Posts Tagged ‘barbara crooker’

(click for Homemade Cotton Candy recipe via Cooking Books)

Do you remember the last Barbara Crooker poem I shared, where her ailing mother refused to eat her food, but demanded marshmallow Peeps?

This craving for sweets seems to be common among the elderly. A good friend of ours with an incurable lung disease would always pick at her dinner, but had no trouble at all polishing off a big piece of coconut pie. I could always make her smile just by saying,”crème brûleé.”

When I saw my mother in Hawai’i last month, I noted her diminished appetite and drastic weight loss. She did enjoy my Christmas cookies, though, along with chocolate truffles, bread pudding, cranberry muffins, apple and lemon meringue pie, Chantilly cake. No coaxing needed when it came to dessert.


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“The house light turns everything golden, and even though we know what’s coming, the next act, we start to believe we can stay here forever in the amber spotlight, that night’s black velvet curtain will never fall.” (“Vaudeville” by Barbara Crooker)

Barbara Crooker’s latest poetry book, Gold (Cascade Books, 2013) has been a godsend these last few months.

goldcoverAs I try to navigate the failing health of my parents and the dread of impending loss, Barbara’s poems have come to the rescue again and again — offering comfort, hope, and affirmation. Gold focuses on the life-altering experience of losing one’s mother; Barbara recounts her mother’s long illness, her death, and the aftermath of coping with grief.

These deeply felt, finely wrought lyric-narrative poems are sad but never maudlin or depressing, personal yet universal, with stirring emotional truths that pierce the heart.

I love how she shines an incandescent light on the fragility and strength of the mother-daughter relationship, inviting us into those tender moments of grace where she is child-turned-caregiver, the child yet asking, “How can she be gone?”

Nana's 90 023crop

Barbara with her mother Isabelle on her 90th birthday, two months before she passed away.

If you’re already a fan of Barbara’s work, you’ll bask once again in her radiant images and the beautiful cadences of every line. Autumn sets the stage for this eloquent elegiac rumination echoing Frost’s, “Nothing gold can stay.”

The collection also includes poems about Ireland, aging and the body, the difficulties and joys of love in long-term marriages, the loss of friends, and several ekphrastic poems on paintings by Gorky, Manet, Matisse, O’Keeffe and others.


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1. Because so many of you loved my Indie Artist Spotlight featuring Stéphanie Kilgast of PetitPlat, I know you’ll be excited to hear she just published her first miniature food tutorial book! Now you can follow her step-by-step instructions in English and French (with lots of photos) for making your own polymer clay cakes and breads, etc.

petit plat book

petit plat spread

Repas de Fête/Party Food contains 21 projects centered around the holidays, and is suitable for beginners as well as advanced clayers. Copies are available directly from Stéphanie via her website, and last I heard, they’re selling like hotcakes. Order your copy now!

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2. Attention Hungry Writers! Have you heard about the Eat This Poem Poetry Contest?

poetry contest 2

The lovely Nicole is accepting submissions (1-3 pages of poems) now through August 15th. All poems must contain a food reference of some kind (previously published poems okay). The winning poet’s poem will be featured at Eat This Poem with a recipe inspired by the work, and he/she will also receive a copy of The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food & Drink (LOVE this anthology) and a one-year subscription to Poets & Writers Magazine. Click here for all the details.

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“All it takes is one bloom of hope to make a spiritual garden.” ~ Terri Guillemets

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Please help yourself to a cup of tea and a cookie or two or three. :)

We have a very special treat today. Knowing how much you love her work, I asked Barbara Crooker if she’d share a poem especially appropriate for the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa, it’s good to remember that no matter what our personal challenges may be, we’re all part of the same human family and nothing matters more than fostering Peace, Joy and Love whenever and wherever we can. Enjoy her poem and all the other poems being shared in our friendly circle this week, and may a good measure of Hope always light your way.

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I can’t exactly explain the connection, but somehow, I equate the amaryllis with hope. I’d sent one to a friend with breast cancer as a “no special reason” gift, and she reported to me how hopeful it made her feel, something green like that in the middle of winter. She died, and I bought one (the bulb, in a kit), for myself the following Christmas, and it became hopeful for me as well, the green blade rising (that references a hymn) when everything outside was dead, cold, white . . . I’ve given a number of these as gifts for these sorts of reasons, and everyone seems to have a similar response.

"White Amaryllis" by Kay Smith

“White Amaryllis” by Kay Smith


The amaryllis bulb, dumb as dirt,
inert, how can anything spring
from this clod, this stone,
the pit of some subtropical,
atypical, likely inedible fruit?
But it does: out of the dark
earth, two shoots, green
flames in December,
despite the short days,
the Long Night Moon
flooding the hard ground.
Nothing outside grows;
even small rodents
are burrowed in
the silent nights.

Then, one morning—
a single stalk,
then a bud
that swells, bells
full sail, full-bellied,
the skin grows thin,
tighter, until it splits:
heralds the night
will not be endless,
that dawn will blossom,
pearly and radiant,
and two white
trumpets unfold, sing
their sweet song,
their Hallelujah chorus,
sing carols in the thin cold air,
and our mouths say O and O and O.

~ first published in Confluence, Copyright © 2001, Barbara Crooker. All rights reserved.


"Still Life with Amaryllis, Evening" by James Aponovich (2012)/Clark Gallery

“Still Life with Amaryllis, Evening” by James Aponovich (2012)/Clark Gallery

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Now, please leave your poetry links with Mr. Linky, and don’t forget to add the title of your poem or book in parentheses after your name. I will update this post with your info throughout the day.

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1. Iza Trapani (Pet Names)

2. Jeff @ NC Teacher Stuff (Waterloo Sunset)

3. Laura Purdie Salas (Cherries in the Sun)

4. Laura Purdie Salas (15 Words or Less)

5. Diane Mayr (Spark)

6. Kurious Kitty (A Robert Frost Christmas Card)

7. KK’s Kwotes (Robert Frost)

8. Matt Forrest Esenwine (Not So Easy)

9. Steve Petersen (This Happens)

10. Linda Baie (Robert Louis Stevenson)

11. Robyn Hood Black (A Christmas Carol’s 170th Birthday)

12. Violet Nesdoly (Ben’s Quilt)

13. Charles Ghigna (The Snooze Cruise, Picking Out a Christmas Tree)

14. Vikram Madan (An original poem inspired by Renee LaTulippe’s ‘Bitter Snits’)

15. April Halprin Wayland/Teaching Authors (Winter Solstice: Girl Talking to the Sun)

16. Matt Goodfellow (Jean Genies)

17. Matt Goodfellow (ADVENTure)

18. Matt Goodfellow (Miss Bouquet’s End of Year  Class Comments)

19. Greg Pincus (Visit from Ken Nesbitt)

20. Laura Shovan (new postcard poem, The Mosquito)

21. Poem Farm (Look Up)

22. Tabatha (Walt Whitman)

23. Myra @ Gathering Books (Self Knowledge by Kahlil Gibran)

24. Janet (Bright Field)

25. Mary Lee (Ending ‘Self Esteem Week’)

25. Tara @ A Teaching Life (Visiting The Poem Farm: Indian Summer)

26. Donna (Deck the Hulls)

27. Liz Steinglass (Spark 18: Red Dress)

28. Heidi Mordhorst (Spark 18: We Be)

29. Margaret (Classroom poems inspired by Dickinson’s ‘There’s a Certain Slant of Light’)

30. Shelf-employed (original STEM haiku)

31. Doraine Bennett (The Snowflake)

32. Bridget Magee (Off to the Library)

33. Jone (Draw by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater)

34. Little Willow (Starlings in Winter by Mary Oliver)

35. Sylvia Vardell/Poetry Friday Anthology (Christmas Is by George Ella Lyon)

36. Sylvia Vardell/Poetry for Children (Bib of Christmas Poetry)

37. Jeannine Atkins (National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry)

38. JoAnn Early Macken (Meteor Shower)

39. Janet Squires (The World’s Greatest Poems by J. Patrick Lewis)

40. Lorie Ann Grover (Directed)

41. Joy Acey (Christmas Star)

42. Ruth (This Peace)

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♥ For more about Barbara Crooker’s work, please visit her Official Website.

♥ Other Barbara poems at Alphabet Soup:

This will be my last Poetry Friday post for 2012. Thanks for joining us today and for visiting this past year. I appreciate all your poetry love and look forward to sharing more tasty poems in 2013. Have a joyful, supremely delicious holiday!!

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

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Welcome Friends, Please Come In!

Why hello! What brings you here?

A poetry lover? You’re just the person I was hoping to see! Come in, make yourself at home, and help yourself to a cup of warm cider. Would you like an apple cider donut to go with that?

Credit: heidi33/flickr

Today I’m happy to share one of my very favorite Autumn poems ever, by the one and only Barbara Crooker. She has perfectly captured the gorgeous melancholy that defines the season. Whenever I read this poem aloud, I’m amazed anew at the beauty of the English language and marvel at Barbara’s diction, phrasing, and musicality. Quite simply: a polished gem, a word painting, a heart song that takes my breath away.


when the light leaves early, sun slipping down
behind the beech trees as easily as a spoon
of cherry cough syrup, four deer step delicately
up our path, just at the moment when the colors
shift, to eat fallen apples in the tall grass.
Great grey ghosts. If we steal outside in the dark,
we can hear them chew. A sudden movement,
they’re gone, the whiteness of their tails
a burning afterimage. A hollow pumpkin moon rises,
turns the dried corn to chiaroscuro, shape and shadow;
the breath of the wind draws the leaves and stalks
like melancholy cellos. These days are songs, noon air
that flows like warm honey, the maple trees’ glissando
of fat buttery leaves. The sun goes straight to the gut
like a slug of brandy, an eau-de-vie. Ochre October:
the sky, a blue dazzle, the grand finale of trees,
this spontaneous applause; when darkness falls
like a curtain, the last act, the passage of time,
that blue current; October, and the light leaves early,
our radiant hungers, all these golden losses.

~ copyright © 2005 Barbara Crooker (from Radiance, published by Word Press). All rights reserved.

Show us your poems!

Please leave your links with Mr. Linky below. Don’t forget to include the title of your poem or book you’re reviewing in parentheses after your name. I will update throughout the day.

TODAY’S POETRY FRIDAY MENU (sip, savor, chew, swallow):

1. Charles Ghigna (“House of Perfection”)

2. Heidi Mordhorst (“Twenty-four Doors,” an original)

3. jama (“Apple Season”)

4. Gathering Books (Walking Free by Gemino Abad)

5. Teacher Dance (A Goodbye, original)

6. Robyn Hood Black (original wolfy poetry)

7. Amy LV (“I Love Choosing” & P*Tag!)

8. Judy (To the Grass of Autumn, W.S. Merwin)

9. Susan Taylor Brown (Proof of Life, original poem)

10. Mary Lee (Subway Poem)

11. Carol (“To Failure” by Philip Larkin)

12. Tabatha (Edward Shanks)

13. Tara (October poems by Bobbi Katz)

14. Ben @ The Small Nouns (Poetry Mix  Tape: Autumn Poems)

15. Maria Horvath’s Daily Poems (“For an Amorous Lady”)

16. Laura Salas (Dogku by Andrew Clements)

17. Laura Salas (15 Words or less poems)

18. KK’s Kwotes (quote by Paul Janeczko)

19. Kurious Kitty (Where Home Begins)

20. Diane Mayr (“Power Source”)

21. Kids of the Homefront Army (“Up Late”)

22. Julie Larios (P*Tag)

23. Greg Pincus (“My Father’s Hair”)

24. Irene Latham (Ars Poetica 5 for Friday)

25. Sara Lewis Holmes (Bad Taste)

26. Sylvia Vardell (Upcoming presentation at the IBBY Regional Conference)

27. Wild Rose Reader (Original Halloween Haiku)

28. The Write Sisters (Now Close the Windows)

29. Katie @ Secrets & Sharing Soda (Lemonade by Bob Raczka)

31. Donna (Shushing)

32. david e. (haul-o-ween)

33. Miss Rumphius (At the Sea Floor Café)

34. April @ Teaching Authors (two Thankus)

35. Janet Squires (Hallowilloween)

36. Kelly Ramsdell Fineman (Troubled Water)

37. Mandy Webster (Rules for the Dance by Mary Oliver)

38. Joyce Ray (J. Patrick Lewis poetry exercise)

39. MsMac (Robert Frost)

40. Ruth (Villain)

41. Wrung Sponge (original haiku)

42. Adrienne (Walt Whitman)

43. Polka Dot Owl (Jack Prelutsky)


Thanks for participating and have a good weekend!

You may have a cookie for every poem you read today. ♥

Autumn Cookies by lorijohernandez/flickr

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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