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“I would like to paint the way a bird sings.” ~ Claude Monet

Bonjour!

Today, a mini feast celebrating Claude Monet. There are very few of us who are not enamored with Impressionist art, and as writers, artists, and poets, we know only too well the great joy and frustration that can define the creative process.

You probably know that Monet developed cataracts late in life that severely impaired his acute perception of colors and light, the very hallmarks of his work. His world took on a yellowish tinge, and his paintings gradually became more reddish and muddied, the familiar scenes he so luminously depicted before appearing almost unrecognizable.

Japanese Footbridge (1897)

In a letter to a friend he said, ” . . . my poor eyesight makes me see everything in a complete fog. It’s all very beautiful just the same and it’s this which I’d loved to have been able to convey.” When he could no longer trust his eyes, he carefully read the labels on paint tubes, kept a regular order of colors on his palette, and painted from memory.

Japanese Footbridge (1920-1922)

Lisel Mueller’s poignant “Monet Refuses the Operation” is a beautiful testament to the mind’s eye, an inspiring philosophy, an artist’s credo, a passionate affirmation for all creatives: there’s more than one way of seeing.

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Guess who had a birthday this week?

Yes, the 6″ tan teddy bear who frequents this blog turned 26 on Wednesday. Back in September 1988, he winked at me from a booth at the Fall Teddy Bear Show in Timonium, Maryland.

He promised to be good so I brought him home. Mr. Cornelius turned out to be an avid reader and a good baker but has quite the knack for mischief. You may have noticed that he loves to have his picture taken (he’s not happy unless he has at least one blog close-up every week). I must say he keeps me very busy answering all his fan mail. :)

Just for Poetry Friday, he selected three favorite poems from Bears∙Bears∙Bears: A Treasury of Stories, Songs and Poems About Bears compiled by Mary Pope Osborne (Parachute Press, 1990). He had fun finding just the right vintage photos to go with them.

And just to make sure you don’t go hungry, he’s whipped up a batch of Lemon-Glazed Tea Cookies from Winnie-the-Pooh’s Cookie Book. Wrap your lips around a few while you enjoy the poems. :)

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Awhile ago, we learned that indefatigable former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis likes Snickers bars.

Do you think he keeps a stash near his desk, reaching for a chocolaty bite of nougat, caramel and peanuts whenever he starts a new poem?

Maybe.

But.

For someone who writes that much, and that fast, there must be yet another treat fueling his creativity.

Perhaps the answer lies in this freshly baked triolet, which Pat says was inspired by a Valentine triolet about love written by Wendy Cope, one of his favorite light versifiers.

via Secret Restaurant Copycat Recipes

 

OREOS

~ Apologies to Wendy Cope

 

My tongue has just decided

Its favorite treat is you.

And equally delighted?

My stomach! Any-sided

With peanut butter. Why did

I say I’d stop at two?

My tongue has just decided

Its favorite treat is you.

 

~ Copyright © 2014 J. Patrick Lewis. All rights reserved.

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Dear Mr. Firth,

You must allow us to tell you how ardently we admire and love you.

To celebrate your 54th birthday, we’re serving up a 3-course repast here at Alphabet Soup: a brand new picture book, a spot of tea, and you.

Whether as Fitzwilliam Darcy or Mark Darcy, you truly take the cake. May we be so bold as to say you are stunning wet, dry, and everything in-between?

And boy, can you rock a cravat and waistcoat.

We remain your loyal fans, wishing you the best birthday ever.

With deep affection and hearts a-flutter,

Every female in the world with a pulse
xoxoxoxo

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♥ FIRST COURSE ♥
Goodnight Mr. Darcy by Kate Coombs and Alli Arnold

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an earnest writer and a department store sniffing artist in possession of talent and wit must be in want of a good parody.

For award winning author Kate Coombs and award-winning illustrator Alli Arnold, a send-up of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice à la beloved children’s classic Goodnight Moon was just the thing to set their bonnets a-twirl.

In the great ballroom
There was a country dance
And a well-played tune
And Elizabeth Bennet –

So begins this tidy tale of moonlight and romance, as all are gathered at the Netherfield Ball — Lydia and Kitty looking pretty, Mr. Darcy surprised by a pair of fine eyes, Jane with a blush and Mr. Bingley turned to mush, and let’s not forget a certain gossiping mother and a father saying ‘hush’.

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Those familiar with Pride and Prejudice know that the Ball is a crucial scene — where Darcy has singled out Elizabeth, and caught off-guard, she agrees to dance with him. They are allowed to engage in unchaperoned conversation (gasp!), their unguarded repartee ever-so-temptingly weakening their resolve.

In Goodnight Mr. Darcy (Gibbs Smith, 2014), Kate has retained the simple rhyming structure and lulling cadence of Brown’s Goodnight Moon, but with a brilliant tongue-against-blushing cheek makeover that outlines all the delectable aspects of the prim and proper Darcy/Lizzy conscious coupling from ‘cute meet’ at the dance to mutual mooning over each other at home to happily ever after. The Mr. Bingley and Jane pairing adds a bit of ‘mushy’ humor boys will appreciate, while the whole concept of a fancy dress ball with tipping of top hats, flitting of fans and oh-so-civilized how-de-do’s will have special appeal to girls.

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Since moving to Virginia, I’ve become quite the Presidential buff. It’s easy to do since eight Presidents were born here, and I bump into fascinating history wherever I turn.

That’s why I get excited whenever a new children’s book comes out profiling a single President, or, as in the case of Marilyn Singer’s fabulous new poetry collection, all 43 of them.

In Rutherford B., Who Was He?, Marilyn introduces our fearless leaders in chronological order via succinct, thought-provoking poems, blending critical facts, historical references and fascinating human interest tidbits.

All but eight (grouped together for spirited discourse) are featured in single poems. With just a few masterful strokes, she highlights the subject’s claim to fame and illuminates character and personality, so we can better understand the why’s and wherefore’s. She does not shy away from foibles, failings, controversy or scandal, and I love the sense of continuity from one administration to the next, giving us a broad sweep of Presidential history from Washington to Obama.

Paired with John Hendrix’s witty, exuberant caricatures and crackerjack hand-drawn typography, these verses pulse with verve and vigor — a showcase of poetic forms (a Nixon reverso!) with clever, innovative rhymes that truly bring our Presidents to life.

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