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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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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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One, two, three, and as pleased as can be to see this delectable new counting picture book  by award-winning poet, author and teacher Kathi Appelt!

For one, I’ve long been fascinated by crows and their supreme intelligence. Did you know they can distinguish individual humans by recognizing facial features? Or that they can not only use, but in some cases, manufacture tools? They engage in sports and play, and yes, they can actually count!

(Uncanny, but just as I finished typing the previous sentence, I heard three jubilant caws of approval in the back yard. I’m sure our resident crows know when they’re being written about. Told you they were smart!) :)

The two things I love most about Counting Crows (Atheneum BFYR, 2015) are the varied, innovative rhyme schemes and the fact that the crows are counting, of all things, SNACKS *licks lips*! Not to mention Rob Dunlavey’s fetching feast of whimsical illustrations capturing the peckish personalities and comical antics of these red-and-white sweater-clad flappers in a striking three-color palette of black, white and red.

(click to enlarge)

One, two, three
crows in a tree.

Three roly-poly bugs,
three ripe mangoes.

Three for the counting crows.
Three, by jango!

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1. This lovely poster featuring the words of 14th century Persian poet Hafez by Katie Daisy is available at The Wheatfield Etsy Shop. A nice thought to keep in mind during these crazy times. :)

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2. Speaking of poets, Kelly Ramsdell Fineman’s very first chapbook, The Universe Comes Knocking (Maverick Duck Press, 2015)  will be officially released this Friday, March 13th! There’s a Launch Party at the Daily Grind (48 High Street) in Mount Holly, New Jersey at 7 p.m. Admission is free and there’ll be an open reading afterwards. Check it out if you live in the area! You can read the title poem here. Congratulations, Kelly!

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Illustration by Monica Ramos for Lucky Peach

3. It’s no secret we’re big fans of dumplings and dim sum here at Alphabet Soup. LOVE this definitive Guide to Chinese Dumplings compiled by The Cleaver Quarterly at Lucky Peach. There are cute drawings, mouthwatering descriptions, and interesting historical and cultural tidbits about each type, and they’re grouped according to how they’re cooked: Steamed, Pan-Fried, Deep-Fried, and Boiled. Happy to see pepeiao from Hawai’i on the list, and I learned about a lot of different varieties I didn’t even know existed. Yum! Pass the har gow!

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4. It’s also no secret that I like toys (who, me?), so I was happy to stumble upon Zard Apuya’s site recently. Originally from Guam, he now lives in San Francisco where he’s busy designing vinyl toys and pursuing a graduate degree in Business Administration. Check out a few of his charming “kid at art” creations (some available for purchase):

Mickey Rice Crispy

Disney Dole Whip

Carni-Food: Cotton Candy

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5. Food memoirs are probably my favorite genre to read for pleasure. Here’s a nice list of “The 50 Best Food Memoirs” at AbeBooks. Since I’ve only read 6 of these so far, I’d better get busy!

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via Chris Cavill

Have you ever loved a food so much you wanted to inhabit it?

I guess there’s truth in the saying, “Home is where the cacao is.” :)

L.A. Burdick’s Pavé Glacé : bricks of hazelnut, saffron, dark chocolate, cocoa butter and butter: (via NY City Woman)

HOME SWEET HOME

by Kate Bingham

I need a chocolate bar I can live with,
nothing too big, a red-brick biscuit base, perhaps,
south-facing, on a quiet, tree-lined residential street
where parking late at night won’t be a problem.

Nothing too crumbly either. I don’t want
to be sweeping up bits of cornice all weekend
and pestering the surveyor with each new crack
in the milky bar matt emulsion shell.

It’s got to be the sort of place I can forget about,
with cocoa solids minimum 65 per cent
and nougat foundation limed with soya lecithin
cement and bourneville guttering

no matter what the cost because you can’t price
peace of mind and that means no original features,
nothing too fancy, nothing architect-designed.
There’s only me, I know exactly what I’m looking for,

not space so much as surface area, a honey-comb interior,
with wafer walls and butterscotch parquet
leading from room to room, each mouthful lighter,
sweeter than the one before and breathed, not tasted,

like a puff of icing sugar. Coming home
will be a hit, a score. I’ll drop my hand-bag in the hall,
tie back my hair, lie down and lick the floor.

~ from Cohabitation (Seren Books, 1998)

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It’s always a treat to “discover” a new-to-me poet, and Kate Bingham’s winsome and witty verse was just what I needed to chase away my cabin fever and winter blues. (When in doubt, think brown, and don’t be afraid to cross over to the dark side.)

After nibbling on this poem, I began to fantasize about the choco-cabin of my dreams.

Hmmm, something warm and cozy,

via SDJW

all furnishings made of the finest Belgian chocolate:

Chocolate room by sculptor Elena Kliment via Daily Mail

Some people like to wear their lampshades, I like to eat mine.

What’s a home without tasty flowers?

I must have a bottomless chocolate teapot that pours and pours all day,

via Oddetorium

and good quality flatware. Why just lick your spoons, when you can lick your knives and forks too?

Herdmar Oslo-Chocolate Mirror via Pickard

What else? A nice old-fashioned rotary phone in case I need to order take-out or call Mr. Firth. For any robo-calls or annoying telemarketers, I’d eat the receiver.

Chocolate and Raspberry Telephone via Afternoon Crumbs

Yes, a good tool kit to tinker and fix,

via WorthaShare

and a piano (I can play Schumann’s “The Happy Chocolate Farmer” by heart)!

via Fresh Ideen

Oh yes, this is where I’d sleep (and dream about mountains of dark sea salt caramels).

via Jean Chow/flickr

Mr. Cornelius would sleep here:

via bed toppings for sleepy heads

Each morning I’d hop out of bed, slip into something comfortable,

via WorthaShare

click my heels together,

via NewsTimes

turn on my laptop, then write the tastiest blog post ever, bar none.

via Unique Rishta

Now, you may eat this post, if you like, along with a Mississippi Mud bar:

procured by Mr. Cornelius

 

Tell me, where do you live?

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poetryfriday180Poet and Author Robyn Campbell is hosting today’s Roundup. Check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Hope you find the chocolate bar of your dreams!

 

 

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wkendcookingiconThis post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Slip on your chocolate dress and come join the fun!

 

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

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