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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Epigrammatically Speaking...

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!


I finally hit "send" on this year's regular freelance writing gig I've done for more than a dozen years. (Lost count.)  I write three components of a nation-wide character education curriculum, Core Essentials Values.  This adventure started when we lived in Georgia, and the folks at the helm were women I knew.  They needed some writers and contacted me, and I jumped aboard.  My regular assignments have evolved over the years, but here's what I do.  Each month of the school year has its own value (say, "compassion" or "respect" or "commitment" or some such.)  As part of the elementary school curriculum, I come up with an animal to represent each value, and a color to represent each value, and a little set of quotes for each month as well. (I love seeing the animals and colors magically appear on the yearly poster & graphics.  And I love that many of the materials are in Spanish as well as English.)


Each nonfiction animal description runs about 250-280 words; each "reason for the color," about 100 words (also nonfiction).  I do love me some research, and these little gems require a lot of it.  For the quotes, I search far and wide to find sayings or quotations that relate to the value and/or its definition. That might sound easy, but it's involved, too.


For one thing, I use old quotes.  I don't want to get into any sticky copyright situations.  Also, voices from the past have a lot to teach us, even though time marches on and our society changes and evolves.  I take care with these, and don't claim to always get it exactly right.  If you simply search for quotes online, you'll find a zillion websites, many attributing the same quotes to the same folks, but despite the colorful, uplifting graphics and bold fonts, these are not always well researched.  So my trust level for authenticity has been honed through the years. 


It's also a challenge sometimes trying to find diverse voices, but I try.  If you think about it, whose voices were most likely to be solidified in print 50 or 100 or more years ago?  Yep.  And I have nothing against white men - I've been happily married to one for decades.  But I try to incorporate perspectives from women and writers of color whenever possible as well. 


If you love quotes, I do have one site to recommend: Dr. Mardy Grothe's website, particularly his "Dr. Mardy's Dictionary of Metaphorical Quotations."  You will find sources for each entry, as well as some helpful "error alerts" for quotes commonly misattributed or misused. I do also use books, especially antiques - one of the hundred-plus-years-old ones I have has 40,000 quotes - and I love literary and museum sites.  I try to collect quotes throughout the year.  What does any of this have to do with Poetry Friday?


I frequently meander down roads less travelled when I'm writing, and this week I stumbled into a patch of epigrams.  Well, I was using a quotation from the fella pictured above, François VI, Duc de la Rochefoucauld (1613-1680), and discovered that the work he is famous for is his Maximes, which include 500 astute/often biting nuggets of observation about being human.  Aphorisms such as:


On ne donne rien si libéralement que ses conseils - "We give nothing so generously as…advice."  


I didn't realize how many classic writers were drawn to reading and writing these literary cordials. The haiku poet in me, trying to squeeze multiple drops of meaning out of a very few words, was/is intrigued.  And while La Rochefoucauld's name was not on the tip of my tongue, I learned he influenced many later writers, from Voltaire to Thomas Hardy to Friedrich Nietzsche, to name a few. My epirgram detours this week occurred primarily in the online Encyclopdia Britannica.  I'm old enough to remember having a whole, hard-copy set in our home when my brother and I were young!  So it has a special place in my psyche. Here are a couple more for you, with Britannica links below. 



I saw a Flie within a Beade

Of Amber cleanly buried:

The Urne was little, but the room

More rich than Cleopatra's Tombe.


Robert Herrick (1591-1674)


(Herrick gave us  "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.")




What is an Epigram? A dwarfish whole,

Its body brevity, and wit its soul.


Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)




For more about our French duke, click here.


For more about epigrams, click here.


To gather rosebuds with Robert Herrick, click here.


To revisit Samuel Taylor Coleridge, click here



And to come back to the 21st Century and lots of great poetry, visit our lovely and talented Patricia at Reverie.  Thanks for hosting, Patricia! Wishing all a safe and memorable Memorial Day weekend, with special thanks to military families. Prayers for those who are remembering precious loved ones, especially. 

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Poetry Friday - Visit Janice at Salt City Verse!

Another week as a signpost - I LOVED hosting last week!  It had been a while since I rounded up all you wonderful poetic peeps.  This week I got myself behind with a writing deadline (shocker), so I'm just waving and pointing - I'm sure Janice will have something inspiring at Salt City Verse; enjoy visiting all the poetic bloggie goodness! 

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Poetry Friday Roundup is HERE! Happy Mother's Day...

Black-and-white photos by Sommer Daniel.


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  I'm honored to be hosting Poetry Friday this week.  Please leave your links & descriptions in the comments below, and I'll round them up old-school-style throughout the day.


Happy Mother's Day weekend!  Let's acknowledge right out of the gate that this is a tough time for many.  If you are missing your mother, or you have lost a child, or you've had a less-than-ideal relationship as a mother or a child, or if you are longing to be a mother and it hasn't worked out, you are wished comfort and peace this weekend.


I'm feeling beyond grateful that our daughter, Morgan, is experiencing her first Mother's Day this year. (She only missed it by a couple-few weeks last year, as our wee Sawyer is 11 months old.)  This precious boy was wanted for a long time, after a few hard years of empty arms and fertility treatments.  Hats off to any woman willing to go through all those long needles for months and months and months or more.


I'm also beyond grateful that my spunky 84-year-old mother, Nita, a cancer survivor among other challenges, is doing well and has been able to love on Sawyer herself - most recently in the snapshot above from April.  (The black and white photos were taken last fall.) While Jeff & I are closer to our kiddos after our recent move, I'm afraid Florida, where my folks live, is down a longer stretch of road now.  But kudos to Mom who, despite vision problems, has learned how to text and enjoy (almost daily) pictures and videos of baby antics. 


Here's my poem for today, a haiku written not long after Sawyer was born:



new mother's whisper

the strength

of spider silk 


Frogpond, Vol. 45, No. 3 Autumn 2022


©Robyn Hood Black



In other poetry news, I'm enjoying The Father Goose Treasury of Poetry by Charles Ghigna and illustrated by Sara Brezzi (Schiffer Kids, just out).  Gorgeous!  And that's a feat worth celebrating, having a body of work large enough to comb through to make a treasury, am I right?  This is a great volume to share among generations. In case you missed it, our lovely Jama posted a fulsome interview with Charles and peeks inside the book over at Jama's Alphabet Soup here


May is a super-busy month, I know.  Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all you educators! Also, take care of yourself and appreciate National Mental Health Month, and thanks to folks like my hubby who devote their professional lives to improving mental health for others. 


So, what's going on in your realm this week? (Yes, I did wake up at 5 a.m. to watch the coronation last Saturday!) I can't wait to read what you've got to share. 


(Unrelated PS - For those who follow artsyletters, I posted some in-progress new studio pics over at artsyletters.com here. I'll do a 'tour' when I get a little more together!)


* * * * * * * * THE ROUNDUP * * * * * * * * 


Janice Scully starts us off with a haiku and an appreciation for the timing of blooming things - her lilacs are in full purple glory here at Salt City Verse. Happy Spring!


Over at Chicken Spaghetti, Susan has a beautiful cento created from the poetry of Gabriela Mistral, presented in Spanish and English with her original translations.


At Small Reads for Brighter Days, Laura has a day-brightening and sigh-worthy poetryaction (say that out loud & learn more at her site!) to the picture book Milo Imagines the World. 


Linda has two bright and springy original haiku and a padlet link to her charming triolet (all writers will relate!) at A Word Edgewise today.  One of these days, Linda and I are going to collage together in person....


You will leave anything BUT blue if you wing it on over to Jama's Alphabet Soup for a serving of Sidney Wade's poem, "Blue."  (I am loving all these poetic encounters with birds this morning.  Though I had my alarm set a little early because I was hosting PF, it was really a Carolina Wren on the fence outside my bedroom window which got me up today....)


No one can accuse our Tabatha of not branching out into many magical (and sometimes wild) directions. At The Opposite of Indifference , she's celebrating originality with lyrics from "Crooked Tree" with a video of Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway.  (She also has a snippet from the brand new Poetry Out Loud winner as a bonus!)


Our multi-talented Michelle Kogan chimes in with a gorgeous original oil painting detail and some more poetic bird-love (an original 4X4 poem) celebrating Mother's Day.


Three cheers for Catherine at Reading to the Core for forging ahead toward the finish line of her April/Poetry Month project with poems of hope featuring the letters "v" and "w"!  That's my kind of timeline, btw... I particularly love her golden shovel today, inspired by lines from GMH I have hanging up in my house.


At Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, Matt stumbled upon some buried treasure in his files - an original five-year-old poem that packs some Springtime punch in just four lines and 12 words! Bravo.


Rose has a tribute to dogs over at Imagine the Possibilities, with some lines from the incomparable Mary Oliver and a thoughtful original poem. (Warning - have a tissue handy; I am still grieving the sudden loss of our wee Rita and did not make it through the post dry-eyed.  Thank you for putting so much of what we love about dogs in these words, Rose.)


Keep the tissue handy.  Linda at Teacher Dance has collected and shared responses of kindnesses noted by many of you recently at her blog (and new folks are always welcome to the Poetry Friday table - and folks who have had to be dipping in and out, like yours truly this Spring!). Kindness itself is poetry, isn't it?  Go fill your cup!


Why do you write?  Dave tackles this question by responding with an original poem over at Leap of Dave and shares a bit about a local poetry workshop he participates in. 


Give a nod to Edward Lear and then head over to see Sally for a quick celebration of Limerick Day!  Sally's post might be concise, but she's been long on sharing poetry goodness with young writers and readers this week.


Cue the CONFETTI - lots of it!  Marcie Flinchum Atkins has not one, but TWO amazing-sounding book publication announcements this week!  One is for a nonfiction nature picture book, and the other is for a historical verse novel about an activist in the women's suffrage movement. Way to go, Marcie!  She also shares a Spring haiku and some lovely pictures of blooms... I'd like to gather up all of this week's PF flower pictures in a garden, and all of this week's PF birds to flitter around them. 


Speaking of birds, you know Amy is always finding amazing things at The Poem Farm, and she carries that spirit of noticing when she travels, too, as she did while traveling to visit a school this week. "We can each be a beauty detective," she says.  Enjoy her fetching feathered foto and original poem - dare you not to smile. 


At Bookseed Studio, enjoy Jan's latest post wrapping up Poetry Month.  I'm always inspired by the wonder that is Jan. 


Over at My Juicy Little Universe, you'll encounter Heidi exploring what it is like to be a bat, with a nod to one of my fave recent books about the animal realm, Ed Yong's An Immense World. You'll also encounter the word 'azimuth' in her original poem, which I had to look up. ;0) Don't ask me to tell you what it means, though, K?


Margaret has a touching tribute to mothers and mothering at Reflections on the Teche.  She is also honoring generations of mothers in her family.  (There's also a bluebonnet-beautiful photo of Baby June and an original poem by Margaret celebrating her name.)


At Live Your Poem, Irene delights us with a free-wheeling and lovely Gees Bend-inspired quilt, and with two versions of a "yellow parasol" haiku as part of her ARTSPEAK adventures.  And, dear reader, she's asked you to weigh in on which one is more effective!  


Mary Lee at A(Nother) Year of Reading has pure joy for a post today.  Well, I mean, she has a new book by Kwame Alexander and Deanna Nikaido with illustrations by Melissa Sweet: How to Write a Poem.  Released in April, it looks/sounds amazing and I might have just ordered it. My favorite parts of Mary Lee's post, however, are the poetic comments from young readers and writers.  (Mary Lee couldn't quite stay away from teaching reading after retiring from the classroom and is involved in after-school programs, still inspiring lucky kids.)


It's time to dance.  No matter your current life situation, whether bathed in grief or joy, join Patricia at Reading, Writing, Wondering for meaningful movement, as well as a snowy poetic evening contemplation with a dog. 


And we're back to pure joy with Karen Edmisten's post sharing Ross Gay's poem, "Throwing Children," about the ubiquitious delight children crave by being tossed into the air (and safely caught) by a loving grown-up.  


At The Apples in my Orchard, Carol shares a very personal bit of her family's experience navigating her mother's dementia, and the extra miles they go because of the miles between them.  Thank you for your beautiful poem and honest post, Carol.  Many will understand and identify with these bittersweet moments. 


Oh, Friends - you'd never believe from the calm and peaceful post and pretty, blooming images Carol has at Beyond Literacy Link that they've had quite the week so far in the Mother-Daughter-new-baby-to-be department, according to her comment below.  Happy Mother's Day to all, and love from all of us Poetry Friday peeps to greet the new little one soon! I'm impressed that in the midst of all the excitement, Carol made time to sit and be and compose haiku and a lovely post. 

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Poetry Friday - Head Over to TeacherDance!

Greetings, Poetry Loving Friends!  Just a signpost again here this week - I'm on the road again.  (I know, I know... it's been a lot!)  Speaking of On the Road Again, Happy 90th to Willie and Congrats on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  But I digress.  And yet, that man is a poet too. 

Just wanted to point the way to our lovely, talented and generous Linda over at TeacherDance this week for the Roundup, and also wanted to assure you all that I haven't forgotten it's MY turn to host next week! :0)  See you then!!

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