a treat. Her newest picture book, A IS FOR ALLIGUITAR - Musical Alphabeasts (Pelican Publishing, Spring 2012) is a unique abecedarium - chock-full of fun animal/instrument combinations.

Since Nancy’s first picture book, THE LION’S WHISKERS, appeared in 1995, she’s published half a dozen more. All have poetic language, and some of them rhyme, like her rollicking ON A WINDY NIGHT (Abrams) (see my blog post here) and DOUBLE THOSE WHEELS (Dutton).

In her new book, each letter of the alphabet comes to life in an unexpected way. The Illustrations by Herb Leonhard are colorful and full of expression and movement. (And what a challenge it must have been to visually create, say, a “harpoodle” or an “organutan.”) For insight into Leonhard’s process in bringing to life these “alphabeasts,” which involved traditional and digital painting techniques, see his comments here on Nancy’s website.

Here’s how the story starts:

Animals, instruments,
swing all around,
Mix - one for each letter -
now how do they sound?


Some of Nancy’s own favorite characters begin the adventure:

A
is for alliguitar,
who has his
own picks.

B
is for banjaguar,
who plays some
hot licks


Another of her favorite spreads is one I’m especially drawn to:

S
is for saxofox,
with velvet-toned
tail.

T
is for tromboa,
who really can
wail.


I’m swayin’ to the music, baby.

Nancy adds, “My fellow University of Michigan alumni friends get a kick out of the wolbourines.”

Before becoming a children’s author, Nancy wrote in some form or fashion throughout her life. As a child, she “published a newspaper written on leaves with ‘ink’ from squished berries and charged 25 cents in hickory nut money.”

I asked Nancy a couple of questions about this new book.

How did you get the idea for ALLIGUITAR?

“I was standing on the St. Simons (Georgia) pier, thinking about going to a reunion concert of the youth orchestra I played viola with in high school--all the different instruments and the people who played them. Some tourists on the pier were talking about just having seen an alligator in the water. So, while scanning the water for an alligator and thinking about instruments, my wires got crossed and I said "Alliguitar".

I wondered if I could come up with a combination like that for every letter of the alphabet. Mostly, I did it for my own entertainment. (Some people do crossword puzzles; I set myself these little challenges.) Then I wondered if I could put it all in rhyme, which--this time--came easily. It was a gift.


What fun! What was the most challenging part of the project?

The most challenging part was probably coming up with the animal/instrument combinations. Google was a big help for finding lists of animals and instruments that started with the right letter or sound. It also helped in trying to come up with scenarios to pair the two musical alphabeasts in the same stanza and spread. For instance, googling ibis and jackal, I discovered the Egyptians had two gods, one with the head of an ibis and another with the head of a jackal.

Those ancient Egyptians had some intriguing deities. Thanks for stopping in, Nancy!

Young readers will love the creative letter/instrument combinations that form each colorful "alphabeast" - and they will likely come up with their own! Learn more about Nancy and her work at her website.

And to fill your universe with more great poetry, click on over to visit Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup. [Next week, the Roundup will be HERE! :0) ]

Poetry Friday: Cherry Blossoms, Anyone?

March 22, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

By A. E. Housman

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

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


Please click HERE to read the final stanza.

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

Poetry Friday: A Touch of Ireland with an Eavan Boland poem

March 16, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, writing life

Wicklow Mountains, Ireland - from a family trip in 1996

Wishing everyone good luck in the MADNESS Poetry Tournament over at Think, Kid, Think. Thanks to Ed DeCaria for putting this together - it's been a lot of fun and it's only the beginning!

I had to come up with a poem containing the word "unnatural," pitted against Darren Sardelli's poem using the word "thawed." Voting for our match-up continues until about 11 p.m. tonight, by the way, HERE.


So my thoughts turn to Ireland this St. Patrick's Day weekend, and the wonderful contemporary Irish poet Eavan Boland, whose work I've shared before. The poem below, which is new to me, is one a reader can revisit and glean something new each time. Boland's writing is so very evocative.

Irish Interior
by Eavan Boland
(excerpt)

The woman sits and spins. She makes no sound.
The man behind her stands by the door.
There is always this: a background, a foreground.

This much we know. They do not want to be here.
The year is 1890. Before the inks are dry
Parnell will fall and orchards burn where the two
Captains - Moonlight, Boycott - have had their way.

She has a spinning wheel. He has a loom.
She has a shawl. He stands beside a landscape -
maybe a river, maybe hills, maybe even a farm ... .


Please click here to read the rest of the poem.

And try your luck with more great poetry at Gotta Book, where Greg has the Poetry Friday Roundup!

March Madness for Kids' Poetry!

March 12, 2012

Tags: poetry

Blogger Ed DeCaria of Think, Kid, Think!(http://www.thinkkidthink.com/) has come up with a fun/friendly(?) competition for those of us who love wordplay as much as (or more than) basketball. Sixty-four children's poets from around the world have signed on to participate in the Madness! 2012 kids’ poetry tournament. Participants include everyone from well-published poets (Jane Yolen) to pre-published poets.

These randomly-chosen brackets have just been announced, and first round "play" begins tonight. Voting should begin Wednesday morning if I understand it all correctly. Winning poems move on to the next round. Go check it out! And vote for your favorite poems.

A great way to get in shape for Poetry Month in April, no?

Here's a link to the rules.

Let the games begin!

Poetry Friday: Happy Haiku-ing

March 8, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


the big dipper
my dog keeps searching
for the right spot


G.R. LeBlanc


cicada song
Spanish moss dipped
in sunlight


Robyn Hood Black


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

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

Poetry Friday: In the Wilderness with Carl Sandburg

March 2, 2012

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

illustration © Colin Howard from WOLVES.

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

Wilderness

by Carl Sandburg


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

[...]

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


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

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

Breezes - Southern and Otherwise

February 24, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, journals, SCBWI, Southern Breeze

As the winds whip outside the Century Center Marriott in Atlanta, we are looking forward to a great weekend for our 20th Anniversary SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle, coordinated by yours truly. I won't have time to visit all the great Poetry Friday blogs until after Sunday, but I wanted to share a little good news Gisele pointed me to this week.

I was thrilled when MODERN HAIKU accepted a submission of mine for the current, hot-off-the-press issue. I was even more thrilled to learn that my haiku was selected for the online sample pages featuring some of the haiku and senryu in the current print edition. (Mine is the first on the page; sometimes it's nice having a last name starting with "B".) My haiku was written as winter knocked on fall's door. Now the breezes are are blowing again as winter hangs on in the face of spring, right around the corner.

Click here to read it and several other poems from the current issue.

Then head on over to visit Jone at Check it Out for this week's Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday - two poets across three centuries and one big ocean

February 16, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, writing life, SCBWI, Southern Breeze

I'm in the throes of a zillion details, finalizing plans for our SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle conference I'm coordinating in Atlanta next weekend.

So I was in the mood to find a poem that reflected the camaraderie of writers, and I stumbled upon one which was different from what I had in mind, but is perfect. (At least to me.) I admire both its author and subject and am delighted to discover and share it.

Contemporary Irish poet Eavan Boland reaches across a few centuries and a big wide ocean to touch hands and poetic sensibilities with our own 17th Century's Anne Bradstreet. Here is an excerpt:

Becoming Anne Bradstreet

by Eavan Boland

It happens again
As soon as I take down her book and open it.

I turn the page.
My skies rise higher and hang younger stars.

The ship's rail freezes.
Mare Hibernicum leads to Anne Bradstreet's coast.

A blackbird leaves her pine trees
And lands in my spruce trees. ...


(Read the rest of this poem here.)

But wait, there's more! This poem is featured in a brand-new Folger Shakespeare Library's exhibit and chapbook Shakespeare’s Sisters: Women Writers Bridge Five Centuries, pairing contemporary poets with poets who wrote between 1500 - 1700. For a real treat, click here for an interview with Eavan Boland featuring her commentary on Anne Bradstreet's poetry and to hear her read both Bradstreet's poetry and her own new poem I'm celebrating here. (An interesting discussion of the individual artist vs. the collective culture in early colonial America, too!)

For a heart-shaped box full of poetic cameraderie, and the lure of Valentines strange and wonderful, visit the beautiful Myra at Gathering Books for the Poetry Friday Roundup!

Poetry Friday: The Big Bad Wolf has his Say

February 9, 2012

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

I’m always curious about how animals are depicted in stories, myths, folktales and art. As well as in the media – I haven’t yet seen it, but this week’s TIME has an intriguing cover story about a scientific examination of friendships between animals.
One of my favorite spreads in my WOLVES book is a brief look at “The Mythical Wolf.” For the illustration, I suggested a human in wolf clothing on one side (an indigenous person wearing a wolf pelt as a sign of admiration), and a wolf in human clothing (think of our Western “big bad wolf”) on the other. Colin Howard produced brilliant artwork.

I recently ran across this poem, “The Wolf’s Postscript to ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ ” by Agha Shahid Ali (1949 – 2001, credited with introducing the classical form of the ghazal to American readers). In the poem below, I fell in love with the speaker’s dry, sophisticated voice. See if you don’t agree it’s dark and delicious (and rather sad, too):

The Wolf’s Postscript to ‘Little Red Riding Hood’
(excerpt)

by Agha Shahid Ali

First, grant me my sense of history:
I did it for posterity,
for kindergarten teachers
and a clear moral:
Little girls shouldn't wander off
in search of strange flowers,
and they mustn't speak to strangers.

And then grant me my generous sense of plot:
Couldn't I have gobbled her up
right there in the jungle? …



Click here for the rest of the poem.

And be sure to check out the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by Laura this week at Writing the World for Kids.

Poetry Friday: Dragony Delights

February 3, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, dragons, book tracks, school visits

SIR MIKE, Scholastic, illustrations © David Murphy;

dragon print ©Robyn Hood Black
SIR MIKE, my rhyming Rookie Reader from Scholastic (2005) features a boy preparing to fight what he’s sure is a dragon in his back yard, rustling in the bushes.
It begins:

I am Sir Mike.
I am a knight.

If I see a dragon,
I might have to fight.


(By the way, a friend called to tell me there’s a new Nickelodeon show launching TODAY called MIKE THE KNIGHT, and she’s sure I should have gotten some royalties or something. The characters even favor each other! I only wish….)

Anyway, last night Kilough Elementary School here in Georgia invited me to come for an Author’s Night with a SIR MIKE and dragon theme. I spoke to students and families about writing, and then we all settled in for a viewing of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. An awesome evening! Great kids (some in PJs), gracious faculty and volunteers, and fun families.

All of this dragon-speak put me in the mind to share a dragon poem or two.
The first is a short, wonderful poem by X. J. Kennedy,

My Dragon
by X. J. Kennedy
(excerpt)

I have a purple dragon with
A long brass tail that clangs,
And anyone not nice to me
Soon feels his fiery fangs. …


Please read the rest here.

For a longer dragony frolic, enjoy Ogden Nash’s unlikely and cowardly hero, Custard - originally published in 1936.

THE TALE OF CUSTARD THE DRAGON
By Ogden Nash
Copyright Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt
(excerpt)

Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio, daggers on his toes.

Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage. …


You can read the rest of this first adventure here or in one of the book editions.


For more adventures in poetry, check out the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted today by Karissa at
The Iris Chronicles.

Carrying Beauty with Laura Shovan

January 26, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, writing life

It's my honor to share today a poem from one of Poetry Friday's own - Laura Shovan, whose publishing credits and awards leave a long trail. Among other things, Laura has been an Artist-in-Education for the Maryland State Arts Council, leading poetry workshops for kids, since 2002. She's been active in the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation's Poetry Program as well.

I recently bought her collection, MOUNTAIN, LOG, SALT and STONE, and found myself nodding and pondering throughout. The book was published as the first winner of the Harris Poetry Prize, sponsored by CityLit Press. I love the peeks it offers into specific moments in our lives, especially as women - relationships with our grandmothers, our mothers, our children, our partners - as we grow from children to parents ourselves. In such short spaces she captures love and loss and also bits of the beauty and shock of the natural world.

2009 Contest Judge Michael Salcman puts it better than I: "Laura Shovan enlivens her quotidian subjects... with a shrewd and powerful use of metaphor, a critical strategy all too often neglected in contemporary work."

Let me share one of my favorites, the last in the chapbook, reproduced here with her permission - and then I'll share Laura's comments about how it came to be.

Because We Were Rushing to Catch the Bus


we did not notice the rain.
Too late for umbrellas,
we ran down the sidewalk,
wishing we'd taken the car.

Because we ran
under rain soaked trees,
the children's heads were damp
when I kissed them at the corner.

Because the children were gone,
I walked home alone.
Dishes in the sink
waiting.

Because of the dishes
I bent my head
before the kitchen window.
A petal fell from my hair -

a pink thumbprint against metal,
pink against the gray day,
pink against the absence of children.
It shook me awake.

Because we were rushing to catch the bus
I carried beauty, unknowing.


I was struck by the poem's comforting rhythm and seeming simplicity - and my "haiku sensibilities" immediately fell in love with that lone pink petal. Laura explains that it was written as a response to
William Stafford's "The Light by the Barn," which I trust it's all right to share here for purposes of discussion:

The Light by the Barn
by William Stafford

The light by the barn that shines all night
pales at dawn when a little breeze comes.

A little breeze comes breathing the fields
from their sleep and waking the slow windmill.

The slow windmill sings the long day
about anguish and loss to the chickens at work.

The little breeze follows the slow windmill
and the chickens at work till the sun goes down –

Then the light by the barn again.


Says Laura: I was trying to mirror both the tone and the form, which has a kind of “wrapped” effect. At the same time, my own poem deals with an important topic in my writing life – how paying attention, not getting “wrapped” up in the routine, can bring moments of awareness and beauty, moments of appreciation. That smoky smell of the children’s hair would probably be lost to me if I had not sat to write about the petal that morning.

Laura posted more about William Stafford, in honor of his birthday, in her blog post for last week's Poetry Friday over at Author Amok. That post, by the way, also featuers another great poem from MOUNTAIN, LOG, SALT, and STONE.

I love all the sparkly connections Poetry Friday can make!


Be sure to catch all the rest of the great poetry Jim as rounded up for Poetry Friday this week at Hey, Jim Hill!.

Happy New Haiku Year

January 12, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, authors, journals, speaking, writing life

I hope 2012 is off to a great start for you. I’m looking forward to a year of reading, writing, art and spending time with all kinds of readers, writers, and artists.

I’ll continue my haiku journey. What a thrill to learn my proposal for the 43rd Annual Children’s Literature Conference in Georgia this spring was accepted: a workshop titled, “Haiku How-to.” I look forward to sharing ways to explore haiku in the classroom with teachers, media specialists, and other lovers of children’s literature.

Also, I’m happy to celebrate some recent acceptances – my haiku will appear in the next issues of Modern Haiku, The Heron’s Nest, and A Hundred Gourds.

In the current (December) issue of Notes from the Gean, I have a lighthearted poem on p. 42:

autumn breeze
escorted to the mailbox
by an acorn


~ Notes from the Gean, December 2011

and then this one, on the same page:

same blue
as ten years ago
empty sky


~ Notes from the Gean, December 2011

I wrote that haiku on a cloudless early September day, when the depth of my sadness upon the tenth anniversary of 9/11 caught me off guard.

(Be sure to check out Diane Mayr’s wonderful haiga in this same issue on p. 47.)

Poet, friend, and Berry Blue Haiku editor Gisele LeBlanc (click here and here for recent posts featuring Gisele) has had haiku in several issues of Notes from the Gean, including these two:

in an urban sky
birds shift in unison-
drifting ice


~ Notes from the Gean, September 2010

Virgin Islands-
laughing gulls mingle
on the beach


~ Notes from the Gean, June 2011

Notes from the Gean features haiku, tanka, haiga, haibun, linked forms, and resources (interviews, essays, reviews). Published quarterly, it’s one of several great resources for enjoying and learning about haiku and related genres.

To enjoy more great poetry in a variety of forms, check out the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted today by Tara at A Teaching Life.

Poetry Friday - "The Words Under the Words" by Naomi Shihab Nye

January 6, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry

Happy 2012!

I've missed Poetry Friday these last couple of weeks - both Fridays found us on the road chalking up miles and memories with holiday travelling.

I'm looking forward to reading and writing lots of poetry this year. In March, I'll be presenting a workshop on haiku at the 43rd Annual Children's Literature Conference at the University of Georgia. In May, I'll head up to Boyds Mills to attend the "Poetry For All" Founders workshop.

So I'm starting the year off thinking about words, and acknowledging the need to slow down and ponder and appreciate. I came across this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, and I'm thinking the words and hands of a wise grandmother from a different culture can help light the way, not just for poetry but for peaceful living.

The Words Under the Words

by Naomi Shihab Nye

for Sitti Khadra, north of Jerusalem

My grandmother's hands recognize grapes,
the damp shine of a goat's new skin.
When I was sick they followed me,
I woke from the long fever to find them
covering my head like cool prayers.

My grandmother's days are made of bread,
a round pat-pat and the slow baking.
She waits by the oven watching a strange car
circle the streets. Maybe it holds her son,
lost to America. More often, tourists,
who kneel and weep at mysterious shrines.
She knows how often mail arrives,
how rarely there is a letter.
When one comes, she announces it, a miracle,
listening to it read again and again
in the dim evening light.

My grandmother's voice says nothing can surprise her.
Take her the shotgun wound and the crippled baby.
She knows the spaces we travel through,
the messages we cannot send—our voices are short
and would get lost on the journey. ...


Read the rest of this poem and its powerful ending here.

And for more great poetry to lead you on your way this new year, catch the Poetry Friday Roundup rounded up by JoAnn at Teaching Authors.

Poetry Friday: David L. Harrison is here!

December 16, 2011

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A Chip of Flint

See this?
Too thin
for an arrowhead.

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

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

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

I accept it
as a gift
from an unknown hand.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you tempt us with a poem or excerpt?

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

Free at Last

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

Fish are bucking,
throwing water
off slippery backs.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poetry Friday is Here! A Web of Treasures…

December 9, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

spiderwebs

by David Harrison

Webs sparkle
on the lawn
like diamond
necklaces
at dawn.

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

Silently they
look and lurk.

Time now for
spider work.


(Used with permission from the author.)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poetry Friday - Thinking Snow...

December 2, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings

© Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved

During some snow days last year, my hubby and son had a little fun making a Snow Buddha.
December!

Okay, it’s well above freezing and sunny today here in the north Georgia mountains, but there were a few flurries afoot just a few days ago. We usually eke out a handful of snow days in the season. Before you Northerners scoff at our weather wimpy-ness, remember – no one around here has chains for tires, and the cities don’t have a lot of heavy equipment. Plus, we’ll take a heavy dusting of snow or ice as an excuse to sit by the fire and drink hot chocolate. And read, read, read!
Since winter’s on its way, I thought we’d ring it in with Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882):

The Snow-Storm


Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,

Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,

Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air

Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,

And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.

The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet

Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit

Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed

In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

....


Don’t you love that “tumultuous privacy of storm”? You can read the rest of the poem here, and cozy up to some more great poetry with Carol at Carol’s Corner for the Poetry Friday Roundup. [Which, by the way, will be HERE next week! :0) ]

Poetry Friday - Grace with G. K. Chesterton

November 25, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, writing life, ponderings

© Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved
This post-Thanksgiving post comes with gratefulness for so many things, including Poetry Friday!

I've seen the following quote, presented as a poem, in a variety of places lately(online and in a current popular magazine) but did not succeed in tracking down the original source. Yet it was a Chesterson quote I wasn't familiar with, and I wanted to share:

“You say grace before meals.
All right.
But I say grace before the concert and the opera,
and grace before the play and pantomime,
and grace before I open a book,
and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing
and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”


¯ G.K. Chesterton

Sounds like poetry to me, and a gracious way to live.
Avoid the malls today and celebrate a "Black Friday" Poetry Roundup over at My Juicy Little Universe with Heidi!

Poetry Friday - Flat Tires and a poem by Tess Taylor

November 18, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings

Twice in the last couple of weeks, I’ve spent hours waiting on tires to be replaced. First was with my car, not long after we realized that the red plastic top my husband stopped to pick up on the road in front of our house was part of someone’s dislodged tool box, and nails were scattered all over the street.

The fallout didn’t happen for us until the next day, hours away in Nashville, and needing to get the youngest child to a college preview day. (Many thanks to the nice and wise hotel shuttle driver, who said, “Don’t let that flat tire ruin your day!”)

Yesterday aforementioned son called on the way to school and said, “My tire light is on.” Just the sudden changes in weather, I thought, but I switched cars at his school and took the car in for a quick oil change and a check. Five and a half hours later, I was finally leaving – the nail in his tire couldn’t be plugged and the dealer didn’t have the same tire in stock, so we had to wait on one to be delivered….

Well, I met some nice folks in the waiting rooms, because that’s how we do things in the South. I hope Gabriel’s first birthday party went well last night (what an excited young dad), and that the man whose grown daughter with Down’s Syndrome lives in Florida can settle down soon in a house he wants here in Georgia.

What does any of this have to do with elk? Well, nothing – except that in my search for a poem about a flat tire I stumbled on this one, in May’s POETRY which I have but confess must not have read, because this poet and poem were new to me. Somehow it spoke to me today, on the heels of All Souls Day and The Day of the Dead and all, and I found it quite moving:

This is from the last part of

Elk at Tomales Bay
by Tess Taylor
(excerpt)

All bare now except
that fur the red-brown color


of a young boy’s head and also
of wild iris stalks in winter


still clung to the drying scalp.
Below the eye’s rim sagged


       flat as a bicycle tire.


The form was sinking away
The skin loosened, becoming other,


shedding the mask that hides
but must also reveal a creature.


Off amid cliffs and hills
some unfleshed force roamed free. ….



Click here to read the complete poem.

And for more great poetry, visit Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for the Poetry Friday Roundup!

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

November 11, 2011

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

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

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

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

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


after the squall
the tinkling concerto
of sailboats


**Notes from the Gean, December 2010



wild rhubarb
that sudden yearning
for something more


**frogpond, Fall 2011



coastal map
the sand etched
by snails


**Notes from the Gean, June 2011



over stones
the ripple of water
birdsong


**Haiku Pix Review, Summer 2011


Poems ©G. R. LeBlanc
All rights reserved.

More of her haiku can be found here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Critique Guidelines:

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

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

3. Put HAIKU CRITIQUE REQUEST in your subject field.

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

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


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

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

Welcome, Irene Latham!

October 27, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, authors, SCBWI, Southern Breeze, writing life

Irene Latham - poetic tricks and treats!
Irene is here! I’m very happy to share talented poet, friend, and Poetry Friday regular Irene Latham with you today. Her first poetry collection, What Came Before (Negative Capability Press, 2007), was named Alabama State Poetry Society’s Book of the Year and earned a 2008 Independent Publisher’s (IPPY) Award. Irene was 2006 Alabama Poet of the Year, and that was just the beginning. She’s been busy scooping up a lot of (really) good news lately.

Before we get to that, let’s start with one of her poems, perfect for this last weekend in October:

Staffelsee in Autumn

© Irene Latham, all rights reserved
- after the painting by Gabriele Munter (Click here to see the painting.)

When the trees kindle
their fires, when the sky

dissolves the lake and all
the small mysteries

are magnified: the scar
on your elbow, freckled

left earlobe, each line
and hollow accounted for

and made sacred.
We cannot hold onto

these days. A sharp wind
cuts the water into sheets

of ice, leaves crinkle
and curl, the easy gifts

of acorn and walnut
are buried, devoured.

Our fingerprints no
longer visible as breath.



Ah, so beautiful! This is from Irene’s latest volume of poetry, the lovely and evocative The Color of Lost Rooms, which just won the 2011 Writer’s Digest Self-published Book Award for Poetry. Congratulations! How did this particular collection come to be?

Thank you, Robyn, for sharing in my joy. This particular collection has enjoyed quite the evolution. It started as a series of persona poems in the voices of historical women. When I began to submit the manuscript to publishers, I was informed that 1. the spectrum of women I found compelling enough to write about was too broad or 2. the women I chose to feature were not diverse enough to find a readership. Talk about conflicting feedback! So I decided to choose the strongest of the historical women poems and allow them one section of a manuscript.

Meanwhile I was writing a series of poems inspired by a book of postcards featuring art on display at The National Museum of Women in the Arts. And I was, of course, writing more personal poems about my role as a wife, mother, daughter, sister. Long story short: women’s experiences with love and loss and longing became my manuscript’s theme.

Tell us a little bit about your adventures in publishing your own collections.

Poetry is a tough market. I decided to self-publish after attending Colrain Poetry Manuscript conference in 2010. What I learned from Jeffery Levine at Tupelo Press was that “success” in terms of sales is marked by selling 1,000 books in 3 years. And that’s on a national level! I thought, well, I can do that myself.

What was it like to learn about the Writer’s Digest award?

Wow, it’s just so validating. Those Writer’s Digest contests are so competitive… awards can really give a book new life. I feel like I’ve been out on the ocean with sharks circling the boat and now, all of sudden, the sails are billowing again.

Many writers feel that having another arts outlet helps their creativity. You’ve posted pictures of some gorgeous quilts on your blog. How did you get into quilting?

I’m the daughter of a seamstress. I went to sleep many nights to the hum of a sewing machine. And while my mother didn’t quilt, she did create beautiful things out of mere scraps. As soon as I learned from my husband’s grandmother (a quilter) that there really are no rules when it comes to quilting, I knew I had found my sewing home. And then I met the Gee’s Bend quilters… this year I took on the Quilt a Month Challenge, and I’m happy to say I’ve completed it!

Good for you! Speaking of quilting, tell us a little bit about your novels. LEAVING GEE’S BEND (Putnam, 2010) explores an isolated town in Alabama in 1932 through the one good eye of young Ludelphia Bennett, desperate to get her mother the medical care she needs. It’s a terrific read and has garnered the Alabama Library Association 2011 Children's Book Award. It was nominated as a 2011 ALA Notable Children’s Book and for the 2010 Cybils, among other accolades. Booklist called it “authentic and memorable.” How did you come to write Ludelphia’s story?

When I saw the Quilts of Gee’s Bend exhibit at the Whitney Museum, I fell in love with the quilters and their stories and their quilts. I spent the next two years following them around without a thought of writing a book – just as a Gee’s Bend groupie. I listened to hours and hours of audio interviews of the women talking about their lives, and I read voraciously. Then one day, this voice emerged. It was Ludelphia. I knew had to write her story.

Perhaps interesting to the Poetry Friday readers, the novel actually started out as a novel-in-verse. But when I submitted to my now-agent, she said she couldn’t sell it as a novel-in-verse. So I rewrote it in traditional prose. And she sold it right away.

You have another novel slated for release from Roaring Brook next fall (2012). This one is obviously one which will be on my nightstand as soon as it comes out, because it’s about a boy living at a zoo?? Do tell.

I’m so excited about this book! I remember the moment I got the idea: I was in a bookstore with my father (an avid reader – he reads a book a day!) over the Christmas holidays. I had been thinking about how we adults have these passions, but what happens when our children don’t share them? So I said out loud to my father, “how 'bout a story about a boy whose parents are zoo people, and he feels like he was born the wrong species, and he wants to escape the zoo?” My dad laughed, which was a very encouraging sign!

Soon after, Whit was born. The book is really about finding the place where you belong in the world, finding your very own passion and being strong and brave enough to go after that thing, whatever it may be.

Which YOU obviously are. A peek into your writing habits? Are you very structured, or do you pull all-nighters, or both?

I believe strongly that the most important thing I can do for my writing is go out and live a life worth writing about. Which means I don’t necessarily sit at my computer every day. For me, the most important part of the writing is happening all the time, as I engage myself with the world. And then when I do sit down to write, it all burbles out. (I should also say here that when I do write, I WRITE. I like to write a first draft of a novel within a month. It’s pretty intense.)

And now back to poetry. You’ve just sold your first poem in the children’s market. Tell us about it!

Thanks to YOU, and to the lovely Rebecca Kai Dotlich whom you brought to Georgia last June, I discovered some really important things about myself as a poet AND about children’s poetry. I was completely on fire to write after I left that retreat – and did write, incessantly, as the above answer would indicate. My first focus was a series of ocean poems. And the poem Lauren Tarshis at Scholastic’s Storyworks magazine selected was one from that series. It’s a persona poem in the voice of a shipwreck. (Persona poems. I love 'em!)

And I love hearing success stories from our SCBWI Southern Breeze events! - :0) Now, how did you get involved with the Birmingham Arts Journal, which features writing and art from all over the world, and what are your duties as poetry editor? Do any particular types of poetry submissions hold special appeal?

I’ve served as poetry editor for BAJ for eight years now. Basically it involves reading submissions and selecting the poems for inclusion in our quarterly magazine. I’m especially excited about poems that are raw and teeming with emotion. These poems may not be as polished as some that you see in slick-er literary magazines, but I do love working with poets (those who are willing to do so) to help improve the poems. If I see that nugget, I let the poet know and invite him or her to chip away a bit more. Most of the time these poems end up in a future issue.

Finally, do share one tidbit blog readers and even loyal fans might not know about you – pretty please with fat quarters on top?

Mmmmm… anything for fat quarters. ;0) “Irene” is actually my middle name. So when I buy plane tickets or check into hotels, I use my first name (the one on my driver’s license). Which means, from time to time, I say the wrong name and it causes all sorts of confusion. (Parents-to-be: don’t do this to your children!)

Ha! And I see you're still holding out on us about your first name. Well, I'm sure you'll be back... Thanks so much for visiting, Irene!

Thank you, Robyn, for sharing your warm, generous spirit, and for all you do to support writers. (Readers, if Robyn is hosting an event, you do NOT want to miss it! Springmingle is coming in February…)

(Thanks for the plug!) To learn more about Irene, click here. And for more great poetry, take your trick-or-treat bag over to Diane at Random Noodling for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

An Unmown Sky - Haiku from Croatia

October 25, 2011

Tags: poetry, haiku, Berry Blue Haiku

Over at the Berry Blue Haiku blog, Gisele has posted today a rare and wonderful haiku feast if you want to broaden your horizons and indulge in fine writing from another culture.

Djurdja Vukelic-Rozic, an award-winning and widely published haiku poet, translator and editor who lives in Ivanic Grad, has shared An Unmown Sky: An Anthology of Croatian Haiku Poetry with us. You can click on the link in the post to read and/or download the pdf anthology, which includes works written between 1996 and 2007 by more than a hundred poets.

Here's the link again: Berry Blue Haiku - Enjoy!

Have You Hugged Your Wolf Today?

October 20, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, wolves, Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, animals

To celebrate Wolf Awareness Week (Oct. 16-22), I thought I’d celebrate with some pack-related poetry. I have the privilege of volunteering with a couple of wolves at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve in Dahlonega, Ga. In light of the news this week, I’m sure I’m not the only one with a heavy heart for the senseless loss of animal life in Ohio, and also for the law enforcement officers who had a terrible but unavoidable task to protect the public. Surely laws in that state regarding the keeping of exotic animals will be strengthened now.

If you happen to be in north Georgia, I'll be presenting a session for kids featuring wolf information next month on Sat., Nov. 12, at 3 p.m. at the Dahlonega Literary Festival.

Here are a couple of poems I wrote a while back about the captive wolves I’ve been honored to know.


The Bottom Line


Sit, Luna.

I hold a piece of cheese above her nose.
Her back end hits the ground.

But she knows and I know:

A wolf only sits if she wants to.


© Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved


Butterfly Dance


Yellow butterfly
flits and floats outside the pen.

Gray wolf leaps and prances inside -
matching movements,
up and down,
following buttery wings.

La Mariposa.

Musky, muscular,
magnificent
she-wolf
dances

the

Butterfly Dance.


© Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved

Note: In Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes describes a solo tribal dance in New Mexico called the “Butterfly Dance.” Traditionally, Hopi youth perform a social dance called “The Butterfly Dance” in late summer.

Attempts are ongoing in the Southwestern United States to reintroduce the Mexican Wolf, the most genetically distinct type of gray wolf. Efforts have not met with the same success as the reintroduction of wolves in the greater Rockies. For updated USFWS Mexican wolf information, click here and here.

And for wonderful poetry, go see what Jama’s got cookin’ for the
Poetry Friday Roundup.

Welcome, Steven Withrow!

October 7, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, authors, illustrators

Steven Withrow pictured with his lovely daughter
I’m delighted to feature Steven Withrow as our special guest today. This poet, storyteller, and author is a passionate advocate for young people’s literature and serves as an advisor to the Keene State Children’s Literature Festival.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Roger Williams University and a master’s degree from Emerson College. With director Edward J. Delaney, he produced the documentary, Library of the Early Mind.

Steven has taught at Rhode Island School of Design and Suffolk University and has spoken to audiences across North America. He’s authored six books for visual artists and storytellers, including Illustrating Children’s Picture Books (written with his talented wife, Lesley Breen Withrow). It’s a terrific book, and I will feature it soon on this blog.

But today…Poetry!

Welcome, Steven! You have so many talents and interests. Where to start?! How about telling us when and how you first fell in love with poetry.


I don’t remember a single moment of my life when I wasn’t in love with words—and all the syllables and sound clusters that make up words. I’m still more interested in how words touch the ears and how they taste on the tongue than in what they mean. The first poem I memorized, in second grade, was Karla Kuskin’s “Write About a Radish” from Dogs & Dragons, Trees & Dreams. I still know it by heart. I’ve been reveling in poetry and story ever since.

You recently released your first collection of poems for adults as a digital book, Crackles of Speech, available to readers who contact you through your website. What a breadth of subjects, forms, and treatments! Here’s a very small (and insufficient) sampling:

From many nods to the natural world, these lines from “Rooting” –

Hooray hurrah huzzah - for tap, sap, font, and source,
For fingertips of gymnosperms planting gymnastic handstands,
For bending straws of sycamores slurping the groundwater,
For xylem and phloem fixed in daylong flux…,

and an example of a historical reference, with these lines from “Cost of Battle, 48 B. C.” –

His helmet lost - a boy no more than twelve
Conscripted from the town by Pompey’s men -
I hesitate, but only for a flash,
Before I bring the spearhead down. …

and several touching musings on love and family, such as these closing lines of
“Lessons Fathers Only Learn at Home”

I look over at my burbling girl,
once the white and flattened face
of the moon in a sonogram photo,
the now-calm eye at the center
of this maelstrom’s crushing path,
this aftermath, and I start to laugh
at all my wild and cataclysmic joys.

I can’t tell you how much I love “all my wild and cataclysmic joys”! Speaking of children, you are especially interested in and committed to poetry for young readers. And your poem “Cornered” appears in the just-released p*tag, the second digital collection (this one featuring poetry for teens) from Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. What was it like writing for that project?


Thank you for your kind words about my poems in Crackles of Speech, which is a real miscellany of my work for adults written over a six-year period.

Regarding p*tag, I’ll say first what a stupendous honor it is to be included among such stellar poets as Naomi Shihab Nye and J. Patrick Lewis. Choosing a single photograph for inspiration, from a batch of dozens, was a matter of instinct.

I selected one titled “Corner” that shows the meeting of two walls inside an elaborately decorated church. I thought of how two people meet and fall in love. Borrowing four words from the Jeannine Atkins’s poem that precedes mine—ancient, saved, heart, corner—helped me to solidify my poem’s basic imagery. It was challenging to write and revise a poem within 48 hours—I usually draft poems quickly and often revise over the course of several weeks—but it was the best sort of challenge.

I’m always curious about creative work habits. Do you keep a set writing schedule, or write in fits and flurries, or both?

Given all that I’ve got going on, I write whenever and wherever I can. I’m trying to be more systematic about it, to make it a genuine practice, but it’s often catch-as-catch-can. I always write stories on paper or on the computer, but with poems, I’ll often “compose” silently in my mind while I’m taking a walk or washing dishes, or I’ll speak them aloud while I’m driving alone. As I noted before, I write for the ears and for the tongue. I revise on the computer—but the true test is whether I enjoy saying a poem out loud.

Are your collections born from a theme first or strung together from existing poems?

I’ve written several, as-yet-unpublished children’s collections, and all but one (my first) started with a central theme. I’m told it helps collections sell to editors and book buyers, though I’ve always preferred a grab bag of poems in a single book.

You have just started a grassroots, nonprofit organization, Poetry Advocates for Children & Young Adults, “celebrating poetry as a living thing.” Tell us about it! Who can join, and how do folks get involved?

All that I might say about PACYA can be found at http://poetryadvocates.wordpress.com, especially in this short essay. I invite everyone to get involved and help spread the word.

Finally, are there a few more lines you’d like to leave us with?

Releasing Butterflies
By Steven Withrow

Something seamy and unseemly in the name
they carry, painted ladies, pins a sordid shame

in fore- and hindwing, but its sting recedes in flight,
for they are dazzlers as they grab the air, these brightly

spotted Cynthias of a genus called Vanessa:
you laugh to draw the last, and dub her Iridessa.


[©2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved]

Ahh... - delgihtful! Many thanks for visiting, Steven, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

To learn more, visit Steven at his poetry blog, Crackles of Speech, and at the Poetry at Play blog. For more great poetry, click over to the Poetry Friday Roundup at Great Kid Books!

Birds on the Wing and a poem by Linda Pastan

September 29, 2011

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

© Robyn Hood Black

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

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

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

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

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

excerpt from The Birds
by Linda Pastan

The Birds

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

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

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

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


Snakes on a Blog, and a Jane Hirshfield poem

September 23, 2011

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

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

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

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

excerpt from “The Envoy”

Jane Hirshfield

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Of wee things and fairy dust...

September 16, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, ponderings

A cantaloupe no bigger than an apple! For dinner, I halved it and put into two wee dishes, and my hubby filled the centers with grapes. ;0)
Some of you may recall my tragic garden-variety tale of a plundered cantaloupe a few weeks back.

Imagine my delight to discover a wee little cantaloupe this week, stem drying out and ready for “picking,” near the same spot. I’ve always been fascinated by tiny things and spent endless hours pretending I was one of Mary Norton’s "Borrowers" growing up!

So this week I’m offering a nod to all diminutive folk with a poem from Rose Fyleman (1877–1957). Her Wikipedia bio states that her her first publication, "There are Fairies at the Bottom of Our Garden," appeared in Punch in May of 1917. [I also like stories of people making their first splash into publishing at age 40 or later - ;0) ]

While I wouldn’t say the writing is spectacular, I personally needed something as light as fairy dust after a week of such heavy remembrances.

Enjoy!

“The Best Game the Fairies Play”

by Rose Fyleman

The best game the fairies play,
The best game of all,
Is sliding down steeples—
(You know they’re very tall).
You fly to the weathercock,
And when you hear it crow,
You fold your wings and clutch your things
And then let go! …


For the rest of the poem, click here.

To slide down more poems, visit Amy at The Poem Farm for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

Every Second Something Happens with Melanie Hall

September 9, 2011

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

Robyn with Melanie Hall, illustrator of Every Second Something Happens and much more...
I'm still relishing my Highlights Founders Workshop in Advanced Illustration last weekend, and praying for the folks in that region facing floods this week. I'll conjure up a recap soon.

One highlight was meeting award-winning Melanie Hall, who has illustrated several volumes of poetry. I cornered her for some tips and she kindly offered insights and encouragement. Her exuberant illustrations reflect her joyous, infectious spirit. She uses a variety of media to create her colorful illustrations, which are often full of movement.

We took a close look at Every Second Something Happens - Poems for the Mind and Senses, selected by Christine San Jose and Bill Johnson (Wordsong, 2009). I particularly love the variety of pictures and the generous amounts of white space giving the poems room to breathe. Melanie designed the book with Boyds Mills's Tim Gillner.

The book offers a multiple intelligences approach to organizing the poems. From the Note to Parents: "We've organized the verse in a way that follows the natural human approaches to making sense of the world: through language, senses (eyes, ears, movement), rational thinking, dealing with others, and knowledge of ourselves. ...So this book might quite rightly be reckoned as poetry in the service of children's intellectual development. But we confess that for us it's the other way around: helping children use all their native wits and sensitivities to discover the myriad delights of poetry."

Poems by children, with names and ages listed, appear alongside works by David L. Harrison, Lucille Clifton, Dawn Watkins, and Shakespeare - just to name a few. (The book's title comes from a poem by six-year-old Sam.)

Rebecca Kai Dotlich's "A Circle of Sun" is included in the "Wiggle, Waggle, Shimmy, Shake" section. (Melanie also illustrated Rebecca's collection, Over in the Pink House.) I've used "A Circle of Sun" with very young students in school visits, and they love acting it out. Here are a few lines from the middle - for the complete poem, see Lemonade Sun or this anthology!

Excerpt from "A Circle of Sun"
by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

I gallop.
I grin.
I giggle.
I shout.
I'm Earth's many colors.
I'm morning and night.
I'm honey on toast.
I'm funny.
I'm bright.


Bright is the perfect word to describe Melanie Hall's contribution to poetry collections, including this one.

Katie has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Secrets & Sharing Soda.

Happy Birthday to Paul Fleischman from Honesdale, Pa.

September 2, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, illustrators, writing life, SCBWI, Southern Breeze, conferences, workshops

Robyn at the Highlights offices in 2009
Greetings from Honesdale, Pennsylvania, this morning, where I’ll attempt to find an internet connection and connect to Poetry Friday! I’m attending my second Highlights Founders Workshop up in the beautiful mountains here. My first was a poetry workshop; this time around is an illustrators’ workshop with an amazing faculty (and attendees, for that matter!).

Perusing Lee Bennett Hopkins’s DAYS TO CELEBRATE this past week, I discovered that Monday (Sept. 5) is the birthday of the one and only Paul Fleischman. We SCBWI Southern Breezers had the honor of hosting Paul for our 2008 fall conference. (This is all related, really.)

I appreciated Paul’s keynote address on “found sculpture,” in which he described his own creative pursuits outside of writing. He shared that creative energy put into something “non-writing” will “flow into your writing,” noting that: “Art is problem-solving. Art is difficult.”

I for one am thrilled he’s let his own creative energy flow into so many wonderful works. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Paul Fleischman!

Let’s celebrate with a few lines from the 1989 Newbery Medal-winning JOYFUL NOISE – Poems for Two Voices (illustrated by Eric Beddows).

Fireflies

Light    Light

        is the ink we use

Night     Night

is our parchment

        We’re

        fireflies

fireflies      flickering

flirting

        flashing


For the rest of the poem (and proper formatting!), click over to the excerpt on Paul’s website .

The scope of Paul’s work is dizzying, and he has been named by The U.S. Board on Books for Young People as the United States' Author Award nominee for the 2012 Hans Christian Andersen Award , given every other year to “an author and illustrator for a body of work judged to have made lasting contributions to children's literature.” (Back to art – the amazing Chris Raschka is the U.S. nominee for the Illustration Award!) Winners are announced at the Bologna Book Fair.

Let me close with a quote from that 2008 keynote just for Jama, in case she drops by: “Serendipity is one of your four food groups, you know? Enjoy it!”

To enjoy more great poetry, head over to the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted today by Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect .

Celebrating Randolph Caldecott

August 26, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, illustrators, history, book tracks

© Robyn Hood Black

Randolph Caldecott's grave in Evergreen Cemetery, St. Augustine, Florida, and my quick sketch of it.
A couple of weeks ago, my family had a long weekend vacation in one of our favorite spots, and a place I remember fondly from growing up in Florida, St. Augustine.

Last time we were there, I met a delightful young children’s writer working at the Spanish Quarter (a living history complex) who shared this gem with me: Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886) is buried there. He had traveled to the climate in an attempt to improve his ailing health, but died soon after arriving, a month shy of his 40th birthday. The Caldecott Medal , given to “the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children” was first awarded in 1938.

On our previous trip, and again this time, I went to pay my respects at his grave. [This year I was particularly keen to go, since next weekend I’m heading up to a Highlights Founders Workshop
for illustrators. Yee-hi! I’ve been to one other – on poetry.]

Evergreen Cemetery is unassuming and off the beaten path, but peaceful and well maintained. My only real company both times included birds (woodpeckers, a hawk, and others) and squirrels and some lively Florida bugs.

The grave is maintained by the Friends of the Library of St. Johns County, Inc., and the Randolph Caldecott Society of America . A 2005 plaque on the grave reads: “…As a tribute to his life and art, this burial site is designated a Literary Landmark by Friends of Libraries USA.”

One of my favorite books is Randolph Caldecott’s Picture Books (Huntington Library Classics, 2007), which includes copies of nine of the works in the Library’s collection (songs and rhymes made into books), including The Three Jovial Huntsmen and The Diverting History of John Gilpin. I particularly like the note in the introduction that in Sing a Song for Sixpence, Caldecott “ didn’t want children to think that the maid had permanently lost her nose to the blackbird…,” and therefore he added a verse:

The Maid was in the Garden
Hanging out the Clothes-;
There came a little Blackbird,
And snapped off her Nose.
But there came a Jenny Wren
And popped it on again.


The book is beautifully bound with thick, creamy pages perfectly setting off the sepia line drawings and colored wood engravings which still seem fresh today.

Quoting from the Randolph Caldecott Society of America website:

A friend of Mr. Caldecott, Fredrick Locker-Lampson, summed up Randolph Caldecott's work with these words: "It seems to me that Caldecott's art was of a quality that appears about once in a century. It had delightful characteristics most happily blended. He had a delicate fancy, and humor was as racy as it was refined. He had a keen sense of beauty and to sum up all, he had charm."

For more delightful, racy, charming poetry, visit Irene for the Poetry Friday Roundup .

Just to Say...

August 19, 2011

Tags: nature, animals, poetry, Poetry Friday

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

- apologies to William Carlos Williams:


I have eaten
the cantaloupe
that was in
the garden

and which
you were probably
saving
for lunch

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



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

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

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

Haiku book giveaway over at Berry Blue...

August 15, 2011

Tags: poetry, Berry Blue Haiku, haiku

If you haven't checked out the new Berry Blue Haiku blog yet, this would be a great month to do it - Editor Gisele LeBlanc is giving away a special book of haiku written for children.

Simply titled Haiku, it comes from talented haiku poet Kala Ramesh, illustrated by Surabhi Singh. It also comes from India and is not available in North America. [I'd love to have a copy myself!]

Click on over to read a couple of the poems and leave a comment to enter!

Slow wave to the end of summer...

August 11, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry

Still hanging on....
© Robyn Hood Black
Most schools around here started this week; my 16-year-old still has another week before hitting the halls and my 19-year-old has the same before heading back up the road to college. We are squeezing out the last bit of summer with sun and without alarm clocks.

Apologies if anyone else has already posted this, but I thought Jane Kenyon’s “Three Songs for the End of Summer” an appropriate tribute for August:

from
Three Songs for the End of Summer

by Jane Kenyon

A second crop of hay lies cut
and turned. Five gleaming crows
search and peck between the rows.
They make a low, companionable squawk,
and like midwives and undertakers
possess a weird authority.

Crickets leap from the stubble,
parting before me like the Red Sea.
The garden sprawls and spoils. …


I particularly love the “weird authority” ending the first stanza and how “the garden sprawls and spoils” at the end of the second. Please click here to read the rest of the poem.

To savor the end of summer with more great poetry, saunter over to Karen’s for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetic Nod to Cleopatra's Moon

August 5, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, historical fiction, authors, book tracks

It’s a good week for historical fiction in the Atlanta area, specifically, in Decatur. – Lynn Cullen spoke about her hot-off-the-press Reign of Madness (Putnam) Wednesday evening at the Dekalb Library (shout-out post below), and tonight, Vicky Alvear Shecter is launching her YA Cleopatra’s Moon (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic) at The Little Shop of Stories.

I’m lucky to be in a critique group with Vicky and happy to help celebrate. Hence my rather long-ish book spine poem in honor of Cleopatra Selene, daughter of Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony. Caveat: I’m purchasing my book this evening and haven’t read it yet – so I hope my “poem,” scoured after bedtime from bookshelves upstairs and down, is somewhat on target! (Well, books and one DVD case.)

Congratulations to Vicky, whose novel is raking in rave reviews.

Here’s my poetic take on the story, if the titles aren’t clear in the picture:

Cleopatra Rules!
Golden Legacy
Between Parent and Child
Born Free
Girl in a Cage
Another Country
Night
Out of the Depths
New Moon –
Girl in the Mirror
Who Does She Think She Is?


For the Poetry Friday Roundup, start off the new school year with Libby at A Year of Literacy Coaching.

Happy Birthday to a Zedonk, and more...

July 22, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, Chestatee Wildlife Preserve

This week, at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve where I volunteer, we’re celebrating the first birthday of the zoo’s most unusual resident – a lovely zedonk (half-donkey, half-zebra) whose birth last summer surprised even the zoo’s founder and manager, C. W. Wathen. “Pippi” is a big hit with visitors and probably getting plenty of handfuls of corn this weekend from young admirers.

In her honor, here’s part of a poem about her long-ago ancestor:

from “Similar Cases” by
Charlotte Anna Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)

There was once a little animal,
No bigger than a fox,
And on five toes he scampered
Over Tertiary rocks.
They called him Eohippus,
And they called him very small,
And they thought him of no value --
When they thought of him at all;
For the lumpish old Dinoceras
And Coryphodon so slow
Were the heavy aristocracy
In days of long ago.


Said the little Eohippus,
“I am going to be a horse!
And on my middle finger-nails
To run my earthly course!
I’m going to have a flowing tail!
I’m going to have a mane!
I’m going to stand fourteen hands high
On the psychozoic plain!”


Click here to read the rest of this (long) poem.

For even more poetic animal fun, check out Julie Larios’s YELLOW ELEPHANT (illustrated by Julie Paschkis) and Douglas Florian’s MAMMALABILIA (both from Harcourt) and for truly unusual creatures, Jack Prelutsky’s BEHOLD THE BOLD UMBRELLAPHANT (Greenwillow, illustrated by Carin Berger). And for more great poetry, visit Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for the Poetry Friday Roundup!

Bittersweet Benediction

July 8, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, animals

A few days ago I buried one of our beloved cats. He’d been with us a good decade or so, and I’ve shed my share of tears.

I was on the hunt for a good cat poem this week and stumbled upon this humorous, poetic, pseudo-cautionary tale written by Englishman Thomas Gray (1716--1771):

“Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Goldfishes”

I mean, who can resist a title like that?

Silver would forgive my light touch after a heavy heart. He was much too grounded and savvy to have ever gotten himself in the following situation:

...
Still had she gazed; but 'midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide,
The genii of the stream;
Their scaly armour’s Tyrian hue
Through richest purple to the view
Betrayed a golden gleam.

The hapless nymph with wonder saw;
A whisker first and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,
She stretched in vain to reach the prize.
What female heart can gold despise?
What cat’s averse to fish?
...


For what comes before and after, read the whole poem
here.

And for the rest of the Poetry Friday Roundup, please visit Elaine at
Wild Rose Reader.

Gisele LeBlanc and Berry Blue Haiku

July 1, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, Berry Blue Haiku, haiku

Gisele LeBlanc
beach stones
the weathered softness
of old jeans


G. R. LeBlanc
The Heron's Nest, Sept 2010


morning shadows
a band of blue jays
take flight


G. R. LeBlanc
Notes from the Gean, Sept 2010


I’m thrilled to welcome poet and editor Gisele LeBlanc today! She’s checking in all the way from the eastern part of Canada, where she writes poetry and has created and edited two online digital magazines, the most recent one being Berry Blue Haiku, which featured haiku and related forms for children.

You’ll find her own poetry (with the byline of G. R. LeBlanc) in contemporary haiku journals such as The Heron’s Nest, Notes from the Gean, Ambrosia Journal, and A Handful of Stones.

Berry Blue Haiku (the magazine for kids) is no longer publishing, but Gisele will be featuring a simplified version of it—which will be targeted at a more general audience— on her blog. We’ll get to that in a minute.

First, so glad to have you, Gisele! Tell us a little about yourself. Did you always want to be a writer?
(more…)

Primrose Poets

June 24, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, school visits, haiku

Salem, Massachusetts
This week I had the pleasure of visiting with preschoolers through fifth-graders at The Primrose School of Suwanee West (Ga.). I'd been there two years ago, and it was fun seeing how the kids have grown.

Part of our time was spent exploring poetry. To get things rolling, we looked at a picture together (the harbor at Salem, Mass.) and the students came up with a group poem about it.

Here is the list poem written by K-1st graders:

The Harbor

Sailboats
Water
Picket Fence
Sidewalk
Grass
Speedboats
Tree
Sky


Here is a haiku inspired by the same picture, composed by 2nd through 5th graders:

my dad
fishing - listening
to waves crash


I really like that haiku! Here is another, written by Elizabeth when I took that same group outside to observe a bit of the natural world around the playground:

bright sun
soft leaves
Mother Nature's busy


I never tire of the fresh perspectives kids bring to poetry. For more fresh poetry, check out the Poetry Friday Roundup at Carol's Corner.

A Pack of Poets

June 16, 2011

Tags: poetry, SCBWI, Southern Breeze, authors, Poetry Friday, school visits, Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, wolves, workshops

SCBWI Southern Breeze Poetry Retreat with Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Twenty poets gathered in the north Georgia mountains last weekend for an SCBWI Southern Breeze poetry I coordinated with special guest,
Rebecca Kai Dotlich. That thunderstorm mentioned at the end of last week’s post from Rebecca’s poem visited us more than once at the Center for New Beginnings
in Dahlonega, Georgia. We enjoyed sessions with Rebecca, who said her favorite poems offer a *surprise*, wonderful food and fellowship, individual critiques, and sparks of new poems begging to be written.

For more information and pictures, visit my POETRY page and also attendee Jean Matthew Hall’s blog. Doraine Bennett blogged as well at Dori Reads.

This week I also had the privilege of speaking to some upper elementary and middle school writers at Lakeview Academy’s Writers Camp! What a talented group of creative young people.

But wait – there’s more. It was also Zoofari Camp this week at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, and I popped in over there, too. I love talking about writing and also wolf education, so it was a great experience. I even brought Rio down from his pen to say hello to the campers (from a safe distance!). See pictures on my WOLVES and STUDENT GALLERY pages.

Back to the retreat – Rebecca was a terrific good sport out in the woodsy, rustic environment – particularly considering we learned “woodsy” and “rustic” are not really her thing! I have to say I loved running half-wild through the woods as a kid, and I guess I’ve never outgrown it.

Thinking about that, I dug out this poem written soon after I started volunteering with wolves three years ago. (I know – it’s a little strange! But it still applies.)


"Breath of Fresh Hair"


Sometimes the wolf smell lingers
on my skin or in my hair –

I like catching a whiff on my sleeve
in the grocery store.

I hate to wash it off in the shower.

It’s not a scent for civilized company.

It’s the smell of secrets,

of murky mist –

heady and heavy,

wild and holy.


©Robyn Hood Black
All rights reserved.

Please visit the Poetry Friday Roundup at
Check it Out!

Summer Snippets and Rebecca Kai Dotlich

June 10, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, authors, SCBWI, Southern Breeze, workshops

Today we welcome Rebecca Kai Dotlich for our first ever SCBWI Southern Breeze
Poetry Retreat, coordinated by yours truly. I can't wait! Folks from five states will gather to "dive into poetry" all weekend in the north Georgia mountains. I've had fun with the nametags. Amazing what some time on the internet and with Photoshop will do.... I consulted with Southern Breeze's own Vicky Alvear Shecter about a poetry goddess to use for each "poetic license" photo. She suggested Calliope, the muse of epic poetry.

Here are just a few summer snippets from Poetry Goddess Rebecca:

From LEMONDADE SUN And Other Summer Poems, Wordsong, 1998:

(from "Summer Greetings")

Hello to rose
and vines of green,
to lettuce leaves -
oh, hello beans!


(from "Lemonade")

splashing
sunshine
on frosty squares
of ice


(from "Firefly" - saw the first ones last night, by the way)

Sliver of moon
slice of a star.
Rhinestone in
a jelly jar.


(from "Nightdance")

And the sun comes up,
and the sun goes down,
and children moon-skip
all around


and, finally, since we could use some rain around here, from "Summer Storm's Plea" (SHARING THE SEASONS by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Margaret McElderry Books, 2010):

Let this downpour be good,
proud as a prank, one wild raid
of rain that drums my name:

Thunderstorm.



Watching the River Flow with Bob Dylan

May 27, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, nature

So Tuesday was Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday!

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

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

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

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


For the entire song, click here.

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

Haiku Hike Cont. ...

May 20, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, school visits, haiku

Today we're finishing up our poetry project in two fourth grade classes. I'm visiting one last time to hand out booklets featuring a haiku poem, and in most cases an illustration, by each student poet. (Haiga!) Many added titles.

I hope this collection will be enjoyed long after these students have outgrown their fourth-grade shoes.
Perhaps reading these later will spark a memory of what it felt like to be ten years old. I posted a batch of these week before last (click here), and below are the rest. [These are the original works of students and not to be copied - thank you!] I enjoyed "anthologizing" them for the books. Thanks again to teachers Mrs. Briggs and Mrs. Roberts, and to each young poet!

Wind Blows

wind blows
purple flowers play
in the wind
(by Mary Keys)

Chirping Wind

birds chirping
in the sound
of the wind
(by KJ)

Birds

birds chirping around
flight paths between trees for birds
diving and swooping

(
by Rocco)

Birds' Song

high chirp low chirp
the birds sing a song
it makes me want to sing along

(by Hannah)


chirp chirp
really really cool breeze
bugs land on me
(by Bryce)

ladybugs flying
flowers blowing in the wind
caterpillars crawling
(by Jettie)

Beautiful Butterflies

butterflies flying
ladybugs climbing flowers
spotted ladybug

(
by Claire)

I see the drops on grass
the tall grass sways in the wind
I hear the bird's song
(by Natalie)

Tree

skinny tree
tallest tree I have ever seen
pretty tree
(by Sophia)

Flowers

flowers blooming
sunlight shines down on them
nature so wonderful
(by Sadie)

the bugs fly
in the big blue sky
the trees sway
(by Brauch)

Pesky Squirrels

I hear them again
jumping, running, rattling
they munch on acorns
(by Sophie)

tall grass
tall trees swaying
leaves falling
(by Clayton)

Thorns

painful thorns
always hurt
never touch them
(by Cem)

Ants

ants are scary
I say ouch when they bite me
ants are mean
(by Paxton)

lady bugs all around
the caterpillars are crawling up
the stump the river is rushing
(by Sadie)

river running by
bugs flying around
soft crunchy grass
(by Katharine)

brown and green grass
old leaves fall
creeeks flow loudly
(by Kuepper)

Creek

the creek
is rustling over the rocks
it is very cool
(by Matthew)

Water

split splat
shhh, shhh, shhh
whoosh, tickle
(by Banks)

River of Stream

river flowing
rocks smoothly flowing down
stream gone
(by Harrison)

swampy water
looks like mud
puddles that you see
(by Linda)

old river
the turtle eats the
grass as it swallows
(by Hunter)

Lizards

lizards are reptiles
camouflaging their bodies
jumping between trees
(by Dakari)

crickets singing
fireflies flying I'm
camping
(by Larsen)


the moon is very nice
the moon is white and peaceful
I really like the moon
(by Reese)

Make sure to catch the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Drift Record!

Writing with Ms. Mirabel

May 13, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, school visits, authors

Recent poetic adventures with fourth graders inspired me to read Patricia MacLachlan’s Word After Word After Word (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins, 2010), about a visiting author’s time in Miss Cash’s fourth grade classroom. The characters find their way through personal problems by writing, especially poetry.

I was hooked with this early prose depiction of the visiting author:

Ms. Mirabel had long, troubled hair and a chest that pushed out in front of her like a grocery cart.

As narrator Lucy begins to examine her feelings about her mother’s cancer, she writes,



Sadness is
Steam rising,
Tears falling.
A breath you take in
But can’t let out
As hard as you try.


You’ll have to read the book to see how Lucy’s writing develops, along with that of the other students: Henry, Evie, Russell, and May. This deceptively simple story from a Newbery medalist and beloved author would be a welcome addition to any poetry lover’s bookshelf.

I included some fourth grade haiku in last week’s Poetry Friday post but was unable to access the Roundup. Feel free to take a peek, and be sure to check out this week’s hot-to-handle Roundup at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup!

Haiku hike

May 6, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, school visits, haiku

My daughter Morgan, left, was a student in Mrs. Briggs's class in fourth grade and is now an education major. She helped bring poetry to class one day. On the right, fabulous teachers Lori Roberts and Sharon Briggs.
The past few weeks, I've had a delightful time popping in and out of the fourth grade classes at Lakeview Academy to explore poetry - particularly, haiku.

Because traditional haiku capture a moment in nature, early on we took a walk outdoors. We spent some quality time in a grassy field with woods all around and a stream on one side. The students wrote down sensory impressions and poem ideas in their journals, then worked the next couple of weeks in class to polish up their writing and choose their favorite original poem.

I am compiling these into a booklet so each young poet will have a whole collection. Many are accompanied by artwork as well ("haiga"), and a few added titles. I wish I could share all of them here, but I'm happy to post a few from each class. [These are the original works of students and not to be copied - thank you!] Many thanks to extraordinary teachers Mrs. Briggs and Mrs. Roberts, and of course to their talented students! Enjoy -

Storm

shady springs
storm clouds foreshadow
the rumbling sky
(by Jack)

Creek

crunching grass
water hitting against the rocks
rough creek
(by Claire)

tall grass
green and brown leaves fall
the grass bends
(by Briley)

Morning

sticks snapping
purple flowers
morning air
(by Lanie)

Birds' Songs

birds chirping in the sky
a robin jumps from tree to tree
the lovely songs of birds
(by Arantxa))

cheeping, rustling
around go the birds, Ah!
choo cheep swish
(by Roland)

the ground
the brisk breeze
bugs crawling around me
(by Sophia)

Butterflies

butterflies
flying swiftly
like angels
(by Reece)

Bird Wars

birds fighting over trees
time and time again birds fall
but they still fight for trees
(by Palmer)

Spring

tall grass below
birds whistling in the trees
a fresh smell of spring
(by Rachel)

Leaves

the round of rustling leaves
leaves swirling round and round
squirrels playing
(by Abbe)

The Outside

birds singing a song
little three-leaf clovers
mist is all around
(by Mary Katherine)

Nature

calm water to
clouds, blurry fog
to moist grass
(by Reed)

Flowers Falling

flowers on the ground, blossomed
flowers falling down from trees
the wind carries them off
(by Esther)

Birds

birds merrily chirping,
pecking around for seeds,
flying over the trees
(by Anne Marie)

cold wind
a leaf blows through
the sound of whistles
(by Mckenna)

Catch the rest of the fourth grade haiku in my May 20 post -
click here
.

For more great poetry, visit the Poetry Friday Roundup at Family Bookshelf - http://family-bookshelf.org/ [I didn't link directly because there seems to be a problem - my Internet Explorer shuts down each time I try, and I read that this was occurring for someone else, too. Perhaps it will be up and running soon!]

Humming Songs of Innocence

April 29, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Southern Breeze

William Blake by Thomas Phillips
(Note - Fourth grade poets are not quite finished with their projects. Will post a few soon!)

Hearts are heavy in my part of the world this week, as unprecedented storms ravaged our region. My town in north Georgia was very fortunate as the tornadoes skirted around rather than through us. SCBWI Southern Breeze folks (Ga./Ala./Miss.) have been checking in through our Listserve with harrowing tales but mostly thankfulness that their families are still here.

Perhaps that's why this morning's Royal Wedding was worth the early wake-up call. It was a kind of blessing to focus on something positive and joyful across the pond. Many years ago I had the privilege of breathing in the history at Westminster Abbey, and I thought the bishop's words there today were fresh and inspiring.

Since the royal couple chose among their hymns "Jerusalem," first composed by William Blake in 1804 as an introduction to "Milton" (set to music a century later by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry), I thought we could use a bit of Blake, and I could use a bit of The Songs of Innocence.

Introduction to the Songs of Innocence
By William Blake (1757–1827)

Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me:


"Pipe a song about a Lamb!"
So I piped with merry cheer.
"Piper, pipe that song again;"
So I piped: he wept to hear.


"Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer:"
So I sung the same again,
While he wept with joy to hear.


"Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read."
So he vanish'd from my sight,
And I pluck'd a hollow reed,


And I made a rural pen,
And I stain'd the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.


Please visit Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for today's Poetry Friday Roundup.

"Nature rarer uses yellow..."

April 22, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, nature

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

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

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

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


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

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

To Sing of Spring

April 14, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, nature, school visits

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

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

Spring

Gerard Manley Hopkins

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

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

The Poetry Friday round-up is at RANDOM NOODLING.

Happy Poetry Month!

April 1, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, haiku

At my home in Georgia, April is making her appearance in cherry blossoms and pink and white dogwoods. I know not every spot in the world is so lovely this morning.

Here are two haiku by seventeenth-century Japanese poets, from WOMEN POETS OF JAPAN, translated and edited by Kenneth Rexroth and Ikuko Atsumi, ©1977, publshed by New Directions, 1982:

The fireflies' light.
How easily it goes on
How easily it goes out again


Chine-Jo, late 17th Century

and, with best wishes to my friends up North welcoming April with a nor'easter:

On the road through the clouds
Is there a short cut
To the summer moon?


Den Sute-Jo, 1633-1698

Wishing a Happy Poetry Month to all, whatever the weather, and continued thoughts and prayers for Japan.

Amy has the POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP at The Poem Farm.

Poetry that purrs with Rebecca Kai Dotlich

March 10, 2011

Tags: poetry, authors, SCBWI, Southern Breeze, Poetry Friday

Rebecca Kai Dotlich enjoying poetry with Alice Schertle, left, and with Lee Bennett Hopkins, right.
Along the lines of my previous post, I've noticed popping in and out of blogs that I'm not the only one with an office kitty muse. (My office cat is named May, and, like most of our kitties, is a former stray.) That's why I particularly love this poem by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, originally posted by Gregory K at gottabook.blogspot.com. It is reprinted here with Rebecca's permission and followed by an interview with Rebecca, who is leading a poetry retreat for SCBWI Southern Breeze in June. Enjoy!










MIDNIGHT STRAY
by
Rebecca Kai Dotlich

She stared at me from where she sat,
one matted lump of fragile cat
who wore a grayish tattered ear --

she heard me whisper cat, come here.

A squint, a lick, a paw so small,
she did not move or purr at all --
just skin and bones and stars above her.

And that is how I came to love her.

©2009 Rebecca Kai Dotlich. All rights reserved.
(more…)

Poetry Retreat Info

February 4, 2011

Tags: poetry, SCBWI, Southern Breeze, authors, workshops

Here's the info on our upcoming summer POETRY RETREAT with Rebecca Kai Dotlich! (This is from our SCBWI Newsletter - feel free to email me if you need more specifics.)

June 10-12, 2011
Center for New Beginnings
Dahlonega, Georgia

Join award-winning poet and seasoned presenter Rebecca Kai Dotlich for a weekend in the beautiful mountains of north Georgia.

Participants will enjoy immersion in poetry within a workshop setting, group discussions and writing exercises to awaken the imagination, and individual critiques with Rebecca. Traditional poetry for children, for themed collections or for magazines, will be emphasized. Rebecca will also discuss rhymed picture book texts.

Accommodations will be double or triple occupancy (additional fee for private rooms), simple but comfortable, with nourishing meals prepared by a gourmet chef. All this in peaceful, natural surroundings! Ahhhh . . . (more…)

Dive into Poetry with Rebecca Kai Dotlich!

December 8, 2010

Tags: poetry, SCBWI, Southern Breeze, authors

OK, it might not seem like the season at the moment to wade, splash, or dive into anything. . . . BUT – before you know it, we’ll be rounding winter and spring and facing summer. And what could be more perfect for a summer retreat than a long weekend exploring poetry for children with celebrated poet and award-winning author Rebecca Kai Dotlich?!

It’s my pleasure to coordinate a special poetry workshop/retreat for SCBWI Southern Breeze, limited to 22 paid attendees, June 10-12 at the Center for New Beginnings in Dahlonega, Ga. (more…)

Praise for Berry Blue Haiku

September 16, 2010

Tags: poetry, magazines, haiku, Berry Blue Haiku

I'm thrilled to have a poem featured in the second issue of the new online haiku magazine for young readers, Berry Blue Haiku. This digital publication is brimming with beautiful poetry, gorgeous art, and fun activities. The target audience is children through age 13, and from the simplest poems reinforcing colors and numbers to more subtle celebrations of the natural world, there is something for everyone (adults included!). (more…)

Amazing Faces

September 6, 2010

Tags: poetry, authors, illustrators, book tracks

Tomorrow kicks off a week of "Random Acts of Publicity" in the children's lit world, thanks to Darcy Pattison (our keynote speaker for the SCBWI Southern Breeze fall conference, by the way). See http://www.darcypattison.com/pr-notes/random-acts/

I have too many authors to brag about for just one week, so I'm stretching it out for the next month or so. I'd actually like to usher in all this fun with a poetry anthology just out this summer. Lee Bennett Hopkins's AMAZING FACES (Lee and Low), illustrated by the award-winning Chris Soentpiet, amazing himself, lives up to its title. (more…)

Celebrating Writing

April 19, 2010

Tags: school visits, poetry

Thanks to Lakeview Academy in Gainesville, Ga., for hosting me to kick off the Lower School's "Writing Celebration" last week. Students of all ages have been learning and polishing their writing skills all year, and this year's celebration theme was "Capturing Ideas" - with the perfect visual of spring butterflies, fluttering all around the writing displays. (more…)

National Poetry Month!

April 1, 2010

Tags: poetry

Morning here has dawned with bold sun, boisterous birds, and buds all around. Like that alliteration?

Spring is the perfect time to stop for a moment and pay attention. My friend Ellen recently gave me some sticky notes with the phrase, "All creativity begins with noticing."

What will you notice on this fine, spring day? I still fall in with Wordsworth: "To me the meanest flower that blows can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears." For more contemporary takes on noticing and poetry, check out the rich and boisterous blogs of these three blogs: (more…)

SHARING THE SEASONS - a look at the book

March 10, 2010

Tags: book tracks, authors, illustrators, poetry

Pre-spring's first rumble of thunder today calls me to make good on my promise to share great books in my blog this year.

A perfect first "share" is SHARING THE SEASONS, a glorious hot-off-the-press collection by renowned poet/anthologist Lee Bennet Hopkins, illustrated by Caldecott madalist David Diaz (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010). (more…)

Poetry, Pictures, Panel...

October 3, 2009

Tags: authors, illustrators, speaking, bookstores, SCBWI, poetry, Highlights, workshops

Busy week!

I finally uploaded a couple of pictures from last weekend's HIGHLIGHTS Founders Workshop, "Wordplay," led by Rebecca Kai Dotlich with special guests Susan Pearson and Alice Schertle. Check out my Poetry Page for these. I'm thrilled to have met all these wonderful women! (I know guys write poetry, too, but we had an all-female crowd.) (more…)

Founders Workshop Heaven

September 26, 2009

Tags: poetry

I'm writing this in the living room of the home of the founders of HIGHLIGHTS in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. We're here for Rebecca Kai Dotlich's "Wordplay" workshop with special guests Alice Schertle and Susan Pearson. The weather is beautiful, the food is amazing, and the talent and comraderie has been simply inspiring. More to come!

Cedartown, Poem in Your Pocket Day

April 29, 2009

Tags: festivals, poetry, speaking, school visits

Elizabeth Dulemba was right: the Cedar Valley Arts Festival folks put on a lovely show! Weather was a bit warm, but so are the organizers. Well done, ladies, and all those countless volunteer hours are for one purpose: to enhance the cultural and arts experiences of the community's youngsters. Bravo!


Tomorrow I'm delighted to be off to South Hall Middle School to enjoy the day with sixth-graders. Media Specialist Laura Losch goes above and beyond the call of duty to make reading fun for the students. (more…)

Celebrate Poetry Month with new books by Lee Bennett Hopkins

April 1, 2009

Tags: poetry, authors

Happy National Poetry Month!
Would you believe award-winning poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins has, not one, but THREE brand new books to help you celebrate?

City I Love (Abrams) is a sparkling collection of Lee's own poems, both new and previously published, and all fresh. Illustrator Marcellus Hall provides readers with a tour guide (more…)

Speaking of poems... and another great poet

March 19, 2009

Tags: poetry, authors

I love spring... when every venture outside yields some new shock of color or more riotous birdsong!


I'm also already looking forward to fall, when I'll be immersed in poetry in Rebecca Kai Dotlich's "Wordplay" Founders Workshop at Highlights up in Honesdale, Pa.


Rebecca's latest book is a picture book from Atheneum, hot off the press: (more…)

Paul B. Janeczko and Poetic Possibilities

March 8, 2009

Tags: poetry, authors

On Friday, March 6, ward-winning poet and anthologist Paul B. Janeczko kicked off a terrific weekend at the University of Georgia's 40th Annual Conference on Children's Literature. His many books, including the hot-off-the-press third collaboration with (Caldecott Medal-winning) illustrator Chris Raschka, A Foot in the Mouth, make poetry accessible, lively, and fun - even for young readers whose intitial reaction to poetry might not be enthusiastic.


Describing his own less-than-stellar early academic career, Janeczko said his goals in life did not include being an author, but rather achieving Little League fame and outliving the "one-eyed crazed cur" in the forsythia bushes. (more…)

Quick Clicks

Poems
Explore a poem or two or five....
Books
A rhyming tale of a young boy's knightly adventure with an imagined dragon.
Nonfiction, interactive book on wolves featuring giant pop-up and tons of info!
Author visits
In schools or other settings, Robyn shares her passion for writing and encourages creativity. Presentations for all age groups.
Magazines
In addition to writing books, Robyn has sold her writing to major children's magazines.
Haiku
Explore this genre of sparely crafted poetry which offers endless depth. Resources for students, teachers, and writers.
Portfolio
illustrations
Media
bio, photos, interview links, etc.