Author Archives: margo roby

About margo roby

I spent the first twenty years of my life in Hong Kong, where my parents met and married and stayed. I spent the second twenty years of my life following my army husband around the world with our two children. The second twenty overlapped with the third by two years. My husband’s last posting was Jakarta, Indonesia and when he retired he joined me teaching at the international school. We lived there twenty years and I discovered writing poetry. Now we are living in Atlanta. My husband teaches at the international school and I retired from teaching, so I can concentrate my energy on my poetry.

Poetics Serendipity

8:54 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Mack the Knife sung by Bobby Darin (I never get tired of it)

Howdy! My computer is up and running. My room looks habitable. Things are looking up. I hope everyone is well and ready for links.

1] I follow two newsletters regularly. I’ve mentioned Diane Lockward’s Blogalicious before, but haven’t mentioned Origami Poems in a while. One of the things I most enjoy is the poems shared from their latest micro chapbooks. Check them out and, if you are anywhere near Rhode Island, attend one of their events, for heaven’s sake!

2] Bless Trish Hopkinson for the continuing work she does researching markets for poets. This time, it’s in regard to markets that pay poets. My link will send you to her blog where she has a downloadable spread sheet.

3] Parker Molloy has written an article for Upworthy, on what makes a word real. He focuses on The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, created by John Koenig, but mentions a TED talk on the same subject. You can read, then listen!

A great trio if I say so myself. Have fun with them. I shall see you Tuesday the 15th for my regular prompt.

Happy writing, y’all.


Posted by on 03/09/2015 in links, poems, poetry


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Poem Tryouts: Beyond the Pale

9:45 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Hotel California sung by Vocal Sampling

Hello all. I hope you are well. Parents, I’m sure you are heaving sighs of relief. West Coast USA, stay safe. Those fires are even scarier than usual. The unpacking and putting away has gotten to the point that we can see what finished rooms will look like. We may even be able to pull the car into the garage, soon.

I have used my family as prompt inspirations, often. This time it’s an email back and forth between my two brothers. They had been talking about one thing and shifted off on a tangent.

Steve: Speaking of beyond the pale, did you know that there actually was a Pale you could be beyond? There was also a Pale of Calais, which now consists of a large Muslim refugee camp. When you break it down to its “roots”, a pale is a fencepost.

John: You’re all wrong. Read Rutherford’s Russka. It has to do with Jews in the Ukraine. Beyond the pale that is, not the book.

Steve: That was a Pale, but it was from the earlier English term applied to Ireland, which itself was ultimately from the Latin palus, or stake.

I love having a family that has this kind of discussion. I had looked the term up some years ago, being curious about the usage. I looked it up again, yesterday, and found myself fascinated by the other words that derive from the original pale, or stake: Pale is an old name for a pointed piece of wood driven into the ground and — by an obvious extension — to a barrier made of such stakes, a palisade or fence. Pole is from the same source, as are impale, paling and palisade. (worldwidewords)

Where does this leave us? Somewhat undirected, I think. Some possibilities:

1] Go with one of the other words that derives from the original.

2] Use the idiom in some way. You may, but don’t have to, quote the actual idiom.

3] Use two or three of the italicised words together.

4] Run with your own idea.

I shall see you Thursday for links and then I’m off for a week. Skip is homesick for Atlanta. We’ll take a quick road trip and I’ll be back here Tuesday the 15th for another prompt.

Happy writing, everyone.



Posted by on 01/09/2015 in exercises, poems, poetry


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Poetics Serendipity

9: 56 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Over the Rainbow sung by Iz

Hello, all. I almost forgot it’s Thursday. It’s the swimming at seven fifteen in the morning sans coffee that must be throwing me off. Let’s see what we have.

1] I enjoyed the article Americans Have Never Loved Poetry More–But They Call it Rap, by John McWhorter, in an article for The Daily Beast. His thesis and conclusion are: “And every fair from fair sometimes declines,” Shakespeare once told us, but when it comes to poetry, it would appear that America’s “eternal summer shall not fade” after all.

2] The second article is a little heftier, but hefty is good for the brain. How many of you knew G.K. Chesterton was a poet? I know him from his Father Brown mysteries, which I used to read and now watch on television. Having not known about his poetic tendencies and finding the article interesting, here is G K Chesterton and His Poetry, by Robert Cortes Holliday, for Poetry Soup.

3] The final link is a twofer and may cause you to disappear for hours. I first came across the article An Inspired Archive of African Poetry, by Stacia L. Brown, written for Poets & Writers. The article is fascinating but gives no link to its central focus, the Badilidha Poetry X-change. So, I went hunting and found it. Sometime later, I emerged to continue writing this. You will find, when you visit, both an online audio archive and Pan-African poetry show delivered in radio format. Now the largest online collective of African poets on the planet, as they tell us in their introduction.

I will see you on Tuesday for our next prompt; and Thursday for more links.

Happy writing, everyone.

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Posted by on 27/08/2015 in links, poetry, writing


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Poem Tryouts: Bricks and Mortar

8:06 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Tuvan throat singing — no, really. I have a CD. If you have never heard this form, the group Huun Huur Tur is the one I know.

Hello everyone. Unpacking continues apace. We can see our rooms now and soon we will be able to park the car in the garage, again. This is not good weather to have a car sitting outside, with temperatures in the nineties. I had forgotten that this is our image prompt day, so I went trawling and found this:



It captures my fancy. Let’s see what you do with it.

I will see you Thursday for links; and, Tuesday for our first prompt of September.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 25/08/2015 in exercises, poems, poetry


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Poetics Serendipity

8:22 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to the click of keyboard keys as Skip slays monsters in WOW

Hello, all. I hope everything is well. Weather-wise we in the Southwest continue to fight off high temperatures. It hasn’t been that bad this summer, as most days have clouds. We’re learning the tricks of keeping a car cool while parked in a parking lot at two in the afternoon. Let’s see what I can pull out of the grab bag, today.

1] Just in: the Huff Post Blog gives us photographs of 15 Book Pillows to Keep You Cozy While You Read. I am tempted by Animal Farm and The Little Prince. I would love Catcher in the Rye if I didn’t think of Campbell’s soup when I look at it. Go have a look. One cannot have too many pillows.

2] My favourite newsletter, and the one I have followed the longest, is Diane Lockward’s Blogalicious. The most recent contains an article on Poetry Readings: The Good, the Bad, and the Hideous (hard to resist checking that out, isn’t it?). With an eye towards more successful poetry readings, in general, Diane gives us some thoughts on the role of the host, the poet, and the audience on how they can each contribute towards a successful reading.

3] The third offering is a little untidy looking because I am sending you to a Facebook page. The photograph is from Litographs and should be the mantra of anyone who writes poetry (maybe, in the form of a book pillow). For those who have not run into Litographs, they are the people who make t-shirts, totes and such (tattoos have been added, recently!) from the words of novels and plays. I am giving you a link to that, as well, because it’s August which means December is around the corner. Be sure to use the zoom function. Plan to spend time, once you start perusing.

The PC is connected. It’s positioning is a little weird until we get the desk set up (I didn’t mention the desk?), but I’ll give it a try, come Tuesday, with our next prompt; also, Thursday with links; Friday coming soon.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 20/08/2015 in poems, poetry


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Poem Tryouts: Image Work

8:13 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to the crunch of toast as Skip eats breakfast

Hello, all. No, the PC is still not up and I’m still not with my music (younger people, don’t even go there). Today, the Salvation Army stops by to take away eight boxes of stuff and a bed. Yay! Meanwhile, let’s work on a poem derived from a word Margo was curious about.

A few days ago I came across ‘furled’. I hadn’t seen or heard the word in a long time, so stopped to consider it. I like the sound of the word, which sounds like what it does. The definition is short: roll or fold up and secure neatly. Let the word sound inhabit your head, for a moment. Say it aloud, even. Slowly. Follow the movement of your tongue, in making the word.

The origin of the word is vague. The consensus seems to be, from the Old French ferlier to chain or fasten, possibly from fer firm (< Latin firmus) + lier to bind (< Latin ligāre). I stopped at ligare, as my mystery oriented mind immediately thought of ligature, which I associate with strangling. I checked: a thing used for tying or binding something tightly. Interesting.

But, back to furl. The four things I can immediately associate with the act of furling, are sails, flags, umbrellas, and fern fronds. Ferns furl themselves, but I grew up associating that verb with them. I want us to play with the use of the word, to use it in a way, or with something, not commonly thought of. Sit a while (yes, coffee may be involved — hmmm: the steam from the cup furled…) and let the image of furling happen in your mind. Picture the act of furling. If you can make it an impression — no specific object, just the motion — even better.

How many things can you think of that furl? Pick one and let the poem derive from the image. Let the image lead you somewhere. Added challenge, should you want it can be to choose a form that furls, or unfurls. Things unfurl, as well, and you might go down that road.

I look forward to your poems (even more, to the day when I’m back to responding to them!). Have fun with this. Play. Even if the topic is serious, your creating can play with meaning.

I will see you Thursday for links and next Tuesday for another prompt, perhaps a borrowed one.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 18/08/2015 in exercises, poems, poetry


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Poetics Serendipity

9:04 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to the water drip in the kitchen

Hullo, you lot. Anybody see the Perseids this week? We had cloud cover all week. Skip and I tend to draw clouds whenever there is a meteorological event, anywhere, that there is a chance we might see. Unpacking continues. Down to books and clothes, now, not that I don’t still have piles of things sitting around. So, a little escape from the day, shall we?

1] In Literary MagNet, Travis Kurowski writes, for this month’s Poets & Writers: The landscape of literary magazines is constantly shifting, marked by numerous start-ups and closures each year, but a number of journals have managed to hang on for the long haul, and quite a few are celebrating significant anniversaries in 2015. His article goes on to discuss several of the long-timers. Even if you don’t submit, it’s an interesting read.

2] It has been a while since I have included something from Kelli Russell Agodon. I receive her occasional newsletter and tend to forget it’s often a shareable article. In Measuring Success as a Writer or Artist: A Basic Guide to Happiness, Kelli includes in her summation, Success is being part of the literary conversation and not being distracted by the parts of life that don’t add to my art. Success is writing a poem. Success is arriving to the blank page unsure if I have anything to say.

3] Here’s one for all of us with half done projects languishing in our notebooks, How to Complete Every Writing Project You Start: Become a Completion Addict, by Jessica Baverstock, for Write to Done. Baverstock explains why we leave projects before completion and lays out a brain retraining program. I figure this plays beyond finishing our writing.

Okay, I shall see you Tuesday for my prompt and Thursday for more links.

Happy writing, all.



Posted by on 13/08/2015 in poems, poetry, writing


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