I Found a Poet for April (Pssst! It’s Robyn Hood Black)

I love serendipity! There I was, looking for something or someone poetical for National Poetry Month and BAM. I nearly tripped over Robyn Hood Black who coincidentally has been published in the recently released,  The Arrow Finds Its Mark–A Book of Found Poems. And she has serendipitously (not to mention graciously) agreed to step up to the blog plate and share all the details! So, here’s Robyn:

Okay, I’m supposed to be talking about found poems – and I will! – but first I have to share that TODAY is National Haiku Poetry Day.  Cathy knows I’m addicted to haiku. Or, she does now. It just so happens that my very latest haiku publications are actually in an online journal dedicated to senryu (and kyoka and haiga). To oversimplify things, senryu and kyoka share the same basic structure as haiku and tanka (short poetry of Japanese origin), but they deal more with HUMAN nature than Mother Nature, and they are often humorous.

Here are my two poems hot-off-the-virtual-press from Prune Juice:


the distant hum

of a leafblower


back to school

nip in the air

of my teenager

Copyright  Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

Prune Juice, Journal of Senryu, Kyoka & Haiga, Spring 2012

If I’m going to trumpet the virtues of haiku on Cathy’s blog, it seems appropriate to pick the humorous variety.

(You can read more about haiku on the HAIKU page of my website,  and on my guest post on Laura Shovan’s “Author Amok” blog from last week.)

Now, back to found poems.  I’m thrilled that my poetry has just been published in an anthology, THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK – A BOOK OF FOUND POEMS, edited by the fabulous Georgia Heard and illustrated by Antoine Guilloppé (Roaring Brook Press).  Honestly, my knees still get a little weak when I see some of the rock-star poets’ names included in this collection.

What’s a “found poem”?  Essentially, it’s a poem created from material – written, or perhaps even heard – that was not intended to be poetry.  One of my poems in the collection came from crossword puzzle clues in a fourth-grade language arts workbook.  (I featured this poem on my blog earlier this month.)

Georgia Heard writes in the introduction:

“You might be interested in seeing how each poet’s process was different: some poets chose to splice words together from a single source and make a kind of word collage, as in Robyn Hood Black’s “We See with These”; others took words intact and in order and simply changed the line breaks and added a title, like Avis Harley’s “Lawn Talk”; and other poets took words from multiple sources on one theme, as in Bob Raczka’s “Places I’d Love to Van Gogh Someday.”

I suggested to Cathy that perhaps we feature my other poem from this book today, and I warned her that it was “slightly weird.” You can guess Cathy’s response:

“You know I LOVE the weird, right?”

In an interview with Georgia Heard on the amazing Sylvia Vardell’s “Poetry for Children” blog last week, one of the questions posed by her graduate student interviewer, Kori Parkinson, was:

What do you find as the strangest/most unique place a poem used in this collection was found?

One the most unique places where a poem was found is Robyn Hood Black’s poem “Battling Beams” found in a Funopolis LASERTAG Results Report, folded up on a counter in the laundry room.

I had originally submitted this poem with the boring title, “Laser Tag,” and Georgia expressed interest but wondered if I could come up with a better title. So it was re-christened “Battling Beams.”

Now, if you don’t have kids or teenagers who play laser tag, this poem will likely leave you scratching your head. And it might, even if you do! Laser tag involves Star Wars-like action and glow-y lights and space-y sounds, and points are scored if you “hit” someone on an opposing team. Teams are represented by a color, with members making up their own individual names.

Thanks to my son, Seth, for attending a laser tag birthday party and leaving me fodder for a poem, folded up in the laundry room. And for taking the accompanying photo in said laundry room (and, not really knowing the backstory, wondered why in the world I wanted him to take a picture in the laundry room?!)

Battling Beams

By Robyn Hood Black

CODE NAME:  DeathEater

Green Red Blue

you hit 4      7 hit you

you hit 14   5 hit you

you hit 29   8 hit you

Bubbagump, Darth Vader, Terminator,

Megatron, Voldemort, Snape,

Bella Edward Jacob,

Jedi Knight

Green Red Blue

650 shots



Copyright Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved

The Arrow Finds Its Mark, Georgia Heard, ed., Roaring Brook Press, 2012

(Told you it was weird!)  Thank you so much for having me here, Cathy, and HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

And thank you, Robyn! Serendipitously, I actually understand haiku and your found poems!

April’s First Keepers: On Poems and Pranks

dsc00178 I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

-Joyce Kilmer

I’ve always loved that poem. And I’ve always loved poetry. I’m not much of a poet, and I don’t always understand every nuance of a poem. But I love when words sing. And when I read a poem that trips along my tongue and pricks my senses enough to pry open a smile, then I’m happy.

So, I’m especially happy that April is National Poetry Month. And I’m just about jump out of my skin happy to find a place where I can read a children’s poem every day for the next thirty days! (I think I may actually understand most of those poems.) Check out GottaBook for Gregory K.’s 30 Poets /30 Days. Jack Prelutsky started the party, so to speak, with a poem written especially for National Poetry Month.  I can’t wait to find out what all the other gifted poets will share. Bet there’ll be plenty of Keepers in the bunch!

Oh, and that tree? It’s in my front yard. And d’you see that place in the tree where the branches spread? The place just right for a little kid to climb and dream? I love that dreaming tree.It’s a great spot for thinking up poems…and maybe a prank or two.

If you haven’t come up with a prank for April Fool’s yet, check out this spot for all things April and foolish. And P.S. I found it at School Library Journal’s (free) newsletter. Sign up if you want to find daily Keepers!