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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: Poetry and Photographs from Susan Taylor Brown

© Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.


I am humming with joy this morning – award-winning author, poet, and artist Susan Taylor Brown is here! Well, some of her work is here, and now there are more options for you to own some yourself.

Perhaps you know Susan primarily through the writing side of her life – dozens of books for children for the trade and educational markets, hundreds of stories and articles in newspapers and magazines, and a speaking schedule that has included SCBWI conferences, Highlights workshops, and artist in residence experiences in which she’s taught poetry to at-risk and incarcerated youth. Or perhaps you’ve visited her blog and website for spot-on writing advice shared with wisdom and plenty of heart and personal experience. If, like me, you might have missed the incredible interview posted by Jone in June over at Check It Out, you will definitely want to, well, check it out!

Perhaps as a faithful Poetry Friday-er, you’ve popped over to Susan’s website or seen her pictures on Facebook. Has your jaw dropped and have your eyes popped at her glorious photographs of the wildlife she’s invited into her California back yard? Thought so. Did you mourn a few months ago after following the daily activities of Lily, the lovely hummingbird who graced Susan’s yard with a nest and then lost her precious eggs just before they were to hatch? Yes, me too.

Lots of folks were moved by Susan's photographs. It wasn’t long before Susan’s friends clamored for her to offer her incredible nature pictures for sale.

She made a page for her greeting cards with the delightful name, “Poppiness.” And just this month, she opened her own Etsy shop! As a new Etsy shop owner myself, I was thrilled to catch this bit of news and track her down. Oh, and order some gorgeous cards.

I asked Susan if she might share some of her hummingbird photographs and poems with us. The poems appeared on other blogs this year (terrific Poetry Friday ones!), but they bear re-sharing.

In My Backyard

iridescent wings dip, dive
between branches
of the scraggly Toyon bush
not yet six feet tall

pointed beak
weaves bits of moss
with spider webs
tucks in a single strand of grass
a dainty dandelion seed
then flies away

cat quiet, I creep
peek
stare
compare
tiny nest cradles
tiny eggs, two
no bigger than my thumb

whirling wings
hum hello
now go
she settles, spreads
herself atop the eggs
watches me
watching her

the wind blows, blustering
never flustering her
she sways a branch dance
keeping safe
tiny nest
tiny eggs
where rainbows wait to hatch


© Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.

Previously here:
http://gottabook.blogspot.com/2012/04/susan-taylor-brown-in-my-backyard.html
on Greg's great blog.


******************************************

13 Ways of Looking at a Hummingbird

1
wings whirl
in place
my face
smiles
swivels
tiny dancer
chirps
cheeps
chitters
hello

2
greengold glitters glides
lands atop the waterfalls
shimmy shakes
a water dance

3
spider silk
blades of grass
lichen
moss
one gray hair
two red threads
building blocks
a mini mansion

4
picture pose
turn left
now right
chin up
hold still
I'll keep my distance

5
in out
out in
tall wall
soft floor
ready wait
wait some more
egg one
egg two
soon
each morning
each evening
I check
just in case

6
the plum tree a
perfect preening place
ruffled nest feathers
bugs picked flicked
feathers smoothed
stretch once
stretch again
bask in the sun
before babies come

7
stormy days
stormy nights
quivery
shivery
forgetting generations
that came before
I worry
flashlight in hand

8
she disappears deep
within the overgrown honeysuckle
seeking bugs
protein power
for motherhood
alone
I measure
one nest
one half a walnut shell
one egg
one jellybean
one miracle
waiting to happen

9
my days equal
part
inspection
observation
research
photographs
my days equal
bliss

10
camera ready
I await her homecoming
hidden only slightly behind the fence
fifteen minutes
two hundred photographs
my mini model
is a star

11
morning comes
empty
no mama snug atop her nest
no tiny eggs safe and sound
no babies waiting
to say hello world
sometime between
the darkness and dawn
disaster

12
overcast and gray
rain soon
but I am stubborn
searching beneath the bushes
until I find evidence
until I find a tiny white shell
until it hits me
miracles don't always come true

13
crying
crying
crying
camera clicks
shot after shot after shot
most will be out of focus
unable to capture the pain I feel
at all the days that should have been ahead
suddenly suspended beside me
close enough to almost touch
no chirp
no cheep
no chitter
she hovers there
ten seconds maybe more
just long enough
to say goodbye


© Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.

Previously here:
http://maclibrary.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/poetry-friday-5/
on Jone’s wonderful blog.

I asked Susan: What is it about hummingbirds that compels you to write about and photograph them? Take it away, Susan!

I am a perpetually nervous person often filled with worry about things I can't change or control. I was spending so much time worrying about what did happen and what I could have done differently and what might happen and how I could avoid it that I was forgetting to live my life in the here and now. I had a wonderful life and I was missing out on it. All around me friends were going to yoga, beginning to meditate, and learning how to be here, now, living in the present moment. I couldn't seem to get the handle of yoga or meditating but I did spend a lot of time in my native garden. Usually it was because my dog Cassie was pestering me to step away from the computer and go outside. In my typical hurry-up fashion I wanted her to hurry-up and take care of business so I could hurry-up and get back to work worrying about whatever the day's worry might be.

Cassie had other ideas. She meandered around the yard, each visit outside taking a similar path, dipping a head into the sage to sniff at bees, pausing under the maple tree to wait for squirrels, stopping at the elderberry to watch the birds flit from branch to branch. I got tired of standing and waiting for her so I sat down. And when I sat down, the critters in the yard got used to me and turned brave, coming closer to feed at the bushes close to me and play in the bird pond. My fingers itched for my camera. The more I sat and watched, the more I saw. I had found a meditation that worked for me. I had learned to see more by being still and I had discovered how to live in the present moment.

What does that have to do with photographing hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds are so fast that one would think you need to be fast in order to get a photo of them in flight. But really the opposite is true. You need to be slow. You need to be patient. You need to learn to be still. Because when you do that you will be forced to watch, hundreds of times, the way the hummingbirds around you act when they are coming in to feed. You learn their dipping, diving behavior. You begin to understand their dance. I spent hours just watching the birds in my garden and other gardens before I tried to pick up the camera. And even then I shot thousands of blurry photos or photos of plants where the birds USED to be, before I snapped the shutter. But with practice, I found it easier to get into the dance and sometimes I get lucky and capture just the photo I had hoped to capture.

So I guess the easy answer is that I feel compelled to photograph hummingbirds, as well as the other wildlife in my garden, because it continually reminds me to be here, now, in the moment and to give thanks for the opportunity to witness these gifts of nature.


Click here for a link to a published slideshow Susan did for Bay Nature Magazine on photographing hummingbirds.

And now let me leave you with some lovely news you can use. Susan has gorgeous photographs available in her Etsy shop – hummingbirds, flowers, other stunning flora and fauna. And, she and I have decided that we’d like to offer a Poetry Friday discount for holiday shopping. From now through Dec. 31, just visit either of our shops – Poppiness or artsyletters – and type in the Coupon Code: PF2012 for a 10 percent discount! (You can look each of us up on Twitter, too, @poppiness and @artsyletters.)

Thanks, and many thanks to Susan for sharing her work here today.

Also, much appreication to Julie Hedland for featuring me on her terrific blog on Wednesday, and to Renée LaTulippe for welcoming me to No Water River today! Such an honor, ladies - thank you.

For more poetic treasures, hop over to Booktalking, where the amazing Anastasia is rounding up Poetry Friday.
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On Julie Foster Hedlund's blog today... :0) and a give-away at artstyletters

Greetings! Happy to share that my writer friend and blogger extraordinaire Julie Foster Hedlund kindly shared a post about me on her wonderful blog today.

And, for Art Break Wednesday over at artsyletters, I'm giving away a fun mini Ott flip light.

Enjoy!
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Poetry Friday: poetry book give-away at my OTHER blog...

Dearest Poetry Friday Friends,

Forgive this short post, but I'm on my way to Birmingham for our SCBWI Southern Breeze fall conference this weekend. Yee-hi!

I'm checking in, though, with a link to this week's "Art Break Wednesday" post on my new artsyletters blog, because you might be interested in:

1.) a Q and A with the exuberant Melanie Hall - artist, teacher, and award-winning illustrator of many children's books (including several poetry collections), and

2.) a give-away of one of said poetry collections. A lucky commenter will be randomly selected to receive a copy of Every Second Something Happens - Poems for the Mind and Senses, selected by Christine San José and Bill Johnson (Wordsong). Just post a comment ON THAT ARTSYLETTERS BLOG POST linked above by Monday at midnight, EST. (I will approve and post comments as I can throughout the weekend, internet connections willing.)

Finally, you MUST go see what Poetry Friday Rounder-Upper Irene has over at Live Your Poem. She invited participants in the 2012 KidLit Progressive poem to pen a couplet for an original "zoo" poem - in honor of Irene's brand-new novel, Don't Feed the Boy from Roaring Brook (which I can't wait to scoop up this weekend). My two lines were based on a somewhat slithery encounter at the Mule Camp Festival here last weekend. Go sssseeeeeee....

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My New Art Blog at artsyletters

Just a reminder that I have a brand new blog for artists over at artsyletters.com.

Art Break Wednesday features something new each week. Last Wednesday I shared how I make altered page art from vintage books and fun old finds, and this week I'm talking "Notan" (the Japanese concept of light-dark). Bring your dark side and come along! Also, there's still time to enter a comment under last week's post and be entered to win Pam Carriker's book, ART AT THE SPEED OF LIFE. (Contest ends Monday night.)

See you there!
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Poetry Friday - Found Poem and artsyletters

Happy Poetry Friday!

Today I'm offering a found poem and a bit of, well, blatant self-promotion. (Feel free to excuse yourself if you must - I felt I had to warn you.)

I've just launched a new art business, artsyletters, featuring "Art for Your Literary Side" and gifts for readers and writers. My first art show since life B. C. (Before Children) was last weekend, and I was delighted with the feedback and response. Actually, the most popular item in my booth was the old Underwood typewriter I had set out for folks to type in their email addresses for a forthcoming quarterly newsletter. I lost track of how many kids I "taught" to type (kid being the appropriate label all the way up to 20-somethings) - You have to kind of punch the key down, see? And listen for that wonderful ding as you get to the end of the line....

The littlest kids enjoyed finding the letters to their name on the strange contraption; the young at heart reminisced about typewriters their parents had had, machines that used to be in attics and oh-how-I-wish-I had-that now, or Smith Caronas they had typed on in school. (I personally churned out college papers on a typewriter - albeit an electric one, though a job soon out of college at a community newspaper came with an ancient, heavy, wonderful old black typewriter!)

Well, I'm paying homage to typewriters and old books and letters and poetry and more with my new art. It includes pen and ink, relief prints, calligraphy, bookmarks and note cards, in addition to more of these altered page collages which yield found poems. Here's one for today, pictured above:

THE POET

A young man
in spite of the
moment
the hour
proved that
observing
filled
the
studio
with fantastic
curious
verses
mysteries of thought
and
graceful words!


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

This collage began as page 206 of the 1922 JOURNEYS THROUGH BOOKLAND (Vol. 6) compiled by Charles H. Sylvester. It's the first page of a story called "The Poet and the Peasant" by French novelist Emile Souvestre. I added some bling to the initial letter A - a bit of 23 karat gold leaf. The beautiful old watchface, vintage key, and the vintage Remington typewriter part were all Etsy finds!

And here's all my links: To peruse my wares, please visit my new Etsy shop. Click here for my new blog, which will soon feature weekly musings and art discussions among creative folk (I hope - come see me!), plus some give-aways. I wouldn't object if you wanted to "Like" my artsyletters Facebook page - thanks to those of you who have already!, and before too long I'll figure out how to Tweet. I think.

Huge thanks to Cathy C. Hall, who stumbled on some of the aforementioned and asked if she could do a "Fun Friday" post about it today. Um, YEAH. Here's the link to her fabulous blog.

And, finally, Renee has more poetry than chocolate in a candy store today at her incredible No Water River. Indulge yourself! (And for those who read to the end, my humble thanks.)
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Poetry Friday - Where Did Today Go?

The sun is actually starting to think about setting, and I never got my Poetry Friday blog post up - I'll save it for next Friday! Spent all day setting up an Etsy shop for my new art business. :0) More on that here next week! Though if you want a sneak peek, click here.

And for this week's Poetry Friday Roundup, go visit the ever-amazing Diane at Random Noodling .

Happy Weekend! I'll be doing my first art show since life B. C. (Before Children) downtown in our hometown Saturday and Sunday.

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Poetry Friday: Found Poetry, Found Art, Found Time...

© Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved
Happy Friday the 13th!

Today I have time on my mind… how there never seems to be enough of it, how it flies by so quickly even in the summer, how we need to savor each moment, etc.

And, of course, I always have poetry on my mind. Since writing poems for THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK – A Book of Found Poems released in the spring, I can’t help but “find” poems in unlikely places. I’ve been working on some artwork incorporating found objects, so now I’m combining the two (found art and found poetry).

The photo above is of a 6 X 8 piece featuring an ad for Snowdrift shortening from a 1927 Good Housekeeping magazine. It also includes a vintage keyhole, clock face, flat key, and an old frame (all found in antique stores or on Etsy). The paint is acrylic and gouache mixed with gesso and finished with gel medium.

The ad was called, “Next Time You Make a Cake.” That would be a great title for a poem in itself, but I decided to wonder about time as an ingredient one could manipulate like flour or shortening. What if we could “shorten” time to capture it – stir it up and taste it?

Time

by Robyn Hood Black
(Found in a 1927 advertisement for Snowdrift shortening appearing in Good Housekeeping.)


Shorten

and find

how it

is so good –

sweet as new cream.


You’ll find

it’s a

pleasure to use,

wonderfully tender,

naturally found in

today.



Make the most of your time today with great poetry rounded up by the wonderful Jone at Check It Out .
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Poetry Friday: Eavan Boland's House of Shadows


Diane posted a wonderful ekphrastic poem from Eavan Boland last week. I’m feeling a bit Irish and wistful this week, so I’m going to continue on that path and post another Boland poem here. (I featured her “Irish Interior” in March.)

While celebrating the Fourth at my in-laws’ house this week, I looked over the shoulder of my brother-in-law as he flipped through a scrapbook I’d made for our 1996 family trip to Ireland. (When my father-in-law retired as a Delta pilot, he took the whole fam, little bitties and all, over to Dublin for his final commercial flight.)

This afternoon, I’ve been working on some art involving Celtic knots. Whenever I make relief prints, I have to play Celtic music on Pandora as I carve, and sometimes when I draw. I want my art to have movement and life, and if you don’t feel movement and life while listening to Celtic music, you might want to check your pulse.

Anyway, hence my need to read and share a bit more of Eavan Boland. The poem below particularly appealed to me because we’ve just had an afternoon of welcome “summer rain,” and also because I’ve been collecting all kinds of rusty-ish, old objects and scrap pieces of metal for other art projects, haunting antique stores and Etsy vintage shops and the good old ground. So the discovery of an old coin was right up my alley this week.

And don’t you love the title?

House of Shadows. Home of Simile

by Eavan Boland

One afternoon of summer rain
my hand skimmed a shelf and I found
an old florin. Ireland, 1950.

We say like or as and the world is
a fish minted in silver and alloy,

an outing for all the children,
an evening in the Sandford cinema,
a paper cone of lemonade crystals and

say it again so we can see
androgyny of angels, edges to a circle,
the way the body works against the possible— …


Please click here here to read the rest.

It won’t cost you a florin or even two cents to indulge in more great poetry – just check out The Opposite of Indifference, where wonderful Tabatha has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.
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