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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: In the Wilderness with Carl Sandburg

illustration © Colin Howard from WOLVES.

Yesterday the spring-like sun was shining and the wolves (and other animals) were frisky and full of themselves at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, and I had a terrific time visiting with them. That put me in a mind to find a good, wild poem for today. I really love Carl Sandburg's "wilderness that will not let (him) go." Here are the first and fourth sections, but you'll want to click the link at the end to read the whole poem:

Wilderness

by Carl Sandburg


There is a wolf in me … fangs pointed for tearing gashes … a red tongue for raw meat … and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.

[...]

There is a fish in me … I know I came from saltblue water-gates … I scurried with shoals of herring … I blew waterspouts with porpoises … before land was … before the water went down … before Noah … before the first chapter of Genesis. ...


Please click here to enjoy the whole poem. (If you have time, leave a comment below with your favorite fun phrase - one of mine is the "saltblue water-gates" above.)

And then run, creep, slither, swim, fly or otherwise get thee to Dori Reads where Doraine has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup.
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Poetry Friday: The Big Bad Wolf has his Say

I’m always curious about how animals are depicted in stories, myths, folktales and art. As well as in the media – I haven’t yet seen it, but this week’s TIME has an intriguing cover story about a scientific examination of friendships between animals.
One of my favorite spreads in my WOLVES book is a brief look at “The Mythical Wolf.” For the illustration, I suggested a human in wolf clothing on one side (an indigenous person wearing a wolf pelt as a sign of admiration), and a wolf in human clothing (think of our Western “big bad wolf”) on the other. Colin Howard produced brilliant artwork.

I recently ran across this poem, “The Wolf’s Postscript to ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ ” by Agha Shahid Ali (1949 – 2001, credited with introducing the classical form of the ghazal to American readers). In the poem below, I fell in love with the speaker’s dry, sophisticated voice. See if you don’t agree it’s dark and delicious (and rather sad, too):

The Wolf’s Postscript to ‘Little Red Riding Hood’
(excerpt)

by Agha Shahid Ali

First, grant me my sense of history:
I did it for posterity,
for kindergarten teachers
and a clear moral:
Little girls shouldn't wander off
in search of strange flowers,
and they mustn't speak to strangers.

And then grant me my generous sense of plot:
Couldn't I have gobbled her up
right there in the jungle? …



Click here for the rest of the poem.

And be sure to check out the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by Laura this week at Writing the World for Kids.
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Dahlonega Literary Festival

Arrrwoooo - Just a heads' up that I'll be one of the featured children's authors at the Dahlonega Literary Festival this weekend. I'm presenting a session on WOLVES at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, in the St. Luke Parish Hall.

Other Southern Breezers appearing this weekend will be my good buddy Janice Hardy and Mark Braught and Laura Knorr.

I'll be at The Crimson Moon for "lunch with the authors" Saturday at 11:30. Click here for festival information and a schedule. Most events are free and open to the public. Read More 
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Have You Hugged Your Wolf Today?

To celebrate Wolf Awareness Week (Oct. 16-22), I thought I’d celebrate with some pack-related poetry. I have the privilege of volunteering with a couple of wolves at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve in Dahlonega, Ga. In light of the news this week, I’m sure I’m not the only one with a heavy heart for the senseless loss of animal life in Ohio, and also for the law enforcement officers who had a terrible but unavoidable task to protect the public. Surely laws in that state regarding the keeping of exotic animals will be strengthened now.

If you happen to be in north Georgia, I'll be presenting a session for kids featuring wolf information next month on Sat., Nov. 12, at 3 p.m. at the Dahlonega Literary Festival.

Here are a couple of poems I wrote a while back about the captive wolves I’ve been honored to know.


The Bottom Line


Sit, Luna.

I hold a piece of cheese above her nose.
Her back end hits the ground.

But she knows and I know:

A wolf only sits if she wants to.


© Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved


Butterfly Dance


Yellow butterfly
flits and floats outside the pen.

Gray wolf leaps and prances inside -
matching movements,
up and down,
following buttery wings.

La Mariposa.

Musky, muscular,
magnificent
she-wolf
dances

the

Butterfly Dance.


© Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved

Note: In Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes describes a solo tribal dance in New Mexico called the “Butterfly Dance.” Traditionally, Hopi youth perform a social dance called “The Butterfly Dance” in late summer.

Attempts are ongoing in the Southwestern United States to reintroduce the Mexican Wolf, the most genetically distinct type of gray wolf. Efforts have not met with the same success as the reintroduction of wolves in the greater Rockies. For updated USFWS Mexican wolf information, click here and here.

And for wonderful poetry, go see what Jama’s got cookin’ for the
Poetry Friday Roundup.
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How's Your Wolf Awareness?

© Robyn Hood Black
It's

WOLF AWARENESS WEEK!
October 16-22, 2011

I celebrated with Luna and Rio at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve today. Their coats are starting to thicken up for colder weather.

If you love wolves, check out all the great online resources at the International Wolf Center. There are pages for kids, teachers, and wolf enthusiasts of all ages.

And, if you're in north Georgia, I'll be presenting a session with wolf information next month at the Dahlonega Literary Festival on Sat., Nov. 12, at 3 p.m. at the Children's Stage.

Check back Friday for a wolfy Poetry Friday post. Read More 
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A Pack of Poets

SCBWI Southern Breeze Poetry Retreat with Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Twenty poets gathered in the north Georgia mountains last weekend for an SCBWI Southern Breeze poetry I coordinated with special guest,
Rebecca Kai Dotlich. That thunderstorm mentioned at the end of last week’s post from Rebecca’s poem visited us more than once at the Center for New Beginnings
in Dahlonega, Georgia. We enjoyed sessions with Rebecca, who said her favorite poems offer a *surprise*, wonderful food and fellowship, individual critiques, and sparks of new poems begging to be written.

For more information and pictures, visit my POETRY page and also attendee Jean Matthew Hall’s blog. Doraine Bennett blogged as well at Dori Reads.

This week I also had the privilege of speaking to some upper elementary and middle school writers at Lakeview Academy’s Writers Camp! What a talented group of creative young people.

But wait – there’s more. It was also Zoofari Camp this week at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, and I popped in over there, too. I love talking about writing and also wolf education, so it was a great experience. I even brought Rio down from his pen to say hello to the campers (from a safe distance!). See pictures on my WOLVES and STUDENT GALLERY pages.

Back to the retreat – Rebecca was a terrific good sport out in the woodsy, rustic environment – particularly considering we learned “woodsy” and “rustic” are not really her thing! I have to say I loved running half-wild through the woods as a kid, and I guess I’ve never outgrown it.

Thinking about that, I dug out this poem written soon after I started volunteering with wolves three years ago. (I know – it’s a little strange! But it still applies.)


"Breath of Fresh Hair"


Sometimes the wolf smell lingers
on my skin or in my hair –

I like catching a whiff on my sleeve
in the grocery store.

I hate to wash it off in the shower.

It’s not a scent for civilized company.

It’s the smell of secrets,

of murky mist –

heady and heavy,

wild and holy.


©Robyn Hood Black
All rights reserved.

Please visit the Poetry Friday Roundup at
Check it Out!
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Summer Camp at Chestatee Wildlife Preserve

Just a quick shout-out to folks who might know youngsters in the Dahlonega, Ga., area who are crazy about wild animals - There's about a week left to sign up for the "Zoofari" Summer Camp at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve. The camp is for kids ages 7 to 12 and is scheduled for June 13- 18, 9:30 to 3:00 each day. Click on over to the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve website and find the "Summer Camp" tab to learn the details.

I'll be there sometime during the week presenting a session on wolves. Arrwooooooo! Read More 
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Exploring Big Cats and Little Kitties (and more) with Author Scotti Cohn

It's been a fun month of featuring nonfiction nature writers! For our last visit, I'm happy to host Scotti Cohn. I “met” Scotti online when her fellow Sylvan Dell author and my good friend Gail Karwoski told me about Scotti’s gorgeous rhyming picture book, ONE WOLF HOWLS (illustrated by Susan Detwiler). Needless to say, Scotti and I discovered we are pretty much from the same pack! The Illinois writer, who is planning to move to South Carolina in a few months, tackles a wide range of subjects for readers of all ages, and you should check out her great blogs. Today we welcome her for a sneak preview of her new book from Sylvan Dell, also illustrated by Susan Detwiler, BIG CAT, LITTLE KITTY.

Welcome, Scotti! We share a lot of passions, including members of the canine and feline families – wild or domestic. Tell us about your new book, BIG CAT, LITTLE KITTY. What does it have in store for young readers, and how did you come up with the idea for it? Read More 
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Country Roads and the Big, Bad (?) Wolf

Betty King, VP for the WV Symphony Education and Operations, brought me to the Charleston area for several days in area schools (Nov. 2010). What great folks!
Gracious thanks to Betty King, the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and so many great folks in the Charleston area for a week of wolfy, writing fun in schools! The Symphony sponsors and ambitious arts in education program, and I got to be part of it this year.

School children from throughout the region will get to experience Grant Cooper's "Song of the Wolf" (a recasting of the Three Little Pigs, with The Wolf as an environmentalist) as part of the Young People's Concert Series later this month. In preparation, arts-in-education goddess Betty King and her staff have been working with local educators, offering ideas for projects limited only by the imagination.  Read More 
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Mom 2 Mom Connection interview!

I'm thrilled to be featured on Heather Ivester's great blog, Mom 2 Mom Connection, a terrific source of encouragement for busy parents who also love to write. Copy and paste this link for the interview:

http://heatherivester.com/2010/08/31/author-interview-robyn-hood-black/

Heather is a talented author who knows a bit about combining mothering and writing. As it says on her site, "Heather Ivester has a heart for parents who feel called to write, as she’s the mother of five school-aged children, and writing is the only way she can complete a sentence around her house." Ha!  Read More 
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