Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Thanks for all the PF love for my post last week - I appreciated every word. This week I'm burning way too much midnight oil with First Friday downtown on tap as well as travel this weekend. Please go make welcome Cheriee at Library Matters upon her first time hosting the Roundup! She's got a poet to introduce you to, too. Thanks, Cheriee!
Life on the Deckle Edge
Greetings, Poetry Lovers!
Maybe you caught the just-finished complete series on PBS by Ken Burns, Country Music. (Click here for info.) I'm a huge fan of his work, and this thoughtful chronicle did not disappoint. Well, I haven't actually finished yet. I had to hit "pause" after the third episode, as it was making me sad and flooding my psyche. But I've had some days to reflect and move forward, and I'm eager to finish watching.
The poignant part came because the words and music and images so reminded me of some of my family members - folks long gone. My Uncle Jay (my mother's brother) loved kind of the music shared in the first few episodes, particularly gospel music. Chatting about the series, my mother told me it tugged on her heartstrings, too - even seeing images of houses with newspaper on the walls to keep out the cold took her back to her growing-up years in rural Arkansas.
But it's the country in all that which brought memories of my dad. He loved it and lived it. The album cover above shows him at age 26 (!) - just between the ages of my kids now. My wonderful brother Mike had just entered the world, I guess, but I was still in the eye-glimmer stage of pre-existence.
Dad is described in the album copy:
BOB HOOD, staff announcer at WNOX. His morning record show has number one rating in East Tennessee area. Is leader of Rhythmaires. Sings, plays drums, plays fairs, conventions, show dates, country clubs, etc. in East Tennessee as well is in surrounding states. Has appeared at Ramp Festival, Hill Billy Homecoming at Maryville, Tennessee, Tennessee Valley A. & I. Fair in addition to his regular appearance on the WNOX Barn Dance. Is six feet tall, weighs 165 pounds. Has blue eyes, brown hair, is 26 years old.
(**update** - Mike found a link to Dad’s single of “It’s Nothing to Me” here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?fbclid=IwAR1GCBOZdtelN4ARlmEGhAEvQUGnfc1Ee-8gMTmmYug-rssAbTec2JdZfy0&feature=youtu.be&v=EP9hqdniRZs —Thanks, Bro!)
I remember Dad's working at WHOO, a radio station in Orlando. Of course, I didn't fully appreciate country music while growing up, really - I was excited when Dad brought "extra" records home from the office that they couldn't use; albums from The Who and The Rolling Stones, for instance, though I wasn't a teenager yet. (For you younger readers, an album is a circular black vinyl repository of magical sounds and occasional clicks, spinning on a turntable and played by a needle at the end of a long arm...!) ;0)
As an adult, I learned to value the raw honesty of country music lyrics, and folded it back into the variety of genres I listen to. And you gotta admit, it's entertaining.
On the album pictured above, my dad sang a couple of songs, both about a man killing another man over a woman! Country music isn't shy about such things. This week I took the record from its cover, took a deep breath, and played a few of the songs on a Crosley turntable we have. (I had forgotten how satisfying it is to lay the needle down, just-so, in the groove between songs, and watch it catch a stray piece of dust or two as it works.)
For my Poetry Friday offering, here are a few lines from one of those songs Dad sang, written by Harlan Howard:
Runnin' like a dog through the Everglades...
Where a man can hide and never be found
And have no fear of the bayin' hounds
But he better keep movin' and don't stand still
If the 'skeeters don't get him then the 'gators will
(I enjoyed that, since we grew up in Florida! You can hear The Kingston Trio sing the entire song here.)
If classic country music isn't your thing and you don't recognize the song or the songwriter, chances are you've at least heard Harlan Howard's motto/definition of country music:
three chords and the truth
I've heard Ken Burns quote that famous line in interviews about his series.
(Learn more about Harland Howard here.)
So, growing up, our folks hosted parties late into the evenings when country stars were in town. My mother woke me up one night to come out and meet Willie Nelson in the living room. She recalls his joking with her that "Good Hearted Woman," which he wrote with Waylon Jennings, could have been written for her. (You know the chorus - "She's a good-hearted woman in love with a good-timin' man....")
Those chords did hold the truth. There were good times - Dad received the Billboard Magazine Country Music Station Manager of the Year Award in 1971. It was a big ol' deal, and he received congratulatory messages from stars. (My brother tracked down a mention on page 48 in the Nov. 13, 1971 issue of the magazine here, under "Nashville Scene.") But the good-timin' part took its toll. Not too long after, my dad left my mother for another woman and his alcoholism intensified as the years rolled on.
My good-hearted mama didn't turn us against him, though - and I have some lovely memories of time spent together and conversations, as I made my way on through to adulthood. He walked me down the aisle. Years later, his second marriage ended.
He got to meet our firstborn, Morgan, and was beyond delighted with her. He died two months before Seth was born - a heart attack just after turning 60. It was a shock. He'd been in a good place, then - but years of Jack Daniels and cigarettes caught up with him.
That mama of mine did re-marry, and in February will celebrate 40 years with a very good-hearted, and very entertaining, man. (So lift a toast to Nita and Jack around Valentine's Day!)
I'm ready to get back to the Ken Burns series - I left it at the year of my birth, 1963. This week, I was able to truly enjoy listening to those old songs on the WNOX Barn Dance album. I figured, life is short - that music was designed to be experienced, not just packed away inside a cardboard jacket. Dad also had a group called the Rythmaires, and they performed several instrumental songs on the album. I hadn't noticed before that they played a tune called "Harold's Reel" - I figured my primal need for Celtic music came from the Irish and Scottish branches of the family tree I've discovered in recent years, but perhaps I heard some of this wonderful music when I was a wee thing and it imprinted that way, too!
Art is timeless - words, music, poetry. Wishing you inspiration and comfort, whatever is your "station" in life at the moment.
The lovely Carol invites us to wander (and she's got some country roads!) over at the Roundup today at Beyond Literacy Link. Enjoy!
So deLIGHTful to see you, my Dears... I'm afraid I'm away today, motoring over to Georgia for a mother-daughter tea date. We're going to treat ourselves to DOWNTON ABBEY this weekend. Perhaps you've heard of it?
--Please do take your calling card over to TeacherDance, where the ever-lovely Linda is hosting Poetry Friday. (Formal dress not required. )
Greetings, Poetry Lovers!
Back from our "hurrication" and all is well at our humble abode; Beaufort was very fortunate for the most part. Thanks for the kind wishes last week!
If you're still keeping a weather eye out, you might know that this is Friday the 13th - AND, a full moon! The next time those two tingly occurances will coincide will be August 13, 2049. (Quick, do the math - how old will you be?!)
This is a Harvest Moon, because it occurs closest to the Autumnal equinox. It's not feeling much like fall in many places, including here, at the moment.... but I've seen a wee leaf drift here or there. And I got a good look at the almost-full moon as I came out of my studio last night; its face was so very clear!
I have a thing for the number 13, having researched it for a former poetry project that may or may not ever come to harvest. It's a number that's a bit bewitching of course, as is the moon.... All that feminine energy, 13 lunar months in a year, and such.
In Act V of Shakespeare's The Tempest, we read of Caliban:
His mother was a witch, and one so strong/That could control the moon.
For more playful enjoyment of today's "lunacy," here is a poem by Robert Louis Stephenson (1850-1894)...
The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and fields and harbour quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.
The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
All love to be out by the light of the moon.
But all of the things that belong to the day
Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;
And flowers and children close their eyes
Till up in the morning the sun shall arise.
That first line, and several others, make my swooooon! I'm sure we could come up with a clever "moon/swoon" line. In fact, just one more line and we'd have a 13-line poem.
This time of year in my artsyletters studio, things begin to get a little dark.... I'm beginning to add to my "haunted jewelry" section, and some darkly delicious elements are creeping into other items. For instance, how could I resist the little black cat charm in the bookmark above, in vintage picasso/jet Czech glass? And how could I resist dangling a vintage pewter articulated fish skeleton beneath it?
Fall brings out the mischief in me. Lots more studio mischief to come. (I have some more black and orange earrings, for instance, made with snips from a magazine cover from the 1860s - when Robert Louis Stephenson was still a teenager!) I'm also still playing with skeleton images under glass cabs, from a French encyclopedia page from the 1920s. I can't help myself. I've got some Nevermore/Raven earrings, too, which I try to keep stocked at the amazing bookstore around the corner from my shop, Nevermore Books. (If you need to indulge your dark-side aesthetic sensibilities to help you embrace the impending season, click over to their home page and enjoy the ambiance.)
Here's to the Friday the 13th Full Moon - may you dance, howl, bay, prance, and most of all, compose poetry bathed in its lovely, spooky light! And here's to Laura Purdie Salas, celebrating aNOTHER wonderful new picture book and hosting us all for Poetry Friday at Writing the World for Kids. (She's got a give-away, too!)
Greetings, All! Thanks for all the good wishes re. the hurricane. We've turned our evacuation into a "hurrication" and are squeezing in a visit with our daughter and hubby in Georgia. We've heard from friends that our house looks fine, and we are very, very grateful. Keeping those who did not fare well close in our hearts and prayers. For this week's roundup, go see Sylvia (& Janet) at Poetry For Children!!
Greetings, Poetry Lovers!
I have a lifelong habit of talking to animals. Not just the family dogs, kitties, birds, hamsters, goats and horses we've had over the years, but ANY animals, anywhere.
A few weeks ago, still in the walking boot I've recently shed for a little ankle brace and real shoe, I was hobbling through our open carport when I noticed a female anole on the storage shed door. She was keenly eyeing me, but also keeping tabs on an insect a few inches beneath her. I noticed that she sported a replacement tail, and somehow I was comforted by the sense of renewal this suggested, being ankle-deep in the healing process myself.
"Ahhh, so you got yourself out of some kind of scrape, I see?" I asked her. She stared back. "You can eat your lunch. I'm not going to hurt you." I was a respectable few feet away.
She turned her head back to the initial object of her attention, and grabbed her insect. (Our SC Public Radio Naturalist Rudy Mancke likes to use the term 'recycled' when one critter consumes another, as in, "That insect was recycled into an anole.")
Fast forward a few weeks til now, when Jeff and I were planning a fun holiday weekend down to Florida to see my brother Mike and his hubby Scott over on the West Coast, with a swing by Orlando to see my folks on the way back. With "lizard medicine" dancing around in my psyche, you can imagine my delight when Scott shared that "GeckoFest" - a community art festival with a parade and everything - would be happening on Saturday not far from them, in Gulfport. I was very psyched for GeckoFest.
But, alas, I guess we'll have to shoot for next year. With Dorian prowling out in the Atlantic, and no easy way to get back to our coastal Lowcountry address from their Tampa Bay area address if there are actual evacuations or early torrents of rain on Sunday, we are going to stay here at home this weekend with our tiny Chihuhahua, and our tiny anoles.
in brown and green
the story changes...
©Robyn Hood Black, all rights reserved. Biscuit Crumbs, 2018 Anthology of the Southeast Region of the Haiku Society of America.
Keeping a weather eye out here, and sending wishes for safety and calm to Florida family and to our Florida Poetry-Friday-ers, including Michelle, Jan, Stephanie Salkin, and Georgia Heard and Charles Egita down in South Florida.
Speaking of creative, irresistable, resilient creatures, our lovely Kat is rounding up Poetry Friday this week, so a poetic walkabout is in order, don't you think?
Greetings, Poetry Lovers!
It's a special Poetry Friday, as Amy over at the wonderful Poem Farm is offering a lovely way to honor Lee Bennett Hopkins, who died two weeks ago and whose loss is deeply felt by countless friends and fans across the globe. (Thanks to Jone MacCulloch for the idea of this theme today.) Amy not only celebrates her own grateful connection to Lee, but she has gathered links to sites and obituaries. Words can't completely capture such a life, but as Lee loved words so, they can shine and glow and sparkle in tribute.
I hope you'll forgive my slight departure from the suggestion of coming up with an original poem using a line from one of Lee's poems Instead, I'd like to share a poem I wrote the first time I met Lee, when he led a Poetry Master Class at the big SCBWI LA conference 12 years ago. Participants each wrote a poem that weekend, and he read one during his keynote address on the last day of the conference.
I'm sharing mine because Lee emailed me after the conference to tell me that he liked my poem. I was thrilled beyond belief! (More to the story, but I'll spare the spindly details.) I had written a sonnet, inspired by his many books, and fueled by the tables of colorful titles for sale that stretched for miles at the conference.
(Can I just get it out of the way that I think I'm a somewhat stronger poet now, thanks to a decade of haiku and of course to influences from Lee, and from Rebecca Kai Dotlich, and other amazing poetic mentors? Okay - thanks.)
So here is the poem, flaws and all, and sweet to me because Lee took the time to share some kind words about it in correspondence, and even made an editorial suggestion here or there, reflected in a couple of lines. And, because, I miss him very much. Sending continued love to Lee's cherished husband Charles (whom I also first got to meet at the LA Conference), and to our community of fans and poets who have lost such a "Dear One."
How to Buy a Book of Poetry
I prowl around displays of stacked-up books,
a quiet hunger gnawing deep inside.
Some volumes catch my silent, stealthy looks,
while slowly stalking now, I must decide.
A vibrant cover takes my breath away -
I linger, stop, then claim it with my hand
to seize the book, a panther with her prey -
surveying what she knows to be her land.
While poems leap from pages crisp and new,
lines capture my attention as I read
their sparkling thoughts, at once unreal yet true -
mystical, magic words my deepest need.
A hunter with her prey? I'm not so free.
This poetry I bought - it now owns me.
©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.
I know we'll all enjoy roaming from post to post celebrating Lee today over at Amy's, and picking up other poetic delights along the way.
Oh, with all the rain we've had, it is treefrog season! Each sojourn out the side porch might bring a wee green surprise tucked in beneath the porch rail or under the light. We have a small unofficial wetlands on the other side of our back fence, and the serenades are hearty at times.
I was delighted to learn that Joyce Sidman (Newbery Honor and Sibert Medal winning author, and everybody's favorite!) will have a treefrog book coming out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2021. It's called Dear Treefrog and will be illustrated by Diana Sudyka. Click here and scroll down for the PW announcement.
Perhaps Joyce would enjoy my haiku in the current issue of bottle rockets:
rounds of rain
rounds of treefrogs
©Robyn Hood Black. bottle rockets, 21.1, #41. All rights reserved. (click here for more on bottle rockets press, Stanford Forrester, editor.)
I also couldn't help myself and bought up some discontinued Vintaj charms, with a 'teensie' frog and reeds, and have just started making some "haiku" earrings with a nod to the most famous haiku poem around, Basho's "old pond...." (Click here for a discussion of that poem on the Aha Poetry site of the late Jane Reichhold.) The text for these earrings is typed on my old dusty, trusty Underwood. (Click here for the listing. I'm making more, some with variations.)
Now, if actual TREES are more your thing than treefrogs, or you love everything nature-related, hop on over to Christie's Wondering and Wandering for a tree-themed Poetry Friday!
**Special Note: Next week, our wonderful Amy at The Poem Farm will gather up links to original poem posts honoring Lee Bennett Hopkins. To participate, click here for the details at the top of Amy's post last week. You can see my post from last week for a link to last year's surprise online birthday party we hosted for Lee, with links to all kinds of celebratory posts which help us appreciate and remember.**
So many of us are at a loss for words today. I am still trying to let the news sink in, that Lee has left us. What a life - and what a legacy. His books will continue to enrich countless souls. He made them for the children, after all - he always had young readers and writers foremost in his heart. His keen mind crafted only the best for them.
Read to me, Lee -
again and again.
Click here to revisit the surprise, online 80th birthday party we all threw for Lee last year. It was my honor to collect the links. I look forward to meandering through them again to remember and celebrate. We still love you, Lee - we always will.
Special love to Charles in this time of deepest loss. Your life together was luminous.
No better way to honor Lee than to celebrate poetry. Thanks to Molly for hosting the Roundup today at Nix the Comfort Zone. [P.S. - Here is a five-minute video interview with Lee from last summer, recorded in his home office, brimming with books and good humor.]
Greetings, Poetry Lovers!
This summer has found me pining a bit for last summer, when we were traipsing around Scotland and Ireland and having a glorious time. Recently I came across a surprisingly fun poem in a nearly 200-year-old book I have, RELIQUES of ANCIENT ENGLISH POETRY: Consisting of Old Heroic Ballads, Songs, and Other Pieces of our Earlier Poets; Together with Some Few of Later Date (Sixth Edition, Vol. III, London: Samuel Richards and Co. Grocers' Hall Court, Poultry, 1823.)
Before you run off... in this current climate charged with all kinds of political hyperbole and braggadocio, I found some humor in these old words. It's a tale of a battle between the fancy English and the gritty Scots at the border. Enjoy! (I'll type in the introduction after the poem, in case you are as nerdy as I am and are interested. ;0) )
Sir John Suckling's Campaigne
Sir John he got him an ambling nag,
To Scotland for to ride-a,
With a hundred horse more, all his own he swore,
To guard him on every side-a.
No Errant-knight ever went to fight
With halfe so gay a bravada,
Had you seen but his look, you'ld have sworn on a book,
Hee'ld have conquer'd a whole armada.
The ladies ran all to the windows to see
So gallant and warlike a sight-a,
And as he pass'd by, they said with a sigh,
Sir John, why will you go fight-a?
But he, like a cruel knight, spurred on;
His heart would not relent-a,
For, till he came there, what had he to fear?
Or why should he repent-a?
The king (God bless him!) had singular hopes
Of him and all his troop-a,
The borderers they, as they met him on the way,
For joy did hollow, and whoop-a.
None liked him so well, as his own colonell,
Who took him for John de Wert-a*;
But when there were shows of gunning and blows,
My gallant was nothing so pert-a.
For when the Scots army came within sight,
And all prepared to fight-a,
He ran to his tent, they ask'd what he meant,
He swore he must needs goe sh-t-a.
The colonell sent for him back agen,
To quarter him in the van-a,
But Sir John did swear, he would not come there,
To be kill'd the very first man-a.
To cure his fear, he was sent to the reare,
Some ten miles back and more-a;
Where Sir John did play at trip and away,
And ne'er saw the enemy more-a.
*John de Wert was a German general of great reputation, and the terror of the French in the reign of Louis XIII.
Here is the introduction:
When the Scottish Covenanters rose up in arms, and advanced to the English borders in 1639, many of the courtiers complimented the king by raising forces at their own expense. Among these none were more distinguished than the gallant Sir John Suckling, who raised a trooop of horse so richly accoutred, that it cost him 12,000l .The like expensive equipment of other parts of the army, made the king remark, that "the Scots would fight stoutly, if it were but for the Englishmen's fine clothes." (Lloyd's Memoirs.) When they came to action, the rugged Scots proved more than a match for the fine showy English: many of whom behaved remarkably ill, and among the rest this splendid troop of Sir John Suckling's.
This humorous pasquil has been generally supposed to have been written by Sir John as a bantar upon himself. Some of his contemporaries, however, attributed it to Sir John Mennis, a wit of those times, among whose poems it is printed in a small poetical miscellany, intitled, "Musarum Deliciae: or the Muses' Recreation, containing several pieces of poetique wit," 2d edition. By Sir J.M. [Sir John Mennis] and Ja. S. [James Smith], London, 1656, 12 mo. (See Wood's Athenae, ii. 397, 418.) In that copy is subjoined an additional stanza, which probably was written by this Sir John Mennis, viz.
But now there is peace, he's return'd to increase,
His money, which lately he spent-a,
But his lost honour must lye still in the dust;
At Barwick away it went-a.
Hope that brought a smile! Here's hoping whatever "campaignes" you have yet this summer will be a success, and best wishes to those (like my Morgan) who are already back at school readying classrooms for a new crop of eager young minds.
Speaking of wonderful teachers, mount your trusty steed and charge over to My Juicy Little Universe, where the oh-so-brave and oh-so-smart Heidi has the Roundup this week!