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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Victorian Found Poem/Writing Advice...


Greetings, Poetry Folks!

I hope you have had a wonderful holiday with people you love. The holidays can be tricky - virtual hugs if that wasn't the case for you this year. We have been counting our blessings visiting with family.

In fact, we're still visiting, so today I'm offering just a bit of fun from the studio. I've been drooling over HILL'S MANUAL - SOCIAL AND BUSINESS FORMS: GUIDE TO CORRECT WRITING (Chicago, Moses Warren & Co. Publishers, 1880), with all its Victorian flourish and advice for every communication situation, per Victorian standards. I'll be making lots of art from it I'm sure, and for starters I've made a small shadow box (6 inches by 6 inches) with a found poem for writers. (Above - Click here to view on Etsy.)

Here's the "revealed" text - more of an adage than a poem, perhaps, but I hope you enjoy!

Writing

writing
becomes the
familiar
teacher
that will entertain and
instruct while
faculties of mind are employed


Kind of a 19th-Century-inspired expression of our modern maxim encountered at writing conferences, on blogs, etc.: BIC ("Butt in Chair")! Though maybe after a big meal this week, we need to temper that discipline with an extra walk or two.

Enjoy, I hope, a long weekend! And FIND lots of great poetry to keep you company at Carol's Corner with our delightful Poetry Friday host.
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Poetry Friday: Poetry by the Sea Cont., with Moon Snail...



Greetings, Poetry Friday Peeps!

Last week you kindly indulged my sharing a wee bit about the Poetry by the Sea Retreat in Jupiter, Florida, led by the amazing duo of Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard. And thanks for the kind words about my snail poem.

I mentioned fellow attendee Mary Glover in the post -- an educator, yoga instructor, poet and artist from Phoenix. She generously shared the poem she wrote about that same kind of shell in the comments, but her poem and her thoughts deserve more light, so I asked her if we could share them this week. I’m glad she agreed!

After reading her insights and her lovely poem, you’ll want to meet her, too:

Like Robyn, I was also fortunate to have participated in Poetry by the Sea. It was truly a magical time, between the moon, the lovely ocean setting, and most importantly, the extraordinary circle of poets gathered.

Being from the desert, I spent all my spare moments wandering the beach, looking for shells and sending out prayers for our planet to be healed of all the plastic littering its oceans. I was fascinated by the moon snails I found, one of which I gave to Robyn. I love what she wrote about it and have been thinking about "the mathematics of home." There are so many layers of meaning in that line.

To complete the circle of this story, here is my poem:



Moon Snail


You are a spiral, soft eggshell
brown with a tint of rose.

Wave-dropped at my feet,
I hold you in my hand as
you teach me about life.

I think of my own, spinning
faster than I can believe
to its outer edges.

Until I found you, I thought
the spiral closed in, diminished.
I can see now it's quite the
opposite, that what's left
is the expansive part.

Widening into open space,
I notice near your final curve
a well-placed opening--
a portal, perhaps,
to somewhere else.



© Mary Kenner Glover, all rights reserved.


Many thanks to Mary for sharing her evocative work. For more of the same, and for pictures of her beautiful artwork, please visit her site, Life is a Practice.

For more inspiring poetry, please drift on over to Writing the World for Kids, where the always-awesome Laura has this week’s Roundup (and her own poem about a natural wonder). Read More 
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Poetry Friday - Poetry by the - Ahhhh.... - Sea!



Happy Poetry Friday!

I'm freshly back from a sweet and salty word-filled adventure by the sea, in Jupiter, Florida, led by Poetic Forces of Nature Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard.


Yes, it was as amazing and wonderful as you're imagining. :0) For three glorious days we met, mingled, jingled (don't ask), waxed poetically, waned after fulsome readings and discussions, all to the yin and yang rhythm of ocean tides, and even under the Super Harvest Moon - gorgeous over the water - and its eclipse a couple of hours later into that intriguing Blood Moon.


How delightful to catch up with poet friends: leaders Rebecca and Georgia, and fellow attendees Stephanie (Fla.) and Dale (Ga.); and also to meet new poet friends Dorian and Jude (Fla.), and Mary, Karen, Pat, and Kitty - all from Arizona!

We wrote, read, shared and breathed poetry pretty much the whole time. Okay, maybe we ate some good food and drank a little wine, too. The last morning, I even got to share a whirlwind mini-introduction to haiku!


I found a kindred spirit in Mary Glover, an educator, yoga instructor and artist from Phoenix. (She makes rich and colorful collages, incorporating words and text.) She showed me a handful of shells she'd found, and a snail shell with a small hole in one side. Later, she presented me with its "cousin" she'd found on another beach walk - the very same kind of shell, with a little hole of its own.


Naturally, that became the subject of one of many poems I wrote during our time together.


Spiraling

for Mary

No bigger
        than my thumbprint -
this honey-dipped,
        putty-colored shell.

Snail long gone.
        Edge a little worn.

A perfect Fibonacci spiral -
        the mathematics of home.

A hole in one side
        hints of eclipse.
I see the emptiness inside.

Yet, this hole ushers in
        unexpected
        light.


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


(Mary wrote a gorgeous poem about her shell, by the way.)

Perhaps you can tell mine is written by a relatively new empty-nester?

I might tinker with other poems from the weekend with an eye to submitting them for publication somewhere. But our few days, refreshingly, did not detour into conversations about business and publishing so much as they focused on craft - on carefully considering each word we or fellow poets set to paper.

I'm already looking forward to next year!

By the way, I left my home office for a few minutes while composing this post, and below is what May, my ancient office kitty, contributed in my absence. I'm not sure what it means, but maybe it was inspired by this week's moon (?), or the idea of mathematical sequences, or both. I thought you or your cats might also enjoy. It is unedited:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++787878787878787878787878787878787878787878787878787878

For poetry that makes a little more sense today, please go savor all the links rounded up by poet and teacher extraordinaire Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe .

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Poetry Friday - Fan Girl-ing for Georgia Heard

Top: Morgan, Georgia Heard, and moi at the Upstate Schools Consortium Nonfiction Writing Workshop at Furman University. Bottom: Just a few of my favorite Georgia Heard books. She has a brand new one out, too - The Woman in This Poem.

I am one lucky dog.

Not only did I travel to Greenville, SC, to attend a bridal fair this week with Teacher-Daughter Morgan, but she was also signed up for a Thursday workshop at Furman University (alma mater of her, me, and my hubby) on nonfiction writing with - drumroll... - Georgia Heard.

When I found out about it, I emailed the amazing and generous Dr. Nelly Hecker, who is the head of Furman's Education Department. You see, many moons ago, I was in Dr. Hecker's children's lit class at Furman! She was always so encouraging about my writing. You know, if you've ever been fortunate enough to have a teacher or professor believe in you, how important that is! Anyway, soon I received a reply that she'd registered me for the seminar as a guest. :0) [By the way, this lovely lady has not aged at all in these intervening decades. Not a bit. I have.]

At the seminar, sponsored by the Upstate Schools Consortium, Morgan took pages of notes to use in her classroom. I took pages of notes to refer to as a writer and to enrich school visits. If you've had the pleasure of hearing Georgia speak at a meeting or conference, you know how terrific she is. She talked about poetry as an important element in nonfiction writing, and if you've read any of her books, you also know how she uses different genres with students to bring forth their very best writing. Her teachings encourage students of any age to think, AND to write from the heart.
{{-sigh-}} She nurtures and celebrates wonder.

Meeting Georgia was especially special for me because my first poems published in a children's anthology appeared in her collection of found poems, THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK (Roaring Brook, 2012). (Here's my blog post about it.) I've been in love with found poetry ever since.


Here is the first part of Georgia's poem, "Where Do I Find Poetry?" -


Where Do I Find Poetry?


I open my eyes and what do I see?
Poetry spinning all around me!

In small ants trailing over the ground,
bulldozing dry earth into cave and mound.

In a hundred grains of ocean sand,
that I cradle in the palm of my hand. ...


©Georgia Heard. All rights reserved.

For the rest, please click here for the Poetry page on Georgia's website, which includes lots of information and resources. The full poem appears in Climb Inside a Poem: Reading and Writing Poetry Across the Year by Georgia Heard and Lester Laminack (firsthand, An imprint of Heinemann, 2008).

Speaking of cradling ocean sand in the palm of one's hand, this weekend I'm on the road again, headed down the coast to South Florida, for a poetry retreat with... wait for it... Georgia Heard and Rebecca Kai Dotlich! I know, I can't believe it either. We will be meeting, writing, and enjoying inspiration for a few days by the sea. I've had the good fortune to workshop with Rebecca before (workshop is a verb, right?) and can't wait to see her again. We will all be in good hands with Rebecca and Georgia, I know.

If you're still even talking to me next week, I'll let you know how it was!

Speaking of Poetry Goddesses to Fan-Girl For, guess who is rounding up today? Poetry Goddesses Sylvia and Janet are hosting a Hispanic Heritage party over at Poetry for Children. Enjoy!
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The Slough of The R-Word...


[We interrupt our currently scheduled July break to say that we don't seem to be able to stay away from Poetry Friday for that long. We are popping in with a wave before mid-August!]

Anyone who’s ever seriously burned to see their work published has dealt with it, the dreaded R-Word: rejection.

But with a quick lick of the wound and a swallow of pride – gulp –, rejection can be a very good teacher. This week I noticed an email from an editor of a haiku journal about my latest submission. Though my work had appeared in it several times, the last time I submitted, no poems were accepted, so I had a bit of trepidation. I elected to open it right there from my phone – the print would be smaller and less intimidating, right?

It was big enough:

“I'm afraid I didn't really feel anything in this batch up to your usual work. …”

Ouch. The editor did offer specific feedback about one poem, which was plagued with a “vague” reference.

I’ve been around the publishing block a few times, so at least I have a seasoned “thought” response that eventually catches up with the initial emotional response to an editorial “No.” [There’s no easy way to get this, by the way, except by actually living through a good bit of rejection along the journey.]

The mind tells the heart: “Um, it’s not personal so you’re going to have to get over yourself a little. Editors are busy folks. When they reply with specific feedback at all, it’s to be considered at the very least, and appreciated when you are ready.”

I’ve had a taste of the editorial side of the computer screen, too, as assistant editor of a children’s haiku publication a few years ago. It’s a humbling and rewarding job, and looks like I need to put that hat back on for my own work a bit more.

On the brighter side, there are three P words I’ve often used in author talks with students: practice, persistence and patience.

When I first discovered real haiku a few years ago, I was hooked and couldn’t get enough. I read book after book and subscribed to the top journals, and read online journals as well. After a year or so of reading and regular writing, I sent off what I thought were my best poems to a few of them. Nothing was accepted.

But there was encouraging feedback from a few editors, so I buckled down and spent a good hunk of the next year reading, reading, writing, and reading haiku. I submitted again. And in almost every batch, a poem or two was accepted. I rolled along with acceptances for the next year or so – my pen was golden! – until, alas, the R word reappeared.

For one journal, after a few publications, I had a whole year’s worth of rejections. Sigh. I took a breather from that one for a little while (with my move & injury thrown in last year for good measure). A few weeks ago, I closed my eyes and hit “send” on a fresh batch of haiku to that publication. To my delight, the editor sent back an acceptance.

I’m really not selling any morals or lessons here, just offering some company along the journey. If you’re edging toward the Publication World’s Slough of Despond, either back up and turn around, or lift that chin up and slog your way on through. You'll find you are not alone, and most of us have a good bit of mud on our shoes.


THE PILGRIM
by John Bunyan (1628-1688)


Who would true Valour see
Let him come hither;
One here will Constant be,
Come Wind, come Weather.
There's no Discouragement,
Shall make him once Relent,
His first avow'd Intent,
To be a Pilgrim.


Who so beset him round,
With dismal Storys,
Do but themselves Confound;
His Strength the more is.
No Lyon can him fright,
He'l with a Gyant Fight,
But he will have a right,
To be a Pilgrim.

Hobgoblin
, nor foul Fiend,
Can daunt his Spirit:
He knows, he at the end,
Shall Life Inherit
.
Then Fancies fly away,
He'l fear not what men say,
He'l labour Night and Day,
To be a Pilgrim.



Journey forth to the lovely and talented Margaret’s Reflections on the Teche where you are sure to find poetic refreshment and rejuvenation for the quest.
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Poetry Friday - A Few Haiku; Writers Wrule...

© Robyn Hood Black
Happy November!

Next week, we'll enjoy another Student Haiku Poet of the Month. To tide you over, here are a few of my recent (fairly recent anyway) published haiku:



lingering afternoon
the ebb and flow
of birdsong



This World - Haiku Society of America 2013 Members' Anthology




firelight -
old friends meet
for the first time



gazing at flowers - Haiku Society of America Southeast Region 2013 Anthology



and, I can't believe it's been almost a year since I wrote this next one. (Not sure the fog ever completely lifted...):



december fog my to do to do to do list



Modern Haiku, Volume 45.3, Autumn 2014


All poems ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


How about you - are you glancing at the calendar in shocked disbelief, stocking up on extra boxes of Wheaties? [Note to self: insert blatant self-promotional segue here... ;0) ]

Many of you have kindly purchased from my Etsy store, artsyletters , the last two holiday seasons. Though this past year has involved a complicated interstate move and a late summer injury that knocked me out of work for a couple of months, I'm slip-sliding back into the crazy stream here just in time for the holidays. While I haven't been able to make intricate fine art (but I'm almost back enough for that!), I've been busy making some new items for literary and artistic types.

In addition to the Book Nerd gift pack and Poet gift pack I conjured up last year, I've just added a Teachers Rule gift pack , a Writers Wrule gift pack, and a Maker Magnet gift pack for your favorite artisan. I'm listing new items each week.

Now, wish me luck - I'm opening the doors of my studio this evening for downtown Beaufort's "First Friday" fun, where businesses stay open from 5 to 8 and folks meander and mingle. (There's a lot of meandering and mingling in the "slow"-country.)

Thanks!! I'll lift a cup of hot cider to all our Poetry Friday peeps. All busy, of course, posting wonderful poetry - and we're rounded up today by the amazingly talented Diane, PF host extraordinaire, at Random Noodling. Diane also offers a perfect welcome to November in poem & picture.
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Poetry Friday: Dog Goodbyes



A few children's lit folks I'm friends with on Facebook have posted tributes to dogs they've had to say goodbye to recently. We were in the same boat last Saturday. Our dachshund mixes, Asper and Oliver, joined our family as pups (rescues) back in 1999. Asper has knocked on Heaven's door a couple-few times in recent years, only to rebound and romp with us for a little while longer.

Last week, after enjoying a few days with us at the beach following Morgan's college graduation, he began his journey across that Rainbow Bridge. Morgan was in second grade, just seven years old, when we got him. (Oliver became Seth's dog when Seth was just four - and now he's a rising sophomore in college. Oliver does not quite know how old he really is, and we're not telling him.)

In my own Facebook post, I lauded Asper as our "Playful Pup, Defender of the Realm and Bodyguard to Morgan, Toy Hoarder, Copperhead Slayer, Couch and Bed Buddy, Trouper to the End..." - he was all that and then some.

I'm sharing all this because recently my father-in-law forwarded an email from a family friend. Here was the message: "Do you have a copy of Robyn's poem. If not would you forward this to Robyn. I have a friend who is grieving over his dog now. He needs her Poem."

I remembered the poem - it was one I'd written for my husband's brother when their family lost their wonderful Australian Shepherd, Gracie - back in 1998! I couldn't find the poem in my files (piles of boxes) at the new house, but emailed our friend that perhaps it was still in my old home office. Lo and behold, on my last trip to clean out that office, I found a copy. It went like this:

MEMO

To: God
Date: 10/30/1998
Re: Gracie

A good dog came your way today -
By now, I'm sure you know.
Please show her to the tennis balls
with an angel who can throw.

Her people down here miss her.
When you can, help them to see
they helped her have a playful heart
that's now forever free.



©Robyn Hood Black, but free for others to borrow and adjust name/date, if it might comfort any family who's lost a good dog....

Now, that poem won't win a Pushcart prize, but I was touched that those few lines were brought to the mind of my dog-loving friend after all these years, and that he wanted to share them with his grieving friend. Perhaps the most surprising part of the story, however, is that when I took the newly-found copy by my in-laws' house, my mother-in-law not only remembered the poem - she recited it by heart! We should have just asked her in the first place.

I was humbled, and comforted that poetry has the power to soothe when "regular" words don't quite seem enough. Thanks for letting me share.

For today's Poetry Friday Roundup, please visit the lovely Catherine Johnson.  Read More 
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HAPPY POETRY MONTH!



Happy National Poetry Month!

(Click here for more on that from The Academy of American Poets.)

What's going on in the Kidlitosphere to celebrate? Glad you asked. First, the amazing Jama has rounded up a month of goodies and links over at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Better warm up the fingertips for all that clicking into wonderfulness.

Second, I'm thrilled to be participating again in the 2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem

coordinated by the ever generous and talented
Irene Latham.

Here's the schedule - Just click the link for the current day of the month and follow along as the poem magically develops!


1 Charles at Poetry Time

2 Joy at Joy Acey

3 Donna at Mainely Write

4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!

5 Carrie at Story Patch

6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro

7 Pat at Writer on a Horse

8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

9 Diane at Random Noodling

10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference

11 Linda at Write Time

12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

13 Janet at Live Your Poem

14 Deborah at Show--Not Tell

15 Tamera at The Writer's Whimsy

16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

18 Irene at Live Your Poem

19 Julie at The Drift Record

20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman

21 Renee at No Water River

22 Laura at Author Amok

23 Amy at The Poem Farm

24 Linda at TeacherDance

25 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books

27 Kate at Live Your Poem

28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose

29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town

30 Tara at A Teaching Life
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Some Novel Good News for Some Writing Buds!

Top: Elizabeth Dulemba signs A BIRD ON WATER STREETBottom: Janice Hardy and Robyn celebrate Janice's new guide, PLANNING YOUR NOVEL


I’m feshly back from our SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle in Atlanta, and it was wonderful! (I may have moved, but I lobbied to remain a Breezer!) You can read a great recap on author and illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog, here.



Speaking of Elizabeth, we’ve been riding these Southern Breezes together a long time, even sharing a critique group a few years ago. That’s why I was particularly excited that at our conference book launch on Saturday, e presented her FIRST NOVEL fully fledged. It’s an environmental story which she’s poured years (and her heart) into, and it’s called A BIRD ON WATER STREET (A SIBA Okra Pick!). It sold out at the conference bookstore.



What’s that? Oh - I hear you whispering, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel, but I don’t know where to begin.” Well, speak up and take heart: another dear author friend, fellow Breezer and amazing blogger Janice Hardy had a hot-off-the-press book to share at the signing party. It’s called PLANNING YOUR NOVEL: IDEAS AND STRUCTURE, and it’s a treasure of practical tips gleaned from her years blogging about fiction writing and nurturing emerging writers. In fact, it’s Book One in her planned “Foundations of Fiction” series. Check it out, and learn about Janice’s other books, here.

Now, Gotta Run - my to-be-read stack is calling.

Happy Reading and Writing!
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Poetry Friday: Workshopping a Haiku... (from HSA Meeting)

clipartpal.com



Greetings, Dear Poetry Friends!

Talk about inspiration overload lately. Today I'm back in Atlanta for our Illustrator Day and Springmingle conference this weekend. Last weekend, I was in a different Atlanta hotel with another creative tribe for the quarterly Haiku Society of America national conference/meeting.

March has been good to my creative soul.

I thought I might offer a peek into "workshopping" a haiku poem from that meeting. (Curtis Dunlap and I facilitated an informal process much like this at our Southeast regional conference back in October.)

Every workshop last weekend was stellar, thanks to conference planners HSA President David G. Lanoue, Terri L. French, and Tom Painting. Our second session was a haiku-writing workshop called "The New Traditional Haiku" led by Lee Gurga, award-winning poet and former HSA president. He is currently editor of Modern Haiku Press.

I'm not going to give away Lee's talk - join HSA and come to a fabulous meeting! - but I'll share a taste. After considering a variety of examples of and approaches to contemporary haiku, we were given handouts with three poems (not haiku) by well-known poets (19th and 20th centuries). We also received blank index cards. Lee invited us to borrow images from these poems, or be inspired by them, and craft some new haiku, keeping our discussion in mind.

While I usually take my time to develop poems and create them from some direct personal experience, it's fun in these settings to just turn loose the Muse and understand that everyone's efforts are first drafts. We each turned in our cards with our anonymous poems, and Lee selected a few for us to take a look at. I was delighted when one of mine came up for discussion. My original scribble on the index card went like so:

spider
her light escape into the dark


(The three words, "her light escape," were from Dickinson and grabbed me. Though referring to Summer in the original poem, I already had a spider image in my mind from another of the handout poems, and I've written a few haiku about spiders. I love playing with opposing forces in a haiku, so "into the dark" just wrote itself.)

Terri was our scribe to pen these haiku on a large pad, and it's interesting that she wrote the second line as, "her light escape into dark" without the "the". (Terri is a sharp, fine poet.) She quickly amended it to reflect what was on the card, but we all agreed the poem certainly didn't need the "the". (I also hear the voice of Lee Bennett Hopkins in my ear when I've let an unnecessary article or other little word slip through, and as soon as I saw the phrase written out, I thought, Did I put that "the" in there?! I hope I would have struck it on a second draft!)

Our workshop talk then turned to lines and construction. Should the poem be set up more traditionally, as:

spider
her light escape
into dark


or one line:

spider her light escape into dark

Well, I like either of these options better than what I originally put down.

A suggestion was also made to play with spacing, maybe drawing out the moment:

spider    her light escape      into     dark

or some such.

Looking at all of these suggestions, I might pick the three-line construction as my favorite for this poem, even though it's the most traditional. One, the "spider" and "her light escape" are not jammed awkwardly together if separated by the line space, and, Two, that short pause as the reader goes from the second to the third line gives our little arachnid just enough time to make a surprise exit!

Hopefully this brief romp has offered a hint at the myriad decisions and options available in writing a "one-breath poem." It was an honor and treat to meet some of the genre's best practitioners and advocates, and to get to know a few I've met before a little better!

The Poetry Friday Roundup today is hosted by none other than our wonderful Mary Lee at A Year of Reading. Quick - make your escape over there for lots of great poetry!
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