the always beguiling tanita s. davis

#20 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2010.

via Rolland Glass

For Tanita S. Davis, love is spelled, “L-I-M-E.”

The girl is wild about them, “in ANYTHING and everything.” Now, prior to this Potluck, it would never have occurred to me that she might want to dive into that vase to get at those limes, one sassy slice at a time. But after reading her poem, I suspect her refrigerator is full of limes, her bed, lined with them, her dreams, haunted by them. Splash!

Thanks to Tanita, I’ve gained new respect for these little green fruit. Oh, how I’ve callously overlooked them in my naive tunnel-vision of lemon love! My knowledge of limes is limited to a few Mexican food rendezvous, a passing glance at a Margarita.

Tanita was wise to them from childhood, when she and her brother ate them “just out of the skin, because we’re weird like that.” 

via verabewe

The ultimate proof of Tanita’s lime love? She wrote a rondeau redoublé — a difficult, rigorous, always challenging French poetic form (beautifully explained here by Kelly Fineman, and recently presented by the Poetry Princesses). There’s line repetition, doubling back, coming full circle, a taunt and a tease — like the best of love affairs.

Tanita: I am charmed by the redoublé form. It’s only hard (to write) for the first hour or so. This poem could also be an ode to a particularly snarky person — limes, people — it’s all the same, when it comes down to it. 😉

via Michael Porter


I am beguiled; I need more than a taste —
I’m piqued and palpitating from your wiles,
Your hint of sweet with caustic interlaced,
Brings winces — but you also bring a smile.

You stand alone above the rank and file,
Your presence felt can never be erased,
You coyly tease the senses with your guile
I am beguiled; I need more than a taste!

And when against your harshness I am braced,
I find your sweetness wider by a mile.
You shine at every gathering you grace!
I’m piqued and palpitating from your wiles.

Your scent intoxicates, the bite worthwhile
To reeling senses sourness has traced.
Acidic, twist, it lingers for awhile,
Your hint of sweet. With caustic interlaced,

Your piquant charms can never be replaced.
You strip veneers — acerbic is your style.
A stinging sour that cannot be erased
Brings winces — but you also bring a smile.

With coconut you sing of tropic isles
You brighten bland — you never go to waste!
Hot, spicy, sharp — you’re ever versatile,
Your bite in pungent sweetness is encased . . .
I am beguiled.

© 2010 Tanita S. Davis. All rights reserved.

via Sarah-Lyn

*fans self*

Can’t say I’ve ever known anyone to pique and palpitate over limes before. I love the point/counterpoint between sweet and sour, the emotional ambivalence. This form expresses that perfectly: two rhymes, two flavors. Brilliant.

With my newfound enthusiasm for limes, I can’t wait to try Tanita’s recipe. She finds regular cheesecake too rich, so prefers this dairy-free, lower cal alternative — a good way to have your cake and eat it, too.

Tanita: I COULD have made this with lemon . . . but where’s the fun in that? Lemons are lovely, but limes . . . so uncommon. So tasty!

© 2010 Tanita S. Davis


You Will Need:

A Crust — either a premade graham cracker crust, or you can go wild and make your own graham or gingersnap crust with 2 c. of crushed cookies with 3 T. of melted margarine or butter and pressed into a 9″ pie pan. (If you prefer a springform, go for it.)

First, PREHEAT your oven to 325°F. If your oven runs hot, try 300° — cheesecake will crack on you if it can.

♦ 2 boxes (just over 2 lbs.) silken tofu (the sealed-box Mori-nu kind works well)
♦ 2/3 cup granulated sugar
♦ Dash of salt
♦ 2/3 cup lime juice
♦ 3 T. lime zest
♦ 1 tsp. almond extract
♦ 1/4 cup cornstarch, leveled
♦ 1/2 cup Tofutti cream cheese — or you can use regular, if you can’t find it; it works with either

And after that, it’s really as easy as 1,2,3:

1. With a hand mixer or stick blender, combine silken tofu, sugar, salt, lime juice, lime zest, almond extract, cornstarch and tofu cream cheese.

2. Pour your filling into your already prepared crust.

3. Bake for fifteen minutes — but keep an eye on it, as your tofu may be waterier or less moist than mine. Look for a golden brown top.

*Allow the pie to cool thoroughly before attempting to depan (if you’re using springform) or slice!


♦ 2 cups sliced plums, or blackberries macerated in 1/3 cup sugar and lime juice
♦ OR, 2 cups lime or lemon curd, stirred and drizzled, and garnished with lime zest
♦ OR, sweetened whipped cream garnished with unsweetened coconut flakes.

The nice thing about toppings — they save the appearance of the cheesecake if it cracks. And if it does, no harm, no foul. They DO that, whether they’re vegan or regular cheesecakes. It’s a byproduct of the moisture leaving them, and leaving the semi-firm cheesiness behind.

*Drooling* I’m definitely making this. Thanks so much, Tanita!


Tanita S. Davis is the award-winning author of the young adult novels, Ala Carte (Knopf, 2008), and Mare’s War (Knopf, 2009). For Mare’s War, she earned a Coretta Scott King Author Honor and the Amelia Bloomer Award, in addition to a boatload of other accolades, including: 2010 NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts, 2010 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, and a YALSA Best Book for Young Adults. Tanita was also one of five people nominated for a 2010 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Youth/Teens Category).

A native of California, Tanita is currently living in Glasgow, Scotland, with her husband, the world’s best baker. They often conduct weird and wonderful cooking experiments, raise mushrooms in their bathroom, sing, dance, tell stories, and meticulously catalogue their life and travels in thousands of photographs. When I first started blogging in 2007, Tanita (a.k.a. Tadmack) magically appeared with her warm, welcoming, insightful comments. She can be found online at her website blog, as well as at Finding Wonderland (YA book reviews), Guys Lit Wire, and Hobbits, Home and Abroad (with the aforementioned baker). Yes, she’s a Poetry Princess. Yes, she’s absolutely brilliant. And she even likes bowties.

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved. 

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