Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet, artist









Hannah enjoying poetry workshop


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poetry Friday - Mac & Cheese and Too Many Cooks...

July 13, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, Summer Poem Swap, ponderings, poetry, macaroni and cheese poem, found poetry, recipe

No worries - I didn't deface this particular book. Just wanted to show you the found poem with a little help from Photoshop!


Happy, Hot July!


While I typically prefer something cool this time of year, I do love me some hot and bubbly Mac and Cheese. Happy to join the ranks celebrating Macaroni and Cheese Day today! (Our Poetry Friday Rounder-Upper, Terrific Tabatha, ran with the idea, originally served up by Diane. See link at end of post.)


This week as I was pondered poetic options while in the grocery store, I noticed, to my amazement, an entire magazine devoted to Mac & Cheese! A special publication, it seems, getting a new issue for this summer because of past popularity.


I also noticed the vast array of pre-packaged macaroni and cheese dinners, taking up a good swath of aisle. Remember when it was just the little box of Kraft with the neon orange powder? (If you’re my age, I’ll bet you do.)


Macaroni and Cheese is just one of those comfort foods. My hubby loves to cook, and as kids have grown up and out, I am more likely to “fix” now and then than actually cook. But when a family in our church recently juggled some medical challenges, I offered to take over a little meal, and – you guessed it – I made some mac & cheese.

In the picture you’ll see the basic recipe I use, straight from our circa 1980s Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. . I’m not good at precisely following directions; the artist in me improvises all the time. I usually embellish with a few spices, cheddar cheese instead of American, and a healthy sprinkling of Parmesan all across the top.

I thought it would be fun to find a poem in the recipe, and most of the time I challenge myself to keep the words in the order they appear – pretty much making a black-out poem as it were, much like the one I recently sent to Joy for the Poem Swap. (I used a page from a wonderful old book she’d given me a while back. She shared it last week here. )

This week, I do not know WHAT got into me… the heat, maybe?

An innocent, familiar recipe took a surprisingly sinister turn…. Enjoy?! ;0)



Too Many Cooks: Lot’s Wife Misbehaves in the Kitchen


elbow
1 medium
cook.


all at once
till bubbly stir 1 to 2
more.


Turn into
salt.



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

Please join all the fun with Tabatha today at The Opposite of Indifference, where you’ll find more Mac & Cheesy poems and other poems for every taste. Eat up! (I’ll see you again week after next, as we’ll have our grown kids here for vacation starting today.)

Poetry Friday - Poem Swap Sparkles from Joy Acey (& ISSA book winner announced...)

June 29, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, Summer Poem Swap, ponderings, poetry, Joy Acey, Issa, haiku, fireflies, David G. Lanoue

Summer Greetings!

I hope you are enjoying some time by some body of water to enjoy poetry... or, for those of you Down Under or otherwise across the globe, some cozy reading time under a fuzzy blanket!

The Summer Poem Swap, lovingly coordinated by Tabatha , is ON. Funny, I was late getting my first poem out, and so was the person I was swapping with... Joy Acey. Ha! A perfect match.

Joy still beat me to the post office punch, however. I was delighted to open the above colorful painting with tiny letter blocks, which had traveled all the way from Hawaii. Here's the haiku:


just after the rains
over the long dewy grass
sparkling fireflies



©Joy Acey. Used with permission.

Doesn't that make you smile? (She even included instructions on how to use the shipping box as a frame!)

For me it evokes summer evenings in my Tennessee grandparents' back yard, which, back then, continued right through a fence into a hilly pasture. My brother and I would catch the blinking marvels in jars, and they seemed such a wonder.

Still do! We saw some last weekend at our little rental house in hilly Asheville while visiting Seth. Joy has some firefly-inspiring NC roots, too.

I recently shared with the HSA SE folks a firefly haiku by Issa, In David G. Lanoue's new WRITE LIKE ISSA:


the dog sparkling
with fireflies
sound asleep


Translated by David G. Lanoue.


Which brings me to.... (drumroll...) the winner of the WRITE LIKE ISSA book giveaway-- Big Congrats to Christie Wyman! (Christie, email me your real-world address, and I'll get your book on its way. Enjoy!)

Be sure to flicker on over to Random Noodling, where Diane is gathering up this week's Roundup. And for her purrrrfectly WONDERFUL feline HAIKU, scroll back through her recent posts!

Before you go, perhaps you'll leave a favorite firefly memory in the comments? :0)

(PS - I'll be traveling next week - a family member is having surgery - and might have to catch you again the week after. Wishing all a happy and safe Fourth!)

Poetry Friday - Taylor Mali's "Silver-Lined Heart" for my Graduating Son

May 3, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, poems, poets, graduation, ponderings, Taylor Mali


I'm discovering that when your youngest, your baby, graduates from college - it feels like a big deal!

We are celebrating Seth this weekend, our old-soul 22-year-old who will be taking his degree and his very broad worldview and compassionate heart to go spend a year living and working with homeless folks.

When he was in high school, one of our favorite people on the planet, history teacher Michael McCann, took him and a group of kids (as he has done countless times) to the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in New Jersey. Seth was especially taken with hearing Taylor Mali that year.

So, for this occasion, for Seth, for life in general and in these times, the following poem seems perfect. I'm only sharing the first two stanzas; the entire poem is here. (Note: Not appropriate for young students - Thanks!)


Silver-Lined Heart
by Taylor Mali


I’m for reckless abandon
and spontaneous celebrations of nothing at all,
like the twin flutes I kept in the trunk of my car
in a box labeled Emergency Champagne Glasses!

Raise an unexpected glass to long, cold winters
and sweet hot summers and the beautiful confusion of the times in between.
To the unexpected drenching rain that leaves you soaking
wet and smiling breathless; ...


Click here for the rest.

I'm for poetry, and for all freshly-minted graduates out there! Congratulations to you and your families.

For more poetry that leaves you "smiling breathless" today, please visit another of my all-time favorite people in the world, Jama, at Jama's Alphabet Soup for the Roundup.

Thanks for stopping by.

Poetry Friday - My Son, The Voyager

March 23, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, poems, ponderings, adventure


Happy Poetry Friday, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my youngest!

Seth turns 22 today, and we got in a little birthday visiting earlier in the week up in the mountains. Busy Spring - he graduates from college as a religious studies major in less than two months! Then he's off to do a year's internship in the heart of one of our Southern cities, working with unhoused/homeless folks in a vibrant, progressive program. He's got the head and heart for it, though prayers for him and for the people he'll meet will always be welcome.

Seth took a creative writing class this semester, and he wrote a children's poem as one of the assignments. I asked if I could share it today! Enjoy.


The Voyager
by Seth Black


I set out, map in hand,
The wind just right for me,
Caught fabric in my sail,
And off I was indeed

To far and distant shores
The likes have not been seen.
The water clear as day
Stands vastly in between.

What’s that? – I hear a call.
I guess it’s time to eat.
“I’ve made your favorite dear.”
Alas! I love grilled cheese.

Walking my own plank,
I dive into the sea.
The blue float drifts away
But not my memory.

I’ll always have my ship.
A voyager, I’ll be.
For I am not a boy
But captain of the sea.


©Seth Black. All rights reserved.


Yes, we're proud of Seth's adventurous spirit.

Sail on over to Reading to the Core, where Captain Catherine is harnessing lots of poetic winds for our sails.
Bon Voyage!

Poetry Friday: Daily Issa and Creatures Great and Small

August 25, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, David G. Lanoue, Issa, ponderings, spiders, animals, nature, book tracks


I don’t know about you, but to counteract the weight of the daily news, I could use a daily dose of Issa!
[Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827) is regarded as one of the primary masters of haiku. He endured much hardship and loss, and his heartfelt poetry is known for its sensitivity to all living things.]

Wait -- Now I have a daily dose of Issa!

For years, Issa scholar and past-president of the Haiku Society of America David G. Lanoue has offered a random Issa poem delivered to your inbox or your Twitter account (or both!) . [Here’s a post about Dr. Lanoue (David) from my blog a couple-few years ago. A professor at Xavier University, he has translated upwards of 10,000 of Issa’s poems.]

His Issa website was launched in 2000. Click here to get to know Issa and sign up for daily poems. After my own unsuccessful attempt a while back to receive this daily treasure (operator error, I’m certain – it’s really quite easy), I finally got myself subscribed and love reading an Issa poem each day.

Thursday’s made me smile:


at an honest man's gate
honeybees
make their home


1824, translated by David G. Lanoue.


It reminded me of our summer guest I blogged about before – the golden silk orb weaver who took up just outside the back door and is still with us. She’s apparently going to go for a third brood?

Issa wrote about spiders, too. And lots of animals. Lanoue’s book, Issa and the Meaning of Animals – A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective (2014), offers accessible insights about this special poet and many of his haiku – a must if you are an Issa fan, a double-must if you are an animal-loving Issa fan.

Here’s one I love:


corner spider
rest easy, my soot-broom
is idle


Translated by David G. Lanoue.


And one more – this goes out to my newlywed teacher-daughter Morgan. They have seen deer a few times in their in-town neighborhood in Georgia this week; a buck, twice!


the young buck’s
antlers tilting…
“cuckoo!”


Translated by David G. Lanoue.


The book provides background and unlocks potential meanings for the poems, which give us beautiful imagery with or without explication. Hope you enjoyed this taste!

Are you a teacher? Click here and here for David’s website pages designed just for you. You can “test” your haiku/Issa knowledge with the first link, and find out about how to share Issa’s life and poetry with kids at the second.

Also, if picture poetry books call your name, you might enjoy sharing Matthew Gollub’s Cool Melons – Turn to Frogs! – The Life and Poems of Issa, illustrated by Kazuko G. Stone (Lee & Low, 1998, 2004). This colorful paperback combines some biography and sample poems to offer glimpses into Issa’s life and writing.

That's what’s going on in my universe this week. For the Poetry Friday Roundup and lots more poetic goodness, please visit poet and teacher extraordinaire Heidi over at My Juicy Little Universe.

Poetry Friday - BUGSCUFFLE! - Please Play Along...

August 11, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, bugs, animals, nature, ponderings, bugscuffle


Greetings, Poetry Friends!

If school bells are ringing in your neck of the woods, hope all is starting smoothly.

A couple of times on Facebook recently, I've posted pix of our resident Golden Orb Weaver this summer. (It's a habit - I did the same thing a couple of years ago, too.) She started out in the carport, a Baby Daddy came and went, and then she disappeared for a couple of days - I'm guessing to lay her egg sacs?

Lo and behold she returned and strung up a web adjacent to the first one, but this one RIGHT next to the kitchen door. (So close that I put a sticky note warning on the inside.)

Anyway, I think it's the same spider - I consulted my Go-To naturalists/children's authors - our own Buffy Silverman and my SCBWI Southern Breeze long-time-buddy Heather L. Montgomery. They said it was plausible, so we're sticking with it.

Interesting behavior note: When my hubby enters and exits the house, this goddess-size spider scurries up her web to the tippy top. When I go in and out, she stays put in the middle. It doesn't seem to matter if we are holding our wee Chihuaha, Rita - I thought maybe that was the trigger - but she's fine if I've got the dog. Jeff is about five inches taller than I am; maybe that's it? Or maybe he just gives off stronger vibes?!

You'll see the latest photo I shared above. I was mighty impressed that our outdoor house guest caught a big ol' cicada for a meal. (And if you think that's creepy, at least I spared you the visual of her actually dining on her supersized lunch...) Yesterday she enjoyed what appeared to be an ill-fated Junebug.

This week, in addition to spider-watching, I also took our youngest back to college for his senior year, sniff-sniff, up in the North Georgia mountains. You come across some pretty fun names of roads up there.... I actually turned around and pulled off the road to snap the picture of that sign. [Some of you would have done the same thing, I know!]

I absolutely love that word, "Bugscuffle"! And I thought, I wonder what kind of inspiration some of you might find in it? (Google tells me it's the name of a town in Texas, but otherwise I don't know much about it.)

So here's a Poetry Friday pick-me-up just for fun. If you are so led, please leave a short (up to six lines) poem with the title "Bugscuffle" in a comment below, and I'll post your literary works of art in this main post throughout the day. (Legal housekeeping: By posting your amazing words, you are agreeing that they are yours and that I can share them here with a copyright notice with your name.) Thanks!

What Say You?

*****

Well, look who's swinging in Spiderman-style Thursday evening to start us off with a delicious, raucus rumble! (Thanks, Matt.) :0)


"Bugscuffle"

A bug stole a chocolate truffle,
which started a crazy kerfuffle.
The beetles and ants fought with fists, jeers, and chants -
It was quite a colossal bug scuffle.

- ©2016 Matt Forrest Esenwine



And a wonderful, early and inspired poetic gift from Down Under - Thanks, Sally!


At the Web-Club

Bugscuffle
Bugshuffle
Bug wiggle
Bug jiggle
Bug prance
Bug dance!

- ©2016 Sally Murphy


[And here we go Friday morning. This Come-As-You-Are Bugscuffle Party is even more fun than I was hoping - Thanks to all you crazy-talented, challenge-loving poetry people for jumping in!]


Bugscuffle

In amongst
the corner dust
one bug scuffles,
another is trussed.

- ©2016 Diane Mayr



Bugscuffle

Right on Hardscrabble and left at Flack-Fluffle.
Go round the gob-smacked moose
(his lady played fast and loose).
Just stay to the right, then left at Bugscuffle,
We'll be waiting with a cup of juice.

- ©2016 Brenda at friendlyfairytales



Bugscuffle

One bug wander
Two bug tango
Three bug bustle
Four bug scuffle

- ©2016 Julieanne




Bugscuffle Banquet

Courting a glance,
arthropods prance;
defensive stance …
slowly advance …


Bugs bustle,
           toes tussle,
feet shuffle,
           bugscuffle,
victor guttles …
           No rebuttals.

-©2016 Kat Apel



BUGSCUFFLE

You sneezed, Gesundheit!
my retort, as Ms. Spider
untangled eight legs.

-©2016 Linda Mitchell



Bugscuffle

What’s a bugscuffle?
Wondered Miss Tuffle,
Who scampered in ruffle
Unpacking her duffle.

Not knowing how to scuffle,
She scampered & shuffled,
With her flowing ruffle
Proudly swaying her bustle.

~©2016 Carol Varsalona



Bugscuffle

A good bug scuffle
May ruffle some feathers
No matter whether
You choose to kick
Off your shoes
And get into it
Or sit this one out.

-©2016 Linda Christoff



BUGSCUFFLE:
Unarmed and be-
Guiled by
Solicitous
Correspondence,
Ulysses Butterfly
Fell
For
Lady
Earwig

--©2016 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes



Bugscuffle

Spider spun a sticky line.
Cicada crashed into it.
Spider thought that she would dine--
but cicada frazzled through it.

--©2016 Buffy Silverman



They can't can-can

A line of millipedes readied to Rockette,
to do high kicks and bum wags in high spirits,
but the dancers were reduced to a pile of rubble
when their legs tangled in a buggyscuffluffle.

- ©2016 Tabatha Yeatts


[Happy Saturday. By the way, there's a Baby Daddy on the scene again in the big ol' web....]

Alice chimed in that she did a "bugscuffle" Google search and might have to write a post about it, beginning this way:

Bugscuffle?
Bugtussle?
The Bugs don't seem to care
'Cause they've . . .




And from Heidi:


Bugscuffle Road

It's a dead end down at Bugscuffle Road
where the skeeters rumble horseflies late at night.
The "best" insects live up on Dragonfly Bluff,
big rolling fields under wide blue sky.
Just below that is Honeybee Hill,
where hardworking folks take their rest.
I make my home here on Ladybug Lane
in a snug spotted cottage. It's the best.

-©2016 Heidi Mordhorst


(Ha! Love those buggy social classes!)


and from Catherine:

Bugscuffle

The air was so humid and hot,
the cockroach simply forgot
to scurry away
at the start of the day,
not bugscuffle at dawn down Broadway!

- ©2016 Catherine Flynn



*****

--And after you've said what you have to say, please go visit To Read To Write To Be for this week's Roundup!

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

July 14, 2016

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



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

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

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

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

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


CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA


Fifteen years is not a long time,

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

Long enough to clean a forty-year growth of grass

            from between cobblestones,

And run street-car lines straight across the heart of

            romance.

Commerce, are you worth this?

I should like to bring a case to trial:

Prosperity versus Beauty,

Cash registers teetering in a balance against the com-

            fort of the soul.

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

At an old, dark garden.

Live-oak trees dripped branchfuls of leaves over the

            wall,

Acacias waved dimly beyond the gate, and the smell

            of their blossoms

Puffed intermittently through the wrought-iron scroll-

            work.

Challenge and solution -

O loveliness of old, decaying, haunted things!

Little streets untouched, shamefully paved,

Full of mist and fragrance on this rainy evening.

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

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

            birds

In the garden."

"Yes," I said absent-mindedly,

And remarked the sharp touch of ivy upon my hand

            which rested against the wall.

But I thought to myself,

There is no dawn here, only sunset,

And an evening rain scented with flowers.




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



THE MIDDLETON PLACE

Charleston, S. C.


What would Francis Jammes, lover of dear, dead

            elegancies,

Say to this place?

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

Along a river shore.

France walking a minuet between live-oaks waving

            ghostly fans of Spanish moss.

La Caroline, indeed, my dear Jammes,

With Monsieur Michaux engaged to teach her de-

            portment.

Faint as a whiff of flutes and hautbois,

the great circle of the approach lies beneath the

            sweeping grasses.

Step lightly down these terraces, they are records of

            a dream.

Magnolias, pyrus japonicas, azaleas,

Flaunting their scattered blossoms with the same bra-

            vura

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

            ciergerie.

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

            you are so sad,

Sad as the tomb crouched amid your tangled growth,

Sad as the pale plumes of the Spanish moss

Slowly strangling the live oak trees.


Sunset wanes along the quiet river.

the afterglow is haunted and nostalgic,

Over the yellow woodland it hangs like the dying

            chord of a funeral chant;

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

            fable rhythm,

Like the ostrich fans of palsied dowagers

Telling one another contendedly of the deaths they

            have lived to see.




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

TWENTY-FOUR HOKKU ON A MODERN THEME

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


            I

Again the lakspur,

Heavenly blue in my garden.

They, at least, unchanged.



            XIX

Love is a game - yes?

I think it is a drowning:

Black willows and stars.



            XXIV

Staying in my room,

I thought of the new Spring leaves.

That day was happy.




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

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

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

Poetry Friday - All-American Dogs

June 30, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, animals, dogs, poems, ponderings




Happy Independence Day weekend!

I'm freshly returned from our daughter's lovely and very fun wedding in Greenville, SC, followed by a week of dog- & house-sitting at Morgan & Matt's new home in Georgia while the happy couple was honeymooning.

[If you like wedding pictures, photographer Sabrina Fields featured "ours" on her blog a few days ago - family pictures will be ready soon! I just put up a post about the handmade elements over at my art blog.]

The new Mr. and Mrs. Whyte are pup parents to two-year-old Cooper, who is happy now I'm sure to have both of them in the same state and the same house. Coop always reminds me of our Shepherd-hound mix, Lucky, who joined our family as a rescued 5-week-old pup in 2000 and died in 2012, with lots of adventures in those dozen years. I might have even called Cooper "Lucky" a time or two last week before I caught myself.

Do you know what the American Kennel Club calls mixed-breed dogs? (I remember being delighted many years ago when discovering this, probably at an agility trial with son Seth and his canine partner, Oliver.) They are... All-American Dogs! Isn't that great?

In fact, now they compete in many AKC events, and this year's AKC National Agility champion was, in fact, a former rescue dog (and a repeat winner!). Here's that story and you can click around more of the AKC site.

Matt and Morgan elected to have DNA testing done to see just what their All-American is made of. I would have bet, especially when he was a puppy, that Black and Tan Coonhound would have been way up there in the results, but he's mostly Boxer, with a heap or two of terrier and hound mixed in.

He's a handsome fella, whatever he is, captured in the gorgeous oil painting above by our friend Ann Goble, who surprised the newlyweds with a gift they'll cherish forever.

Since it's an All-American weekend, I thought I'd share a couple of older dog poems. The first was inspired by our All-American dog, Lucky, and the second... just a little canine fun.


Heel


A hound dog is hard
to train.
Nose on the ground, he sniffs, he pulls -
You strain.
Nose in the air as if you're not there -
You complain:
This dog has got to go!
He looks at you with soulful eyes;
you fall in love
(again).


           ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.



           I Paper-trained my Puppy


           I paper-trained my puppy -
           he reads the New York Times.
           He starts at the beginning:
           the news, the views, the crimes.

           Then he reads the comics,
           while rolling on the floor.
           He moves on to the book reviews,
           the fashion, arts, and more.

           After that he grabs a pen
           and holds it with his muzzle.
           Hewon't get up until he's done
           the daily crossword puzzle.

           I paper-trained my puppy.
           I made one small mistake.
           The puddle in the corner
           is looking like a lake.


           ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Will a canine member of your family be part of your red, white and blue celebration this long weekend? Or perhaps there's a special dog you remember? Purebred or All-American? Please do share in the comments!

And then be sure to enjoy all the great poetry rounded up for us this week by Tabatha, friend of creatures great and small, at The Opposite of Indifference

Poetry Friday - On Weddings and Home....

June 9, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, wedding poems, ponderings



Happy Poetry Friday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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


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



My Little Wife

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



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

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

The Wife to Her Husband

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sigh. :0)

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

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

Poetry Friday - Sea Change

March 24, 2016

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


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

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

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


Sea Change


The Sea has hazel eyes.
She mirrors changing skies –

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

The Sea has hazel eyes –
capricious fall and rise.

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


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


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

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

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

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

Poetry Friday - Driftwood Dolphin

March 10, 2016

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


It's ALMOST Spring.

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

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

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



Driftwood Dolphin


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

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



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


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

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

Poetry Friday - Old Haiku Still Rings True!

February 18, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, ponderings


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

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

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

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

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


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



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

Basho



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

Buson



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

Shiki



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

Buson



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


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

Anon.



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

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

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

Poetry Friday - Groundhog Day and Ms. Betty

February 4, 2016

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Groundhog Day


You’d think it spring -
sunny and 74.

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

wields a shovel in her
garden-gloved hands

stoops to adjust a root

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

Her white cat
serpentines
around leg, tree

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

You’d think it spring.



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

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

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

December 2, 2015

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




Greetings, Poetry Tribe!

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

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

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

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

WRITE
                  very often.


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

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


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

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

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

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


Tinker Time

by Janet Wong

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

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

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

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


©Janet Wong. All rights reserved.


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

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

Poetry Friday - Victorian Found Poem/Writing Advice...

November 26, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, found poetry, art, artsyletters, ponderings, writing life


Greetings, Poetry Folks!

I hope you have had a wonderful holiday with people you love. The holidays can be tricky - virtual hugs if that wasn't the case for you this year. We have been counting our blessings visiting with family.

In fact, we're still visiting, so today I'm offering just a bit of fun from the studio. I've been drooling over HILL'S MANUAL - SOCIAL AND BUSINESS FORMS: GUIDE TO CORRECT WRITING (Chicago, Moses Warren & Co. Publishers, 1880), with all its Victorian flourish and advice for every communication situation, per Victorian standards. I'll be making lots of art from it I'm sure, and for starters I've made a small shadow box (6 inches by 6 inches) with a found poem for writers. (Above - Click here to view on Etsy.)

Here's the "revealed" text - more of an adage than a poem, perhaps, but I hope you enjoy!

Writing

writing
becomes the
familiar
teacher
that will entertain and
instruct while
faculties of mind are employed


Kind of a 19th-Century-inspired expression of our modern maxim encountered at writing conferences, on blogs, etc.: BIC ("Butt in Chair")! Though maybe after a big meal this week, we need to temper that discipline with an extra walk or two.

Enjoy, I hope, a long weekend! And FIND lots of great poetry to keep you company at Carol's Corner with our delightful Poetry Friday host.

A Little Wild...

November 8, 2015

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



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

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


               A Little Wild


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

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

           You have a little wild in you.

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

           You have a little wild in you.

            I do too.

            Grrrrr.


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


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

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

October 8, 2015

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



Greetings, Poetry Friday Peeps!

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

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

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

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

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

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



Moon Snail


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

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

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

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

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



© Mary Kenner Glover, all rights reserved.


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

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

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

October 1, 2015

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



Happy Poetry Friday!

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


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


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

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


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


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


Spiraling

for Mary

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

Snail long gone.
        Edge a little worn.

A perfect Fibonacci spiral -
        the mathematics of home.

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

Yet, this hole ushers in
        unexpected
        light.


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


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

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

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

I'm already looking forward to next year!

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

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

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

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

September 10, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, student work, ponderings


Welcome, Poetry Lovers!

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

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

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



            What Does 9/11 Know?

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

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


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


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

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

How did this project come about?

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

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


Where do the poetry topics come from?

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

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

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

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

Here we go:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: PFAC and "Thrift Stories"

August 20, 2015

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


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

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

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


      Thrift Stories


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

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

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



     ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 13, 2015

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


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

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

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

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

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

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


How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)


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



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


old pond
a frog leaps in
water's sound


Basho


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

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

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

Long before her death she wrote her epitaph:

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


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

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

The Slough of The R-Word...

July 22, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, ponderings, writing life, rejection


[We interrupt our currently scheduled July break to say that we don't seem to be able to stay away from Poetry Friday for that long. We are popping in with a wave before mid-August!]

Anyone who’s ever seriously burned to see their work published has dealt with it, the dreaded R-Word: rejection.

But with a quick lick of the wound and a swallow of pride – gulp –, rejection can be a very good teacher. This week I noticed an email from an editor of a haiku journal about my latest submission. Though my work had appeared in it several times, the last time I submitted, no poems were accepted, so I had a bit of trepidation. I elected to open it right there from my phone – the print would be smaller and less intimidating, right?

It was big enough:

“I'm afraid I didn't really feel anything in this batch up to your usual work. …”

Ouch. The editor did offer specific feedback about one poem, which was plagued with a “vague” reference.

I’ve been around the publishing block a few times, so at least I have a seasoned “thought” response that eventually catches up with the initial emotional response to an editorial “No.” [There’s no easy way to get this, by the way, except by actually living through a good bit of rejection along the journey.]

The mind tells the heart: “Um, it’s not personal so you’re going to have to get over yourself a little. Editors are busy folks. When they reply with specific feedback at all, it’s to be considered at the very least, and appreciated when you are ready.”

I’ve had a taste of the editorial side of the computer screen, too, as assistant editor of a children’s haiku publication a few years ago. It’s a humbling and rewarding job, and looks like I need to put that hat back on for my own work a bit more.

On the brighter side, there are three P words I’ve often used in author talks with students: practice, persistence and patience.

When I first discovered real haiku a few years ago, I was hooked and couldn’t get enough. I read book after book and subscribed to the top journals, and read online journals as well. After a year or so of reading and regular writing, I sent off what I thought were my best poems to a few of them. Nothing was accepted.

But there was encouraging feedback from a few editors, so I buckled down and spent a good hunk of the next year reading, reading, writing, and reading haiku. I submitted again. And in almost every batch, a poem or two was accepted. I rolled along with acceptances for the next year or so – my pen was golden! – until, alas, the R word reappeared.

For one journal, after a few publications, I had a whole year’s worth of rejections. Sigh. I took a breather from that one for a little while (with my move & injury thrown in last year for good measure). A few weeks ago, I closed my eyes and hit “send” on a fresh batch of haiku to that publication. To my delight, the editor sent back an acceptance.

I’m really not selling any morals or lessons here, just offering some company along the journey. If you’re edging toward the Publication World’s Slough of Despond, either back up and turn around, or lift that chin up and slog your way on through. You'll find you are not alone, and most of us have a good bit of mud on our shoes.


THE PILGRIM
by John Bunyan (1628-1688)


Who would true Valour see
Let him come hither;
One here will Constant be,
Come Wind, come Weather.
There's no Discouragement,
Shall make him once Relent,
His first avow'd Intent,
To be a Pilgrim.


Who so beset him round,
With dismal Storys,
Do but themselves Confound;
His Strength the more is.
No Lyon can him fright,
He'l with a Gyant Fight,
But he will have a right,
To be a Pilgrim.

Hobgoblin
, nor foul Fiend,
Can daunt his Spirit:
He knows, he at the end,
Shall Life Inherit
.
Then Fancies fly away,
He'l fear not what men say,
He'l labour Night and Day,
To be a Pilgrim.



Journey forth to the lovely and talented Margaret’s Reflections on the Teche where you are sure to find poetic refreshment and rejuvenation for the quest.

Poetry Friday - Here, Have a Fig...

July 3, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poets, ponderings


Happy July Fourth Weekend!

I hope you’ll have plenty of time outdoors with loved ones and plenty of watermelon.

We’ve been fortunate to have family and friends coming and going, and there are more visits planned as the month goes along, mainly on weekends. So I’ll be taking a wee blog break here for the rest of July and will jump back in on August 14. I will come virtually visit you all in the meantime, though -- if not always on the actual Friday!

I have a longer post over at artsyletters today, featuring a box of wooden blocks, and a box of necks, among other things. (That got your attention! I hope you’ll click over.)

Speaking of my studio, it’s upstairs in a historic building in the middle of downtown. I usually go in and out through the back. This time of year, an old fig tree - completely unobtrusive the rest of the year - takes over the universe. I was invited to help myself to her bounty last year, and I was happy to. The figs end up falling off everywhere, half-eaten by birds and bugs.

But I wonder of the birds might resent that, just a little bit…

My apologies to William Carlos Williams :


This is Just to Say to the Downtown Birds


I have taken
the figs
that hang over
the back stairs


and which
you were planning
to peck
for breakfast


Forgive me
they were easy
to pluck
and so
      very
            sweet




For all kinds of poetic bounty today, please visit the delightful Donna at Mainely Write.

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

June 25, 2015

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


Greetings from South Carolina on this summertime Poetry Friday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 18, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, history, ponderings


Greetings, Poetry Friends -

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


To Her Father with Some Verses

Anne Bradstreet


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poetry Friday - What We Leave Behind

April 30, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, ponderings

morguefile.com

Whew! It's May.

I hope you had a terrific Poetry Month.

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

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

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


contrail
in the sunset sky
what I left behind



copyright Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

Acorn, #34, Spring 2015



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

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

Poetry Friday: Sincerely...

April 9, 2015

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





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


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


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


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



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



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




Here is the poem in English and Spanish:

SINCERELY

Dear Friend,

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

I noticed!
And I'm thanking you.

Sincerely,
Me


AFECTUOSAMENTE

Querido amigo,

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

¡Lo he advertido!
y te estoy agradecido

Afectuosamente,
Yo


Poem©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

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


Poetry Friday: Ahoy! Sea Songs, Pirates, Valentines....

February 5, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, sea, Etsy, art, ponderings, pirates

a peek into mini sea-themed works-in-progress.... ©Robyn Hood Black

At the beginning of last year, I shared an amazing gift sent to me by my friend and fellow writer Kim Siegelson (who has a keen antique sense and a great Etsy shop, too, Perfect Patina).

It was a nearly 700-page book – sumptuously covered and illustrated, titled:

Crown Jewels
OR
Gems of Literature, Art, and Music
BEING
Choice Selections from the Writings and Musical Productions of the Most Celebrated Authors, From the Earliest Times


compiled by Henry Davenport Northrop, D. D., and published in 1888.

(To read my post about this wonderful book from Kim, in all its over-the-top Victorian glory, click here.)

In my art life for this new year, I’m working on more locale-friendly pieces to offer in my kiosk space at Fordham Market.
As in, things that might appeal to tourists and visitors of our delightful coastal town.

Lucky for me, CROWN JEWELS has many poems and songs about the sea! Though written a hundred (or few hundred) years ago, surely the words still ring like a ship’s bell to those who dock at our lovely marina, just across the street from my tucked-away studio. I’ve got some small shadow-box mixed media pieces in the works, featuring everything from excerpts to short entire poems to found poems I’ve "uncovered" in prose passages.

This week I broke out my printmaking supplies (have stayed away from since my neck/shoulder/hand/nerves injury in the fall), and it felt wonderful to carve into a small block of wood and later to breathe in the ink, hearing and feeling its sticky snap on glass as I rolled my brayer… even if I was making just a wee image. The mini prints are backgrounds for the clipped pieces of text, and, of course, there must be some vintage-y bling involved. I usually use actual old metal pieces. Occasionally, if I find just the right element offered by an artisan, I’ll use that. Just take a look at that lovely tiny anchor in the picture – it’s blackened pewter, handmade in the USA and cast as opposed to stamped, and available from Fallen Angel Brass on Etsy. Yep, I bought a few!

For these first few mini shadow boxes, I clipped this refrain from CROWN JEWELS. Warning: if you read it more than once, it will start sailing around in your head. A lot. Come on, read it out loud in your best gravelly pirate voice:

from THE TAR FOR ALL WEATHERS

by Charles Dibdin

But sailors were born for all weathers,
     Great guns let it blow high or low,
Our duty keeps us to our tethers,
     And where the gale drives we must go.

….

Our Mr. Dibdin (1745-1814) wrote many songs over the course of his life and career.

Now, this excerpt, printed as a poem, is from a song. Which got me wondering about songs of the sea, which led me to looking up sea shanties. A sea shanty was a song sung by the crew of tall sailing ships back in the day – usually call-and-response, with simple lyrics. The songs helped everyone keep to the same rhythm, and likely kept boredom at bay on long journeys as well.

Hungry for more, ye say? Well, y’ave plenty of time to read up before International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19), so ye might look in on this fun website I found,: The Pirate King.

Now, where were we?

Oh – CROWN JEWELS!

In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up, here’s another poem from this literary treasure chest. I might just have to tuck it into my hubby’s Valentine – shhh; don’t tell!

Associations of Home

by Walter Condor

That is not home, where day by day
I wear the busy hours away;
that is not home, where lonely night
Prepares me for the toils of light;
‘tis hope, and joy, and memory, give
A home in which the heart can live.
It is a presence undefined,
O’ershadowing the conscious mind;
Where love and duty sweetly blend
To consecrate the name of friend
Where’er thou art, is home to me,
And home without thee cannot be.


Wishing you the comfort of “a presence undefined” among friends and loved ones this month.

Be sure to row back over next week, when we’ll enjoy some lovely haiku from our February Student Haiku Poet of the Month!

And now please visit our always-original Liz (Elizabeth) Steinglass, rounding up the fleet of Poetry Friday posts today at her blog .

Poetry Friday - Celebrating a Birthday, Beatrix Potter Style...

January 22, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, nursery rhymes, ponderings

Top: Morgan and her supervising teacher from last year, Susan Gray, as they prepare for this school year. How special that they are now teaching on the same hall!

Bottom: Morgan's First Birthday, over-the-top Beatrix Potter. And lots of pink.

Happy Birthday to my Firstborn!

Shortly after midnight twenty-three years ago, when January 22nd became the 23rd, I became a mom. I was blessed with a healthy dose of those new mommy hormones, for no amount of exhaustion could dampen the shine on my amazement at our little bundle. I was awestruck.

In the years between then and now, there were a few more emotions, too. (Mothers of daughters? You know….) But now that I’m the proud mom of a grown-up young woman, I’m awestruck once again.

I remember being so excited to celebrate Morgan’s first birthday that I could hardly sleep the night before. Beatrix Potter theme – cake, wrapping paper, coordinating ribbons and decorations, and the obligatory pictures of cake smeared on the faces of our little one-year-old and her baby buddy, McCamy.

So I thought it would be fun to share a few verses from Beatrix Potter today, from CECILY PARSLEY'S NURSERY RHYMES For Little Peter in New Zealand (Frederick Warne & Co., Ltd., 1922).

After all, Morgan’s middle name is Cecily, and she’s been to New Zealand!

Here we are:

Cecily Parsley lived in a pen,
And brewed good ale for gentlemen.

Gentlemen came every day
Till Cecily Parsley ran away.



Hmmmm. On second thought, perhaps not the most appropriate poem for a mother to honor her daughter on her birthday? Well, for one thing, Morgan is far too busy teaching her third-graders and juggling her masters degree classes to have time to brew ale, and I don’t think her honey would like all those gentlemen callers.

Have no fear, Beatrix Potter included lots of fun verse in her little volume, and it’s worth clicking over to The Gutenberg Project to enjoy the illustrations.

You might know that our Beatrix had quite the life beyond Peter Rabbit. One of my most treasured books is
Beatrix Potter's Art: A Selection of Paintings and Drawings
by Anne Stevenson Hobbs (Warne, 1990).
Though out of print, you might find a used copy here .

Its description reads:

“As the creator of one of the world's most celebrated children's characters, Beatrix Potter has rarely been seen as a talented and versatile artist in her own right as in many ways the outstanding success of her 'little books' has overshadowed her other achievements.” The book offers an array of beautiful paintings and studies of The Lake District and also sheds light on the author’s work for conservation.

So, hearty cheers for Beatrix – and even more for our Morgan Cecily today. We are all in awe of you.

Speaking of wonderful teachers, you can keep the poetry party going by hopping over to A Teaching Life, where the terrific Tara is our host this week!

Poetry Friday: Won’t you toss me a line?

January 15, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, ponderings

photos ©Robyn Hood Black


Help! Nothing leaves me less inspired than being covered up in tax stuff. The hubby is way better at numbers, but these kinds of things don’t make it to his “urgent” list, and since I do all the household money wrangling anyway, I just scramble as best I can.

So scrambling right now I am, generating mounds of (recycled, but still…) paper spewing out of my temperamental printer, tracking down receipts from what seems like eons ago in another state but was really just last year, etc. etc. We’re both more or less self-employed, and that makes everything complicated! We DO have a great accountant, but I have to give them something to work with.
Here’s a little haiku I wrote in my journal last year:


15 April
Titanic and taxes
start with T…


©Robyn Hood Black

(I’d recently read Allan Wolf’s compelling verse novel, THE WATCH THAT ENDS THE NIGHT, about that dreaded night of April 15, 1912.)

Enough of all that. Don’t you feel dusty and sluggish just having to read it? I do. So, I’m tossing out a couple of pictures that I posted on my my artsyletters blog this week. – this wonderful old typewriter sprouting pansies in the garden of a local antique shop (Bay St. Trasures), and antique buttons from another shop (Reflections Old & New).

Do either of these pictures inspire something poetic – even just a turn of phrase? When I linked the post on Facebook, our wonderful Diane Mayr
commented: “Buttons = character. Find which go with which (in your mind's eye) and write about them.” I think Button Queen Amy Ludwig Vanderwater
would like that idea! She started a “Button Project” about this time last year on The Poem Farm.

Well, if a blooming typewriter or some hundred-year-old buttons lead to a line or two or a few from you, please share below! That would be so much more fun to read than (– Sigh –) the most current calculations for mileage expense.

Thanks!!

And for lots of truly inspiring poetry, please visit the ever-dreamy Irene at Live Your Poem. She has the MLK edition of Poetry Friday today! Thank you, Irene.

Poetry Friday - a Haiku for the New Year

January 1, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, ponderings, birds, awards

Yay Images
Happy New Year!

I hope you and yours have enjoyed a lovely holiday, and you are ready to leap head-first into a new year filled with poetry. Like my crazy hubby and son leaped into the chilly Atlantic today as part of the "Pelican Plunge" at Hunting Island....

Last year, I was still in the foothills of north Georgia, where I'd penned the following haiku:


new year
the twitter of a hundred robins
in the oak



Modern Haiku, Volume 45.1, Winter/​Spring 2014

©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


I haven't seen those huge flocks of robins here in my new yard near the coast, but there is plenty of wonderful bird life. And it's very nice to greet the new year from the same nest this year, rather than two different locations on the map!

Please make a migratory stop here next week, as we'll celebrate our January Student Haiku Poet of the Month. Such a treat for me to feature the work of these fine young poets.

Rounding up our first Poetry Friday for2015 is the wonderful Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Be sure to also check out her post featuring the Cybils finalists for poetry - the rounds have included books by some of our own amazing Poetry Friday community. Congratulations to all the nominees! [If you're a PF regular, you'll recognize the talented judges' names, too.] The incomparable Syliva Vardell has featured the shortlist at Poetry for Children, and there you can also find all of the 36 nominated poetry titles for 2014. I'll take one of each, please.

Poetry Friday - Found Poem for Friends Old and New

December 18, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, found poetry, poems, ponderings

©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.
Greetings, Poetry Friday-ers!

I hope your holiday season is full of rich time with family and friends and a few too many calories. Thoughts and prayers for those going through difficult times in this ramped-up season.

My post today is simple. Here's an image I used on our personal Christmas postcard this year, a found poem I highlighted from LITTLE FOLKS - A Magazine for the Very Young, London, Paris & New York, Cassell & Company, LTD. (Bound collection from the late 1800s.)

It reads:

To My Readers

Once more, friends, looking back over
the past year, I
fancy each one of you, and express my hopes
that you
understand more and more fully
something of
old friends and
new ones too.


[Those are old typewriter and watch parts adding bling to the text, by the way. Might be hard to see in this picture, but one is providing a cradling branch for the illustrated bird.]

To say it's been a year of moves and transitions for our family this year is putting it mildly. But each one of us (hubby, me, recent-graduate-new-teacher daughter and recent-transfer-to-a-new-college son) has made new friends in new places, while appreciating even more our special friends who share our history.

This poem is my wish for online friends, too! Thank you for so much inspiration, fun, comfort and challenge. I look forward to a new year of poetry after the holidays. We'll be on the road next Friday, so I'll see you back here in the new year.

Safe travels and blessings to you and yours!

Lighting up Poetry Friday for us this week (it's almost the Solstice, you know!) is friend and talented writer Buffy over at Buffy's Blog.

Poetry Friday: Keats's "In drear nighted December"

December 4, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poets, ponderings

Keats portrait by William James Neatby

Greetings, Poetry Peeps!

Can you believe it's December already? In hunting up a December-ish poem to share, I came across Keats. If I studied this one in college, I'm afraid I don't remember. Do you?


In drear nighted December

by John Keats, 1795 - 1821


In drear nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity—
The north cannot undo them
With a sleety whistle through them
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.

In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
Apollo’s summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.

Ah! would ‘twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy—
But were there ever any
Writh’d not of passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.


Click here for the Academy of American Poets and a bit more on the English Romantic Keats.

Well - a bit depressing I guess. The natural world has forgotten how happy it was in warmer months of the year, but we remember and feel loss? The poem has such a modern sensibility to me - "The feel of not to feel it" - I wouldn't guess that line to be almost a couple of centuries old. (It was composed in 1817 and first published in 1829.)

I hope your week has not been dreary! And if anyone tried found poem projects with kids or students, I'd love to hear about them. :0)

Next week will NOT be dreary here... We'll have our Student Haiku Poet of the Month, so circle on back between your holiday errands.

For the Poetry Friday Roundup today, hop on the nearest flying sleigh and make your way to Booktalking #kidlit where Anastasia is hosting! Thanks, Anastasia.

[NOTE: I'll be flapping around all day Friday getting ready for "Night on the Town"- businesses stay open late downtown to ring in the holidays, and I'll open my studio. I might be scarce until later in the weekend! :0) ]

Thankful for Open Doors... and a Perfect Thanksgiving Poem

November 20, 2014

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, ponderings, seasons

©Robyn Hood Black

This Thanksgiving will be a little different – the first time we haven’t spent the actual day of with our kids. Alas, hubby Jeff has to work Wednesday and Friday, and we’re a bit too far now to come and go to his folks’ home in one day. (Our kids, both in that foothills-neck-of-the-woods, will partake of the big meal and happy crowd chaos and re-charge their cousin batteries.)

I pondered making a quick turn-around trip to be part of all that, but my neuromuscular massage therapist said NO to driving that distance solo just yet. We’re adaptable – Morgan and Seth will come here for the weekend, and we’ll have Thanksgiving again – vegetarian-style – on Saturday.

This year, each one of us has dug up roots in one location and started a new life in another. Jeff got a head start by moving here to the coast before the end of last year. Then I made a zillion trips in the spring bringing over animals and furniture and way too many boxes. Morgan graduated from Furman, moved to a lovely little rental house in the area with friends, and started teaching third grade (and taking grad classes!) Seth completed a strong freshman year at Belmont, but traded in his Nashville city slicker pass to hang his hammock in the mountains of North Georgia at Young Harris College. (Perfect fit.)

Jeff and I have been getting used to the fit of our Empty Nester jackets. We joined a terrific church and have received kind welcomes from neighbors and new friends. We’ve taken lots of walks, downtown and on the trail over the marsh, and even taken in a play or two. And, okay, sometimes we spend evenings watching TV, at least when The Voice is on. (Morgan’s fault.)

When we were first looking into Beaufort, I hunted SCBWI members and found Kami Kinard , author of THE BOY PROJECT and THE BOY PROBLEM from Scholastic (books I wish I’d had for Morgan back in the day!) I stalked contacted Kami right off, and she was not only a wealth of helpful info, she’s become a good friend. Thursday evening, she hosted a get-together to introduce me to other writers in the area. Though self-conscious about those dynamics, I'm honored and thrilled to meet more members of the tribe. [One mutual writer friend I met soon after moving here – she’s a neighbor! Confirmation that we’d settled in the right spot.]

I’d love to say everything is orderly and flowing smoothly, but I’m still wrangling with storage challenges and realistic work schedules and such. Yet mostly I’m grateful – for long-time friendships unaffected by years and miles, and by new friendships we’ve been graced with. And for my online friends – some I’ve met in person and others I hope to.

In DAYS TO CELEBRATE, the incomparable Lee Bennett Hopkins shares an anonymous poem for Thanksgiving. (The anthology is one of many collaborations with illustrator Stephen Alcorn; I recommend buying all of them!)

The words are simple yet full of truth and warmth.

Thanksgiving

Anonymous

The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest is all gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.

Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway –
Thanksgiving comes again!


Posted here with permission - many thanks to LBH!

May your doorway be open to those you hold most dear. And wishing you comfort and peace if you are facing an empty chair at the table this year.

For a heaping feast of delicious poetry, please visit fellow South Carolinian Becky at Tapestry of Words for today’s Roundup!

Poetry Friday: What Do Teachers Make?

August 7, 2014

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

Our daughter Morgan, new grad student and brand-new third-grade teacher!

Teachers. It’s that time of year.

For me, it’s that time of life. My baby girl, the one who used to dress in prairie dresses channeling the Ingalls girls, and drag out some small congregation of dolls and/or stuffed animals, and hold court under the sun and on the grass with them – this same child has a brand new teacher badge and her name on a door a few hours away in a South Carolina elementary school. Third grade.

I could not be more proud, and I’m looking forward to a quick trip to help her finish setting up her classroom in a couple of days. I remember with utmost fondness my third grade teacher in Florida, Mrs. Ashton, and I’m certain there will be a few wide-eyed young faces in this state who will remember Morgan decades down the road, too.

So, today, this Poetry Friday is for you, Morgan! And ALL of you wonderful Poetry Friday folks who give yourselves to the next generation in schools, libraries, on school visits…. This poem might not be appropriate for the wall of a third-grade classroom, but it’s appropriate for the walls in every teacher’s heart. (Many of you know it already, I’m sure, but maybe the newbies don’t – and it’s worth reading again!)


What Teachers Make

by Taylor Mali

He says the problem with teachers is
What’s a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life
was to become a teacher?

He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true
what they say about teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.
I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the dinner guests
that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.
Because we’re eating, after all, and this is polite conversation.

I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor.
Be honest. What do you make?


And I wish he hadn’t done that— …



(Please click here to read the rest. You have to read the rest!)

Our youngest, Seth, actually got to go to the Dodge Poetry Festival a couple of years ago, where Taylor Mali was a featured poet (and Seth’s favorite). Why was my son there? An incredible teacher took him.

Speaking of incredible teachers, Mary Lee has today’s Roundup over at A Year of Reading . Enjoy!

Poetry Friday - Summer Poem Swap and Poetic Procrastination from Buffy Silverman

July 31, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, Summer Poem Swap, ponderings, poetry

Buffy's poem arrived with the wonderful blackbird graphic (credited below) and a small envelope with two treasures: fossils from Lake Michigan!

During The Summer Poem Swap, I’ve enjoyed a little banter with fellow participant Buffy Silverman about our – um – lack of ability to, technically, meet the deadlines. :0! [Aside: I had the privilege of meeting Buffy a couple of years ago at a Highlights Founders workshop in poetry, along with a few other Poetry Friday-ers. What a treat!]

This deadline business all started with the very first swap poem; I’d noticed a comment Buffy left on another blog with a wee apology that her poem would arrive a little late. I emailed her that her confession gave me comfort, because I was already running behind too! Little did we know we’d be swapping with each other just a couple of rounds later.

And little did I know she could turn that week’s suggested prompt into this poetic series that literally had me laughing out loud. My office cat, May, was in my lap while I read it, and she looked alarmed, wondering what all the fuss was about.

I’m sure you will enjoy Buffy’s offering as much as I did!


Thirteen Ways of Looking at Procrastination
(an apology poem for Robyn, with thanks to Wallace Stevens)


I
Among the pile of unfinished tasks,
The one that tore my soul
Was the poetry-swap poem for Robyn.


II
I was of three minds,
Like a blank page
In which there are three imaginary poems.


III
The unwritten poem whirled in the background of my day.
It was a small part of the pantomime of being a writer.


IV
Facebook and sudoku
Are one.
Facebook and sudoku and a week up north
Are one.


V.
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of Robyn’s poem for me not yet written
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The busy writer with assignments
That no one need know were completed seven days ago.


VI
Would icicles fill the study window
Before the summer swap poems were written?
The shadow of procrastination
Grows when Robyn’s poem arrives.
The joy of her gift
Traced with guilt
A decipherable cause.


VII
O idling writer of Augusta
Why do you imagine golden words?
Do you not see how the page
Still blank dances with rhythm
Of the writers before you?


VIII
I know about spiders and webs
And nimble, unpredictable rhymes;
But I know, too,
That frittering delay is involved
In what I know.


IX
When the excuses flew out of sight
The words marked the end
Of the empty screen.


X
At the sight of stanzas
Crowing in black and white,
Even the mistress of procrastination
Would cry out sharply.


XI
She rode to
Beaufort in a manila envelope.
Once, a fear pierced her,
In that she mistook
The lateness of her words
For ineptitude.


XII
The neurons are firing.
The missive will soon be flying.


XIII
It was easier to write than to delay.
It was sunrise
And it was going to glow.
The words poured
From the writer’s pen.


--Buffy Silverman, July 2014

Image from http://www.julianjardine.co.uk/alisonread.html

©Buffy Silverman. All Rights Reserved.

Now, don’t procrastinate – get thee hence to this week’s Roundup over at Reflections on the Teche , hosted by the lovely and talented Margaret. (You can see Margaret’s Round One Summer Poem Swap gifts to me here .)

And… BLATENT COMMERCIAL WARNING: If you have a little correspondence to catch up on yourself this summer, I’ve just added a couple of beach-themed note card designs to the artsyletters stable. You can see them on my art blog here.

Poetry Friday - Tribute to Mary Lee. A Different Mary Lee...

July 17, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, animals, ponderings


Our Fearless Poetry Friday Roundup Leader, Mary Lee, of A Year of Reading blog and her poetrepository website, is certainly worthy of a tribute. But today I bring you a different Mary Lee. One with fins.

Let me back up. Today in our new hometown, a 10-day extravaganza known as the "Water Festival" begins. While this part of the lowcountry is also called the “slowcountry,” my understanding is that for the next week or so, it’ll be the slowcountry on steroids. Concerts, dragon boat races, parades – on land and in the water, and lots of dancing, lots of beverages…. Well, at least we live within walking distance to downtown!

Thinking about celebrating the water, I was also reminded of a news story which came in on the tide this week. We’d heard about Mary Lee, a great white shark who pays visits to Beaufort County waters. (She even has her own Facebook page .)

She was tagged in 2012 by OCEARCH and now scientists monitor her movements, and those of other sharks, around the world. (Pretty cool – click here here to explore!)

Anyway, seems our new little personal nest is more or less surrounded by what just might be a prime nursery site for great white mamas in the Northern Atlantic! Port Royal sound is teeming with diverse aquatic life, perfect for baby shark buffets. Here’s this week’s article which caught my eye.

(Did you click over? Please pause and wrap your mind around that: 16-plus feet long. 3400-plus pounds.) Ah, motherhood.

I decided to shine the light on Mary Lee for Poetry Friday this week – from a distance, of course. From land, in fact. Inside my house.


MARY LEE


Mary Lee, Oh, Mary Lee –
you’ve come back to the bay.
To these waters where we swim
and fish - and row - and play.

Come to leave your pups with us
in deep Port Royal Sound.
Yes, we’ll keep an eye on them.
We hear you’re Northern-bound?

Not to worry. Go on now.
Though you might find it odd,
we’ll sleep a bit more soundly here
when you’re back in Cape Cod.



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Please remove your silver jewelry and paddle and splash your way on over to Terrific Tabatha's, where she has this week's Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference.

Poetry Friday: Summer Poem Swap Surprise from Margaret Simon

June 26, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, Summer Poem Swap, poetry, ponderings

painting and poem ©Margaret Simon


First, Summer Poetry Swap Confession: I so enjoyed the Winter Poem Swap - these things are conjured up by the amazing Tabatha Yeatts - that I signed on for this year's Summer Swap. "I'll be all settled and organized by June," I says to myself. "I'm in!"

Got my first secret recipient info - it was Diane Mayr! I'm a not-so-secret admirer of her poetry, her quick wit and thoughtfulness, her art sense, her ability to juggle three blogs simultaneously and hold down a real job and keep her feline companions happy... . "I'll come up with some lovely haiku for her," I says to myself. Well, that first "deadline" zinged right past me, and I sent her a little groveling message that I was already behind! (Of course, she sent a "no worries"-type message back. But she SHOULD get my offering in the mail today according to the P. O., not haiku but something else. When I saw Buffy's message to her first Summer Swap partner that hers would be a little late, I emailed Buffy about how much better that made me feel!)

Anyway, I was delighted to open my own mailbox and find a special envelope with Margaret Simon's return address! Margaret is just one of those people you want to drive all the way to Louisiana to meet up with and talk with for hours over some strong Louisiana coffee, just by reading her blog posts and her thoughtful comments all around. BUT - I was also feeling a little guilty. Her poetic gift arrived on time, and I just knew it would be something wonderful.

When a quiet moment finally presented itself, I opened the envelope, feeling inadequate already. A hand painted card was inside, and it looked like my new surroundings! At first I thought, "Does the bayou look like our lowcountry?!" Then I read that she'd looked online for a picture of "South Carolina beaches" and she painted, in watercolor, a scene she found! (I didn't even know she painted - did you?)

If that wasn't enough to grab me - and actually, it was! - I read the beautiful poem she'd penned inside. Talk about humbled. And uplifted. I was struggling to feel like I could slow down enough (even in this "slowcountry") to write some new poetry, and I fell right into these words:


Poem in the Sand


Let a poem find your voice.
Real things can happen there,
even imaginary ones
Dreams…yes,
dreams, too.

Poems hide in unexpected places,
buried in the sand, tossed from the sea.
Turn the grains over in your hand.
Take them to where you want to go.

Whisper softly like ocean waves.
I’ll know when I hear your voice.
Your words will find me watching.
Your words will find my heart waiting.


©Margaret Simon


Sigh. I felt so grateful. And less stressed. What a gift! And the imagery of sand experienced in different ways - it reminded me of time, too, and nudged me not to fight it all the time!

Isn't the last stanza something? I think anyone who reads it will feel encouraged. I sure did.

[By the way - Buffy, if you're reading this, and at the risk of spoiling a surprise - guess who my next poem is going to?? ;0) ]

AND, guess who is hosting us today? BUFFY! Go check out all the great offerings at Buffy's Blog (and tell her to watch her mailbox, but maybe not with bated breath....)

Poetry Friday: Summer Solstice, New Seasons, and a Few Lines from Christina Rosetti

June 19, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, summer, ponderings, artsyletters

Beaufort River and marina

Things definitely went from warm to hot in our new neck of the woods this week – it’s Summer Solstice time! I consulted Lee Bennet Hopkins’s wonderful DAYS TO CELEBRATE (Greenwillow, 2005) to see what he had featured for this time of the year.

Ahh, a few lines from Christina G. Rosetti (1830-1894):

Stay, June, Stay

      Stay, June, stay! –
If only we could stop the moon
And June!


Click here to read more from Rosetti’s “Sing-Song.”

I must say, the third poem speaks to me as a new empty-nester just moved to the seaside:

III.
What are heavy? sea-sand and sorrow:
What are brief? to-day and to-morrow:
What are frail? Spring blossoms and youth:
What are deep? the ocean and truth.



Yes, yes – BUT… there’s still a spring in my step. Hubby Jeff and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage on Sunday. With two house payments – anyone wanna buy a rambling ‘70s house in Georgia? – and kids in college and grad school, our celebration will involve a walk downtown for some wine and dinner! And it’s a lovely downtown. Those of you who have been kind enough to ask for new studio pictures, they’re up on my art blog! You can take a quick tour in pictures of my artsyletters adventure in this new, beautiful location.

Wishing you and yours a June of sun and good memories. Enjoy poems for all seasons rounded up this week by our effervescent Jone at Check It Out.

Poetry Friday: Bicycle Poetry Contest and Thoughts on Spinning in Circles...

June 5, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, contests, poetry, ponderings, art

“Six Degrees of Separation”
photo ©Stephanie Salkin. All rights reserved.


The wheel has spun around again – it’s time for the poetry (and art) contest that my friend and fellow poet Stephanie Salkin helps coordinate each summer down in sunny Florida. In fact, it’s the third annual bicycle art and poetry competition co-sponsored by the Flagler County Art League (FCAL) and the Gargiulo Art Foundation.

“This year, the theme has been expanded to include 'plein air' art which, in terms of poetry, would translate to the outdoors/scenery. A poem could be about bicycles or the outdoors or some combination,” says the entry form.

What kind of poem should you create? Stephanie responds:

“Write any kind of bicycle or motorbike kind of poem, perhaps a reflection from childhood, or, if that doesn’t move your gears, write a poem about the beauty of the world around you—paint it in words the way a painter of the outdoors would create it in brush strokes.”

Here’s the nitty gritty:

Theme: bicycles or the outdoors, or a combination of both.

Send an entry form and non-refundable entry fee of $3 per poem ($5 for two poems), to be RECEIVED by July 2, 2014. (Questions & forms? Call Stephanie Salkin at 386-693-4204 or email ssalkin@cfl.rr.com)

You may also drop off form and entries at the FCAL gallery in Palm Coast.

Winning entries will be read at the GAF-FCAL Bicycle/Plein Air Art Show Opening, Saturday, July 12, 2014, at 7 P.M. (NOTE: If you would like to participate in an 8:30 p.m. POETRY SLAM on Opening Night, the entry fee for that event--if you participate in the theme poetry competition, too—is $3. If you wish to participate only in the SLAM, the fee is $5.)

Cash awards will be presented for first through third place theme poems. (You do not have to be present at show to win.)


One of these years I’m going to have my act together to enter this contest. Seems I frequently pedal down the road to you-know-where with good intentions. For instance, I thought for sure I’d be settled enough in our new digs to enter a particular haiku contest, whose deadline just passed, - but, alas, I waved as it went by. This past year has taught me that in some seasons in our lives, we just need to cut ourselves a little slack.

In the span of the past 10 months, my family went from all four under the same roof last summer to hubby starting a job six hours away, oldest child off to her last year of college and youngest off to his first in different states, and myself dealing with paring down and packing up almost 30 years of stuff – and trying to get a rather quirky big rambling 70s house ready to sell or rent or something. We bought a small cottage in our new hometown of Beaufort, SC, in the fall.

I finally got myself, the few pieces of furniture that would fit in the new space, and our mostly geriatric menagerie over here to the lowcountry from Georgia this spring. Many, many trips – even after the movers came. [When I told my good friend Paula B. Puckett that half the time I don't know which state I'm in, she replied: "I know - you're in a state of confusion!"]

I just got back with the last load from the house this week (!). In the meantime, said oldest has graduated and has moved to a rental house to start grad school and her teaching career, and said youngest has decided to transfer colleges and will be moving to yet a different town this fall. (He just got here for the summer and an internship, though - yay!)

I have had to let many things slide in recent months, too often including making the rounds of Poetry Friday. What a wonderful community, though – it’s still here. Even when some of us have to skip now and then. I am so looking forward to settling into a (creative) rut from this new address.

Happy to report that my studio in an 1889 building downtown is almost unpacked and set up – well, the tornado décor is just in half of it at the moment, not all of it. There is light at the end of the tunnel of moving boxes! (I’ll share pix and a tour soon on my artsyletters art blog.)

Thanks to the folks who have come by here to visit sporadic posts in recent months, even when I couldn’t always reciprocate. The last year has felt a bit like that exhilaration (and hint of fear) one experiences while splashing in the ocean, and a huge wave comes. You know it’s going to knock you off your grounded feet, swirl you around and upside-down a little maybe, but you’ll eventually surface. For those balancing big life transitions, hold your breath a minute and give yourself a break! You’ll breathe again. And for those experiencing a more settled year, perhaps with time and energy to spare - pen a wonderful bicycle/outdoor poem and send it to Stephanie!

You can go glean inspiration from all the great poetry rounded up at Carol's Corner today - Thanks, Carol!

Poetry Friday: Robert Fitterman's "National Laureate" and some funky stop signs...

March 6, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poets, found poetry, ponderings


Greetings from the South Carolina low country, where we’re still unpacking and settling in, and still going back and forth a bit from the north Georgia mountains to our new home on the Carolina coast. (I’m thinking one more trip back to finish grabbing what I left behind and to clean, and I should feel officially moved!)

I am quite in love with our new home town of Beaufort. I mean, just look at those stop signs. And if you think the traffic signs are welcoming, you should meet the people! Then there’s the haunting, romantic Spanish moss dripping from live oaks, the whispering history in town and among the islands, the calls of sea birds, the tropical quality of light, the waving grasses of vast, teeming marshes…. OK, I’ll stop. I’m gushing.

Today I have a poem I happily stumbled across – it’s a found poem, and you know I love reading and writing those! I confess the poet Robert Fitterman was new to me. This poem offers carefully chosen snippets from the state poet laureates. (Not every state has a poet laureate.)

Here are the first few stanzas:

National Laureate

by Robert Fitterman

Alabama

Eagle and egret, woodcock and teal, all birds
gathering to affirm the last gasp of sunset.

Alaska

Maybe I should stay in bed
all day long and read a book
or listen to the news on the radio
but truthfully, I am not meant for that.

Arkansas

Then, as we talked, my personage subdued,
And I became, as Petit jean, a ghost,

California

I can stand here all day and tell you how much
I honor, admire, how brave you are.



Now, to be completely self-indulgent, here are the stanzas from the state we just left and the state we’ve come to call home again. (My husband and I met at Furman University, in the South Carolina upstate, and married right after graduation 30 years ago in June.) I kind of like the progression from dark to light in these two stanzas, at this season of our lives! Here we have the words of Georgia’s poet laureate, David Bottoms, and of South Carolina’s, Marjory Heath Wentworth.

Georgia

Loaded on beer and whiskey, we ride to the dump in carloads to turn our headlights across the wasted field, …

South Carolina

Seeds of hope are waiting in the sacred soil beneath our feet and in the light and in the shadows, spinning below the hemlocks. …


Please click here to read the entire poem.

And for lots of great poetry from many states & countries, please visit the marvelous Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for this week’s Roundup.

Poetry Friday Heads' Up: Best Laid Plans...

February 12, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, writing life, ponderings

(And it's still just morning! - We have many hours to go....)

If you're reading this post on Friday, it's because I put it up on Wednesday (while I still have power!), and Mother Nature has decided to postpone our next Student Haiku Poet of the Month post until next week (the 21st).

I had scheduled the movers to come here (north Georgia) Wednesday and finish moving us to Beaufort (coastal South Carolina). But instead on this Wednesday I'm hearing echoes in Scottish from Robert Burns (1759-1796):


But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,

In proving foresight may be vain:

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

Gang aft agley, ...



You can read the rest here.

I might still be snowed on Friday, or loading a moving truck, or on the road, or - who knows?! But if I'm not here to enjoy your good company, I'll look forward to sharing our next wonderful student poet with you next week. (And, if you ARE reading this on Friday - Happy Valentine's Day! - & be sure to ski on over to see the Lovely Linda at TeacherDance for this week's Roundup.)

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

December 26, 2013

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



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

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


T'was the Day Before Solstice


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


©Keri Collins Lewis. All rights reserved.


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

Author’s Note:

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


Now, bet you learned something too, eh?

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

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

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

October 31, 2013

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

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

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

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

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


lapping waves finding a you or a me

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


telling it slant
a ghost crab slips into
a hole


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

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

Poetry Friday: Mortimer Minute Stops Here. (Really, but I hope someone will jump in...)

October 24, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, Mortimer Minute, poets, poetry, dogs, animals, ponderings, writing life

Greetings, Friends!

Ever since I first heard about the Children's Poetry Blog Hop from my wonderful, talented buddy April Halprin Wayland, I've been delighted to see "The Mortimer Minute" hopping around the Poetry Friday blogosphere. I've been dodging Kind Mortimer (and invitations from fellow poetry bloggers) for weeks, however, because of a crazy travel schedule and crazy life in general this fall.

I came up for a wee bit of air last week to find a tag invite from the wonderful, talented Tricia Stohr-Hunt, whose Mortimer Minute blog post is here on her terrific Miss Rumphius Effect blog (definitely worth hopping around there). You feel bonded with a person after sharing a few moments of white-knuckled airplane-seat-gripping on a little plane taking off from Scranton, PA, following a Highlights Founders poetry workshop, into uncertain skies.... Thanks, Tricia, for thinking of me years later!

Here's how the Mortimer Minute works:

• Answer 3 questions. Pick one question from the previous Hopper. Add two of your own. Keep it short, please! This is a Blog Hop, not a Blog Long Jump. This is The Mortimer Minute—not The Mortimer Millennium!
• Invite friends. Invite 1-3 bloggers who love children’s poetry to follow you. They can be writers, teachers, librarians, or just plain old poetry lovers.
• Say thank you. In your own post, link to The Previous Hopper. Then keep The Mortimer Minute going — let us know who your Hoppers are and when they plan to post their own Mortimer Minute.


Okay, methinks, I can do that. Answer 3 questions, check. Thank you to previous Hopper, check. Invite friends.... well, that's where the hopping didn't go so well this past week. I did invite poetry blogger friends - several - but they'd all been previously Mortimer-ed and were already posting soon, or their schedules wouldn't allow them to participate, or memes in general just weren't their thing. Now, I don't particularly want Mortimer to stop at my place - really, I have a houseful of rescued animals already. (No offense, Mortimer.) They don't always play nicely with others, at least not the 16-pound somewhat demon-possessed kitty in the basement.

If you are reading this and would like a tag-after-the-fact, please by all means consider this an invitation to play along! I'll try to post a link to your site as soon as my car rolls to a stop again (traveling again this weekend and next week - author visits in schools.)

In the meantime, here's my Minute:

Mortimer: Do you have a favorite poetry book from childhood?

I can’t place my memory on one particular book, though I remember loving poems as a child, and reading was a favorite pastime in our house growing up. (I do remember thinking “Eletelephony” by Laura Richards was hilarious.)

But, spurred on by Tricia’s “well-worn and much beloved book” she shared from 1968, I dug one out of the shelves which technically belonged to my older brother, Mike, published in 1966. It is a big Western Publishing collection with photos and illustrations, My Dog, My Friend in Pictures and Rhyme. (Guess I'm continuing last week's canine theme.) Its opening poem pretty much describes the attitude both Mike and I have had since we were babes. (And congrats, Bro, on the newest doggie rescue in your house this week!)

Birthday Present
by Aileen Fisher

White?
Oh yes, a woolly white one.

Black?
Oh yes, a black-as-night one.

Tan?
I think a tan or brown one
perfect for a farm or town one.

Sleek?
Oh yes, a sleek and trim one.

Shaggy?
Any her or him one.
Tousled, frowzled,
big or small,
I’d like any kind at all –
just so it’s a dog.


Please scroll up one post for a picture of the book. And don’t miss Renée LaTulippe’s ongoing series with the incomparable Lee Bennett Hopkins on NCTE Poetry Award winners – click here for the video posted this month featuring Lee’s interview about Aileen Fisher.

Mortimer: Do you write several drafts of a poem or dash off publishable gems the first time around?

I find most writing, especially poetry, needs to "cure" - at least overnight, usually many overnights, and sometimes over a month or year or more. That is just part of the process. It would be rare that something needing fixin' doesn't jump out upon a second or twentieth reading.

Mortimer: Do you have a favorite poetic genre?

Many kinds of poetry make me swoon. Blake (1757–1827) wrote, in the opening lines of "Auguries of Innocence":

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour....


Click here for more.

Good poetry allows me that magic. The way poetry crystallizes a moment, an experience - that's probably why I'm so drawn to haiku. Speaking of which, I need to go pack. I'm participating in a Haiku Society of America regional "haikufest" this weekend in Atlanta.

So if you'll excuse me, and if any Poetry Friday bloggers want to take Mortimer...

Now, jump on over to see the wonderful, talented Irene at Live Your Poem , where she's hosting this week's Roundup AND celebrating her 1000th post. Woo-hoooo! That's enough to make you want to twitch your whiskers.

Poetry Friday: Some Walt Whitman for the Road

October 10, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poets, ponderings, conferences, workshops

Yay Images
Greetings from the road (again!) today.... I'm on my way to Birmingham for our SCBWI Southern Breeze fall conference. Saturday I'm presenting a workshop on "Poetry Tips for Prose Writers."

I'm looking forward to the trip, because my wonderful friend and long-time traveling companion is joining me - Paula B. Puckett, and another buddy from our art critique group, Kathleen Bradshaw, is hopping in for the ride as well. I loved Kathleen's comment when she called to see if we had room. She was wondering if she could ride with us 1.) so that she could leave her car home for another family member, and, 2.) because she missed us. ;0) Yes, we are all overdue for catching up, and miles on the road offer a great opportunity for that.

So here are a few lines from Whitman's "Song of the Open Road," which begs re-readings and ponderings. For today, I'll share one of the lilting, lighter sections near the beginning. Enjoy!

from
Song of the Open Road
by Walt Whitman (1819–1892)

(excerpt)

4
The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road, the gay fresh sentiment of the road.


O highway I travel, do you say to me Do not leave me?
Do you say Venture not—if you leave me you are lost?
Do you say I am already prepared, I am well-beaten and undenied, adhere to me?


O public road, I say back I am not afraid to leave you, yet I love you,
You express me better than I can express myself,
You shall be more to me than my poem.


I think heroic deeds were all conceiv’d in the open air, and all free poems also,
I think I could stop here myself and do miracles,
I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like, and whoever beholds me shall like me,
I think whoever I see must be happy.

....

(Please click here to pull up a chair and read the entire poem.)

And please mosey down the road to visit the amazing Laura at Writing the World for Kids for today's Roundup, where she has a powerful pantoum, a story of poetic camaraderie, and lots of links to great poetry!

Poetry Friday - A Few Lines of Rumi for Rumination

October 3, 2013

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


Next Saturday, Oct. 12, I’ll start the day presenting a workshop called “Poetry Tips for Prose Writers” at one of my favorite places – our SCBWI Southern Breeze Fall Conference in Birmingham, Alabama. We’ll look at ways poetic language can enliven our fiction and nonfiction writing.

I offered a little sneak preview as my column returned from vacation to Janice Hardy’s The Other Side of the Story blog this week. In that post, I shared a few excerpts from Khaled Hosseini’s powerful first novel, The Kite Runner, now celebrating 10 years in print. What piqued my curiosity about Hosseini’s writing was a recent television interview about his newest novel (And the Mountains Echoed), in which he described growing up in Kabul with poetry all around - a natural part of daily life. As a child, he kept close company with Rumi, Hafiz and Omar Khayyám. (Hosseini mentions ghazals too - a poetic form explored by some of our Poetry Friday keepers. [See Margaret’s post at Reflections on the Teche from April here.]

So, today – something sweet to chew on from Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks):


What Was Told, That

by Jalal al-Din Rumi
translated by Coleman Barks

What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.

What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was

whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever …



Please click here for the rest of the poem.

Wishing you a Poetry Friday “filled with gratitude.” For today’s Roundup, go share some sweet tea with one of my favorite Southern Breezers, Doraine, at Dori Reads. Doraine is presenting a "Nuts and Bolts" workshop at our conference, too!

Poetry Friday: Carpe-ing Diem with Andrew Marvell and His Coy Mistress

September 19, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, birds, ponderings

© Robyn Hood Black

Okay – my posts are usually pretty tame; but today young children and eighth-grade boys should probably leave the room. ;0)

Wednesday night I caught the “Europe” episode of a PBS Nature series, “Earthflight.” Fascinating stuff: cameras literally capture a bird’s eye view of our planet as birds migrate across the continents. I was rather charmed with the way male cranes and storks go ahead of their mates to spiff up the nest and put their best avian foot forward to impress their ladies for breeding season.

I thought of that again today (bear with me) when I was playing around with some cool 1950s metal letters I’ve been framing for this weekend’s Art in the Square here in north Georgia. Why? Well, I made the above “Carpe d’ M” picture, which got me pondering the concept (I’m a seize-the-day kind of gal), which led me to looking at a “carpe diem” poem I probably haven’t read since college.

You, know, English poet Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress.” Marvell (1621-1678) penned these lines toward the end of his “invitation” to a certain young lass:

“Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey… .”

The PBS birds weren’t birds of prey (though there was some amazing footage of a Peregrine falcon trying and failing to nab a starling in a murmuration), but they were certainly amorous. How odd to read this poem again when I’m not quite crone (though that is not terribly far away), but I’m w-a-y past maiden. I find myself chuckling at the 300-year-old pick-up lines.

Here they are:

To His Coy Mistress

By Andrew Marvell

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast;
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart;
For, Lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapt power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.



I mean, “The grave's a fine and private place/
But none, I think, do there embrace” – that’s better quipped than late night TV monologues, don’t you think?

Please click here to learn more.

This poem also brought to mind a piece of the soundtrack of my teenage years – anybody else remember? – “Only the Good Die Young” by Billy Joel. Of course, this song got the young Joel in a heap of trouble with Catholics, though its banning only resulted in skyrocketing sales. Click here for a little more on that.

I suppose if we banned all carefully crafted entreaties of lusty young men from our literature, our books would weigh far less. And then, if we found ourselves missing all that strutting and preening, we could just look to the birds.

Now, flap your way over to The Opposite of Indifference to enjoy today's Roundup with Tabatha, who keeps a bird's eye view of just about everything.

Poetry Friday: September

September 5, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, authors, book tracks, haiku

YAY Images

I caught it - just for a hint of a moment, just through my fingers and teasing my face - walking at dusk last night. Have you caught it? That wispy slight chill in the air wafting over the scent of grass - the promise of fall?

Fall has always been my favorite season. As a little girl, when that chill in the air and the smell of fresh grass meant I was running around my grandparents' back yard in Tennessee, I loved the start of a new school year. Growing up in Florida, I didn't move to where the leaves change color until college. I am still at a loss each year when the canopy transforms into a yellow golden scarlet aubergine cathedral, shedding stained glass leaves into a carpet. Fall is a time to breathe deeply, to both contemplate and start new things.

On my side of the family, the first great-grandchild for my folks was born Wednesday night to my lovely niece. New life makes everyone pause and feel hopeful. We also discovered that there's a baby due on my husband's side of the family - the first great-grandchild for his folks, so fall will be full of promise. New babies always make me think of Lee Bennett Hopkins's collection AMAZING FACES, with exquisite illustrations by Chris Soentpiet (Lee & Low, 2010). Rebecca Kai Dotlich's opening poem begins:

Amazing Face

Amazing, your face.
Amazing.

It shows there will be trails to follow,
porches to wave from, wonder from,
play on. ...


©Rebecca Kai Dotlich. All rights reserved.

Please click here to read the rest.

There's something about the bittersweet nature of fall that captivates me, too. All that glorious color and fresh air harbors the reality that stark winter is next on the wheel. We are fragile, after all - strong, but impermanent. This sensibility accompanies the best haiku, one reason I'm so drawn to the form.

Somewhat related, the imagist poets often call to me, too. This poem in particular seemed perfect for today, and even relevant with our current concerns around the globe.

September, 1918

by Amy Lowell (1874–1925)

This afternoon was the colour of water falling through sunlight;
The trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves;
The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves,
And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows.
Under a tree in the park,
Two little boys, lying flat on their faces,
Were carefully gathering red berries
To put in a pasteboard box.
Some day there will be no war,
Then I shall take out this afternoon
And turn it in my fingers,
And remark the sweet taste of it upon my palate,
And note the crisp variety of its flights of leaves.
To-day I can only gather it
And put it into my lunch-box,
For I have time for nothing
But the endeavour to balance myself
Upon a broken world.


Click here to see the poem at The Poetry Foundation; you can click on Lowell's biography on that page and read more about her extraordinary career.

Finally, let the autumn winds blow you over to Author Amok, where the lovely and talented Laura has thoughts on friendship, more classic poetry, and a terrific Round-Up this week!

Poetry Friday: Haiku and a Deja Vu

August 30, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, conferences, ponderings, journals, workshops

©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

I've missed you this month!

You've missed me, too, right?

I'm waving on my way to the Decatur Book Festival this weekend (where I'll have my artsyletters booth). But I wanted to share some treats before I go. Last year about this time, I featured a couple of haiku from myself and my niece, Olivia, which were in the same issue of Frogpond. Olivia had been one of the winners in the Nicholas Virgilio Haiku Contest for students. Well, guess what? We share bylines in the same issue again! One of Olivia's poems appears in this year's small collection of wonderful winning entries.


autumn wind
the spool
feeding the thread



©Olivia Babuka Black. All rights reserved.

The judges offer thoughtful commentary on each winning poem, adding that Olivia's has "a kind of lonely beauty."

Hers was, again, not the only winning entry from The Paideia School in Atlanta. No surprise - their teacher is award-winning and widely published haiku poet Tom Painting. I look forward to meeting Tom in person at our upcoming "Ginko Haiku Fest" in Atlanta October 25-27.

In the meantime, he graciously agreed to let me post my favorite of his poems in this same Frogpond issue:


damp earth by turn some understanding


©Tom Painting. All rights reserved.

Such richness and depth in those few words, don't you think?


And, okay, here's my poem in the current issue:


temple gift shop
no one minds
the register



©©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

Finally... Drumrolllll, pleeeease.... our own Elizabeth Steinglass (Liz to me) makes her haiku publishing debut with this fine poem, ALSO in this issue of Frogpond:


after lunch...
the slight smile
of the hammock



©©Elizabeth Steinglass. All rights reserved.


Congratulations, Liz! And that's just the beginning for her. More of her poems are in the pipelines of respected haiku journals.

(Also, a shout-out to Jone Rush MacCulloch, who has made her haiku journal debut this year as well, I believe.)

One more thing. I'm looking forward to presenting a workshop on "Poetry for Prose Writers" at our SCBWI Southern Breeze fall conference, Writing and Illustrating for Kids, on October 12. Our region features presenters in a "blog tour," and I had the good fortune to be a guest on the blog of my author friend Donny Bailey Seagraves this week. Donny lists the schedule for all of the wik Southern Breeze Wik blog tour participants.

In the mood for some more poetry to fuel your day? Ever-talented Tara has our Roundup today (and a William Blake offering) at A Teaching Life. Enjoy!

Poetry Friday: "August Morning" by Albert Garcia

August 2, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, ponderings

YAY Images
Happy August to you!

I have looked at my calendar and must declare myself an honorary European this month; with a trip or two yet to go, and with getting two kids settled into college (first year for one; last for the other) in two different states, and with the Decatur Book Festival at the end of the month where I'll have my artsyletters booth, I'm going to need to take some blog vacation days here in the Dog Days.

But I'd like to share a poem I stumbled across, and it only makes me want to read more of this poet's work. Albert Garcia teaches college English in California. His work has been published in many respected journals and has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. His poetry collections include Rainshadow (Copper Beech Press) and Skunk Talk (Bear Star Press). Here are the opening lines from a poem in Skunk Talk:

August Morning

by Albert Garcia

It’s ripe, the melon
by our sink. Yellow,
bee-bitten, soft, it perfumes
the house too sweetly.
At five I wake, the air
mournful in its quiet.
My wife’s eyes swim calmly
under their lids, her mouth and jaw
relaxed, different.
What is happening in the silence
of this house? ...


©Albert Garcia - please click here to read the whole poem.

For lots of great poetry to start off your August, please paddle over to visit lovely Margaret at Reflections on the Teche.

(If you're interested, here's a peek at some new artwork I'm conjuring up for that book festival Aug. 30-Sept. 1. Especially for Book Nerds!)

Poetry Friday: Margarita Engle is here!

July 25, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, authors, ponderings, verse novels, poetry, animals


Earlier this summer I was honored to feature a poem by Margarita Engle from her gorgeously crafted The Hurricane Dancers. That only whet my appetite to offer a more fulsome post featuring this talented, generous, adventurous and multi-award-winning poet. But what to focus on - her journalistic career and NPR segments? Her scientific expertise? Her picture books and animal knowledge? (Did you know she "hides" in the wilderness to help search and rescue dogs learn their trade?) Her precision regarding historical figures, some of whom wouldn't otherwise have a voice today? Verse novels?

Well, this column today is mainly about verse novels, with some of those other dynamics woven in. Like me, you'll want to explore more than just one work or form! I'm so pleased to welcome Margarita, whose many awards include a Newbery Honor, the Pura Belpré Award, the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Honor, just to name a few.

Your body of work (and that’s just so far!) includes a treasure of stories about Cuba’s history. First, can you share a bit about your rich family history and your visits to Cuba growing up?

My mother is from the beautiful town of Trinidad, on the south-central coast of Cuba. My father is an American artist who traveled to her town after seeing photos of the colonial architecture and traditional customs in the January, 1947 issue of National Geographic. He arrived on Valentine’s Day, and they met on the terrace of a palace that was an art school at that time, but is now known as El Museo Romántico, because it is a museum of Romantic Era art. Since they couldn’t speak the same language, they communicated with drawings. It was love at first sight (or first sketch). They were soon married, and they moved to my father’s hometown of Los Angeles, where I was born and raised. Summers spent visiting my mother’s relatives in Cuba are my fondest childhood memories. During those trips, I bonded with the extended family, including my grandmother and great-grandmother. I also fell in love with tropical nature and the family farm, setting the foundation for a later career in botany and agriculture. The 1962 Missile Crisis, and my loss of the right to travel freely, was the defining moment of my adolescence. I think that might be why I tend to write for eleven-year-olds, since that is the age at which my life was abruptly severed into distinct before and after segments.

Your writing sensitively conveys both the courage of ordinary people as well as the horror of humanity’s dark side in conditions such as war and slavery. How were you able to actually write difficult scenes, such as the recurring tortures endured by Juan Francisco Manzano in The Poet Slave of Cuba?

Thank you, I’m glad it does come across as sensitive. Those scenes were adapted directly from Manzano’s autobiographical notes. On my own, I never would have imagined such terror, but I felt obligated to retain both the facts and the spirit of his notes about his childhood. The stunning illustrations by Sean Qualls really helped soften, and at the same time, strengthen, those disturbing images.

Turning specifically to the form of verse novels, I’d like to share some correspondence with you earlier this summer that helped click this form into place in my mind. You wrote:

The two things I sacrifice in exchange for using the verse novel form's magic are:

1. dialogue---When I encounter dialogue in a verse novel, it usually feels disorienting, so I search for other ways to have characters communicate.
2. detail---I feel the need to research like a maniac, and then omit most of what I have learned. This forces me to only include those aspects of history that seem most important to me. In other words, it forces me to remain constantly aware of what I am really trying to say to young readers.


What terrific thoughts for folks exploring this form! Would you like to share a little more about its magic? Why is the verse novel a vehicle of choice for sharing your stories?


I fell in love with the verse novel form after struggling to write about Manzano in traditional prose, and falling short over and over, for ten years. As soon as I switched to poetry, the life of The Poet Slave of Cuba sprang to life. I think it’s because Manzano was a poet, and I was only able to retain the spirit of his voice by honoring his love of verse. He wrote poetry while struggling to stay alive. I write in safety and comfort, yet we meet on common ground. I have never been a slave or a boy, but I feel a kinship to this enslaved boy who taught himself to read and write poetry. After that first verse novel, I just kept going. The Surrender Tree was next, and the first draft was so unfocused that it was rejected by my wonderful editor, Reka Simonsen. I’m fortunate that she gave me a second chance to re-write it from scratch, because the result was a Newbery Honor. I don’t think that would have been possible for me in any other form. If I’d written a nonfiction book about a wilderness nurse during Cuba’s independence wars, it would have needed footnotes, instead of feelings. Someone else could write that, but I can’t. I need to experience my protagonist’s emotions. After The Surrender Tree, I followed with Tropical Secrets, The Firefly Letters, Hurricane Dancers, The Wild Book, and The Lightning Dreamer. Each of these verse novels explores some aspect of freedom and/or hope, my two recurrent themes.

While we’re on the subject of form, I’d like to take this opportunity to give a bit of advice to anyone teaching poetry to young people. Personally, I would tell kids (and aspiring adult writers) to turn off their gadgets, string up a hammock, and write with pen and paper, just letting words flow. Write as if time does not exist. Write as if rejections and critics don’t exist. Just write because you have something to communicate, deep down inside your heart, mind, and soul. Go exploring.

(I LOVE that advice!) Your main characters are full of light in dark circumstances, and often deal with being perceived in unfair and negative ways. In The Surrender Tree, Rosa (modeled after Rosario Castellanos Castellanos, who lived in the 19th and early 20th century) is a nurse who helps the injured on both sides of conflict in Cuba’s three wars of independence. She must do her healing in hiding, deep in the tropical forests and caves of the countryside:

The Spanish soldiers dress in bright uniforms,
like parakeets.
They march in columns, announcing
their movements
with trumpets and drums.

We move silently, secretly.
We are invisible.


Rosa is called a witch and pursued relentlessly. Under the weight of extreme weariness, hunger, lack, and fear, she carries on. What keeps her going?


Compassionate perseverance is the reason I chose to view 30 years of war through her eyes. I don’t understand that level of generosity and courage. I admire modern nurses for the same reason: they stayed with their patients during Hurricane Katrina. They don’t receive the respect granted to doctors, but they accomplish daily tasks that would exhaust the powers of superheroes. Nurses amaze me. Where does that dedication come from? I think it’s hope, and that’s the reason I admire Rosa la Bayamesa enough to write about war, when all I want to think of is peace.

In your speech at the 2010 National Book Festival (available on the Macmillan Authors site and your own website, and echoing your advice above, you said, “writing is an exploration.” Any projects in the works you want to talk about, or do you prefer to keep creative endeavors under wraps until they’re ready for the world?

I have taken a brief rest from Cuban history to write some animal books. When You Wander, a Search and Rescue Dog Story (wonderful illustrations by Mary Morgan!), is my new picture book, and Mountain Dog is a middle grade chapter-book-in-verse (magnificent illustrations by Olga and Alexey Ivanov, and edited by the amazing Ann Martin!). Both of these dog books were inspired by my husband’s volunteer work, training our dogs to find hikers lost in the Sierras. My role in their training is hiding out in the woods, so the dogs can practice finding a “lost” person. I also have some other picture books pending, about other subjects, including a couple of biographies, one of the most difficult p.b. forms to publish these days.

{Note: When you leave here, please take a moment to enjoy When You Wander, read aloud by Margarita in a video over at Renée's No Water River! An interview follows, and she'll be a special guest over there again soon, too!}

In March, 2014, Harcourt will release a picture book inspired by a Cuban folktale: Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish(gorgeous illustrations by David Walker!), as well as Silver People, Voices From the Panama Canal (spectacular cover illustration by Raúl Colón!), a verse novel about the Caribbean Islanders who were recruited to dig the canal, while subjected to U.S.-imposed apartheid. Caribbeans and southern Europeans were paid in silver, while Americans and northern Europeans were paid in gold, hence the title. Silver People is also my personal love letter to tropical rain forests. In this book, every living thing has a voice, including monkeys, ants, birds, snakes, cockroaches, and trees.

That sounds beyond wonderful. I have to mention that among many other things you write, you are a haiku and tanka poet. Do these short forms inform your other writing?

Absolutely! Since childhood, I have loved the short Japanese forms of poetry. They help me remain aware of immediacy, and of the senses. They also help me discover universal images that are extremely useful for triggering emotions in a reader’s mind, so that I don’t have to go on and on in a melodramatic way, naming and describing those emotions. I think haiku and tanka help me fill the blank spaces between lines of verse with unstated thoughts and feelings. It can be described as resonance, like the vibrations that continue after the sound of a bell has faded. It makes reading interactive, without any electronic gadgets, just words.

Readers and writers are always curious about an author’s work habits and inspiration. Will you play along with a short Q & A? Here we go:

Morning or Evening? (or Middle of the Night?!)

Morning. I get up early, work early, and exhaust my creative energy early. By evening, my mind is a sponge, and all I can do is read.

Coffee or tea?
Coffee, the stronger the better.

Beach or Mountains? (or maybe Tropical Forest?)
All of the above. I don’t swim, but I love the seashore. Our search and rescue dog training takes us to the mountains once or twice each week. I visit tropical rain forests whenever our budget has room for travel. Most recently, we went to an orangutan reserve in Borneo (after the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore, a great conference for any Western authors who want to meet authors and readers from the East). And before you ask, yes, one sort of writing project or another often does grow out of each adventure, so there is an orangutan book in my future (illustrated by…no, sorry, I can’t reveal that exciting secret yet, but it’s edited by Noa Wheeler at Holt...)

(Oooohhh... can't wait!)
Music (What Kind?) or Silence?


Silence. I’ve never understood authors who can write in crowded places. I need to be alone with my characters, whether fictional or historical. Noise or modern music would interfere with my time travel experience.

What’s on your Night Stand? (Or would that be a Kindle?)

I just finished the best grownup biography I’ve ever read: Second Suns, by David Relin, about a heroic Nepali eye surgeon who cures blindness in remote villages. I don’t know whether this book captivated me just because it’s fantastic, or because my son-in-law is from Nepal, and I’m eager to go meet his family---probably both.) Tragically, the author killed himself right after writing this masterpiece. He was discouraged by criticism of Three Cups of Tea, his previous book. Even though accusations against that book’s authenticity were dropped in court, the discouragement must have been overpowering. I think there’s a lesson for all authors here---we can’t let critics destroy us. We have to ignore all the media buzz, noise, whining, and bullying. We have to just focus on doing our best, and ignore attacks by cruel people.

Some of your favorite-sounding words (this week!)?

The following word is on my mind: travel. That’s because I just finished writing a memoir in verse about my childhood travels, and now I’m waiting for news from my agent, hoping the book has found a home.

Thank you, Margarita, for gracing us with your talent and generous spirit today. I’m glad you write so many books, because I can’t wait for the next one!

Thank you, Robyn! It’s an honor to answer such thoughtful and challenging questions.

For more about Margarita, please visit her website.

And to explore more poetry, please check out Semicolon, where Sherry has the Poetry Friday Roundup!
(Note - as of Friday morning, I'm not seeing a Roundup there - but there are some great PF posts in the kidlitosphere today. UPDATE: Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme stepped up to post links he knows of today. Thanks, Matt!)

Poetry Friday - Island Time?

June 28, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, ponderings, haiku, poetry

Jamaica from plane - photo by Morgan Black

I've never been to Jamaica. But Jeff and Morgan went there on a mission trip back in 2008, and I sometimes think of their description of "Island Time," which Jeff has also encountered on trips to Central and South America. It goes something like this: Busses get there when they get there. "Don't worry." The pace can be different from our hectic, sometimes over-scheduled days in the states.

I feel like I've inadvertently slipped into "Island Time" this week - probably because of the hectic, over-scheduled bit. My "Art Break Wednesday" post this week on my artsyletters blog got put up late yesterday (Thursday). Here it is well into Poetry Friday, and I'm tapping away this morning.

At this stage of our lives, with this being the last summer to have both kids at home (Morgan will be launched into an apartment and masters in teaching program this time next year), I'm thinking a lot about time and change. We've been adapting to a big change for a little more than a year now, after my husband went through an unexpected and extremely trying job change in the spring of 2012. A haiku I wrote during that period appears in the current issue of Modern Haiku:

spring winds
a shift
of circumstance


Modern Haiku
Vol. 44.2, Summer 2013

I'll leave you with some thoughts from current U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey (just appointed to a second term). This poem was written in 2007, about the Gulf Coast. (That, I'm much more familiar with!)

Theories of Time and Space

by Natasha Trethaway

You can get there from here, though
there’s no going home.

Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you’ve never been. Try this:

head south on Mississippi 49, one-
by-one mile markers ticking off

another minute of your life. Follow this
to its natural conclusion—dead end

at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where
riggings of shrimp boats are loose stitches ...


Please click here to read the rest.

From there, mosey on over the The Poem Farm, where the Amazing Amy has our Roundup this week. Take your time.

Poetry Friday: Full Hearts, Empty Nests, and Emily Dickinson

June 13, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, school visits, students, teachers, ponderings, birds

Willow Tree figure, "Happiness," with student cards...


On Wednesday I grabbed a quick catch-up coffee with a dear friend. Years ago, she taught both of my kids when they were in fourth grade, and I was her room mother each time! Now the youngest, Seth, has just graduated (though not before visiting her classroom to talk about song writing with her students), and I’ve been continuing the tradition of visiting her class to talk about writing each spring. A couple of years ago, my oldest (Morgan, my rising college senior/ed major) tagged along. It’s been a great arrangement; I “experiment” with different writing activities with the students, and they get a little outside spice with their language arts.

Sharon has given me the most thoughtful, perfect gifts over the years as a thank-you. When the creative writing theme involved butterflies (catching ideas!), the class gave me a butterfly coffee cup, matching journal, and bookmarks. Once they gave me a heavy duty pen holder for my desk, decorated with pens on the outside. The most precious gifts are notes and cards from the students, which I think every author cherishes.

This week, along with a bow-tied stack of cards, Sharon gave me the lovely Willow Tree figure in the picture above. This one is called “Happiness” – and Sharon said it made her think of me. Well, that just fills me with joy, and much appreciation.

Willow Tree creator Susan Lordi says of this figurine, “I hope this piece is very open to viewer interpretation. For me, it is the pure joy that comes from creating — in all of its forms. A side note … I love bluebirds.”

I told Sharon the birds were appropriate, as the last thing I’d done before sunset the night before was fish a newly-fledged robin out of our pool. I scooped it up and set it on the ground, where, after sitting there not knowing what to do for a time while its parents fretted, it eventually hopped toward Mom, who escorted it up the hillside and out of my sight.

This baby was the last one to leave this year’s nest in the camellia bush. A big baby bird, I’d already mentioned to it that it was about time. That mama and papa robin had worked tirelessly harvesting gobs of worms to take to the nest day in and day out.

Obviously we have empty nests on our minds these days. My husband said he even got misty watching some baby robins outside at work the other day. They were learning to fly. So, let’s have a bird poem today, in which Miss Emily so beautifully renders the image of flight:

A Bird Came Down the Walk

by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

A Bird came down the Walk—
He did not know I saw—
He bit an Angleworm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw,

And then he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass—
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
To let a Beetle pass—

He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all around—
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought—
He stirred his Velvet Head

Like one in danger, Cautious,
I offered him a Crumb
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home—

Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam—
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon
Leap, plashless as they swim.


Click here for more information about Emily Dickinson and links to many of her poems.

Now, flap your wings and glide on over to Reflections on the Teche , where the thoughtful and talented Margaret has the Poetry Friday Roundup!

Also, if you want to see some gorgeous oil paintings, I featured works by my fellow-brand-new-empty-nester-to-be friend and amazing artist Ann Goble on my artsyletters blog this week.

Poetry Friday: A Poem from Margarita Engle's HURRICANE DANCERS

June 6, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, ponderings, verse novels

(Note: the book cover now is covered with many wonderful award stickers! Here's a former library copy, so you can see the art - ©Cathie Bleck...)

Happy Caribbean-American Heritage Month! (Click here for the Presidential proclamation.)

Today I have a poem from the amazing Margarita Engle, from her book, Hurricane Dancers , (Henry Holt, 2011). This novel in verse presents poems in five voices – our main character, Quebrado (the “broken one” – half native Cuban and half Spanish), survives a hurricane and shipwreck in the dawning of the 16th century to escape his life of slavery. The ship’s ruthless captain, Bernardino de Talavera (the first pirate in the Caribbean) survives, too, as does his cruel captive, former conquistador/governor of Venezuela, Alonso de Ojedo. Quebrado befriends Caucubú, daughter of a Ciboney chieftan, and the young fisherman she loves, Naridó.

Of course, these stories and fates become intertwined, and Quebrado must make decisions that affect them all and determine his own character. Around the middle of the book, he shares this poem:

Quebrado (p. 63, Hurricane Dancers)

Storms follow me
wherever I go.

Once again,
the sky looks so heavy
that I would not
be surprised
if black clouds
sank to earth
and grew roots
in moist soil,
creating a wispy forest
of drifting air.

Mysteries follow me
wherever I go.


©Margarita Engle. All rights reserved. (Many thanks to the author for permission to post.)

I borrowed the characters from this book on Wednesday for a kind of quirky, visual-art oriented writing exercise for my monthly column over at Janice Hardy’s THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY. Because I was so taken by the art and design of this book, I also sang its praises on my art blog this week with a link to more incredible art from cover artist Cathie Bleck.

I know all this just whets your appetite. Perhaps like me you’ve long been enchanted by Margarita’s award-winning picture book, Summer Birds , illustrated by the oh-so-gifted Julie Paschkis. Or perhaps you were captivated by The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor Book and winner of the Pura Belpré Award, the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Honor, to name a few. The Poet Slave of Cuba has a long trail of awards as well, and then there are her dog books, her NPR segments, her haiku (ahhhh…!) – Well, have no fear. Margarita has agreed to return for an interview sometime soon, so stay tuned.

Today, turn your dial over to The Opposite of Indifference, where the multi-talented Tabatha has our Poetry Friday Roundup. But wait, there’s more: If you have some bicycle-themed poetry (or art) that you’d like to submit to an upcoming contest in Flagler County, Fla., follow today’s tropical breezes to my post with information from my friend and Highlights Founders Workshops poetry alum, Stephanie Salkin. (& Thanks, Stephanie!)

Poetry Friday - Some Early 19th Century Limericks for Children

May 23, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, history, limericks, ponderings, bookstores, anthologies, illustration


Over Mother's Day weekend, my family travelled to Beaufort, SC - recently named America's Happiest Seaside Town by Coastal Living magazine. I was magnetically pulled into a wonderful little bookshop, where my daughter Morgan quickly found a large, hefty volume to put in my hands: A TREASURY OF ILLUSTRATED CHILDREN'S BOOKS - Early Nineteenth-Century Classics from the Osborne Collection by Leonard de Vries (Abbeville Press, 1989). Despite its equally hefty price tag, I didn't protest too much when the family suggested it as a Mother's Day present. In fact, I ventured to ask the proprietor for a Mother's Day discount, and he even obliged! Very kind.

I'm quite the sucker for these volumes chronicling early children's literature. (I posted about that on my art blog earlier this year, here, after Tabatha's gracious gift along these lines during our December poetry/gift swap.)

Here are the opening sentences from the jacket flap:

This beguiling volume reproduces thirty-two of the most enchanting English children's books, dating from 1805 to 1826. That brief period - sandwiched between the harsh didacticism of earlier centuries and the refined moralizing of the Victorian era - witnessed the first flowering of children's books meant to delight and amuse rather than simply to instruct.

Because Liz Steinglass inspired a limerick-laced spring over here, I was particularly delighted to discover two collections in this volume. From p. 223:

...Today the name most commonly associated with the limerick is that of Edward Lear (1812-1888), whose Book of Nonsense (1846) has inspired many imitations. But the limerick came into being at least two decades before Lear's famous book, and one of the earliest appearances of this delightful verse form is The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women, published by Harris and Son in 1820. ...

Here are a couple of examples:

There was an Old Woman at Glos'ter,
Whose Parrot two Guineas it cost her,
      But his tongue never ceasing,
      Was vastly displeasing;
To the talkative Woman of Glos'ter.


There lived an Old Woman at Lynn,
Whose Nose very near touched her chin.
      You may well suppose,
      She had plenty of Beaux:
This charming Old Woman of Lynn.


And here's one from "Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Gentlemen." The final word is not printed in the reproduction, so I'm relying on my own poetic license for it - kind of like the limerick challenge on "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" on NPR.

An old gentleman living at Harwich
At ninety was thinking of marriage
      In came his grandson
      Who was just twenty-one,
and went off with the bride in his carriage.


(I'm assuming it was carriage!)

Today's poetic fare was light, though our hearts are heavy for those in Oklahoma this week. Continued thoughts and prayers for all affected by the tornadoes and other recent tragedies across our country.

For all kinds of poetry today, please visit Alphabet Soup, where our wonderful Jama is serving up the Roundup and some mango-laden poetry and bread! Here, take a napkin before you go - it's really juicy....

Poetry Friday - Some Rumi for my Son upon his Graduation

May 17, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings

Seth, like his sister, Morgan, has attended the same college prep school since kindergarten - he and others will receive a "Crayons to Commencement" recognition this weekend. photo on right by Sommer Daniel


Hope you are having a terrific poetry Friday.

My household is hopping with graduation preparations for this weekend – events and incoming family and general hoopla. Our youngest, Seth, is about to become a high school alumnus on his way to college.

What would be a good poem to share with him here? Dr. Seuss’s OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO comes to mind, as does Frost’s “The Road Less Traveled,” of course. The Academy of American Poets has a list of appropriate poetic offerings for graduates here.

I’ve decided to borrow one from a THE ESSENTIAL RUMI that Seth recently received at a school honors program as co-president of the Honor Council. This is the New Expanded Edition of translations by Coleman Barks (2004, HarperCollins). Selected and presented by a teacher much beloved to our whole family, and one of the hands-down smartest (and most compassionate) folks I know, this book will be treasured by Seth, I’m sure.

Perhaps he’ll like this selection, which speaks to me:

TENDING TWO SHOPS

Don’t run around this world
looking for a hole to hide in.

There are wild beasts in every cave!
If you live with mice,
the cat claws will find you.

The only real rest comes
when you’re alone with God.

Live in the nowhere that you came from,
even though you have an address here.

That’s why you see things in two ways.
Sometimes you look at a person
and see a cynical snake.

Someone else sees a joyful lover,
And you’re both right!

Everyone is half and half,
like the black and white ox.

Jospeh looked ugly to his brothers,
and most handsome to his father.

You have eyes that see from that nowhere,
and eyes that judge distances,
how high and how low.

You own two shops
and you run back and forth.

Try to close the one that’s a fearful trap,
getting always smaller. Checkmate, this way.
Checkmate, that.

Keep open the shop
where you’re not selling fishhooks anymore.
You are the free-swimming fish.


Congratulations to all who are moving the proverbial tassel this season!

For more great poetry, visit Ed at Think Kid Think for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup. (And find out what Doritos could possibly have to do with the history of Poetry Friday....)

Poetry Friday: Marchuary? and some E. E. Cummings

March 28, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, Poetry Month, school visits


Happy Spring!

Here’s what it said on my local page from The Weather Channel yesterday:

It's "Marchuary" in the Southeast!
Some Southeast cities have had a colder March than January.


I know we have no room to talk, what with all the blizzards you folks up north and to the west of us have endured this winter. But I must say I was thrilled to see the mercury creep up to 60 Thursday afternoon, without the cutting winds we’ve been swirling in!

Also yesterday, a dear friend sent an email with a nod to the famous spring poem by E. E. Cummings. I thought we should read it to keep luring in spring. Once a year at least we ought to ponder the word “mud-luscious,” don’t you think?

[in Just-]

by E. E. Cummings
(1894–1962)

in Just-
spring       when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
spring



Please click here to read the poem in its entirety.

I am thrilled to be visiting a local elementary school today – sharing poetry across K through 5! I know we’ll have a great time kicking off National Poetry Month.

Speaking of which, be SURE to check out Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup blog today and for the next several weeks, as she’s kindly compiled lots of great links for special Poetry Month celebrations throughout the Kidlitosphere.

Irene Latham is hosting the second annual Progressive Poem – Woo Hoo! Can’t wait to participate again. Click here for the dates to see who’s adding a line when.

Don’t forget to vote today in the FINAL FOUR round of March Madness Poetry! What a great offering of poems this year’s tournament has birthed. (And huge thanks to organizer Ed DeCaria.)

For more great poetry today, visit A Reading Year - Mary Lee always has a spring in her step.

AND, come right back here next week, where I have the privilege of rounding up the first Poetry Friday in April!

Poetry Friday: Taking Flight with Monique Gagnon German

March 21, 2013

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

Top: Monique Gagnon German (Feathers from Yay Images)


We Poetry Friday regulars are used to being moved, amused, or challenged by poems we come across online. Have you ever stumbled upon a poem that takes you out of blog surfing mode, out of whatever you’re also thinking about, and steals you into itself? I’d like to share a poem that had such an effect on me, and then I’ll tell you about the poet and the PF connections that led me to it!

Down



I don’t see it until I rise, a feather
on the chair across from mine
as if a tiny ashen bird

landed while I was gone
to other landscapes in my thoughts
and stayed just long enough

to leave evidence of his visit,
a small memento of flight
before lifting back into sky,

the tiniest quill
which might write
so many notes to you now,

each one fluttering down
confetti-style, beneath this sturdy
layer of cloud to ask you how

you are in such minuscule script
you might mistakenly think each slip
of paper is just a blank

prompting you further
to think of stories unwritten,
novels unread or the way

even the newest words
can dissipate
on the jet streams

of surrounding phrases and refrains
but maybe, by some fluke
of free association, you’ll think

of the lightness of paper instead,
how it carries its freight of words
as medium, impartial

to both statement
and intent, as if the words,
were a mere flock of birds

that caw, crow, peep,
whistle, chirp, and sing
but always end the performance

the same way: a ruffle of feathers,
a preening beak, the whisk of purpose,
the air of flapping wings.


Copyright ©2012 Monique Gagnon German

Maybe now you’ve fallen in love with it, too! How did I find it? The ever-amazing Tabatha Yeatts sent an email to Linda Baie, and myself, remembering that we had each posted about St. Francis before. (This was a couple days before the world had a new Pope by that name, by the way!) Tabatha gave us a link to a lovely post about the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi,, including a beautiful musical portrayal sung by Sarah McLachlan. As I was clicking some other links she provided, I came across this issue of a wonderful journal, Assisi, an “An Online Journal of Arts & Letters” published by St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY. That’s where I found Monique’s poem! In thanking Tabatha for the link, she told me she had learned of the journal from our own Matt Forest Esenwine, whose poetry has appeared in the journal as well.

I contacted Monique to seek permission to share her poem. She kindly obliged. In addition to writing delicious poetry, she’s a busy mom of two young children and married to a Marine who is also a writer. Her poetry has appeared in the anthology, "e, the Emily Dickinson Award Anthology Best Poems of 2001," and in journals such as Ellipsis, California Quarterly, Kalliope, The Pinehurst Review, The Bear Deluxe, High Grade, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Calyx, The Ledge, Rosebud, Assissi, The Sierra Nevada Review, Xenith, The Innisfree Poetry Journal and Atticus Review . This year, her poems are forthcoming in Canary and Tampa Review.

Monique has a B.A. in English Literature from Northeastern University and an M.A. in English from Northern Arizona University. She’s lived all over the US and worked in technical publications for many years. You can learn more about Monique and read more of her poetry at her website.

Another fun find? She’s a copy editor for Ragazine, “The On-Line Magazine of Art, Information & Entertainment” – You’ll want to check it out, too!

Speaking of fun, don’t forget to check in on March Madness Poetry 2013 at Think Kid, Think . I had the pleasure of sparring with the aforementioned Matt in Round One, and I was bested by the talented Gotta Book has the Roundup! (At time of posting, this link is being persnickity. Google Greg Pincus if it's not cooperating!)

Poetry Friday - Julie Hedlund and A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS

March 14, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, book tracks, digital, ponderings, writing life

As you're enjoying the frenzy of March Madness Poetry 2013
(and do head over and vote for your favorite poems!) I offer you a different and very special treat today. I met Julie Hedlund last year at the “Poetry for All” Highlights Founders workshop , and I’m happy to share a peek into her brand new rhyming storybook app, A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS. It’s illustrated by Pamela Baron and offered by Little Bahalia Publishing for the iPad. (I don’t have an iPad, but my in-laws were happy to purchase it on theirs for me – and for the grandchildren!)

A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS is a romp through the collective nouns of animals, written in rhyme. It offers a fun way to explore the habits and habitats of a variety of animals (as well as subject-verb agreement!).

A pride of lions licks monster-size paws

A float of crocodiles snaps mighty jaws.


My favorite line is:

A quiver of cobras hisses and shakes.

And my favorite illustration accompanies

a leap of leopards lounges in trees,

in which one of the leopards napping on a tree limb opens one eye and twitches an ear.

The animals on each page exhibit the behavior described in the verse, and kids will have fun touching the screen to make the colorful subjects spring to life.

Now, you almost have to sneak up on Julie, safari-like, to grab her for just a few minutes – what with her popular 12 X 12 Picture Book Challenge and her sold-out Writers Renaissance Retreat in Italy coming up in April. Let’s find out more about Julie and her work before she’s off on her next adventure.

Welcome, Julie!

Oh, where to start?! Let’s begin with writing, and we’ll explore other endeavors in a minute. When did you discover a love of writing, and how have you developed your craft?


I've ALWAYS loved writing. It's how I understand myself and the world. The first word I ever wrote was "HOT," and for a year or so it was how I signed all of my cards to grandparents, etc. I think it's gone uphill from there. :-)

With respect to craft, I've cultivated it by doing a lot of writing and a lot of listening. By listening, I mean attending conferences, workshops and retreats where I could learn from experts and then work on incorporating those lessons into my own work. What amazes me is how the more you learn, the more you realize you still have yet to learn. There's never a dull day in the writing life!


How did you come up with the idea for A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS?

I came across a list of collective nouns for animals and was surprised to find how few of them I knew. I was delighted by the fact that the names for the animal groups reflected something about the animal's behavior, habitat, appearance, etc. I figured if I had that much fun learning the names, surely others would too - especially kids, who almost always love animals.

Did any verses come straight from the Muses, and were there others you had to hunt down?

"A kaleidoscope of butterflies flutters through daisies" was one of the only lines that survived intact from my first draft. Otherwise, the verses required a lot of work. I did a great deal of research on each animal so I had several options for the line pertaining to that animal. Then I had to match animals up with each other in such a way to create compelling rhyming couplets.

Let’s talk about apps. First, what’s your definition of a storybook app?

A storybook app is an illustrated book for children that contains interactions on each screen, some of which may be required in order for the story to proceed. The interactivity can be sound-based, touch-based or device-based (such as tilting or shaking the device). Ideally, the interactivity is designed to enhance rather than detract from the story and to increase comprehension.

How is composing text for an interactive app similar to writing for print? How is it different?

What's similar is that the story (or in this case poem) must be excellent. No amount of technical bells and whistles can elevate a sub-par story. What is different is that in addition to thinking about text and illustration, now you need to consider sound, movement, animation. You have to think about your story on a screen instead of a page, which changes the function of "page turns." Although you still move from screen to screen, tension and drama can come from sound and animation as well as text and illustration. There's also no set number of pages for apps, so the onus is on the author to determine how many screens are required to tell the best story.

How much input do you as the writer have in terms of the interactive elements – choosing what might be animated, layout/design, that sort of thing? Or are all visual decisions left to the illustrator and designers?

The answer to this question depends on how you are publishing the app. If you hire a developer to create your app or use an app creation tool, all of those decisions are your own. In my case, I sold my manuscript to an e-publisher, so the publisher made most of the decisions about the animation and design. However, I did submit a storyboard containing my "vision" for the animation, and many of those ideas were incorporated into the app. I'm fortunate because Stacey Williams-Ng, the founder of Little Bahalia, has a huge amount of experience both illustrating, designing and producing apps. Because of her expertise and passion, the finished product is far better than I could have imagined had I done it on my own.

You’ve got terrific resources on your blog about the publishing industry as well as tips for creating apps. What’s the first thing you tell someone who asks you about creating digital content?

Go for it! It's the future. BUT, don't do it as a shortcut to traditional publishing. Make sure your story is the best it can be. Don't skimp on editing, illustration, design, etc. Also, evaluate whether your story makes sense in digital form. The story should drive the format, and not the other way around.

What do you think about the co-existence of traditionally published books, apps, and e-books in the marketplace – is there room for all, or do you think digital content will take over for the youngest readers?

I certainly hope there is room for all, as I still want to traditionally publish a print book! In fact, I want to publish any way I can that both makes sense for my stories and gets my work into the hands of more children. I see no reason why different types of books can't co-exist. As for the farther-off future, I do think digital content will become predominant in all forms of publishing, but I can't envision print going away entirely, especially for board books and picture books.

As a world-traveling, horse-riding, nature-loving gal from Colorado, you strike me as someone always up for an adventure. Were there any challenges during the process of creating this app that surprised you?

The challenge all came BEFORE the actual creation of the app. The biggest hardship I faced was learning about all the options available to publish the app, which direction I wanted to take, and then how to submit my idea, especially since I am an author-only and came without illustrations. What surprised me was how few answers I found to my questions. I guess that's why, after I developed my own proposal, I decided to turn it into a template for other authors and illustrators to use - to avoid the pain and suffering I endured - LOL.

You participate in “Gratitude Sunday” by posting things you are grateful for each week. How does an attitude of thankfulness inform your creative life? (And life in general?)

My gratitude practice, over time, has helped me understand that there is good in all situations, even if that doesn't seem to be the case on the surface. Spending time each week reflecting on what I am grateful for grounds me, and sometimes requires me to "dig deep" into my feelings and experiences. Rather than serving to oversimplify situations, my gratitude practice makes me realize the complexity that's inherent in people, our actions, our emotions. This serves me by enriching my writing, but it's also made me a great deal less judgmental and far less inclined toward knee-jerk reactions.

How do you balance your own creative work with the demands of nurturing not only your family, but the online network of inspiration and support you’ve created for other writers?

I'm not sure I do, but I keep trying!! Lately I've been taking things one day at a time, focusing on the most pressing things that need to get done work-wise. I'm also getting far better about "letting it all go" when I'm with my kids. Our work is of the kind that is never "finished." There is always something more that could be done. But there's no point in worrying about all of that when I'm with the kids. It's taken me a while to come to this realization, but I'm far better off spending quality time with them and coming back to my work refreshed from the break. Next on the list of "creating more balance" in my life is figuring out how to take time for me, as I've been slack on my exercising and pursuit of other hobbies lately.

Finally, any sneak peeks into projects on the horizon that you’re at liberty to share?

I'm not sure I'm at liberty to share the title yet, but my next app in the "animal groups" trilogy will be released in May, and it features animals leaving in or near the ocean. I am excited about this one because many of these collective nouns will be brand new to most people and they are SO fun.

A third app featuring insects, reptiles and amphibians will be coming in October, and before that, a print book that combines the "best" of all three apps. So it's a very exciting year!


Exciting indeed! Congratulations all around, and thank you for visiting with us today.

Thank you so much for hosting me today Robyn. I think digital publishing is going to be a very exciting avenue for poets of all stripes, and I hope my experience gets the creative gears turning for your Poetry Friday compatriots.

Told you she was fascinating! And if you visit her list of 100 random things, you'll learn Julie used to drink pickle juice straight from the jar, and that she has an MA in International Political Economy from the University of Warwick in England.

No telling what you'll learn making the Poetry Friday rounds today, but please go see the wonderful and talented Jone at Check it Out and enjoy!

Poetry Friday: Family Time with Anne Bradstreet

March 7, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, history, ponderings, women

Here I am with daughter Morgan this week on the Buzz Lightyear ride at Walt Disney World. Are we both intent on hitting those targets (and beating each other's score) or what?!

In a roundabout way, I’m celebrating International Women’s Day along with our lovely and talented Poetry Friday host today, Heidi Mordhorst .

This week I got to spend cherished time with the two women I’m closest to in life – my mother, Nita Morgan (Hi, Mom!) and my daughter, Morgan. Morgan is home for spring break from college, and we travelled to Florida for my niece’s wedding. (Left hubby and son here to keep the fort.)

While at my folks’ house, Morgan and I bunked together in the guestroom. It was cold – and I don’t mean just “Oh, those Florida people think anything below 70 degrees is cold,” I mean it really was nippy with wild winds while we were there. So we added a quilt made by my grandmother to the top of our cozy bed. Another generation, another family layer. My mother’s mother died before Morgan was born, but they would have loved each other.

I wanted to find some appropriate poem to share today – something the relationships of mothers and children. Anne Bradstreet sprang to mind.

You remember Anne (1612-1672).... She came over in the Arabella in 1630 with husband Simon and the Winthrop contingent. She’s intrigued me for years. Very well educated, and – gasp! – a writer. Yet unlike her friend Anne Hutchinson whose outspoken views got her banished, Anne Bradstreet managed to remain in the community, raising eight children and writing when she could. (Jeannine Atkins has a marvelous picture book about Anne Hutchinson, by the way.)

Bradstreet didn’t seek publication, though her brother-in-law had her some of her poetry published (the story goes without her knowledge) in England in 1650, in a collection called The Tenth Muse, Lately Sprung Up in America (1650). The rest of her publications came posthumously.

She wrote of her family and her faith with sincere devotion and in the midst of the grueling challenges of those early years in the colonies, and personal health woes and trials as well.

Here are the opening lines of
“In Reference to her Children”


I had eight birds hatcht in one nest,
Four Cocks were there, and Hens the rest.
I nurst them up with pain and care,
No cost nor labour did I spare
Till at the last they felt their wing,
Mounted the Trees and learned to sing.
Chief of the Brood then took his flight
To Regions far and left me quite.
My mournful chirps I after send
Till he return, or I do end.
Leave not thy nest, thy Dame and Sire,
Fly back and sing amidst this Quire.
My second bird did take her flight
And with her mate flew out of sight.
Southward they both their course did bend,
And Seasons twain they there did spend,
Till after blown by Southern gales
They Norward steer'd with filled sails.
A prettier bird was no where seen,
Along the Beach, among the treen.



She continues with thoughts about each child.
And, toward the end:

When each of you shall in your nest
Among your young ones take your rest,
In chirping languages oft them tell
You had a Dame that lov'd you well, …


Read the rest of the poem here. (And learn more about Anne Dudley Bradstreet here and here and here.)

While I admire Bradstreet’s devotion to family and her spiritual life, I also relish the feminist-friendly notions she let seep through in her writing more than 350 years ago, such as these lines from “The Prologue”:

"I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits,
A poet's pen all scorn I should thus wrong.
For such despite they cast on female wits:
If what I do prove well, it won't advance,
They'll say it's stol'n, or else it was by chance."


Pretty spunky for a Puritan woman, no? For more great poetry by female, as well as male, wits, sail on over to see Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe.

A New Look...

February 19, 2013

Tags: ponderings

You've landed in the same place, but with a new look! (And a new blog name.)

Figured after a recent milestone birthday, it might be fun to redecorate. Plus so much of my own artwork leans toward black and vintage, this theme seems to fit. I was thinking this would be a New Year's refreshing, but it didn't quite happen last month. Oh well - as my sharp sister-in-law observed, "February is the new January."

Thanks for coming by. I'll be at our SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle conference this weekend, then back in the saddle for Poetry Friday next week. Hope you are having a refreshing February yourself!

Poetry Friday: Time for Tea!

February 7, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, tea

When we welcomed the New Year over here, we welcomed a new (old) tradition. My husband Jeff and I have been sitting down each late afternoon for tea! I’m not exactly sure how and why we started this as a daily practice, but it’s been refreshing.

He’s been working from home the past several months, and since I do as well, it became a possibility. (Jama approves, of course!) So far, it’s been just on weekdays, but you never know if it might spill over into the weekend. And, I should note, it’s the hubby who’s done the primary tea-making and scone-baking.

Our youngest (17) was interrupted in his studies at the kitchen table the first day we tried it.

“I didn’t know you were going to have tea!” he said, appropriately annoyed that we crashed his quiet homework on Pride and Prejudice (at which he was also annoyed, until I later made him watch the film, which he admitted was better than he’d expected it to be… .) Funny how he’s ended up pulling up a chair, though, several times, especially after grueling days at tennis practice!

Our oldest (just turned 21) and I exchanged these exact text messages when we first started:

(Mom –with pic of table) Week 2 of new tradition – tea! :0)

(Deprived Daughter) Since when do y’all have tea? :0(

(Mom) Since last Monday. I figured since we would be empty nesters this year, we should practice having conversations.

(Daughter) Hahahahaha

Last month, I caught a few moments of an interview on NPR about proper English tea. Seems the Brits are most fond of Earl Gray or Darjeeling, and they always take their tea with milk. One of my fondest memories of our little trip to England in 1994 was taking part in that custom each afternoon. Time to slow down, relax, and partake of the most wonderful scones along with that cup of hot tea – mmmm…..

So today I offer you a cup of your favorite leafy brew, and a couple of tea-time poems. The first I wrote a million years ago. I was recalling those adorable miniature china tea sets I had as a child, and probably still have remnants of around here somewhere.


Tiny Tea Time


My teeny tiny tea set

is lots of fun for me.

I have to pinch the tiny cup

to take a sip of tea.


A little speck of sugar,

a teensy drop of cream -

I close my eyes and drink it up –

delicious as a dream!



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


The second is more grown-up, and makes me smile:


Green Tea


by Dale Ritterbusch


There is this tea

I have sometimes,

Pan Long Ying Hao,

so tightly curled

it looks like tiny roots

gnarled, a greenish-gray.

When it steeps, it opens ….



Read the rest of this poem here. (And a very brief commentary/introduction by Ted Kooser here.)

I found a blog, Garden Party Teas, with a section of tea-related quotes, including this one:

Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one.
Ancient Chinese Proverb

(Okay, but by the second day, I’d be clamoring for some scones…!)

I’ll send you on your way with this quote from C. S. Lewis. (I could not authenticate with an original source. - Maybe someone knows it? It’s on a variety of places online, so I hope I’m passing it along correctly.)

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
C. S. Lewis

Indeed! Now sit back with your comforting cup of tea and peruse all the great poetry waiting for you for Poetry Friday, rounded up by the tea-rrific Tara at A Teaching Life.

Poetry Friday: Irish Doors and Metaphors

January 31, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, art, ponderings, authors

Print: Handcoloured Print No. 270, A Little House, picture by E. C. Yeats, words by W. M. Letts. © The Cuala Press Limited, Dublin, Ireland; Collage: © Robyn Hood Black

Happy Poetry Friday, and Happy February! If you caught my artsyletters post this week, you discovered I’ve become rather obsessed with doors. In that post, I shared new art I’ve started making (and will offer soon in my Etsy shop) - collages with altered vintage books-as-doors, and a literary surprise inside each one (Emily Dickinson is featured in this first one.) This door obsession grew out of a year pondering some doors closing and others opening, not just for me but for family members.


Sharing all this with my husband, Jeff, he mentioned hearing something on NPR this week about how, when we walk from one room to the next and can’t remember what we were looking for, it’s because of the DOOR. Such a powerful metaphor, a door. (I searched in vain for the NPR piece but discovered articles online about the 2011 study at Notre Dame which prompted this idea of “the doorway effect.”)


The collage pictured here and on my art blog this week was made with a 100-year-old book embellished with some fun vintage finds. The doorway image surrounding it is a relief print. I carved a simplified version of those wonderful Georgian doorways one finds all over Dublin. (It was fun pulling out the photo album from a family trip there in 1996.)


Speaking of family, I’ve been doing some freelance writing for another family member. Our current project has involved research into faerie lore, and for that I turned to our esteemed Mr. Yeats, who chronicled much Irish folklore. (Click here and here for William Butler’s biographical info.) Deciding to post something else door-related here today, I remembered the framed print that we bought on that trip to Dublin – Morgan, age 4 at the time, picked it out.

The information sheet accompanying the art explains some history. It’s a hand-colored print from Cuala Press, originally Dun Emer Press, founded by Elizabeth Corbet Yeats (William Butler’s sister) in 1903 . W. B. Yeats served as editorial advisor to the press until his death (1939), and many notable writers including Ezra Pound saw their work first published by it.


The sheet continues, W. B. Yeats in the original 1903 prospectus wrote that all the things made at the press are beautiful in the sense that they are instinct with individual feeling and have cost thought and care. ... (I love that phrase, “cost thought and care.”)




The illustrated poem, written by W. M. Letts,
shows both:

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



To close with one last door reference and an eye to Valentine’s Day, I’ll leave you with a stanza near the end of Yeats’s poem, “The Cap and Bells,” which sprang from a dream Yeats experienced and describes a jester’s love for a queen.


She opened her door and her window,
And the heart and the soul came through,
To her right hand came the red one,
To her left hand came the blue.


To read what leads up to this stanza and the ending, click here.

And, would you believe it? The ever-talented and generous April is rounding up Poetry Friday and has a poem about… DOORS! Head over to Teaching Authors and enjoy.

Poetry Friday: robin’s egg blue haiku

October 25, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, ponderings

If you read haiku journals, you’ll notice that sometimes more than one poem might share a line (typically the first line), especially a seasonal reference such as “autumn dusk” or “winter chill,” etc. This fall I was surprised to discover that the poems I had accepted to a couple of journals shared the same first line. Not that I’d forgotten the line, of course, but that out of the 10 or so poems sent to each publication, the editors at each chose the one poem in each batch that started with “robin’s egg blue.”
Here are the poems, and then I’ll add some thoughts.

-----------------------------------------------------------

robin's egg blue an empty shell

Modern Haiku
43:3, Autumn 2012

-----------------------------------------------------------

robin's egg blue
how my father would have loved
my son


Acorn
No. 29, Fall 2012

-----------------------------------------------------------

Now, if you like the way one or both poems speak to you and you’d rather not hear any backstory, please – you may be excused! (Head on over to Linda at Teacherdance.)

If you’re still reading, I’ll tell you how these haiku came to be. I often get ideas as I’m walking in my neighborhood, or even just around the house outside. I did not write these two poems at the same time. We’ve had a lot of lively robins this year!

For the one-line haiku, I came across an empty robin’s shell on a walk. I was feeling a little “blue” about circumstances beyond my control, and I guess somewhat empty that day as well. (The journal editor, in some brief correspondence about the poem, suggested my name was probably working subconsciously, too. I’m sure that’s the case!)

For the three-line haiku, I saw another empty robin’s shell about a month later on the side of the road a half-mile from my house. Who knows what triggers usually hidden feelings? As any parent of a high school senior understands, the year brings mixed emotions which lurk like shadowy stalkers. I guess the broken egg symbolized young leaving the nest, for sure – but I probably had the previous poem in my mind somewhere as well.

And as I was thinking about how proud I was of my son (you’ve heard me brag on my daughter before, but we are doubly blessed), I had a tug of wishing my dad could have known him. Dad got to meet Morgan when she was a toddler, but he died two and a half months before Seth was born. Dad would not have won any Father of the Year awards. He wasn’t what you’d call reliable. And yet, I loved him. I know he would have appreciated so many things about his grandson.

Not the least of which might be Seth’s love of music. He’s been playing guitar since he could hold one and leading the youth band at church for a long while. He had years of guitar lessons (though not a whole lot of theory) and a few voice lessons, but primarily he sings and plays by ear. My husband’s family thinks Seth’s musical ability flows from that side (and understandably – there are rivers of musical talent there).

But they never heard my dad sing and play his guitar, or attack a piano with improvised bluesy-jazz. They weren’t awakened at 3 a.m. to shake hands with Willie Nelson in their living room, or lulled to sleep by jam sessions through the wall. Perhaps they didn’t catch that Dad’s eyes were blue. We all have someone we miss in unexpected moments.

For some unexpected and creative poetry today, please do go visit the lovely Linda at Teacherdance.

Poetry Friday - St. Francis and a link to my new poetry column

October 4, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, haiku

Page featuring a detail of Giotto’s SERMON TO THE BIRDS (1297-1300)


At my house, we’re an ecumenical bunch. My oldest was dedicated in a Baptist church, baptized in a Presbyterian church, and confirmed in a Methodist church. My husband got a degree from a Baptist seminary before going to med school, and his brother recently became an Episcopal priest. One brother-in-law is a Baptist youth minister. Our in-laws started their own now non-denominational church, my folks are still Baptist, and we’re Methodist – at least in this decade. My son is even looking toward a future in ministry; we’ll see! (I’m getting to poetry, promise.)

As a kid, I was raised in the Baptist church but was always a bit of a closet Catholic. I knew nothing of theological differences; the art and even the ritual called to me. The closest I usually came was an occasional peek into the Episcopal church nearby – dark carved wood and glorious stained glass windows. That’s what I think I remember, anyway. And one of my prized possessions, you can see I still have it, drawn out of an old wooden box for this photo – is this little plastic framed picture, with its oval portraits of Jesus and Mary. (Familiar Anglo-Saxon versions, so perhaps not accurate if indeed still lovely.) I think it might have come from my Arkansas grandmother's treasures bought and sold at local sales. (Oh yeah, she was Church of Christ.) Of course, I also ran wild in the woods communing with God and every creature which crossed my path, with no need of an intercessor, so I was pretty inclusive even back then.

A year or so ago I picked up this lovely chunky little tome at a used bookstore: Saints – A Year in Faith and Art (Rosa Giorgi, Abrams, 2006). I’ve come across all kinds of folks and stories I’d never heard of before. And lots of liturgical art across the centuries. Well, yesterday's honored saint was the beloved Saint Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226. Tell me, after all these centuries, isn’t his Canticle of the Sun still moving and beautiful?

The Canticle of Brother Sun
(excerpt)
By St. Francis

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Praise be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
….


Visit this website of The friars of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis for the rest of this translation.

If you’re in the mood for haiku, yesterday I began a monthly poetry column on my friend and YA author Janice Hardy’s terrific blog for writers, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY. Actually, the post is about submissing haiku, rejection, and keepting track of it all. Here’s the link. I’ll be over there the first Thursday of each month exploring some aspect of poetry and writing. (Thanks, Janice!)

For more great poetry today, go see what the talented and ever generous Laura has rounded up at Writing the World for Kids.

My New Art Blog at artsyletters

October 3, 2012

Tags: art, ponderings

Just a reminder that I have a brand new blog for artists over at artsyletters.com.

Art Break Wednesday features something new each week. Last Wednesday I shared how I make altered page art from vintage books and fun old finds, and this week I'm talking "Notan" (the Japanese concept of light-dark). Bring your dark side and come along! Also, there's still time to enter a comment under last week's post and be entered to win Pam Carriker's book, ART AT THE SPEED OF LIFE. (Contest ends Monday night.)

See you there!

Poetry Friday - Hello to Fall with a few lines from Longfellow

September 28, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings

Image from Yay Images

When the season officially turned from summer to fall this past week, we enjoyed a tease of cool days here in Georgia. [Where are my socks, anyway…?]

A warm front barreled on through the last couple of days, but the acorns are falling and the leaves of the sassafras tree out front have begun to turn. Isn’t sassafras one of the most delicious words ever?

Fall is my favorite season. The excitement of a new school year has always infused me, not just the couple of years I taught, but every year. The cool, crisp air rejuvenates the spirit after sultry summers. And it seems the perfect time to begin new things – like the art business I mentioned last week, and the new monthly poetry post I’ll begin on Janice Hardy’s blog for writers, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY , this coming Thursday.

On the home front, we have high school homecoming and my daughter’s Family Weekend at college. Much to remember and celebrate. So my offering today is simply some timeless lines honoring the season. They’re from a poem whose origin is a rather sentimental story in Boccaccio’s 14th Century Decameron (which I won’t pretend to know much about). But they’re fitting for the season.

Excerpt from “The Falcon of Ser Federigo”

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The morrow was a bright September morn;
The earth was beautiful as if new-born;
There was that nameless splendor everywhere,
The wild exhileration in the air,
Which makes the passers in the city street
Congratulate each other as they meet.


Sending congratulations to all! Remember, it's good luck to catch a falling leaf. :0)May Autumn bring you harvests of inspiring words.

Also remember, tomorrow is the world-wide celebration of 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

The wonderful Marjorie at Paper Tigers has our Poetry Friday Roundup today. Go enjoy!

Poetry Friday - Found Poem and artsyletters

September 20, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, art, ponderings

Happy Poetry Friday!

Today I'm offering a found poem and a bit of, well, blatant self-promotion. (Feel free to excuse yourself if you must - I felt I had to warn you.)

I've just launched a new art business, artsyletters, featuring "Art for Your Literary Side" and gifts for readers and writers. My first art show since life B. C. (Before Children) was last weekend, and I was delighted with the feedback and response. Actually, the most popular item in my booth was the old Underwood typewriter I had set out for folks to type in their email addresses for a forthcoming quarterly newsletter. I lost track of how many kids I "taught" to type (kid being the appropriate label all the way up to 20-somethings) - You have to kind of punch the key down, see? And listen for that wonderful ding as you get to the end of the line....

The littlest kids enjoyed finding the letters to their name on the strange contraption; the young at heart reminisced about typewriters their parents had had, machines that used to be in attics and oh-how-I-wish-I had-that now, or Smith Caronas they had typed on in school. (I personally churned out college papers on a typewriter - albeit an electric one, though a job soon out of college at a community newspaper came with an ancient, heavy, wonderful old black typewriter!)

Well, I'm paying homage to typewriters and old books and letters and poetry and more with my new art. It includes pen and ink, relief prints, calligraphy, bookmarks and note cards, in addition to more of these altered page collages which yield found poems. Here's one for today, pictured above:

THE POET

A young man
in spite of the
moment
the hour
proved that
observing
filled
the
studio
with fantastic
curious
verses
mysteries of thought
and
graceful words!


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

This collage began as page 206 of the 1922 JOURNEYS THROUGH BOOKLAND (Vol. 6) compiled by Charles H. Sylvester. It's the first page of a story called "The Poet and the Peasant" by French novelist Emile Souvestre. I added some bling to the initial letter A - a bit of 23 karat gold leaf. The beautiful old watchface, vintage key, and the vintage Remington typewriter part were all Etsy finds!

And here's all my links: To peruse my wares, please visit my new Etsy shop. Click here for my new blog, which will soon feature weekly musings and art discussions among creative folk (I hope - come see me!), plus some give-aways. I wouldn't object if you wanted to "Like" my artsyletters Facebook page - thanks to those of you who have already!, and before too long I'll figure out how to Tweet. I think.

Huge thanks to Cathy C. Hall, who stumbled on some of the aforementioned and asked if she could do a "Fun Friday" post about it today. Um, YEAH. Here's the link to her fabulous blog.

And, finally, Renee has more poetry than chocolate in a candy store today at her incredible No Water River. Indulge yourself! (And for those who read to the end, my humble thanks.)

Poetry Friday: Jump-Start your Morning with Janet Wong…

September 6, 2012

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

This image, like most of the fun ones I find online, from the company YAY Images.

What’s that – a yawn? Oh, I see – you’re just perusing a few Poetry Friday blog posts while the coffee pot is sputtering and clicking. Well, then, today’s poem is for you!

If you’re a Janet Wong fan (I know - that’s everyone!), perhaps you’ve taken BEHIND THE WHEEL – Poems About Driving for a spin around the block already. Originally published by Margaret K. McElderry in 1999, Janet made these wonderful poems available as an e-book last year and a paperback this year for a new set of young drivers and poetry lovers.

Of course, the collection is about so much more than driving: family relationships, love, authority, choices, beliefs. As expected, the poems unfold in simple language, sometimes with more than a dash of humor, and leave the reader nodding, “Yes – I’ve felt that way, too.”

Today we’ll enjoy a lighter one, and this will get us back to coffee.

Not these lines from “One Hand On the Wheel,” but I have to share them because I love them so:


My mother was one of them
when –
who knows what happened.

Now she’s driving 65,
one hand holding a cup of coffee,
one hand on the wheel


No, here is the poem I want to leave you with as you smell that aroma from your kitchen. It’s shared with gracious permission of the author.

Jump-Start

by Janet Wong

can’t turn over
battery’s dead

need
jumper cables
in
my
head

clamp them on
start me up

pour some coffee
in my cup
dark strong coffee

start me up



To learn more about Janet and her robust, full-flavored, high-octane body of work, visit her website. Check out terrific resources for educators at her Poetry Suitcase! For Janet’s amazing collaborations with Sylvia Vardell, including the Poetry Tag Time books and the hot-off-the-press Poetry Friday Anthology, visit Pomelo Books.

And for cup after cup of delicious poetry, sit a spell this morning with the lovely Katya, who is rounding up Poetry Friday at Write, Sketch, Repeat.

Cream and sugar, anyone?

Poetry Friday: Thinking about Imagination and Change with a Steven Withrow poem...

August 31, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, writing life

On September 29, a few hundred thousand folks will celebrate the second "100 Thousand Poets for Change." Click here to get a taste of that ambitious endeavor.

According to a press release, this event "brings poets, artists and musicians (new this year) around the world together to call for environmental, social, and political change. Voices will be heard globally through concerts, readings, workshops, flash mobs and demonstrations that each focus on their specific area of concern, within the framework of peace and sustainability, such as war, ecocide, racism and censorship.

“Peace and sustainability is a major concern worldwide, and the guiding principle for this global event,” said Michael Rothenberg, Co-Founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change. “It’s amazing to see how many people have joined in around the world to speak out for causes they believe in, and to see so much heart and creativity expressed in their diverse approaches to this event.”


While no one might agree with each and every individual issue being advocated on that day, I certainly believe in the power of poetry. I believe in the power of positive change and appreciate that the freedom of expression I so often take for granted in the U.S. comes at great risk in other parts of the world. So hats off to creative folks trying to better the planet!

In contemplating the theme of change for today, I wondered where it originates. I think it originates in the imagination. So today I'm bringing you a wonderful poem posted with permission of its author, Steven Withrow. (We had a nice chat with Steven here back in October.)

            On the Jetty

    Boy who sits upon a bridge of stones
over Plymouth Harbor shuts his eyes,
silences all seagull-circus cries,
guides the tide-lines in by thoughts alone.
    He thinks that if he hooks one where it forms,
soft, a foam of wave-wash at his feet,
angles right where rock and waters meet,
he’ll know the reeling power of a storm.
    He dreams that he’s a pilgrim on this landing,
scrawny Myles Standish, émigré,
anchorage mud deep in Plymouth Bay.
    These reveries exceed his understanding,
no soldier he, nor seeker of the new,
narrow buoy, adrift in world-wide blue.


©Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

I think the reference to Myles Standish certainly points to change - in fact, the Pilgrims must have done more than imagine a new life; they must have envisioned it. And poetry helps us envision connections we might otherwise overlook. What does this poem kindle in your imagination today?

Thanks to Steven for sharing this poem today! Be sure to visit Steven's great Poetry at Play blog, where you can also learn about Poetry Advocates for Children and Young Adults.

The amazing Sylvia Vardell is rounding up more great poetry this week at Poetry for Children. Check it out!

(Note - I'll be at the SCBWI Southern Breeze Illustrators' Day all day today and will check back later.)

Thanks to Poet Joy Acey for the Shout-Out

August 26, 2012

Tags: poetry, poets, book tracks, ponderings, animals

Joy Acey had some fun with the new Poetry Friday Anthology, and with my poem, "Snack Rules." Click here to see what resulted when she mis-read the title, then followed that wondering and pondering into a new poem of her own. (And you might check out her follow-up post exploring rhythm.)

Joy has two fun poems in the anthology as well. I've had the privilege of meeting Joy at the two Higlights Founders Worskhops in poetry I've attended. She's an enthusiastic voice for children's poetry!

Poetry Friday - Remembering a Good Old Dog

August 24, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, animals, ponderings

Lucky at Christmas, patiently donning a wreath for the camera

The summer before our youngest, Seth, entered first grade, we rescued a five-week-old hound/shepherd mix. This Wednesday, Seth began his senior year of high school, and it was Lucky's last day with us.

The vet said he had lived up to his name, especially this past year, as he had dodged a myriad of health problems. He went blind in the spring, but, like most trusting, devoted dogs - he took it in stride as long as he could be near us.

I think he wanted to spend one last summer with the kids. Morgan moved back up to college last weekend and posted a beautiful tribute to Lucky on her Facebook page. I'm glad he hung around long enough to meet a new school year.

We still have two little dachshund mixes - they just turned 13 and haven't slowed down, despite their white muzzles. Time is less kind to the larger breeds.

Rest in Peace, Lucky - we were the lucky ones.

Here's a poem I wrote earlier this summer:


My Old Dog


This dog of mine

was once a pup.

He’d romp and lick

the sunshine up.


This dog of mine

when he had grown

could guard the yard

and grind a bone.


This dog of mine

now old, now gray –

needs me to guide

him through his day.


This dog of mine

so slow and frail

wears years of love

from nose to tail.



©Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved

For the Poetry Friday Roundup, visit the ever-talented and all-around wonderful Doraine at Dori Reads.

Poetry Friday: The Poetry Friday Anthology!!!

August 17, 2012

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

It's here!

Well, the official, official launch date is Sept. 1 - but THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY is here! Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (of the Poetry Tag Time books) have outdone themselves with this jam-packed resource featuring more than 200 poems by 75 poets. Each poem is presented in a specific grade level, K-5, and connected to curriculum standards with FUN activities for students. (Sylvia has done an amazing job connecting each poem to Common Core, and there's a Texas version of the book with TEKS standards, too!)

I was beyond excited to get my copies because I have a couple of poems included. But almost immediately, I was just plain excited - this book is so very well laid out and thought out, it couldn't be easier for a busy teacher to use. Just a few minutes once a week (hopefully more if time allows), and elementary students of all ages will get to hear, read, explore or act out a short, child-friendly poem. They'll leave the school year with a few dozen poems under their belts and no doubt several favorites. I've already let teachers and the media specialist at our school know about it.

Can't wait to get your copy? The paperback is available on Amazon, with the e-book soon to follow. (Just enter THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY in the search.) To learn more about this creative dynamic duo and Pomelo Books, click here.

I'll leave you with one of my poems, this one in the First Grade section:

Snack Rules

Don't talk with your mouth full --
full of peanut butter:
Anything you try to say
wll cmmm out as a mmmttrr.

©Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved

For lots more lip-smacking poetry, visit Rounder-Upper Mary Lee at A Year of Reading.

Poetry Friday: Scaling Machu Picchu

July 19, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings, authors

from hubby's iPhone


My hubby just returned from a two-week trip to the mountains of Peru, where, among other spiritual experiences, he hiked up Machu Picchu.

In searching for something poetry-related, I stumbled upon a website by poet, author and translator John Curl.

His book, Ancient American Poets (published by Bilingual Press/Arizona State University), features several poets including Pachacutec, the ninth and most powerful Inca emporer. Machu Picchu was most likely built during his reign in the mid-15th century.

Curl's website features selections from part of his book, “The Sacred Hymns of Pachacutec.” These poems are known as jaillis, the sacred ones being considered the highest poetic form. Their lyricism and direct appeal to God remind me of our biblical Psalms.

Curl writes: “Traditions of poetry and song were deeply engraved in Inca culture, encompassing both sacred and secular forms, shared by the common people and the aristocracy. Prayer songs, ceremonial songs, work songs and love songs were part of the texture of daily life. …”

These were my kind of poets, as Curl goes on to say: “Quechua poets liked their verses brief and without obvious artifice.” Reminds me of haiku!

Here are the first few lines from the first poem (No. 1) in this selection:


Oh Creator, root of all,

Wiracocha, end of all,

Lord in shining garments

who infuses life and sets all things in order,

saying, "Let there be man! Let there be woman!"

Molder, maker,

to all things you have given life: …



I also found the following lines from the middle of the fifth poem (No. 5) poignant and timely, as today I listened to reports of the drought savaging our own country’s heartland:


...

Increase the potatoes and corn,

all the foods

of those to whom you have given life,

whom you have established.

You who orders,

who fulfills what you have decreed,

let them increase.

So the people do not suffer and,

not suffering, believe in you. …



Please see the entire poems and a few others here.

Hungry for more poetic knowledge? The terrific Tara at A Teaching Life is rounding up Poetry Friday this week!

Poetry Friday: Found Poetry, Found Art, Found Time...

July 13, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, art, ponderings

© Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved
Happy Friday the 13th!

Today I have time on my mind… how there never seems to be enough of it, how it flies by so quickly even in the summer, how we need to savor each moment, etc.

And, of course, I always have poetry on my mind. Since writing poems for THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK – A Book of Found Poems released in the spring, I can’t help but “find” poems in unlikely places. I’ve been working on some artwork incorporating found objects, so now I’m combining the two (found art and found poetry).

The photo above is of a 6 X 8 piece featuring an ad for Snowdrift shortening from a 1927 Good Housekeeping magazine. It also includes a vintage keyhole, clock face, flat key, and an old frame (all found in antique stores or on Etsy). The paint is acrylic and gouache mixed with gesso and finished with gel medium.

The ad was called, “Next Time You Make a Cake.” That would be a great title for a poem in itself, but I decided to wonder about time as an ingredient one could manipulate like flour or shortening. What if we could “shorten” time to capture it – stir it up and taste it?

Time

by Robyn Hood Black
(Found in a 1927 advertisement for Snowdrift shortening appearing in Good Housekeeping.)


Shorten

and find

how it

is so good –

sweet as new cream.


You’ll find

it’s a

pleasure to use,

wonderfully tender,

naturally found in

today.



Make the most of your time today with great poetry rounded up by the wonderful Jone at Check It Out .

Poetry Friday: Eavan Boland's House of Shadows

July 6, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, art, ponderings


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

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

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

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

And don’t you love the title?

House of Shadows. Home of Simile

by Eavan Boland

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

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

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

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


Please click here here to read the rest.

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

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

June 28, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings

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

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

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

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

First, feel the sizzle:

Heat
by H. D.

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

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


Read the rest here.


And now, a long cool drink:


Wash of Cold River
by H. D.

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


Read the rest here.

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

Poetry Friday - A Wordsworth Wren-dition...

June 22, 2012

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

art and photo ©Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved

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

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

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


©Robyn Hood Black
Berry Blue Haiku, Sept. 2010

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

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

A Wren’s Nest

by William Wordsworth

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

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

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

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

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

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


Click here to read the rest.

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

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

Poetry Friday: Hospitality Through the Centuries

June 14, 2012

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

To Penshurst

by Ben Jonson
(excerpt)

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


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


For the entire poem, click here.

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

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

Poetry Friday: Of Pocahontas, Bungee Jumping, and Motherhood

May 31, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings

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


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

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

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

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

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

Pocahontas

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


©Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved

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

Poetry Friday - Thinking Snow...

December 2, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings

© Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved

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

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

The Snow-Storm


Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,

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

Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air

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

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

The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet

Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit

Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed

In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

....


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

Poetry Friday - Grace with G. K. Chesterton

November 25, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, writing life, ponderings

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

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

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


¯ G.K. Chesterton

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

Poetry Friday - Flat Tires and a poem by Tess Taylor

November 18, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, ponderings

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

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

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

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

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

This is from the last part of

Elk at Tomales Bay
by Tess Taylor
(excerpt)

All bare now except
that fur the red-brown color


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


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


       flat as a bicycle tire.


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


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


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



Click here to read the complete poem.

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

Of wee things and fairy dust...

September 16, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, ponderings

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

“The Best Game the Fairies Play”

by Rose Fyleman

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


For the rest of the poem, click here.

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

The Greater Good

January 15, 2011

Tags: ponderings

A New Year is the perfect time to renew our commitments to make a difference in the world, or to start a new habit that does.

An amazingly simple, effective way to help the planet and its human and animal inhabitants is simply with a click - or a few - a day! Since 1999,the GreaterGood Network has donated more than $20 million dollars to charities across the country and around the world,with grants distributed through GreaterGood.org, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

I have a link to The Literacy Site on the right of this website. (more…)

On My First Baby's Leaving the Nest

August 22, 2010

Tags: birds, ponderings

Not long ago I was in the back yard with the dogs.

A brown thrasher squawked and carried on in the branches above me. Why was it moving closer rather than farther away?

Then I saw it - a brown thrasher baby, inside the tennis court fence and inside the half-filled dog water bowl. Now there was a dilemma. (more…)

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