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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Hooray - It's National Poetry Month!

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Happy NATIONAL POETRY MONTH 2022!  (Click here for the poets.org link.)

 

So much goodness is planned for our Kidlit corner of the online universe; be sure to check out Jama's Roundup at Jama's Alphabet Soup.  And be sure to follow along with this year's Kidlit Progressive Poem, kindly hosted again by Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

 

As for my own little corner of the corner, I plan to get a little jump on celebrating 10 (!) years of artsyletters later this year with some 'perfect-for-poets' gift ideas each Friday. I'll share poetry each week, too, of course!

 

When I ponder poetry, I often let my mind wander to the privilege I had of meeting Nancy Willard decades ago at a writer's conference.  (You might recall her A VISIT TO WILLIAM BLAKE'S INN won the Newbery Award in 1982, and the Provensens received a Caldecott Honor for it.)  One of my favorite books about writing is her TELLING TIME - Angels, Ancestors, and Stories. I've mentioned it before, I know.  (Willard was born in 1936 and died in 2017; you can read more about her here.)

 

I especially love her first chapter, "How Poetry Came Into the World and Why God Doesn't Write It."  This essay includes some banter between Adam and Eve, and both find that poetry helps them to communicate.  Here are a couple of treasures Willard includes from The Rattle Bag, by anonymous authors:

 

 

I will give my love an apple without any core,

I will give my love a house without any door,

I will give my love a palace wherein he may be

and he may unlock it without any key.

 

 

and

 

 

It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;

the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.

It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;

and that you may be without a mate until you find me.

 

 

If all this talk of love has your heart a-flutter, take it over to my juicy little universe, where Heidi has much more to love in the Roundup this week.  Thanks for hosting, Heidi!  And here's to a Happy Poetry Month to all.  I look forward to starting off mine with an online Haiku Society of America Southeast Region workshop on Saturday. :0)

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Poetry Friday - Nesting in SPRING!

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Sorry to miss you last weekend - I was so busy traveling and finishing up a baby quilt for a family gathering & bonus baby shower for our daughter and her hubby that I didn't come up for air at all.

 

You can see the little quilt above, with Matt and Morgan.  The four little flying-geese-type patches (-does anyone know exactly what those squares are called, with the little chevron element?-) were from a quilt top that my own grandmother (my mother's mother) made decades ago, so there's love going back four generations in all those stitches. :0) 

 

After the big family gathering, my husband Jeff helped Matt put together the crib for the new nursery. I helped Matt hang some pictures.  (Actually, a set of Noah's Ark drawings I had made 30 years ago when Morgan was born!) The parents-to-be have been getting the room ready for the last several weeks, and it is looking cozy and welcoming.  I'm sure everything will be in place for its special occupant come early June.

 

Speaking of nesting, a couple of weeks ago I noticed that skillfully tucked inside the gate to the storage area beneath our house is a perfect little Carolina wren nest.  You can't see it very well from the pictures, but you get the idea.  It's actually quite pretty in person, with bits of green lichen laced into the pine needles and such.  I wanted to get a better photo Thursday to show you, but it was chilly and rainy and I didn't want to cause Ms. Wren to fly away.  The birdie couple has at least four eggs in there, from what I could tell last week. 

 

I do love wrens.  That's why I was dellighted to see a social media posting by our own Jone Rush MacCulloch, who you might know has been learning Scots Gaelic, with a link to the pronunciation of 'wren' by learngaelicscot on Instagram. Enjoy!

 

In addition to the joyous anticipation of new baby life and bird life right now, we've got azaleas and dogwoods blooming in Beaufort, and masses of little green leaves covering the big live oaks. 

 

Here's a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) capturing Spring's exuberance. 

 

 

Spring Song

 

by Paul Laurence Dunbar
 
A blue-bell springs upon the ledge,
A lark sits singing in the hedge;
Sweet perfumes scent the balmy air,
And life is brimming everywhere.
What lark and breeze and bluebird sing,
    Is Spring, Spring, Spring!

 

No more the air is sharp and cold;
The planter wends across the wold,
And, glad, beneath the shining sky
We wander forth, my love and I.
And ever in our hearts doth ring
    This song of Spring, Spring!

 

For life is life and love is love,
'Twixt maid and man or dove and dove.
Life may be short, life may be long,
But love will come, and to its song
Shall this refrain for ever cling
    Of Spring, Spring, Spring!

 

 

My own baby boy, by the way, turned 27 this week.  (Happy Birthday, Seth!) Hard to believe that next week, we'll be celebrating the start of National Poetry Month. I plan to make & feature some new artsyletters goodies for poets along with poems for Poetry Fridays, and I look forward to my usual participation in the Kidlit Progressive Poem, which will be hosted again by Margaret at Reflections on the Teche.  (Thanks, Margaret!)

 

So get ready for April by flitting around all the great posts this week, rounded up for us by the ever-talented and wonderful Amy at The Poem Farm.  (Thanks, Amy!) And for fellow bird-lovers and poem-lovers, check out Amy's NEWEST treasure of a book while you're over there, IF THIS BIRD HAD POCKETS.

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Poetry Friday - Thought for Food.... and a Haiku

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

Our ever-effervescent hosts for Poetry Friday this week are Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, over at Poetry for Children.

 

They have some tasty poetic fare today - a brand new anthology called WHAT WE EAT, full of poem-dishes by both new and familiar poets.  I look forward to partaking of these wonderful new poems!

 

I've got a haiku today that, on the surface, is about food as well -  albeit with a more adult and somber tone.  It's in the current issue of MODERN HAIKU

 

 

estate sale

soup cans still

on the shelf

 

 

©Robyn Hood Black.  All rights reserved.

Modern Haiku, Vol 53:1

 

 

As an all-things-vintage lover, I do enjoy perusing antique stores, thrift shops, and the occasional estate sale.  This poem was written after visiting such an in-home sale last year, from which I emerged with a perfect heavy old straight chair for our new (second) home on the other side of the state in the SC hills. 

 

But walking through the close rooms last summer, I was struck by someone's life (I don't know whose) preserved in the moment by a few details on display for the roaming bargain hunters.  A dog leash still dangling from its hook by the back door, and soup cans standing at attention in the small, open pantry.

 

Thanks for coming by, and enjoy all the flavors of poems rounded up by Janet and Sylvia this week. 

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Poetry Friday - All That She Carried

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Have you heard of or already read the book ALL THAT SHE CARRIED by renowned historian Tiya Miles?  My husband Jeff gave it to me for Valentine's Day, and I'm reading it now.  A 2021 National Book Award Winner, the book trails many other prestigious honors, including a 2022 PEN award, the PEN/JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH AWARD FOR NONFICTION, just announced on February 28th. 

 

The jacket flap begins:

 

In 1850s South Carolina, an enslaved woman named Rose faced a crisis, the imminent sale of her daughter Ashley.  Thinking quickly she packed a cotton bag with a few precious items as a tooken of love and to try to ensure Ashley's survival.  Soon after, the nine-year-old girl was separated from her mother and sold.

   Decades later, Ashey's granddaughter Ruth embroidered this family history on the bag in spare yet haunting language - including Rose's wish that "It be filled with my Love always."

 

Ruth Middleton embroidered these and more words in 1921, a hundred years before this book was published.  I learned from a friend that the sack was on display at Middleton Place, a historic plantation open to the public near Charleston, through February.  Jeff and I have visited there several times, so my car knows the way.  (Learn more about Middleton Place here.) I had to see the sack.

 

I went up last Sunday - a gorgeous late-winter-almost-spring day - with ticket in hand for the house museum, where the sack was displayed.  The staff and volunteers there are always approachable and willing to entertain questions.  I asked an obvious one - Was Ruth Middleton connected through the past to this particular estate? Evidently she wasn't. 

 

I should perhaps interject here that of course historical sites like this are wrought with horrific histories - the bricks of the small part of the house that is left (after the Union Army, and then an earthquake, were through with it) as well as the nationally known grounds and gardens, were laid and built by enslaved people of immense talent. In recent years the story-telling at some of these sites has become more inclusive than it used to be. 

 

Ashley's sack will be off to receive a better display treatment, then returned to Middleton Place for a while, and then loaned to The International African American Museum which is scheduled to open in Charleston, SC, this year.  (You can learn more about the new museum here.)

 

Though I had seen pictures of the sack in the book and online, it is always something more to see a thing in person.  Ashley's sack was larger than I had pictured it in my mind, and a substantial thing for a young girl to carry.  My eyes welled with tears at the sight of it, at trying to imagine a scene and life event that is unimaginable. How did she, and her mother, survive such a brutal separation?  And yet survive Ashley did, and the small bits of her family's story that are known inspired this rich work by Tiya Miles.

 

I'm still early in the book, but I enjoyed reading in the introduction about a treasured quilt in the author's family, now hers, made by a great aunt who had an amazing story. Quilts have been part of my own family, too, and we still sleep under a double-wedding ring quilt my mother's mother made for our wedding (nearly 38 years ago!).  Our kids received quilts from Jeff's father's mother when they were born, and crocheted afghans that his mother made.  I have plans to make a little something for our first grandbaby due in June. These stitched gifts of comfort and warmth hold such immense power and connection, don't they?

 

I'm grateful to have received this book, during Black History Month rolling right into Women's History Month. Please visit Tiya Miles's website  for much more about this book and other works. You can see Ashley's sack and Ruth's poetic, artistic addition to the heirloom. 

***

 

plantation garden

all the blooms the same color

in the end

 

©2022 Robyn Hood Black.  All rights reserved. 

 

***

 

Our wonderful Kat Apel is rounding up Poetry Friday for us this week - Thanks, Kat!

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Poetry Friday - Meet-Up with Jone and a Scottish Nursery Rhyme

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

I had a special treat last Sunday, when I headed "north" to Charleston to meet up with the multi-talented and all-around wonderful  Jone Rush MacCulloch, who was visiting this side of the world from Oregon.  She and her hubby Chuck & I enjoyed some tasty food at a new Charleston gem, The Honey Hive.  We solved all the world's problems and enjoyed catching up.

 

My good day continued right on, as my daughter Morgan and her college girlfriends had met up in Charleston for a girls' weekend, and I got to see them briefly later!  Morgan is expecting, and did you know there's a three-floor baby store downtown there?  I didn't either.  Very dangerous.  

 

But back to Jone, and weaving these two things together slightly.... Jone and I share a love of Scotland (Ireland, too!), and ancestral connections for our families.   I blogged about our family trip there in the summer of 2018.  Jone had planned to go in 2020, but - alas, the pandemic squelched that.  She is planning a fantabulous-sounding trip there this summer, and I'll be vicariously sneaking back....

 

Anyway, since Jone and Chuck and I didn't really solve the world's problems, and they've gotten horrifically worse since the weekend, I thought I'd offer something light as a tiny respite today.  I have a book of Scottish Nursery Rhymes from the early 1930s.  Really, they are songs, with music for piano.  But they can work as poems, too.  (FIFTY TRADITIONAL SCOTTISH NURSERY RHYMES, Collected, edited and arranged for Voice & Paino by Alfred Moffat, Augener Ltd., London.)

 

Here's one in honor of Jone and her upcoming trip, and in honor of wee ones. 

 

(Note - a "kirtel" is a skirt, and a "kirk" is a church.)

 

 

WHEN I WAS A WEE THING

 

Air:  Lennox love to Blantyre.

 

 

When I was a wee thing

Just eight or nine years auld,

I hadn't any petticoat

To keep me frae the cauld.

 

So I went into Edinbro'

That bonnie burrows toun,

And there I bought a petticoat,

A kirtel, and a goun.

 

And as I hameward wended 

I thought I'd build a kirk,

And a' the birdies o' the air

They helpit me to work.

 

The herring was the high priest,

The salmon was the clerk, 

The bullfinch played the organ

All in my bonnie kirk!

 

 

Speaking of birds and last week's post, I was only able to count birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count on Saturday and Sunday, but it's always such a great thing to do.  For the first time I tried the "ID by Sound" feature of the Merlin bird app, and - Oh my goodness -  I'm hooked! I plan to use it to further develop my birding-by-ear skills. 

 

Our wonderful Tricia has this week's Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.  Thanks for hosting, Tricia!

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Poetry Friday - One More Tiger-y Poem Postcard, and... Birds!

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

Happy to share one last New Year's Poem Postcard Project gift that stalked its way to my mailbox this week (part of the annual swap organized by our wonderful Jone Rush MacCulloch, whom I get to see soon as she graces this side of the country with a visit!)

 

This card celebrates the Lunar New Year - The Year of the Tiger (as I chose to do with my own card featured a couple of weeks ago in the mix).  Michelle drew a stately tiger in brown with subtle washes, and added a jaunty message on the right side.  On the back is this poem:

 

Tiger tiger

by twilight

are you there

within the night?

Heed their call

prevent their plight

 

©Michelle Kogan.

 

You can learn more about Michelle and her art (she's a fellow Etsian!) here

 

And you can learn more about the plight of tigers, and efforts to save them and many other animals, here

 

Speaking of animals, ones who would generally prefer to be far away from tigers, did you know this weekend is the annual Great Backyard Bird Count?  I'm going to try to participate some again this year - it's been a while since I joined in.  The event, sponsored by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Birds Canada, is now quite smart phone-savvy, with apps (Merlin and EBird), making ID'ing and reporting easier than ever.  No problem if you'd rather use less technology - the organizers welcome results in a variety of forms!  I "attended" a webinar this week in preparation for the Count, and it was nice seeing the dedicated faces who help pull off this oh-so-important project. (I also stocked the bird feeder and cleaned out the bird bath!)

 

The time commitment is up to you - submit as few or as many results over the weekend as you'd like.  The only requirement about that is that they ask you to devote at least 15 minutes to each counting session.  Learn more about how to participate here

 

Now, I have to go do a little research or app-perusing to learn about those lovely birds pictured above; I saw them on Thursday, blending in with the rocks at Hunting Island here, and flying off in a short frenzy before settling back down in front of the foaming waves....

 

In honor of the Count, here are the opening stanzas from a famous poem by our dear Emily Dickinson (1830-1886):

 

A Bird came down the Walk (328)

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

 

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

...

 

(Read the rest here.) 

 

Now flap those wings and soar on over to Small Reads for Brighter Days, where the ever-delightful Laura is rounding up this week.  Thanks, Laura! 

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Poetry Friday - Share the Poetry Love with Linda at TeacherDance!

Greetings and Happy Valentine's Day weekend!  I don't have a real post this week, as I'm busy getting a heart-full of Mama-love with visiting kids today.  But please follow your own heart over to TeacherDance, where Linda is rounding up.  Sending love to you & yours!

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Poetry Friday - More Poetry Postcards! (mine included)

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  

 

Happy Lunar New Year.  This week I'm sharing two more postcards from our New Year Poem Postcard Project swap, and my own, too, which I finally mailed out last week. ;0)

 

First up, one from our fearless leader, Jone Rush MacCulloch, who organizes this postal shindig each new year.

 

Her intriguing image features this haiku:

 

divergent pathways

a new year

alive with wonder

 

 

©Jone Rush MacCullocch

 

I'm sure that like me, you're a fan of Jone's mean camera skills as well as her poetic prowess.  I love the texture in this picture and asked her about the tracks.  She said they were bird tracks on her deck, made during the first light snow.  Beautiful!

 

Side note - I'm super excited to have learned that Jone's own "pathways" are going to drift over toward my side of the world for a trip soon, and I'm planning to hop in the car and go meet up with her!  (We live on opposite coasts.)  Jealous?  Yep, thought you might be - we'll snap a picture! ;0)

 

Second, I received a beautiful card late Thursday from Sarah Grace Tuttle.  The postcard features a colorful, inviting painting of Commonwealth Books in Boston, Massachusetts by Bob Ecksem.  Makes me want to walk right into that shop and not come out for hours!  Sarah's poem on the back offers a celebration of snow.  I know - many of you all have probably had your fill already this year, but here's a fresh and lovely perspective:

 

Let the Snow Come

 

A cool pressure blanket

to soothe the frantic world,

made of fabric in

a purple shadow pattern

threads of moonlight glitter

seams of bare branches

that can cradle me

as I rest.

 

©Sarah Grace Tuttle

 

Well, the frantic world could definitely use a cool comforter!  And we could all do with some rest under threads of moonlight, couldn't we?  Sigh. 

 

Many thanks to Jone and Sarah Grace for these gifts.

 

This year, as I was receiving so many gorgeous, inspired, and inspiring poem postcards (see the last few posts), I got a wild hair.  I thought I'd toss in a chuckle.  So in honor of the Year of the Tyger, which came padding in at the beginning of the week, I had a little fun with "The Tyger" by William Blake (1757-1827).  

 

Poet Poet, burning bright

In the blue computer light

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful syntax-y?

...

Did he who made Iambs make thee?

 

©Robyn Hood Black, after, and with apologies to, William Blake

 

(You can find Blake's original illustrated poem, from his Songs of Innocence and Experience, here and the text only here.)

 

To my pen and ink tiger sketch, I filled in with stripes which are actually snippets from Blake's draft of "The Tyger" from one of his notebooks  (copied from a reproduction in Peter Ackroyd's book, BLAKE).  It was helpful to me that Blake had so many scratch-throughs in several lines.  These offered bold horizontal darks, and also gave me comfort that even poetic geniuses make mistakes...;0)

 

Thanks again to Jone for organizing the swap, and here's to poetry running wild in 2022!

 

Now, go pounce on Unexpected Intersections, where Elisabeth is kindly rounding up Poetry Friday this week.

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Poetry Friday - Couple More New Year Poem Postcards!

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

More New Year Poem Postcard love this week, thanks to the yearly swap organized by Jone Rush MacCulloch. Lucky for me and my usual time-challenged nature, we can either go the traditional Western New Year's route or pay homage to the Lunar New Year, with its representative animal.  (Feb. 1 will usher in the Year of the Tiger.)  My postcards, finally, are crouched and ready to pounce into the mail this morning.  ;0)

 

Today I share a pair of gems with breathtaking landscape images on one side, and inspiring words on the other. 

 

First, many thanks to Carol Labuzzetta for her gorgeous photograph of the setting moon at Turret Arch in Arches National Park in Utah.  I am drawn right in to that natural wonder in her photograph, and I love how the circle in the rock is mirrored by the bright, round moon on the right!

 

On the other side of her card, beneath a fetching jumping tiger, is this haiku:

 

Eye of the tiger

Keenly seeing the future

Blinking honestly

 

©Carol Labuzzetta

 

(I would welcome more keen eyesight and honesty in the world these days - just sayin'.)

 

Next, please give it up for Gail Aldous, who explains on her postcard that she took this stunning photograph in the Adirondack Mountains, where she and her husband hike and cross-country ski.  She also offers a nod to her cat, whose name is - wait for it - Tigress!

 

The beautiful natural "layers" in her photograph inspired this poem:

 

cloud layers

mountain layers

life layers

joy

 

(draft  ©Gail Aldous)

 

Boy, do those thoughts resonate with me this year!  Layers, indeed.

 

I feel so blessed to be able to do some armchair traveling with these poem postcards - The warm words and wishes inspire me, and the glimpses of life in other ecoysystems and landscapes is magical.  Thanks, Carol and Gail!

 

 

Fellow Southerner Irene Latham has the Roundup this week - and always a million amazing, wonderful things - at Live Your Poem. Thank you for hosting, Irene!

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Poetry Friday - Blue Horizons in Postcards from Margaret And Linda B.

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  A couple more postcards from our New Year's Poem Postcard Swap, coordinated by the wonderful Jone Rush MacCulloch.

 

Speaking of Jone, please see her poignant haiku featured on The Haiku Foundation's "Haiku of the Day" page for Jan. 13 here - Congratulations, Jone! 

 

This week's additions to the refrigerator door have complementary visuals - I  love that!  Margaret Simon sent a photo postcard with a collage on the front in beautiful blue celestial and warm earth hues.  Having recently seen the traveling interactive Van Gogh exhibit, I enjoyed the bits of Starry Night in this piece!  These envelope a wonderful quote from Emily Dickinson.  The image includes some mountain-y layers in the background under the sun, and a yoga enthusiast under myriads of stars, among other delights.  

 

Her original poem reads:

 

    A new year

     new ideas

  growing buds

 to find a garden

already blooming

 

I love that surprise at the end; the kind of "relief" to feel that we don't always have to start everything from scratch.  I/we might need to take a look around and appreciate what's there. 

 

Linda Baie sent a gorgeous expansive photograph from Colorado - look at those majestic Rockies!  Her greeting reads:

 

     Happy New Year!

Blue Skies Smiling at YOU!

 

I'll take those smiling blue skies, thank you!

 

On the back of her card is a poetic quote from Chandra Kochhar, sentiments that seem to me in keeping with Margaret's inspiring words, too.

 

Here's to smiles and blooms and noticing - wishing you inspirations as you make your way through these winter days. 

 

(And, no - I still haven't sent my poem swap postcards out yet, but working on it.... ;0) )

 

Many thanks to our beloved and multitalented Tabatha for hosting the Roundup this week at The Opposite of Indifference - Enjoy the treasures!

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