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
"4 Kids 2 Do" and "Press Kit" pages.

Life on the Deckle Edge

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.

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

October 8, 2015

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



Greetings, Poetry Friday Peeps!

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

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

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

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

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

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



Moon Snail


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

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

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

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

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



© Mary Kenner Glover, all rights reserved.


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

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

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

October 1, 2015

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



Happy Poetry Friday!

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


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


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

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


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


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


Spiraling

for Mary

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

Snail long gone.
        Edge a little worn.

A perfect Fibonacci spiral -
        the mathematics of home.

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

Yet, this hole ushers in
        unexpected
        light.


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


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

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

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

I'm already looking forward to next year!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday - Fan Girl-ing for Georgia Heard

September 24, 2015

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

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

I am one lucky dog.

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

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

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

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


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


Where Do I Find Poetry?


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

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

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


©Georgia Heard. All rights reserved.

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

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

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

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

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 - A Few Haiku; Writers Wrule...

November 6, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, artsyletters, writing life

© Robyn Hood Black
Happy November!

Next week, we'll enjoy another Student Haiku Poet of the Month. To tide you over, here are a few of my recent (fairly recent anyway) published haiku:



lingering afternoon
the ebb and flow
of birdsong



This World - Haiku Society of America 2013 Members' Anthology




firelight -
old friends meet
for the first time



gazing at flowers - Haiku Society of America Southeast Region 2013 Anthology



and, I can't believe it's been almost a year since I wrote this next one. (Not sure the fog ever completely lifted...):



december fog my to do to do to do list



Modern Haiku, Volume 45.3, Autumn 2014


All poems ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


How about you - are you glancing at the calendar in shocked disbelief, stocking up on extra boxes of Wheaties? [Note to self: insert blatant self-promotional segue here... ;0) ]

Many of you have kindly purchased from my Etsy store, artsyletters , the last two holiday seasons. Though this past year has involved a complicated interstate move and a late summer injury that knocked me out of work for a couple of months, I'm slip-sliding back into the crazy stream here just in time for the holidays. While I haven't been able to make intricate fine art (but I'm almost back enough for that!), I've been busy making some new items for literary and artistic types.

In addition to the Book Nerd gift pack and Poet gift pack I conjured up last year, I've just added a Teachers Rule gift pack , a Writers Wrule gift pack, and a Maker Magnet gift pack for your favorite artisan. I'm listing new items each week.

Now, wish me luck - I'm opening the doors of my studio this evening for downtown Beaufort's "First Friday" fun, where businesses stay open from 5 to 8 and folks meander and mingle. (There's a lot of meandering and mingling in the "slow"-country.)

Thanks!! I'll lift a cup of hot cider to all our Poetry Friday peeps. All busy, of course, posting wonderful poetry - and we're rounded up today by the amazingly talented Diane, PF host extraordinaire, at Random Noodling. Diane also offers a perfect welcome to November in poem & picture.

Poetry Friday: Dog Goodbyes

June 12, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, animals, writing life



A few children's lit folks I'm friends with on Facebook have posted tributes to dogs they've had to say goodbye to recently. We were in the same boat last Saturday. Our dachshund mixes, Asper and Oliver, joined our family as pups (rescues) back in 1999. Asper has knocked on Heaven's door a couple-few times in recent years, only to rebound and romp with us for a little while longer.

Last week, after enjoying a few days with us at the beach following Morgan's college graduation, he began his journey across that Rainbow Bridge. Morgan was in second grade, just seven years old, when we got him. (Oliver became Seth's dog when Seth was just four - and now he's a rising sophomore in college. Oliver does not quite know how old he really is, and we're not telling him.)

In my own Facebook post, I lauded Asper as our "Playful Pup, Defender of the Realm and Bodyguard to Morgan, Toy Hoarder, Copperhead Slayer, Couch and Bed Buddy, Trouper to the End..." - he was all that and then some.

I'm sharing all this because recently my father-in-law forwarded an email from a family friend. Here was the message: "Do you have a copy of Robyn's poem. If not would you forward this to Robyn. I have a friend who is grieving over his dog now. He needs her Poem."

I remembered the poem - it was one I'd written for my husband's brother when their family lost their wonderful Australian Shepherd, Gracie - back in 1998! I couldn't find the poem in my files (piles of boxes) at the new house, but emailed our friend that perhaps it was still in my old home office. Lo and behold, on my last trip to clean out that office, I found a copy. It went like this:

MEMO

To: God
Date: 10/30/1998
Re: Gracie

A good dog came your way today -
By now, I'm sure you know.
Please show her to the tennis balls
with an angel who can throw.

Her people down here miss her.
When you can, help them to see
they helped her have a playful heart
that's now forever free.



©Robyn Hood Black, but free for others to borrow and adjust name/date, if it might comfort any family who's lost a good dog....

Now, that poem won't win a Pushcart prize, but I was touched that those few lines were brought to the mind of my dog-loving friend after all these years, and that he wanted to share them with his grieving friend. Perhaps the most surprising part of the story, however, is that when I took the newly-found copy by my in-laws' house, my mother-in-law not only remembered the poem - she recited it by heart! We should have just asked her in the first place.

I was humbled, and comforted that poetry has the power to soothe when "regular" words don't quite seem enough. Thanks for letting me share.

For today's Poetry Friday Roundup, please visit the lovely Catherine Johnson.

HAPPY POETRY MONTH!

April 1, 2014

Tags: poetry, Progressive Poem, writing life



Happy National Poetry Month!

(Click here for more on that from The Academy of American Poets.)

What's going on in the Kidlitosphere to celebrate? Glad you asked. First, the amazing Jama has rounded up a month of goodies and links over at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Better warm up the fingertips for all that clicking into wonderfulness.

Second, I'm thrilled to be participating again in the 2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem

coordinated by the ever generous and talented
Irene Latham.

Here's the schedule - Just click the link for the current day of the month and follow along as the poem magically develops!


1 Charles at Poetry Time

2 Joy at Joy Acey

3 Donna at Mainely Write

4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!

5 Carrie at Story Patch

6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro

7 Pat at Writer on a Horse

8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

9 Diane at Random Noodling

10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference

11 Linda at Write Time

12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

13 Janet at Live Your Poem

14 Deborah at Show--Not Tell

15 Tamera at The Writer's Whimsy

16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

18 Irene at Live Your Poem

19 Julie at The Drift Record

20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman

21 Renee at No Water River

22 Laura at Author Amok

23 Amy at The Poem Farm

24 Linda at TeacherDance

25 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books

27 Kate at Live Your Poem

28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose

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

30 Tara at A Teaching Life

Some Novel Good News for Some Writing Buds!

March 31, 2014

Tags: writing life, novels, conferences, SCBWI, Southern Breeze

Top: Elizabeth Dulemba signs A BIRD ON WATER STREET
Bottom: Janice Hardy and Robyn celebrate Janice's new guide, PLANNING YOUR NOVEL


I’m feshly back from our SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle in Atlanta, and it was wonderful! (I may have moved, but I lobbied to remain a Breezer!) You can read a great recap on author and illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog, here.



Speaking of Elizabeth, we’ve been riding these Southern Breezes together a long time, even sharing a critique group a few years ago. That’s why I was particularly excited that at our conference book launch on Saturday, e presented her FIRST NOVEL fully fledged. It’s an environmental story which she’s poured years (and her heart) into, and it’s called A BIRD ON WATER STREET (A SIBA Okra Pick!). It sold out at the conference bookstore.



What’s that? Oh - I hear you whispering, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel, but I don’t know where to begin.” Well, speak up and take heart: another dear author friend, fellow Breezer and amazing blogger Janice Hardy had a hot-off-the-press book to share at the signing party. It’s called PLANNING YOUR NOVEL: IDEAS AND STRUCTURE, and it’s a treasure of practical tips gleaned from her years blogging about fiction writing and nurturing emerging writers. In fact, it’s Book One in her planned “Foundations of Fiction” series. Check it out, and learn about Janice’s other books, here.

Now, Gotta Run - my to-be-read stack is calling.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Poetry Friday: Workshopping a Haiku... (from HSA Meeting)

March 27, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, HSA, conferences, writing life

clipartpal.com



Greetings, Dear Poetry Friends!

Talk about inspiration overload lately. Today I'm back in Atlanta for our Illustrator Day and Springmingle conference this weekend. Last weekend, I was in a different Atlanta hotel with another creative tribe for the quarterly Haiku Society of America national conference/meeting.

March has been good to my creative soul.

I thought I might offer a peek into "workshopping" a haiku poem from that meeting. (Curtis Dunlap and I facilitated an informal process much like this at our Southeast regional conference back in October.)

Every workshop last weekend was stellar, thanks to conference planners HSA President David G. Lanoue, Terri L. French, and Tom Painting. Our second session was a haiku-writing workshop called "The New Traditional Haiku" led by Lee Gurga, award-winning poet and former HSA president. He is currently editor of Modern Haiku Press.

I'm not going to give away Lee's talk - join HSA and come to a fabulous meeting! - but I'll share a taste. After considering a variety of examples of and approaches to contemporary haiku, we were given handouts with three poems (not haiku) by well-known poets (19th and 20th centuries). We also received blank index cards. Lee invited us to borrow images from these poems, or be inspired by them, and craft some new haiku, keeping our discussion in mind.

While I usually take my time to develop poems and create them from some direct personal experience, it's fun in these settings to just turn loose the Muse and understand that everyone's efforts are first drafts. We each turned in our cards with our anonymous poems, and Lee selected a few for us to take a look at. I was delighted when one of mine came up for discussion. My original scribble on the index card went like so:

spider
her light escape into the dark


(The three words, "her light escape," were from Dickinson and grabbed me. Though referring to Summer in the original poem, I already had a spider image in my mind from another of the handout poems, and I've written a few haiku about spiders. I love playing with opposing forces in a haiku, so "into the dark" just wrote itself.)

Terri was our scribe to pen these haiku on a large pad, and it's interesting that she wrote the second line as, "her light escape into dark" without the "the". (Terri is a sharp, fine poet.) She quickly amended it to reflect what was on the card, but we all agreed the poem certainly didn't need the "the". (I also hear the voice of Lee Bennett Hopkins in my ear when I've let an unnecessary article or other little word slip through, and as soon as I saw the phrase written out, I thought, Did I put that "the" in there?! I hope I would have struck it on a second draft!)

Our workshop talk then turned to lines and construction. Should the poem be set up more traditionally, as:

spider
her light escape
into dark


or one line:

spider her light escape into dark

Well, I like either of these options better than what I originally put down.

A suggestion was also made to play with spacing, maybe drawing out the moment:

spider    her light escape      into     dark

or some such.

Looking at all of these suggestions, I might pick the three-line construction as my favorite for this poem, even though it's the most traditional. One, the "spider" and "her light escape" are not jammed awkwardly together if separated by the line space, and, Two, that short pause as the reader goes from the second to the third line gives our little arachnid just enough time to make a surprise exit!

Hopefully this brief romp has offered a hint at the myriad decisions and options available in writing a "one-breath poem." It was an honor and treat to meet some of the genre's best practitioners and advocates, and to get to know a few I've met before a little better!

The Poetry Friday Roundup today is hosted by none other than our wonderful Mary Lee at A Year of Reading. Quick - make your escape over there for lots of great poetry!

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

February 12, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, writing life, ponderings

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

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

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


But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,

In proving foresight may be vain:

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

Gang aft agley, ...



You can read the rest here.

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

Poetry Friday - Hide and Seek & Be Back Soon...

January 23, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, art, writing life, poetry, contests, illustration, workshops, Highlights

Adventure hides in boxes, waiting for me to set up shop in my Beaufort, SC, studio!

Greetings, Poetry Peeps!


I'm heading into the home stretch of this gradual move from the north Georgia mountains to the Lowcountry (SC), so I'll just be waving and sending good vibes these next couple of weeks.

This weekend I'm squeezing in an all-day workshop for illustrators in Greenville, SC, with Highlights Art Director Cindy Faber Smith and prolific illustrator Tim Davis. I've met both of these fine folks at workshops before, and I know we're in for a treat. (And, years ago, I had a Hidden Pictures submission make it through a couple of rounds of revisions before it got the axe. It's about time to tackle these wonderful puzzles again!) I'll also get to take my wonderful daughter out for her birthday while in Greenville.. :0)

My also-wonderful hubby helped me move furniture and boxes into my new art studio space in Beaufort this week. During my whirlwind trip, I finished jumping through the business license/codes/taxes hoops to make artsyletters all official there. Can't wait to unpack and set up shop! More on that soon.


In honor of "Hidden Pictures," today I offer up this delightful poem by Walter De LaMare (1873-1956):


Hide and Seek

by Walter De LaMare


Hide and seek, says the Wind,
In the shade of the woods;
Hide and seek, says the Moon,
To the hazel buds;
Hide and seek, says the Cloud,
Star on to star;
Hide and seek, says the Wave,
At the harbour bar;
Hide and seek, say I,
To myself, and step
Out of the dream of Wake
Into the dream of Sleep.



I'll be playing some hide-and-seek with more back-and-forth travel in these next couple-few weeks. But I'll be back! In the meantime, enjoy all the great poetry warming up this cold winter. Today, please visit Tara at A Teaching Life for the Roundup. Next week (Jan. 31), Tricia's got it covered at The Miss Rumphius Effect. And Renee will keep the poetry flowing on Feb. 7 at No Water River. If I come up for air from the boxes, I'll try to join in - but if I'm treading water in Styrofoam peanuts, I'll see you on Valentine's Day! AND, be sure to check in then, as we'll be spreading the haiku love with our Student Poet of the Month. (As you've come to expect, here's another young poet who will blow your Valentine candy wrappers off!)

Finally, my friend Stephanie Salkin passes along that she's helping with another art and poetry contest for the Flagler County (FL) Art League, with the theme of "Art Inspiring Poetry; Poetry Inspiring Art" - and the deadline is looming! It's Jan. 29. Please contact her at ssalkin@cfl.rr.com for details!

Hope you find whatever you're seeking this week!

Poetry Friday - Sunshine, Daisies, and Emily Dickinson

January 16, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, Sunshine Awards, writing life, poetry

Yay Images


Feel those rays? There’s been a lot of sunshine in the blogosphere in past weeks. Folks have been bestowing “The Sunshine Award” on fellow bloggers whose posts brighten their days.


The Rules go something like this:
Acknowledge the nominating blogger. Share 11 random facts about yourself. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love! Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)


As usual, I’m late to the party, but thankful to these three folks who nominated me (with links to their Sunshine Award posts) – Betsy at Teaching Young Writers , Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty, and Keri at Keri Recommends .

And, as usual, I’m not playing by the rules. So many wonderful Poetry Friday bloggers (and others) have been nominated, I’m already behind on visiting those posts! Also, I’m in the midst of this big move and pretty stretched these few weeks. So I will end this post with my 11 random facts and answer some of the questions from each of the three posts above. Then I’d like YOU to either share a random personal fact in the comments, or answer one of the questions yourself. :0) (I stole this idea from Jama’s comments on other Sunshine posts…!)


But first, let’s enjoy some sunshine with Emily D, shall we?

The daisy follows soft the sun

by Emily Dickinson

The daisy follows soft the sun,
And when his golden walk is done,
Sits shyly at his feet.
He, waking, finds the flower near.
"Wherefore, marauder, art thou here?"
"Because, sir, love is sweet!"

We are the flower, Thou the sun!
Forgive us, if as days decline,
We nearer steal to Thee, —
Enamoured of the parting west,
The peace, the flight, the amethyst,
Night's possibility!


You can hear Garrison Keillor read the poem here.

I learned a thing or two about Emily from the Academy of American Poets site while exploring this poem. For one, “one-third of her brilliantly idiosyncratic poems have wildflowers or other flowers as their subject.” And, at 14, our Emily created “a herbarium, a popular pastime for girls in the mid-1800s.” Click here for more. Also, this daisy poem is most likely romantic – though I think I had that figured out on my own.


Now, turning the daylight on my random facts:


1. In elementary school, I was a background person in an Eastern Airlines commercial at Walt Disney World.

2. I once made up a song about my pet lizard (a green anole, really) with the oh-so-creative-title, “Little Bobby Lizard.” I’ll sing it for you if you like…

3. Like Michelle, I’m an INFJ. And an Aquarius. (Guess that was two facts, so we’ll skip to #5.)

5. I’m not great at math.

6. Willie Nelson once jammed in my living room when I was little. (My dad managed a country radio station way back when.)

7. I learned to take care of and haul horses in my 30s. (We moved back toward town from our farm, though, several years ago.)

8. I hung out with captive wolves in my 40s.

9. Just over a year ago, I rescued a tiny Chihuahua from the middle of what’s technically a highway through town. (I have since learned it’s not terribly smart or legal to stop your car in the middle of a highway. We both must have nine lives. I mean, eight….)

10. I could pretty much live on granola and Greek yogurt.

11. Daisies were the flowers at my wedding, 30 years ago this coming June!


Here are the questions, hand-picked because I’m making up my own rules. (Hey - Mary Lee did it!)


--from Betsy:

Who was the most influential teacher in your life?


Doris Jarvis. Sixth grade and also Junior High English. She believed I could write, so I did, too.

What is the best thing you've ever written? What was it about?

Probably a very short haiku! And probably about my late father.

Where would you love to vacation?

Italy. ( Renée, are you listening? One of these days, I’m showing up at your doorstep!)

Do you collect anything? What?

Well, with my artsyletters adventure, I collect old typewriter keys, teetering stacks of vintage books, little rusty pieces of twisted metal I find on the side of the road….

--from Michelle:

What is your secret snack or guilty pleasure?


Dark chocolate in the door of the fridge. I break off pieces as needed.

Favorite music?

'70s rock. The soundtrack to my mid-teenage years that’s now considered “classic” (as in “old”!).

What are you reading now?

David G. Lanoue’s Haiku Guy series. Except, where did I put the one I was just reading? Have you seen it? It’s here somewhere….

What was the best advice ever given to you?

It will look different in the morning.

--from Keri:

A book you wish you had written?


Because of Winn Dixie by Kate diCamillo.

Unusual skill you possess?

I can wiggle my eyes.

Early bird or night owl?

Hooooot! hooot!

Something you loathe?

Brussels sprouts.

Something you love?

Reading with dogs (or cats) on the couch in front of a fire. The call of a red-shouldered hawk. Poetry Friday. Vulture silhouettes. The smell of ink. (Okay, okay - I’ll stop, but I love a lot of stuff…!) Puppy breath….

Now, speaking of Keri, go see what all she’s rounded up for Poetry Friday at Keri Recommends!

And leave some random fact or delicious tidbit about yourself below…. :0)

Poetry Friday -Student Haiku Poet of the Month, Stuart Duffield

January 9, 2014

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

Stuart Duffield


This new year brings a continuing treat – the second in our series featuring a Haiku Student Poet of the Month from among Tom Painting’s students at The Paideia School in Atlanta. (You can read more about this award-winning poet and teacher here and meet our first featured student poet, Emma Jones, here.)


Today’s featured poet wowed the adult attendees at our recent Haiku Society of America Southeast Region ginko haikufest in Atlanta in October. Please welcome Stuart Duffield.

Stuart was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, and was raised in
Atlanta Georgia, where he currently attends The Paideia School. He was
first introduced to haiku by his 7th and 8th grade literature teacher,Tom
Painting, and has loved it ever since. Stuart’s other hobbies and
interests include general fitness, swimming, hiking, computer hardware,
and fashion.


Stuart shares a few of his thoughts about the genre:


It is often the most ordinary and common moments in my life that
haiku captures with its full breadth. These moments, many times ignored in
my fast paced life, are often most worthy of my attention, not because of
the immediate satisfaction of capturing the intricacies of nature in a
single breath, but rather the comfort it provides when I am most removed
from the things I love. Through this perspective, beauty is no longer
bound by the spindling webs of social structures and culture, but freed by
the feel of warm, moist sand underneath your feet, the warm breath blown
over the tip of your nose, the winds whipping at your cheeks and the
syncopated beats of crickets at dusk.





Now, please enjoy some of Stuart’s poems:



desert road
a javelina hides
behind a prickly pear



lazy afternoon
the cat
watches the bird feeder



desert sunrise
a cactus wren calls
from the ocotillo



sunlight through the garage window
the first chords
kick up dust



train whistle
ravens burden
a leafless tree



All poems ©Stuart Duffield. All rights reserved.

Many thanks to Stuart for sharing his fine work here this week!

Thanks as well to the Delightful Donna, hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Mainely Write.

Poetry Friday: Happy New Year with a Treasure from the (Victorian) Past...

January 2, 2014

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, history, Etsy, art, writing life, home

CROWN JEWELS - And, as the steel engravings suggest, "Looking into the Future," I wish you a year of "Health and Beauty."

I went for a brisk walk New Year's Day morning, only to discover a package in the carport - evidently left by the postal carrier the afternoon before. Let's just say a holiday of opening presents continued... .

You've heard me gush before about my author friend and resident Etsy "expert" Kim Siegelson, who always keeps an eye out for perfectly imperfect vintage treasures. She has a wonderful Etsy shop, Perfect Patina. The last time we met for lunch and antiquing (is there a more perfect way to spend an afternoon?) she'd mentioned having an old book to send me, but I couldn't have imagined. Well, the title speaks for itself:

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


(I'll omit the list of genres here, but "The Whole" does indeed form "A Vast Treasury of the Gems of Poetry, Prose, and Song"!) Its 632 pages, compiled by Henry Davenport Northrop, D. D., were published in 1888.

Here are some opening and closing lines from the Publisher's Announcement printed inside:

"This magnificent work, which comprises many books in one volume, is a vast treasury of the Choicest Gems of English Literature, in prose and poetry. It contains those resplendent jewels of thought, feeling and sentiment which fascinate, instruct and entertain the reader....
The Prospectus is very attractive, and shows at a glance the great superiority of this book over other similar works that are illustrated with cheap woodcuts. ..."


Gotta love those Victorians! Well, let's just say this collection will fuel some artsyletters inspiration for years to come. Thank you, Kim!

The poem I've chosen to share is from the first section, "The Home Circle." I suppose it's because we've been between homes lately - making this move from north Georgia to coastal South Carolina, with kids in colleges several hours away. Transitions are never easy, but I look forward to this adventure in our new home town, greeting each day from our new front porch. With afternoon tea out there, too, of course!

THE DEAREST SPOT OF EARTH IS HOME

by W. T. Wrighton

The dearest spot of earth to me
      is home, sweet home!
    The fairy land I long to see
      is home, sweet home!
There, how charmed the sense of hearing!
There, where love is so endearing!
All the world is not so cheering
    as home, sweet home!

      The dearest spot of earth to me
      is home, sweet home!
    The fairy land I long to see
      is home, sweet home!

I've taught my heart the way to prize
   My home, sweet home!
I've learned to look with lovers' eyes
On home, sweet home!

There, where vows are truly plighted!
There, where hearts are so united!
All the world besides I've slighted
    For home, sweet home!

      The dearest spot of earth to me
      is home, sweet home!
    The fairy land I long to see
      is home, sweet home!


Wishing a happy 2014 to your home, sweet home! Poetry Friday is at home today at I Think in Poems, where the Bedazzling Betsy has this week's Roundup.

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

December 26, 2013

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



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

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


T'was the Day Before Solstice


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


©Keri Collins Lewis. All rights reserved.


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

Author’s Note:

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


Now, bet you learned something too, eh?

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

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

Poetry Friday: Haiku Continues with Student Poet of the Month, Emma Jones

December 12, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, Student Poet of the Month, student work, student poets, writing life, haiku, conferences

Emma Jones


Greetings, Poetry Friends! Thank you for joining me lately to meet haiku poets from my neck of the woods – speakers from our recent Haiku Society of America (HSA) Southeast Region ginko haikufest in Atlanta, Georgia. Next week we’ll wind up our “We Haiku Here” series with HSE SE regional coordinator, poet, and editor Terri L. French. Remember meeting award-winning poet and teacher Tom Painting last month?

Several of Tom’s students wowed us at the conference with readings of their work, and with their statements about haiku. Since 2000, Tom’s junior high and high school students have had winning haiku in the Nicholas Virgilio Memorial Haiku Contest. His students have also been recognized in the United Nations International School Haiku Competition.Tom currently teaches at The Paideia School in Atlanta.

Friday the 13th is a lucky day for us today, because with Tom’s help, I’m kicking off a monthly feature spotlighting the work of these talented students. Today I’m delighted to introduce you to Emma Jones, an 8th grade student at Paideia.

In addition to writing haiku, Emma enjoys dance and soccer. She is an avid reader. Emma lives with her mom, dad, and older sister, Camille.

Emma shares these thoughts about haiku:

I like watching a haiku form. The original idea may change throughout the revision process. After chipping away unnecessary words and switching around the lines I often find myself with a new version that may or may not look how I originally intended it to be. Since haiku are written with so few words it has made me think about each word in all of my writing. Sometimes haiku is written about the smallest and seemingly unimportant moments in life. Writing and reading haiku has made me seek out these moments and grasp their importance and elegance, to write about or just appreciate.


Emma has also kindly agreed to share some of her poems. Enjoy!



kneading my thigh
in an easy chair
the old grey cat


lazy afternoon
a soft spring breeze
combs the grass


summer drizzle
the sidewalk slowly
colors-in


city lights steal the stars


dead bird
the cat’s eyes sparkle
a confession


family breakfast
grape jelly sliding
down the jar


Nam Memorial
no need
for quiet signs



All poems ©Emma Jones. All rights reserved.


Hearty thanks to Emma for joining us today!

If Emma’s exceptional writing has whet your appetite for more great poetry, please go visit the ever creative, ever thoughtful Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: WE HAIKU HERE - Class in Session with Laurence Stacey

November 21, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, We Haiku Here, HSA, poets, writing life, journals

Top: Laurence delivers a talk at our recent HSA SE regional haikufest. Below: I appreciated a nice long walk and talk with Laurence; we discussed poetry, animal rights, and education – among other things!
photos by Raymond French




Welcome back! I’m glad so many folks are enjoying our end-of-the-year haiku journey, led by some of the speakers at our recent HSA (Haiku Society of America) Southeast Regional “haikufest” in Atlanta.

Have you missed the introduction to the series, or any of the fun so far? Please click here to get to know poet Curtis Dunlap and click here to meet Tom Painting, poet and teacher extraordinaire.


Today we have a special treat. And, continuing along an educational theme, we have a poet who is also a teacher.


Laurence Stacey lives in Marietta, Georgia, and is an English Instructor and tutor at Reinhardt University. In his spare time, Laurence enjoys hiking and is an avid student of the martial arts. His educational background includes an MA in Professional Writing, with an emphasis on poetry. He is interested in incorporating haikai into the high school and university curriculum. (RHB note – “haikai” generally refers to haiku and related arts, including senryu, haiga, and haibun.)


Laurence’s poetry has been featured in Prune Juice, Simply Haiku, Tinywords, The Heron’s Nest, and several other journals. He is also the coeditor of Haiku News, a journal dedicated to engaging sociopolitical events through haiku, tanka, and senryu poetry.


Please visit Haiku News at http://www.wayfarergallery.net/haikunews/
. (another RHB note: Poetry Friday regulars, you can find several poems by Diane Mayr in the Haiku News archives.)


At our weekend conference, which celebrated the 250th birthday of haiku master Issa, Laurence delivered a lecture that was enthusiastically received Saturday morning. His talk, “Issa and the African American Perspective in Haiku,” invited us to explore poetry by African American writers as well as to think about ecology , and to consider these subjects in the context of haiku. An enlightening and inspiring morning!


I look forward to more of Laurence’s work on these themes in the future.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy some of his poetry, shall we?




deep in debt…
I answer the phone
as my son


Tinywords, issue 13.2, August 2013



election day
choosing the devil
I know


Haiku News, Vol 1 No. 22



her illness
beyond our care
winter birds


The Heron’s Nest, September 2011, Vol XIII



spreading my cards
the gypsy covers
a yawn


Simply Haiku, Autumn 2009, Vol 7 No 3



AM jazz
the phone line rocking
with crows


3Lights, Winter 2010

All poems ©Laurence Stacey. All rights reserved.


In response to “Why haiku?”, Laurence shares the following:

My reasons for studying and writing haikai (haiku, senryu, and tanka) continue to evolve as I learn more about the art. However, the reason that most quickly comes to my mind is joy. For me, haikai is a way of connecting to the people around me and recording the stories that make us unique. In addition, haikai encourages what I believe is a true respect for the natural world and the creatures that live in it.

What more could you ask for as a reason to pursue a discipline? We are very grateful to have Laurence in our region, and I’m grateful he took the time to visit us here today! Thanks, Laurence.

And hearty thanks to hearty Katya, hosting our Roundup for Poetry Friday this week. Go unpack all the great poetry over at Write. Sketch. Repeat.

(And be sure to return here next week, as our series continues...!)

Poetry Friday: WE HAIKU HERE welcomes Tom Painting

November 14, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, We Haiku Here, poes, HSA, writing life, student work

Welcome back, Poetry Friday Friends! Our haiku series continues today. In late October, The Southeast Chapter of The Haiku Society of America met in Atlanta for the 2nd Annual Ginko Haikufest: “gazing at flowers” in celebration of Koboyashi Issa’s 250th birthday. (We’ll revisit Issa in a later post with HSA President and Issa scholar David G. Lanoue.) I’m shining a spotlight on our speakers here, week by week.

Last week, we kicked off the series with North Carolina poet Curtis Dunlap, who kindly provided some thoughts on haiku and several fine poems. This week, I’m thrilled to introduce Tom Painting. (If you already hang in the haiku world, Tom needs no introduction.)

One of the highlights of our recent weekend was welcoming Tom’s current and former students from The Paideia School in Atlanta, where Tom teaches junior high. (He taught my niece Olivia in fact, and she has penned some award-winning haiku, which I’ve featured here the last two years.)

These eighth and ninth graders each shared a few thoughts on haiku and then some of their own poems. I cannot adequately describe how articulate, thoughtful and talented each student was – or the tangible impact they had on us grown-up listeners! There were many moist eyes in the room during the readings. Beyond impressive.

Since 2000, Tom’s junior high and high school students have had winning haiku in the Nicholas Virgilio Memorial Haiku Contest. His students have also been recognized in the United Nations International School Haiku Competition.Tom is obviously an amazing teacher, and he is eager to share his students’ work.

For today, I convinced him to let us meet him first! This teacher, husband and father is one of our best haiku poets writing today.

In addition to regular inclusion in the top haiku journals,Tom’s haiku have appeared annually since 1998 in The Red Moon Anthology of English Language Haiku, published by Red Moon Press. He was the 2012 winner of the Haiku Society of America haibun contest. One of his poems is included in Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years recently published by W.W. Norton and Company (see last week’s post for my aside raves).

Here are some examples of his work:



crickets
the pulse in a hollow
of her neck


Acorn #10, 2004



spring plowing
a flock of blackbirds
turns inside out


Frogpond XXV:2



detour
she returns my hand
to the wheel


Frogpond XXVI:3



year's end
the weight of pennies
in the mason jar


Modern Haiku 39:2



Indian summer
bison graze the shadow
of the Bitterroots


Modern Haiku 43:1



summer stars
my children ask me
to name a favorite


The Heron’s Nest, June 2011


All poems ©Tom Painting. All rights reserved.


Now, to the question, “Why Haiku?” – Tom’s insightful answers runneth over. In fact, I’ll feature just a few of his helpful thoughts about haiku here today and try to work in more in future posts.

“In haiku circles you’ll often hear reference to the haiku moment,” Tom explains. “In so short a form as haiku the poet must get right to the point and show the particular thing that captures her or his attention- the one among the many, the close-up in the general scene, the last, the first, the opposite.

"Haiku work with the ordinary facts of life. One of the great surprises of this form of poetry is that in the ordinary, the every day, one can find the sublime. Haiku poets write in present tense to help the reader feel as if the haiku moment were happening now. Simple, uncomplicated images, common language, objective presentation and musical sensitivity to language are additional hallmarks of a successful haiku."


Told you he was a teacher. As to why he teaches haiku:

“I teach haiku because I love it. I teach haiku because kids of all ages generally like it and some love it. I teach haiku because I feel it provides a cornerstone to literacy.”

Tom even makes his students a promise: “ If you commit yourself to the practice, you’ll learn more about the world, about writing and especially about yourself.”

If you scan the 7th through 12th grade winning entries in the Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Contest at the Haiku Society of America website, you’ll see how Tom has inspired many of the winners.

But wait! There’s more! I will be featuring one of Tom’s students each month beginning one month from today! That’s right, a student haiku poet of the month. You will be blown away, I guarantee it.

The accolades of placing in a contest are all well and good, but beyond that - when a young writer is able to engage in the world in an authentic way and express his or her experience in just a few profound words… I told you you’d be blown away, right? So stay tuned in coming weeks for more haiku from our featured speakers, and then keep circling back for our bright and shining student of the month.

As for today’s Round Up, please go see what the ever-surprising and insightful Jama is cooking up over at Alphabet Soup . It’s always Mmm-mmm good.

Poetry Friday: WE HAIKU HERE series kicks off with Curtis Dunlap

November 7, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, We Haiku Here, poets, HSA, writing life

Curtis Dunlap leads a critique panel at the 2013 HSA SE Ginko Haikufest in Atlanta
photo by Raymond French
Welcome, Poetry Friday Friends! I’m excited to kick off a series today which will feature several notable haiku poets – the speakers from a recent regional celebration of haiku. In late October, The Southeast Chapter of The Haiku Society of America met in Atlanta for the 2nd Annual Ginko Haikufest: “gazing at flowers” in celebration of Koboyashi Issa’s 250th birthday. (We’ll revisit Issa in a later post with HSA President and Issa scholar David G. Lanoue.)

The event was organized by our amazing and talented regional coordinator, Terri L. French. (More on her later, too.) This region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and the United States Virgin Islands. Our wonderful weekend included a handful of terrific poets from North Carolina as well. As you can imagine, I’m thrilled I’ll stay in this region after moving from Georgia to South Carolina!

At our conference, I had the good fortune to be on a panel with Curtis Dunlap. We read anonymously submitted haiku and then discussed/critiqued them as a large group. I was struck by 1.) the level of excellence of the drafts and 2.) the very insightful comments and suggestions from all in attendance. It was a great learning experience all around.

I asked Curtis if he would be willing to lead off with this end-of-the-year series, and he kindly obliged.



Curtis Dunlap lives near the confluence of the Mayo and Dan rivers in Mayodan, North Carolina. His poems have been published in a variety of journals and anthologies including The Christian Science Monitor, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Frogpond, Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years, Magnapoets, Modern Haiku, Rusty Truck, and The Wild Goose Poetry Review. He was awarded the Museum of Haiku Literature Award in 2008. Click here for his tobaccoroadpoet.com website.

[Note from RHB: Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years came out in August from W.W. Norton & Company. Edited by Jim Kacian, it features an introduction by Billy Collins and more than 800 poems guiding the reader through the form’s development in English. I bought a copy and am enjoying it tremendously.]

Here is a sampling of Curtis’s fine haiku:



after the burial . . .
my father’s smile
on so many faces


The Heron's Nest, Volume VIII:4 - 12, 2006



tobacco market
the auctioneer pauses
to catch his breath


Chasing the Sun: selected haiku from Haiku North America 2007



a rusty still
by the dry creek bed –
blood moon rising


The Heron's Nest, Volume X:1 - 3, 2008



school closings —
the snowmen arrive
flake by flake


The Heron's Nest, Volume XII, Number 2: June, 2010



robbing the bees
she speaks of
lip balm


The Heron's Nest, Volume XII, Number 4: December, 2010



afternoon lull...
a mercy bullet
for the rabid dog


The Heron's Nest, Volume XV, Number 2: June 2013

All poems ©Curtis Dunlap. All rights reserved.


To the question, Why Haiku? – Curtis responds:

To preserve, share, and savor snapshot moments that are as fleeting as the small poems used to convey the experience to the reader. Time goes by at an incredible pace, especially now that I've passed the half century mark. To me, writing haiku is akin to taking the finger off of life's fast forward button, slowing the pace down, and revisiting events that struck a chord with my artistic soul. …

You can follow the rest of this discussion here at Curtis’s blog. While there, please peruse the “Three Questions” interviews with links in the right-hand column– a treasure-trove of interviews in recent years with contemporary haiku poets. Some of these poets, including William J. Higginson and Peggy Lyles, are no longer with us; it’s a privilege to read their thoughts from just a few years ago.

Many thanks to Curtis Dunlap for joining us today! Stay tuned – we’ll enjoy a different poet from the HSA SE Haikufest speaker’s circle each week through the end of the year.

Now, I think it only appropriate that today’s Poetry Friday host is also an accomplished (and prolific!) haiku poet, among many other things. Please go see the amazing Diane at Random Noodling. (Oh, and let me know if you catch her napping. My theory is she doesn’t sleep.)

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

October 31, 2013

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

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

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

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

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


lapping waves finding a you or a me

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


telling it slant
a ghost crab slips into
a hole


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

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

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

October 24, 2013

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

Greetings, Friends!

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

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

Here's how the Mortimer Minute works:

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


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

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

In the meantime, here's my Minute:

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

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

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

Birthday Present
by Aileen Fisher

White?
Oh yes, a woolly white one.

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

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

Sleek?
Oh yes, a sleek and trim one.

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


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

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

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

Mortimer: Do you have a favorite poetic genre?

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

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


Click here for more.

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

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

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

Poetry Friday - 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: 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: Joyce Sidman and some verse novelists, too!

January 3, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, illustrators, book tracks, writing life

Happy New Year!

So maybe I haven’t put away the Christmas decorations yet, but I’ve started off the New Year with a couple of poetry posts on other blogs.

First, I was thrilled to be able to interview our most recent recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, Joyce Sidman, for the PACYA (Poetry Advocates for Children and Young Adults) blog.

I’ve admired Joyce’s work for a long time, and she kindly agreed to let me share a poem here today, too.

From one of my favorite books, the Newbery Honor-winning DARK EMPEROR & OTHER POEMS OF THE NIGHT, illustrated by printmaker Rick Allen (Houghton Mifflin, 2010), here is the opening poem:

Welcome to the Night

To all of you who crawl and creep,
who buzz and chirp and hoot and peep,
who wake at dusk and throw off sleep:
Welcome to the night.

To you who make the forest sing,
who dip and dodge on silent wing,
who flutter, hover, clasp, and cling:
Welcome to the night!

Come feel the cool and shadowed breeze,
come smell your way among the trees,
come touch rough bark and leathered leaves:
Welcome to the night.

The night’s a sea of dappled dark,
the night’s a feast of sound and spark,
the night’s a wild, enchanted park.
Welcome to the night!


©Joyce Sidman. All rights reserved.

To read the PACYA interview, click here, and to peruse Joyce’s wonderful website brimming with resources for readers, writers, and teachers, click here.

Second, my monthly poetry column on Janice Hardy’s terrific blog for fiction writers, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY, has moved to the first Wednesday of the month this year. (Though it won’t appear in Feb.) This week we’re exploring verse novels, and I have some amazing book excerpts and insights from three wonderful, award-winning authors: Eileen Spinelli, April Halprin Wayland, and
Susan Taylor Brown.

I’m so thankful to each of these poets – Joyce, Eileen, April, and Susan – for sharing their gifts and their thoughts in this bright New Year.

For more great poetry, go visit the multipl-y gifted Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme for today’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday is HERE!

December 6, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, animals, magazines, writing life, illustrators

Image ©Hyewon Yum; text ©Carus Publishing.

Happy Poetry Friday, and Happy Holidays!

I’ll be rounding up throughout the day, so come on in and have a cup of hot chocolate or tea and enjoy all the great poetry posted today. Please leave your link and a short description in the comments.

Today, I’m celebrating that one of my poems appears in the current issue of LADYBUG . Several years ago, when we lived on a small farm, I encountered a beautiful fox where our yard met our woods. Weather-wise, it was probably much like today – chilly, with one season was making way for the next. I remember the fox and myself suspended in a moment of stillness just looking at each other – a fleeting moment that was gone as quickly as it came.

I wrote this poem from that experience and was delighted when it was accepted for publication at Carus. It was originally accepted by SPIDER, but they ended up not publishing it, and in the meantime the LADYBUG editor had expressed interest. Suffice it to say that after a few years of waiting, I’m thrilled it has found a home in the Nov./Dec. 2012 issue.

Even more thrilled that it is so beautifully illustrated by the talented Hyewon Yum , who kindly shared the original art above with us today. It's a linoleum cut print - isn't it perfect? Yum is an acclaimed author/illustrator of many books including: MOM, IT’S MY FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN (2012), THE TWINS’ BLANKET (2011), THERE ARE NO SCARY WOLVES (2010), and LAST NIGHT (2008) all from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. More books are soon to hit the shelves, which she either illustrated or wrote and illustrated.

Many thanks to Hyewon for sharing her artwork, and to The LADYBUG/Carus folks for granting permission to post my poem for you today. Here it is:

GRAY FOX

by Robyn Hood Black

At the edge of winter,
at the edge of the wood,
at the edge of the brush,
a gray fox stood.

I took a small step,
I took a breath in –
then nothing was there
where the gray fox had been.


© 2012 by Carus Publishing

Click here for a link to the LADYBUG Teacher’s Guide. (It says October, but scroll halfway down and you’ll come to a couple of suggestions/questions re. “Gray Fox.”)

Thanks so much for coming by today, and here’s to appreciating moments and poems! (Remember to leave your link with your comments if you want to be rounded up.)

Oh – and if you’re a fiction writer, you might enjoy my column from yesterday over at Janice Hardy’s blog, The Other Side of the Story, in which I talk about writing mask poems as a way to get inside your character’s head. (Thanks to the lovely Amy Ludwig VanDerwater for loaning a poem for the post!) In 2013, my column at Janice's will move from the first Thursday of each month to the first Wednesday of each month (except Feb.).

Carry on!

HERE'S THE ROUND-UP:

Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff has delightful feline fare today: JRR Tolkien's "Cat."

At Gathering Books, this month's water tales theme continues with Mary Oliver's "Blackwater Pond," presented by the lovely Myra in a visual setting befitting the words.

Father Goose is here today with "The Christmas Box" (from his CHRISTMAS IS COMING!) with a homemade gift idea that would thrill any parent.

Violet has a fun and yummy original ABC poem called "Appetite Affair." If you haven't yet had breakfast, this will make your stomach rumble....

At Poetry for Kids Joy, Joy brings us her original poem, "The Elf." I like that this elf is female! :0)

Jama at Alphabet Soup serves up another stunning haibun by Penny Harter, the title work from ONE BOWL.

After reading Jeff's cat post above, you must head over to Carol's Corner, where Carol is featuring Rose Fyleman's classic "Mice" with Lois Ehlert's magnificent collage illustration.

Tara at A Teaching Life has Mark Strand's moving "Lines for Winter" (and a gorgeous photograph to go with it).

At Teacher Dance, Linda shares an original poem about a weather phenomenon she noticed while at school - I won't spoil the fun, but I'm happy to say she was quick with her camera as well as her pen!

Matt Goodfellow at Poems and things! is in with a triple play of original poems today: "Yew Tree", "Different Eyes" and "Ghost Bike."

(Off to make coffee - back in a short bit....)

Wondering how to start writing your next poem or creating your next piece of art? Susan Taylor Brown has a wonderful poem by David Whyte today, "Start Close In" - food for the creative soul!

At The Poem Farm, Amy offers an original poem from her SPARK 18 project to accompany Amy Souza's gorgeous collage. (If you had a grandmother like mine, "Quilt Map" will fill your heart.)

Join Tabatha for some touching low-tech communication celebrated in two delightful poems: "Father's Story" by Elizabeth Madox Roberts and "The Telephone" by Robert Frost.

Visit Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe for a new take on "Squandering" - an original poem inspired by a kindergarten teacher's comment during a challenging day.

Speaking of the classroom, over at A Year of Reading, Mary Lee has a simple and powerful original poem about teaching.

Take a moment to s-l-o-w down with a very clever original poem, "The Snail's Lament," penned by Liz at Growing Wild. She also offers a discussion of how she revised this poem - great to share with students (or others!) expecting to write a perfect draft the first time.

Laura, our resident Author Amok, shares the history of the haunting Coventry Carol, including a video of the Westminster Choir singing it. This thoughtful post literally gave me chills. (As Laura kindly points out, if you've recently suffered miscarriage or the loss of an infant, you might want to skip for now and come back at a later date.)

Our other Laura is in with a poem from David Harrison's newest book, COWBOYS. She's sharing "Stampede." (Does anyone else think she might be partial to that title?) ;0)

Also, Laura's got quite the lively party going on at 15 Words or Less Poems. Check out today's larger-than-life picture prompt and join the fun.

Margaret at Reflections on the Teche shares the most wonderful poems in a "Preposition Parade" today - her own poem and then several samples from students. (The kids came up with 50 prepositions as part of this exercise - can you??)

Another terrific teacher in our pack of poets, Betsy, takes a look back at warmer days with an original poem, "Summer Dandilion," over at Teaching Young Writers.

At Charlotte's Library, Charlotte shares her son's first sestina. (Note: Link is working now.)

Steve is in today with a "thoughtful-wondering poem about chance events and parents getting older" at Inside the Dog. This is one of the sharpest poems I've read today - exemplifying this repeating theme of observing a moment. (Beautifully wrought, it has great prepositions we've been discussing, too!)

At Random Noodling, Diane offers up a few humorous poems from a 1937 anthology. Kurious Kitty
has a gorgeous poem by Rumi accompanied by a perfect photo , and, Kurious K's Kwotes' Poetry Friday quote is by Rumi, too.

At There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town, Ruth ponders the winners of the Academy of American Poets "best poems of the year" and shares a fun poetic look at love poems from Rafael Campo.

David's in with celebratory voyage of poetic nonsense (very cleverly crafted) at fomagrams. Happy Birthday, David! (I would like to note that my birthday is coming up next month and I am younger than David, though not by much, but I'm younger.) ;0)

Speaking of birthdays, Karen is celebrating Willa Cather's birthday today with the poem, "L'Envoi," which Cather wrote for Fr. Scott.

Lovely Sylvia has two offerings today: a list of more than a dozen books featuring poetry for Hanukkah (which begins this weekend) at Poetry for Children, and Constance Levy's fun "penny" poem with accompanying activites at The Poetry Friday Anthology blog.

At Paper Tigers, Marjorie offers a look at anonymous seventeenth-century English nonsense/puzzle poem, "I Saw a Peacock With A Fiery Tail," and a lovely discussion about Gond artist Ramsingh Urveti's stunning illustrations of it in a recent version published by Tara Books. Warning: I read this post and immediately ordered the book online. Yes, I did.

JoAnn Early Macken is here! She's a guest today at Teaching Authors with a student poem from WRITE A POEM STEP BY STEP, her new book which shares tips for teaching poetry gleaned from years of experience. AND, she's giving a copy away... so go sign up like I just did.

Little Willow at Bildungsroman has a gorgeous poem by Siegfried Sassoon, "Butterflies."

At The Small Nouns, Ben is also featuring Willa Cather's "L'Envoi" poem, and a discussion about careful planning versus shooting from the hip. Which way do you approach a task?

MotherReader has a glowing review of J. Patrick Lewis's new anthology, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY, with a taste of Robert Frost for you to sample. She dares you to click the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon and not end up buying this book. (I dare you, too.)

Lunch break! Afternoon posters, add your links in your comments and I'll circle back around.

Break out the footy pajamas! Bridget has an original poem paying homage to the ultimate winter comfort wear at wee words for wee ones.

Remember all the madness this past March at Think, Kid, Think? Well, Ed has just unveiled "The Thinkier", a celebration in bronze to commemorate each year's poetic champion.

Matt is getting us in the holiday spirit with a poem celebrating Christmas trees from his winter collection of poetry, AND he has a lovely give-away offer. Of what? You'll have to click over to find out.

Any bugs knocking on your door for winter housing? Check out Jone's look at two bug poetry books at Check It Out for some fun with lots of legs, and some great classroom tie-ins to boot.

A hearty welcome to children's author Dia Calhoun, who ventures into Poetry Friday for the first time with a lovely original poem, "A Room With No View."

And in the Fashionably-Late-to-the-Party-and-Always-Welcome-Dept., we have:

The Write Sisters with (one of my personal favorites!) a wild Carl Sandburg poem, and an equally cool photo.

Donna at Mainely Write has been finding inspiration in lost gloves this week. Click the blog link for today's succinct and clever offering, and, if you want more, that poem's pink predecessor was posted on Tuesday. ("They have jobs to do while they wait," says Donna.)

Here's some more humor to transition into the weekend: Janet at All About the Books offers a taste of Douglas Florian's LAUGH-ETERIA. (You can't even get through this plug without smiling, can you?)

If, like Irene, you are searching for the perfect breakfast casserole recipe for this weekend, try this poetic little treasure she found in the back of a cookbook. Wishing you heaping servings.

An evening surprise:

Carlie at Twinkling Along shares a lovely cinquain about cherry blossoms in December. Yes, cherry blossoms!

Weekend Update:

At On Point, Lorie Ann has an original haiku this week - and you must see the accompanying photograph!

Poetry Friday: Longfellow, Luscious Art, and Lovely Writer Friends

November 29, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, writing life, art, authors, illustrators

The Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Boyd Hanna (The Heritage Press, NY, 1943)

If you've peeked in over at my other blog on artsyletters, you know I'm a sucker for vintage treasures. (I'm becoming one myself, you see.) So imagine my delight when, for my friend's birthday outing yesterday, I took her to a lunch spot she chose (Vietnamese - yummy!) and she took me to a couple of her favorite antique haunts in her part of Atlanta.

Imagine my further delight when she presented me with a surprise gift she'd found and been keeping for me - a beautiful 1943 copy of THE POEMS OF HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW (The Heritage Press, NY), with the most delicious wood engravings by Boyd Hanna (1907-1987).

This friend is well-versed in writing AND vintage, with a keen eye for art - Kim Siegelson, whose many award winning books for young people include the Coretta Scott King Award winner, IN THE TIME OF THE DRUMS. Kim has also been an invaluable guide on my new Etsy adventure, as she runs a busy and delightful shop, Perfect Patina. She's always keeping an eye out for vintage wonders, and I'm lucky that she spied this poetry book and thought of me. (It came with a lovely, inspiring note from her, too - now happily presiding above my computer shining down sparkly warm beams of encouragement.)

Kim thought I would enjoy the gorgeous wood engraving illustrations, printed in browns and greens, especially the one above featuring the bold bird in winter. She's right, of course! And since it's been dipping into the 30s here this week in north Georgia, I thought sharing the Longfellow poem it illustrates would be appropriate:

Woods in Winter

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(1807-1882)

When winter winds are piercing chill,
And through the hawthorn blows the gale,
With solemn feet I tread the hill,
That overbrows the lonely vale.

O'er the bare upland, and away
Through the long reach of desert woods,
The embracing sunbeams chastely play,
And gladden these deep solitudes.

Where, twisted round the barren oak,
The summer vine in beauty clung,
And summer winds the stillness broke,
The crystal icicle is hung.

Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs
Pour out the river's gradual tide,
Shrilly the skater's iron rings,
And voices fill the woodland side.

Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out their mellow lay,
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day!

But still wild music is abroad,
Pale, desert woods! within your crowd;
And gathering winds, in hoarse accord,
Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud.

Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year,
I listen, and it cheers me long.


Remind me to come back to this post around February! And I hope if winter winds are already blowing where you are, you'll hear a bit of "wild music" with them. I also hope you'll come back here next week, when I have the honor of hosting the Poetry Friday Round Up. Today, it's over at The Poem Farm, lassoed by the ever-talented Amy.

Poetry Friday: Poetry and Photographs from Susan Taylor Brown

November 16, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, authors, poetry, art, writing life, birds, Etsy

© Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.


I am humming with joy this morning – award-winning author, poet, and artist Susan Taylor Brown is here! Well, some of her work is here, and now there are more options for you to own some yourself.

Perhaps you know Susan primarily through the writing side of her life – dozens of books for children for the trade and educational markets, hundreds of stories and articles in newspapers and magazines, and a speaking schedule that has included SCBWI conferences, Highlights workshops, and artist in residence experiences in which she’s taught poetry to at-risk and incarcerated youth. Or perhaps you’ve visited her blog and website for spot-on writing advice shared with wisdom and plenty of heart and personal experience. If, like me, you might have missed the incredible interview posted by Jone in June over at Check It Out, you will definitely want to, well, check it out!

Perhaps as a faithful Poetry Friday-er, you’ve popped over to Susan’s website or seen her pictures on Facebook. Has your jaw dropped and have your eyes popped at her glorious photographs of the wildlife she’s invited into her California back yard? Thought so. Did you mourn a few months ago after following the daily activities of Lily, the lovely hummingbird who graced Susan’s yard with a nest and then lost her precious eggs just before they were to hatch? Yes, me too.

Lots of folks were moved by Susan's photographs. It wasn’t long before Susan’s friends clamored for her to offer her incredible nature pictures for sale.

She made a page for her greeting cards with the delightful name, “Poppiness.” And just this month, she opened her own Etsy shop! As a new Etsy shop owner myself, I was thrilled to catch this bit of news and track her down. Oh, and order some gorgeous cards.

I asked Susan if she might share some of her hummingbird photographs and poems with us. The poems appeared on other blogs this year (terrific Poetry Friday ones!), but they bear re-sharing.

In My Backyard

iridescent wings dip, dive
between branches
of the scraggly Toyon bush
not yet six feet tall

pointed beak
weaves bits of moss
with spider webs
tucks in a single strand of grass
a dainty dandelion seed
then flies away

cat quiet, I creep
peek
stare
compare
tiny nest cradles
tiny eggs, two
no bigger than my thumb

whirling wings
hum hello
now go
she settles, spreads
herself atop the eggs
watches me
watching her

the wind blows, blustering
never flustering her
she sways a branch dance
keeping safe
tiny nest
tiny eggs
where rainbows wait to hatch


© Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.

Previously here:
http://gottabook.blogspot.com/2012/04/susan-taylor-brown-in-my-backyard.html
on Greg's great blog.


******************************************

13 Ways of Looking at a Hummingbird

1
wings whirl
in place
my face
smiles
swivels
tiny dancer
chirps
cheeps
chitters
hello

2
greengold glitters glides
lands atop the waterfalls
shimmy shakes
a water dance

3
spider silk
blades of grass
lichen
moss
one gray hair
two red threads
building blocks
a mini mansion

4
picture pose
turn left
now right
chin up
hold still
I'll keep my distance

5
in out
out in
tall wall
soft floor
ready wait
wait some more
egg one
egg two
soon
each morning
each evening
I check
just in case

6
the plum tree a
perfect preening place
ruffled nest feathers
bugs picked flicked
feathers smoothed
stretch once
stretch again
bask in the sun
before babies come

7
stormy days
stormy nights
quivery
shivery
forgetting generations
that came before
I worry
flashlight in hand

8
she disappears deep
within the overgrown honeysuckle
seeking bugs
protein power
for motherhood
alone
I measure
one nest
one half a walnut shell
one egg
one jellybean
one miracle
waiting to happen

9
my days equal
part
inspection
observation
research
photographs
my days equal
bliss

10
camera ready
I await her homecoming
hidden only slightly behind the fence
fifteen minutes
two hundred photographs
my mini model
is a star

11
morning comes
empty
no mama snug atop her nest
no tiny eggs safe and sound
no babies waiting
to say hello world
sometime between
the darkness and dawn
disaster

12
overcast and gray
rain soon
but I am stubborn
searching beneath the bushes
until I find evidence
until I find a tiny white shell
until it hits me
miracles don't always come true

13
crying
crying
crying
camera clicks
shot after shot after shot
most will be out of focus
unable to capture the pain I feel
at all the days that should have been ahead
suddenly suspended beside me
close enough to almost touch
no chirp
no cheep
no chitter
she hovers there
ten seconds maybe more
just long enough
to say goodbye


© Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.

Previously here:
http://maclibrary.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/poetry-friday-5/
on Jone’s wonderful blog.

I asked Susan: What is it about hummingbirds that compels you to write about and photograph them? Take it away, Susan!

I am a perpetually nervous person often filled with worry about things I can't change or control. I was spending so much time worrying about what did happen and what I could have done differently and what might happen and how I could avoid it that I was forgetting to live my life in the here and now. I had a wonderful life and I was missing out on it. All around me friends were going to yoga, beginning to meditate, and learning how to be here, now, living in the present moment. I couldn't seem to get the handle of yoga or meditating but I did spend a lot of time in my native garden. Usually it was because my dog Cassie was pestering me to step away from the computer and go outside. In my typical hurry-up fashion I wanted her to hurry-up and take care of business so I could hurry-up and get back to work worrying about whatever the day's worry might be.

Cassie had other ideas. She meandered around the yard, each visit outside taking a similar path, dipping a head into the sage to sniff at bees, pausing under the maple tree to wait for squirrels, stopping at the elderberry to watch the birds flit from branch to branch. I got tired of standing and waiting for her so I sat down. And when I sat down, the critters in the yard got used to me and turned brave, coming closer to feed at the bushes close to me and play in the bird pond. My fingers itched for my camera. The more I sat and watched, the more I saw. I had found a meditation that worked for me. I had learned to see more by being still and I had discovered how to live in the present moment.

What does that have to do with photographing hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds are so fast that one would think you need to be fast in order to get a photo of them in flight. But really the opposite is true. You need to be slow. You need to be patient. You need to learn to be still. Because when you do that you will be forced to watch, hundreds of times, the way the hummingbirds around you act when they are coming in to feed. You learn their dipping, diving behavior. You begin to understand their dance. I spent hours just watching the birds in my garden and other gardens before I tried to pick up the camera. And even then I shot thousands of blurry photos or photos of plants where the birds USED to be, before I snapped the shutter. But with practice, I found it easier to get into the dance and sometimes I get lucky and capture just the photo I had hoped to capture.

So I guess the easy answer is that I feel compelled to photograph hummingbirds, as well as the other wildlife in my garden, because it continually reminds me to be here, now, in the moment and to give thanks for the opportunity to witness these gifts of nature.


Click here for a link to a published slideshow Susan did for Bay Nature Magazine on photographing hummingbirds.

And now let me leave you with some lovely news you can use. Susan has gorgeous photographs available in her Etsy shop – hummingbirds, flowers, other stunning flora and fauna. And, she and I have decided that we’d like to offer a Poetry Friday discount for holiday shopping. From now through Dec. 31, just visit either of our shops – Poppiness or artsyletters – and type in the Coupon Code: PF2012 for a 10 percent discount! (You can look each of us up on Twitter, too, @poppiness and @artsyletters.)

Thanks, and many thanks to Susan for sharing her work here today.

Also, much appreication to Julie Hedland for featuring me on her terrific blog on Wednesday, and to Renée LaTulippe for welcoming me to No Water River today! Such an honor, ladies - thank you.

For more poetic treasures, hop over to Booktalking, where the amazing Anastasia is rounding up Poetry Friday.

On Julie Foster Hedlund's blog today... :0) and a give-away at artstyletters

November 14, 2012

Tags: art, authors, writing life

Greetings! Happy to share that my writer friend and blogger extraordinaire Julie Foster Hedlund kindly shared a post about me on her wonderful blog today.

And, for Art Break Wednesday over at artsyletters, I'm giving away a fun mini Ott flip light.

Enjoy!

Poetry Friday: Poetry in Fiction - a Pinch or a Pound

November 1, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, writing life, authors, fiction

A poetry-to-prose exercise in A PROGRESSIVE GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE: BASED ON THE RESULTS OF MODERN PHILOLOGY by William Swinton, 1876,Harper & Brothers, New York.
Happy Poetry Friday!

I've been thinking of so many of our Poetry Friday regulars this week up in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Thoughts and prayers for all touched by the storm.

My post today is more of a link. Yesterday was my second monthly poetry column on Janice Hardy's amazing blog for writers, The Other Side of the Story. Janice is the author of The Healing Wars triology (Balzer + Bray) and other forthcoming works.

Yesterday I wrote about calling on poetry - a little or a lot - when writing fiction. The wonderful Joyce Ray gave me permission to share some of her post from last month about Arundhati Roy's 1998 novel, The God of Small Things. If you missed that one on her blog, Musings, get thee hence.

I also threw in some Harper Lee, Nancy Willard, and Janice herself. If you're interested, jump on over to my post.

I'm heading to Atlanta today to sell my artsy wares at a fall festival/art show this weekend, so will try to play catch-up upon my return. There are cornucopias of good poetry over at Donna's Mainely Write blog for Poetry Friday, where Donna invites us to ponder "plain old November."

Poetry Friday: 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.)

VOICE LESSONS with Irene Latham

August 22, 2012

Tags: SCBWI, Southern Breeze, authors, book tracks, poetry, conferences, workshops, writing life


Poetry buffs who frequent this blog know about Poetry Friday regular Irene Latham – her COLOR OF LOST ROOMS (2010) was a National Indie Excellence finalist and winner of the 19th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Award. She just sold her first collection of children's poems, DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST, set at an African watering hole, to Millbrook Press/Lerner. Look for it in the fall of 2014! Irene has been poetry editor of the Alabama Arts Journal since 2003.

She’s also an accomplished novelist. LEAVING GEE’S BEND (Putnam, 2010) won the Alabama Library Association 2011 Children's Book Award and was a SIBA Book Award finalist. Her new novel, DON’T FEED THE BOY (Roaring Brook, Oct. 2012), is soon to be let loose!

At the SCBWI Southern Breeze fall conference in Birmingham in October, Irene is presenting a workshop on that elusive, crucial, desired-by-any-editor element of a story: voice. She was kind enough to drop by today and give us a sneak peek.

Take it away, Irene!

Confession: when I sold LEAVING GEE’S BEND, I thought “editing” meant someone somewhere sending my words through some fancydancy spell-check program. I really had no idea how to revise.

Guess what I learned?

The best and quickest way to educate oneself about editing and revision is to actually DO it. And what I’ve found in the years since is that for me, revising is most successful if taken in stages. By which I mean, I read over the manuscript multiple times, addressing one specific issue during each pass.

I generally start with plot, because that’s easiest (for me). Then I move to character arc – one pass for each major player, then another pass for supporting characters. Then, eventually, I move to voice. It’s during this pass that the magic happens: ordinary words take on flavor and personality. Dialogue quirks emerge. Similes and metaphors become consistent with the character. Gone are the modern words in a historical piece, while invented words manifest themselves in a fantasy piece.

One of the best ways I have found to teach about voice is to show examples of writing without voice. Take, for instance, the first line from a household favorite book FEED by M. T. Anderson.

line STRIPPED of voice, by me:

“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon was boring.”

actual line, written by M.T. Anderson:

“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.”

That, fellow readers and writers, is VOICE.

Want to learn more? Come to the SCBWI Southern Breeze region annual Writing and Illustrating for Kids conference in Birmingham, Oct. 20. (There’s an optional novel intensive Oct. 19.) Here’s the official description for my workshop:

Voice Lessons: Revising for Voice

Got a book with great plot, characters, but no distinctive voice? This workshop provides revision techniques and advice on how to create a voice that’s authentic and memorable. *Attendees should bring at least one page up to an entire chapter of a work-in-progress to revise.

Handout includes a list of strategies, a voice-revision checklist and three before/after excerpts to illustrate effectiveness of the suggested techniques.


Sounds terrific, Irene! Thanks for the preview.

To learn more about Irene and her books, check out her website and blog.

And to register for the Writing and Illustrating for Kids (wik) fall conference in Birmingham , click here.

Hope to see you there!

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

May 18, 2012

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

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

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

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

with Marjorie Maddox; Joy Acey and David

bottom: happily in the middle of a Spinelli Sandwich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

also,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The wilderness is in balance again.

The wolves are back.


Thank you, Jean Craighead George.

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

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

Poetry Friday: Art, Fear, and Founders Workshops

May 11, 2012

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

Book Spine Poems (See end of post for text)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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


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

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

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

April 17, 2012

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


Howdy. Happy National Haiku Poetry Day!

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

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

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

March 16, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, writing life

Wicklow Mountains, Ireland - from a family trip in 1996

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

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


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

Irish Interior
by Eavan Boland
(excerpt)

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

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

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


Please click here to read the rest of the poem.

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

Poetry Friday: Happy Haiku-ing

March 8, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


the big dipper
my dog keeps searching
for the right spot


G.R. LeBlanc


cicada song
Spanish moss dipped
in sunlight


Robyn Hood Black


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

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

Springmingling!

February 28, 2012

Tags: SCBWI, Southern Breeze, authors, conferences, writing life

In SCBWI Southern Breeze, we love us some Kirby Larson!
Our 20th Anniversary SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle in Atlanta was a blast this past weekend! I'm still playing catch up. We enjoyed hosting editor Kristin Daly Rens (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins), editor and art director Greg Ferguson (Egmont), agent Mary Kole (Andrea Brown Literary) and our wonderful keynote speaker, Kirby Larson, who not only inspired us through the weekend but who kicked things off with an all-day novel-writing intensive on Friday. Also, Andy Runton was our special guest Saturday for a workshop on comics and sequential art.

Whew! My writer's toolbox was much heavier when I left on Sunday than when I arrived Thursday night. We had a magical mix of great advice and warm camaraderie the entire weekend. Thanks to all the volunteers, some I didn't even get to thank personally, for all your hard work. Special thanks to our conference bookstore, FoxTale Book Shoppe, led by some of the foxiest bookstore ladies around, and to the wonderful staff at the Century Center Marriott.

Now, onto planning 2013... ! :0)

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

February 16, 2012

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

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

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

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

Becoming Anne Bradstreet

by Eavan Boland

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

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

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

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


(Read the rest of this poem here.)

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

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

Write2Ignite Conference

February 14, 2012

Tags: writing life, conferences

I'm in the home stretch of all the crazy details going into planning our upcoming SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle Conference (Feb. 24-26 in Atlanta), and I'm happy to shine the light on another conference that might interest those who write for young people - the Write2Ignite Conference in South Carolina, March 16-17, 2012. I haven't attended this conference, but I always hear a postive buzz about it. (One of the featured speakers this year is someone whose historical fiction books I've read and admired - Joyce Hostetter, award-winning author of BLUE, COMFORT, and other titles.)

I asked the lovely Jean Matthew Hall, writer and conference organizer, to tell us about the weekend. Take it away, Jean!

Our mission at Write2Ignite! is to equip, encourage and inspire people who write for children and young adults from a Christian worldview whether they seek publication in the general market or Christian market.

I’m thrilled this year that we can present outstanding and generous speakers and workshop leaders. Carol Baldwin, Kristi Butler and Mitzi Smith will inspire us with Keynote speeches. I’m thrilled that familiar names like Carol Crane and Joyce Hostetter are part of our line-up. Our Write2Ignite! Team is excited that several editors and agents who represent children’s writers are joining us, and making themselves available for individual consultations. And we have ten scholarships available for registrees. I could go on and on!

One of our distinctives is that we offer a special Teen Track all day Saturday for middle school and high school students who write. Vonda Skelton is leading that track.

We are looking forward to Write2Ignite! 2012, as a great opportunity to Bring Hope to children’s writers and, by extension, to their readers.


Thanks, Jean!

For more information and to register, see www.write2ignite.com or contact Jean at write2ignite@jeanmatthewhall.com.

Women Wielding Pens in North Georgia

February 6, 2012

Tags: writing life

Thanks to THE TIMES for Sunday's article by Brandee A. Thomas in the Life section about women writers in our corner of Georgia. I'm honored to be included, along with Gloria Stargel, Mildred Greear, Lynda Holmes and André Cheek.

Click here for the story.

Carrying Beauty with Laura Shovan

January 26, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, writing life

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

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

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

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

Because We Were Rushing to Catch the Bus


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The Light by the Barn
by William Stafford

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

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

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

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

Then the light by the barn again.


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

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

I love all the sparkly connections Poetry Friday can make!


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

Happy New Haiku Year

January 12, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

autumn breeze
escorted to the mailbox
by an acorn


~ Notes from the Gean, December 2011

and then this one, on the same page:

same blue
as ten years ago
empty sky


~ Notes from the Gean, December 2011

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

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

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

in an urban sky
birds shift in unison-
drifting ice


~ Notes from the Gean, September 2010

Virgin Islands-
laughing gulls mingle
on the beach


~ Notes from the Gean, June 2011

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

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

Smiles all around for the New Year

January 11, 2012

Tags: school visits, authors, illustrators, SCBWI, Highlights, writing life

Paula B. Puckett and her alpaca photo essay in the Feb. 2012 Highlights! (In our critique group, we celebrate publications with "the crown of success" - a pic with a tiara and cape, of course!)
This week has been one with lots of smiles in the writing realm.

On Monday, I presented writing workshops to three groups of fifth graders and one group of fourth graders at Dyer Elementary School in Dacula, Georgia. The kids were enthusiastic and creative. (So were the teachers! I love it when the teachers have fun with the writing activities, too.)

Special thanks to Media Specialist Paula Flageolle and also to Teresa Ellis for taking care of every possible detail. (Not just bottled water, folks, but little bite-sized donut holes – perfect to pop in your mouth between sessions!)

Last night, at a critique group meeting, we got to Snoopy-dance with my extra-special writing/art buddy and friend Paula B. Puckett. Her nonfiction feature, “Cutting Cowboy’s Hair” is smack-dab in the middle of the February issue of Highlights .

Way to go, Paula! She is not only the author of the piece, but she provided photo illustrations as well.

Cowboy, by the way, is one of Paula’s very own alpacas. He thinks he runs the farm. Click here for my post last spring about Paula and her 'pacas.

You know, Paula and I have traveled to so many SCBWI conferences together I figure we’ve shared more hotel rooms than my hubby and I have. It’s so great to also share successes with folks who have persisted a long time to make their dreams come true.

What an enriching way to start off a new year – celebrating creative endeavors from kids and adults alike. I love this job.

Poetry Friday: David L. Harrison is here!

December 16, 2011

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A Chip of Flint

See this?
Too thin
for an arrowhead.

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

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

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

I accept it
as a gift
from an unknown hand.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you tempt us with a poem or excerpt?

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

Free at Last

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

Fish are bucking,
throwing water
off slippery backs.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poetry Friday is Here! A Web of Treasures…

December 9, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

spiderwebs

by David Harrison

Webs sparkle
on the lawn
like diamond
necklaces
at dawn.

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

Silently they
look and lurk.

Time now for
spider work.


(Used with permission from the author.)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 11, 2011

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

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

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

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

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


after the squall
the tinkling concerto
of sailboats


**Notes from the Gean, December 2010



wild rhubarb
that sudden yearning
for something more


**frogpond, Fall 2011



coastal map
the sand etched
by snails


**Notes from the Gean, June 2011



over stones
the ripple of water
birdsong


**Haiku Pix Review, Summer 2011


Poems ©G. R. LeBlanc
All rights reserved.

More of her haiku can be found here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Critique Guidelines:

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

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

3. Put HAIKU CRITIQUE REQUEST in your subject field.

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

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


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

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

Welcome, Irene Latham!

October 27, 2011

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

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

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

Staffelsee in Autumn

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

When the trees kindle
their fires, when the sky

dissolves the lake and all
the small mysteries

are magnified: the scar
on your elbow, freckled

left earlobe, each line
and hollow accounted for

and made sacred.
We cannot hold onto

these days. A sharp wind
cuts the water into sheets

of ice, leaves crinkle
and curl, the easy gifts

of acorn and walnut
are buried, devoured.

Our fingerprints no
longer visible as breath.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every Second Something Happens with Melanie Hall

September 9, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Happy Birthday to Paul Fleischman from Honesdale, Pa.

September 2, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fireflies

Light    Light

        is the ink we use

Night     Night

is our parchment

        We’re

        fireflies

fireflies      flickering

flirting

        flashing


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

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

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

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

Northeast Georgia Writers

May 4, 2011

Tags: authors, speaking, writing life

L-R, me with Northeast Georgia Writers contest judges Janie Dempsey Watts (author), Janice Alonso (author), Robert S. King (author and president of the Georgia Poetry Society), Northeast Georgia Writers President Tom Nichols, and Writer and Volunteer Extraordinaire Elouise Whitten (contest coordinator).
It was my honor to be the Awards Banquet Speaker today for the Northeast Georgia Writers! What a vibrant and dedicated group of folks - not to mention talented. Many members won awards across a variety of genres.

I followed the event's theme of "Journey Through Words and Pictures," sharing my own adventures in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and illustration for children. The banquet was a wonderful way to celebrate the power of writers supporting each other in what can be a lonesome endeavor.

Ever thankful for my regular writing buds, it was a treat to meet new friends in the fold. Special thanks to Lynda Holmes for the invitation, and congratulations to her and to the many other award winners!

Click here for the article in The Times(Gainesville, Ga.) about the awards banquet

Critiquelicious

February 12, 2011

Tags: authors, writing life

from top, l-r: Vicky Alvear Shecter, Elizabeth Dulemba, yours truly; bottom, l-r: Gail Langer Karwoski, Kim Siegelson, Mary Ann Rodman
I have the wonderful good fortune to be in two critique groups. My first group, Bookbound, has been together for more than a decade and includes Donna H. Bowman, Paula Puckett, Katrice Graham and Heather Kolich. After some unruly scheduling issues in recent months, we are getting our ducks in a regular row again this year. (See my home page for a holiday photo including some of us and guests.)

My "new" group is now about two years old, and for some reason we call ourselves the Cheese Whizzes. We recently enjoyed our second annual winter retreat in the North Georgia mountains. Elizabeth Dulemba and Kim Siegelson posted wonderful blog entries about the group, so feel free to click their names and read those entries. Elizabeth's new blog offers personal insights into the creative process, and Kim's has some terrific tips for creating/sustaining successful critique groups.

Support and feedback help keep me going as a writer. I'm honored and humbled to share the journey with all of these gifted writers and amazing people. Remember to tune in Monday, when I'll feature long-time critique group buddy and nonfiction author Donna H. Bowman, continuing our nature writers focus for February!

Here's to 2011!

January 2, 2011

Tags: writing life, speaking, school visits

Happy New Year!

I'm looking forward to a year of hard work, encouraged and noursihed by time with others who love children's books.

Between regular stretches of writing, and waiting on word from editors about a couple of projects, I look forward to meeting young readers and writers in schools as well as "older" readers and writers at professional gatherings.

I'm particularly looking forward to participaing on an Authors Panel at the Georgia Reading Association conference in Atlanta this month. I love meeting teachers and other reading enthusiasts, and it will be a treat to catch up with Georgia children's authors Donny Bailey Seagraves, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Margo Calendaria on the panel. (more…)

VICKY ALVEAR SHECTER GIVES CLEOPATRA ROYAL TREATMENT

October 27, 2010

Tags: book tracks, authors, writing life, nonfiction, historical fiction

If you think ancient history is as stuffy as the inside of a tomb, think again. SCBWI Southern Breezer and talented author Vicky Alvear Shecter (ALEXANDER THE GREAT ROCKS THE WORLD) brings her “history with a twist” approach to one of the most fascinating characters the world has ever known, Cleopatra VII. In CLEOPATRA RULES! The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen (Boyds Mills, 2010), Vicky shows readers young and old why you shouldn’t believe everything you’ve seen or heard about Egypt’s last pharaoh.

Welcome, Vicky! In this beautifully designed and kid-friendly book, you dig way past the stereotype of Cleopatra as a femme fatale and reveal her fiercely loyal, politically-savvy side. When did you first become Cleopatra-crazy, and how long have you wanted to write a book about her? (more…)

Janice Hardy conjures up BLUE FIRE

October 7, 2010

Tags: authors, book tracks, writing life

What if pain were a commodity - a weapon? What if you were 15 and possessed the rare ability to draw pain out of someone, but you could release it only into another person? What if your daily choices literally meant life or death for others? Welcome to the world of Nya, the bold and struggling protagonist in Janice Hardy's THE HEALING WARS series for ages 10 and up (Balzar + Bray/HarperCollins).
Book One, THE SHIFTER, came out last year and (drumroll...) Book Two, BLUE FIRE, has just been released.

Welcome, Janice! First, the question I'm sure you always get from young readers: How did you come up with the idea for this series? (more…)

"Spooky" Guest Author, Nancy Raines Day!

October 1, 2010

Tags: authors, writing life

Calling all ye ghosts and goblins - ready for some spooky fun? Award-winning author Nancy Raines Day has dropped by to tell us about her latest picture book from Abrams, ON A WINDY NIGHT.

Welcome, Nancy. The book's jacket flap copy says your birthday is in October, and you used to have Halloween parties with cold spaghetti guts and peeled grape eyeballs when you were growing up. My brother and I always "haunted" much of our house for the neighborhood kids, with the same yucky attractions. (One year his costume was even a haunted house! He's an engineer now.) Have you always loved Halloween like I have?
(more…)

Calling historical fiction writers: Children's Writer contest

September 23, 2010

Tags: historical fiction, writing life, Highlights

Are you crazy about historical fiction like I am? I love to read it; I love to write it. Recently I completed my first manuscript for a historical novel, and I'm looking forward (with crossed fingers) to the publication in Highlights this spring of a story inspired by my mother's childhood.

If you need a wee bit of motivation to complete that historical story your Muse is pushing you to write, look no further thant he current contest being sponsored by Children's Writer. (more…)

Kristin O'Donnell Tubb Does Things Different

September 20, 2010

Tags: book tracks, authors, writing life, historical fiction

Before I turn things over to this week’s fabulous award-winning author, Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, let me tell you why I especially love her first book, AUTUMN WINIFRED OLIVER DOES THINGS DIFFERENT (Yearling/Random House, 2008). When my brother and I visited my grandparents in Knoxville, we often drive into “the hills” to Gatlinburg (for my fellow Georgia residents, imagine Helen on steroids – lots of steroids). Even more special were trips into the Great Smoky Mountains, where my grandparents had hiked and explored back in the 1930s, and where we wandered barefoot through pebbly streams. For many reasons, the little village of Cade’s Cove at its entrance is a place I’ll always treasure.

Welcome, Kristin, and congratulations on such a successful writing career! In your delightful novel, 11-year-old Autumn becomes wrapped up in how the opening of a national park affects her small community. Autumn is definitely feisty! How long had you been living with this character before she made herself known on the page?
. (more…)

Head down, into the wind

September 14, 2010

Tags: writing life

Did you catch any of the US Open tennis championships? I watched several matches, and there were some terrific ones. The Americans couldn’t quite hang in there. I found myself pulling for Rafael Nadal, the amazing young Spaniard, and he deserved that fourth jewel in his grand slam crown. What does this have to do with writing? (more…)

Just One Bite with Lola M. Schaefer

September 10, 2010

Tags: book tracks, authors, writing life

My office kitty, May, with a spread from Lola M. Schaefer's JUST ONE BITE
Today I'm thrilled to feature award-winning author Lola M. Schaefer and her hot-off-the-press new picture book from Chronicle, JUST ONE BITE. Exactly how much food can a rabbit eat in just one bite? How about a Komodo dragon? An elephant? Would you believe this volume offers life-size illustrations (you read that right) for bitefuls of food for eleven different animals, from a worm to a sperm whale? (more…)

Historically Speaking from the Decatur Book Festival

September 4, 2010

Tags: historical fiction, festivals, authors, writing life

Greetings from Decatur, Ga., where thousands of folks have been enjoying the gorgeous weather and taking in all-things-books! Between shifts at our SCBWI PAL booth near the Children's Stage, I was able to listen to some fabulous authors speak about writing historical fiction. Here's a gem or two from several participating in a couple of different sessions: (more…)

Mom 2 Mom Connection interview!

August 31, 2010

Tags: authors, wolves, writing life

I'm thrilled to be featured on Heather Ivester's great blog, Mom 2 Mom Connection, a terrific source of encouragement for busy parents who also love to write. Copy and paste this link for the interview:

http://heatherivester.com/2010/08/31/author-interview-robyn-hood-black/

Heather is a talented author who knows a bit about combining mothering and writing. As it says on her site, "Heather Ivester has a heart for parents who feel called to write, as she’s the mother of five school-aged children, and writing is the only way she can complete a sentence around her house." Ha! (more…)

Are you a Bella or a Bean?

August 12, 2010

Tags: authors, book tracks, writing life

Part of the excitement of a new school year is meeting new folks! My daughter is heading off to college and my son's 10th grade class is welcoming some fresh faces this year.

These new beginnings, with mixes of new personalities, put me in the mind of Rebecca Kai Dotlich's charming BELLA & BEAN (Atheneum, 2009).


Bella wants to write poems.


Bean wants to go for a walk.


Bella wants to write poems.


Bean wants Bella to look at her cute toes.

(more…)

Link to Interview

August 2, 2010

Tags: wolves, Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, writing life

Thanks to Mayra Calvani for posting an interview with yours truly on her great blog!

http://mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.com/2010/07/interview-with-childrens-author-and.html

Check out her website, too.

Awrrroooooo!

July 21, 2010

Tags: Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, wolves, writing life

Happy July!

You're probably thinking I crawled into a wolf den to hide for a couple of months. Not really, though maybe not that far off....

First, I've been continuing to heal with this torn Achilles. Thanks for the well wishes. I'm doing much, much better - even driving now - which is a relief to my chauffeuring teenagers and to myself! Still a month or two of physical therapy and such to go. (more…)

Gail Karwoski Workshop!

April 6, 2010

Tags: authors, writing life

Are you eager to learn the ins and outs of writing and publishing for children, and are you somewhere near north Georgia? Whether your passion is picture books or novels, award-winning author Gail Langer Karwoski is the teacher for you.

On Saturday, April 17, and Sunday, April 18, Gail is offering The ABC's of Writing for Young Readers at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation in Watkinsville, Ga. See www.ocaf.com under "Literary Arts" for workshop details, but here are the highlights: (more…)

Chips, Dip, and Following the Muse

October 1, 2009

Tags: writing life

Soon I'll get a few pictures posted from our FABULOUS poetry workshop up in Honesdale with the Highlights folks.

I've been busy this week - what else? - writing and drawing. Today, an article I wrote about work habits was posted on the Institute of Children's Literature site. I like the teaser editor Jan Fields used for it: "How giving up perfectionism can make more room for your writing life."

http://www.institutechildrenslit.com/rx/ws03/chipsdip.shtml

I'm pretty compulsive about every word and comma in a piece of writing. Housework and cooking? Not so much....

Quick Clicks

Media
bio, photos, interview links, etc.
Poems
Explore a poem or two or five....
Haiku
Explore this genre of sparely crafted poetry which offers endless depth. Resources for students, teachers, and writers.
Author visits
In schools or other settings, Robyn shares her passion for writing and encourages creativity. Presentations for all age groups.
Magazines
In addition to writing books, Robyn has sold her writing to major children's magazines.
Books
A rhyming tale of a young boy's knightly adventure with an imagined dragon.
Nonfiction, interactive book on wolves featuring giant pop-up and tons of info!
Portfolio
illustrations