robyn hood black, leader of the pack

#8 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2012.

Robyn with her office cat, May, who's helping her celebrate the arrival of her contributor copies of THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK (Roaring Brook, 2012).


Children’s poet and author Robyn Hood Black is here! She’s one of several newish online friends I’ve met through Poetry Friday, and I have so enjoyed visiting her blog Read, Write, Howl every week to see just what this multi-talented, animal-loving gal is up to.

Will she post an original haiku or a piece of her beautiful artwork? Will she share pictures of the wolves she cavorts with as a volunteer for a nearby wildlife preserve, or maybe poetry and drawings created by some of the many children she’s met through school visits and community presentations?  No matter what she does,  Robyn’s passion always shines through.

Like the best of potluck guests, Robyn’s brought along both grog and grub — a previously unpublished, bewitchingly amusing, finely tuned recipe poem, and a batch of her newly renamed Oatmeal Bars (I am understandably highly partial to these).  She also created a gorgeous relief print to go with her poem. Lots to savor here, so don your black bibs and enjoy every delectable word and crumb!

Robin: My brother Mike and I used to transform our circa-1970 ranch house into a haunted house each Halloween — we charged admission and everything. We had a spooky secret passage in a tunnel under his built-in bed, bowls of peeled grape eyeballs on the bathroom counter, headless people sitting at the dining room table — the whole nine yards. I was usually a black cat or something, but Mike, who grew up to be an engineer, was a haunted house himself one year. Very impressive.

The idea for this poem came to me one day earlier this year when I was out walking the dog — a crow was cawing above us, and I just started thinking of tangible and intangible things — in black and white — that might go into a “spooky brew.”

Illustration © 2012 Robyn Hood Black

Spooky Brew in Black and White

Take caw of crow.
Take flap of bat.
Sift early snow
into your vat.

Add bleat of sheep
and lava chunk.
Add cricket leap.
Add whiff of skunk.

With iron spike,
stir ink of squid.
Add lightning strike —
then hold the lid!

Now take your time
to fill your cup.
Inhale the slime,
and drink it up.

Copyright © 2012 Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


This newspaper clipping is so old it probably has archeological value.

Here is a recipe for Oatmeal Jam Bars, which you can see from the photo of the recipe from an ancient newspaper, I’ve made forever. Today I’d like to rename them, “Oatmeal Jama Bars” — not quite as prestigious as an honorary doctorate, but pretty close, don’t you think?

Ingredients: All you need, really!

The only full jar I had handy was "FROG jam" from Farmhouse Produce up the road in Dahlonega, Georgia. The mixture was fig, orange and ginger and was oh-so-tasty. Please note the jam did not include actual frogs. We are vegetarian. No frogs were harmed in the making of this recipe.
We live in a rambling '70's house and do actually cook with this oven. You have to set the temperature 100 degrees cooler than you actually want. This applies to the top part only. This was learned the hard way.
Asper and Oliver, our 12-year-old dachshund mixes enjoy helping in the kitchen. Here they are licking the beaters.


2 cups oats (whole or quick-cooking — either will work)
1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup margarine (easy to make these vegan, like I do for my hubby, by using a non-dairy margarine)
1 cup whatever jam you have in the house (strawberry is yummy).

Blend thoroughly all ingredients except jam. Spread half the mixture in a greased, floured 9 x 9 x 2 pan (or something close). Spread jam over dough. Sprinkle and pat down remaining dough over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until light tan. Makes 24 bars. (Bars are firm when cool.)


Robyn Hood Black writes fiction, nonfiction and poetry in the foothills of north Georgia.  Two of her poems are included in the just-released THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK, a collection of found poems edited by Georgia Heard (Roaring Brook).  Her books include a rhyming Rookie Reader, SIR MIKE (Scholastic Library) and an interactive, nonfiction book, WOLVES (Intervisual Books).  HIGHLIGHTS has published her fiction, and her poetry has appeared in HOPSCOTCH and been accepted by LADYBUG. Her work appears in leading haiku journals.  She coordinates conferences for SCBWI Southern Breeze and volunteers at a local wildlife preserve.  Some of her best friends are wolves.  Her human pack includes husband Jeff, daughter Morgan (20), and son Seth (17). Find her online at


Previously: Menu/Giveaway/Door PrizesApril Pulley SayreMary QuattlebaumHelen FrostLinda AshmanGail Gerwin, Martha Calderaro, Kathi Appelt.


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

65 thoughts on “robyn hood black, leader of the pack

  1. I didn’t know that Robyn was also an artist! How multi-talented! And oh boy do I have to stop making excuses for not being able to cook nor bake! Delectable post, as always. Congratulations, Robyn on the new book! 🙂


  2. Trying to picture how her brother dressed himself as a haunted house is worth the price of today’s post alone, without the added humor of Robyn’s pet photos. I rented a 60s house with built-in double ovens and LOVED them. Sometimes brand-new appliances aren’t always the best! Congrats to Robyn!


    1. I think I need a couple of four-footed beater lickers in my kitchen now. I love the appearance of vintage appliances and cooking utensils, etc. My Sunbeam hand mixer is about 30 years old and still works like a charm.


  3. Great post, Robyn and Jama! Robyn, I love the print you created to go with your “Spooky Brew” poem. It’s perfect! And, frog jam? Love that! lol Also loved seeing pictures of all your critters. 🙂


      1. Yep, actually, mine spends most of her time looking for crumbs. You’d think she’s starving all the time…lol. She is the type of dog that would eat until she’s sick.


  4. Robyn, you’re brilliant. I loved the renamed bars! And licking-the-beater dachsunds! Thank you, Jama, as ever, for your generous, loving spirit that– like Robyn’s passion– always shines through.


  5. Oh, I loved that poem, Robyn! I think I’ve had a few recipes come out like that–not exactly on purpose. (Perhaps I’ll have better luck with the oatmeal bars!)


      1. Thanks, Cathy! I can relate to the occasional kitchen disaster for sure.

        Jama, love the idea of oatmeal jama bar business cards. A little sticky, but they wouldn’t get lost in the back of a wallet….


  6. How nice to see Robyn here! Your dogs are really doing their best to help you out, I see. The jama bars look scruptious, and the frog jam makes me miss Georgia. (We went to Dahlonega sometimes when we lived in Decatur.) Always something good at the potluck!


    1. Hi, Tabatha! I’m heading down to Decatur tonight to meet a couple of writer buds and hear Austin Kleon (the guy behind the newspaper black-out poetry). I’ll wave for you. Thanks for stopping in!


  7. What a fun post, Jama and Robyn. I, too, cook (when I actually cook) on an old 1950s avocado green double-wide stove. The drawer for storing pots and pans is wider than the oven door next to it. And it’s actually pretty true to temperature, believe it or not. I look forward to trying the oatmeal Jam(a) bars.


  8. Sorry so late, but it can’t be any better than Jam-a bars. They look scrumptious, Robyn. I like the poem’s premise that many things can enter into drink that actually create the magic, hence ‘eye of newt’ isn’t nearly as bad as we think. It takes ‘lightning strikes’ and ‘early snow’ for a real punch! Thanks for the photos too, especially those beater lickers! And thanks Jama and Robyn for good entertainment.


    1. Robyn has created the perfect spooky brew with her carefully chosen ingredients. Yes, a good lightning strike would definitely add a real punch :D!


      1. You are only FASHIONABLY late, dear Linda. Thank you for the kind words! And I’d go on the road with Jama any day to entertain the masses. (Though I guess I couldn’t stay in my jammies….)


  9. Robyn’s poem had me right off the bat (but not the kind that flaps!). I think one of it’s powers is that it tickled all of my senses : inhale the slime, flap of bat, bleat of sheep… Bravo!


    1. Totally agree with you, Heather. The sensual imagery is choice, the pacing perfect, with each and every word doing double time. This poem feels so good in the mouth; so much fun to read aloud . . . with real feeling :).


  10. Yes, it is a great poem. Glad you like it, Mary. I’m anxious to make some Oatmeal Jama Bars too, but since I don’t have a dog, the teddy bears will have to lick the beaters. 🙂


  11. Hi, I didn’t take a moment in busy April to thank you both for this, but am thanking you now for all the creativity (and spookiness — just my level) and recipe which I’m about to try. Of course I couldn’t resist the name, but it does also look easy and good!


    1. So glad you’re giving this recipe a try, Jeannine. It’s pretty fail-proof. The jam counts as a fruit serving, too :).


  12. More than a month later, and I finally had a chance to make these. I used blueberry jam. 🙂 Anyway – they’re delicious! Thanks for sharing your new namesake bars with the rest of us.


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