april 2011 poetry month potluck: starters and a giveaway!

#1 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2011.

“Any healthy man can go without food for two days, but not without poetry.” ~ Charles Baudelaire, French poet (1821-1867)


Waiter, waiter! There’s a poet in my soup!

Actually, there are 19 poets in my soup!

And you know what? I don’t mind one little bit, because they’re all here for the 2nd Annual Alphabet Soup Poetry Potluck, a virtual feast of poems and recipes lasting throughout the month of April.

I must confess that when I invited these poets over, I never dreamed they’d turn out to be so wild and wooly. Some arrived by helicopter, some sashayed right into the kitchen balancing lasagna pans or trays of cookies on their heads, and one of them even likes to juggle Meyer lemons to folk music! After sipping a little mimosa and munching on a few metaphors, they dove straight into the soup bowl and have been partying heartily ever since.


Not to worry. They’ve all agreed to dry off just long enough to share their poems and tease tempt you with their recipes in turn, beginning Monday. So, are you ready to party? Pick a beret and let the poetry celebration begin!

Menu of 2011 Alphabet Soup Poetry Potluck Poets (in no particular order):

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Kate Coombs
Susan Taylor Brown
Heidi Mordhorst
Toby Speed
Jone MacCulloch
Diane Mayr
Carol Weis
JoAnn Early Macken
April Halprin Wayland
Irene Latham
Barbara Crooker
Marilyn Singer
Tabatha Yeatts
Jessica Swaim
Jane Yolen
Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
Kelli Russell Agodon

*thunderous applause*

I know, I know. Such a delicious line-up! What? They’re making you hungry? Please help yourself to a bit of this and a bit of that:


by John Mole

‘Grub first then ethics’ said Brecht
When the going was tough
As for many it always is
And fine words are never enough.

Presuming at least to offer
Food for the mind,
He wrote about hunger
Of a different kind.

What, despite the consoling
Banquet of art,
Can an empty belly
Say to a broken heart?

Poetry makes nothing happen
As Auden insisted;
Its flow is not water,
It can’t bake bread

Yet it measures out hope
In a global cup
And against all odds
Will not give up.

~ from Poetry on a Plate, edited by the Poetry Society (Salt Publishing, 2006)

oregon jess/flickr



Once again this year, Washington state poet Kelli Russell Agodon is hosting a multi-blog poetry book giveaway at Book of Kells. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about new poets and to see what others are reading and publishing. Each participating blog is giving away two books; anyone can enter and you have the entire month of April to do so. Giveaway Guidelines and a list of participants can be found here.

Here’s what I’m giving away:

1) Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room by Kelli Russell Agodon (White Pine Press, 2010). This is Kelli’s third collection of poetry, winner of the White Pine Press Prize. Here, she “creates a delicate balance between the seriousness of life and a brilliant sense of playfulness. A book about anxiety, spirituality, and the various ways we correspond including letters, postcards, love notes, conversation, song, and prayer.” We’ll be sharing one of the poems from this book soon, along with Kelli’s soup recipe!

2) More by Barbara Crooker (C&R Press, 2010). This is Barbara’s latest collection; it includes “Ode to Olive Oil,” which I recently featured here. Sue Ellen Thompson said, “Rarely has a book of poems been as aptly titled as Barbara Crooker’s More. Propelled by her hunger for beauty and language, she flies in low over human experience, noticing every gesture, every flavor, every nuance of color and light. Whether she is pondering a spill of salt or stepping into a painting by Hopper, Crooker never for one second lets us forget what it is to be alive and how many ways we have been given to express our gratitude for this simple fact.” Stay tuned for another poem from this collection, along with a chocolate recipe!

For a chance to win both books, simply leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EDT) April 30, 2011. Extra entries for blogging, Facebooking, or Tweeting about the giveaway. Open to anyone anywhere in the world, with or without a blog. If you are commenting as “Anonymous,” please leave contact information. If you prefer, you can also enter by email: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com, with “Big Poetry Giveaway” in the subject line.

And now, since Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Wine is bottled poetry,” let’s raise our glasses in a toast: Happy Poetry Month!!


♥ Amy LV has the Roundup today at The Poem Farm.


“There is poetry in a porkchop to a hungry man.” ~ Philip Gibbs (NYT, 1951).

*Vegetable Bouquet from International Chefs Catering.

**Special thanks to Hugging the Coast for permission to use the Emily image!

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved