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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - A Haiku That Seems to Work for This (Voting) Season....


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!


Just a short haiku this week.  As I'm posting this before the Thursday night debate starts, I'm thinking that a haiku of mine appearing in a recent issue of Frogpond might be timely.



decisions, decisions

the weight of ink

on paper


©Robyn Hood Black

Frogpond, Vol 43:2, Spring/Summer 2020



And, unrelated - wish me luck as I venture into my annual week of school visits north of Atlanta next week as part of Cobb EMC/Gas South Literacy Week, along with several other authors.  EXCEPT - this year, we are just venturing to our computer screens for virtual presentations!  I'm still a novice at all this (guessing many of us are?) so all good vibes appreciated - ha!  But I've been learning, and learning from mistakes... so hopefully good moments will outweigh the glitches.


Happy Weekending, and DO visit the ever-spirited & thoughtful Jama at her Alphabet Soup blog for the Roundup.  She and I have long shared a love of fall, and today she shares both the colorful moments and the somber shades. 

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Poetry Friday - My Poem, "Trail Ready," in HOP TO IT

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!


Just hopping in this week to celebrate the launch of the newest collection from Pomelo Books, HOP TO IT!  Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong have put together an oh-so-welcome collection of poems to get folks moving - perfect for young readers who have been sidelined as we all have this year.


I'll have more about the book when the HOP TO IT blog tour stops here on November 13, and you'll know lots about it by then because the tour will park at several wonderful blogs.  It started a couple of weeks ago at Jone's place. Yesterday the tour stopped at Kathy Temean's blog, here.  And Sylvia is telling us all about this week at Poetry for Children.

There are giveaways along the way! 


Congrats to Sylvia and Janet and all the poets in the Pomelo Universe for this wonderful new anthology.


Here's my contribution, for those answering the call of the Great Outdoors:



Trail Ready


We're going on a hike today!

I'll get my backpack ready.

Jacket, flashlight, extra socks –

Can you hold it steady?

Trail mix, thermos, bug spray, hat,

notebook, pencils, this and that.


Binoculars and whistle

dangle from my neck.

Blue bandanna, walking stick.

Map and compass? Check.


Through the leafy canopies

to fields, where sun is brighter –

Next time (huff) we hike (huff puff),

I'll pack a little lighter.


©2020 Robyn Hood Black


(Note to my family - hold your tongue about my pack-rat tendencies.  Thank you.)


Grab your own backpack and head to Salt City Verse to stuff it with poems.  Thanks for hosting, Janice!

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Poetry Friday - A WORLD FULL of POEMS!

The world needs a lot right now.  And Sylvia Vardell knows just what to fill it with - poems!


Sylvia's beauftiful new anthology, A WORLD FULL OF POEMS - Inspiring Poetry for Children is JUST out from DK/Penguin Random House.  I know what I'll be giving folks for the holidays....


With works by 110 poets, from classic to contemporary, there's something for every cup of tea in the following sections:  Family and Friends, Feelings, Animals and Nature, cities, Towns, and Travel, Fun and Games, Science and Art, Body and Health, and A World of Learning. 


British illustrator Sonny Ross brings the collection to life with a pastel-friendly palette, playful characters, and pops of bold color here and there (as seen on the cover).  The bright yellow endpapers let you know you are in for some word-joy.  And the large type and gracious negative space on each page make each poem inviting.  


And because this is a book by Sylvia, an activity section at the end provides helpful tips and ideas to guide budding poets as they pen their own poems. 


Our wee Rita says the best section is the one with animals.  I was delighted to see one of my own childhood favorites included, "Eletelephony" by Laura Elizabeth Richards.  I share that one in my author visits.


And here's another fun classic (sharing the double-page spread with Laura Purdie Salas's "Petting Zoo," in fact).



At the Zoo


by William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)


First I saw the white bear, then I saw the black;

Then I saw the camel with a hump upon his back;

Then I saw the grey wolf, with mutton in his maw;

Then I saw the wombat waddle in the straw;

Then I saw the elephant a-waving of his trunk;

Then I saw the monkeys - mercy, how unpleasantly they smelt!




I'm beyond thrilled to have a poem of mine included, "Sincerely," originally published in 2015 in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations by Pomelo Books (Syliva Vardell and Janet Wong), and making appearances in two other PFA books, HERE WE GO: A Poetry Friday Power Book (2017) and GREAT MORNING! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud (2018).


It's a special treat to have this poem in a DK book, as I've been a fan of Dorling Kindersley books forever, and always have several keeping spots warm on bookshelves or balancing in piles in various places.  


Congratulations, Sylvia, on this wonderful, welcome, timely, and bright collection! I am enjoying revisiting favorite poems by poet friends, and favorite classics, and discovering inspiring new-to-me voices as well. 


For more sneak peeks into this anthology, visit Sylvia's Poetry for Children blog and scroll down to posts in recent weeks.  :0) 


And for a Poetry Friday Roundup all the way from Switzerland (!), visit our lovely Bridget at Wee Words for Wee Ones.  

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Poetry Friday - Old Autumn, and Letters - to Rats?


Greetings, Poetry Lovers! And - just like that - it's October?!


Possibly my favorite month, with bright skies and crisp air and color and anticipation of gathering with family before tucking in a bit for winter. Multiple threads in the weave, for sure, as we all balance heaviness and sorrow in the news (praying for eveyone out West right now, especially) with our own moments of joy and light in a day.  So I've got both pensive and playful here today.


First, these lines from Thomas Hood (I DO have to find out if there's some ancestral connection!), who lived from 1798 to 1845 and opened his poem, "Autumn," with these words:


     I SAW old Autumn in the misty morn
     Stand shadowless like Silence, listening
     To silence, ...


and, a later passage:


         But here the Autumn melancholy dwells,
     And sighs her tearful spells
     Amongst the sunless shadows of the plain.
     Alone, alone,
     Upon a mossy stone, 
     She sits and reckons up the dead and gone
     With the last leaves for a love-rosary,
     Whilst all the wither'd world looks drearily,
     Like a dim picture of the drownèd past
     In the hush'd mind's mysterious far away, 
     Doubtful what ghostly thing will steal the last
      Into that distance, gray upon the gray.


For a cathartic read of the entire poem, click here


But if you rather need a wry smile instead - or in addition to - I have that too, below the next paragraph. 


Tonight I'll finally re-open my little studio doors after six-plus months for our downtown's First Friday celebration.  (My space is small; if we get more than a person or two, folks will have to mill about in the hallway outside! And masks are required.)  I'm offering a free, optional activity if visitors want to help spread some cheer.  We'll be providing blank cards to convey messages to some of our locally based service men and women who are deployed.


With these thoughts of letter-writing, my heart was warmed when, searching for October inspirations, I again consulted my copy of THE ILLUMINATED BOOK OF DAYS (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1979) by Kay & Marshall Lee, with illustrations by Kate Greenaway and Eugene Grasset, mentioned a couple of weeks ago & earllier, too. 


Just under the listing for October 4 as the Day of St. Francis of Assisi (a personal hero), an October 5 listing explains that "There is an old American belief that you could get rid of an infestation of rats by writing them a letter and persuading them to go elsewhere.  The letter should be rolled up and put into one of their holes."  Then follows an example, a letter dated October 5,1888:


Mssrs. Rats and Co.,

-- Having taken quite a deep interest in your welfare in regard to your winter quarters I thought I would drop you a few lines which might be of some considerable benefit to you in the future seeing that you have pitched your winter quarters at the summer residence of ***No. 1 Seaview Street, I wish to inform you that you will be very much disturbed during cold winter months as I am expecting to be at work through all parts of the house, shall take down ceilings, take up floors, and clean out every substance that would serve to make you comfortable, likewise there will be nothing left for you to feed on, as I shall remove every eatable substance; so you had better take up your abode elsewhere.  I will here refer you to the farm of ***No. 6 Incubator Street, where you will find a splendid cellar well filled with vegetables of (all) kinds besides a shed leading to a barn, with a good supply of grain, where you can live snug and happy.  Shall do you no harm if you heed to my advice; but, if not, shall employ "Rough on Rats."




(Are you, as I, wondering what the letter writer might have had against the poor farmer of Incubator Street?  Ha!  Still, here lies evidence that civility was once valued on many levels, and here's a raising of a glass of Victorian lemonade to the hope that it returns at the highest level.)


Also, another glass raised to Irene Latham for a brand new book in the nest, THIS POEM IS A NEST.  Congratulations, Irene! Here's a link to Irene's interview with the book's fabulous illustrator, Johanna Wright. 


AND, speaking of links, I'm delighted to join many fellow Poetry Friday pals on this list from Feedspot:  Top 40 Children's Poetry Blogs & Websites To Follow in 2020.  Click here to see the list, and many familiar faces! (Many thanks, Feedspot Folks.) 


The ever-civil, ever-wry, ever-compassionate Tabatha has our Roundup today here. Thanks, Tabatha! 

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Hop Over to Jone's New Digs for Poetry Friday....

Howdy!  My week got crazy and a post did not materialize.  But, our good friend Jone has the Roundup today, and she's offering sneak peeks into the NEW Pomelo Books title, HOP TO IT (which I'm delighted to have a poem in myself.)  AND - Jone has a sparkly new website.  Enjoy!

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Poetry Friday - September Snippets from The Illuminated Book of Days


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  

First - my heart breaks and prays for so many in the throes of fires and floods this week. And so many other challenges. Hopes for healing, rebuilding, peace. 


Here in the Lowcountry, we have had just the faintest hint of a breeze foreshadowing Fall - well, between the rain bands on the outer edges of Sally.  Cooler temps are promised for the next week or so.


I have a book I love to turn to with the turning of the seasons. I've shared excerpts from it before... and I think some of you have it, too? The Illuminated Book of Days, edited by Kay and Marshall Lee, with illustrations by (sigh) Kate Greenaway and Eugene Grasset (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1979).


It's lovely, fun, and nostalgic, with tidbits of poetry and lore and historical gems for each month. 


Here are a few lines and verses featured in its September pages:



   September blow soft

   Till the fruit's in the loft.






         There is harmony 

In Autumn, and a lustre in its sky,

Which thro' the Summer is not heard or seen.







Fruit gathered too timely will taste of the wood,

   will shrink and be bitter, and seldom prove good.

So fruit that is shaken, or beat off a tree,

   with bruising and falling, soon faultie will be. 





And,  my favorite...



O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,

Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead

Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing.





Now, follow those falling leaves over to Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, where Matt has a pile of poems to jump in for this week's Roundup.  Thanks for hosting, Matt!

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Poetry Friday: Farewell, Summer! Victorian "Sea Song"

Ocean photo by Ginnie Hinkle.


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  


September is cantering on, and I can hardly believe Summer is already a look over one's shoulder.  Folks like my son's girlfriend's family are making the most of a last trip to the beach.  With all the heaviness this year, I thought a lighter poem might be in order as we wave farewell to Summer.


Here's a Victorian poem from DAISIES & DARLINGS (Boston:  De Wolfe, Fiske and Company), an illustrated volume gifted to me by our friend and former neighbor, Linda.  (Thanks, Linda!) The year penciled inside is 1898.





Ellen Soule Carhart


           Mattie and Margery, Frankie and Fred,

                 Shaping with shovel and tiny hand

           Wonderful castles and loaves of bread

                Out of the shining sand, --


                              Finding a beauty-stone, spying a shell,

                                    Running to lay it on mother's knee, --

                              Full of a joy that no song can tell,

                                     Play by the sounding sea.


            Tremulous flood-tide of sunset light

                  Bathes the glad earth and the ocean too;

             Purple and rosy and amber light

                  Melt into heights of blue.


                           Ships, flaunting plumes of radiant mist --

                                   Ships, with their sails drenched in golden glow, --

                           Pleasure-boats white that the sun has kissed,

                                   Phantom-like, come and go.


                           Music of laughter; rustle of wing;

                                   Sweep of a sea-gull ove the waves;

                           Echoes of carols the mermaids sing

                                   Rise from their ocean caves.


                           Come, little children, the song is sung;

                                   Fair is the picture it leaves with me, --

                           Lives so tender and hearts so young,

                                   Glad with the old, old sea!



(If my online sleuthing yielded correct results, the poet was once Dean of Women at Northwestern University, wrote many short stories and poems, and died in 1924 at the age of 82.)


Thanks for making waves over here today!  Now, hum your way over to Whispers from the Ridge, where Kiesha is graciously hosting today and sharing two wonderful poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906). 

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Poetry Friday: "We as Women" Suffrage Movement Poem (& Etsy workshop plug)


Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Just thought with the current state of current affairs, it wouldn't hurt to keep nodding back to those fiesty, courageous suffragettes during this season of celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment. 


I usually share the first part of longer older poems, linking to the rest. But today I just had to share the last part of this one by by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935).  Best known for her short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper," she also published two poetry collections, including Suffrage Songs and Verses (The Charlton Company, 1911).


From "We As Women"



But wait, warm-hearted sisters–
Not quite so fast, so far.
Tell me how we are going to lift a thing
Any higher than we are!


We are going to "purify politics,"
And to "elevate the press."
We enter the foul paths of the world
To sweeten and cleanse and bless.


To hear the high things we are going to do,
And the horrors of man we tell,
One would think, "We, as women," were angels,
And our brothers were fiends of hell.


We, that were born of one mother,
And reared in the self-same place,
In the school and the church together,
We of one blood, one race!


Now then, all forward together!
But remember, every one,
That 'tis not by feminine innocence
The work of the world is done.


The world needs strength and courage,
And wisdom to help and feed–
When, "We, as women" bring these to man,
We shall lift the world indeed.


To read the whole poem with its proper, full, first half - click here.


And, the completely unrelated and blatantly shameless promotional picture below those ancestral sisters marching in 1913?  That's me, just getting the word out that I'm offering three online workshops this September after participating in trainings to be an "Etsy U" instructor.  If you or someone you know has an Etsy shop and might be interested in some Etsy-generated tips, march on over to artsyletters.com, where you'll find more info and registration links.  


But, of course, FIRST -- March your way to Beyond Literacy Link, where the ever forward-thinking Carol has our Roundup this week, and selections of soul-nourishing art and poetry.  Thank you, Carol!

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Poetry Friday - Hop Over to Heidi's Universe for the Roundup...

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Well, as I'm still digging out from a difficult summer (see post a couple of weeks ago....), this Friday snuck up on me before I had a post to share.  Be sure to check out all the Poetry Friday goodness at Heidi's place, My Juicy Little Universe.  

[--And much love and wishes for health and safety to all of you getting school years off the ground. XO--]

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Poetry Friday - Haiku and Birdsong


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  I'm still catching up after "losing" a month-plus of work/outside life (see last week's post), but I look forward to catching up on Poetry Friday rounding, and here's a muster of a short post for this week. 


You know I'm a big fan of Stanford Forrester and his journal of short verse, bottle rockets. I'm always delighted when a poem of mine appears in its pages.  Here's my haiku in the latest issue, bottle rockets #43:




solitary walk

the rhyming couplets

of a brown thrasher



©Robyn Hood Black.  All rights reserved.

bottle rockets, Vol. 22, No. 1, August 2020.



(I just love the cover of this current issue!)


I also love birds, and am particularly fond of the glorious music provided by the Brown Thrasher, state bird of our former digs in Georgia.  One game I play on walks is to see how quickly I can determine if the notes I'm hearing are from a Northern Mockingbird or a Brown Thrasher.  The lovely gray Mockingbirds are easier to spot, as they perch out in the open and frequently engage in flashy chases.  Brown Thrashers, with their speckled russet garb and striking yellow eyes, are more likely to be kicking around in the scrub or tucked behind leaves in a treetop.  But ther songs - Oh!  Listen for complex imitations of other birds, but usually with each line repeated once.  So, two lines of this song, two lines of that.... :0)


Current affairs can feel overwhelming.  Maybe a walk to listen to birds would be good medicine for us all. 


Wishing you birdsong among the din this week! The lovely Ramona is rounding up lots of poetic sounds for us at Pleasures From the Page.  (Thanks, Ramona!)

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