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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Summer Poem Swap Treasures from Margaret Simon


Howdy, Fellow Poetry Lovers - how is it the end of July already?

Teacher-Daughter Morgan is finishing up her classroom prep in Georgia, ready for the Meet and Greet in just a few days... And my special "guest" today will be back in the swing of school in coming days, too!

This morning I heard a "teakettle-teakettle-teakettle" chirp outside the bedroom window, and I immediately thought of Margaret Simon. She sent me the most wonderful Carolina Wren-inspired Summer Poem Swap poem, plus other treasures! (Many thanks to Tabatha for coordinating these wonderful Swaps.)

Margaret included a lovely card and note explaining that in May, she was visiting her parents and watched a Carolina Wren feeding her babies in a nest built in a flower pot. She also kindly mentioned my Carolina Wren block print/cards in my Etsy shop, and she included its image on the sheet with her poem!

[My image came about after I was smitten with a painting by Camille Engel that my good friend Peggy Jo Shaw uses as a logo for her writing & editorial business, Wren Cottage. I wanted my own reference, of course, for anything I made, though my relief print would be stylized. I set up a stack of vintage books next to a nest-filled flower pot that was on MY back porch years ago, then waited across the patio slumped in a chair for "our" wren to land on them! Many close calls before she finally lit on the books, almost an hour later, and I snapped a (fuzzy-but-good-enough) picture. ;0) ]

Here is the poem Margaret sent:


Carolina Wren

From the back porch,
we watched a cinnamon-colored bird
hop in and out
like a child bouncing
on a trampoline--
flower pot
to birch
to pine needle mulch--
           hop,
                 hop,
                      hop.

From a quivering branch,
a teakettle tweet--
Mom and Pop
tag teaming
carry insects,
caterpillars,
other crawling creatures.
Looping return--
           disappear,
                 reappear,
                      disappear.

Under rising red vinca
unkowing flowers
sway like a metronome.
A nest nook
echoes notes
from tiny, open
begging yellow beaks--
           peep,
                 peep,
                      peep.



©Margaret Simon. All rights reserved.


Isn't that SO wren-like? It makes me cheer for that little wren family.

Margaret also sent the oh-so-lovely mixed media wooden plaque in soothing blues, perfect for someone from the splashy bayou to send to someone in the balmy lowcountry! Its text reads, "Words are your paintbrush" with a little raised feature that says "DELIGHT." (I get to add it to my beautiful "Art by Margaret" poem swap collection!)

Many thanks to Margaret for these gifts, and for permission to share them this week.

[Aside: This week is also "Shark Week" on Discovery Channel.... Speaking of block print animal designs in my Etsy shop, I went a little crazy when the USPS issued some brand-new Forever shark stamps on Wednesday. I paired these with my shark note cards, made up a fun mini metal bookmark with vintage pewter shark tooth charm, and put it all together in a limited edition Shark Gift Pack. It has tooth. And charm.]

Whether your summer travels have you in the air or the water this week, please make your way on over to A Word Edgewise, where Linda - also gearing up for a new school year, I'm sure - has the Roundup and a nest-full of poetic inspiration today!
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Poetry Friday - Haiku Flies When You're Having Fun...


Whew - I don't know about you, but I feel like April is flying by.

I can't believe it's already time for the Haiku Society of America/Southeast Region HONORING THE EARTH meeting & workshop I'm coordinating in St. Simons Island, Georgia! Hence, I'll keep this short, since the road beckons.

For our Earth Day celebration, part of our time will be spent on a birding ginko (haiku walk), led by haiku poet and teacher extraordinaire Tom Painting of Atlanta.

With birds on the brain, I thought I'd share this haiku of mine that appears in the current Frogpond:


our different truths
the rusty underside
of a bluebird



© Robyn Hood Black
Frogpond, Vol. 40, No. 1


Speaking of haiku and birds... Another of our speakers - poet, author, past HSA president and professor, David G. Lanoue - has agreed to allow me to use some of his ISSA translations in art and such. (His translations of haiku by Kobayashi Issa, who lived from 1763 to 1828, number more than 10,000.)

I got out my pointed calligraphy pen, ink, and pencils and such and designed a note card, above, with one of the poems David said he particularly liked. The colors might be more fall-like than spring, but I've gone ahead and listed it in my artsyletterEtsy shop. :0)

Here's the poem pictured above:


traveling geese
the human heart, too,
wanders


Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue


Thanks for lighting on a branch over here today, and enjoy all the poetic flights of fancy rounded up for us this week by the amazing Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.
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Poetry Friday - Haiku Taking Flight...



Happy New Year!

I'm still getting my sea legs back after travel up in the hills to see family for the holidays, and after the little retail rush of December in my shop. I hope you and yours had a lovely holiday.

For haiku fans, I've just updated information on the Haiku Society of America meeting/workshop Earth Day weekend I'm coordinating in April on the coast of Georgia. Here's a link to that recent post below (or you can find it on the SE Regional page at the HSA website). A registration form is available on my Haiku page, at the top left.

Since we're going on a birdwatching Ginko (a haiku walk) that weekend, here are a few more of my own bird haiku that seem to work for this time of year; both light and dark and in-between, as I am feeling all of the above right about now:


new year
the twitter of a hundred robins
in the oak


Modern Haiku, Volume 45.1, Winter/​Spring 2014


gathering dusk
the unanswered call
of a dove


Frogpond Volume 35:3, Autumn 2012


winter chill
turkey vultures circling
one of their own


The Heron's Nest, June 2012

Poems ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


[Pssst.... A little bird has told me a Poetry Friday-er or two might attend the St. Simon's weekend!]

Our beautiful Linda, no stranger to writing haiku, has this week's Roundup at TeacherDance (with a Japanese proverb and intriguing picture of birds at the top of the page, I might add!)

Here's wishing you a 2017 full of poetry, and light....
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Poetry Friday - EVERY DAY BIRDS and Extra Credit Q&A with Amy LV!


Dear Poetry Friends,

Such a special treat today – No April Foolin’! If you’re a Poetry Friday regular, you know that our own Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is fluttering around with a beautiful brand-new book, EVERY DAY BIRDS, published by Orchard/Scholastic. If you’re a PF newbie, Welcome!

I’m one of those lucky ducks who can call Amy friend, as well as poetic inspiration in human form. You can learn more about Amy and her work here. And in case you haven’t heard… her debut poetry picture book, FOREST HAS A SONG, illustrated by Robbin Gourley (Clarion) just won the inaugural SCBWI Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award!

EVERY DAY BIRDS, her second picture book for young readers, offers a closer look at many common birds, brought to colorful life with papercut illustrations by Dylan Metrano. Kirkus calls it “beginning birding at its best.” Here's a taste:


Hawk hunts every day for prey.

Cardinal flashes fire.

Woodpecker taps hollow trees.

Crow rests on a wire. …



Click around the Kidlitosphere and Poetry Friday blogs, and you’ll find lots of love for this book. Amy’s post celebrating its lift-off ihere. I thought it wouldt be fun to ask Amy just a few “Extra Credit” questions inspired by EVERY DAY BIRDS to give us a peek behind the scenes of her life poetic. Here we go!

Amy’s Extra Credit Q&A


Early bird or night owl?

I am a night owl who is trying to be an early bird!

Hummingbird drinks flower nectar. Coffee, tea, or something else for you?

Tea. I have a glass teapot, and my children and I enjoy trying all different kinds of tea, from flowery tea to fruity tea to herby tea. I like the varied colors of teas brewing, and holding a warm mug in my hands feels so cozy. This said, I am always happy to go out for coffee with a friend. And since I live in chilly Western New York, I am a fan of hot cocoa (lots of whipped cream) too.

Are you more chirpy bluebird or boisterous blue jay?

People often think of bluebirds as cheerful creatures, and I am a cheerful soul. To be truthful, though, I can also be bossy as a blue jay.

Chickadee wears a black cap. What’s your favorite hat?

My current favorite is a new crazy bird hat, a superb gift from Librarian Jim Worthington. I cannot stop laughing when I wear it because the birds’ wings flap on springs. Someone told me that she could not take me seriously in this hat, and I like this idea of not being taken too seriously.

In addition to being a poet, you’re a traveling speaker and teacher. How many times a year do you fly?

I try not to fly too frequently as I love being in my nest with my nest mates, but I do take three or four sky-trips each year.

Gull stares at the sea. What do you stare at when you are waiting for inspiration to strike?

Sometimes I stare out my window and sometimes into deep nothingness. Sometimes I stare at my empty paper and sometimes into my own head.


Thank you to my friend-with-the-beautiful-bird-name-Robyn for inviting me to your blog home today. I am a big fan of your work. xo, a.


Thank YOU, Dear Amy, for lighting on a branch over here this week to spread your sunshine!

For more great poetry sure to have you soaring, wing it on over to Amy’s home turf, The Poem Farm, where she happens to be our gracious host ringing in National Poetry Month today. Her blog is also celebrating its sixth anniversary this week. I’m sure there are still some cake crumbs around… (Which, by the way, Mr. Cornelius might find as he visits blogs for Jama’s roundup of National Poetry Month special events here, including links the 2016 Kidlit Progressive Poem organized by Irene.) Read More 
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Poetry Friday - Of Carolina Wren Connections...


It's almost here... National Poetry Month! Most of you know the Academy of American Poets and the poets.org site.

"Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month, held every April, is the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture."

[Many of our Poetry Friday peeps go all out in April - Jama will be compiling a whole menu of special blog events and links over at Jama's Alphabet Soup.]

You might also subscribe to the Academy's "Poem-a-Day" feature, in which a new poem magically appears in your inbox each day. I was enchanted by an offering earlier this week, both its subject and luscious writing.

The poem is "The Carolina Wren" by Laura Donnelly. Here's a bit from the middle, to send you off to read the whole poem:

from The Carolina Wren

...
Only later, this other, same-same-again song,
a bird I could not see but heard

when I walked from the house to the studio,
studio to the house, its three notes

repeated like a child’s up and down
on a trampoline looping

the ground to the sky—
....


Copyright © 2015 by Laura Donnelly. Click here to read the entire lovely poem.

I've enjoyed watching and hearing a wren or two in our "Carolina" yard this week. At our former house in Georgia, our back patio was a regular nesting site each spring for a wren pair. I was so impressed by the industry and care they would take in building a carefully sheltered nest, and then tending their offspring from first shell-crack to first tentative flight. It was a lot of work!

And then this week, a kind note from friend - Poetry Friday-er, talented author, and - I'm happy to say - artsyletters customer Jan Godown Annino. (Check out her new bloggie look at Bookseed Studio - you'll love it!)

Jan had bought some of my wren and books notecards (design above) and sent me a message. We ended up swapping wren stories. Mine was simply that one year the aforementioned nesting pair built their twiggy home in a pot on our patio. I really wanted to make a relief print of a Carolina wren and some old books, so I set the stage. Though I knew my finished art would be simplified and stylized, I wanted a reliable reference picture. I placed a small stack of vintage books next to the pot, thinking Mama Wren would probably perch there for a wee second while tending her peeping babies.

Then I stashed myself across the patio, hunkered low in a chair with my camera, and waited. And waited. And waited. She did come back and forth a few times, but it took more than one attempt on my part to click at just the right moment, and from far away. The pictures were not National Geographic quality, but they provided enough visual information for me to sketch by, and I was able to get to work.

Now this current rambling would be incomplete without my also mentioning another friend: writer/author/editor extraordinaire and public relations expert P. J. Shaw (Peggy, to me!). I was so thankful to get to catch up with Peggy at our recent SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle in Atlanta. Peggy was my editor for WOLVES (Intervisual Books, 2008) a few moons ago, and I was always impressed by her quick eye and ear when wrangling a manuscript.

In addition to her job as Public Relations Director at a large private school in Atlanta, Peggy offers editorial services to individuals and organizations through her business, Wren Cottage. Isn't that a wonderful name? The masthead on her website features a rich and gorgeous painting of a wren sitting atop some books by artist Camille Engel . That image obviously spoke to me as I watched "our" wrens making so many trips to and fro on the patio, where I used to shoot all my Etsy product pictures before we moved to South Carolina and I landed a real studio space.

I suppose along with Laura Donnelly's "looping" images in her poem, I can't help connecting the sight or sound of a wren with my memories of other wrens that I checked on daily for weeks and weeks, or my associations with wren-loving creative people like Jan and Peggy. Poetry loops us all together.

Please wing your way back here next week, when we'll kick off Poetry Month with another talented Student Haiku Poet of the Month! Until then, enjoy all the great poetry rounded up this week and set to flight by the multi-talented Jone at Check It Out!
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Poetry Friday - a Haiku for the New Year

Yay Images
Happy New Year!

I hope you and yours have enjoyed a lovely holiday, and you are ready to leap head-first into a new year filled with poetry. Like my crazy hubby and son leaped into the chilly Atlantic today as part of the "Pelican Plunge" at Hunting Island....

Last year, I was still in the foothills of north Georgia, where I'd penned the following haiku:


new year
the twitter of a hundred robins
in the oak



Modern Haiku, Volume 45.1, Winter/​Spring 2014

©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


I haven't seen those huge flocks of robins here in my new yard near the coast, but there is plenty of wonderful bird life. And it's very nice to greet the new year from the same nest this year, rather than two different locations on the map!

Please make a migratory stop here next week, as we'll celebrate our January Student Haiku Poet of the Month. Such a treat for me to feature the work of these fine young poets.

Rounding up our first Poetry Friday for2015 is the wonderful Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Be sure to also check out her post featuring the Cybils finalists for poetry - the rounds have included books by some of our own amazing Poetry Friday community. Congratulations to all the nominees! [If you're a PF regular, you'll recognize the talented judges' names, too.] The incomparable Syliva Vardell has featured the shortlist at Poetry for Children, and there you can also find all of the 36 nominated poetry titles for 2014. I'll take one of each, please.
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Poetry Friday: Summer Poem Swap Haiga from Heidi Mordhorst


Happy Middle-of-August!

I’ve just returned from helping our daughter Morgan set up her new third grade classroom in Greenville, SC, and we’re about to head out to the north Georgia mountains to get our son Seth settled into his college apartment on campus. I hope your back-to-school-ing is going well if you are a parent or teacher or media specialist or student or such! Whether your August involves school or not, I’m sure you’ll enjoy stopping just for a moment to enjoy another Summer Poem Swap treasure.


sodden robin
unmiserable to the
naked eye



©Heidi Mordhorst. All rights reserved.


This gem is from our ever talented Poetry Friday host this week, Heidi Mordhorst (who greets this time of year as a teacher and a mom herself!). How lovely that she paired her haiku with this wonderful photograph of my namesake in the bird world. In an accompanying note, Heidi said she loved the “resilience” of this feathered friend. We’ve certainly seen our share of “sodden” this summer; our back yard flooded last weekend. Many cities (including Greenville) in several regions of the country have dealt with serious flooding this week.

You might know from Diane and her wonderful blog that a haiku and visual image presented together is called a “haiga,” and I’m honored Heidi sent me one!

As Stephen Addis explains in the jacket flap of his book, THE ART OF HAIKU (Shambhala, 2012):

All the great haiku masters created paintings (called haiga) or calligraphy in connection with their poems, and the words and images were intended to be enjoyed together, enhancing each other, and each adding its own dimension to the reader’s and viewer’s understanding.

Many thanks to Heidi for this haiga, and to Tabatha for organizing our sensational SWAP.

Here’s hoping you are unmiserable - nice and dry in fact, and ready to enjoy more poetry! Join the flock over at Heidi’s My Juicy Little Universe.  Read More 
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Poetry Friday: Carpe-ing Diem with Andrew Marvell and His Coy Mistress

© Robyn Hood Black

Okay – my posts are usually pretty tame; but today young children and eighth-grade boys should probably leave the room. ;0)

Wednesday night I caught the “Europe” episode of a PBS Nature series, “Earthflight.” Fascinating stuff: cameras literally capture a bird’s eye view of our planet as birds migrate across the continents. I was rather charmed with the way male cranes and storks go ahead of their mates to spiff up the nest and put their best avian foot forward to impress their ladies for breeding season.

I thought of that again today (bear with me) when I was playing around with some cool 1950s metal letters I’ve been framing for this weekend’s Art in the Square here in north Georgia. Why? Well, I made the above “Carpe d’ M” picture, which got me pondering the concept (I’m a seize-the-day kind of gal), which led me to looking at a “carpe diem” poem I probably haven’t read since college.

You, know, English poet Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress.” Marvell (1621-1678) penned these lines toward the end of his “invitation” to a certain young lass:

“Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey… .”

The PBS birds weren’t birds of prey (though there was some amazing footage of a Peregrine falcon trying and failing to nab a starling in a murmuration), but they were certainly amorous. How odd to read this poem again when I’m not quite crone (though that is not terribly far away), but I’m w-a-y past maiden. I find myself chuckling at the 300-year-old pick-up lines.

Here they are:

To His Coy Mistress

By Andrew Marvell

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast;
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart;
For, Lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapt power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.



I mean, “The grave's a fine and private place/
But none, I think, do there embrace” – that’s better quipped than late night TV monologues, don’t you think?

Please click here to learn more.

This poem also brought to mind a piece of the soundtrack of my teenage years – anybody else remember? – “Only the Good Die Young” by Billy Joel. Of course, this song got the young Joel in a heap of trouble with Catholics, though its banning only resulted in skyrocketing sales. Click here for a little more on that.

I suppose if we banned all carefully crafted entreaties of lusty young men from our literature, our books would weigh far less. And then, if we found ourselves missing all that strutting and preening, we could just look to the birds.

Now, flap your way over to The Opposite of Indifference to enjoy today's Roundup with Tabatha, who keeps a bird's eye view of just about everything.
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Poetry Friday: Full Hearts, Empty Nests, and Emily Dickinson

Willow Tree figure, "Happiness," with student cards...


On Wednesday I grabbed a quick catch-up coffee with a dear friend. Years ago, she taught both of my kids when they were in fourth grade, and I was her room mother each time! Now the youngest, Seth, has just graduated (though not before visiting her classroom to talk about song writing with her students), and I’ve been continuing the tradition of visiting her class to talk about writing each spring. A couple of years ago, my oldest (Morgan, my rising college senior/ed major) tagged along. It’s been a great arrangement; I “experiment” with different writing activities with the students, and they get a little outside spice with their language arts.

Sharon has given me the most thoughtful, perfect gifts over the years as a thank-you. When the creative writing theme involved butterflies (catching ideas!), the class gave me a butterfly coffee cup, matching journal, and bookmarks. Once they gave me a heavy duty pen holder for my desk, decorated with pens on the outside. The most precious gifts are notes and cards from the students, which I think every author cherishes.

This week, along with a bow-tied stack of cards, Sharon gave me the lovely Willow Tree figure in the picture above. This one is called “Happiness” – and Sharon said it made her think of me. Well, that just fills me with joy, and much appreciation.

Willow Tree creator Susan Lordi says of this figurine, “I hope this piece is very open to viewer interpretation. For me, it is the pure joy that comes from creating — in all of its forms. A side note … I love bluebirds.”

I told Sharon the birds were appropriate, as the last thing I’d done before sunset the night before was fish a newly-fledged robin out of our pool. I scooped it up and set it on the ground, where, after sitting there not knowing what to do for a time while its parents fretted, it eventually hopped toward Mom, who escorted it up the hillside and out of my sight.

This baby was the last one to leave this year’s nest in the camellia bush. A big baby bird, I’d already mentioned to it that it was about time. That mama and papa robin had worked tirelessly harvesting gobs of worms to take to the nest day in and day out.

Obviously we have empty nests on our minds these days. My husband said he even got misty watching some baby robins outside at work the other day. They were learning to fly. So, let’s have a bird poem today, in which Miss Emily so beautifully renders the image of flight:

A Bird Came Down the Walk

by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

A Bird came down the Walk—
He did not know I saw—
He bit an Angleworm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw,

And then he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass—
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
To let a Beetle pass—

He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all around—
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought—
He stirred his Velvet Head

Like one in danger, Cautious,
I offered him a Crumb
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home—

Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam—
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon
Leap, plashless as they swim.


Click here for more information about Emily Dickinson and links to many of her poems.

Now, flap your wings and glide on over to Reflections on the Teche , where the thoughtful and talented Margaret has the Poetry Friday Roundup!

Also, if you want to see some gorgeous oil paintings, I featured works by my fellow-brand-new-empty-nester-to-be friend and amazing artist Ann Goble on my artsyletters blog this week.
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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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