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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Inspired by Lee Bennett Hopkins

--with Lee at the Flordia Arts Hall of Fame induction, 2017.

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  

 

It's a special Poetry Friday, as Amy over at the wonderful Poem Farm is offering a lovely way to honor Lee Bennett Hopkins, who passed away two weeks ago and whose loss is deeply felt by countless friends and fans across the globe. (Thanks to Jone MacCulloch for the idea of this theme today.)

 

I hope you'll forgive my slight departure from the suggestion of coming up with an original poem using a line from one of Lee's poems  Instead, I'd like to share a poem I wrote the first time I met Lee, when he led a Poetry Master Class at the big SCBWI LA meeting 10 years ago. Participants each wrote a poem that weekend, and he read one during his keynote address on the last day of the conference.

 

I'm sharing mine because Lee emailed me after the conference to tell me that he liked my poem.  I was beyond thrilled!  (More to the story, but I'll spare the spindly details.) I had written a sonnet, inspired by his books, and fueled by the tables of colorful titles for sale that stretched for miles at the conference. 

 

(Can I just get it out of the way that I think I'm a somewhat stronger poet now, thanks to a decade of haiku and of course to influences from Lee, and from Rebecca Kai Dotlich, and other amazing poetic mentors?  Okay - thanks.)

 

So here is the poem, flaws and all, and sweet to me because Lee took the time to share some kind words about it in correspondence, and even made an editorial suggestion here or there, reflected in a couple of lines.  And, because, I miss him very much.  Sending continued love to Lee's husband Charles, and to our community of fans and poets who have lost such a "Dear One."

 

 

How to Buy a Book of Poetry



I prowl around displays of stacked-up books,
a quiet hunger gnawing deep inside.
Some volumes catch my silent, stealthy looks,
while slowly stalking now, I must decide.
A vibrant cover takes my breath away -
I linger, stop, then claim it with my hand
to seize the book, a panther with her prey -
surveying what she knows to be her land.
While poems leap from pages crisp and new,
lines capture my attention as I read
their sparkling thoughts, at once unreal yet true -
mystical, magic words my deepest need.
A hunter with her prey? I'm not so free.
This poetry I bought - it now owns me.

 

 

©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

 

 

I know we'll all enjoy roaming from post to post celebrating Lee today over at Amy's, and picking up other poetic delights along the way.

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Poetry Friday - Treefrogs!

 

Oh, with all the rain we've had, it is treefrog season!  Each sojourn out the side porch might bring a wee green surprise tucked in beneath the porch rail or under the light.  We have a small unofficial wetlands on the other side of our back fence, and the serenades are hearty at times.

 

I was delighted to learn that Joyce Sidman (Newbery Honor and Sibert Medal winning author, and everybody's favorite!) will have a treefrog book coming out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2021.  It's called Dear Treefrog and will be illustrated by Diana Sudyka.  Click here and scroll down for the PW announcement. 

 

Perhaps Joyce would enjoy my haiku in the current issue of bottle rockets:

 

 

between

rounds of rain

rounds of treefrogs

 

 

©Robyn Hood Black.  bottle rockets, 21.1, #41. All rights reserved. (click here  for more on bottle rockets press, Stanford Forrester, editor.)

 

I also couldn't help myself and bought up some discontinued Vintaj charms, with a 'teensie' frog and reeds, and have just started making some "haiku" earrings with a nod to the most famous haiku poem around, Basho's "old pond...." (Click here for a discussion of that poem on the Aha Poetry site of the late Jane Reichhold.) The text for these earrings is typed on my old dusty, trusty Underwood. (Click here for the listing. I'm making more, some with variations.)

 

Now, if actual TREES are more your thing than treefrogs, or you love everything nature-related, hop on over to Christie's Wondering and Wandering for a tree-themed Poetry Friday!

 

**Special Note:  Next week, our wonderful Amy at The Poem Farm will gather up links to original poem posts honoring Lee Bennett Hopkins.  To participate, click here for the details at the top of Amy's post last week.  You can see my post from last week for a link to last year's surprise online birthday party we hosted for Lee, with links to all kinds of celebratory posts which help us appreciate and remember.**

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Poetry Friday - Lee

This picture was taken  exactly a dozen years ago, at the SCBWI LA Conference, when Lee presented a Poetry Master Class.  My first time meeting him in person (and meeting some of you all, too!).

 

So many of us are at a loss for words today.  I am still trying to let the news sink in, that Lee has left us.  What a life - and what a legacy.  His books will continue to enrich countless souls.  He made them for the children, after all - he always had young readers and writers foremost in his heart.  His keen mind crafted only the best for them.  

 

Read to me, Lee - 

again and again.

 

Click here to revisit the surprise, online 80th birthday party we all threw for Lee last year.  It was my honor to collect the links. I look forward to meandering through them again to remember and celebrate.  We still love you, Lee - we always will. 

 

Special love to Charles in this time of deepest loss. Your life together was luminous. 

 

No better way to honor Lee than to celebrate poetry.  Thanks to Molly for hosting the Roundup today at Nix the Comfort Zone.   [P.S. - Here is a five-minute video interview with Lee from last summer, recorded in his home office, brimming with books and good humor.]

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Poetry Friday - A Bit of Wit: Sir John Suckling's Campaigne

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

This summer has found me pining a bit for last summer, when we were traipsing around Scotland and Ireland and having a glorious time. Recently I came across a surprisingly fun poem in a nearly 200-year-old book I have, RELIQUES of ANCIENT ENGLISH POETRY: Consisting of  Old Heroic Ballads, Songs, and Other Pieces of our Earlier Poets; Together with Some Few of Later Date  (Sixth Edition, Vol. III, London: Samuel Richards and Co. Grocers' Hall Court, Poultry, 1823.)

 

Before you run off... in this current climate charged with all kinds of political hyperbole and braggadocio, I found some humor in these old words.  It's a tale of a battle between the fancy English and the gritty Scots at the border. Enjoy!  (I'll type in the introduction after the poem, in case you are as nerdy as I am and are interested. ;0) )

 

 

Sir John Suckling's Campaigne

 

 

Sir John he got him an ambling nag,

  To Scotland for to ride-a,

With a hundred horse more, all his own he swore,

  To guard him on every side-a.

 

No Errant-knight ever went to fight

  With halfe so gay a bravada,

Had you seen but his look, you'ld have sworn on a book,

  Hee'ld have conquer'd a whole armada.

 

The ladies ran all to the windows to see

  So gallant and warlike a sight-a,

And as he pass'd by, they said with a sigh,

  Sir John, why will you go fight-a?

 

But he, like a cruel knight, spurred on;

  His heart would not relent-a,

For, till he came there, what had he to fear?

  Or why should he repent-a?

 

The king (God bless him!) had singular hopes

  Of him and all his troop-a,

The borderers they, as they met him on the way,

  For joy did hollow, and whoop-a. 

 

None liked him so well, as his own colonell,

  Who took him for John de Wert-a*;

But when there were shows of gunning and blows,

  My gallant was nothing so pert-a.

 

For when the Scots army came within sight,

  And all prepared to fight-a,

He ran to his tent, they ask'd what he meant,

  He swore he must needs goe sh-t-a.

 

The colonell sent for him back agen,

  To quarter him in the van-a,

But Sir John did swear, he would not come there,

  To be kill'd the very first man-a.

 

To cure his fear, he was sent to the reare, 

  Some ten miles back and more-a;

Where Sir John did play at trip and away,

  And ne'er saw the enemy more-a.

 

*John de Wert was a German general of great reputation, and the terror of the French in the reign of Louis XIII.

 

Here is the introduction:

 

When the Scottish Covenanters rose up in arms, and advanced to the English borders in 1639, many of the courtiers complimented the king by raising forces at their own expense.  Among these none were more distinguished than the gallant Sir John Suckling, who raised a trooop of horse so richly accoutred, that it cost him 12,000l .The like expensive equipment of other parts of the army, made the king remark, that "the Scots would fight stoutly, if it were but for the Englishmen's fine clothes." (Lloyd's Memoirs.)  When they came to action, the rugged Scots proved more than a match for the fine showy English:  many of whom behaved remarkably ill, and among the rest this splendid troop of Sir John Suckling's. 

  This humorous pasquil has been generally supposed to have been written by Sir John as a bantar upon himself.  Some of his contemporaries, however, attributed it to Sir John Mennis, a wit of those times, among whose poems it is printed in a small poetical miscellany, intitled, "Musarum Deliciae: or the Muses' Recreation, containing several pieces of poetique wit," 2d edition.  By Sir J.M. [Sir John Mennis] and Ja. S. [James Smith], London, 1656, 12 mo. (See Wood's Athenae, ii. 397, 418.) In that copy is subjoined an additional stanza, which probably was written by this Sir John Mennis, viz.

 

But now there is peace, he's return'd to increase,

  His money, which lately he spent-a,

But his lost honour must lye still in the dust;

  At Barwick away it went-a.

 

Hope that brought a smile! Here's hoping whatever "campaignes" you have yet this summer will be a success, and best wishes to those (like my Morgan) who are already back at school readying classrooms for a new crop of eager young minds.

 

Sláinte!

 

Speaking of wonderful teachers, mount your trusty steed and charge over to My Juicy Little Universe, where the oh-so-brave and oh-so-smart Heidi has the Roundup this week! 

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Poetry Friday - Taking a Spoonful of Inspiration from Margaret...

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Margaret Simon posted early for Poetry Friday this week at Reflections on the Teche, and I was so taken with a line of her original poem (written in response to other creative work), that I grabbed a spoonful of inspiration for my own little post today. 

 

In the middle of Margaret's poem we find these lines:

 

...

Down in the abyss
of the silverware drawer,
a teaspoon speaks
of years of sugar
measured,

...

 

©Margaret Simon

 

 

(I put that last phrase in bold, because it resonated so strongly with me. Say it out loud - g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s lines, rich and slow like sugar.)

 

Margaret explains that the title of her poem comes from fellow creative Denise Gallagher - words she "stole" in the spirit of Austin Kleon (whom I was lucky to meet/hear speak a few moons ago!).  Margaret says this stealthy kind of Kleon-fueled artistic borrowing came from a Facebook group started by our own Laurie Purdie Salas. 

 

It's just a trail of inspiration, Hansel and Gretel-like, left in the creative woods of the world.  I reached down to pick up some grains because, in addition to the lure of the words themselves, Margaret's explanation of going through her parents' house when they moved to a retirement home also spoke to me, having done a bit of that in my in-laws' home earlier this year. 

 

While I usually don't write "desk haiku" - my poems are generally borne by experienced moments - I had to borrow this sugar, as it were.  It got me thinking of all the sweet moments in a life, and the not-so-sweet times folks must go through, and how a bit of work (polish) can restore shine that's been lost. 

 

 

old teaspoon
years of sugar
and tarnish

 

 

©Robyn Hood Black, with a nod to Margaret Simon.  All rights reserved.

 

Thank you for meandering along today!  Be sure to read Margaret's entire poem and check out all the great poetry links over at Reflections on the Teche.  And a shout-out to my hubby, Jeff, on his birthday, and all the sweet moments shared and yet to come. 

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Poetry Friday - Poetic 'Feet' (!)

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

Poetic Feet

 

Stitches, breaks, Achilles tear - 

My poor right foot, I've stressed.

 

Once again, it's crutches and boot -

and for-e-ver getting dressed.

 

              ©Robyn Hood Black

 

After I jotted that wee ditty this morning, I discovered my mother had also had a bit of fun on my Facebook post about this current locomotive challenge:

 

 

There is a young lady named Robyn....

who walks with her head a'bobbin'...

The sidewalk was missing a chunk, she went down with a clunk....

and, now, with crutches is hobblin'!!!!!

 

I would not rule out my stepdad's input into this literary creation, so whether credit goes to Nita Morgan, Jack Morgan, or to both - I'm not sure either would claim it! ;0)

 

(BTW -Could definitely be worse!  I fractured the distal fibula at the ankle, but it did not go all the way through.  Bones heal faster than tendons.  Trust me, I know.)

 

Wishing you safe passage over to the Poetry Friday Roundup at Carol's Corner.  Enjoy, and thank you, Carol, for hosting!

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Poetry Friday - Poem by Stephanie Salkin and Poetry by the Sea Shout-Out!

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

The photo and poem above are by my good buddy and partner-in-poetic-crime across multiple venues and states, Stephanie Salkin. The image of yours truly at the breaking waves came from the Poetry by the Sea retreat led by Georgia Heard and Rebecca Kai Dotlich in Jupiter, Florida, nearly four years ago.  What a treasure of a time!

 

Stef is very active in her arts community in north Florida. (And the whole state, too; she along with Jude Mandell led the campaign to get Lee Bennett Hopkins inducted into the Florida Arts Hall of Fame two years ago!) A photographer as well as writer, her work is often seen in shows there. 

 

That's how the above combination of image and words came to be.  Having attended our recent Haiku Society of America Spring National Meeting in St. Augustine, Stef wanted to incorporate haiku into her photography for a show, and - Voilà!  She used a picture she took which included me immersed in my own poetry writing down in Jupiter.  (I've shared it with permission.)

 

The poem reads:

 

 

waves break on shore

    making tidal music

          who writes the lyrics?

 

 

Many thanks to Stephanie for sharing! She also shared a link about how a day at the beach boosts health and creativity: https://1md.org/article/beach-day-brain-benefits

 

If all of this whets your appetite for poetic inspiration at the beach, you're in luck! Georgia and Rebecca are offering the Third "Poetry by the Sea" next month! (I'd go every time if the piggy bank and calendar were willing....) Find details here at Georgia's website

 

And find this week's Poetry Friday Roundup with the always-inspiring Buffy at her spankin' newly redesigned website.

 

Happy Fourth next week! 

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Poetry Friday - Family-themed Haiku by Peggy Willis Lyles

 

While preparing my talk for this weekend's Haiku Society of America Spring Conference put on by the Southeast Region, (--who, me? Working on something right up til the last minute?--), I came across a lovely memory from the conference I coordinated two years ago on St. Simon's Island.  We held our meeting at Epworth by the Sea.  As our group walked the grounds on a ginko, we came across a most wonderful surprise - a beautiful large plaque paying tribute to Peggy Willis Lyles (1939-2010) and featuring several of her haiku.  None of our little band knew it was there!  A very special encounter.

 

Just as I was getting serious about haiku myself, our region - and the world - lost one of its brilliant poet-stars to cancer.  And Peggy Willis Lyles was evidently as fine a human being as she was a poet.  (You can read more about her life and work here.)

 

I'm grateful she left so many glorious haiku.  I plan to read a couple of them from this monument in my talk on Saturday, which is called "Reach of a Live Oak - Haiku and our Family Tree."  Click on the image to see larger.  (Below are a couple of the poems which I look forward to sharing on Saturday.)

 

 

lap of waves

my daughter molds a castle 

for her son

 

 

for her mother

bluets

roots and all

 

 

and one of my favorite haiku, ever - one which many people know:

 

I brush

my mother's hair

the sparks

 

 

Take time to seek out more of her work; you'll be richly rewarded.

 

Looking forward to traveling to St. Augustine for the meeting, and catching up with a few favorite poet-friends there, too, including our own Michelle H. Barnes! :0) (Michelle was at our 2017 conference as well - you can read my wrap-up of it, along with more of these haiku from the memorial plaque, here.)

 

Speaking of haiku, for this week's round-up, hop over to Reflections on the Teche, where Margaret shares a fun adventure with her students creating pi-ku.  What's that, you ask?  You'll have to click over to see her clever, outdoors-y assignment!

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Poetry Friday - Narrow Fellows in the Grass...

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

[First, about last Poetry Friday weekend:  apologies if you attempted to visit or leave word at my blog and were stymied.  There was some technical issue, and I couldn't even get to it myself! By Monday the Authors Guild techno-gurus had set all to rights again.]

 

Last week, I and many other PF bloggers seemed smitten with May flowers.  Well, with all this warmth and growth and flora comes the fauna, too - perhaps you have also had the expected encounters with snakes and bugs and salamanders and such?  They've all been active around here!

 

The first snake-y encounter this year was when I lifted the lid of our large recycle container outside, and - plop! - a medium-sized garter snake dropped from just inside the lid to the ground.  I wouldn't want to give away any family secrets, but I was glad that happened to me, and not to my  hubby....

 

I've seen another snake or two while out and about, in the grass or slithering off into a weedy thicket during early evening walks. 

 

A few weeks ago, I had just returned from a road trip and noticed a package on the front steps of the house. At the top of the steps, I picked up the package and turned around, and that's when I noticed Mr.  (Mrs.?) Good-sized Garter Snake, stretched out on the ground the entire length of the steps (four to five feet?) and watching me intently.  I must have stepped right over him/her. 

 

Well, Hello there, I said. I was in a wee predicament.  We keep the front screen doors locked because they don't close securely otherwise, and we have a teeny doggie who loves her daily porch time. So I was at the top of the steps holding my box, with my new friend taking up all room from one end to the other at the bottom step.  Now, as you can tell from the photo, we need to paint the steps, and make some needed outside repairs in general.  I was pondering whether to bail and scale the rail (didja like that?) and leap over the side, wondering if all the wood was good!  Pondering time abruptly halted when said snake slid its head over the bottom step in a rather pointed motion my direction - eyes on me still and tongue flickering in and out - coming up to get better acquainted.  I bailed! All was well. 

 

And time for that wonderful poem by our dear Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), don't you think?

 

 

A narrow Fellow in the Grass (1096)



A narrow Fellow in the Grass
Occasionally rides -
You may have met him? Did you not
His notice instant is -

 

The Grass divides as with a Comb,
A spotted Shaft is seen,
And then it closes at your Feet
And opens further on -

 

He likes a Boggy Acre -
A Floor too cool for Corn -
But when a Boy and Barefoot
I more than once at Noon

 

Have passed I thought a Whip Lash
Unbraiding in the Sun
When stooping to secure it
It wrinkled And was gone -

 

Several of Nature's People
I know, and they know me
I feel for them a transport
Of Cordiality

 

But never met this Fellow
Attended or alone
Without a tighter Breathing
And Zero at the Bone.

 

 

And continuing the theme, here's a little poem I wrote eight or nine years ago, which made an appearance on Tricia's Miss Rumphius Effect site for a challenge back then:

 

 

S

Serpentine S
goes this way and that
Trail in the sand
Tail of a cat

Slithering S
goes that way and this
Starts every snake
Ends every hiss

©Robyn Hood Black
All rights reserved.

 

Watch your step as you make your way over to Elizabeth Steinglass's place, and be sure to give her lots of high fives celebrating her new book, Soccerverse!  (To this day, I can't see a salamander without thinking of the hikes Liz and I took during a Highlights Founders poetry workshop years ago, and all the little red salamanders we saw!)

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Poetry Friday - May Flowers with Louisa May Alcott

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

April showers bring.... :0)

 

     To me the meanest flower that blows can give 

     Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

 

     Wordsworth (1770–1850), Intimations Ode. 

 

[By the way, in case you weren't a nerdy English major like yours truly, "meanest" here means most plain/humble, and "blows" means bloom.]

 

The daisies my hubby planted are bright-faced and happy this week!  I've always loved daisies, probably because my mother does, and I carried them in my wedding.  They're not too fancy, but they hold their own.

 

Did you know Louisa May Alcott's first published book was not about the women in her family, but about flowers and fairies?

 

Flower Fables was published in 1855, a collection written for Ellen Emerson (daughter of Ralph Waldo). These are little morality tales with fancy and poetry mixed in.  Here's a link to the whole work on Project Gutenburg. And here are the opening lines from "Clover-Blossom," which is a few hundred miles long but which might bring to mind The Good Samaritan, The Ugly Duckling, and other cultural/literary references which we can still use healthy doses of!

 

 

Clover-Blossom

 

IN a quiet, pleasant meadow,
Beneath a summer sky,
Where green old trees their branches waved,
And winds went singing by;
Where a little brook went rippling
So musically low,
And passing clouds cast shadows
On the waving grass below;
Where low, sweet notes of brooding birds
Stole out on the fragrant air,
And golden sunlight shone undimmed
On all most fresh and fair;—
There bloomed a lovely sisterhood
Of happy little flowers,
Together in this pleasant home,
Through quiet summer hours.
No rude hand came to gather them,
No chilling winds to blight;
Warm sunbeams smiled on them by day,
And soft dews fell at night.
So here, along the brook-side,
Beneath the green old trees,
The flowers dwelt among their friends,
The sunbeams and the breeze.

 

 ....

 

Yes, the bucolic tranquility gives way to conflict, as you'll see if you click here for the whole poem.  You will likely guess the ending, but you might enjoy anyway!

 

For all kinds of poetry flowery and otherwise, flit on over to our lovely Jama's Alphabet Soup, where Jama and Company have loads of flowers for May Day along with the Roundup!

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