Howdy, Friends - I'm still doing some summer in-and-out-of-towning, and trying to catch some of the online SCBWI conference this weekend, so I did not get a post wrangled up for this week. But I did get some poetry submitted here and there, so that's a start. Please enjoy all the goings-on over at Nix the Comfort Zone, where the marvelous Molly has our Roundup!
Life on the Deckle Edge
Greetings, Poetry Lovers! I'm covered up in artsyletters orders ahead of family vacation next week, so I'll just offer a signpost today. (And, who am I kidding, I probably won't get a post wrangled for next Friday, either....) I look forward to seeing you the first Friday in - gulp -August! In the meantime, keep cool if possible and go enjoy some refreshing poetry being rounded up by Mary Lee this week. :0)
Greetings, Poetry Lovers - I'VE MISSED YOU! :0)
I know I've missed lots of poetry goodness and news about the comings and goings of our Poetry Friday-ers... some far-flung, like Jone recently in Ireland and Scotland and Heidi traipsing around Europe. And others having adventures on the home front, such as Sylvia retiring from her stellar teaching career to get into all kinds of new poetic mischief.
But I was distracted by the arrival of a precious new grandson, the first on both sides of the family. He was due June 4 and arrived in the wee hours on June 5 (his great-grandfather's birthday - what a nice present for Jack!). My hubby Jeff and I had gone to perch at our Travelers Rest (SC) home, only a couple of hours from our "couple," to wait for marching orders.
Morgan and our son-in-law Matt checked into the hospital at 5 on a Friday evening, and Morgan labored from then until after 3 a.m. on Sunday. We were there, mostly in the waiting room, and our son Seth came, too. Matt's family was in and out as well. Jeff & I both stayed a week before he had to return to work, and I had planned to stay on a few more days if needed. Morgan got quite ill, and I ended up being there a whole month! Lots of good snuggle time with our wee one, so despite very little sleep over those weeks, it was a treasured time for this new grandmother. (Going my "Mimi," by the way - my middle name is Michelle and it got sidelined 38 years ago when I got married. I couldn't quite let my maiden name go, could I? ;0) )
Morgan is MUCH better now, and little Sawyer is thriving. Since we're back on the coast, I request daily pictures of him via text! We are looking forward to all being together again in another week. This time, my folks plan to join us from Florida - the aforementioned Jack, and my mother, Nita.
My mom, in her early 80s and with some vision challenges, hasn't exactly been on the forefront of texting. BUT - as I was keeping her updated during Morgan's labor, she kept their cell phone handy and sent messages back. [Now she even includes emojis - Go, Mom!] I try to keep her supplied in texted baby pictures as well.
While in the hospital waiting room, I received a surprise text from her that was a poem. She and "Poppy" often come up with poems, sometimes of the silly variety, on special occasions such as birthdays, But this one was a sweet, heartfelt one. Morgan and Matt have requested a handwritten version as a keepsake.
Poetry is always the best way to mark milestone events in life, don't you think? And certainly the best way to welcome a new little human to the world.
With my mother's and daughter's permission, I'll share it here to warm up your day.
Sawyer Matthew Whyte,
we are waiting to hear your cries,
to see your sweet little face
and look into your eyes.
We want to count your fingers
and ten wiggly toes,
to gently tug your ears
and touch your little nose.
We want to hold and cuddle you
and shower you with love,
and make sure you always know
you are our blessing from God above.
©Juanita C. Morgan, probably with help from Jack!
(An additional note... As our family rejoices, we are mindful that other families have empty arms, longing for or missing a beloved child. Morgan and Matt have had their hearts set on this blessing for years, making all of us that much more grateful.)
Elisabeth is hosting our Roundup today at Unexpected Intersections - Thanks, Elisabeth!
Greetings, Poetry Lovers!
Things couldn't be much more exciting these days for my little family. You might know that our oldest, Morgan (the third-grade-teacher-daughter) and her wonderful hubby Matt are about to welcome a baby boy into the world. He's due at the beginning of June, but is evidently already a good-sized wee thing, so I'm getting my bags packed and we're all on baby-watch. I've got to finish up a few work items and try to get our house here in a bit of order; I'll invoke my inner Mary Poppins this weekend. (Wish I had her magic and that big hide-away bag, though.) The gas tank is filled!
This baby has been a long time coming, with disappointment and tears along the path. And so as we anticipate joy, we all recognize that heartache, loss, and emptiness are with so many parents and would-be parents, and I don't pretend to understand the whys of all that. I just feel humbled and grateful and try to be mindful of all the varied stories that swirl around at once in this world. And I pray for us all.
How lucky I've been to go to a couple of the baby showers this spring, and to watch Morgan and Matt transform a second bedroom into a cozy, happy nursery in recent months. Their devoted lab Maggie is ready for her new family duties. She's been resting her head on Morgan's belly on the couch for a while now.
Of course, I've been transported to my own memories of early motherhood. We were fortunate to live in a neighborhood with several other new parents. None of us had family close by, so we became each other's support systems, playground partners, and lifelong friends.
I was pretty much a hippie-ish-earth-mommy type, forever thankful to be able to be at home with my children and nursing them both until they were toddlers. (La Leche League is still going strong, by the way!) We subscribed more to the "attachment parenting" way of nurturing our little ones rather than strict schedules.
I wonder if any of you in my same demographic knew about a group called "Mothers at Home" – a grassroots family advocacy group, run by women, which produced the most wonderful small journal, Welcome Home? (They included poetry in each issue, and once published an anthology called Motherhood – Journey Into Love.)
I used to anticipate the journal's arrival each month, and it fed my soul. I'm thankful my introduction to parenthood occurred during the 22-year span in which they published it. I still have some copies. Unfortunately, I can't put my finger on the copy with a poem of mine in it.… it is somewhere, but that was a long time ago and we've moved and moved and moved again since then.
Fragments of the poem drift back to me, so I'll share those. I would have written this when Morgan was four and Seth was one, or thereabouts. Maybe it's appropriate, with the passage of time and the passing of the parenting baton, that I have only snatches of sweet and bittersweet memories, the warm and cherished parts that transcend time.
Here's what I remember of the poem, now that I'm 26 years older than when I wrote it, and much more gray:
I am going gray -
growing soft and saggy
feeling much older than
thirty-three rotations around the sun.
[And then there was some middle part? I have no idea what it said, but it transitioned to a reference to my children, and the poem ended like this:]
… my children.
They think me beautiful,
a mother flowing with milk and honey.
White milk and glistening honey.
©Robyn Hood Black – I'll find the whole poem eventually!
Somewhere along the way, Mothers at Home became more inclusive and became known as Family & Home Network®. I appreciate the widening of the net, but I must confess the poet in me loved the simplicity and coziness of their original name. They continue to do important advocacy and policy work, which you can tap into here. Their tagline is "Helping families spend generous amounts of time together."
So, looks like I'll be taking a bit of a blog break for a few weeks; maybe I can catch up on reading everyone else's. Here's to generation after generation, and poetry in each one. Rose at Imagine the Possibilities has our Roundup this week. Thank you, Rose!
Blessed to be visiting with family this weekend, but be sure to visit Jama's Alphabet Soup for a beautiful & poignant Mother's Day post and links to Poetry Friday goodness. See you next week!
Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Can you believe we've almost reached the end of another Poetry Month? I have lots of catching up to do on so many of the wonderful month-long projects conjured up and celebrated around the Kidlitosphere. Fortunately, Jama's round up post of all the April goodness can guide us even after Sunday has passed.
With the heaviness and stress of the daily news, I thought I'd offer up another old poem from the "Poems in a Playful Mood" section of NARRATIVE AND LYRIC POEMS FOR STUDENTS edited by S. S. Seward, Jr., published by Henry Holt and Company in 1909. (Seward was evidently an assistant professor of English at Stanford University.)
Here's a "playful" poem that seems just right for our perch on the far edge of April. National Poetry Month wasn't launched until 1996, so April did not have such a designation more than a century ago.
Let's just carry on the poetry love into May, shall we?
PROSE AND RHYME
by Austin Dobson
When the roads are heavy with mire and rut,
In November fogs, in December snows,
When the North Wind howls, and the doors are shut,
There is place and enough for the pains of prose; --
But whenever a scent from the whitethorn blows,
And the jasmine-stars to the casement climb,
And a Rosalind-face at the lattice shows,
Then hey!-- for the rippple of laughing rhyme!
When the brain gets dry as an empty nut,
Whenthe reason stands on its squarest toes,
When the mind (like a beard) has a "formal cut,"
There is place enough for the pains of prose; --
But whenever the May blood stirs and glows,
And the young year draws to a "golden prime," --
And Sir Romeo sticks in his ear a rose,
Then hey!-- for the rippple of laughing rhyme!
In a theme where the thoughts have a pedant strut
In a changing quarrel of "Ayes" and "Noes,"
In a starched procession of "If" and "But,"
There is place enough for the pains of prose; --
But whenever a soft glance softer grows,
And the light hours dance to the trysting-time,
And the secret is told "that no one knows,"
Then hey!-- for the rippple of laughing rhyme!
In the work-a-day world, -- for its needs and woes,
There is place enough for the pains of prose;
But whenever the May-bells clash and chime,
Then hey!-- for the rippple of laughing rhyme!
Follow the poetry ripples over to the Poetry Friday Roundup, hosted this week by the ever-talented & generous Jone Rush MacCulloch.
One thing I love about being an Etsy seller is that sometimes I send my artsyletters offerings to the four corners of the world. I've had customers in close to 20 countries. This week I received an order with a special request from France, and the message was sent via email rather than through Etsy, so there wasn't an option to translate on the spot. However, I was delighted to realize that my four years of French in high school and one in college were sufficient for me to make out its meaning! [I still used an online translator just to make sure, and sent my reply in English and via a copy from an online translator, though I did "check" that it looked right.]
And while items in my shop have a definite British Isles bent - I mean, my target market really is nerdy English-major types like myself - somewhow a few items for Francophiles continue to surface from my work table. Especially since I was able to procure some gorgeous letters and postcards and bank notes and such from centuries past, from a seller in France. (I often buy supplies from other corners of the earth, too.)
I am especially smitten with postcards and business receipts and such with layers of interesting text or handwriting in different hues of ink, all jumbled together - ahhhh. And while I do reproduce some antique maps etc. for items I make that I need more than one of (tourist-friendly items at a local shop here in Beaufort, etc.), I do prefer to just capture the actual text or image under glass as a one-of-a-kind snippet of history, such as the items in the picture above. I'll wrangle these into finished pieces and get some listed today, to join a few French items already listed.
I don't have an actual French poem to share today, but when I think about French writing, Le Petit Prince always come to mind. (I do have a copy in French somewhere...!) I have always adored this book, and even read it out loud to eighth graders - eighth graders! - back in the day when I briefly taught middle school English.
My love affair is shared by the world, evidently - did you know there was a The Little Prince theme park in France, near the German and Swiss borders? (See https://www.thelittleprince.com.) There's also a foundation. And closer to home, evidently a Broadway play just opened?
If you haven't read the story, it's just a treasure of creativity, love, loss, and hope. In fact, I read that aside from religious texts, it's the most translated book in the world. It features a pilot, stranded in the Sahara desert, who encounters a little prince requesting a drawing of a sheep. Throughout the tale, the young prince describes his journey across planets, and amusing and touching encounters which evoke universal themes.
The whole book seems poem-like to me, with its fairy tale qualities and compression into a deceptively simple form. (Saint-Exupery did write poetry and other works.) Plus, the art is charming. So for a taste of the book's voice, I'll just share a few sentences from the beginning, as the narrator, before meeting the book's subject, explains how he left a career in art at the tender age of 6, after an unsuccessful (according to others) couple of drawings.
The grown-ups then advised me to give up my drawings of boa constrictors, whether from the inside or the outside, and to devote myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic and grammar. Thus it was that I gave up a magnificent career as a painter at the age of six. I had been disappointed by the lack of success of my drawing No. 1 and my drawing No. 2. Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves and it is rather tedious for children to have to explain things to them time and again.
So I had to choose another job and I learnt to pilot aeroplanes.
[Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de. The Little Prince (pp. 10-11). GENERAL PRESS. Kindle Edition.]
The book was written while Saint-Exupery was in the United States. It was published in 1943, only a year before the author's plane disappeared on a mission in World War II.
Earth Day wasn't around in the 1940s, but I have a feeling The Little Prince would agree with its aims of nurturing this planet. And speaking of this planet, and of France, the world will be keeping an eye on the presidential election there this weekend I'm sure, with ramifications not just for France but for the war in Ukraine and political relations beyond.
Merci for joining me in this very rambling post today - be sure to pilot on over to see Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for this week's Roundup, and to catch up with the Kidlit Progressive Poem! Thanks for all the hosting, Margaret.
Greetings, Poetry Lovers!
Last week in a comment, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater asked about the glass pen in the picture with my little journals, and if I wrote with it. Actually, that pen was an exquisite gift brought back for me from Italy from my very dear friend and fellow kidlit-folk, Paula Puckett. I have written with it, but mostly use it for Etsy photos. It has a metal nib.
I did, however, purchase an all-glass pen not very long ago. I hadn't tried it, but since Amy asked, I finally gave it a wee scribble. I think I'm in love! It's fun to hold and terribly smooth. The line is a bit wider than I'm used to writing or drawing with, as I usually use smaller nibs (especially the metal hawks quill or crow quill for drawing). But I'm envisioning a lovely future with this pen, especially if I can keep from breaking it.
The one I have is from Herbin; you can see a demonstration at their website here. The side of the box explains, "Glass pens were very trendy in 17th century Venice." Because the nib has grooves, you can write several words before having to take the pen for a dip in the inkwell.
I've always loved the physical act of writing. As a kid, I took to cursive like a bee to nectar. I have a vague memory of my second grade teacher letting me "teach" writing on the chalk board one day.
I've shared this haiku before, but I did write a poem about writing with a dip pen, before my daughter's marriage in 2016:
the press and release
of the nib
©Robyn Hood Black
Third Honorable Mention, Harold G. Henderson Haiku Awards, Frogpond, Volume 39 Number 3, Autumn 2016
dust devils - THE RED MOON ANTHOLOGY OF ENGLISH-LANGUAGE HAIKU 2016, edited by Jim Kacian & The Red Moon Editorial Staff, Red Moon Press, 2017
For a longer poem with a pen reference, rich in imagery and family dynamics, here's a link to a treasure from Seamus Heaney's Death of a Naturalist (Oxford University Press, 1966):
by Seamus Heaney
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.
Click here for the poem.
If you're a fountain pen fan, you might enjoy this 2016 article by Elizabeth Vogdes that I stumbled upon. It's from the Swarthmore College Bulletin, "The Poetry of Pen and Ink."
What's your favorite way to commit poetic inspirations to paper - or, are you all electronic? Or is a vintage typewriter your mode of literary record? My aforementioned friend Paula loves itty bitty ends of pencils! I'll grab whatever is handy, but I do love real pens. Dip pens are best, but Pigma Microns come in handy if I need a narrow line in a jiffy, or a way to write tiny text on little stained price tags for my items in local shops.
Do you like bold color? India ink? Do you end up with all the pens in the universe in the bottom of your purse (for those who carry purses)? Would you be caught without a pen?
Thanks for visiting, and be sure to check out all the luscious lines rounded up by Matt this week at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. (He's got an interview with Leslie Bulion, and a giveaway!) Thanks, Matt. Also, follow along with our annual Kidlit Progressive Poem - here's a link to it from Jama's Alphabet Soup, and while you're there, check out Jama's roundup of Kidlit Poetry Month goodness!
Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Happy Poetry Month continued...
I appreciate that in April, NPR does celebrate poetry throughout the month. The other day while driving, I heard an interview with a young man that captivated me. On All Things Considered, host Miles Parks interviewed Donovan Beck, whose poetry on Tik Tok has resonated with millions of people.
Caveat: I'm still figuring out Tik Tok. (Age showing.) I've seen a few cute animal clips. I did attend an Etsy webinar about how to use the platform, but at the moment I am barely feeding and watering Instagram enough. I did learn, however, that there are more things on Tik Tok than angst-filled teenagers performing angsty concerts in corners of their angsty houses.
Back to Donovan Beck. In an open, humble manner he described how one particular poem he recorded and shared, "A Friendly Reminder," went viral in a surprisingly huge way. Its message about a positive self image has obviously clicked with people around the world. Looks like it's logged in about five million little red hearts and millions more views.
Here's the link.
In addition to this simple but powerful poem, Donovan shared about his process for finding inspiration for poetry.
"One of my favorite things to do when I'm looking for inspiration is to take an index card or a small notebook with me and go on a walk," he told Miles Parks. "There's really a beautiful thing about how much poetry is in our world when we start looking."
A phrase he used somewhere in the interview has stuck with me - "taking notes on the universe." I love that image!
Do you find inspiration in walks? Like this poet, do you carry index cards or a small notebook? Maybe you thumb-type ideas into the notes app on your cell phone. (At some point, I've done all three. And, I need to take more poetry walks. In the haiku world, such a walk is called a ginko.)
Here's to sharing goodness in the world, and here's to poetic notebooks! (If you've never explored Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's "Sharing Our Notebooks" project, you might enjoy this link. Though the project ended in 2020, Amy still has entries/articles available on her website.)
And if you could use a boost, check out the full NPR interview with Donovan Beck here.
Re. notebooks and journals, I plan to create more options and one-of-a-kind pieces this year in my Etsy shop. For now, I'm adding a few new 4X6 journal/sketchbooks to the ones featuring 1888 map images of Ireland and Scotland (which I'm happy to report sell well, and have even been taken by travelers across the Pond on special trips, according to customers). This week I'm adding England and The British Isles, and another featuring a circa 1800 map image (with a compass!) of the Atlantic from England to the Canaries. I offer a couple of "teeny wee" notebooks as well, for smaller pockets. Here's a link to my shop's journals section.
Janice at Salt City Verse has our Roundup today, and a book review of David Elliott's The Pond. Thanks, Janice!
(PS - The wren eggs have hatched in our back yard nest.) :0)
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.
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)