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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: Sincerely...





I hope you are having a great Poetry Month! If you're like me, you might already be wishing for a couple-few extra days to get to some of the great blog posts you haven't been able to visit yet. I'm hoping to catch up a bit next week.


Speaking of next week, yours truly will be hosting Poetry Friday, and GUESS WHO will be here? Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong! [I KNOW... I can't wait either!] These two Poetry-Forces-to-be-Reckoned-With will share the inside scoop on how the new bilingual Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations came to be, and where they hope it's going. BYOC - Bring your own confetti!


Today I'm sharing my poem in the book, "Sincerely." It was written to celebrate National Write a Letter of Appreciation Week, the first week of March. (If you just missed it, get a jump on next year! I'm sure there are lots of folks you appreciate.)


I was thrilled to get a bona fide Pomelo Books Pocket Poem™ Card with my poem printed on it as well. These cards have sure made me smile. I mailed some to my daughter Morgan for her classroom of third-graders, and she texted me with a picture of each student holding them up and smiling.



Then I took a few with me to a tutoring session with children of local migrant farm workers, an effort spearheaded by a wonderful couple in our church. My student partner that evening was Leslie, a fourth grader. Just so happens one of Leslie's vocabulary words we were practicing was "Sincere" - and it was one of the few words tripping her up a wee bit.



I pulled out the cards, and she was happily surprised. The most fun part, though, was when I asked her to help me with the Spanish pronunciation on the other side of the card. She was a willing and capable teacher, patiently coaxing me as I stumbled over "agradecido" and "Afectuosamente." I was grateful for her guidance! And I think she enjoyed passing out cards to the rest of the students before we left the library.




Here is the poem in English and Spanish:

SINCERELY

Dear Friend,

I see the thoughtful things you do.
Your words are always cheerful, too.

I noticed!
And I'm thanking you.

Sincerely,
Me


AFECTUOSAMENTE

Querido amigo,

Eres muy amable y atento,
y tus palabras son siempre de aliento.

¡Lo he advertido!
y te estoy agradecido

Afectuosamente,
Yo


Poem©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

Thanks for sharing a little pre-game celebration with me this week, and see you next Friday! For this week's Roundup, visit the always-much-appreciated Laura at Writing the World for Kids.
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Poetry Friday: Ahoy! Sea Songs, Pirates, Valentines....

a peek into mini sea-themed works-in-progress.... ©Robyn Hood Black

At the beginning of last year, I shared an amazing gift sent to me by my friend and fellow writer Kim Siegelson (who has a keen antique sense and a great Etsy shop, too, Perfect Patina).

It was a nearly 700-page book – sumptuously covered and illustrated, titled:

Crown Jewels
OR
Gems of Literature, Art, and Music
BEING
Choice Selections from the Writings and Musical Productions of the Most Celebrated Authors, From the Earliest Times


compiled by Henry Davenport Northrop, D. D., and published in 1888.

(To read my post about this wonderful book from Kim, in all its over-the-top Victorian glory, click here.)

In my art life for this new year, I’m working on more locale-friendly pieces to offer in my kiosk space at Fordham Market.
As in, things that might appeal to tourists and visitors of our delightful coastal town.

Lucky for me, CROWN JEWELS has many poems and songs about the sea! Though written a hundred (or few hundred) years ago, surely the words still ring like a ship’s bell to those who dock at our lovely marina, just across the street from my tucked-away studio. I’ve got some small shadow-box mixed media pieces in the works, featuring everything from excerpts to short entire poems to found poems I’ve "uncovered" in prose passages.

This week I broke out my printmaking supplies (have stayed away from since my neck/shoulder/hand/nerves injury in the fall), and it felt wonderful to carve into a small block of wood and later to breathe in the ink, hearing and feeling its sticky snap on glass as I rolled my brayer… even if I was making just a wee image. The mini prints are backgrounds for the clipped pieces of text, and, of course, there must be some vintage-y bling involved. I usually use actual old metal pieces. Occasionally, if I find just the right element offered by an artisan, I’ll use that. Just take a look at that lovely tiny anchor in the picture – it’s blackened pewter, handmade in the USA and cast as opposed to stamped, and available from Fallen Angel Brass on Etsy. Yep, I bought a few!

For these first few mini shadow boxes, I clipped this refrain from CROWN JEWELS. Warning: if you read it more than once, it will start sailing around in your head. A lot. Come on, read it out loud in your best gravelly pirate voice:

from THE TAR FOR ALL WEATHERS

by Charles Dibdin

But sailors were born for all weathers,
     Great guns let it blow high or low,
Our duty keeps us to our tethers,
     And where the gale drives we must go.

….

Our Mr. Dibdin (1745-1814) wrote many songs over the course of his life and career.

Now, this excerpt, printed as a poem, is from a song. Which got me wondering about songs of the sea, which led me to looking up sea shanties. A sea shanty was a song sung by the crew of tall sailing ships back in the day – usually call-and-response, with simple lyrics. The songs helped everyone keep to the same rhythm, and likely kept boredom at bay on long journeys as well.

Hungry for more, ye say? Well, y’ave plenty of time to read up before International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19), so ye might look in on this fun website I found,: The Pirate King.

Now, where were we?

Oh – CROWN JEWELS!

In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up, here’s another poem from this literary treasure chest. I might just have to tuck it into my hubby’s Valentine – shhh; don’t tell!

Associations of Home

by Walter Condor

That is not home, where day by day
I wear the busy hours away;
that is not home, where lonely night
Prepares me for the toils of light;
‘tis hope, and joy, and memory, give
A home in which the heart can live.
It is a presence undefined,
O’ershadowing the conscious mind;
Where love and duty sweetly blend
To consecrate the name of friend
Where’er thou art, is home to me,
And home without thee cannot be.


Wishing you the comfort of “a presence undefined” among friends and loved ones this month.

Be sure to row back over next week, when we’ll enjoy some lovely haiku from our February Student Haiku Poet of the Month!

And now please visit our always-original Liz (Elizabeth) Steinglass, rounding up the fleet of Poetry Friday posts today at her blog .
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Poetry Friday - Celebrating a Birthday, Beatrix Potter Style...

Top: Morgan and her supervising teacher from last year, Susan Gray, as they prepare for this school year. How special that they are now teaching on the same hall!Bottom: Morgan's First Birthday, over-the-top Beatrix Potter. And lots of pink.

Happy Birthday to my Firstborn!

Shortly after midnight twenty-three years ago, when January 22nd became the 23rd, I became a mom. I was blessed with a healthy dose of those new mommy hormones, for no amount of exhaustion could dampen the shine on my amazement at our little bundle. I was awestruck.

In the years between then and now, there were a few more emotions, too. (Mothers of daughters? You know….) But now that I’m the proud mom of a grown-up young woman, I’m awestruck once again.

I remember being so excited to celebrate Morgan’s first birthday that I could hardly sleep the night before. Beatrix Potter theme – cake, wrapping paper, coordinating ribbons and decorations, and the obligatory pictures of cake smeared on the faces of our little one-year-old and her baby buddy, McCamy.

So I thought it would be fun to share a few verses from Beatrix Potter today, from CECILY PARSLEY'S NURSERY RHYMES For Little Peter in New Zealand (Frederick Warne & Co., Ltd., 1922).

After all, Morgan’s middle name is Cecily, and she’s been to New Zealand!

Here we are:

Cecily Parsley lived in a pen,
And brewed good ale for gentlemen.

Gentlemen came every day
Till Cecily Parsley ran away.



Hmmmm. On second thought, perhaps not the most appropriate poem for a mother to honor her daughter on her birthday? Well, for one thing, Morgan is far too busy teaching her third-graders and juggling her masters degree classes to have time to brew ale, and I don’t think her honey would like all those gentlemen callers.

Have no fear, Beatrix Potter included lots of fun verse in her little volume, and it’s worth clicking over to The Gutenberg Project to enjoy the illustrations.

You might know that our Beatrix had quite the life beyond Peter Rabbit. One of my most treasured books is
Beatrix Potter's Art: A Selection of Paintings and Drawings
by Anne Stevenson Hobbs (Warne, 1990).
Though out of print, you might find a used copy here .

Its description reads:

“As the creator of one of the world's most celebrated children's characters, Beatrix Potter has rarely been seen as a talented and versatile artist in her own right as in many ways the outstanding success of her 'little books' has overshadowed her other achievements.” The book offers an array of beautiful paintings and studies of The Lake District and also sheds light on the author’s work for conservation.

So, hearty cheers for Beatrix – and even more for our Morgan Cecily today. We are all in awe of you.

Speaking of wonderful teachers, you can keep the poetry party going by hopping over to A Teaching Life, where the terrific Tara is our host this week!
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Poetry Friday: Won’t you toss me a line?

photos ©Robyn Hood Black


Help! Nothing leaves me less inspired than being covered up in tax stuff. The hubby is way better at numbers, but these kinds of things don’t make it to his “urgent” list, and since I do all the household money wrangling anyway, I just scramble as best I can.

So scrambling right now I am, generating mounds of (recycled, but still…) paper spewing out of my temperamental printer, tracking down receipts from what seems like eons ago in another state but was really just last year, etc. etc. We’re both more or less self-employed, and that makes everything complicated! We DO have a great accountant, but I have to give them something to work with.
Here’s a little haiku I wrote in my journal last year:


15 April
Titanic and taxes
start with T…


©Robyn Hood Black

(I’d recently read Allan Wolf’s compelling verse novel, THE WATCH THAT ENDS THE NIGHT, about that dreaded night of April 15, 1912.)

Enough of all that. Don’t you feel dusty and sluggish just having to read it? I do. So, I’m tossing out a couple of pictures that I posted on my my artsyletters blog this week. – this wonderful old typewriter sprouting pansies in the garden of a local antique shop (Bay St. Trasures), and antique buttons from another shop (Reflections Old & New).

Do either of these pictures inspire something poetic – even just a turn of phrase? When I linked the post on Facebook, our wonderful Diane Mayr
commented: “Buttons = character. Find which go with which (in your mind's eye) and write about them.” I think Button Queen Amy Ludwig Vanderwater
would like that idea! She started a “Button Project” about this time last year on The Poem Farm.

Well, if a blooming typewriter or some hundred-year-old buttons lead to a line or two or a few from you, please share below! That would be so much more fun to read than (– Sigh –) the most current calculations for mileage expense.

Thanks!!

And for lots of truly inspiring poetry, please visit the ever-dreamy Irene at Live Your Poem. She has the MLK edition of Poetry Friday today! Thank you, Irene.  Read More 
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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 - Found Poem for Friends Old and New

©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.
Greetings, Poetry Friday-ers!

I hope your holiday season is full of rich time with family and friends and a few too many calories. Thoughts and prayers for those going through difficult times in this ramped-up season.

My post today is simple. Here's an image I used on our personal Christmas postcard this year, a found poem I highlighted from LITTLE FOLKS - A Magazine for the Very Young, London, Paris & New York, Cassell & Company, LTD. (Bound collection from the late 1800s.)

It reads:

To My Readers

Once more, friends, looking back over
the past year, I
fancy each one of you, and express my hopes
that you
understand more and more fully
something of
old friends and
new ones too.


[Those are old typewriter and watch parts adding bling to the text, by the way. Might be hard to see in this picture, but one is providing a cradling branch for the illustrated bird.]

To say it's been a year of moves and transitions for our family this year is putting it mildly. But each one of us (hubby, me, recent-graduate-new-teacher daughter and recent-transfer-to-a-new-college son) has made new friends in new places, while appreciating even more our special friends who share our history.

This poem is my wish for online friends, too! Thank you for so much inspiration, fun, comfort and challenge. I look forward to a new year of poetry after the holidays. We'll be on the road next Friday, so I'll see you back here in the new year.

Safe travels and blessings to you and yours!

Lighting up Poetry Friday for us this week (it's almost the Solstice, you know!) is friend and talented writer Buffy over at Buffy's Blog.  Read More 
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Poetry Friday: Keats's "In drear nighted December"

Keats portrait by William James Neatby

Greetings, Poetry Peeps!

Can you believe it's December already? In hunting up a December-ish poem to share, I came across Keats. If I studied this one in college, I'm afraid I don't remember. Do you?


In drear nighted December

by John Keats, 1795 - 1821


In drear nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity—
The north cannot undo them
With a sleety whistle through them
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.

In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
Apollo’s summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.

Ah! would ‘twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy—
But were there ever any
Writh’d not of passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.


Click here for the Academy of American Poets and a bit more on the English Romantic Keats.

Well - a bit depressing I guess. The natural world has forgotten how happy it was in warmer months of the year, but we remember and feel loss? The poem has such a modern sensibility to me - "The feel of not to feel it" - I wouldn't guess that line to be almost a couple of centuries old. (It was composed in 1817 and first published in 1829.)

I hope your week has not been dreary! And if anyone tried found poem projects with kids or students, I'd love to hear about them. :0)

Next week will NOT be dreary here... We'll have our Student Haiku Poet of the Month, so circle on back between your holiday errands.

For the Poetry Friday Roundup today, hop on the nearest flying sleigh and make your way to Booktalking #kidlit where Anastasia is hosting! Thanks, Anastasia.

[NOTE: I'll be flapping around all day Friday getting ready for "Night on the Town"- businesses stay open late downtown to ring in the holidays, and I'll open my studio. I might be scarce until later in the weekend! :0) ]
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Thankful for Open Doors... and a Perfect Thanksgiving Poem

©Robyn Hood Black

This Thanksgiving will be a little different – the first time we haven’t spent the actual day of with our kids. Alas, hubby Jeff has to work Wednesday and Friday, and we’re a bit too far now to come and go to his folks’ home in one day. (Our kids, both in that foothills-neck-of-the-woods, will partake of the big meal and happy crowd chaos and re-charge their cousin batteries.)

I pondered making a quick turn-around trip to be part of all that, but my neuromuscular massage therapist said NO to driving that distance solo just yet. We’re adaptable – Morgan and Seth will come here for the weekend, and we’ll have Thanksgiving again – vegetarian-style – on Saturday.

This year, each one of us has dug up roots in one location and started a new life in another. Jeff got a head start by moving here to the coast before the end of last year. Then I made a zillion trips in the spring bringing over animals and furniture and way too many boxes. Morgan graduated from Furman, moved to a lovely little rental house in the area with friends, and started teaching third grade (and taking grad classes!) Seth completed a strong freshman year at Belmont, but traded in his Nashville city slicker pass to hang his hammock in the mountains of North Georgia at Young Harris College. (Perfect fit.)

Jeff and I have been getting used to the fit of our Empty Nester jackets. We joined a terrific church and have received kind welcomes from neighbors and new friends. We’ve taken lots of walks, downtown and on the trail over the marsh, and even taken in a play or two. And, okay, sometimes we spend evenings watching TV, at least when The Voice is on. (Morgan’s fault.)

When we were first looking into Beaufort, I hunted SCBWI members and found Kami Kinard , author of THE BOY PROJECT and THE BOY PROBLEM from Scholastic (books I wish I’d had for Morgan back in the day!) I stalked contacted Kami right off, and she was not only a wealth of helpful info, she’s become a good friend. Thursday evening, she hosted a get-together to introduce me to other writers in the area. Though self-conscious about those dynamics, I'm honored and thrilled to meet more members of the tribe. [One mutual writer friend I met soon after moving here – she’s a neighbor! Confirmation that we’d settled in the right spot.]

I’d love to say everything is orderly and flowing smoothly, but I’m still wrangling with storage challenges and realistic work schedules and such. Yet mostly I’m grateful – for long-time friendships unaffected by years and miles, and by new friendships we’ve been graced with. And for my online friends – some I’ve met in person and others I hope to.

In DAYS TO CELEBRATE, the incomparable Lee Bennett Hopkins shares an anonymous poem for Thanksgiving. (The anthology is one of many collaborations with illustrator Stephen Alcorn; I recommend buying all of them!)

The words are simple yet full of truth and warmth.

Thanksgiving

Anonymous

The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest is all gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.

Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway –
Thanksgiving comes again!


Posted here with permission - many thanks to LBH!

May your doorway be open to those you hold most dear. And wishing you comfort and peace if you are facing an empty chair at the table this year.

For a heaping feast of delicious poetry, please visit fellow South Carolinian Becky at Tapestry of Words for today’s Roundup!  Read More 
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Poetry Friday: What Do Teachers Make?

Our daughter Morgan, new grad student and brand-new third-grade teacher!

Teachers. It’s that time of year.

For me, it’s that time of life. My baby girl, the one who used to dress in prairie dresses channeling the Ingalls girls, and drag out some small congregation of dolls and/or stuffed animals, and hold court under the sun and on the grass with them – this same child has a brand new teacher badge and her name on a door a few hours away in a South Carolina elementary school. Third grade.

I could not be more proud, and I’m looking forward to a quick trip to help her finish setting up her classroom in a couple of days. I remember with utmost fondness my third grade teacher in Florida, Mrs. Ashton, and I’m certain there will be a few wide-eyed young faces in this state who will remember Morgan decades down the road, too.

So, today, this Poetry Friday is for you, Morgan! And ALL of you wonderful Poetry Friday folks who give yourselves to the next generation in schools, libraries, on school visits…. This poem might not be appropriate for the wall of a third-grade classroom, but it’s appropriate for the walls in every teacher’s heart. (Many of you know it already, I’m sure, but maybe the newbies don’t – and it’s worth reading again!)


What Teachers Make

by Taylor Mali

He says the problem with teachers is
What’s a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life
was to become a teacher?

He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true
what they say about teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.
I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the dinner guests
that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.
Because we’re eating, after all, and this is polite conversation.

I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor.
Be honest. What do you make?


And I wish he hadn’t done that— …



(Please click here to read the rest. You have to read the rest!)

Our youngest, Seth, actually got to go to the Dodge Poetry Festival a couple of years ago, where Taylor Mali was a featured poet (and Seth’s favorite). Why was my son there? An incredible teacher took him.

Speaking of incredible teachers, Mary Lee has today’s Roundup over at A Year of Reading . Enjoy!
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Poetry Friday - Summer Poem Swap and Poetic Procrastination from Buffy Silverman

Buffy's poem arrived with the wonderful blackbird graphic (credited below) and a small envelope with two treasures: fossils from Lake Michigan!

During The Summer Poem Swap, I’ve enjoyed a little banter with fellow participant Buffy Silverman about our – um – lack of ability to, technically, meet the deadlines. :0! [Aside: I had the privilege of meeting Buffy a couple of years ago at a Highlights Founders workshop in poetry, along with a few other Poetry Friday-ers. What a treat!]

This deadline business all started with the very first swap poem; I’d noticed a comment Buffy left on another blog with a wee apology that her poem would arrive a little late. I emailed her that her confession gave me comfort, because I was already running behind too! Little did we know we’d be swapping with each other just a couple of rounds later.

And little did I know she could turn that week’s suggested prompt into this poetic series that literally had me laughing out loud. My office cat, May, was in my lap while I read it, and she looked alarmed, wondering what all the fuss was about.

I’m sure you will enjoy Buffy’s offering as much as I did!


Thirteen Ways of Looking at Procrastination
(an apology poem for Robyn, with thanks to Wallace Stevens)


I
Among the pile of unfinished tasks,
The one that tore my soul
Was the poetry-swap poem for Robyn.


II
I was of three minds,
Like a blank page
In which there are three imaginary poems.


III
The unwritten poem whirled in the background of my day.
It was a small part of the pantomime of being a writer.


IV
Facebook and sudoku
Are one.
Facebook and sudoku and a week up north
Are one.


V.
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of Robyn’s poem for me not yet written
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The busy writer with assignments
That no one need know were completed seven days ago.


VI
Would icicles fill the study window
Before the summer swap poems were written?
The shadow of procrastination
Grows when Robyn’s poem arrives.
The joy of her gift
Traced with guilt
A decipherable cause.


VII
O idling writer of Augusta
Why do you imagine golden words?
Do you not see how the page
Still blank dances with rhythm
Of the writers before you?


VIII
I know about spiders and webs
And nimble, unpredictable rhymes;
But I know, too,
That frittering delay is involved
In what I know.


IX
When the excuses flew out of sight
The words marked the end
Of the empty screen.


X
At the sight of stanzas
Crowing in black and white,
Even the mistress of procrastination
Would cry out sharply.


XI
She rode to
Beaufort in a manila envelope.
Once, a fear pierced her,
In that she mistook
The lateness of her words
For ineptitude.


XII
The neurons are firing.
The missive will soon be flying.


XIII
It was easier to write than to delay.
It was sunrise
And it was going to glow.
The words poured
From the writer’s pen.


--Buffy Silverman, July 2014

Image from http://www.julianjardine.co.uk/alisonread.html

©Buffy Silverman. All Rights Reserved.

Now, don’t procrastinate – get thee hence to this week’s Roundup over at Reflections on the Teche , hosted by the lovely and talented Margaret. (You can see Margaret’s Round One Summer Poem Swap gifts to me here .)

And… BLATENT COMMERCIAL WARNING: If you have a little correspondence to catch up on yourself this summer, I’ve just added a couple of beach-themed note card designs to the artsyletters stable. You can see them on my art blog hereRead More 
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