2012 Alphabet Soup Poetry Potluck Menu and Giveaway

#1 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2012.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver (“The Summer Day,” House of Light, 1990).


So glad you’re here!

The table is set, the soup’s simmering gently on the stove, and our guest poets are arriving!

Beginning Monday, April 2nd, each of them will take turns sharing a poem or two and one of their favorite recipes. They’ll be coming from places like California, Colorado, New Jersey, Indiana, Washington, D.C., Georgia, Massachusetts, and Texas. I love a good potluck — it’s always so much fun to see what everybody brings and sample what they’ve made. There’s nothing like tasty food and good poetry to bring like-minded people together in celebration of truth, beauty and creativity. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this year’s Menu, which features a variety of verse forms and subjects pensive and playful, intimate and worldly.

*adjusts bib and licks chops*

Here are this year’s guest poets (in no particular order):

*2012 Alphabet Soup Poetry Potluck Menu*

Charles Waters
Linda Ashman
Janet Wong
April Pulley Sayre
Robyn Hood Black
Kathi Appelt
Leslie Muir
Martha Calderaro
Mary Quattlebaum
Jill Corcoran
Linda Baie
Gail Gerwin
Helen Frost
Kay Pluta
Margarita Engle
Lesa Taylor Medley
Lee Wardlaw
Doraine Bennett
Heidi Bee Roemer
Adele Kenny
Sondra Gash

Aren’t they beautiful? It’s such an honor to have them in the Alphabet Soup kitchen to help us celebrate National Poetry Month! ☺

This year’s Potluck is dedicated to Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning poet Mary Oliver, who as many of you know, has had to cancel recent public appearances due to illness. We send her our love, prayers and healing thoughts.

For our Potluck appetizer, one of my favorite Mary poems. Honey, with its many culinary uses, religious significance, and medicinal properties, seems just right for the occasion. Poetry is ancient, predating literacy, and the collection and cultivation of honey, dating back some 8,000 years, belongs to that same period in mankind’s history.  Let’s savor the sweetness poetry affords us throughout April, remembering where we came from and who we are.

via mood for pics

Mary Oliver

It fills you with the soft
essence of vanished flowers, it becomes
a trickle sharp as a hair that you follow
from the honey pot over the table

and out the door and over the ground,
and all the while it thickens,

grows deeper and wilder, edged
with pine boughs and wet boulders,
pawprints of bobcat and bear, until

deep in the forest you
shuffle up some tree, you rip the bark,

you float into and swallow the dripping combs,
bits of the tree, crushed bees – – a taste
composed of everything lost, in which everything lost is found.

~ from American Primitive (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1984)

Since Mary lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where I once had the best lobster roll ever, we must also have some of these (nom, nom):

Lobster Sliders (click for recipe)



One lucky reader will win:


  • American Primitive, Mary Oliver’s Pulitzer Prize winning collection, which includes “Honey at the Table.” “These poems consist of ‘ . . . the cords/of my body stretching/and singing in the/heaven of appetite.’ Their speaker ‘ . . . ate chunks of pure light.'”
  • Appetite: Food as Metaphor, An Anthology of Women Poets, edited by Phyllis Stowell and Jeanne Foster, BOA Editions, Ltd., 2002. “In poems from as varied women poets as Jane Kenyon, Lucille Clifton, and Anne Sexton, food emerges as a reoccurring and central metaphor in the way women live, in the pulse of the everyday, and as a vehicle for the exotic. From coffee to caviar, from potatoes to dandelions — even in hunger and anorexia — the metaphors of food have worked like yeast in the imaginations of these poets.” One of my favorite collections of food poetry!
  • Raven Lunatic Magnetic List: Cornelius, a longtime Poe fan, suggests using this pad to write list or found poems.
  • Brief Moosages Notebook, donated by Hatley, your friendly sidebar text moosager. He would like you to take nature walks and jot down your impressions, just like Mary Oliver does. Underwear not included.
  • Alphabet Soup pencils: Especially good for recording recipes, composing haiku or sonnets, and writing letters home.

To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment at any post during the month of April. You may earn extra entries by sharing this post via your blog or social networks (please note in your comment). You may also enter by sending an email with “Poetry Potluck Giveaway” in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Open to U.S. residents only. Please leave contact info if you don’t have a blog. Winner announced first week of May.



To be eligible for a door prize, simply comment on any weekday post. Winners will be chosen at random from among each week’s commenters. Cornelius will share a Mary Oliver poem and announce the winners on Sundays. Winning a door prize will not make you ineligible for the main Potluck Giveaway Prize.


Door Prize Books (underlined titles have been reviewed at Alphabet Soup):

  • BookSpeak by Laura Purdie Salas and Josée Bisaillon (Clarion, 2011)
  • Guacamole: A Cooking Poem by Jorge Argueta and Margarita Sada (Groundwood Books, 2012)
  • The President’s Stuck in the Bathtub by Susan Katz and Robert Neubecker (Clarion, 2012)
  • Hidden by Helen Frost (FSG, 2011)
  • Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw and Eugene Yelchin (Henry Holt, 2011)
  • Water Sings Blue by Kate Coombs and Meilo So (Chronicle Books, 2012)
  • Declaration of Interdependence: Poems for an Election Year by Janet Wong (Suitcase Poems, 2012) **signed by the author


**Special thanks to all the publishers and author Janet Wong for donating these door prizes.


Click here to visit the Dear Mary blog, where the public is invited to submit testimonials and tributes honoring Mary Oliver’s work.


The lovely Heidi Mordhorst is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at My Juicy Little Universe. Sashay on over there and check out all the delightful poems being served up in the blogosphere. See you on Monday!


Some Provincetown Fudge for the road.


This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share food related posts (recipes, fiction/nonfiction/cookbook/movie reviews, photos, random thoughts, etc.).


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

87 thoughts on “2012 Alphabet Soup Poetry Potluck Menu and Giveaway

  1. My mouth is watering! You have three of my favorite people in your line-up! April! Kathi! Helen Frost! I can’t wait for their “days.” Plus learning more about writers new to me.

    Thanks for the fudge, and thanks for doing this again this year.


    1. We’ve got a great mix of poets this year — looking for invitees has introduced me to several new poets. Always exciting to read more food poems :)!


  2. Hi, Jama. I’m looking forward to your NPM posts and the recipes. What a beautiful Mary Oliver poem. The last stanzas has such a grounded feeling. Speaking of honey, raw honey on a spoon. The best.


  3. Jama, you are so impressive! How do you find time to blog so regularly, organize such amazing guests, get give aways, cook, bake, read AND write? Wish I could be a fly on your kitchen wall. Hugs and thank you for all this!


  4. WooHoo!! I am a recent convert to poetry-love! Thrilled to see the series is dedicated to Mary Oliver! Looking forward to all the upcoming posts! Thanks for doing this!
    (commenting from the Charlotte airport on a long layover)!


    1. So happy that you’re into reading more poetry now. Check in on Sundays, when Cornelius will share a Mary Oliver poem along with his bear hug 🙂 — and all the other days of the week too, of course !


  5. Jama, I’m so honored to be included in this & so excited to read everyone’s poetry treasures every day. What a lovely set of plans you’ve made. Like others above, I don’t see how you do it! Thanks for this!


  6. Jama, you are such a crazy-generous, creative soul! I can’t wait to indulge in this year’s potluck all month long, and I’m beyond honored to be included. Thank your for the poetry from, and wishes for, Mary Oliver. Sending prayers from here, too. I keep re-reading that honey poem – “a taste/
    composed of everything lost, in which everything lost is found.” Exquisite.


  7. Oh I can’t wait for this juicy feast. What a wonderful line up you have and getting us all in the mood with the swoon-worthy Mary Oliver. But you are tease…show the fudge and no recipe!


  8. Wow! This is great…I loved the “Honey” poem. No wonder she won the Pulitzer for poetry.

    I am definitely participating, and will be a frequent visitor in April 🙂


    1. Thanks for all your enthusiasm, Debbi! It’s easy to see why Mary Oliver is America’s best selling poet. Hope she gets well soon.


  9. Such an incredibly rich post, as always. You are such a marvel, dearest Jama. I have just watched Dead Poets Society with my young ten year old daughter and it’s just amazing reliving the poetry and the movie all over again through her eyes. This evening, poetry takes on a whole new level of meaning for me – yet again. And I am struck by your opening lines: ““Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver asks one tough question. Very few are able to answer the question, I suppose.

    I’m also glad to note that you’re also having Margarita Engle over! How fabulous! I’d link to your post if and when yours get published earlier. We’re also doing a 2-part feature on her this April. Your giveaway is fabulous! Such generosity of spirit indeed. 🙂 It’s great that Fats is based in San Diego, so we’re still eligible for possible book prizes, yay for freebies! 🙂 Carpe Diem, Jama dearest.


    1. Haven’t seen Dead Poets Society in a long time. It really does inspire a lot of life examination and ordering or re-ordering of priorities. Robin Williams has always been one of my favorites — whether he’s doing comedy or dramatic roles.

      Looking forward to your posts featuring Margarita Engle — such an amazing, lyrical poet. Glad that Fats is eligible for the giveaway and door prizes! Your comments will be treated as representative of the Gathering Books team :).


  10. Wow – I am so looking forward to April at your blog! And, now I am going to leave my office and have me a hot cross bun with some honey for breakfast. That Mary Oliver poem sure got the juices roused. Yum!


    1. Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for helping to spread the word about the Potluck! I’m with you on those lobster sliders — late night snack, for lunch, dinner, breakfast, anytime, actually.

      We’ve got lots of tomato soup here — and we often have to eat our words :D.


  11. I always love your posts! Who knows, this month I might even find some poetry to read to expand my reading world!


    1. Oh, I hope so! I borrowed a big pile of Mary Oliver books from the library which I’m going to savor slowly all month long in addition to the poems by guest poets here.


  12. Jama – Is it not proper to applaud after a poem is read? I don’t think I could sit silently in the audience, having listened to M.O. read “Wild Geese” and not jump up and shout BRAVO!


    1. I know what you mean! But sometimes when people are really moved by something, all they can do is sit quietly, stunned. I imagine this often happens when Mary reads her poetry — or maybe there is some form of silent protocol we’re not aware of at poetry readings. I’m sure she got her share of wild applause and BRAVOs eventually. 🙂


  13. I do believe that is the first poem I have read about honey. It is such a wonderful food that there really should be more poems.


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