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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Cleaning and Scrubbing Will Wait...

 

 

 

first frost
today she misplaced
our names

 

 

©Robyn Hood Black

 

Frogpond Vol. 42:1 (Winter 2019)

& selected for a forthcoming anthology TBA

 

I wrote this poem after a Thanksgiving visit with my mother-in-law, Marjorie, when she was in the hospital. Her struggles with Parkinson's had been mounting and coming fast after living with the disease for many years. Even in the midst of overwhelming challenges, however, humor can be a balm - and she kept her quick wit. 

 

The wonderful nurse working this past Thanksgiving engaged Marge in conversation.

 

"Who is that?" she asked, pointing to my husband, Jeff, at Marge's bedside. 

 

"That's Tim," Marge said.

 

"No, Mom, that's your favorite son," my husband smiled.  "I'm Jeff."

 

The nurse nodded toward me, sitting in a chair at the foot of the bed.  "And what is her name?" 

 

Marge took a long look at me and then told the nurse, "Oh - she changes hers a lot."

 

I almost fell off of said chair, chuckling at such a clever quip. 

 

Marge did recall our names on some subsequent visits and calls - the mind is a tricky thing. And while we all knew her health was declining, her passing last week still felt like a shock.  She left her husband of 62 years, Reuben, five children, thirteen grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. 

 

Tim, an Episcopal priest, officiated at her service on Saturday.  All of the music and readings and remembrances were offered by her grandchildren - as she would have wanted it.  Our nephew Will planned the music and played piano, with our son Seth playing guitar and singing along with another cousin, Olivia. Our daughter Morgan read a passage from Job.

 

Marge and Reuben had started "GranCamp" more than 25 years ago, a special, themed week each summer just for cousins (and, much later, their spouses).  Potty training was the only requirement. That rule even got bent when great-grands came along.  The goal was to create strong bonds between all these cousins, and as the oldest, Ben, said from the platform on Saturday, "It worked." (A few years ago, Will directed a Gran Camp video, complete with their original, jaunty GranCamp Song which was sung at Marge's service.)

 

Marge was valedictorian of her high school class and earned an education degree at North Georgia College. She was active in church and community endeavors.  She and Reuben had an open door, always - hosting several international students over the years as well as anybody who ever needed a safe harbor with a warm bed, good coffee, and no judgment. Oh, and ice cream any time of day or night. 

 

Her generosity and her quirks were celebrated with much joy on Saturday. It was a remembrance with as much laughter as tears.  She loved to read, and she could remember many lines of favorite poems.  The ones that just about every family member could quote - from her sharing them so often - reflected her philosphy about the preciousness of children.  She frequently shared these excerpted lines by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton (1921-2018):

 

 

From "Song for a Fifth Child (Babies Don't Keep)"

 

...
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking!

...

Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby. Babies don't keep.

 

Click here for the entire poem, and a lovely bit of biography about the poet. 

 

Here is a link to Marge's obituary, largely written by Will.  Marge's other daughter-in-law, Patricia, and I tussled a bit with last minute edits.  But that was okay - we just wanted the words to be right, words that can only capture glimpses of a bright life. 

 

I found the obituary for Ruth Hulburt Hamilton here, which also includes a copy of her famous poem. 

 

Thanks for the kind words and thoughts this past week, and thanks to our oh-so-talented Jone, who has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Check it Out - Enjoy. (& I'll see you HERE for the Roundup next week!)

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Poetry Friday - Charmed Dialogue; Bookmarks as Found Poem....

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

I hope your holiday season is going well.  When one has been working a few too many hours, one might get a little bit punch-drink - without any eggnog handy, even.  

 

Recently a couple of favorite Etsy haunts added fun, laser-engraved message-type steel tags to their offerings, and I couldn't help myself and ordered a bunch.  Somehow in my studio the new bookmarks I've been making arranged themselves into a sort of found poem.  In two voices.  (Told you I'd been burning a little too much midnight oil...) 

 

Enjoy a wee moment of silliness!

 

 

                       Charmed Dialogue

 

  sun

 

  A walk on

  the beach is

  good for the soul

 

                                               SEA

 

                                                Seashells

                                                are 

                                                love letters

                                                in the sand

 

  you hold the

  pen to write your 

  own story

 

                                                 I'm really

                                                 a mermaid 

 

  My birthstone

  is a 

  Coffee Bean

 

                                                  tea

                                                  addict

 

  Book

  Lover

 

 

                                                  I read 

                                                  past my

                                                  bedtime

 

 

 

How about you?

 

Sand or sea?

 

Coffee or tea?

 

We all agree on books, and reading past our bedtime, I'm sure....

 

(A couple of these bookmarks are listed in my Etsy shop; I 'll get the others listed Friday morning [oops - scratch that - evening!!], in case you want to see close up!) :0)

 

For wonderful poetry any time of day, pay a visit to our dear Laura Shovan, who is kindly rounding us up this week - even those of us who got up to poetic mischeif when no one was watching. And HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all - I know some of you have just celebrated Hanukkah, and we have Christmas on the horizon.  We'll be in and out, so I'll close with with flurries of goodwill and wishes for the next couple of weeks! XO

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Poetry Friday - A Wandering Haiku

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

Just a wee haiku over here today.  This one appears in the current Frogpond,  Vol. 41:3 (Fall 2018), though somehow my name was left out of the index this time.  But the poem's in!

 

 

open gate

the way

my mind wanders

 

©Robyn Hood Black.  All rights reserved.

 

 

I remember when I was in my first job after graduating college and getting married.  I was an editorial assistant/publications secretary at the seminary where my husband was getting his first grad degree.  I wasn't the greatest secretary, that is FOR sure!  But I did love to write.  Sometime before I left to try newspaper writing (where I found out I was terrible at the news part, but good at features....) my boss said, "You're a bit of a dreamer, aren't you?" 

 

Well - yeah.  I'm more pragmatic at this stage of life, but still a bit of a dreamer!

 

Here's to dreams, and also to the belly-real comforts we all wish each other at Thanksgiving.  And wishes for healing for those in the midst of trauma right now, in California and anywhere.

 

On a ligher note, if you'll be doing any Cyber-shopping over the Thanksgiving holidays, Etsy is cooking up a sale for Cyber Week November 20-26.  I'll be offering 10 percent off shop-wide at artsyletters on Etsy, with reduced or free domestic shipping (depending on order amount). While you're on Etsy, check out the lovely offerings over at fellow Poetry Friday-er Michelle Kogan's shop, too!

 

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.  I'm so very thankful for our Poetry Friday community, newcomers and old friends alike. 

 

I'm especially thankful for our amazingly generous and talented Linda, who is hosting the Roundup today at TeacherDance.  She's even got a special giveaway today - told you she was generous! 

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Poetry Friday - The Poetry of US

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Are your bags packed?

 

This week the third National Geographic volume of poetry edited by J. Patrick Lewis launched into the world, THE POETRY OF US.  (Earlier collections are THE BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY and THE BOOK OF NATURE POETRY - both full of natural wonders and animal magnetism!)

 

THE POETRY OF US invites readers to journey from one end of the country to the other to savor the culture, history, and quirks of the many varied places we call home. It is divided into eight sections:  New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, Great Plains, Rocky Mountains West, Pacific Coast (including Hawaii and Alaska), and Territories. You'll find thoughtful poems, cheerful poems, challenging poems, heartbreaking poems... I've only just begun to delve in.  

 

I'm beyond thrilled to have a poem included, along with many other Poetry Friday folks.  (I hope there are lots of sneak peeks celebrated in posts!)  My Philadelphia-themed poem shares a page with a powerful one by Charles Waters called "City of Brotherly Love."  And just a couple pages back are a couple of 'our' Lauras on the same page - "Beach Day" by Laura Shovan and "Water, Water Everywhere:  A Delaware Chant" by Laura Purdie Salas.  It's an honor share book space with so many poetry friends and their fine poems in each geographical section.  

 

There are traditional poems such as the Navajo "Twelfth Song of Thunder" and several poems with translations, as well as timeless poems by national literary lights including Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Robert Frost, among others.  More than 200 poems in all!

 

A Frost quote leads us in, in fact: 

 

"All poetry begins with Geography."

 

Our editor extradordinaire offers an enchanting introduction and a final note with poetic invitation. I look forward to sharing this volume and all its breadth and depth with my third-grade-teacher daughter, Morgan, and with family and friends, as well as with young readers and writers in schools. 

 

Here's my contribution, celebrating the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia, the nation's largest public art project.  (If you're in that vicinity, it happens to be Mural Arts Month with events from Sept. 28 through November 3!  Click here for more info.)

 

 

Mural Compass

 

Tall figures rise from city ground.

They speak to me without a sound

from vibrant faces, facing sun -

these paintings are for everyone.

 

Chartreuse and purple pop the street,

kaleidoscoping at my feet.

Graffiti marks are now long gone.

These paintings are for everyone.

 

On buildings bare and bridges wide

where history and hope collide

shine songs of freedom, fame, and fun-

These paintings are for everyone.

 

©Robyn Hood Black

 

 

This poem is a kyrielle - a centuries-old French form with eight syllables per line and a repeating end line in couplets or quatrains, with a minimum of three stanzas.  (Its origins are liturgical; the name comes from Old French kyriele, literally, kyrie eleison, from Late Latin, according to Miriam Webster.)

 

Deepest thanks to J. Patrick Lewis for this national treasure of a collection.  Lewis has penned more than 110 poetry and picture books for young readers and in 2011 he received the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. He served as US Children's Poet Laureate from 2011 to 2013.  He continues to travel across the country inspiring students and grown-ups.

 

Now point your compass over to Deowriter, where the oh-so-talented Jone is hosting the Roundup from her lovely writer blog, and making it a GREAT MORNING all day long.  Thanks, Jone!

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Poetry Friday - Biscuit Crumbs - a few Southern Haiku

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Haiku Society of America, the HSA Southeast Region has published an anthology of haiku, senryu, and haibun by members.  Editors for the project were Regional Coordinator Michael Henry Lee, along with Terri L. French and David Oates.  

 

The collection is titled Biscuit Crumbs, taken from this wonderful poem by our fearless leader:

 

 

biscuit crumbs

making a memory

from scratch

 

©Michael Henry Lee.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission. (Thanks, Michael!)

 

 

All the works in the collection are infused with a distinctive Southern flavor.  

 

Here are the haiku by yours truly that were selected.  The first is previously unpublished, and the other two appeared in issues of Acorn.

 

 

anoles 

in brown and green

the story changes...

 

 

-------------

 

 

home again

twists and turns

of the live oak

 

Acorn, Spring 2012

 

 

------------

 

 

outgoing tide

the losses I keep

to myself

 

Acorn, Fall 2015

 

 

Acorn is one of my favorite journals.  Here is a poem of mine in the current issue:

 

 

winter's end

clusters of blossoms

on the half-dead tree

 

Acorn, # 40, Spring 2018

 

 

poems ©Robyn Hood Black.  All rights reserved.

 

Many thanks to Michael, David, and Terri for their hard work in putting together this anthology. I'll enjoy dipping into it again and again, and it doesn't come with calories like real biscuits do!

 

Speaking of Southern flavor, saunter on over to Reflections on the Teche, where our beautiful Margaret is sippin' Luzianne iced tea out on the bayou, collectin' all our poems this week....

 

Wishing everyone a good and safe Memorial Day weekend.  Special gratitude for all who serve in our military, and prayers for any military family touched by loss. 

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Poetry Friday - Monoku Times Two (or Three...)


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

Recently I sent my semi-regular batch of new haiku submissions off to journals, and one of the acceptances that came back this week was for a very short monoku. What's a monoku? A one-line haiku. In English-language haiku, this approach has been around for decades. There's something about how condensed and compressed such a poem is, how crystallized, that - as long as it does its job with juxtaposition and layered possibilities of meaning, - I just love.

I'll share the mentioned poem after it's published. Modern Haiku accepted it with a nice note. I can share two others MH published in the current issue, though:



one door closes morning glories



after the hurricane leaf blowers



Modern Haiku, Vol. 49.1, Winter-Spring 2018
poems ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Looking back, one of my earliest published haiku was a monoku:



rush of wind my imperfect t'ai chi



A Hundred Gourds, March 2012
©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Several one-line haiku I've had published since then are among my favorites, if I had to pick from my own.

Most of us travel paths in children's lit, and usually I prefer a good book for young readers to a book for adults any day. Books for kids must be precise, concise. Of course, that's something I love about poetry - and, to me, the most concise kind of poetry is haiku. (Maybe the most concise type of haiku is a monoku?)

My personal preference is not for one-word poems or something that seems to be simply a clever word trick, though some of these are published with special formatting and such. I generally hold to the notion that a haiku should contain two juxtaposed images.

The one-line haiku that have come to me have always arrived all in one piece, in a singular, fleeting, but palpable moment. They've been little gifts. No haggling, no teeth-gnashing for just the right word, or tweaking and playing with lines and breaks. Just two images fully formed into a little handful of words, drifting down like the surprise of a feather.

(PS/pssst - In case you're a haiku fan stocking up on short poems for Poem in Your Pocket Day, I've got ISSA Seasons mini haiku cards for sale in my Etsy shop here. If you need a different kind of discounted amount, just give me a holler.)

Now, drift on over to Today's Little Ditty, where the ever-surprising Michelle has this week's Roundup, complete with tons of poetry teaching tips from PF regulars and guests, just in time for April. (Be sure to catch the March challenge from Nikki Grimes while you're over there, too!)
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Poetry Friday - Lee Bennett Hopkins and SCHOOL PEOPLE Giveaway!





Is your monitor shaking, or your phone screen, maybe? I’m so excited about this week’s post, I might be jumping up and down a little….


Lee Bennett Hopkins is here!

If you’re a Poetry Friday regular, you know that Lee Bennett Hopkins is a singular force in the world of children’s poetry, holding the Guiness World Record for number of poetry anthologies for children published.

He has received countless awards for his own writing and his collections, including the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, the Florida Libraries’ Lifetime Achievement Award, the Christopher Award, and the distinction last year of being inducted into the Florida Arts Hall of Fame, among others. (Read more about Lee here.)

Today he shares a behind-the-scenes look at his newest anthology, SCHOOL PEOPLE, to be released Feb. 13 from Wordsong, the poetry imprint of Boyds Mills Press (so you know it’s first-class).

From the publisher’s description:


…this collection of poems paired with imaginative artwork introduces readers to the important grown-ups they’ll meet at school. From the school’s own story, written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, to J. Patrick Lewis’s “Principal,” to Alma Flor Ada’s "Spanish Teacher," each poem features the women and men who inspire, encourage, and help children in their own unique ways.


The small format of photos allowed on my blog don’t do justice to the vibrant illustrations by Ellen Shi, but you can get an idea. The publisher kindly shared a couple of interior spreads – “Librarian” by Lee himself, and my own poem, “Lunch Lady.”





LIBRARIAN

He opened the door.
As we walked in
he said,
“Look!
It’s all about books.
And books are you!

Books will lead you
anywhere
everywhere –
to magical places
to meet new faces.”

He opened
one single door
yet he
led us down
pathways
we never
could ever
have traveled
before.


©Lee Bennett Hopkins. All Rights Reserved.



LUNCH LADY

Long before lunchtime
Ms. Bailey keeps busy
stacking towers of trays,
filling the salad bar,
sliding steaming pans
into place.

We swarm the cafeteria.
“Here you go, Honey,” she says,
handing each of us a full plate.

Long after lunchtime,
Ms. Bailey scrubs everything clean,
hangs the last heavy pan.

She rubs her neck,
wipes her forehead,
and changes the menu sign –
for us,
for tomorrow.


©Robyn Hood Black. All Rights Reserved.


How did this collection come to be? Lee generously agreed to share his thoughts.

--How did the idea for SCHOOL PEOPLE come about? (And how long has it been in the making?)

I began my career as a sixth-grade teacher in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, in 1960 at the age of 22, fresh out of college. I taught sixth grade for three years before becoming a Resource Teacher in the same school working with grades K-6.

So – after almost six decades later the idea of a SCHOOL and its PEOPLE pops up. One never knows what memory will uncover. Such an obvious topic.


--Each of your anthologies has a distinct personality – some magic you make out of many different contributing voices. How would you describe SCHOOL PEOPLE?

Yes, each anthology does have a distinct personality. When creating an anthology my mind completely focuses on the topic whether it is a collection as difficult as the recent TRAVELNG THE BLUE ROAD: POEMS OF THE SEA (Seagrass Dreams/Quarto) for Young Adults, or SCHOOL PEOPLE for younger readers. I assign topics to various poets who work with me – a wondrous group of dedicated writers. My role is to put the entire collection into focus before it reaches an editor’s desk. The process of producing an anthology can take years.

--This book should lend itself to all kinds of interactions. How do you envision teachers might use it in the classroom or media center?

There are so many ways to use this book in schools. I envision an assembly program where various school people are invited to sit on stage, introduced as each child reads or performs a poem about them…from the principal to the custodian. Or as a weekly, monthly tribute to each of the people represented.

It can also be used to show appreciation of the work each person does to make a school a whole.
I would encourage young writers to choose one or more of their favorite school people to write about.

SCHOOL PEOPLE is also a nice gift to give to various school personnel. How often does a Custodian or a Crossing Guard get acknowledged?


--How do you hope students will respond to the collection?

Hopefully children might see the diversity of people within a school building - for example, a female coach, a male librarian. Also I hope they will experience empathy for individuals – the Bus Driver with ‘that smiling face’ to bring a child home again, the Lunch Lady who works hard and long hours, the Custodian who is “caring, helpful, smart, and kind,” the Nurse who is there “like the heart in my body/like the moon in the sky.”

--The 15 poems come to life in Ellen Shi’s colorful digital illustrations. Any thoughts about how the text and art work together here?

Shi captures so many different moments via her art depicting emotions that are part of every person involved with children. That caring Principal who could ‘teach a bully/how to be humble”, the Librarian who “opened one single door/yet he/led us down/pathways/we never/could ever/have traveled before.” Each double-page spread has a lot of offer, to linger with.

--Do you have a special memory you’d like to share about a teacher or staff member from your own school days?

It was my eighth-grade teacher, Mrs. Ethel Kite McLaughlin, who saw something in the mixed-up child I was due to growing up in a dysfunctional family. She was the one who turned my life around. Being with her in a self-contained classroom environment for a year convinced me that I, too, would become a teacher…like her. And I did! Without her guidance I don’t know where life would have taken me. One teacher. One voice. As Joan Bransfield Graham writes in “Teacher” – “You stretch my world much wider…I feel I, too, can fly.” Mrs. McLaughlin did indeed stretch my world. Oh, how she helped me to fly!

--I think most would agree you absolutely SOAR. Thank you so much for joining us today!

Thank you, Robyn, for your forever poetry enthusiasm! Hugs.


Other familiar Poetry Friday faces with work in this collection include Matt Forrest Essenwine, Michele Krueger, , Irene Latham, Charles Ghigna, Renée LaTulippe, and Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. And other familiar POETRY faces include Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Ann Whitford Paul, J. Patrick Lewis, Joan Bransfield Graham, Alma Flor Ada, and Darren Sardelli. (So honored to share book pages with these fine poet-folk!)

But wait – there’s MORE. Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press will send a copy of SCHOOL PEOPLE to a lucky reader! Just leave a comment below by Wed., Feb. 21, and you’ll be entered in the drawing. (Be sure the hidden email associated with your comment is a good way to contact you later for a snail mail address, just in case today’s your lucky day.) I’ll be out of pocket next Friday, but back to announce the randomly-selected winner on Friday, Feb. 23.

Sally Murphy has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week – hop, skip, or jump on over (under?) to beautiful Australia for more poetry surprises.
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Poetry Friday - A Few Haiku



Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

I hope you had a chance to see the Super-Blue-Blood Moon this week. We were blessed with clear skies. Not the clearest of plans, though, as we mis-read moonrise time for Tuesday night and didn't get in place for proper gawking until the moon had been comfortably released from the horizon. Also, I got up early Wednesday expecting to see the blood moon - brilliant white greeted me, and then I read that the eclipse wouldn't be visible in our corner of the world this time around.

Still, the owls were lively and it was a brilliant way to start the day. No wonder centuries of haiku poets have written about their experiences "moon-gazing."

I don't have moon poems today, but here are a couple more of my haiku published in journals in the fall, and another which just came out (on the first page, even!) in bottle rockets.



longest day
she spells out the words
in the diagnosis


Modern Haiku 48:3, Autumn 2017



empty window
the last of her fur
in the lint trap


Frogpond 40:3, Autumn 2017



bus stop
the hard places
where she sleeps


bottle rockets #38, 2018


Thanks for coming by! For all kinds of poetry that will surely illuminate your weekend, visit our wonderful Donna at Mainely Write. (She also has an inspirational moon post from Wednesday/Thurs., Jan. 31, if you'd like some spiritual moon-swooning!)
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