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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - ISSA's Seasonal Haiku - on Mini Cards!



Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

I hope your year is off to a good start. With the turn of the calendar, I got inspired to create some mini haiku cards - one for each season. Each card features a poem by haiku master Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), translated by Dr. David G. Lanoue. (Hint - need to peruse Issa's seasonal haiku? Just go to David's HaikuGuy.com, find the Kobayashi Issa website page, and type in the season - or any subject - you're looking for, and you'll be rewarded with relevant results from David's 10,000-plus translations! You can also learn how to sign up for "Daily Issa" - a haiku each day in your inbox. I love these and I know some of you are seasoned fans, too.)

Here are the haiku I selected to feature on the cards. Let's start with spring,which, if I understand the Japanese calendar in Issa's time correctly, would be just a week or two away right now and which would herald a new year.


the mountain sunset
within my grasp ...
spring butterfly


summer mountain -
with each step more
of the sea


from leaf to leaf
tumbling down ...
autumn dew


first winter rain -
the world fills up
with haiku



Poems by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue. Used with permission.


For the cards, I lettered each haiku in an italic hand. Then I scanned an antique map (Rand, McNally & Co.'s Map of the World, from an 1885 Business Atlas) into Photoshop as a background, making sure Japan was included in the small section. I digitally adjusted colors to suggest each season - pink for spring (cherry blossoms, after all!), green for summer, browns for fall, and an icy blue for winter. The back of each card is the same, acknowledging Issa as poet and David as translator. I had the designs commercially printed onto 2-inch by 3 1/2-inch cards with gloss coating on the fronts.

I'm making these available in little gift bags with one of each card, or for sale as individual designs. This week I tucked a little bag into a friend's birthday card before mailing! And, well, there's Valentine's Day coming up... click here if you'd like to see these in my Etsy shop.

And be sure to click over to Beyond Literacy Link, where the lovely and tireless Carol has this week's Roundup. She has a call to participate in her Winter Wonderland Gallery, too - check it out for lots of cozy company in poetry and art!

Before you go, what is your favorite season? Can you pick a favorite haiku from the small sampling above?
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Poetry Friday - TRAVELING THE BLUE ROAD with Lee Bennett Hopkins, Margarita Engle, & Others...


I’m up to my knees in ancestral sleuthing lately, as mentioned in last week’s post. Copying what I’ve seen on other Ancestry.com family trees, I’ve been slowly adding sailing ship profile pictures to folks I can identify as immigrants in my own tree.

Our stories are borne upon waves.

TRAVELING THE Blue Road: POEMS OF THE SEA (Seagrass Press, an imprint of The Quarto Group, 2017) is a recent and breathtaking collection by Lee Bennett Hopkins, featuring works by a dozen of today’s most stellar poets and mesmerizing illustrations by Bob Hansman and Jovan Hansman.

First, the visual.

The violet- and indigo-hued cover is gorgeous, with its subtly-rendered small boat silhouette sailing along a horizon line of water above the title, against a backdrop of what I perceive as bubbly stars. Spot gloss on the boat and text adds to the appeal.

A variety of media is used in illustrations throughout the book, including pastels, charcoal, Conte crayons, cut paper and markers. An endnote about the artwork says, The images evolved over the course of the book, beginning with an entirely “archival” image, gradually blending archival images with drawn images, and ending with entirely drawn images. Even the art, which undulates between ethereal and gritty, is a journey.

The personal and creative story of father-son art team Bob Hansman and Jovan Hansman is amazing – Click here for a 2014 feature in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

There is also a note about the various type fonts employed. (This causes shallow breathing in a lettering & type nerd such as yours truly.) I learned a thing or two, and I so appreciate the care taken with this aspect of the book. Exquisite.

Then – the words.

      Wistful with wind and North Star,
      the sea sailed steamships, …


I fell overboard immediately with those opening lines from Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s Forward poem, “SEA.”

Readers embark on a journey through centuries, from Columbus’s 1492 voyage and The Mayflower in 1620 through The Middle Passage and desperate travels during the Irish Potato Famine, World War II, and the Mediterranean Refugee Crisis, among others.

Here is a poem toward the end of the book from Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle, about the Mariel Boat Lift in Cuba, which took place over six months in 1980:


      CARRIED ON SWAYING WAVES OF HOPE


      Adiós, Mariel, crowded port
      where boats swoop like seabirds,
      each vessel filled up with people
      who dream of seeing primos, tíos y amigos
      on the far shore
      in La Florida,
      where we will soon
      celebrate a fiesta
      with plenty to eat
      and freedom to speak
      of our past, present, future

      as families
      reunited…

      but still divided.

      Adiós, Abuelita, adiós.
      Will I ever see my grandma
      again?



©Margarita Engle. All rights reserved. Used with permission.


Other contributing poets include Paul B. Janeczko, J. Patrick Lewis, Allan Wolf, Marilyn Nelson, Denver Butson, Georgia Heard, Jane Yolen, Naomi Shihab Nye, G. Neri, and Lee Bennett Hopkins.

The oceans portrayed in this collection are weighty, powerful, full of both promise and threat, as described within the final poem by Lee Bennett Hopkins:


      seas seas smooth seas unfathomable seas titan seas …


After the poetry, brief, thoughtful notes explain the historical context of each poem and the dates of the events they describe. The collection targets ages 8 and up. It has been named a 2018 Notable Poetry Book for Children by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). (Congratulations, all!) Read more, including some stunning reviews, at the publisher’s website here .

What was it like putting together such a challenging collection? Lee Bennett Hopkins shares these thoughts:

      Compiling this anthology was an emotional experience for me. Each poet worked endlessly on each poem. We went back and forth to consider various points of view, honing not only lines and words but syllables! I wanted the poems to read like the waves of the ocean ... calling us, hugging us, showing its strength, power and what it had done, does, and will continue to do forever.

The imagery evoked gave me goose bumps: "Wistful with wind"; "fearless faith'; "facing the blue unknown"; 'the sea was never mine to see". Only poets can do this with language. They capture the sweeping, swooping, clinging, breathing sea.

I am indebted to know these marvelous talents. Ah, poetry. Ah, Poets.


(You caught that, right? The honing not only of lines and words, but syllables? That's why anthologies with Lee Bennett Hopkins's name on the spine are worthy of the accolades received, and then some!)

One final note: So delighted that Lee dedicated this book to Judith Mandell and Stephanie Salkin, whose persistence and organization of many moving parts supported Lee’s induction into the Florida Arts Hall of Fame last February, which I got to see with my own eyes. (A trip on land I’ll always treasure!)

Many thanks to Margarita Engle for sharing her poem here this week, and to Lee Bennett Hopkins for this brilliant collection, another wondrous and important addition to the bookshelf.

Speaking of journeys, for more fine poetry, steer your ship toward A Journey Through the Pages, where our good Captain Kay is rounding up Poetry Friday this week.
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Poetry Friday - Let's Go to Scotland!



January Greetings! I hope your year is off to an inspiring start.

We were thrilled to see both our families and our kids over the holidays, though three trips to three different states in those couple of weeks means I am still trying to get my ducks in a row for this new year.

I did manage to corral some traveling ducks this week, though – and we couldn’t be more excited.

A year ago right before the holidays, I made my hubby and kids all spit in vials and sent said spittle off to Ancestry.com to see what we were made of. We said we'd make 2018 travel plans based on the results. Despite some wee bits of diversity, our lot is pretty much British and/or Irish through and through. So this summer, it’s off to Scotland and Ireland for us! (We’ve got Welsh and English roots, too, but we’ll focus on the Scottish and Irish branches this go-round.)

And while I hope our plans will go as smoothly as travel plans can go, perhaps the season of resolutions is the right time to recall our friend Robert Burns’s words to a wee mousie, displaced by a farmer’s plough a couple of centuries ago. Besides, the Scottish poet was born in January – like yours truly and our daughter Morgan (isn’t that a fine Celtic name?).

Click here for the entire poem and more info about the poet. Below are the ending stanzas, with their famous lines:

from To a Mouse

On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough,
November, 1785


….

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o' Mice an' Men
            Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
            For promis'd joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e'e,
            On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I cannot see,
            I guess an' fear!


Raise a glass to Mr. Burns on January 25, the 259th anniversary of his birth, if my math is right!

One lovely trip bonus is that we will (barely!) overlap with my long-time kidlit buddy/friend Elizabeth Dulemba, who has been pursuing graduate degrees in illustration in Edinburgh, and who comes back to the states during summers to teach at Hollins University. If you don’t know Elizabeth’s work or website, you are in for a treat – she’s garnered awards for both her writing and art. She’s also one of the most generous blogger-folks out there, and her Coloring Pages enrich countless lives each and every Tuesday. (Sign up to receive them!)

She even has a great TEDxTalk called, “Is Your Stuff Stopping You?” It was inspired by the move she made to Scotland in pursuit of her dreams, and the downsizing she and her husband were willing to do to make it happen. (See the link at the top of her site.)

AND, if that’s not all, Elizabeth just featured a terrific interview with our own Irene Latham and Charles Waters about their hot-off-the-press poetry collection from Carolrhoda Books, Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship. I just ordered my copy!

I’ll be spending lots of time on e’s blog in coming months, perusing all her posts on Scotland. To make that virtual journey yourself, click here.

For today’s roundup, get out your poetry passport and head over to bookseed studio, where our amazing Jan is welcoming all with a post on Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Poetry Friday - HAPPY NEW YEAR & Wander Over to READING TO THE CORE



New Year's Greetings! Somehow I'm still on Holiday Break, with the last of three "travel legs" to go to see family today, on the heels of our surprise snow storm here in the Lowcountry this week. Translation: I didn't get a post conjured up. So I'll see you next week, but be sure to start 2018 off on good poetic footing with our Dear Catherine, rounding up at Reading to the Core. Cheers!  Read More 
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Poetry Friday - Simple, Poetic Holiday Gems...


It's been a week... a year, in fact, if you want to know the truth. Some years are like that!

Since posting about the loss of Beaufort's Bennett last week, we swung to the other side of the emotional spectrum with a visit from son Seth, who found out while here that he got into Emory's Candler School of Theology for next year, with good scholarship news as well.

And then, Thursday, we had to say goodbye to the kitty Seth had gotten as a young boy. Lancelot had a good, long life, but it's never easy parting with a beloved four-legged family member.

My recent weeks have also been filled with artsyletters orders, so that's been great - but busy. As I'm still toting around a boot for the Achilles I re-injured last summer, some things just didn't get done this holiday season. Postcards instead of actual cards. And, written on the ones to folks I usually send little holiday goodies to, just a note saying, "Packages aren't happening this year - but sending love."

My hubby set up the tree after Seth got here, and Seth hung some ornaments. I was still hanging after he drifted out of the room. At some point I looked at the tree, looked down at the ornament box, and back at the tree. Despite the fact that several ornaments were still inside the box, I closed the lid. The tree was full enough, for this year anyway.

I finally just bought ingredients and loaf pans for cranberry bread. Maybe it will get made. Maybe some loaves will be given away. And maybe another reason I gave myself a pass on the home front is that we'll be travelling - three little trips - in and out this holiday season to see family, rather than hosting folks here.

So in the spirit of less-is-more because that's all I can manage this year, I went hunting for a simple holiday poem or two. I found a couple of gems in the 1952 edition of THE ARBUTHNOT ANTHOLOGY OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, a volume that my mother-in-law loaned me years ago and that somehow I still haven't quite returned....

Enjoy.


GLADDE THINGS

(Unknown)

Of gladde things there be four, ay four:
A Larke above ye olde nest blithely singing,
A wild Rose clinging
In safety to a rock, A Shepherd bringing
A Lambe found in his arms,
And Christmasse Bells a-ringing.


That makes me smile so!

And, because this time next week we'll be getting in from Hither and heading right back out the door to Yon, here's an early New Year's poem.


NEW YEAR'S DAY

by Rachel Field

Last night, while we were fast asleep,
      The old year went away.
It can't come back again because
      A new one's come to stay.



[Rachel Field lived from 1894 to 1942. She won the 1930 Newbery Medal for Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, and penned the gorgeous and beloved poem, "Something Told the Wild Geese."]

Wishing you and yours a lovely holiday season, and remembering those for whom holidays, and winter, are tough. The solstice is just behind us now, so on toward the light of a New Year! (See you in two weeks.)

Follow the light to this week's Roundup, graciously hosted by our beloved Buffy.
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Poetry Friday - Step On Over to Lisa's for the Roundup

Howdy, All - Working overtime with the elves in the shop again this week! (I'll even list a few new jewelry items in coming days, for procrasti- er, I mean, last-minute shoppers! ;0) ) Please visit Lisa over at Steps & Staircases for this week's Poetry Friday Roundup. Jingle jingle!
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Poetry Friday - Young America by Julia M. Dana


Poetry Friday Greetings!

This week, the news left me feeling heavy, again, and dashing off yet another letter to a Senator, explaining that while I appreciate his email survey/solicitation of feedback re. the tax bill, none of that will matter an iota if a big chunk of the world gets blown up because of recklessness. Maybe not quite enough sleep has me overreacting.

I craved something lighter to share, and stumbled upon this offering, one of the "brilliant gems of song" in my book, Among the Poets - The Best Poems by the Best Authors, selected by A. A. Smith (J. A. Ruth & Co., Philadelphia and Chicago, 1886). The book makes me smile, with its ornate cover, fancy type, and still-shiny gilded edges. It's one of the few in my studio that's safe from my, um, repurposing....

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the poem, which I found uncomfortably relevant. Make of it what you will. [I was not able to uncover biographical details about the poet except other publishing credits, some in children's publications. But if Julia were around today, I'd love to meet her for tea!]


           Young America
            by Julia M. Dana

"Come hither, you madcap darling!"
      I said to my four-year-old.
Pray what shall be done to the bad, bad girl
      Who will not do as she's told?
Too well you love your own wee way,
      While little you love to mind;
But mamma knows what is best for you,
"And isn't she always kind?"

So I told her of "Casabianca,"
And the fearful burning ship.
"Do you think," said I, "such a child as that
      His mother would have to whip?"
And my heart went out with the story and
      of the boy so nobly brave,
Who would not dare to disobey,
      Even his life to save.

Then her eyes grew bright as the morning,
      And they seemed to look me through.
Ah - ah, thought I, you understand
      The lesson I have in view.
"Now what do you think of this lad, my love?"
      Tell all that is in your heart."
"I fink," she said, "he was drefful good,
      But he wasn't the least bit smart."




Note - The poem "Casabianca" recounts a story (based on a historical incident) of the young son of a French commander, who would not abandon his post when the ship caught fire without a command from his father, and - died. Wikipedia says the poem was standard fare for schoolchildren in the UK and the US for a hundred years, until the 1950s. (Whew - I was barely spared by a decade or two!)

Speaking of tea, wouldn't you know Mary Lee at A Year of Reading has some ready for us, over at the Roundup? Thanks, Mary Lee!
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Poetry Friday - Little Bits & Leftovers (Found Poetry Ornaments)


Happy Post-Thankgsgiving!

I hope you and yours had a warm and wonderful holiday together. As some face empty chairs at the table, or empty pockets, and as we often cringe to turn on the news, shared times of celebration are to be especially savored.

As are leftovers! Today I have some little bits to share which don't add calories. In recent years, I've been able to find great little gold frames to use for found poem ornaments for my Etsy shop, but they are elusive. This year I found some silver(ish) photo frames made the same way, but they're a bit rough around the edges. They are lightweight - aluminum? - and they have scritches and scratches, particularly at the tops.

No matter - I had to conjure up a few ornaments with them anyway. Two regular sized ones; two tiny ones, for now. (I finished listing these while traveling, and one listing got swallowed up in some cyber black hole on Etsy. I'll get it posted later Friday after I'm back.[Update - fixed now!])

I used vintage stamps for the images on one side of these, and found poems/phrases clipped from GOLDEN DAYS For Boys and Girls, Vol. XVIII -- No. 6, December 26, 1896, (and one from January 22, 1898) [Philadelphia: James Elverson, Publisher] on the others.

The first is my wish for this season:

kind,
indulgent
Christmas Eve
People
everywhere.


It has a postage stamp with a classic painting of the nativity on the back. I'm not sure of its country of origin.

The second, from an article about making Christmas gifts:

you have made
beauty
perfectly
like
old gold and
scarlet


with a beautiful Australian Christmas nativity stamp on the reverse side, printed in a gorgeous red (on my handpainted verdigris background).

The third, a small one and the one temporarily lost on Etsy, has a Canadian Christmas stamp on the back - a jolly Santa! - and the following:

buried up
drifted
what fun it was
all bundled up



The fourth, also small, is perhaps my favorite. And I do hope you'll forgive/indulge me. The stamp side features a four-cent US postage stamp from 1977 which reads, "A Public That Reads - A Root of Democracy" (backed by the handpainted verdigris).

Here's the found text:

heathenish
Christmas
liberal


For this one, a quote by G K. Chesterton (1874-1936) floated in my mind: "Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly."

I've made lots of new magnets this year with letters and vintage literary stamps (new Emily D!), and I posted a bit of a magnet how-to on my artsyletters site. I also featured that Chesterton quote in my new artsyletters letter newsletter, and there's a sign-up button on the right at artsyletters.com. Seasonal only - I won't have my act together to conjure one up more often than four times a year! ;0) Here are links to my Etsy shop magnet section and ornament section. (Free shipping on orders of $25 & up this Black Friday through Cyber Monday!) ;0)

Whatever shape your own leftovers take - culinary or literary - I hope you have a relaxing and peaceful weekend before the whirlwind of December! Continue the poetic celebrating over at Carol's Corner, where Carol is Rounding Up and sharing Carole Boston Weatherford's SCHOMBURG: THE MAN WHO BUILT A LIBRARY.
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Poetry Friday - Head up to Canada & Pay a Visit to Jane!

Happy Poetry Friday! The elves are working me particularly hard in the studio this week, and I'll just be sign-posting to this week's roundup instead of offering a thoughtful post myself. (Next week, I'll feature some new found-poem ornaments and such that are almost done. Check in then as you're figuring out what to do with leftovers!)

Many thanks to Jane, our wonderful Raincity Librarian, for hosting today.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US, I'm deeply grateful for each of you in our Poetry Friday community. New folks always welcome! XO  Read More 
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Poetry Friday - Haiku by Liz and Yours Truly in ACORN



Greetings, Poetry Friends! For those in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope you are having a lovely fall. Many recent weather challenges in parts of the US, I know.

Fall brings acorns, and if you are a serious fan of haiku, perhaps it should bring the haiku journal Acorn to your doorstep. When I first fell into the form, I fell in love with this gem of a journal. I enjoyed and studied it, and have been fortunate to have my own poems appear in it over the years.

Founded by A.C. Missias in 1998, Acorn was edited by Carolyn Hall when I discovered it. Susan Antolin took over editorial reins in 2012. The selective pocket-sized journal, with its simple layout and contributors from around the world, is published twice a year.

My poem in the current issue is one of several I've written after visiting our son, Seth, in Asheville. He is doing a service-year internship there with an urban ministry program which primarily serves those experiencing homelessness, as well as others in the community. After taking Seth out to breakfast one quiet Sunday morning, as we walked a few blocks back to our car, I was struck by the following image:


empty street
she stoops to pocket
a half-cigarette



©Robyn Hood Black
Acorn, No. 39: Fall 2017



This week Charlotte Digregorio asked if she could feature this poem as a daily haiku on her terrific Writer's Blog. (Thank you, Charlotte!)

(To simply move on from my poem without further explication, skip this wee paragraph.) Heavy-handed poetic devices are avoided in haiku, but subtle ones can be slipped in if they don't detract from the images. In this poem, I thought the consonance of "st" and "p" sounds worked, because the reader is stopped by them somewhat, as the subject stops to pick up a used cigarette. Also, the word "stoop" can carry more than one connotation. Its meaning as a noun might even come to mind, silently suggesting a resting place where an unhoused person might rest or sleep for a spell at the entrance to a building.

Back to Acorn...

I was delighted to see a poem by our own Elizabeth Steinglass in the current issue as well.

Liz is another big fan of the journal.

"I love holding a volume of Acorn in my hand," she says. "It's just the right size and the paper is beautiful, but in a subtle way that provides a perfect backdrop for the haiku."

In the way of haiku, hers is both timeless and timely. I believe many will find that it particularly resonates this week, so I leave you with her rich words.


hands cupped
around a fragile flame
candlelight vigil



©Elizabeth Steinglass
Acorn, No. 39: Fall 2017



(Thanks for sharing, Liz.) Love and light to those who especially need it this week.

One pocket of our Poetry Friday universe which always offers warmth and light is Jama's Alphabet Soup - Visit Jama today for both, and for the Roundup!
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