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Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Mr. Cornelius Cucumber

While looking for more children’s books illustrated by Lena Anderson, I was happy to discover Anna’s Garden Songs – a whimsical, light-hearted collection of 14 fruit and veggie poems written by Mary Q. Steele.

Garden favorites like peas, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, beets and onions take their place in the sun with playful rhyming verse and Lena’s fanciful pictures. I may as well confess right now that I’ve always had a thing for giant vegetables, so when I saw how Lena fiddled with scale in this book I squealed with delight. :)

Blond, mostly barefoot, bespectacled Anna is just adorable as she plants, harvests and shares the garden’s bounty with her friends, grandfather, and large pet rabbit, who happily scampers through the pages and almost steals the show (he’s especially good at nibbling and napping).

 

From the moment I opened the book and saw Anna hiding in that big pea pod, I knew I was in for a real treat. I can’t decide which I like most — Anna sitting atop a giant beet, relaxing amongst the tomato plants, or wearing a dress made from lettuce leaves.

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Ahem. I’ve known for some time that poets J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian are both crazy. Crazy talented, that is.

Ebullient wizards of comedic timing and wordplay, these two pun meisters should be arrested for having way too much fun. Having tickled the funny bones of kids everywhere for decades, they’ve each published dozens of award winning books that celebrate the many wonderful possibilities of poetry. Such joy! Such cleverness! Such vigorous versifying! Veddy veddy good.

Now, a new book by either one of these beloved poets is a real treat, but having them write a book together is like having your cake and eating it two, three, maybe five thousand times. In Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems (Schwartz & Wade, 2014), Mr. Lewis and Mr. Florian have set their engines at full throttle, pulling out all the stops when it comes to inventing 21 crazy dazy cars of the future.

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We are always eating
or about to, or just done.
We are hungry, we are sated,
we are wishing we hadn’t.
We are making up for it,
or planning our denials,
or confessing them.

~ from “Dieting” by Julia Wendell

I’m pleased today to welcome Maryland poet Julia Wendell, who’s as passionate about words as she is about horses. With a life marked by such difficult personal challenges as anorexia and alcohol addiction, it seems riding and writing have been her saving graces.

The 29 poems in her new chapbook Take This Spoon are presented in seven sections, each leading off with a favorite family recipe to whet the reader’s appetite. As she says in her poem “Dieting,” we spend much of our time obsessing about food. Some are addicted to eating, while others are addicted to not eating. Better to take a lesson from animals:

Self-consciousness doesn’t ruin

their appetite or enjoyment.
They don’t judge what they consume,
or long for what they won’t allow themselves.

They don’t confuse who they are
with what they eat,
fearing they won’t be loved
if they’re fat, or don’t cook,
or overcook, or nearly kill themselves
by making up for their gluttony
with fasting.

Julia explores the complicated relationship humans have with food by fixing a personal lens on her own family. In artfully crafted scenes, (a mother keeping her daughter out of the kitchen so she won’t see her drinking, a young woman bringing home a bohemian boyfriend to dinner at her mother’s “immaculate table,” a woman aching for her deceased mother as she comes across her handwriting on recipe cards), the subtexts of pain, regret, loss, and contention are plated to perfection. Her descriptions of food are lyrical and sensual, her voice intimate and honest, her ability to align what is being eaten with what eats away at the heart and soul is powerful.

Since so many of you enjoyed Julia’s poem, “My Mother’s Handwriting,” I know you’ll find her thoughts about writing, familial relationships, and the love of horses interesting.

Naturally, I asked her to share a recipe. Peanut Butter Pie, anyone? :)

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#49 in a series of posts celebrating the alphabet

Put on your bathing suit and flip flops. Grab your pail, shovel and shades. Let’s go to the beach!

Poet Richard Michelson and illustrator Doris Ettlinger celebrate the sights, sounds, smells, fun and mystery of a joyous day by the sea in their charming new picture book, S is for Sea Glass: A Beach Alphabet (Sleeping Bear Press, 2014).

Written in a variety of poetic forms (ode, haiku, free verse, rhyming couplets), Michelson’s poems range from lyrical to light, capturing the many moods, rhythms, and emotions associated with ocean and shore from A to Z.

Have you ever made a sand angel? Or maybe you’d rather show off your castle-building skills, stroll the boardwalk, or comb the beach for shells or sea glass, letting your imagination run wild with possibility. Was this piece from a “king’s cup/Or medicine bottle” — maybe even a pirate’s decanter? Whatever you decide, there’s nothing quite like a tossed and tumbled “gift from the ocean.”

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1. “Cranberry,” A Commonplace Book of Pie by Kate Lebo and Jessica Lynn Bonin

2. “The One and the Other” by Hayden Saunier

3. “Sugar” by Barbara Crooker

4. THE POEM THAT WILL NOT END by Joan Bransfield Graham and Kyrsten Brooker

5. “Teatime Grouch,” “Teddy Bear Tea,” “Tea Around the World” from TEA PARTY TODAY by Eileen Spinelli and Karen Dugan

6. “Tea” by Carol Ann Duffy

7. “Color” by Christina Rossetti

8. “The Work of Happiness” by May Sarton

9. ANTIQUE PIANO & OTHER SOUR NOTES by Barbara Etlin

10. WHY DO I CHASE THEE by Jessica Swaim and Chet Phillips

11. Emily Dickinson flower poems

12. “My Party” and “You Are Going Out to Tea” by Kate Greenaway

13. “Song of the Flower XXIII” by Kahlil Gibran + Roundup

14. “Calvin Coolidge” from RUTHERFORD B., WHO WAS HE? by Marilyn Singer and John Hendrix

15. IF DOGS RUN FREE by Bob Dylan and Scott Campbell

16. “My Mother’s Handwriting” by Julia Wendell

17. S IS FOR SEA GLASS by Richard Michelson and Doris Ettlinger

18. Interview with Julia Wendell (Take This Spoon)

19. POEM-MOBILES by J. Patrick Lewis, Douglas Florian and Jeremy Holmes

20. ANNA’S GARDEN SONGS by Mary Q. Steele and Lena Anderson

21. MISS EMILY by Burleigh Muten and Mac Phelan

22. DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST by Irene Latham and Anna Wadham

23. STRINGS ATTACHED by Diane DeCillis

24. Oreos by J. Patrick Lewis

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♥ A permanent link to this archive may be found in the sidebar of this blog (scroll down to “Archival Lists”).

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