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Life on the Deckle Edge

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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Poetry Friday - Celebrate Indie Bookstore Day!

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Saturday is Independent Bookstore Day, which you can learn all about here. Now, just reading that sentence, didn't your FAVORITE bookstore (past or present) pop right into your mind?  Where would we be without our beloved indie bookstores?

 

One of my faves here in Beaufort is Nevermore Books, owned by Lorrie and David Anderson.  They started out just off Bay Street in a cozy basement nook of a historic building, shortly after we moved here.  Now they have a bit more elbow room (but still a cool, mysterious vibe) on historic Craven Street.  [I think they moved just to be able to use their tagline, "Look for the Raven on Craven."]  Check out their darkly delightful website here

 

I was hoping to be there in person Saturday but we've had a change of plans for the day.  I've been conjuring up some items to have available there, though, as it's been way too long since I've restocked artsyletters goodies in the shop. My name ended up in the paper for the celebration (Thanks, Lorrie!), so I'll be sure to send along some old and new things, such as the book club gift pack pictured above, fresh out of the creative oven.   

 

Do you have a special bookstore (or five) you'll be dropping in on Saturday? New or used, books are treasures.  I've got a 1997 version (with a 2003 preface) of The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Quotations, edited by Peter Kemp.  In browsing the theme of "Books," I found several quotes reminding me that books haven't always been with us humans, and there could be a time when they are not (but I hope that's not true). 

 

Here's a quote by Martial (A.D. c. 40 - c. 104), apparently written around 84 or 85 A.D., on the codex. The source is Lionel Casson in Libraries in the Ancient World (2001):

 

You want to take my poems wherever you go,

As companions, say, on a trip to some distant land?

Buy this.  It's packed tight into parchment pages, so,

Leave your rolls at home, for this takes just one hand!

 

--Catch a running start on our ancient Roman poet, Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis), at OxfordBibliographies.com .

 

A bit closer to our own time, just a century and a half back, our beloved Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886) penned one of my favorite poems about books, and I'm guessing it's one of yours, too.

 

 

There is no frigate like a book (1263)


There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away,
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears a Human soul.

 

*Sigh* and *swoon*.  Here's the poem's page at poets.org

 

For more wonderful poetry today, prancing and otherwise, visit the amazing Carol at Beyond Literacy Link.  And keep checking in on the Progressive Poem - Just a few more days and it will be complete!

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Poetry Friday - Wave from Middleton Place and Spring Storm by William Carlos Williams

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

Just a quick wave from Middleton Place today, a former plantation near Charleston and home to the country's oldest landscaped gardens. (Here's a link to learn more: https://www.middletonplace.org/ -- I can't seem to embed links or format type remotely at the moment.)

 

We were able to explore the grounds this morning, ahead of the storms expected this afternoon. Strong winds are already here! There's no snow here, but this poem by William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) seems appropriate for the weather today, and, in a way, appropriate for Good Friday.

 

 

Spring Storm

 

The sky has given over its bitterness.

Out of the dark change

all day long rain falls and falls

as if it would never end.

...

 

For the rest, follow this link: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/spring-storm

 

Here's hoping all are staying safe in this weather! I'm rather late posting today, as I spent all my recent computer time getting out my artsyletters newsletter for Spring.

Click this link if you'd like to see it; and sign up for future ones at artsyletters.com if you like.

 

May storms give way to light and life, and may your weekend be filled with joy!

 

Visit our amazing Amy at The Poem Farm - http://www.poemfarm.amylv.com/2019/04/poetry-friday-poem-19-facts.html -for this week's Roundup.

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Poetry Friday - Haiku Poetry Day, the HSA Spring Meeting, and the Santa Maria

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

I love living in a historic town, and this week it's even moreso... a gorgeous replica of the Santa Maria is parked in the neighborhood and open for tours.  (I enjoyed touring a much larger Spanish Galleon in Port Royal a few years ago, too.)

 

If the photo above whets your appetite, you might enjoy this video of the gracious little ship arriving in our bay.  

 

What does any of this have to do with Poetry Month?  Bear with me....  

 

Our little town, Beaufort South Carolina, vies with St. Augustine, Florida (part of my growing-up stomping grounds), as the nation's oldest city.  Well, here's the thing - St. Augustine IS the nation's oldest continually inhabited city, while the Port Royal area of my current fair county was settled first.  Politics, bad manners with the native neighbors, and other factors contributed to its demise, and there was a spell of years before the next settlement got settled.  Of course, all of this jabber refers to European settlement/conquest; there were civilizations here long before "we" arrived, thank you very much. 

 

I've always loved St. Augustine, and I can't wait to make a little trip there next month for the Haiku Society of America's Spring National Meeting, with the theme, "The Eternal Now: Haiku in the Ancient City"!  It's May 17-19.  I'm especially delighted that I'll get to see some Florida poetry friends including our own Michelle Heidenrich Barnes and my pal Stephanie Salkin. (Be sure to check out Michelle's recent post here featuring her honorable mention winning entry in the Triangle/D.C. area Golden Haiku contest; she also shares winning poems by Elizabeth Steinglass and Diane Mayr! CONGRATS all around!) 

 

I am honored that at the St. Augustine meeting, I'll be leading a session.  The historic setting got me thinking about my own history running wild in the woods of Florida, and then about family history, especially with the ancestry research and travel you've all been kind enough to indulge me in this past year or so. I believe haiku can connect us with our own family histories as well as with our corporate human family around the globe.  Both the Florida setting and my Lowcountry SC environs reminded me of this poem I wrote a few years back:

 

 

home again
twists and turns
of the live oak

 

Acorn, Spring 2012

Biscuit Crumbs, HSA SE Anthology, 2018

 

©Robyn Hood Black.  All rights reserved.

 

 

That poem came about before I knew we would be moving to the coast of South Carolina; I wrote it on a trip home to see my folks in Orlando.  But I found it applied, somehow,  after we moved here, too - these live oaks make me feel right at home. 

 

ALL this to say, that haiku is where the title of my session comes from:

 

"Reach of a Live Oak - Haiku and Our Family Tree."  I'm enjoying putting my talk/workshop together!

 

The conference will also feature Michael Henry Lee, Southeast Coordinator & Host (& one of my favorite poets!); the Coquina Haiku Circle of St. Augustine, helping to host; HSA President Fay Aoyagi; Stanford M. Forrester (Sekiro); Antoinette Libro; and Tom Painting.  A fun outing or two are in the works as well!  For a detailed schedule, please see the Haiku Society of America and click the link, currently on the front page. 

 

(Amazing to think that the original Santa Maria sailed the seas almost 200 years before haiku existed as we know it today, as its own short form championed by Basho in the 1600s.)

 

If you can't make the meeting, be sure to raise a glass and a pen on Wednesday, April 17, for International Haiku Poetry Day!  Click here for more info from The Haiku Foundation. 

 

And enjoy all the wonderfulness to savor this Poetry Month, including our Kidlit Progressive Poem, which lands here on Monday.  (Click that link to see the schedule at founder Irene's blog. Matt started the whole thing off this year as a found poem, and it's been fun to unfold a new found line each day.)

 

Speaking of Irene, who is Speaking of Art again this year for Poetry Month, she has the Roundup today. Thank you, Irene!!

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Poetry Friday - Quick John Adams Quote & Poetry Month Links

 

You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.

 

John Adams (1735-1826)

 

Letter to John Quincy Adams, 14 May, 1781.

 

Source:  The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Quotations, edited by Peter Kemp (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1997, 2003).

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Happy National Poetry Month. 

 

The quote above makes me think of  Poem in Your Pocket Day!  You still have plenty of time to head over to Pomelo Books, where all kinds of poem cards are available to download, use, and share, along with tons of other wonderful resources.

 

Poem in Your Pocket Day is just one of many celebrations in April,  National Poetry Month.

 

Be sure to visit Jama's Alphabet Soup, where Jama is (again!) kindly rounding up Kidlitosphere links for all the special Poetry Month goodness. (As an example, see what Donna's got going on every day this month at Mainely Write!)

 

The 2019 Kidlit Progressive Poem is in full swing - or, full swim.  Find the links for each day over at Progeressive Poem founder Irene's! (I'll post a line here myself on Tax Day, April 15.)

 

Karen Edmisten has our first Poetry Month Roundup! Thanks, Karen. Enjoy the spring harvest of words! 

(Note - I'll catch up later in the weekend, but Friday evening is our Spring Art Walk in downtown Beaufort, so I've got to get my studio in shape today!)

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Poetry Friday - Poetical Wave and Ars Poetica

Greetings, Poetry Lovers -

 

On the road again ( I know!), but I wanted to chime in with a wish for a HAPPY POETRY MONTH which starts on Monday!

 

I came across some lines from Archibald MacLeish's "Ars Poetica" this week, and thought it would be a great poem to revisit, to whet our Poetry Month appetites.  (Ars Poetica simply means "The Art of Poetry." Horace had the original version back in 19 B.C.)

 

Archibald MacLeish was born in 1892 - the same year that clipped text word "POETICAL" above appeared in a Victorian book!

 

 

Ars Poetica


by Archibald MacLeish (1892 - 1982)

 
A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit,

 

Dumb

As old medallions to the thumb,

 

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—

 

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.

 

...

 

Click here for the rest of the poem, especially its famous last line.

 

Continue your poetical jump start with the wonderful Carol, who is appreciating daffodils and rounding up for us over at Carol's Corner.  

Have a great weekend! 

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Poetry Friday - Pirate Plots & Mermaid Musings....

Ahoy there, Poetry Lovers!

 

I missed everyone last week.  I'd sailed off to Atlanta for our SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle conference (great to catch up with folks after a little while away!), and when I tried to post a directional sign to Heidi's place, I discovered a website glitch that kept me from posting anything for a few days.  I think they've got it all fixed now.

 

My antique map obsession continues....  I'm keeping a weather eye out, and looks like chilly temps down here are giving way to sunny days, slowly at least.  Time for mermaids and pirates to start jotting down poetry!  Or sketches!  Or "X" marks for treasure! I've been playing in the studio with upcycled journals/sketch books for the those with arabesque-ing swords or finned tails instead of feet.  (You can click on the picture above to see in my Etsy shop; I've taken several of these to the Beaufort Emproium for my wee little table, too. If you want to see more map-craziness, just put the word "map" into my shop's search bar on Etsy - I'll have a bunch more items up by Saturday.)  

 

While I wouldn't care to meet a REAL pirate, thank you very much, I did love Pirates of the Caribbean - the ride at Disney World when I was young, and later, the movies. Old treasure maps have always been on my "favorites" list. And, of course, growing up in Florida, I fancied myself a mermaid on many occasions.

 

Here in the Lowcountry, we did have real pirates back in the day! Click here to read about them - Blackbeard, for one, and women pirates as well as men. 

 

I couldn't find a replica map to purchase that fit the exact years of the waves of piracy (get it? waves?), but I found a wonderful reproduction map of the Southeastern/Carolinas coast from around 1745, and that's what I've been using for these upcycled journals. 

 

Are you a fan of Michael Hague?  One of my favorite of his books is THE BOOK OF PIRATES (HarperCollins, 2001) for its mysterious, spooky, rollicking art.  Inside you'll find classic cut-throat stories from Washington Irving, Robert Louis Stevenson, and many more. 

 

Included is "The Island Come True" from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (1860-1937), with a few ditties dotting the text. 

 

Here's one:

 

"Yo ho, yo, ho, the pirate life,

the flag o' skull and bones, 

A merry hour, a hempen rope,

And hey for Davey Jones."

 

 

And here are a few opening lines from John Masefield (1878-1967):

 

 

A Ballad of John Silver

 

 

We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull,
And we flew the pretty colours of the cross-bones and the skull;
We'd a big black Jolly Roger flapping grimly at the fore,
And we sailed the Spanish Water in the happy days of yore.

 

We'd a long brass gun amidships, like a well-conducted ship,
We had each a brace of pistols and a cutlass at the hip;
It's a point which tells against us, and a fact to be deplored,
But we chased the goodly merchant-men and laid their ships aboard.

 

...

 

Click here for the whole poem. 

 

And, from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, which premiered December 31, 1879, a few lines:


 ...

 

(King)

When I sally forth to seek my prey
I help myself in a royal way.
I sink a few more ships, it's true,
Than a well-bred monarch ought to do;
But many a king on a first-class throne,
If he wants to call his crown his own,
Must manage somehow to get through
More dirty work than ever I do,

For I am a Pirate King!
And it is, it is a glorious thing
To be a Pirate King!

For I am a Pirate King!


(Chorus)   

You are!
Hurrah for the Pirate King!

...

 

Click here  for more. 

 

Ever wondered about the difference between a pirate, a privateer, and a buccaneer? The Mariners Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia, has you covered, with these short posts by Brian Whitenton from 2012.  Enjoy Part 1 and Part 2.

 

Now turn that bow toward  Sloth Reads for this week's Poetry Friday Roundup.  (Don't worry; you'll be able to goof off after all your rowing.) ;0)

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Poetry Friday - Irish Leanings & Yeats

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers! 

 

We're a week into March.  Feeling Irish yet?

 

As I've been reminiscing about our family "ancestral" trip last June and pining for Scotland, I'm fondly remembering our traipsing through Ireland, too!  (We're all ridiculously Irish as well as Scottish, English, Welsh....)We took a day trip from Dublin out to the countryside and Glendalough, covering some of the same ground we did 22 years ago on our first trip to The Emerald Isle, when the kids were wee tykes. In November, I posted a picture of a Fairy Tree from our recent trip, and a Yeats poem, here

 

I've come up with a couple of Irish-themed items in my studio, too, also pictured above.  (Here's the bookmark link and the small journal/sketchbook link.)

 

With St. Patrick's Day inspirations, I steered again toward our good friend William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939) for today's poem. It blends the real and mythical.  Yeats was so intrigued with the faeirie world, and I wouldn't have been surprised to see something fey on those paths through the Irish woods - they just tremble with green, with life, with magic!

 

 

 

The Song of Wandering Aengus


W. B. Yeats


I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

 

 

Here's a link to the poem at the Academy of American Poets. 

 

And here's a link to a teaching guide from The National Endowment for the Humanities. 

 

The introduction reads:

 

William Butler Yeats wrote "The Song of Wandering Aengus" on January 31 sometime in the late 1890s. It was first printed in 1897 under the title "A Mad Song." The current title "The Song of Wandering Aengus" was applied when it was finally published in The Wind Among the Reeds (1899). These early collected poems displayed Yeats's mastery of the lyric form as well as his passion for Celtic mythology and Irish folklore, which were to fuel his poetic genius throughout his career.

 

Wishing you lyrical language and maybe a faerie intervention as we bound toward Spring. 

 

Be sure to visit our wonderful Catherine at Reading to the Core for Today's Roundup.  She's been long-planning a theme around International Women's Day, which I forgot about, again, until just now checking the Roundup schedule.  (This international woman is still looking for traction in this new year. :0! )

Catherine, THANK YOU, and I am cheering on you and others from the lichen-strewn sidelines!

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Poetry Friday - WITH MY HANDS and With My Hands...

Top: Our own Amy's WITH MY HANDS invites kids of all ages to create! Bottom:  My newest obsession is playing with antique map images. 

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

I've been thinking of our own Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's WITH MY HANDS this week (Clarion Books, 2018).  It's full of poetry to delight and inspire the youngest creatives, celebrating a variety of projects made by hand.  It works on us old(er) creatives, too!  Its own illustrations were made by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson.

 

Did you know WITH MY HANDS is a 2019 NCTE Notable Poetry Book?  Congratulations, Amy!

 

If you enjoyed my picture of the fun little birdhouse in Scotland that I included in last week's post, you'll enjoy the following poem.  (The birds are still twitterpated around my neighborhood, raising a ruckus for Spring's arrival.)

 

 

Birdhouse

 

 

We hammered out

a little house.

It has a circle door

four sturdy walls

a pointed roof

a simple wooden floor.

 

It's hanging on 

a fence post

and I'm imagining

a bluebird mom

in there

with babies

tucked beneath

her wing.

 

Someday 

I'll see them fly.

Someday

I'll hear them sing.

 

©Amy Ludwig VanDerwater.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.

 

 

Such a lovely poem!  

 

I've been thinking of Amy's book this week because tonight is our little downtown's FIRST FRIDAY, when businesses and galleries stay open late and welcome folks with wine, gab, and general Southern hospitallity.  I am always scrambling at the last minute getting ready.  This week I'm especially scrambling, because artsyletters is the "Spotlight Business" - meaning, I'll be down at street level with a couple of wonderful City folks at the Clock, sharing some wares and meeting folks, and my wonderful hubby Jeff will be up at my studio literally minding the store.  Kim Poovey has offered to help. Wish us all luck!  (As I type this Thursday night, I confess it's going to be a late night/early morning....)

 

Anyway, I DO love making things by hand - always have, since I landed on the planet. My latest obsession is with antique maps and manuscripts I've been collecting (the aforementioned husband might have thrown out the word, "intervention") - using images from these for cards, bookmarks, journals and such. I'll get these new items listed on Etsy as soon as I can - but not before Friday night! ;0)

 

Other poems in WITH MY HANDS especially call to me in this current endeavor, such as "Painting," "Card," "Collage," "Drawing," and, perhaps most appropriate, "Mess"!

 

See what all our creative poetic souls are up to today at TeacherDance, where our beautiful Linda is rounding up Poetry Friday and welcoming Spring along with the birds. 

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