Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Remember when I shared Diane DeCillis’s exquisite poem, “Opera Buffa”?

I’m still sighing over “gnocchi lifted itself off the fork” and that lovely Panna Cotta — “silky, quivering cream adorned with fresh berries.” Remember silly Antonio, who wasn’t interested in ordering dessert? You simply cannot trust a man who doesn’t like sweets!

After reading “Opera Buffa,” I yearned for more of Diane’s poetry, which is why I was ecstatic when her debut collection, Strings Attached (Wayne State University Press, 2014), was released in May.

What a beautiful, lush, finely crafted feast of brilliance!

Her 60+ poems tease the intellect, warm the heart, please the ear, whet the physical and spiritual appetites, and nourish artistic sensibilities with their worldly elegance, lyricism, surprising turns-of-phrase, and evocative narratives.

I love how Diane’s passions for art, music, literature, food and family inform structure, theme, cadence, image, and metaphor. As in “Opera Buffa,” the food-related poems are infused with tantalizing sensory detail, whether she muses about her Lebanese grandmother’s stuffed grape leaves or leban (yogurt), “ethereal profiteroles filled with crème de la moo,” or terrapin soup à la Babette’s Feast.

Pop culture and high art happily co-exist in the layers of Diane’s imagination as she riffs on the likes of Van Gogh, Cezanne, Picasso, Magritte, Duncan Hines Pineapple Cake Mix, Tab Hunter/ Sandra Dee in a fleabag motel, Chopin, Debussy, Rilke, Gertrude Stein, “Like Water for Chocolate,” “Punch Drunk Love.”

Stuffed Grape Leaves via Jean Rivot

Diane brings her own brand of self-deprecating humor to these poems (“What Would Hitchcock Do?”), but there are also poignant notes of longing for an absent father (“Finding Fathers”), the push-pull dynamics of generational clashes (“Milk”), the vagaries of love, the liberation of dreams, the richness of cultural heritage.

Today I’m happy to share one of several prose poems from Strings Attached, perhaps the “foodiest” in the collection. I love how Diane has composed this sensorial symphony of sounds, colors, flavors, aromas and textures, lovingly capturing a cherished moment in time. A masterful culinary canvas!

*   *   *

Continue Reading »

Toronto-based author Monica Kulling is here today to talk about Spic-and-Span!: Lillian Gilbreth’s Wonder Kitchen (Tundra Books, 2014), the sixth title in her award winning Great Idea series which features marvelous inventors.

I must admit my prior knowledge of Lillian’s life was limited to Myrna Loy’s portrayal of her in the 1950 movie, “Cheaper by the Dozen.” Though I assumed she must have been an extraordinarily energetic and supportive person to be married to fellow efficiency expert Frank Gilbreth and co-parent a rambunctious passel of kids, I did not know the extent of her brilliant accomplishments as an industrial engineer, psychologist, professor, inventor and author in her own right, especially following Frank’s death from a heart attack at the age of 55.

The Gilbreth Family

In Spic-and-Span!, we first see how Frank and Lillian worked together in the early 1900’s to “show factory workers how to get the most done in the least amount of time.” Using a motion picture camera to film tasks, they were able to spot unnecessary movements, helping workers find the “one best way to do every job.” Of course they also implemented the Gilbreth system in their own household, streamlining everyday activities like brushing teeth, making beds, etc.

Art © 2014 David Parkins (click to enlarge)

But once Frank died in 1924, Lillian was faced with the monumental challenge of raising 11 children on her own and finding work at a time when factories wouldn’t hire a female industrial engineer, even one with over 20 years of experience. Eventually she was hired by Macy’s to improve its cash room operations, and later by the Brooklyn Borough Gas Company to improve kitchen design.

Continue Reading »

If you’re feeling a little thirsty, you’ve come to the right place.

Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole (Millbrook Press, 2014)Irene Latham’s first poetry collection for children– is officially hitting shelves on Monday, September 1!

With fifteen beautifully crafted poems, Irene invites us to meet a fascinating variety of animals who frequent a water hole on the African grasslands.

Whether it’s those charming little meerkats standing guard in a nearby burrow, a tentative giraffe acrobatically positioning itself at water’s edge, a herd of playful zebras cavorting in a metaphorical “rugby tangle,” or a solitary rhino venturing out for his moonlight drink, we can easily see what a busy, life-sustaining place this is from dawn to dusk.

Written in free verse and rhyme, Irene’s spare, evocative poems are by turns lyrical, whimsical, informative, amusing, enlightening, reflective and reverent. She did a brilliant job of zeroing in on precisely those aspects of animal personality and behavior that best lend themselves to poetic interpretation. Each verse is paired with a nonfiction note offering further details about how the animals thrive and function in the ecosystem, illuminating interdependence, survival and diversity.

Anna Wadham’s gorgeous illustrations convey the many moods of the savanna, sometimes rust orange and warm, sometimes jade green and refreshing, other times dreamy cerulean and soothing. Her emotive renderings nicely complement the verses, indeed welcoming the reader to “this vital place/where earth and sky convene,” inspiring us to wander, meander, and freely appreciate this unique poetic celebration of wildlife and habitat.

I especially enjoyed hearing from the new-to-me oxpeckers, whose comical poem I’m sharing today, along with the ethereal “Impala Explosion,” a stunning example of how terse rhythm and neat rhyme can perfectly capture the animals’ spirit and movement.

*   *   *

Continue Reading »

If you want a paleta, raise your hand!

Mango? Lime? Coconut? Strawberry? Pineapple? What do you fancy? We need one last tasty lick before summer ends.

Carmen Tafolla’s story makes me want to visit the girl narrator’s barrio — where “the smell of crispy tacos or buttery tortillas or juicy fruta floats out of every window, and where the paleta wagon rings its tinkly bell and carries a treasure of icy paletas in every color of the sarape.”

What Can You Do With a Paleta? is pitch perfect storytelling. Dr. Tafolla captures the fun, anticipation and utter deliciousness of this favorite Mexican ice pop treat, the very essence of summer and childhood.

And I LOVE the way she reads her story aloud. You’ll see what I mean:

*   *   *

Wasn’t that great? My favorite part is the blue mustache. :)

Continue Reading »

7 cool things on a monday

“Seven days without laughter makes one weak.” ~ Mort Walker

Copyright © 2014 Margie Moore

1. Big thanks to children’s book illustrator Margie Moore for allowing me to showcase her adorable “Mouse’s Kitchen” in my blog header this month. Since I had to crop some of the illo to fit the header space, thought I’d post the original so you can see some of the details at the bottom. Margie says she did this watercolor for Babybug Magazine. FYI, Margie is CakeSpy Jessie Oleson Moore’s mother. Sweets and awesome talent run in the family! :)

*

2. Heads up, Poets: Richer Resources Publications is seeking poems about food and eating for a new anthology to be published in 2015. You can submit up to 3 original poems (simultaneous and previously published okay). Deadline: November 1, 2014. More here.

*

3. Have you heard about the brand new BookDragon Book Club? It’s presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and hosted by Terry Hong and HapaMama’s Grace Hwang Lynch, who invite you to join them each month for tasty reads by notable Asian Pacific American authors. They will announce a new book the first Tuesday of each month and then hold a live virtual conversation with the author on the last Tuesday. In between, they will post reviews, guest posts, resources, etc., with lots of chances for discussion and interaction.

Their inaugural title is Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh (Beth) Nguyen. It’s been getting rave reviews and Terry Hong says it’s one of her top 3 favorites for 2014 thus far. It sounds intriguing — a connection between Laura Ingalls Wilder and Vietnam? Click here to learn more about the club and watch Beth’s welcome video.

The live virtual chat with Beth (and with fellow readers, bloggers, etc.) will be held tomorrow (Tuesday, August 26) at 1 p.m. EST/10 a.m. PST.

4. Speaking of Laura Ingalls Wilder, novelist and biographer Pamela Smith Hill will be teaching a free online course via Missouri State University that runs from September 22 to December 1, 2014. Laura Ingalls Wilder: Exploring Her Work & Writing Life, “will expand your understanding of the literary themes, style, and historical underpinnings of Wilder’s Little House series.” Click here for full course description and enrollment information.

 

Some of you may know that Pamela Smith Hill is also the editor of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography (South Dakota State Historical Society, 2014), the much anticipated previously unpublished autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, to be released on November 20, 2014. Learn more about this exciting book at The Pioneer Girl Project site.

*

5. If you’re a fan of haiku and haibun, check out Penny Harter’s guest post, “Circling the Pine: Haibun and the Spiral Image” at The Music In It: Adele Kenny’s Poetry Blog. We’ve had the pleasure of featuring the work of both of these fabulous poets here at Alphabet Soup, and are pleased to mention their new books:

Penny’s The Resonance Around Us (Mountains & Rivers Press, 2013), just came out last Fall, and Adele’s new book, A Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing At All (Welcome Rain Publishers, 2014) will be out in December, and is now available for pre-order.

*

6. Because of my interest in the handmade and heart-made, and because the spoon is my favorite utensil, I find Josh Nava’s 365 Spoons project very cool. This Nashville woodworker is hand carving a spoon from local wood every day in 2014. You can follow Josh’s progress on Instagram. Here’s a short video showing him at work:

*

7. Last, but certainly not least, in case you missed this short film about Maira Kalman from Gael Towey’s wonderful “Portraits in Creativity” series, I’m sharing it here. I love that Maira thinks everyone is “deeply eccentric,” and that she’s playing a duck in Isaac Mizrahi’s production of “Peter and The Wolf.”

*

Happy Monday, All!

I hope at least 7 good things happen to you this week — that you write 7 good words, share 7 kind words with others, and reflect on 7 things you’re thankful for. :)

—————————————

Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 519 other followers

%d bloggers like this: