SCROLL DOWN FOR POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP SCHEDULE
Hannah enjoying poetry workshop
(Scroll down this column for tags, archives and blogroll....)
POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP SCHEDULE
I will get all these linked ASAP, but in the meantime, here's the schedule:
Radio, Rhythm & Rhyne
January 4, 2013
No Water River
January 11, 2013
Violet Nesdoly / poems
January 18, 2013
The Opposite of Indifference
January 25, 2013
February 1, 2013
A Teaching Life
February 8, 2013
February 15, 2013
February 22, 2013
The Drift Record
March 1, 2013
My Juicy Little Universe
March 8, 2013
Jone at Check it Out
March 15, 2013
A Year of Reading
March 29, 2013
Read, Write, Howl
April 5, 2013
April 12, 2013
Live Your Poem...
April 19, 2013
Writing the World for Kids
April 26, 2013
May 10, 2013
JamaĀfs Alphabet Soup
May 24, 2013
Teaching Young Writers
May 31, 2013
The Opposite of Indifference
June 7, 2013
Reflections on the Teche
June 14, 2013
June 21, 2013
The Poem Farm
June 28, 2013
Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
photo by Steve Kolich
Susan Rosson Spain, Robyn Hood Black, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Myra Meade at the Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Ga.
photo by Mel Hornsby
© Robyn Hood Black
five hungry mouths mid-may
© Robyn Hood Black
five fat feathery babies may 25
© Robyn Hood Black
Fresh from the nest! May 27, 2009
Southern Breeze Kudos Kites 09 - Donna, Robyn, Heather, Sarah, and Peggy
Robyn with Kathleen Duey, author extraordinaire
Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller
photo by Robyn Hood Black
Paul B. Janeczko http://www.paulbjaneczko.com
Copyright 2005-2013 ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved. Please ask permission before using any text or images on this website, except for reproducible
"4 Kids 2 Do" and "Press Kit" pages.
May 23, 2013
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....
May 17, 2013
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 Ė 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. Seussís OH, THE PLACES YOUíLL GO comes to mind, as does Frostís ďThe Road Less Traveled,Ē of course. The Academy of American Poets has a list of appropriate poetic offerings for graduates here
Iíve 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, Iím sure.
Perhaps heíll like this selection, which speaks to me:
TENDING TWO SHOPS
Donít 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 youíre alone with God.
Live in the nowhere that you came from,
even though you have an address here.
Thatís 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 youíre 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 thatís a fearful trap,
getting always smaller. Checkmate, this way.
Keep open the shop
where youíre not selling fishhooks anymore.
You are the free-swimming fish.
to all who are moving the proverbial tassel this season!
For more great poetry, visit Ed at Think Kid Think
for this weekís Poetry Friday Roundup. (And find out what Doritos could possibly have to do with the history of Poetry Friday....)
May 9, 2013
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/ .
May 2, 2013
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, donít they?
If Iím in front of a few dozen or hundred kids at a school visit and I solicit some creative contribution from them, thereís a moment of sheer delight when some young mind tosses out an idea or association that I wouldnít have thought of in a million years. Itís an honor to explore the creative process together.
As we wrap up another school year, Iím 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 countyís 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. Itís a privilege to be welcomed into a young personís 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, todayís 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. Youíll 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 donít have the goofy portraits to show (I leave these at the school with the writing), Iíll mention the animal combo before each one.
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!"
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!
There once was a cheesnake named Mimi,
who said, ďI want a boyfriend named Jimmy.
Because it is spring,
I must buy a ring,
And cruise in my new Lamborghini!Ē
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!"
Arenít 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 ďCommon Inspiration Ė Uncommon CreationsĒ 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 Hubbardís 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
Ė So, go check it out!
Last but not least, you know thereís 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
April 25, 2013
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. Weíre in the final stretch!
Iíve enjoyed seeing it take shape and peeking behind the scenes as hosts/poets share their ideas about lines theyíve 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 Iíve left Ruth some play in the steering wheel, too. (The ďthemĒ Ė are they the readers, words, both, something else??)
Hereís the poem:
When you listen to your footsteps
the words become music and
the rhythm that youíre rapping gets your fingers tapping, too.
Your pen starts dancing across the page
a private pirouette, a solitary samba until
smiling, youíre 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, thatís 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 lifeís trapeze, like a clown on the breeze.
Swinging upside down, throw and catch new soundsĖ
Take a risk, try a trick; break a sweat: safety net?
Donít check! Youíre soaring and exploring,
dangle high, blood rush; spiral down, crowd hushĖ
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 steamó
know this tumbling and fumbling is all part of the act,
so get up with a flourish. Your pencilís still intact.
Snap those synapses! Feel the pulsing through your pen
Commit, measure by measure, to the codaís cadence.
You've got them now--in the palm of your hand!
Finger by finger youíre reeling them inó
All yours, Ruth
Hereís the lineup of where this poem has travelled, and where it has yet to go:
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, youíll 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!
April 18, 2013
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
Ė on Wednesday the 17th this week. Letís continue the celebration with a spotlight on a terrific poet/volunteer from my neck of the woods, and the amazing haiku weekend sheís 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 didnít 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, sheíd 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
Hereís Terriís 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. Hereís the conference info in a nutshell Ė 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 -
, Vol. 4, issue 5, Sept/Oct, 2009
trying to see past
what she's not
, 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 Mayrís poem at Random Noodling.
*** a couple of different notes:
1.) Guess What? The Authors Guild Folks - evidently also known as ďKnights of the InternetĒ - 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 Childrenís edition of Publisherís Weekly
yesterday, with a picture of our ďTake Five Ė Create Fun with the Poetry Friday AnthologyĒ workshop at the Fay B. Kaigler Childrenís Book Festival in Hattiesburg last week. Click here
(and scroll down) to see. Woo hoo!
Speaking of lovely Irene, go see what sheís rounding up for Poetry Friday today at
Live Your Poem.
April 18, 2013
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
April 17, 2013
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
at the trumpet flower
, 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.
April 8, 2013
Eileen and Robyn at Highlights Founders Workshop in May 2012; Office Kitty May enjoying NORA'S ARK.
Greetings from Mississippi, where Iím heading home today after the wonderful Fay B. Kaigler Childrenís 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 Iíd rounded up - 60-plus comments. Sigh. I reposted my text part here
, with our PFA poems.]
I love connecting with other childrenís 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 Spinelliís. Yes, that Eileen Spinelli
, whose work Iíve 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 Ė ďPoetry PoemsĒ Ė because to me itís just perfect for National Poetry Month. She kindly agreed.
Today Iím 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 Iím going to leap across puddles
and steep in green
and all the wild colors in between.
Iím going to listen to
what the birds are singing about,
and to the happy shouts of toddlers on swings.
Today Iím going to gather all my heart can hold
of lemony light and yawning cats
and the bright blur of traffic on the bridge.
Today Iím going to pay attention.
Today Iím 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), Iíd like to offer a shout-out here for her brand-new picture book, NORAíS ARK
(illustrated by Nora Hilb, Zonderkids, 2013).
The ark is just what youíd think, except in Noraís case the ďpassenger list includes two backyard spiders, a pair of battery-operated monkeys, and a couple of unimpressed cats.Ē And Nora does everything just like NoahÖ well, not just
praised ďthe respectful exploration of the power of a childís imagination.Ē
I absolutely love this book and its ending Ė 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 ďApril Foolery,Ē
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 todayís Round Up. Unless you are a cyberspace gremlin.
April 8, 2013
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)
Iím thrilled to be your Poetry Friday Rounder-Upper today Ė please leave your links in the comments and Iíll 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 Childrenís Book Festival
at the University of Southern Mississippi. (Yep Ė 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.
Hereís a poem from each of us that weíll share in our presentation, along with a 10-item Q & A just for fun.
First up, April. Hereís her poem from Grade 6 Week 29 (ďPoetry PoemsĒ) in PFAMS:
In the Word Woods
Iím sure thereís a found poem somewhere here.
There usually is this time of year.
Didnít 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 heíd found.
Listen for falling bulletin boards,
and scowling poem-poaching hordes
who stomp all over this hallowed ground
until the hidden poems are found.
Iíll bring a flashlight, you bring a rake
weíll 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 theyíre 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 beachÖ
Free verse or forms?
I have to choose?
Drafts: pen and paper or digital?
Both. Either. Depends.
Whatís usually playing on your iPod or on Pandora when you are:
Working Ė instrumental folk, classical piano trios; sometimes NPR
Working out Ė 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 youíve 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, Ireneís poem from Grade 5, Week 2 (ďMore SchoolĒ) from PFA:
Iíd say paper
Is my favorite feast Ė
I love it spiraled,
bound or loose-leaf.
Textbooks give me
A belly ache.)
Whatever you feed me,
Iíll do my best;
youíre the one
Who takes the tests!
©Irene Latham. All rights reserved.
Q & A time, Irene Ė hit it!
Coffee or tea?
Milk or dark chocolate?
Beach or mountains?
beach at night, mountains by day
Free verse or forms?
Drafts: pen and paper or digital?
digital all the way
What's usually playing on your iPod or on Pandora when you are:
- nada. I work best with silence (though I have learned to write through son's drumming)
- shhhhh, I don't work out.
Favorite place to read poetry?
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) Ė my short little poem from First Grade, Week 10 (ďFoodĒ) from PFA:
Donít talk with your mouth full Ė
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?
Beach or mountains?
Beach, but I love the mountains too.
Free verse or forms?
Sucker for formsÖ
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 -
Favorite place to read poetry?
On my couch with my dogs
Favorite place to write poetry?
In my head when Iím 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-2ís: How do you know if itís a man wolf or a lady wolf? (Last week a second grader asked me AFTER my presentation, ďAre you an author?Ē)
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 ďpoem moviesĒ this month created by Sylviaís 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 Jamaís gracious post on Alphabet Soup
Two last links from me: On Wednesday at Janice Hardyís great blog, The Other Side of the Story
, I featured Ireneís new novel, DONíT FEED THE BOY (Roaring Brook), as a way to look at how a poetís 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.
April 1, 2013
Happy Poetry Month!
The Academy of American Poets
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!
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!
March 28, 2013
Hereís 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 weíve 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 ďmud-luscious,Ē donít you think?
by E. E. Cummings
spring   when the world is mud-
luscious the little
whistles far and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
Please click here
to read the poem in its entirety.
I am thrilled to be visiting a local elementary school today Ė sharing poetry across K through 5! I know weíll have a great time kicking off National Poetry Month.
Speaking of which, be SURE to check out Jama Rattiganís Alphabet Soup
blog today and for the next several weeks, as sheís kindly compiled lots of great links for special Poetry Month celebrations throughout the Kidlitosphere.
Irene Latham is hosting the second annual Progressive Poem Ė Woo Hoo! Canít wait to participate again. Click here
for the dates to see whoís adding a line when.
Donít forget to vote today in the FINAL FOUR round of March Madness Poetry!
What a great offering of poems this yearís 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!
March 21, 2013
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 youíre also thinking about, and steals you into itself? Iíd like to share a poem that had such an effect on me, and then Iíll tell you about the poet and the PF connections that led me to it!
I donít 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
on the jet streams
of surrounding phrases and refrains
but maybe, by some fluke
of free association, youíll 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 youíve 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 ďAn Online Journal of Arts & LettersĒ published by St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY. Thatís where I found Moniqueís 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, sheís 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. Sheís 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? Sheís a copy editor for Ragazine,
ďThe On-Line Magazine of Art, Information & EntertainmentĒ Ė Youíll want to check it out, too!
Speaking of fun, donít 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!)
March 14, 2013
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 ďPoetry for AllĒ Highlights Founders workshop
, and Iím happy to share a peek into her brand new rhyming storybook app, A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS. Itís illustrated by Pamela Baron
and offered by Little Bahalia Publishing
for the iPad. (I donít have an iPad, but my in-laws were happy to purchase it on theirs for me Ė 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 Ė what with her popular 12 X 12 Picture Book Challenge
and her sold-out Writers Renaissance Retreat in Italy
coming up in April. Letís find out more about Julie and her work before sheís off on her next adventure.
Oh, where to start?! Letís begin with writing, and weíll 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.
Letís talk about apps. First, whatís 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 Ė 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.
Youíve got terrific resources on your blog about the publishing industry as well as tips for creating apps. Whatís 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 Ė 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 ďGratitude SundayĒ 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 youíve 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 youíre 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
March 11, 2013
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!
March 7, 2013
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, Iím celebrating International Womenís 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 Iím closest to in life Ė 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 nieceís wedding. (Left hubby and son here to keep the fort.)
While at my folksí house, Morgan and I bunked together in the guestroom. It was cold Ė and I donít mean just ďOh, those Florida people think anything below 70 degrees is cold,Ē 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 motherís mother died before Morgan was born, but they would have loved each other.
I wanted to find some appropriate poem to share today Ė 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. Sheís intrigued me for years. Very well educated, and Ė gasp! Ė 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 didnít 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
ďIn Reference to her ChildrenĒ
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, Ö
Read the rest of the poem here.
(And learn more about Anne Dudley Bradstreet here
While I admire Bradstreetís 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 ďThe PrologueĒ:
"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.
February 28, 2013
When the Poetry Friday Anthology
debuted last fall, I heard a couple of teachers say theyíd love to see something like that for older students. Well, todayís the day!
Itís the official launch of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School (PFAMS)
, brilliantly brought to life by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.
Hereís 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). ďTake 5Ē 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 ďPoem for EveryoneĒ and then a suite of weedkly poems for each grade level for the whole year, tied in with the ďTake 5Ē activities to grade-level standards. Pretty nifty, eh?
In fact, the first poem in the collection, a poem for everyone, is ďFirst Day at a New School,Ē 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 ďTake 5Ē lesson ideas are a bit more sophisticated, but still very user-friendly.
Iíll share one of my two in the collection to demonstrate how it works. (The other will show up here sometime soon, too!)
My poem ďLocker Ness MonsterĒ appears in the Sixth Grade section for Week Two, for the theme, ďMore School.Ē
Locker Ness Monster
Arrrgh. Thatís not it.
Nothing. Nada. Nyet.
CLICK. Thatís it!
Unlock your head,
then your fingers,
then the door.
©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.
For the ďTake FiveĒ element on the opposite page, there are five different activities a teacher could choose to use with this poem. I wonít give them all away, but the first is particularly intriguing:
1. Add a bit of fun to sharing this poem with a ďpoetry propĒ Ė 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 thatís all you have to work with. The number 5 in each ďTake 5Ē 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 ďinvolving confusion over numbersĒ Ė itís ďFourths of MeĒ by Betsy Franco, in the 7th grade section, a terrific poem about identity. Another poem that connects back to mine emerges for the ďIn the WaterĒ theme a few weeks later in sixth grade Ė ďDear Monster of Loch NessĒ by Jack Prelutsky. (Great poem; amazing poet!) You get the idea.
One of my favorite things about these anthologies is the first ďkey to rememberĒ 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
February 15, 2013
Canít believe itís already Springmingle time again in our SCBWI Southern Breeze region
. Iíve coordinated that conference off and on for several years, but this time Iím attending as a civilian. I look forward to meeting many great speakers, including multi-talented Jill Corcoran
Ė agent, author, poet, anthologist, and busy mom of three for starters! (Sheís 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 Jillís poetry collection released in the fall from Kane Miller, Dare to DreamÖ Change the World
? With poems from thirty contributors, including some of the most revered names in the field, the book ďpairs 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.Ē
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 Jepsonís colorful illustrations are finely tuned to each poemís 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 OíKeeffe. It features some brief biographical information and a couple of OíKeeffe quotes, plus two poems. The first is ďPainterĒ by Lee Bennett Hopkins, opening with these evocative lines:
Sky will always be.
So shall I.
The facing page features Rebecca Kai Dotlichís ďCloudscape,Ē which includes:
In the center of a day,
each day, are lines upon a canvas,
an abstract image that floats
like a spirit somewhereÖ
*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 bookís website with teaching resources and a free30-page Common Core State Standards Curriculum guide. Youíll 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 winnerís 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 Salasís
Just Like That
Clickin on this clip Ė
I wanna click like that,
Be quick like that.
My footworksí gonna be
sick like that.
I never saw a kid
Who could move like that,
Groove like that,
Iíll show you what I got
Iím gonna prove like that.
You can find the rest of Lauraís poem here
, along with links to other blogs and resources. Oh, and while youíre over there, make sure you click on Lauraíspost for today Ė and add your hearty congratulations that she just won the CYBILS award for poetry for her collection, Bookspeak
. (I featured it here
Then please enjoy the rest of todayís Poetry Friday offerings rounded up by the lovely and talented Linda at TeacherDance.
Note Ė Next Poetry Friday, Iíll be in a verse novels workshop with Nikki Grimes for our Springmingle conference. (I know, lucky me!) The conference runs til Sunday, so Iíll skip posting for Poetry Friday next weekend and will see you on March 1st. Iíll try to send out a tweet or two!
February 7, 2013
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! Iím not exactly sure how and why we started this as a daily practice, but itís been refreshing.
Heís been working from home the past several months, and since I do as well, it became a possibility. (Jama
approves, of course!) So far, itís been just on weekdays, but you never know if it might spill over into the weekend. And, I should note, itís the hubby whoís 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.
ďI didnít know you were going to have tea!Ē 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 heíd expected it to beÖ .) Funny how heís 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 Ėwith pic of table) Week 2 of new tradition Ė tea! :0)
(Deprived Daughter) Since when do yíall have tea? :0(
(Mom) Since last Monday. I figured since we would be empty nesters this year, we should practice having conversations.
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 Ė mmmmÖ..
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 Ė
delicious as a dream!
©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.
The second is more grown-up, and makes me smile:
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 Ö.
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.
Ė Ancient Chinese Proverb
(Okay, but by the second day, Iíd be clamoring for some sconesÖ!)
Iíll send you on your way with this quote from C. S. Lewis. (I could not authenticate with an original source. - Maybe someone knows it? Itís on a variety of places online, so I hope Iím 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
January 31, 2013
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 Iíve become rather obsessed with doors. In that post, I shared new art Iíve 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 canít remember what we were looking for, itís 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 ďthe doorway effect.Ē)
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, Iíve 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
for William Butlerís biographical info.) Deciding to post something else door-related here today, I remembered the framed print that we bought on that trip to Dublin Ė Morgan, age 4 at the time, picked it out.
The information sheet accompanying the art explains some history. Itís a hand-colored print from Cuala Press, originally Dun Emer Press, founded by Elizabeth Corbet Yeats (William Butlerís 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, ďcost thought and care.Ē)
The illustrated poem, written by W. M. Letts
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 Valentineís Day, Iíll leave you with a stanza near the end of Yeatsís poem, ďThe Cap and Bells,Ē which sprang from a dream Yeats experienced and describes a jesterís 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 aboutÖ DOORS!
Head over to Teaching Authors
January 24, 2013
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.
ďI want some cherry juice!Ē
ďCherry juice?!Ē Mom said, a hint of amusement in her voice. ďWhen have you ever had cherry juice?Ē
A moment of softest silence. Then, with resolve: ďWhen I was a baby!Ē
I only remembered this exchange hours later when poring through a couple of anthologies, looking for a poem for today. Thatís when I found it, in The Random House Book of Poetry for Children
(selected by Jack Prelutsky, 1983). Yes, Delmore Schwartz
ís ďI Am Cherry AliveĒ! 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
ďI am cherry alive,Ē the little girl sang,
ďEach morning I am something new:
I am apple, I am plum, I am just as excited
As the boys who made the Halloweíen 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 donít 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!Ē
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
January 18, 2013
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!
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
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:
the unanswered call
of a dove
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!
January 10, 2013
Have you read about how the lovely Laura Shovan
is commemorating another trip around the sun this year? Her birthday isn't until late February, but she's launched a Poetry Postcard
project to celebrate. I signed up through her blog to receive on of her special offerings, which are intriguing vintage postcards that she's graced with one of her original poems.
How delighted I was to receive my mailbox surprise this week! You can see in the image above that the glossy picture on the front is of butterflies. Not just any butterflies, but vintage illustrations of "Papillons du Brťsil" (or, "Butterflies of Brazil" in French). The five specimens are identified, with each name apparently hand written originally with calligraphy in brown ink.
How perfect is this card to start my New Year? Well, I do have a "thing" for butterflies, as I do many wonderful beasties, not only for their beauty but for what they might symbolize on a personal level for those who encounter them. I certainly have a thing for calligraphy. I even took French in high school and college. And I've actually been to the location described on the back of the card: Callaway Gardens, which boasts the incredible Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center
, where these living works of art flit above and around entranced visitors of all ages. It's in Pine Mountain, Georgia, south of Atlanta. This postcard makes me want to visit again sometime soon!
[Oh, and did you notice this is Poetry Postcard "5", and there are five butterflies in the picture? I have a thing for the number 5, too....]
Okay, I know - you want to read Laura's poem! It appeared previously on her own blog, but just in case you missed it, as I did, I'm thrilled to share it here with her permission:
Trick mirrors reveal
the human face is never folded
in perfect halves. Perhaps
this is true of the butterfly, too.
Pin one up and there's
a cuffed wing, damaged tail,
scales so thin with wear
sunlight comes through.
After hundreds of miles,
one might call them frail.
©Laura Shovan. All rights reserved.
Much to ponder and appreciate there, no? Can you pick a favorite image or phrase or line?
After you do, wing your way over to NO WATER RIVER
, where the ever effervescent Renťe LaTulippe is rounding up Poetry Friday! (Doesn't she have a name any butterfly would love?)
January 3, 2013
Happy New Year!
So maybe I havenít put away the Christmas decorations yet, but Iíve 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.
Iíve admired Joyceís 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 nightís a sea of dappled dark,
the nightís a feast of sound and spark,
the nightís a wild, enchanted park.
Welcome to the night!
©Joyce Sidman. All rights reserved.
To read the PACYA interview, click here
, and to peruse Joyceís wonderful website brimming with resources for readers, writers, and teachers, click here.
Second, my monthly poetry column on Janice Hardyís terrific blog
for fiction writers, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY, has moved to the first Wednesday of the month this year. (Though it wonít appear in Feb.) This week weíre exploring verse novels, and I have some amazing book excerpts and insights from three wonderful, award-winning authors: Eileen Spinelli
, April Halprin Wayland
Susan Taylor Brown
Iím so thankful to each of these poets Ė Joyce, Eileen, April, and Susan Ė 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 todayís Poetry Friday Roundup.
December 21, 2012
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 friendís farm. Should be interesting!
I was thrilled to participate in Tabathaís
ďWinter Poem SwapĒ 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
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.
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 Ė 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
December 6, 2012
Image ©Hyewon Yum; text ©Carus Publishing.
Happy Poetry Friday, and Happy Holidays!
Iíll 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, Iím 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 Ė 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 Ė 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, Iím 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, ITíS MY FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN (2012), THE TWINSí 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:
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 Ė
then nothing was there
where the gray fox had been.
© 2012 by Carus Publishing
for a link to the LADYBUG Teacherís Guide. (It says October, but scroll halfway down and youíll come to a couple of suggestions/questions re. ďGray Fox.Ē)
Thanks so much for coming by today, and hereís to appreciating moments and poems! (Remember to leave your link with your comments if you want to be rounded up.)
Oh Ė and if youíre a fiction writer, you might enjoy my column from yesterday over at Janice Hardyís blog, The Other Side of the Story
, in which I talk about writing mask poems as a way to get inside your characterís 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.).
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.
is here today with "The Christmas Box" (from his CHRISTMAS IS COMING!) with a homemade gift idea that would thrill any parent.
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.)
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
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?
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.
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!
At On Point
, Lorie Ann has an original haiku this week - and you must see the accompanying photograph!
November 29, 2012
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
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.
November 16, 2012
© Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.
I am humming with joy this morning Ė 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 Ė 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 sheís taught poetry to at-risk and incarcerated youth. Or perhaps youíve 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, youíve popped over to Susanís website or seen her pictures on Facebook. Has your jaw dropped and have your eyes popped at her glorious photographs of the wildlife sheís 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 Susanís 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 wasnít long before Susanís friends clamored for her to offer her incredible nature pictures for sale.
She made a page for her greeting cards
with the delightful name, ďPoppiness.Ē 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
of the scraggly Toyon bush
not yet six feet tall
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
tiny nest cradles
tiny eggs, two
no bigger than my thumb
she settles, spreads
herself atop the eggs
the wind blows, blustering
never flustering her
she sways a branch dance
where rainbows wait to hatch
© Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.
on Greg's great blog
13 Ways of Looking at a Hummingbird
greengold glitters glides
lands atop the waterfalls
a water dance
blades of grass
one gray hair
two red threads
a mini mansion
I'll keep my distance
wait some more
just in case
the plum tree a
perfect preening place
ruffled nest feathers
bugs picked flicked
bask in the sun
before babies come
that came before
flashlight in hand
she disappears deep
within the overgrown honeysuckle
one half a walnut shell
waiting to happen
my days equal
my days equal
I await her homecoming
hidden only slightly behind the fence
two hundred photographs
my mini model
is a star
no mama snug atop her nest
no tiny eggs safe and sound
no babies waiting
to say hello world
the darkness and dawn
overcast and gray
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
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
she hovers there
ten seconds maybe more
just long enough
to say goodbye
© Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.
on Joneís 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.
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 Ė hummingbirds, flowers, other stunning flora and fauna. And, she and I have decided that weíd like to offer a Poetry Friday discount for holiday shopping. From now through Dec. 31, just visit either of our shops Ė Poppiness
Ė 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 Renťe 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.
November 9, 2012
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.
by Nikki Grimes
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.
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.
November 1, 2012
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."
October 25, 2012
If you read haiku journals, youíll notice that sometimes more than one poem might share a line (typically the first line), especially a seasonal reference such as ďautumn duskĒ or ďwinter chill,Ē 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 Iíd 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 ďrobinís egg blue.Ē
Here are the poems, and then Iíll add some thoughts.
robin's egg blue an empty shell
43:3, Autumn 2012
robin's egg blue
how my father would have loved
No. 29, Fall 2012
Now, if you like the way one or both poems speak to you and youíd rather not hear any backstory, please Ė you may be excused! (Head on over to Linda at Teacherdance.)
If youíre still reading, Iíll tell you how these haiku came to be. I often get ideas as Iím walking in my neighborhood, or even just around the house outside. I did not write these two poems at the same time. Weíve had a lot of lively robins this year!
For the one-line haiku, I came across an empty robinís shell on a walk. I was feeling a little ďblueĒ 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. Iím sure thatís the case!)
For the three-line haiku, I saw another empty robinís 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 Ė 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 (youíve 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 wasnít what youíd 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 Sethís love of music. Heís 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 husbandís family thinks Sethís musical ability flows from that side (and understandably Ė 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 werenít 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 didnít catch that Dadís 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
October 18, 2012
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 Josť 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!
October 11, 2012
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.
October 4, 2012
Page featuring a detail of Giottoís SERMON TO THE BIRDS (1297-1300)
At my house, weíre 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 weíre Methodist Ė at least in this decade. My son is even looking toward a future in ministry; weíll see! (Iím 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 Ė dark carved wood and glorious stained glass windows. Thatís 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 Ė 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 Ė A Year in Faith and Art
(Rosa Giorgi, Abrams, 2006). Iíve come across all kinds of folks and stories Iíd 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, isnít his Canticle of the Sun
still moving and beautiful?
The Canticle of Brother Sun
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 youíre in the mood for haiku, yesterday I began a monthly poetry column on my friend and YA author Janice Hardy
ís terrific blog for writers, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY. Actually, the post is about submissing haiku, rejection, and keepting track of it all. Hereís
the link. Iíll 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
September 28, 2012
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, anywayÖ?
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. Isnít 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 Ė like the art business I mentioned last week, and the new monthly poetry post Iíll begin on Janice Hardyís blog for writers, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY
, this coming Thursday.
On the home front, we have high school homecoming and my daughterís Family Weekend at college. Much to remember and celebrate. So my offering today is simply some timeless lines honoring the season. Theyíre from a poem whose origin is a rather sentimental story in Boccaccio
ís 14th Century Decameron (which I wonít pretend to know much about). But theyíre fitting for the season.
Excerpt from ďThe Falcon of Ser FederigoĒ
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!
September 20, 2012
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:
A young man
in spite of the
mysteries of thought
©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.)
September 6, 2012
This image, like most of the fun ones I find online, from the company YAY Images.
Whatís that Ė a yawn? Oh, I see Ė youíre just perusing a few Poetry Friday blog posts while the coffee pot is sputtering and clicking. Well, then, todayís poem is for you!
If youíre a Janet Wong fan (I know - thatís everyone!), perhaps youíve taken BEHIND THE WHEEL Ė 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, ďYes Ė Iíve felt that way, too.Ē
Today weíll enjoy a lighter one, and this will get us back to coffee.
Not these lines from ďOne Hand On the Wheel,Ē but I have to share them because I love them so:
My mother was one of them
who knows what happened.
Now sheís 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. Itís shared with gracious permission of the author.
by Janet Wong
canít turn over
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 Janetís 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?
August 31, 2012
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.
ďPeace and sustainability is a major concern worldwide, and the guiding principle for this global event,Ē said Michael Rothenberg, Co-Founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change. ďItís 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.Ē
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,
heíll know the reeling power of a storm.
He dreams that heís a pilgrim on this landing,
scrawny Myles Standish, ťmigrť,
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.)
August 26, 2012
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!
August 24, 2012
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.
Heíd 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 Ė
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.
August 22, 2012
Poetry buffs who frequent this blog know about Poetry Friday regular Irene Latham Ė 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
Sheís also an accomplished novelist. LEAVING GEEíS BEND (Putnam, 2010) won the Alabama Library Association 2011 Children's Book Award and was a SIBA Book Award finalist. Her new novel, DONíT 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 GEEíS BEND, I thought ďeditingĒ 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 Iíve 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 thatís easiest (for me). Then I move to character arc Ė one pass for each major player, then another pass for supporting characters. Then, eventually, I move to voice. Itís 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:
ďWe went to the moon to have fun, but the moon was boring.Ē
actual line, written by M.T. Anderson:
ďWe went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.Ē
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. (Thereís an optional novel intensive Oct. 19.) Hereís 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 thatís 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 to register for the Writing and Illustrating for Kids (wik) fall conference in Birmingham , click here.
Hope to see you there!
August 17, 2012
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:
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
August 16, 2012
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 Hertzís blog, On My Mind
Aug. 17 F.T. Bradley at Laura Goldenís blog
Aug. 20 Chuck Galey at Elizabeth Dulembaís blog
Aug. 21 Jo Kittinger at Bonnie Heroldís blog, Tenacious Teller of Tales
Aug. 22 Irene Latham HERE!
Aug. 23 Vicky Alvear Shecter at S.R. Johannesí blog
Aug. 24 Doraine Bennett at Cathy Hallís blog
Aug. 27 Virginia Butler at Bonnie Heroldís blog, Tenacious Teller of Tales.
Aug. 28 Jodi Wheeler-Toppen at Diane Sherrouseís blog,The Reading Road
Aug. 29 Ellen Ruffin at Sarah Frances Hardyís blog, Picture This
Aug. 30 Donna Jo Napoli at Writers and Wannabes
August 3, 2012
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 Oliviaís haiku. Her teacher is Tom Painting, a name familiar to those in the haiku world (youíll 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
sponsored by the Haiku Society of America. This yearís contest drew 457 poems, and Iím happy to report Oliviaís was among six winners chosen. They received cash prizes and publication of their poetry.
Hereís Oliviaís poem:
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, ďÖThe poetís choice of the word Ďclottingí here is powerful. It is a wonderful alliterative fit with Ďcrows,í and the open vowels of the two words together also suggest, as you say them aloud, the round clumps that are forming in air.Ē Ms. Van Kirk writes, ďÖAnd because these creatures of the air are so agile and perhaps so numerous, they seem to have power over the very wind itself, Ďclottingí it with their numbers and their flight. The combination is unusual and magical.Ē
Well done, Olivia!
My poem is perhaps more lighthearted than my nieceís. 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 yearís eve
of the old dogís 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.
July 30, 2012
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:
Friday September 28 Ė 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
Call 1-800-548-4553 Lake Guntersville Lodge to reserve rooms - ďhaikufest code 2716Ē Ė 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.
July 27, 2012
MARY'S SONG by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Eerdman's, 2012Illustrations ©Stephen AlcornThis page reads:"I even thought I heard a whisperfrom spider above the manger,spinning her web - though I know what silent spinners spiders are.
Merry Christmas! Christmas in July, I mean, and weíre 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 childrenís poetry anthologist, Lee has received the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for ďoutstanding contributions to the field of childrenís literature,Ē the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Poetry for Children Award and the Florida Librariesí Lifetime Achievement Award, just to name a few.
In addition to his award-winning anthologies, Leeís own poetry collections, picture books and professional texts have won countless awards, and he established two coveted awards ďto encourage the recognition of poetry.Ē Heís also a popular keynote speaker at literature conferences.
Busy as he is, he agreed to stop by and tell us about his newest book. MARYíS SONG, hot off the press from Eerdmanís and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn
, is sure to become part of family traditions and treasures this Christmas and for years and years to come.
Iíve 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 Iíd had this book to share with my own children when they were small.
I love the magical interplay of text, which describes a new motherís 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 WorldÖ Iím getting carried away. Let me turn it over to Lee.
Youíve referred to Maryís Song as ďmy nativity lovesong.Ē 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 Maryís perspective, but that itís all about sound. Poetry is all about sound. Was this a natural way for you to explore Maryís feelings, after your own lifeís 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 Maryís 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 ďwebĒ?
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 MARYíS 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 youíd 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 Iíll be eagerly anticipating this one! Canít wait. Thank you again for joining us today and for the generous behind-the-scenes peek at MARYíS 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 weekís Roundup.
July 19, 2012
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, ďThe Sacred Hymns of Pachacutec.Ē 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: ďTraditions 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. ÖĒ
These were my kind of poets, as Curl goes on to say: ďQuechua poets liked their verses brief and without obvious artifice.Ē 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!"
to all things you have given life: Ö
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 countryís 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. Ö
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!
July 13, 2012
© Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved
Happy Friday the 13th!
Today I have time on my mindÖ 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 Ė A Book of Found Poems
released in the spring, I canít help but ďfindĒ poems in unlikely places. Iíve been working on some artwork incorporating found objects, so now Iím 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, ďNext Time You Make a Cake.Ē 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 ďshortenĒ time to capture it Ė stir it up and taste it?
by Robyn Hood Black
(Found in a 1927 advertisement for Snowdrift shortening appearing in
is so good Ė
sweet as new cream.
pleasure to use,
naturally found in
Make the most of your time today with great poetry rounded up by the wonderful Jone at Check It Out
July 6, 2012
Diane posted a wonderful ekphrastic poem from Eavan Boland
last week. Iím feeling a bit Irish and wistful this week, so Iím going to continue on that path and post another Boland poem here. (I featured her ďIrish InteriorĒ
While celebrating the Fourth at my in-lawsí house this week, I looked over the shoulder of my brother-in-law as he flipped through a scrapbook Iíd 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, Iíve 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 donít 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 weíve just had an afternoon of welcome ďsummer rain,Ē and also because Iíve 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 donít 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 possibleó Ö
Please click here
here to read the rest.
It wonít cost you a florin or even two cents to indulge in more great poetry Ė just check out The Opposite of Indifference,
where wonderful Tabatha has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.
June 28, 2012
H. D. (Hilda Doolittle) c. 1921. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (Wikipedia)
Triple days of triple digits. Yep, thatís what they say. And since much of the country is now under a blanket of heat, if you're in the States, chances are youíre 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 weíd experience a poem to confirm our toasty experiences, and then Iíd 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.ís complicated personal and literary relationships throughout her life - from the Poetry Foundation.)
First, feel the sizzle:
by H. D.
O wind, rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters.
Fruit cannot drop
through this thick airó
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,
chill, snow-ribbed sand,
drift of rare flowers,
clear, with delicate shell-
like leaf enclosing
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.
June 22, 2012
art and photo ©Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved
All week long Iíve 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. Iíve 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 LeBlancís then-magazine-for-kids, Berry Blue Haiku
(now the name of her personal online journal
twig by leaf by twig by leaf
build a cozy home
©Robyn Hood Black
Berry Blue Haiku
, Sept. 2010
Iíve always admired the nest-building skill of wrens. This yearís 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 Ė back in the 1830s to be more precise, and at his home, Rydal Mount,
where the inspiration for the following poem was hatched.
A Wrenís 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. Ö
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!
June 14, 2012
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 monthís Poetry for All
Highlights Founders Workshop, Eileen Spinelli
told us that a writer needs time to meander. So please bear with me Ė Iím meandering today!
Last weekend, I had the terrific good fortune to attend the SCBWI Southern Breeze
summer retreat, ďShow Don't Tell: How Acting Techniques Improve WritingĒ led by Hester Bass
. At first I thought Iíd find a poem celebrating acting for today, and then I wanted to celebrate hospitality Ė shown by Hester in her leadership, shown by Joan Broerman
, our regionís 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 ďhospitalityĒ led to Ben Jonsonís
1616 poem, ďTo Penshurst.Ē 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 Jeffís family Ė 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.
Iíll also always remember that trip to Penshurst Ė 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. Itís an ďestate poemĒ which looks at nature, culture and social relationships. Hereís a taste with the beginning and a bit from later on:
by Ben Jonson
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 standíst an ancient pile,
And, these grudged at, art reverenced the while.
Thou joyíst 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 lordís own meat Ö
For the entire poem, click here.
Oh Ė 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 Leeís A Year of Reading
for the Poetry Friday roundup!
May 31, 2012
My daughter, Morgan, bungee jumps in Queenstown, New Zealand.
(Thatís 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 worldís 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 canít 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 Ė probably a robin Ė high up in a camellia.)
Morgan and I always loved the movie, ďFly Away HomeĒ (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 fatherís knowledge of Ultralight planes, they lead the young geese on their first migration south, ensuring their survival. Inspired by a true story, thereís 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, ď10,000 Miles," by the incredible Mary Chapin Carpenter
. (If you havenít heard it, grab a hanky and treat yourself
. ("Fare thee well... ."
Thanks for indulging me in an original, personal poem this week.
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 didnít know Iíd 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:
Canít we watch the movie in class?
I didnít know this girl
would be so thirsty for the rush of air
that one day sheíd leap
(held only by a cable)
40 meters down
from a bridge 10,000 miles away
in a perfect
Someday, I know,
sheíll leap from this nest.
Iíll dry my eyes,
smooth my feathers,
and sing to the wild, swirling world:
See that one there? Soaring with those iridescent wings?
©Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved
Thank you for visiting! Flap on over to Carolís Corner
for todayís Poetry Friday Roundup.
May 25, 2012
Is this a great picture or what? At the Poetry for All
Highlights Founders workshop last week, I shared my cabin with some special guests. Well, the inside top of the porch of my cabin. A pair of robins dutifully flew in and out and in and out to tend their nest.
The photo was taken by fellow workshop attendee Cory Corrado, a lovely and talented poet and amazing nature photographer who hails from Quebec, Canada. She spent a little time patiently waiting Ė okay, a long time patiently waiting Ė balancing herself standing on a deck chair holding out for just the right shots when the birds wouldn't fly away. See how her patience paid off?
Coryís book of photos and poetry, ďPho-etry,Ē called Nature Inspires
, was featured earlier this year on Poetry for All co-leader David L. Harrisonís blog (click here
for the link.) You can also get a virtual look at Coryís stunning work in the book by clicking here
Well, Iíve been thinking about those robins. And Iím enjoying all the varied birdlife outside my own doors this spring. (Oh Ė and Susan Taylor Brownís amazing bird photos on her Poppiness
website! Ė Have you seen those or followed her bird stories there or on Facebook?)
Back to robins. Hereís a fun poem for today from The Golden Book of Poetry
(1947) as shared on The Poetry Foundation website.
We have a secret, just we three,
The robin, and I, and the sweet cherry-tree;
The bird told the tree, and the tree told me,
And nobody knows it but just us three.
But of course the robin knows it best,
Because she built the--I shan't tell the rest;
And laid the four little--something in it--
I'm afraid I shall tell it every minute.
But if the tree and the robin don't peep,
I'll try my best the secret to keep;
Though I know when the little birds fly about
Then the whole secret will be out.
Now wing your way over to TeacherDance
for more great poetry, where Lovely Linda has todayís Roundup.
May 18, 2012
Top: Eileen Spinelli, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Rebecca Davis, Melanie Hall, David L. Harrisonmiddle: cabin, and having fun with Rebecca S.,Rebecca K. D., Bill, and Jacqueline (and Cindi taking pix)with Marjorie Maddox; Joy Acey and Davidbottom: happily in the middle of a Spinelli Sandwich
What a week! I was blessed and thrilled to spend the last several days in Pennsylvania up at beautiful Boyds Mills with a few fellow Poetry Friday folks (Heidi! Joy! Liz! Julie!), and some wonderful new friends, and our fearless leaders of the Highlights Founders
"Poetry for All" workshop: Rebecca Kai Dotlich
, David L. Harrison
, and Eileen Spinelli
, along with special guests editor Rebecca Davis
, illustrator Melanie Hall
, and poet Marjorie Maddox
We had serious literary discussions and explorations of craft, and some rather silly times, too, and of course amazing food from gourmet chef Marcia and her wonderful staff. And wine every afternoon!
Relishing the natural beauty up there, I managed to get in a couple of walks, though we had lots of rain. I even had a family of robins nesting up in the corner of my cabin's porch.
It was wonderful dropping in on the Highlights
and Boyds Mills folks Wednesday (Hi, JoŽlle! Hi, Larry!), and on the way back from that trip to Honesdale, the driver of my car, Pam, slowed down for a bear crossing the road! A beautiful, agile young creature which bounded off into the woods.
For a taste of the amazing wit, wisdom, and experience shared with us, I'll offer just one quote (from my notes) from each of our speakers:
David: "I had 67 rejections for writing stories for kids. Friends
magazine bought the 68th...."
Rebecca: "Brainstorm - noodle and doodle in sketchbooks. Visualize details."
Eileen: "The deeper we go into our hearts, the richer our lives become."
Melanie: "We have to try to pull something new out of ourselves. That's the task for the creative person."
Rebecca Davis: "I love it when a poetry collection can be greater than the sum of its parts."
Marjorie: "As poets, we're witnesses of the world."
(We also had a special treat of a dinner visit and a few comments from Boyds Mills Press Executive Editor Liz Van Doren!)
If you've been to a Highlights workshop, you know why several of our 21 attendees had been before. If you've never been, try to get to one someday - your Muse will thank you!
Speaking of inspiration, I was saddened to learn, when I got home late Thursday night and reconnected a little with the world, that Jean Craighead George had passed away on Tuesday (just one week after we lost Maurice Sendak). I'd like to close today's post with the last few lines of her picture book, THE WOLVES ARE BACK (illustrated by Wendell Minor
; Dutton, 2008). This is a picture book rather than poetry, but the words are lovely and rich.
The grasses grew tall; the riverbank stopped eroding. Willow and aspen trees flourished. Beavers built ponds. Birds sang. Flowers bloomed.
The wilderness is in balance again.
The wolves are back.
Thank you, Jean Craighead George.
(For more, see the author's website
, The New York Times
, and Publisher's Weekly
, inlcluding a tribute from
And thanks to everyone for making the poetry workshop a resounding success. For more great poetry and for thoughts about living in the moment, stop in to see Katya at Write. Sketch. Repeat.
for today's Roundup.
May 11, 2012
Book Spine Poems (See end of post for text)
For Motherís Day, Iím getting on a plane early Sunday morning and leaving my family. Mind you, I love my family! Ė 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.
Iíll 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.ís new ďbarnĒ Ė 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 Ė Iím not kidding; with a real chef and talented staffĖ 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 Ė perfect for creative reflection at the end of a busy day
7.) Lots more!
Sort of related, Iíve just finished the first half of Art and Fear Ė Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING
(1993) by David Bayles and Ted Orland. This book has been on my ďlistĒ forever, and a friend recently gave me a copy. Iím treasuring it as much as reading it. Itís 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
: ďThe lessons you are meant to learn are in your work. To see them, you need only look at the work clearly Ė without judgment, without need or fear, without wishes or hopes. Without emotional expectations. Ask you work what it needs, not what you need.Ē
The authors are not suggesting that writers and artists arenít inspired by other works of art or that they shouldnít read/view them. Or that creative people donít need mentors. But I think they are suggesting that oneís 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 weekís workshop will be led by this wonderful line-up: Rebecca
again, and David L. Harrison
, and Eileen Spinelli
So for todayís poem, Iíve conjured up some book spine poems
made from some of Rebecca's, David's, and Eileen's books on my shelves. Enjoy!
Hereís the text of the ďpoemsĒ from the picture above (punctuation added with poetic licenseÖ):
in the spin of things -
where I live
A family like yours -
Do you have a cat?
Do you have a dog?
Somebody catch my homework!
Wild Country -
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 Iíll be inspired.
For a virtual poetic retreat today, head over to Live Your Poem...
, where the beautiful Irene Latham has the Poetry Friday Roundup.
May 4, 2012
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 Ė 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. Itís part of a big May Day celebration, but for these fifth graders, itís a rite of passage from elementary school to middle school. Seems like I just watched both of mine participate, and now theyíre pretty much grown!
I thought weíd celebrate this (pagan!) tradition here, too Ė 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: ďbrereĒ means briar; ďdightĒ means adorn/dress; ďsopps in wineĒ refers to the an old name for ďclove pink,Ē or, carnation!]
If youíre up for struggling through the language for the whole month, which is an argument between ďthe persons of two shepheards Piers & Palinodie, be represented two formes of pastoures or Ministers, or the protestant and the CatholiqueÖĒ hereís
For more great poetry, and more accessible Iím sure, please go gather ye some rosebuds for your garland at Wild Rose Reader
, where lovely Elaine is rounding up Poetry Friday.
April 27, 2012
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 Vardellís wonderful Poetry for Children
blog, I asked these two poetic go-getters if theyíd 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. Youíll find an interview by graduate student Abby Hancock and the poem ďPianoballĒ by Jocelyn Shipley.)
Letís start with a poem from the collection:
It stinks that the ref blew the call,
And youíre sore Ďcuz 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 letís 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 weíve 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.
Itís wonderful to see that youíll 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 Uppalís 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 athletesí tales of inspiration and courage needed to be represented in our collection. In addition, Iím 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 Ė all of them! But pretty please give us a sneak peekÖ.)
HEIDI: The inspirational poems about athletes with disabilities hold a special place in my heart. From Laura Purdie Salasí 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 Hancockís heartwarming verse in honor of her young nephew focuses on the winning attitude of special needs athletes, while Carmela Martinoís ďAt the Chicago MarathonĒ reveals the poetís 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 youíll always be sure to find folks who know how to play chess. I am excited that children will ďhearĒ how the English language ďsoundsĒ 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 poemďThe 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 ďPianoball.Ē
Fifty poems from established and emerging poets Ė 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 childrenís 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: Letís 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 ďstoryĒ, 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, Iíve embraced this anonymous quote: ďPoetry is a can of frozen orange concentrate. Add three cans water and you get prose.Ē 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 Ėand revealed a haiku ďhiddenĒ 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 poemsóand 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 theyíve 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 poetóor an athleteóis not for the faint-hearted, but for those who persistÖ 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.
April 19, 2012
Did you know that in addition to National Poetry Month, April is Jazz Appreciation Month? Click here
for the Smithsonian website. Today, weíre combining the two!
While presenting a workshop at the Georgia Conference on Childrenís Literature
last month, I met the incredible Carole Boston Weatherford
, New York Times bestselling author of dozens of books Ė poetry collections, picture books, and nonfiction. Trailing her is a long list of awards, including the North Carolina Award for Literature in 2010, the stateís 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 Childrenís 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 weíre 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 (ďÖA remarkable tribute well worthy of its subjectĒ) and School Library Journal (ÖďCaptivatingĒ), the book is a fictional memoir Ė a collection of first-person poems chronicling the transformation of Eleanora Fagan (b. 1915) into the groundbreaking and iconic jazz singer Billie Holiday.
Weatherford doesnít shy away from the hard facts of Billieís early life Ė rape, prostitution, drinking and marijuana use Ė but rounds out the darkness with the irrepressible voice and spirit of this singular talent. Most of the poems take their titles from Billie Holidayís songs. Here is one which captures the struggle and emotion of her very early years (reprinted with permission from the author):
Ainít Nobodyís 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 didnít 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 Ė 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 Ė which could change her life. (And this voice had power that would reach far beyond her own life, particularly when she lent it to ďStrange Fruit,Ē 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
Ė ďbefore heroin and hard living took their toll.Ē
Iím 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 Childrenís Literature conference, I scribbled down this quote: ďPoetry is my first language as a writer.Ē 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.
Iím amazed at the way you balanced presenting the facts of Billie Holidayís 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 Iím 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 Holidayís 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, thereís an easy rhythm to the language. Youíve written that ďjazz was the soundtrackĒ of your preschool years - how would you say jazz has influenced your writing Ė 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 Ė Happy Poetry AND Jazz Month!
For more, please visit Caroleís website
and her great Billie Holiday blog
For more poetry, sashay over to see what Dianeís rounding up at Random Noodling.
April 17, 2012
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!
April 12, 2012
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!), letís take a look at one of her newest books, BOOKSPEAK Ė Poems About Books, illustrated with warmth and whimsy by Josťe 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 Childrenís Book Award, a White Ravens 2012 book, and a Librariansí Choice book.
For a hint of the variety of flavors in this collection, let me share just a few lines from a few poems:
Line after line of inky black birds
Forming the flocks that shift into words. ...
P s s s t!
Hey, kid Ė yeah, you.
So you want some facts, huh?
Forget that pretty picture on the front cover Ė
donít you know they lie?
And the Table of Contents?
That only tells you where each chapter starts!
Pretty vague, you know what Iím saying?
I can give you specifics. Ö
Iím not that kind of plate.
Write your name upon me.
Iím a paper love tattoo. Ö
From ďIíve Got This CoveredĒ
Iím the first thing you see when you walk by a book.
My picture is shouting, ďPlease stop! Take a look!Ē
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 Ė 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 didnít! 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 booksówhat could be better? And the chance to appear in one of Leeís 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 Karenís surprise, as well), Jennifer acquired the collection. I kept saying, ďButÖ[Lee is already doing an anthology on this topic], ďbutÖĒ [the poems had already been rejected], ďbutÖĒ [was it OK to do this when they came about because of someone elseís project?] They kept saying, ďItís OK. Breathe. Relax.Ē 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, ďWhy Arenít All Books Happy?,Ē ďStellar Books,Ē and ďOcean Tales.Ē
Hereís the never-before-seen (oooh!) 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 Iíll 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.
Iím 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 ďThe Middleís Lament: A Poem for Three VoicesĒ out loud. Which is exactly what I hoped theyíd do with it. Iím hoping that BOOKSPEAKís status as an NCTE Notable book (yay!) will give it more exposure, and that Iíll 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 BEÖ. 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 childrenís 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:
2. Donít 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 ďThis Is the BookĒ from BOOKSPEAK over at today Katie Davisís blog and one of my reading ďHydrophobiacĒ earlier this month at Renee LaTulippeís No Water River blog . I do not like seeing recordings of myself, and I need to get better at reading poems aloud. So Iím sort of afraid to share those links.
Have no fear, Laura! Youíre 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 Anastasiaís contribution to the 2012 KidLit Progressive Poem yesterday, and keep following the mysteryÖ.)
April 11, 2012
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...!
April 6, 2012
My office kitty, May, appreciates the illustration homage to ďStarry NightĒ below my poem, ďWe See With These,Ē opposite Bob Raczkaís delightful ďPlaces Iíd Love to Van Gogh Someday.Ē
Greetings, Poetry Lovers!
Hope youíre enjoying all the great poetry offerings in Kidlitosphere
this month. Iím thrilled to be hosting on the first Friday in April!
And Iím beyond thrilled to share Georgia Heardís brand-new anthology of found poems, THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK , illustrated by Antoine Guilloppť
, hot off the Roaring Brook Press. This is the first time my own poetry has appeared in an anthology for kids, and I couldnít 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, ďfindingĒ 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 Ė even a detergent box! One of my favorites is Bob Raczkaís ďHow to Write a Poem on Your ComputerĒ using words from drop-down computer menus.
I wanted my submissions to be kid-friendly. The first poem I have in the book, ďBattling Beams,Ē 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 ďDownĒ and ďAcross.Ē 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,
Copyright ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.
In her introduction to the collection, Georgia Heard mentions several of the poems and writes: ďÖ some poets chose to splice words together from a single source and make a kind of word collage, as in Robyn Hood Blackís ĎWe See with Theseí.Ē A word collage. I love that! And I think thatís an idea kids can run with too. Iíll try it out with Mrs. Briggsís current batch of fourth graders next week.
I also love this from the introduction, ďÖI want my readers to know that poetry is everywhere Ė if we only look at the world with poetís eyes.Ē
Hats off to other Poetry Friday regulars with poems in the collection, including Amy Ludwig VanDerwater (ďArtistís AdviceĒ) and Laura Purdie Salas (ďThey Donít Want Speeding Tickets, SoÖĒ and ďTop Ten Rules for our Zoo Field TripĒ). Iíll have the good luck to post a terrific interview with Laura next Friday the 13th (with a poem that you havenít seen before!) and, on the following Friday (April 20) weíll be jazzing things up here with the multi-award winning Carole Boston Weatherford. What a special month.
(Iíll be popping in on these wonderful blogs myself: Jama Rattiganís Alphabet Soup
Poetry Potluck on Wed., April 11, and Laura Shovanís month-long celebration at Author Amok
on Friday, April 13. Thank you, Ladies!)
There are so many great celebrations out there TODAY Ė please leave your links in the comments, and Iíll round them up throughout the day.
April 4, 2012
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!
April 1, 2012
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
March 30, 2012
Fans of Nancy Raines Dayís 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 Nancyís first picture book, THE LIONíS WHISKERS, appeared in 1995, sheís 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 ďharpoodleĒ or an ďorganutan.Ē) For insight into Leonhardís process in bringing to life these ďalphabeasts,Ē which involved traditional and digital painting techniques, see his comments here
on Nancyís website.
Hereís how the story starts:
swing all around,
Mix - one for each letter -
now how do they sound?
Some of Nancyís own favorite characters begin the adventure:
is for alliguitar,
who has his
is for banjaguar,
who plays some
Another of her favorite spreads is one Iím especially drawn to:
is for saxofox,
is for tromboa,
who really can
Iím swayiní to the music, baby.
Nancy adds, ďMy fellow University of Michigan alumni friends get a kick out of the wolbourines
Before becoming a childrenís author, Nancy wrote in some form or fashion throughout her life. As a child, she ďpublished a newspaper written on leaves with Ďinkí from squished berries and charged 25 cents in hickory nut money.Ē
I asked Nancy a couple of questions about this new book.
How did you get the idea for ALLIGUITAR?
ďI 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 weekís Poetry Friday Roundup. [Next week, the Roundup will be HERE! :0) ]
March 22, 2012
Beautiful and sneeze-worthy!
Greetings! I'm busy presenting a "Haiku How-To" workshop at the 43rd Annual Children's Literature Conference
at the University of Georgia in Athens this weekend. Will try to make the Poetry Friday rounds after the conference!
In preparing materials for teachers and media specialists, I decided to add a new HAIKU page
to my website. It has links to download a 4-page Resource guide, as well as handouts with simple guidelines for creating haiku with grades 3-5 and K-2. Help yourself!
The pollen count in the greater Atlanta area has been off the charts this week. (Something like above 9,000?) Here in north Georgia, the tree canopies and the pathways are covered in cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms, of course, have always been an important and favorite subject for haiku.
But today I think we'll revisit a few familiar lines from A. E. Houseman (1859Ė1936):
A Shropshire Lad II: Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
By A. E. Housman
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more. ...
Please click HERE
to read the final stanza.
And please click HERE
for the Poetry Friday Roundup, hosted by our Fearless Poetry Friday Roundup Leader, Mary Lee, at A Year of Reading
. Don't forget the Madness Poetry Tournament
at Think, Kid, Think
- good luck to everyone still "in"! Everyone vote for your favorites!
March 16, 2012
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.
by Eavan Boland
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 12, 2012
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 kidsí 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!
March 8, 2012
Iíve been happily immersed in haiku, as Iím thrilled to be presenting a "Haiku How-To" workshop at the 43rd Annual Children's Literature Conference
at The University of Georgia in a couple of weeks.
Also, the spring issues of several haiku journals are out, and Iím honored to have my work in a few of them. In addition to the Modern Haiku
link I shared week before last, Iíve got a poem each in The Heron's Nest,
and A Hundred Gourds
. (Click to read.)
The work of my terrifically talented friend and Berry Blue Haiku
editor Gisele LeBlanc is featured in these issues as well. Unbeknownst to each other, we both just received acceptances for the April issues of Acorn
as well as for Prune Juice
Giseleís work also appears in Shamrock
this month, and I just received an acceptance from Chrysanthemum
for the April issue.
Iím humbled and thrilled about all of these. One thing I love about the English-language haiku journals is that they are published in so many different countries and the works of poets from all over the world can appear on the same page.
If you donít have time to click and enjoy the haiku on the pages above, Iíll leave you with Giseleís and my poems from the new issue of The Heronís Nest
the big dipper
my dog keeps searching
for the right spot
Spanish moss dipped
Robyn Hood Black
My haiku formed itself as I walked in my folksí Orlando neighborhood last year during a trip to my hometown. While I love the beauty of the north Georgia mountains, thereís something so singular about the nature of light in Florida that always seizes me when I visit. I grew up there and didnít really notice this difference in the quality of the sky, the brightness of those tropical colors, until I moved away. The landscapes here near the Appalachians are lovely, but the colors are generally more subtle, the light less intense. And unless you head to southern and coastal parts of Georgia, we donít have all that dramatic Spanish moss dripping from the trees.
For lots of great poetry to light up your day, visit the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by the delightful and insightful Myra at Gathering Books
. Be sure to wish her Happy Birthday!
March 2, 2012
Yesterday the spring-like sun was shining and the wolves (and other animals) were frisky and full of themselves at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve
, and I had a terrific time visiting with them. That put me in a mind to find a good, wild poem for today. I really love Carl Sandburg's "wilderness that will not let (him) go." Here are the first and fourth sections, but you'll want to click the link at the end to read the whole poem:
by Carl Sandburg
There is a wolf in me Ö fangs pointed for tearing gashes Ö a red tongue for raw meat Ö and the hot lapping of bloodóI keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.
There is a fish in me Ö I know I came from saltblue water-gates Ö I scurried with shoals of herring Ö I blew waterspouts with porpoises Ö before land was Ö before the water went down Ö before Noah Ö before the first chapter of Genesis. ...
Please click here
to enjoy the whole poem. (If you have time, leave a comment below with your favorite fun phrase - one of mine is the "saltblue water-gates" above.)
And then run, creep, slither, swim, fly or otherwise get thee to Dori Reads
where Doraine has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup.
February 24, 2012
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.
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.
February 16, 2012
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 Shakespeareís 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!
February 9, 2012
Iím always curious about how animals are depicted in stories, myths, folktales and art. As well as in the media Ė I havenít yet seen it, but this weekís 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 ďThe Mythical Wolf.Ē 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 ďbig bad wolfĒ) on the other. Colin Howard
produced brilliant artwork.
I recently ran across this poem, ďThe Wolfís Postscript to ĎLittle Red Riding Hoodí Ē by Agha Shahid Ali (1949 Ė 2001, credited with introducing the classical form of the ghazal to American readers). In the poem below, I fell in love with the speakerís dry, sophisticated voice. See if you donít agree itís dark and delicious (and rather sad, too):
The Wolfís Postscript to ĎLittle Red Riding Hoodí
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? Ö
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
February 3, 2012
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 heís sure is a dragon in his back yard, rustling in the bushes.
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 thereís a new Nickelodeon show launching TODAY
called MIKE THE KNIGHT
, and sheís sure I should have gotten some royalties or something. The characters even favor each other! I only wishÖ.)
Anyway, last night Kilough Elementary School here in Georgia invited me to come for an Authorís 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,
by X. J. Kennedy
I have a purple dragon with
A long brass tail that clangs,
And anyone not nice to me
Soon feels his fiery fangs. Ö
Please read the rest here.
For a longer dragony frolic, enjoy Ogden Nashís 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
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. Ö
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
January 26, 2012
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
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 Ė
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 ďwrappedĒ effect. At the same time, my own poem deals with an important topic in my writing life Ė how paying attention, not getting ďwrappedĒ up in the routine, can bring moments of awareness and beauty, moments of appreciation. That smoky smell of the childrenís 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!
January 12, 2012
I hope 2012 is off to a great start for you. Iím looking forward to a year of reading, writing, art and spending time with all kinds of readers, writers, and artists.
Iíll continue my haiku journey. What a thrill to learn my proposal for the 43rd Annual Childrenís Literature Conference
in Georgia this spring was accepted: a workshop titled, ďHaiku How-to.Ē I look forward to sharing ways to explore haiku in the classroom with teachers, media specialists, and other lovers of childrenís literature.
Also, Iím happy to celebrate some recent acceptances Ė my haiku will appear in the next issues of Modern Haiku, The Heronís Nest,
and A Hundred Gourds.
In the current (December) issue of Notes from the Gean,
I have a lighthearted poem on p. 42:
escorted to the mailbox
by an acorn
~ Notes from the Gean
, December 2011
and then this one, on the same page:
as ten years ago
~ 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 Mayrís
wonderful haiga in this same issue on p. 47.)
Poet, friend, and Berry Blue Haiku
editor Gisele LeBlanc
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-
~ Notes from the Gean
, September 2010
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, itís 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.
January 6, 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 sendóour 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.
December 16, 2011
If you didnít quite get enough of David L. Harrison from last weekís spiderwebs poem , youíre in luck. Iím thrilled to welcome him here today for an interview Ė and more poetry, of course!
David L. Harrison and the hot-off-the-virtual-press Goose Lake, illustrated by Sladjana Vasic.
David is the author of 80-some books (whew!), from poetry to easy readers to fiction to nonfiction to books for teachers on writing instruction, and his books have sold millions of copies. His work has been anthologized in more than 100 books and has appeared in dozens of magazines and journals. If I listed all his awards, we wouldnít have space for the interview. David keeps a busy schedule of traveling and speaking, yet manages to stay in touch with readers and writers through his terrific blog.
Welcome, David Ė Thank you for joining us, and Happy Holidays!
Youíve written so widely, but letís focus on poetry today. Your first book of poetry, Somebody Catch My Homework, was published in 1993 by Boyds Mills Press (publisher of several of your collections since then). How and when did you become a poet?
Hi Robyn. Iím delighted and flattered to be here. Thanks for inviting me!
I became a poet by stages. First came the fun of making rhymes. (ďSometimes I wish/I had a fish/Upon a dish.Ē Age 6).
Next came the vague sense of intellectual snobbery from reading Shakespeareís sonnets and Omar KhayyŠmís finger having writ. That, of course, came in college.
In my twenties, the gift of a book about poetry made me wonder if I could become a poet. I didnít. Not for a long time. Not until I reached my fifties. Thatís when I took off three years from all other writing and threw myself into writing poems. By then I had long been a childrenís author so naturally my poetic efforts were written with young people in mind. I knew very little about childrenís poetry but had read some of Silversteinís work and figured I might as well try my luck with humor.
The first to see my work was Christine San Jose, who was associated with Highlights
and knew about Kent Brownís fledgling line of books called Boyds Mills Press. There was even an imprint for poetry. Christine urged me to send my poems to Bernice Cullinan, editor-in-chief for Wordsong, the line of poetry. Bee liked what she read and urged Kent to publish my poetry. The first title was Somebody Catch My Homework
. It was also my first collaboration with Betsy Lewin. Homework
did well with combined sales in hardcover and paperback of over 40,000 and still growing. The only serious poem in that collection is the last one in the book Ė ďMy Book!Ē Ė and itís the one that has been quoted most widely, painted on a bookmobile in Colorado, and sandblasted into a sidewalk in Arizona.
One thing I love about your work is its appeal to boys. In The Purchase of Small Secrets (illustrated by Meryl Henderson, Wordsong/Boyds Mills, 1998), we tag along as a boy interacts with the people and animals he lives with. You tackle many subjects unflinchingly Ė a rabbit killed crossing the road, the wandering off of a strange old neighbor, the loss of a pet which never returns. But thereís much humor in the poems, too. And an abiding appreciation of nature. One of my favorites is:
A Chip of Flint
for an arrowhead.
Maybe a chip
from the weapon
by a master craftsman,
flint in one hand
antler tip in the other,
a new stone point.
Did he pause
in these woods
or was he surrounded
by chuckling comrades
who winked at secrets
as chips fell?
It doesnít matter
the chip was rejected
by the arrowhead.
I accept it
as a gift
from an unknown hand.
Do you think poetry can help reconnect kids with the natural world today? If so, how?
Thank you for selecting that poem, Robyn. Itís one of my own favorites too. Yes, I think poetry can lead young readers to see nature in a more personal way. A good nonfiction book can, too, and so can adventure stories set in nature. But most poems are brief and rich in imagery. In a way, a collection of poems is like a scrapbook of photographs. Enjoy a picture, turn the page forward or backward, and enjoy another.
When I wrote The Purchase of Small Secrets
, I wanted to share the period of my boyhood when I spent every possible hour outside. I began by making a list of moments I remember: finding a chipped piece of flint in the woods, exploring a cave, wondering about animal tracks in the soft earth . . . From these bits and scraps of my past grew the group of poems that became Small Secrets
. Children of the city may not ever experience such opportunities. They may never gaze down at their feet in a field of tall grass and discover the empty shell of a long-dead turtle or sit still by a stream and watch a muskrat swim across the quiet water. But I can take them there with my word pictures and help them understand something more about the natural world we live in and must take care of.
Other poems in Secrets
deal with issues that can be painful or sensitive. Boys and girls both know what it feels like to lose a pet or experience the serious illness or death of an adult. Boys (and yes, sometimes girls) get into fights or know someone who does. When I write about a rabbit beside the road, I take the time to reflect on its loss and hope that my young readers will see the value of pausing to think about what they see in their own lives.
Speaking of kids today, we have to talk technology. Your work has been included in all three of the PoetryTagTime e-book anthologies produced by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong this year. As far as reaching young readers, how do you see poetry fitting into changing publishing landscapes?
When Sylvia and Janet invited me to contribute poems to the PoetryTagTime series, I was happy to accept and eager to learn more about this whole e-publishing world. Changes can be exciting and obviously the concept of publishing on the Internet for an audience of people holding some form of electronic reading device is a huge change. I donít know where this is headed. I hope it means good things for authors who have something to say but donít have enough traditional outlets to share their work. Poetry is always hard to place with publishers. As much as we want them to sell well, most books of poems do not. But this doesnít mean that there is no audience for poetry! The trick is to find our readers and entice them to buy our wares instead of something foolish such as food or clothes. We are a chorus of vendors, each shouting, ďMe! Me! Me!Ē
E-publishing tends to level the field by allowing poetry fans to find their favorite poets from home and download their work for less money than they spend on hard copies. There are plenty of questions. How does e-publishing impact on traditional publishers? How does it affect authorsí incomes? Will the market become diluted with so many new entries? Iím sure weíll find out over time but for now I want to think there is a blessing in all this somewhere.
And, you have your own hot-off-the-virtual-collection poetry collection, right? Tell us about it!
Yes! Waiting for Christmas when I was a kid was never as hard as waiting to introduce Goose Lake.
I wrote the first poem in this collection three years ago. Sandy and I have lived beside a lake for twenty-two years. I love to look at the water and all the life around, in, and above it. I have two degrees in biology and have always been a nature lover so you can imagine how much I needed to write about this lake!
This may be precisely the kind of collection made for e-publishing. Nature lovers everywhere can find it easily at Barnes & Noble.com, Amazon.com, and iTunes.com. Teachers looking for poetry about nature can download it inexpensively. This is not a book specifically for young readers but some who have already read it think it is. There is a sad poem in the collection that nearly made one girl cry. I think the audience will be quite broad and include a high percentage of adult readers.
Can you tempt us with a poem or excerpt?
Iíd love to! This one is called, ďFree at Last.Ē
Free at Last
Fish are rolling,
rippling the surface
with fins and bellies.
Fish are bucking,
off slippery backs.
Fish are leaping,
like glistening sweat
into the suddenly spring.
Letís close with a peek back into your creative process. Both sides of your brain are obviously nimble, with a B.A. in zoology from Drury College and a masters in parasitiology from Emory. (Parasitology, people!) How does your background in science inform your writing life?
I grew up collecting arrowheads, insects, snake skins, turtle shells, animal hides, bird wings, fossils, minerals, seashells, skulls, and so on. In college I majored in biology and minored in geology. The scientific approach teaches one to observe and record, check facts, draw conclusions carefully. After college I became a pharmacologist in a pharmaceutical laboratory. I suppose it was inevitable for me to write numerous nonfiction books, including a series of seven titles called Earthworks. My most recent nonfiction book is Mammoth Bones and Broken Stones
, a recounting of the archaeological search for signs of the first migrants to reach and populate North America. National Science Teachers Association recommends the book, which was five years in the making, and it was nominated for the Society for American Archaeologyís 2010 Book of the Year for ďa book that is written for the general public and presents the results of archaeological research to a broader audience.Ē
My poetry is frequently informed by my science background too. Pirates
, which was chosen for the Texas Bluebonnet (2010) and Indiana Young Hoosier (2011) master reading lists, was named by VOYA for its Nonfiction Honor List. Itís unusual for poetry to win a spot on a nonfiction list but Pirates
was well researched and presents the life and times of those outlaws of the sea who have so often been portrayed as dashing heroes.
On a similar ďnoteĒ (sorry), I understand you are a musician. Tell us about your music, and how this talent contributes to your work as a poet.
Iím smiling at that! It reminds me of all the sour notes I listened to as a young trombone teacher in my teens as one kid-who-hadnít-practiced after another zombie-walked through my door on Saturdays. I spent much of my youth playing in marching bands, concert bands and orchestras, German bands, jazz and Dixieland combos. I played professionally in dance bands, including a summer in Springfield, Illinois and was principal trombonist in the Springfield, Missouri symphony. With so much variety in the music I played, I can tell you for sure that my poetry is very much influenced by my background.
Oh, and unrelated but too cool not to mention - you have an elementary school named after you! Where is it, and how did that come to be?
Beginning with a six year stint on our school board in the early 80s, Iíve been involved in a number of educational projects over the years. I helped start an annual teacher appreciation banquet, joined with three others to start a foundation for our public schools, created a reading challenge for students called SKY HIGH ON READING and, when the district libraries needed more books, spearheaded a book drive called Reading Roundup. Most recently Iím co-chairing a project called Family Voices that encourages parents of children under five to read to their kids on a regular basis.
I like to think that a school was named for me because of the body of my work. But I suspect it was the total package that led the school board to grant me the honor of a lifetime by naming David Harrison Elementary School
(Springfield, Missouri) after me. The school was new in 2009-10, cost $10 million dollars to build, sets on seventy-two acres, and provides classes for preK-4. Thirty-two feet of glassed cases display a collection of my work. I canít tell you how it feels to walk into that place except in terms of goose bumps and uncontrollable smiles.
You are very involved in educational markets Ė what are some of the poetry contributions youíve co-written for the classroom?
My partners have included former IRA president, NYU professor Bernice Cullinan (Poetry Lessons that Dazzle and Delight
, Scholastic), Kathy Holderith (former 3rd grade teacher in Colorado (Using the Power of Poetry
, Scholastic), Kent State professor Tim Rasinski (Using Partner Poems to Build Fluency
, Scholastic), and I wrote the poetry chapter for Childrenís Literature in the Reading Program
(co-edited by Deb Wooten and Bernice Cullinan, IRA). Iím currently under contract for five new books with Mary Jo Fresch (Ohio State, Teacher Created Materials) and have six other books under development. Iím nearing an agreement with another educational publisher to partner on my new DVD series of writing tips for the elementary classroom called This Week with David Harrison
. A three-hour graduate course from Drury University will be offered with the series and Iíll co-author a book and student workbook to accompany it.
You are one busy man! Finally, pretty please with spiderwebs on top, share a fun fact not many people know about youÖ.
Hmmm. How about this? I was an athlete. I lettered as a baseball pitcher in high school and once carried a 190 bowling average. Now you know all my secrets!
Robyn, thank you again for inviting me onto your blog today. Iíve had a fine time.
Thank you, David! To learn more about David and his incredible body of work, visit his website.
And rememberÖ. Poetry makes the perfect gift!
For more great poetry, go see Kate at Book Aunt.
(And I'll see you after Christmas break!)
December 9, 2011
Greetings! Iím thrilled to be hosting Poetry Friday today.
My Christmas gift this year, a really nice one, is a trip back to Honesdale, Pennsylvania, for another Highlights Founders Workshop in poetry. Iíll be attending Poetry for All
in May (there are still a few spots available!) co-led by poet and friend Rebecca Kai Dotlich
for previous posts featuring Rebecca), David Harrison
, and Eileen Spinelli.
You're looking at the picture and thinking, What does this have to do with spiders?
David Harrison has this wonderful poem in his collection, Bugs Ė Poems about Creeping Things
, illustrated by Rob Shepperson
by David Harrison
on the lawn
Shiny droplets Ė
small oases Ė
To their places.
look and lurk.
Time now for
(Used with permission from the author.)
And Eileen Spinelli has this wonderful picture book, Sophieís Masterpiece,
with gentle illustrations by Jane Dyer
(Simon and Schuster, 2001).
Sophie was no ordinary house spider. Sophie was an artist.
The talented heroine has a hard time finding a place to live and create, however, as she is chased away from corner to corner of Beekmanís Boardinghouse.
By this time, many spider years had passed. Sophie was older. She only had energy to spin a few small things for herselfÖ a tiny rose-patterned case for her pillow, eight colorful socks to keep herself warm.
But mostly she slept.
Until she meets someone who appreciates her and inspires her to create a very special gift - something that takes her all and becomes a loving legacy. I wonít spoil the story, but I will say my eyes were a bit misty by the end. And then, when I read the authorís noteÖ okay, I cried.
In cultural traditions across the world, the spider represents creativity Ė a keeper of ancient wisdom, and sometimes a trickster. (And now youíre thinking of E. B. Whiteís Charlotte
, arenít you?)
Whatever your ďspider workĒ is today, let it be inspired by a World Wide Web-ful of poetry. Include your link in the comments, and Iíll weave them all together throughout the day.
POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP:
Julie at The Drift Record
is waking up with a cold snap and the poem, "Icicles," by Todd Boss.
Over at The Poem Farm
shares a terrific original poem, "Umbrella Path," inspired by Alix Martin's colorful painting in the collaborative SPARK 14.
Tabatha,at The Opposite of Indifference
, explores poetry holiday and gift ideas (including a really cool ornament).
Myra chimes in that at Gathering Books
, Iphigene discusses another Joel M. Toledo poem, "Learning to Swim" - beautiful and thought-provoking!
serves up a poignant haibun by Penny Harter, "Moon-Seeking Soup," written after the death of her husband, William J. Higginson, in 2008 (both have made immeasurable contributions to the haiku world).
Heidi's in today at My Juicy Little Universe
with some delightful poetry by her kindergarteners, and a discussion of their poetry collage projects.
Ruth brings us Keats and an original poem describing how a poem idea will not leave you alone at There is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town.
Need a little romance today? Maria at A Poem a Day from the George Hail Library
brings us Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning - and in the continuing series on sonnets, one from the latter you might not have read before.
is caught up in the spirit of giving. Sheís got a copy of Shel Silversteinís EVERY THING ON IT for some lucky re-tweeter.
Join Laura today here
for Janet Wongís yoga poem, ďTree,Ē and here
for her 15-words-or-less poem, also tree-related, and a photograph you just have to see for yourself.
Diane has an original poem, ďPie Town Family Ė 1940Ē inspired by a historical photograph, at ďRandom Noodling
Her Kids of the Homefront Army
features a poem about one reality of war, ďCertain Advantages.Ē
And, Kurious Kitty
is asking with Aileen Fisher, ďDo Rabbits Have Christmas?Ē featuring one of the sparkly poems from the book, published five years after Fisherís death.
K Kís Kwotes
has a quote by Truman Capote.
Linda at TeacherDance
helps us to remember those for whom the holidays are a lonely time, with ďThe Transparent ManĒ by Anthony Hecht.
How about some Ogden Nash? Sallyís got you covered at The Write Sisters
with ďEverybody Tells Me Everything.Ē
At Picture Books and Pirouettes
, Kerry shares Doreen Croninís picture book, Wiggle
, sure to get you moving this morning.
takes another look at giving with the poem ďAltruismĒ by Molly Peacock.
Feeling a little batty? Join Joyce at Musings
to enjoy thoughts about Randall Jarrellís The Bat-Poet
(and a few verses from the poetry).
Sally at Paper Tigers
brings us Oh, Grow Up: Poems to Help You Survive Parents, Chores, School and Other Afflictions
by Florence Parry Heide and daughter Roxanne Heide Pierce.
Check out The Stenhouse Blog
for a reverse poem, ďFraming My Future,Ē written by Rebecca, one of Kelly Gallagherís students.
Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
encourages us to ďHave a _________ Day.Ē (You have to click to find out!)
At Dori Reads
, Doraine shares a Tennyson poem that still perfectly captures difficult emotions.
Over at Wild Rose Reader
, Elaine keeps the spirit of giving going with another terrific e-book from Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, Gift Tag
, and a fun, original poem to fit the theme.
Brace yourself to face the animal life in a hoarder's home with Mandy's original poem at Write on the World
has a thought-provoking original poem, "how great?" - which he describes as "a found poem, a cross-out poem, a little bit of random poem." Check it out!
Lorie Ann at readergirlz
also features the Gift Tag
e-collection from Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, and shares her poem in it, "Tucked Between Branches." If you enjoyed/enjoy those little pudgy trolls as much as I did/do, you'll love it!
At All About the Books
, Janet is all about Douglas Florian's wonderful volume, mammalabilia
Shelley at Dust Bowl Poetry
shares many different poems about families facing hard times.
Tara is celebrating libraries today with a couple of terrific poems and pictures. Go join the party at A Teaching Life.
Like a little moonshine with your Chicken Spaghetti?
Susan has an original found poem and a review of Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition
by Karen Blumenthal.
Over at A Wrung Sponge
, Andromeda (Andi) has a very clever idea for combining nature and learning to read! And, after my own heart, a haiku written on rocks. Really!
Mmmm... Smell cookies baking? Follow your nose to Twinkling Along
and enjoy an original poem cooked up by Carlie. And some very cute pictures.
The talented Liz over at Liz in Ink
is thankful for the change of seasons (brrr!) and offers "Relearning Winter" by Mark Svenvold.
If you're hosting family for a holiday meal, do check out Kelly's original "Holiday Dinner To-Do List" at Writing and Ruminating
Martha Stewart make of it?
Joy has lots of fun holiday poems and prompts at her blog
. Grab a mug of hot chocolate and head over!
Just in time for supper, Jone has a review of Katherine B. Hauth's What's For Dinner?
over at Check It Out
December 2, 2011
© Robyn Hood Black, all rights reservedDuring some snow days last year, my hubby and son had a little fun making a Snow Buddha.
Okay, itís 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 Ė no one around here has chains for tires, and the cities donít have a lot of heavy equipment. Plus, weíll 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 winterís on its way, I thought weíd ring it in with Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882):
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.
Donít you love that ďtumultuous privacy of stormĒ? You can read the rest of the poem here
, and cozy up to some more great poetry with Carol at Carolís Corner
for the Poetry Friday Roundup. [Which, by the way, will be HERE
next week! :0) ]
November 25, 2011
© 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:
ďYou say grace before meals.
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.Ē
Į 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
November 18, 2011
Twice in the last couple of weeks, Iíve 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 someoneís dislodged tool box, and nails were scattered all over the street.
The fallout didnít 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, ďDonít let that flat tire ruin your day!Ē)
Yesterday aforementioned son called on the way to school and said, ďMy tire light is on.Ē 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 Ė the nail in his tire couldnít be plugged and the dealer didnít have the same tire in stock, so we had to wait on one to be deliveredÖ.
Well, I met some nice folks in the waiting rooms, because thatís how we do things in the South. I hope Gabrielís first birthday party went well last night (what an excited young dad), and that the man whose grown daughter with Downís 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 Ė except that in my search for a poem about a flat tire I stumbled on this one, in Mayís 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
All bare now except
that fur the red-brown color
of a young boyís head and also
of wild iris stalks in winter
still clung to the drying scalp.
Below the eyeís 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. Ö.
to read the complete poem.
And for more great poetry, visit Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
for the Poetry Friday Roundup!
November 11, 2011
Thereís definitely a change in the air as we transition from fall to right-around-the-corner winter Ė does it inspire you to write a haiku or two? Today Iím 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 childrenís 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, letís enjoy some of Giseleís haiku:
after the squall
the tinkling concerto
**Notes from the Gean,
that sudden yearning
for something more
the sand etched
**Notes from the Gean,
the ripple of water
**Haiku Pix Review,
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
, sheís extending a hand to those new to the field.
ďI love discussing haiku and I look forward to helping other poets gain a deeper understanding of this wonderful form,Ē she says. ďI hope that the knowledge and experience I have learned thus far can offer guidance to others who are just embarking on the haiku journey.Ē
Since Iím happily on the Berry Blue Haiku
team, I always learn something from Giseleís comments. If you write haiku, remember weíre 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 Giseleís insights have made me a stronger poet.
Here are the details and guidelines about Giseleís 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.
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.
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.
October 27, 2011
Irene Latham - poetic tricks and treats!
Irene is here! Iím 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 Societyís Book of the Year and earned a 2008 Independent Publisherís (IPPY) Award. Irene was 2006 Alabama Poet of the Year, and that was just the beginning. Sheís been busy scooping up a lot of (really) good news lately.
Before we get to that, letís 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 Ireneís latest volume of poetry, the lovely and evocative The Color of Lost Rooms, which just won the 2011 Writerís 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: womenís experiences with love and loss and longing became my manuscriptís 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 ďsuccessĒ in terms of sales is marked by selling 1,000 books in 3 years. And thatís on a national level! I thought, well, I can do that myself.
What was it like to learn about the Writerís Digest award?
Wow, itís just so validating. Those Writerís Digest contests are so competitiveÖ awards can really give a book new life. I feel like Iíve 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. Youíve posted pictures of some gorgeous quilts on your blog. How did you get into quilting?
Iím the daughter of a seamstress. I went to sleep many nights to the hum of a sewing machine. And while my mother didnít quilt, she did create beautiful things out of mere scraps. As soon as I learned from my husbandís 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 Geeís Bend quiltersÖ this year I took on the Quilt a Month Challenge, and Iím happy to say Iíve completed it!
Good for you! Speaking of quilting, tell us a little bit about your novels. LEAVING GEEíS 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. Itís a terrific read and has garnered the Alabama Library Association 2011 Children's Book Award. It was nominated as a 2011 ALA Notable Childrenís Book and for the 2010 Cybils, among other accolades. Booklist called it ďauthentic and memorable.Ē How did you come to write Ludelphiaís story?
When I saw the Quilts of Geeís 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 Ė just as a Geeís 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 couldnít 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 itís about a boy living at a zoo?? Do tell.
Iím so excited about this book! I remember the moment I got the idea: I was in a bookstore with my father (an avid reader Ė 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 donít share them? So I said out loud to my father, ďhow '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?Ē 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 donít 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. Itís pretty intense.)
And now back to poetry. Youíve just sold your first poem in the childrenís 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 childrenís poetry. I was completely on fire to write after I left that retreat Ė 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 Scholasticís Storyworks
magazine selected was one from that series. Itís 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?
Iíve 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. Iím 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 Ė pretty please with fat quarters on top?
MmmmmÖ anything for fat quarters. ;0) ďIreneĒ is actually my middle name. So when I buy plane tickets or check into hotels, I use my first name (the one on my driverís license). Which means, from time to time, I say the wrong name and it causes all sorts of confusion. (Parents-to-be: donít 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 FebruaryÖ)
(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.
October 25, 2011
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.
, 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
October 20, 2011
To celebrate Wolf Awareness Week
(Oct. 16-22), I thought Iíd 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, Iím sure Iím 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 Iíve been honored to know.
The Bottom Line
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
flits and floats outside the pen.
Gray wolf leaps and prances inside -
up and down,
following buttery wings.
© 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 ďButterfly Dance.Ē Traditionally, Hopi youth perform a social dance called ďThe Butterfly DanceĒ 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 for wonderful poetry, go see what Jamaís got cookiní for the
Poetry Friday Roundup
October 7, 2011
Iím delighted to feature Steven Withrow as our special guest today. This poet, storyteller, and author is a passionate advocate for young peopleís literature and serves as an advisor to the Keene State Childrenís Literature Festival.
Steven Withrow pictured with his lovely daughter
He holds a bachelorís degree from Roger Williams University and a masterís 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. Heís authored six books for visual artists and storytellers, including Illustrating Childrenís Picture Books (written with his talented wife, Lesley Breen Withrow). Itís a terrific book, and I will feature it soon on this blog.
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 donít remember a single moment of my life when I wasnít in love with wordsóand all the syllables and sound clusters that make up words. Iím 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 Kuskinís ďWrite About a RadishĒ
from Dogs & Dragons, Trees & Dreams
. I still know it by heart. Iíve 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! Hereís a very small (and insufficient) sampling:
From many nods to the natural world, these lines from ďRootingĒ Ė
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 fluxÖ,
and an example of a historical reference, with these lines from ďCost of Battle, 48 B. C.Ē Ė
His helmet lost - a boy no more than twelve
Conscripted from the town by Pompeyís men -
I hesitate, but only for a flash,
Before I bring the spearhead down. Ö
and several touching musings on love and family, such as these closing lines of
ďLessons Fathers Only Learn at HomeĒ
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 maelstromís crushing path,
this aftermath, and I start to laugh
at all my wild and cataclysmic joys.
I canít tell you how much I love ďall my wild and cataclysmic joysĒ! Speaking of children, you are especially interested in and committed to poetry for young readers. And your poem ďCorneredĒ 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.
, Iíll 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 ďCornerĒ 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 Atkinsís poem that precedes mineóancient, saved, heart, corneróhelped me to solidify my poemís basic imagery. It was challenging to write and revise a poem within 48 hoursóI usually draft poems quickly and often revise over the course of several weeksóbut it was the best sort of challenge.
Iím always curious about creative work habits. Do you keep a set writing schedule, or write in fits and flurries, or both?
Given all that Iíve got going on, I write whenever and wherever I can. Iím trying to be more systematic about it, to make it a genuine practice, but itís often catch-as-catch-can. I always write stories on paper or on the computer, but with poems, Iíll often ďcomposeĒ silently in my mind while Iím taking a walk or washing dishes, or Iíll speak them aloud while Iím driving alone. As I noted before, I write for the ears and for the tongue. I revise on the computeróbut 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?
Iíve written several, as-yet-unpublished childrenís collections, and all but one (my first) started with a central theme. Iím told it helps collections sell to editors and book buyers, though Iíve 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, ďcelebrating poetry as a living thing.Ē 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 youíd like to leave us with?
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 canít 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!
September 29, 2011
© Robyn Hood Blackdetail from my illustration in the March 2011 issue of Berry Blue Haiku
My Master Naturalist Class yesterday at Elachee Nature Science Center Center
was one Iíve been looking forward to Ė Peter Gordon led a session on birds, followed by all of us heading out with binoculars and optimism to see what we could see! Despite the warm afternoon and shifty winds, we checked off about 18 species in our short trek by the lake.
What fun to distinguish a turkey vulture from a black vulture, the Cooperís hawk from the more familiar red-tailed hawk, and the persistent chatter of a red-bellied woodpecker from the almost as persistent calls of a blue jay. We saw a flycatcher and a kingfisher, both having very good luck, and more common grackles than could be counted as they moved in and took over treetops.
Fall is such an exciting time to look for birds. Each year, ten billion birds leave the northern hemisphere to head south. And a whole bunch of them fly through my state, Georgia.
By the way, if youíre looking for an excuse to read poetry this weekend rather than do yard work, here it is: ďBirds abhor a clean yard.Ē So forget the pristinely trimmed lawn if you want to attract them. Migrating birds appreciate the simple things: space, food (feeders, or berry-filled dogwood trees and the like Ė even poison ivy!), water (they really love a misting feature), and shelter (unkempt trees, and dead snags if they donít threaten your property, are wonderful).
Today I found the perfect poem for this subject and this time of year Ė ďThe BirdsĒ by Linda Pastan.
excerpt from The Birds
by Linda Pastan
are heading south, pulled
by a compass in the genes.
They are not fooled
by this odd November summer,
though we stand in our doorways
wearing cotton dresses.
We are watching them
as they swoop and gatheró
the shadow of wings
falls over the heart. Ö
Do click here
to read the complete poem Ė the second half is my favorite part!)
Wishing you uplifting winds and welcome spots to rest along your journey this week. Fly on over to Read Write Believe
for today's Poetry Friday Roundup.
September 23, 2011
Georgia's state herpetologist John Jensen holds a king snake. I held her, too - she was quite lovely!
I am loving the Master Naturalist class Iím taking this fall at Elachee Nature Science Center
. Yesterday, the Georgia Department of Natural Resourceís chief herpetologist, John Jensen, led us through a litany of reptiles.
I didnít realize my state housed the largest venomous snake in the U.S. (the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, which is also the worldís largest rattlesnake), as well as the smallest (the Pygmy Rattlesnake), as well as the largest snake in general in the U.S. (the gentle Eastern Indigo), as well as the smallest native snake (the Florida Crowned Snake) and the countryís smallest /shortest snake, though not originally a Georgia resident (the Braminy Blind Snake). Those lengths, by the way, range from 8-and-a-half feet or more to just six inches.
In searching for an appropriately slithery poem to share this week I stumbled upon one which does mention a snake, but is so much more. Here are a few lines from Jane Hirshfield:
excerpt from ďThe EnvoyĒ
One day in that room, a small rat.
Two days later, a snake.
Who, seeing me enter,
whipped the long stripe of his
body under the bed,
then curled like a docile house-pet.
I donít know how either came or left.
Later, the flashlight found nothing.
For a year I watched
as somethingóterror? happiness? grief?ó
entered and then left my body. Ö
(For the complete poem, and a moving reading of it by the poet, please click here
Now, speaking of Jane Hirshfield, Iíd also like to put in a good word for her wonderful article, ďThe Heart of Haiku,Ē
available on Kindle for just 99 cents. I downloaded it to my PC. Itís a terrific introduction to the life and poetry of BashŰ.
And speaking of BashŰ and haiku, let me offer a shout-out that submissions are welcome over at the Berry Blue Haiku
blog, now a general online journal celebrating fine haiku. Click here
Finally, for this weekís Poetry Friday Roundup
, please wriggle your way to Picture Book of the Day
with Anastasia Suen.
September 16, 2011
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 ďpicking,Ē near the same spot. Iíve always been fascinated by tiny things and spent endless hours pretending I was one of Mary Nortonís "Borrowers"
So this week Iím offering a nod to all diminutive folk with a poem from Rose Fyleman (1877Ė1957). 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 wouldnít say the writing is spectacular, I personally needed something as light as fairy dust after a week of such heavy remembrances.
ďThe Best Game the Fairies PlayĒ
by Rose Fyleman
The best game the fairies play,
The best game of all,
Is sliding down steeplesó
(You know theyíre 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! Ö
For the rest of the poem, click here
To slide down more poems, visit Amy at The Poem Farm
for this weekís Poetry Friday Roundup.
September 9, 2011
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'm Earth's many colors.
I'm morning and night.
I'm honey on toast.
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.
September 2, 2011
Robyn at the Highlights offices in 2009
Greetings from Honesdale, Pennsylvania, this morning, where Iíll attempt to find an internet connection and connect to Poetry Friday! Iím attending my second Highlights Founders Workshop
up in the beautiful mountains here. My first was a poetry workshop; this time around is an illustratorsí workshop with an amazing faculty (and attendees, for that matter!).
Perusing Lee Bennett Hopkinsís 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 Paulís keynote address on ďfound sculpture,Ē in which he described his own creative pursuits outside of writing. He shared that creative energy put into something ďnon-writingĒ will ďflow into your writing,Ē noting that: ďArt is problem-solving. Art is difficult.Ē
I for one am thrilled heís let his own creative energy flow into so many wonderful works. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Paul Fleischman!
Letís celebrate with a few lines from the 1989 Newbery Medal-winning JOYFUL NOISE Ė Poems for Two Voices (illustrated by Eric Beddows).
is the ink we use
is our parchment
For the rest of the poem (and proper formatting!), click over to the excerpt on Paulís website
The scope of Paulís 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 ďan author and illustrator for a body of work judged to have made lasting contributions to children's literature.Ē (Back to art Ė 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: ďSerendipity is one of your four food groups, you know? Enjoy it!Ē
To enjoy more great poetry, head over to the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted today by Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
August 26, 2011
© Robyn Hood BlackRandolph 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 childrenís 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 ďthe artist of the most distinguished American picture book for childrenĒ 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 Iím heading up to a Highlights Founders Workshop
for illustrators. Yee-hi! Iíve been to one other Ė 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: ďÖAs a tribute to his life and art, this burial site is designated a Literary Landmark by Friends of Libraries USA.Ē
One of my favorite books is Randolph Caldecottís Picture Books (Huntington Library Classics, 2007
), which includes copies of nine of the works in the Libraryís 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 ď didnít want children to think that the maid had permanently lost her nose to the blackbirdÖ,Ē 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
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
August 19, 2011
This is Just to Say from the Critter that Raided my GardenÖ
Can you smell how sweet it was? At least somebody enjoyed it...
- apologies to William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
that was in
you were probably
it was delicious
and so (mmmmmÖ) juicy
Was it a raccoon? Groundhog? Rat? Something else? Well, Iím glad someone enjoyed it. But it smelled oh-so-sweet, freshly open there on the ground (what was left of it). I did scoop up some seeds for next time.
Perhaps in a few months Iíll be able to discern from claw marks and such just which critter had been there. Next week I begin a ďMaster NaturalistĒ program at our local nature/science center
. Iíve wanted to take the course for a while, but last yearís torn Achilles set me back from hiking.
May your own steps be sure, and the fruits of your labors sweet! Indulge in some great poetry at todayís Poetry Friday Roundup
, hosted by fellow Georgia peach Doraine Bennett.
August 15, 2011
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!
August 11, 2011
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
Apologies if anyone else has already posted this, but I thought Jane Kenyonís ďThree Songs for the End of SummerĒ an appropriate tribute for August:
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. Ö
I particularly love the ďweird authorityĒ ending the first stanza and how ďthe garden sprawls and spoilsĒ 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 Karenís for the Poetry Friday Roundup.
August 5, 2011
Itís a good week for historical fiction in the Atlanta area, specifically, in Decatur. Ė 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 Cleopatraís Moon
(Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic) at The Little Shop of Stories
Iím 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: Iím purchasing my book this evening and havenít read it yet Ė so I hope my ďpoem,Ē 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.
Hereís my poetic take on the story, if the titles arenít clear in the picture:
Between Parent and Child
Girl in a Cage
Out of the Depths
New Moon Ė
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
July 22, 2011
This week, at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve
where I volunteer, weíre celebrating the first birthday of the zooís most unusual resident Ė a lovely zedonk (half-donkey, half-zebra) whose birth last summer surprised even the zooís founder and manager, C. W. Wathen. ďPippiĒ is a big hit with visitors and probably getting plenty of handfuls of corn this weekend from young admirers.
In her honor, hereís part of a poem about her long-ago ancestor:
from ďSimilar CasesĒ 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,
ďI am going to be a horse!
And on my middle finger-nails
To run my earthly course!
Iím going to have a flowing tail!
Iím going to have a mane!
Iím going to stand fourteen hands high
On the psychozoic plain!Ē
to read the rest of this (long) poem.
For even more poetic animal fun, check out Julie Lariosís YELLOW ELEPHANT (illustrated by Julie Paschkis) and Douglas Florianís MAMMALABILIA (both from Harcourt) and for truly unusual creatures, Jack Prelutskyís 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
July 8, 2011
A few days ago I buried one of our beloved cats. Heíd been with us a good decade or so, and Iíve 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):
ďOde on the Death of a Favourite Cat Drowned in a Tub of GoldfishesĒ
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 armourís 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 catís averse to fish?
For what comes before and after, read the whole poem
And for the rest of the Poetry Friday Roundup, please visit Elaine at
Wild Rose Reader
July 1, 2011
the weathered softness
of old jeans
G. R. LeBlanc
The Heron's Nest
, Sept 2010
a band of blue jays
G. R. LeBlanc
Notes from the Gean
, Sept 2010
Iím thrilled to welcome poet and editor Gisele LeBlanc today! Sheís 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.
Youíll find her own poetry (with the byline of G. R. LeBlanc) in contemporary haiku journals such as The Heronís 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 itówhich will be targeted at a more general audienceó on her blog. Weíll 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…)
June 24, 2011
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:
Here is a haiku inspired by the same picture, composed by 2nd through 5th graders:
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:
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.
June 16, 2011
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 weekís post from Rebeccaís 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 Hallís 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 Academyís Writers Camp! What a talented group of creative young people.
But wait Ė thereís 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
Back to the retreat Ė Rebecca was a terrific good sport out in the woodsy, rustic environment Ė particularly considering we learned ďwoodsyĒ and ďrusticĒ are not really her thing
! I have to say I loved running half-wild through the woods as a kid, and I guess Iíve never outgrown it.
Thinking about that, I dug out this poem written soon after I started volunteering with wolves three years ago. (I know Ė itís a little strange! But it still applies.)
"Breath of Fresh Hair"
Sometimes the wolf smell lingers
on my skin or in my hair Ė
I like catching a whiff on my sleeve
in the grocery store.
I hate to wash it off in the shower.
Itís not a scent for civilized company.
Itís the smell of secrets,
of murky mist Ė
heady and heavy,
wild and holy.
©Robyn Hood Black
All rights reserved.
Please visit the Poetry Friday Roundup at
Check it Out
June 10, 2011
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!
on frosty squares
(from "Firefly" - saw the first ones last night, by the way)
Sliver of moon
slice of a star.
a jelly jar.
And the sun comes up,
and the sun goes down,
and children moon-skip
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:
May 27, 2011
So Tuesday was Bob Dylanís 70th birthday!
Garrison Keillor included some great Bob Dylan info on The Writerís Almanac
on Tuesday, including the fact that heís been nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature every year since 1996. Tuesdayís program also quotes from the liner notes for The Freewheeliní Bob Dylan
about the distinction between poetry and songs: ďAnything I can sing, I call a song. Anything I canít sing, I call a poem.Ē
Be SURE to check out Jama Rattiganís great review
of the new picture book biography written by Gary Golio and illustrated by Marc Burckhardt, When Bob Met Woody Ė The Story of the Young Bob Dylan
(Little, Brown, 2011).
Thoughts and prayers for those reeling from storms, and so many have suffered devastating floods in past weeks. With an image of a calmer river, here are some lines from Dylanís ďWatching the River Flow,Ē Copyright © 1971:
People disagreeing everywhere you look
Makes you wanna stop and read a book
Why only yesterday I saw somebody on the street
That was really shook
But this olí river keeps on rolliní, though
No matter what gets in the way and which way the wind does blow
And as long as it does Iíll just sit here
And watch the river flow
For the entire song, click here
and for the Poetry Friday Roundup
, enjoy Heidi's great blog, My Juicy Little Universe.
May 20, 2011
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!
purple flowers play
in the wind
(by Mary Keys)
in the sound
of the wind
birds chirping around
flight paths between trees for birds
diving and swooping
high chirp low chirp
the birds sing a song
it makes me want to sing along
really really cool breeze
bugs land on me
flowers blowing in the wind
ladybugs climbing flowers
I see the drops on grass
the tall grass sways in the wind
I hear the bird's song
tallest tree I have ever seen
sunlight shines down on them
nature so wonderful
the bugs fly
in the big blue sky
the trees sway
I hear them again
jumping, running, rattling
they munch on acorns
tall trees swaying
never touch them
ants are scary
I say ouch when they bite me
ants are mean
lady bugs all around
the caterpillars are crawling up
the stump the river is rushing
river running by
bugs flying around
soft crunchy grass
brown and green grass
old leaves fall
creeeks flow loudly
is rustling over the rocks
it is very cool
shhh, shhh, shhh
River of Stream
rocks smoothly flowing down
looks like mud
puddles that you see
the turtle eats the
grass as it swallows
lizards are reptiles
camouflaging their bodies
jumping between trees
fireflies flying I'm
the moon is very nice
the moon is white and peaceful
I really like the moon
Make sure to catch the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Drift Record
May 13, 2011
Recent poetic adventures with fourth graders inspired me to read Patricia MacLachlanís Word After Word After Word
(Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins, 2010), about a visiting authorís time in Miss Cashís 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 motherís cancer, she writes,
A breath you take in
But canít let out
As hard as you try.
Youíll have to read the book to see how Lucyís 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 loverís bookshelf.
I included some fourth grade haiku in last weekís Poetry Friday post but was unable to access the Roundup. Feel free to take a peek, and be sure to check out this weekís hot-to-handle Roundup
at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup!
May 6, 2011
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 clouds foreshadow
the rumbling sky
water hitting against the rocks
green and brown leaves fall
the grass bends
birds chirping in the sky
a robin jumps from tree to tree
the lovely songs of birds
around go the birds, Ah!
choo cheep swish
the brisk breeze
bugs crawling around me
birds fighting over trees
time and time again birds fall
but they still fight for trees
tall grass below
birds whistling in the trees
a fresh smell of spring
the round of rustling leaves
leaves swirling round and round
birds singing a song
little three-leaf clovers
mist is all around
(by Mary Katherine)
calm water to
clouds, blurry fog
to moist grass
flowers on the ground, blossomed
flowers falling down from trees
the wind carries them off
birds merrily chirping,
pecking around for seeds,
flying over the trees
(by Anne Marie)
a leaf blows through
the sound of whistles
Catch the rest of the fourth grade haiku in my May 20 post -
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!]
April 29, 2011
(Note - Fourth grade poets are not quite finished with their projects. Will post a few soon!)
William Blake by Thomas Phillips
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 (1757Ė1827)
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
April 22, 2011
Cherry tree in early April
It's Good Friday and Earth Day, and the cherry blossoms have drifted away, leaving a canopy of lush green outside my studio window. White dogwood blossoms are gone, too Ė those trees all green now. Azaleas, in light and dark pink, are still going strong, as is the rhododendron and the neglected but exuberant rose bush out back.
These ever-changing colors of spring conjure up this gem from Emily Dickinson:
Nature rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets,--
Prodigal of blue,
Spending scarlet like a woman,
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover's words.
What a blessing to live in a world of color. And poems - isn't "Spending scarlet like a woman" a provacative line? Next week Iíll have some colorful haiku poems from fourth graders!
Enjoy the Poetry Friday roundup today hosted by Kate at Book Aunt
April 14, 2011
A field of fourth-grade poets
This morning I had the privilege of leading two classes of fourth graders outside on a nature walk/poem safari to collect sensory details that they are writing into poems. Though we are focusing on haiku, today I'm sharing a longer classic celebrating the natural world this time of year.
I read that Gerard Manley Hopkins gave up writing poems for Lent while in college (and then for many years). And I thought giving up chocolate was tough! Happy Spring - and apolgies that my blog swallows indentations.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Nothing is so beautiful as springó
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden.óHave, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning.
The Poetry Friday round-up is at RANDOM NOODLING
April 1, 2011
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.
March 10, 2011
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!
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.
February 4, 2011
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
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…)
December 8, 2010
OK, it might not seem like the season at the moment to wade, splash, or dive into anything. . . . BUT Ė before you know it, weíll 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?!
Itís 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…)
September 16, 2010
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…)
September 6, 2010
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…)
April 19, 2010
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…)
April 1, 2010
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…)
March 10, 2010
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…)
October 3, 2009
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…)
September 26, 2009
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!
April 29, 2009
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…)
April 1, 2009
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…)
March 19, 2009
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…)
March 8, 2009
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…)
Explore a poem or two or five....
A rhyming tale of a young boy's knightly adventure with an imagined dragon.
Nonfiction, interactive book on wolves featuring giant pop-up and tons of info!
In schools or other settings, Robyn shares her passion for writing and encourages creativity. Presentations for all age groups.
In addition to writing books, Robyn has sold her writing to major children's magazines.
Explore this genre of sparely crafted poetry which offers endless depth. Resources for students, teachers, and writers.
bio, photos, interview links, etc.
(Click here to visit Robyn's art business)
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
National Council of Teachers of English
Click here for KidLitosphere's links to current poetry round-up