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“I think what poetry finally does is to help us experience our world as intensely as possible.” (Mark Strand)

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Have I mentioned just how much I love this year’s National Poetry Month poster?

Featuring the first stanza of Mark Strand’s “Eating Poetry” cleverly drawn by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, it’s the poster to top all posters. Period.

As we gear up for the official start of Poetry Month next week, we simply must don our finest bibs, polish our knives and forks, and wholeheartedly nosh on Strand’s delectable words. As he once said, “The reader has to sort of give himself over to the poem and allow the poem to inhabit him.” Ladies and Gentlemen, lick your chops!

EATING POETRY
by Mark Strand

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

~ from Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House, 1980)

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Clean, precise, surreal. Vintage Strand. A good poem produces a visceral reaction in the reader. As we internalize it, it may momentarily dally with our intellect, but ultimately it taps into our emotional core and arouses our instinctual essence, raw and animalistic. A good poem is a transformative experience.

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“My first language was shy. It’s only by having been thrust into the limelight that I have learned to cope with my shyness.”

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Shanghai Noodles via The Daring Gourmet

NOODLES
by Janet S. Wong

Noodles for breakfast,
Noodles for lunch,
Noodles for dinner,
Noodles that crunch,
Noodles to twirl,
Noodles to slurp–
I could eat noodles
all day! Burp!

~ from Good Luck Gold (© 1994 Janet S. Wong). All rights reserved.

Pardon my burp, but I’ve just polished off a bowl of warm, steamy ramen — really hits the spot on a rainy Spring afternoon. Just like Janet, I love noodles at any time, any place; even just seeing the word “noodle” makes me happy.

Whether you’re talking about ramen, pho, guksu, pancit, lo mein, wonton, udon, yakisoba, saimin, japchae, chow fun, dandan, somen or any form of pasta — it’s all good. There’s nothing more comforting or satisfying than slurping up those long chewy strands of goodness with gravy, sauce or soup.

Saimin via The Tasty Island

It’s almost like every time I eat a noodle dish I’m tasting part of my childhood — a savory bowl of saimin with teriyaki barbecue sticks at the Fred Wright Park carnival, Crispy Gau Gee Mein from Waimalu Chop Suey, cold guksu with my two grandmas at Seoul Inn, somen salad at beach picnics, or the wonderful Chinese noodles with char siu and vegetables my Auntie Ellen always made for family holiday potlucks. And how could I forget those simple but restorative bowls of chicken noodle soup my mom ladled out whenever I was sick?

Since March is National Noodle Month, I thought it would be fun to look at two recently published noodle picture books. Both are steeped in Chinese culture, both feature a young girl named “Mei” learning about noodles from an elder, and in both stories noodles are an important part of a birthday celebration. Grab your chopsticks and let’s start slurping!

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It’s here, it’s finally here!

Happy Spring!

We must celebrate with what so many of us are craving after such a long hard winter: COLOR!

But why settle for plain blue when you can have indigo or blue moonshade? As for green, make mine Elysian. Let’s bask in the evocative names of colors and the flights of fancy they inspire. And yes, you may call me Sheba. :)

POEM FROM A COLOUR CHART OF HOUSEPAINTS
by Wendy Cope

Limeglow of leaves –
elf, sapling
in Elysian green,
she’s jitterbugging
in the forest.
She is froth, the tang
of julep, capering
among the ferns.
Passion, the firedance
of her fantasy,
fireglow of poppy
and corona, ember.
Casanova, peerless
demon, jester!
She burns, a firefly,
Apollo’s geisha.
Her sandgold hair,
spun silk kimono,
melon and lemon sorbet
on the balcony,
white wine, gardenias.
That honeysuckle year –
if he could ransom
one sunlit day!
Indigo seascape –
Melissa in cool,
blue moonshade.
Harebell, naiad,
exotic ballerina,
she commands the bay,
the midnight swell,
the surf, pale gossamer.
Autumnal in brogues,
beige twinset, russet
tweeds, she takes
coffee at eleven,
sherry at noon –
dreams of Tarragona,
castanets, a man
who called her Sheba.
Her mood
is violet, nocturnal.
Aubrietia, phlox,
wisteria delight her
more than roses.
Solitude, a purple
robe, a last
long hazy evening.

~ from If I Don’t Know (Faber & Faber, 2001).

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Which shade of green should I use to paint my dining room — Barefoot in the Grass, Peaceful Garden, or Spring Has Sprung? Inspired by nature’s palette, we paint our rooms to bring the outdoors in. While I contemplate my choices, enjoy this floral bouquet plucked from Cope’s dreamscape. If you need me, I’ll be lounging in my purple robe sipping sherry. Come to think of it, I’ve always wanted a pair of castanets.

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TODAY’S MENU

Time to give the ladies equal time.

Check out this bevy of beauties sip sip sipping a nice cuppa.

How many of them do you know?

penelopewiltonkatehudsonmeryllucyrebataylorritahayworthjuliejudidenchkirstendunstjoancrawfordjenniferjasonleighdorisdaycydcharrisedakotafanningdianajessicaalbacamillacocochaneljoannefroggatt

lucyliugaganataliewoodstellajoplinshirley

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ANSWER KEY

Penelope Wilton

Kate Hudson

Meryl Streep

Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance

Reba McIntyre

Taylor Swift

Rita Hayworth

Julie Andrews

Judi Dench

Kirsten Dunst

Joan Crawford

Jennifer Jason Leigh

Doris Day

Cyd Charisse

Dakota Fanning

Diana, Princess of Wales

Jessica Alba

Camilla Parker Bowles

Coco Chanel

Joanne Froggatt

Lucy Liu

Lady Gaga

Natalie Wood

Stella McCartney

Janis Joplin

Shirley Temple

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How did you do?

Have a great day! :)

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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