Howdy! My week got crazy and a post did not materialize. But, our good friend Jone has the Roundup today, and she's offering sneak peeks into the NEW Pomelo Books title, HOP TO IT (which I'm delighted to have a poem in myself.) AND - Jone has a sparkly new website. Enjoy!
Life on the Deckle Edge
Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Well, as I'm still digging out from a difficult summer (see post a couple of weeks ago....), this Friday snuck up on me before I had a post to share. Be sure to check out all the Poetry Friday goodness at Heidi's place, My Juicy Little Universe.
[--And much love and wishes for health and safety to all of you getting school years off the ground. XO--]
Greetings, Poetry Lovers! This week I had the wonderful opportunity to present a workshop for the young creators of the 2020 Camp Conroy. Pat Conroy was a devoted and lifelong teacher at heart, as you might know about the acclaimed author, beloved around the world as well as here in his own Lowcountry. For the third year, the Pat Conroy Literacy Center has assembled a team of top-notch creative teachers who spend a couple of weeks in intensive workshopping and creating with eager participants. An extra person is brought in here or there, and I got to be one of those folks this year! Of course, when I signed on months ago, who knew we would all be doing these things v-i-r-t-u-a-l-l-y.....?
But Center Director Jonathan Haupt and his fearless Camp Conroy team - Miho Kinnas, Lisa Anne Cullen, and Robin Prince Monroe - (three amazing published writers, poets, teachers and visual artists - look 'em up!) embraced the challenge and have been offering a lively and nurturing experience via Zoom. One bonus of this arrangement this year is that a few young creators are chiming in from other parts of the world, contributing their own creations to what the local Campers will produce as group projects and collections.
"This is our chance to share a little bit of Camp Conroy's Great Love with all of those sheltering and educating at home this summer," they say. Plans are for local participants to gather in July for an in-person event celebrating the unveiling of this year's "Camp Conroy Book."
I led a Found Poem Mixed Media Collage workshop, much like the one I led for Poetry Camp out in Bellingham, Washington, a few years ago, and have since offered in Beaufort, too. But how to do this from a distance? Now, that was a little trickier.
First, I made supply kits for each participant and added them to the big pre-Camp mailing the Center was doing. Check.
Then, I recorded a how-to video - my first time trying such a thing. Should be a piece of cake, I thought, having posted all those poem-reading videos on my Robyn Hood Black YouTube Channel in April. Right? Well, the recording part took a while (this is usually a 90-minute to two-hour workshop, after all), but thanks to my new little phone tripod, I got it done.
Then I put all the pieces parts together, editing and chopping, editing and chopping. Then I tried to upload the video.
"Mwaaa - haaaa - haaaaa" laughed all the invisible techno-gods in unison at my hubris. I tried uploading to YouTube, on my heretofore unused artsyletters Channel. Hours and hours (a couple of different overnights, even....) - No Go. Stuck at 99 percent and then - failure. I tried uploading to the Center's Dropbox. Hours and hours... well, you get the picture.
So here's a tip, stumbled onto after bleary-eyed days of looking for some magical virtual key - worth your reading of this post, if nothing else: to upload a video longer than 15 minutes to YouTube, you have to have a verified account. What's a verified account? You go to settings (I think - it's all a blur) and look around for the "Verify account" option. Then, you simply type in your cell phone number or email address and wait for one of those handy six-digit codes banks often use to make sure you are you and not a robot. Type in the six numbers, and - poof! You're verified. And your - cough-cough - 48-minute cinematic feat might just upload in less than two hours, and process fairly quickly after that. (Insert emoji with hand slapping forehead right about here.)
Back to poetry. So the video was made accessible, and the young campers had a day or two to work on their collages before we all "met" on Wednesday afternoon. As always when working with kids, I was amazed at their creativity and fresh perspectives. Some were still working on theirs, but several pieces were to a finished or at least share-able stage. Such talented writers and artists!! I'm always energized seeing what creative young folks come up with. Oh, and the three teachers played along in a closing found-poem activity, too - I can tell they are all having as much fun as the kids.
Above you see the collage I made as a sample. The text is from a 1960-ish EduCard featuring a science experiment. I "found" a poem about balance because: 1.) There's a wonderful yoga studio above the Literary Center; 2.) I've been inspired by so many people taking a Stand lately; and, 3.) I probably - nope, definitely - need a little more balance in my life.
Anyway, here is the poem:
Keep in Balance
earth pulls everthing
to center. This place
will not fall
when your body is
bring your center
and see what happens.
Poem found by Robyn Hood Black.
If you're looking for a creative project to wile away a summer day, or if you need an activity for kids or grandkids or such, feel free to have a look at the video I made! There's a mini studio tour at the beginning. It's a bit choppy, with my crazed efforts at making it shorter so it would load somewhere, etc., but you'll get the steps. You can adapt this project to materials you have handy, and improvise away, too!
Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVo_d5CqgBs
Wishing you a balanced weekend during which you find lots of poetry... you can start over at The Miss Rumphius Effect, where the lovely Tricia has our Roundup this week! (Program Note - I'll be taking a wee little break for the next couple of Fridays, but see you in July! And, if you don't get my quarterly(-ish) artsyletters newsletter, I'll be sending one out soon; you can sign up here. ) Thanks, and take good care!
Shhh.... Is she here yet?
Under the direction of amazing poet and my dear friend Irene Latham, we're having a **Ta-da! Celebration!** for Nikki Grimes for Poetry Friday today! Seems the pandemic has kept awards ceremonies from being held in person, and Nikki just keeps getting awards. So we're lifting our virtual cups and glasses in Nikki's honor.
I've had the good fortune of crossing paths with Nikki at a conference or two over the years, and I was delighted that she not only attended my Found Poem Collage Makerspace workshop at Poetry Camp out in Washington a few years ago, but she embraced every creative challenge and also kindly shared with me some photos she took. Nikki is a visual artist on many fronts, and I love the cross-pollination that happens between her writing and her making.
[I've been thinking of that wonderful weekend this week, as I'm leading a virtual version of this workshop for the Pat Conroy Literacy Center's "Conroy Camp" for young writers next week. I prepared crafting kits to send in the mailing to each student, and they'll have access to my how-to video going up on Monday. Then, we'll "meet" together via computer on Wednesday.]
But I digress. If you know anything about Nikki, you already know her talents do NOT stop with the period at the end of a printed sentence. (See some of her artwork at the "Grimes Gallery" section of her website.)
I'm always enjoying the gorgeous photos Nikki is sharing online, many from her garden. She often features new photography at her website, too, in "Notes from Nikki."
I dug up an interview I did with Nikki back in 2012, in which she discussed her writing and her artistic endeavors, among other topics. It was for Poetry Advocates for Children and Young Adults (PACYA), and it's still up, here:
In that post, I received permission to share a poem from Bronx Masquerade. [I'm hoping you won't mind, Nikki, my sharing it here again?] This poem not only reveals Nikki's ear for the musicality of words, it shines with her eye for the visually beautiful as well. And yet, like her work across several genres for young readers, it still speaks with the rich voice and heart of a young person making her way in the world.
By Lupe Algarin
I walk by a mirror,
catch my eye,
wonder at the universe
Past the flashing eyes
is a file
for yesterday's sunset
dripping mango light,
for Papi's laughter
tinkling in my
so many years gone by,
shed below a crucifix
on my wall.
I sort it all out,
store it under
"been there, done that"
and open a clean drawer
a place to store adventures
I'm still learning
©Nikki Grimes. All rights reserved.
In another book, Words With Wings, main character Gabby ponders whether she might be both a dreamer and a maker, in a very short poem called, "Maybe." There's no doubt that for Gabby's creator, that answer is YES.
Nikki received the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry in 2006, and if you missed it, here's the link to the Spotlight interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins (still miss him so) at Renée LaTulippe's No Water River blog.
Enjoy more Nikki Grimes celebrations today over at Live Your Poem, where Irene is rounding up these posts and other poetic inspirations this week.
Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Nuthin' to see here. (Where did this week go?!)
Plenty to read and enjoy, though, over at A Year of Reading with Mary Lee, who is rounding up Poetry Friday this week. Thanks, Mary Lee!
Greetings, Poetry Lovers!
For the last decade give or take, I've written for a wonderful Character Education program, CORE ESSENTIAL VALUES, used by schools across the country. (If my editor happens to be reading this, I know I'm behind! Sorry! You'll hear from me soon…) A different core value is celebrated each month. My bits of territory in the greater monthly offerings include an animal profile that somehow links to the value; a color that does the same, and quotations which reflect and expand its meaning. I'll try to do a real post about it all. I mention it now simply because I feel that such education is important – vitally important. Perhaps it reinforces what a student is learning at home, or perhaps it introduces students to ways of being or conversations they don't often experience otherwise.
This interest is part of the reason I was so excited about the second book co-authored by my friends Irene Latham and Charles Waters, whose groundbreaking CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? (Carolrhoda Books, 2018) has helped foster discussions of race relations for all ages.
Chances are you've heard the buzz about, or are lucky enough to have read, DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD – Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z (hot off the press, also from Carolrhoda). "Rich" is the word that fills my mind and heart to describe this unique treasure. It includes: poetry galore, in many familiar and off-the-beaten-path forms; quotations that inspire and challenge (from contemporary voices and those that live on through their words); and thoughtful reflections throughout from both Irene and Charles. The back is chock-full of resources, making this volume oh-so-handy for teachers, media specialists, and parents.
And, the ART! Oh, my. Well, first, I'd dare you to resist the colorful cover. It is a treat throughout – Mehrdokht Amini's varied images provide surprises at every turn, but are unified with an accessibility and sophistication through bold colors anchored with lots of (wonderful) dark shades, and a downright symphony of lively lettering and type. (Here is her website.)
The idea for the book sprouted two years ago when Charles and Irene were each waiting on flights home from snowy Michigan, after their school visit for that day got cancelled because of the weather. Some free hours in a restaurant, some conversation… and, magic! A book idea was born.
As Charles notes, however, these things are rarely an easy, straight shot.
"Through a rejection of another book idea, this book came into being," he says. "When one door closes, find that sliver of sunlight elsewhere."
And this book is full of good advice. In addition to a poem to savor, each "entry" on an alphabetical topic (& some letters get more than one topic!) includes a quotation, a reflection (either "Charles says…" or "Irene says…" – or, for the four they co-wrote, "Irene and Charles say…"), and, finally, a "Try It" exercise suggesting ways to incorporate the theme into daily life.
Many poetic forms will be familiar (cinquain, persona, found poem), while others might be new to you (tricube, shadorma, etheree).
You'll see in the photo above that my Chihuaha's favorite poem was Irene's senryu. My little Rita does love mealtime!
helping hands fill plates
with meat-and-potato peaks
hope is gravy
The quote that goes along with this poem is from Lao-tzu (Tao Te Ching):
"The heart that gives, gathers."
Irene's response paragraph introduces us to some of her favorite childhood memories, when she lived down the street from a convent in Louisiana. "One of my favorite things to do was to hang out in that enormous kitchen and help make cookies and soup to serve at retreats and community events," she writes. The "Try it" piece invites readers to seek out service organizations and find one that fits. "Sign up and serve just one shift, and see where it leads you."
Speaking of Japanese poetry forms, Irene says, "The poem that went through the most revisions -- and we still wish we could revise it at least one more time -- is 'Equality,' the renga. For that reason, it's one we ALWAYS read at school visits. So kids will know it takes a lot of work to find the right words... and even when a poem looks 'done' (as it does in a published book), there are often ways it can be improved."
I'll bet students are eager to add stanzas of their own.
Here are a couple from Irene and Charles:
star student, or one
who doesn't enjoy reading
we are all equal
whichever bathrooms we choose,
each of us wants to feel safe
This book will make readers of many different backgrounds feel safe, and, beyond that, inspired. And beyond that, hopeful.
Certainly welcome in these challenging days! And a great jumping off point for National Poetry Month, don't you think? In fact, Naomi Shihab Nye has chosen DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD as the Young People's Poet Laureate Book Pick for April! :0) Here is a PDF with more of the book's story. (Learn more about Irene here and more about Charles here.)
For more great poetry this week, visit our amazing and thoughtful Tabatha, who is always about making the world better, at The Opposite of Indifference.
*(Also, I'm working on my Spring artsyletters newsletter, which will include an old but timely poem and a quote or two, so I'll add the link here when it's ready.)* :0)
Wishing you and yours the best of health.
Poetry Friday - Now That You Have Time to Read and Write... David G. Lanoue's HAIKU GUY OMNIBUS (& More!)
Greetings, Poetry Lovers!
Happy Spring! It's a comfort that the seasons still appear in turn.
"Surreal" is definitely the word which keeps popping up like the daffodils. I hope you and yours are well.
If you're shuttered and going a little stir-crazy, maybe you're tackling that big pile of books on the bedroom nightstand? Or ordering new books? You might recall being curious about David G. Lanoue's HAIKU GUY series, after reading about it here somewhere, or maybe even half a dozen years ago in a column I wrote on Janice Hardy's Fiction University blog. Well, good news! To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the series, David has JUST released the HAIKU GUY OMNIBUS!
This hefty, handy paperback features HAIKU GUY, LAUGHING BUDDHA, HAIKU WARS, FROG POET, and DEWDROP WORLD, all in one place.
The back cover copy explains it well:
Five interconnected narratives explore the art of haiku by following the adventures of Buck-Teeth, a fictional student of haiku master Cup-of-Tea (the historical Issa). Sliding easily back and forth between Old Japan and contemporary New Orleans, between the unfolding stories and the author's writing group commenting on those stories, the five meandering narratives reflect on the meaning of life, the purpose of poetry, and the search for enlightenment. Though each little novel stands alone, together they form parts of a greater whole that, author David G. Lanoue suggests, can be discovered in the same way that one finds shapes in midsummer clouds - hence his advice to the reader with which he ends his Preface, "Squint hard."
These stories are both entertaining and inspiring, and unlike anything you've read before! If you haven't read them, I know you'll enjoy the journey.
Many of you know David through his "Daily Issa" contributions to your inbox. I don't know about you, but in these more-than-challenging times, I lap these up like a hummingbird at a trumpet flower. Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827) is beloved as one of the early haiku masters who found beauty in and connection with all living things despite a life full of hardships. (Here is info about David's Issa books.)
David teaches English and world literature at Xavier College in New Orleans and is a translator of Japanese haiku as well as a writer. He was president of the Haiku Society of America from 2013 to 2015. In addition to poetry and these unique haiku/fiction combinations, his books also include scholarly criticism, and the wonderful WRITE LIKE ISSA how-to guide, which I'm thrilled to have a poem in.
Thursday's "Daily Issa" haiku was perfect for the first day of Spring:
at my dinner tray
a sparrow chirps...
I featured a few of David's Issa haiku on some seasonal business-card-sized poem cards in my Etsy shop, including this one for Spring:
the mountain sunset
within my grasp...
(I've also featured this particular card in a Send Spring Cheer pack I've just come up with. My idea is to encourage folks to send notes to those who might be feeling especially isolated right now. The pack includes my wren and book note cards, eight first-class flower Forever stamps, eight spring Issa cards, and a sheet of sparkly red heart stickers. It's listed at just a feather above my cost with free shipping, ready-made with all that's needed for sending, except the writer's personal note and the walk to the mailbox.)
Many thanks, and hearty congratulations, to David for the new book! And much appreciation for the beauty and kindness added to the world through so many works.
Sending love to all in these trying days. I hope the chatter of birds and the surprise of new blooms can cheer your heart as you venture out for some fresh air and Vitamin D each day. (And for those of you in snow, I hope Spring arrives soon!)
For more poetry (and art!) to help you through, please visit the lovely and talented Michelle Kogan for this week's Roundup.
All in this together. XO
Greetings, Poetry Lovers - Happy Friday the 13th!
Much on our collective minds this week, I know. I so enjoyed a recent email exchange with my St. Augustine area haiku peeps (they kindly adopted me a couple-few years ago, and I'm just a few hours up the coast!).
I thought others might also appreciate the haiku that these talented folks tucked at the end of their messages.
Time, the calendar, seasons – this current time we're in. All of these things are on my mind, often, and are folded into these gems of poems below. Enjoy!
two free cups of
what was never
ours to keep
Michael Henry Lee
First appeared in Tiny Words Issue 15.1 March 2015
a bow at a katana's
Dennis (gobou) Holmes
(*Note from Robyn – a katana is a Japanese samurai sword.)
my dog still knows
what time it is
Okay, and one from me for today, about the current state of affairs:
Friday the 13th
too many cracks
in the sidewalk
Robyn Hood Black
All poems are ©copyright their respecive authors, all rights reserved. Shared with permission of the poets.
Wishing safety and good health all around. At least we can enjoy some fine poetry without leaving home. Now, keep time with Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme for this week's Roundup!
Greetings, Poetry Lovers! (First, that crazy looking column above really is a series of pictures; click to open in a new window and click to view at a size you can see. ;0) The Authors Guild websites don't yet offer the option for several pictures interspersed in a blog post.)
Last Friday, after my author school visit in Georgia, my third-grade-teacher-daughter Morgan and I took off for a Mama-Daughter Downton weekend at Biltmore House in Asheville. Though we had to drive through snow to get there ("It's Narnia" Morgan said...), we arrived to a beautiful cozy room at the hotel on the estate, and then we blissfully hopped on and off shuttles on Saturday to see the exhibits. We were celebrating our January birthdays a little late, splurging to stay on the estate at the end of the winter rates, and before the Downton exhibits exit in early April.
There's some Downton history here. Morgan's wedding in 2016 definitely had some Downton-ish flair (I put up a few pix on my art blog afterwards here), after Morgan and I fell in love with the TV series and would text about it long-distance. When the (fantastic!) movie came out this past fall, I drove the 10-to-12-hour round trip just to see it with her in north Georgia. I bought us cheap, fun little fascinator hats and she was a good sport to wear hers to the movie!
For Morgan's actual birthday a few weeks ago, I discovered that the costume jewelry company 1928 had a Downton Abbey line (HOW did I not know that?) and I had Jeff help me pick out a long beaded necklace to have sent to her. Then, last weekend, I took another little box from said jewelry ("jewellery") line - I had bought us matching earrings! (No, we didn't actually both wear them at the same time. ;0) )
The exhibit at Deerpark at Biltmore Estate was delightful. Each main character had his or her own display with some background story, costume items in some cases, and 'artifacts' such as letters. There was an interactive quiz you could take at computer kiosks to apply for a job at Downton - Morgan and I were both suited to be a cook, like Mrs. Patmore! So much for a life of leisure.
The costume exhibit at Antler Village was much smaller, but oh-so-delicious, with actual apparel worn by the actors, men and women. Oh, the beaded dresses.... Sigh. And the jewelry!! Swoon, swoon, swoon.
Okay, this IS Poetry Friday after all, and I've not shared any poetry yet. In keeping with the general time period, I turned to one of my glorious December Poetry Swap gifts from Linda Baie. She had given me a copy of THE BEST POEMS of 1930. (I haven't "recycled" it yet into Etsy items, but I have tagged some pages... ;0) )
The Downton Abbey TV series takes place from 1912 through 1925. The movie's setting was in 1927. But I figured the poetry in this book was close enough to share some of the 1920s sensibilities. I tried to find a couple of poems that might resonate for diehard Downton fans.
The book, published by Harcourt Brace & Co. with poems selected by Thomas Moult, and "decorations" by Elizabeth Montgomery, opens with this poem:
A Prologue for Poems
by John A. Holmes
As music builds a bright impermanent tower
High in the sunlight, wild with birds
And banners, so this chosen hour
Will take you
Briefly from the world.
Until the windy flags are furled,
the last page turned, the music ended,
Wander, well attended
Through the gate and climb the stairs.
At the top look down, look down, and see
My broad enchanted land
Where south is love, and death lies north,
And oceans on either hand.
And here's a short poem from within:
Being but Men
by Monk Gibbon
Being but men, not gods, we'll need take pride
In all that gives the lie to this mean state;
All moments borne beyond the common tide,
All littleness of heart made briefly great;
All beauty vouched with sudden indrawn breath,
A word, a turn of head, a lovely look,
A gesture grave, a phrase defying death,
Or a chance sentence in an unsought book.
I hope our little Downton-y Diversion has brought a smile. The wonderful Rebecca at Sloth Reads has the Roundup this week - and volcanoes and eggs! Enjoy...
Greetings, Poetry Lovers!
I'm still treading water schedule-wise this year, and in case you are too, I just have a little teeny wee bite-sized poem today. This is from the current Frogpond, the journal of the Haiku Society of America.
high tide it comes and goes
©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.
And... you're done here! Well, leave a howdy, and then row on over to Library Matters, where the lovely Cheriee is rounding up today. She also has a special treat - a feature/interview with Avis Harley!
~~(Final thought, especially with my water references today... prayers for all in Mississippi who are dealing with devastating flooding this week.)~~