Just in time for growing season, here’s a brand new anthology that serves up a delectable cornucopia of poems celebrating the food we eat and where it comes from.
Edited by Canadian poet Carol-Ann Hoyte, Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems (CreateSpace, 2015), contains over fifty verses by thirty-four poets from seven countries, with fetching black-and-white photographs by Norie Wasserman. Along with praise for the hardworking farmer, the global menu offers much food for thought with topics such as composting, urban gardening, food activism, vegetarianism, honeybee collapse disorder, free-range vs. caged hens, food banks and fair trade.
Kids 8-12 will enjoy the tasty assortment of poetic forms, styles, points-of-view and flavors of emotion, from light-hearted to reverent to joyous to pensive. They will delight in J. Patrick Lewis’s dancing mushrooms, Ken Slesarik’s nude root veggies, and Cindy Breedlove’s and Conrad Burdekin’s diatribes against peas. They will likely find April Halprin Wayland’s personal narratives about picking figs or buying a frog at a farmers market fascinating, and thanks to Matt Forrest Esenwine, Buffy Silverman and Frances Hern, think about familiar foods like pumpkins, corn, squash, beans, and peaches in new ways.
I was happy to see nine Poetry Friday friends in the line-up and be introduced to many new poets, three of whom I’m featuring today. Philippa Rae rhapsodizes about her favorite vegetable, Helen Kemp Zax extols the wonders of the farmers market, and Matt Goodfellow’s lyrical farmer’s song exalts the agrarian lifestyle upon which we all depend. I think their poems will give you a nice taste of the delightfully different voices and styles included in this toothsome collection.
I thank Philippa, Helen and Matt for allowing me to post their poems, for providing a little backstory about writing them, and for sharing recipes and food notes. Grab your forks and enjoy the feast!
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🍅 PHILIPPA RAE (England) 🍅
A great source of material is to write poetry from an unusual object’s perspective. The list is virtually unlimited! All you have to do is let your imagination run free. I enjoy using word play puns so an opportunity to write a food poem greatly ‘a-peeled’ to my sense of humour! And as a vegetarian I chose potatoes because they are my favourite food. Potatoes are one of the most versatile staple foods that we have, and can be virtually cooked any way. Nutritious and filling, they can be naughty or nice!
At their most humble – baked and served with a variety of different fillings, or at their most majestic – exotic spicy curries or in rich, creamy sauces.
A POTATO’S VALENTINE
The cream of the crop
The tuber to beat
You’re so delicious
A vegetable treat
Your skin is a-peeling
My knees turn to mash
whenever I see you
A spud that is smash
In your smart jacket
a treat for my eye
You are multi-talented
Boil, bake, or fry
Let’s grow old together
Have an offshoot or two
Have fun in the earth
while we’re still new
I’ll just cut the waffle
Please be my friend
Let’s put down roots
Together to the end
~ Posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2015 Philippa Rae. All rights reserved.
The recipe that I have chosen is one that I find easy to prepare and quick to make.
🍠 CARROT, FENNEL AND POTATO MEDLEY 🍠
Delicious served on its own with crusty bread or as a vibrantly coloured side dish.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 potato, cut into thin strips
- 1 fennel bulb, cut into strips
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1 red onion, cut into thin strips
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons clear honey
- salt and pepper
- snipped fresh chives
- fennel fronds
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the potato and fennel strips and cook for 2 -3 minutes, until beginning to brown. Remove from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
2. Arrange the carrot, red onion, potato and fennel in separate piles on a serving platter.
3. Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and pour over the vegetables. Toss well and sprinkle with snipped chives and fennel fronds. Serve immediately or leave to chill in the fridge until required.
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🍅 HELEN KEMP ZAX (United States) 🍅
I remember visiting my mother’s friends at the Jersey shore when I was about ten. I can picture myself on the porch with my Uncle Sam—the sun high and hot, salt in the sea air. He handed me a peach. It was big and round and pink and yellow. I held the coolness of it in my hands. Then I bit into it. Sweet juice slid down my throat and dripped along my lips. I remember thinking: nothing will ever be this delicious again. For years I longed for a peach that tasted like that summer peach. And then I discovered my beloved farmers market. It sets up each Saturday from June through March on the blacktop of a school near my home in Washington, DC. My farmer Jim sells white-fleshed peaches, freestone peaches, donut peaches, peaches so delicious that each year I can hardly wait for summer.
When Carol-Ann Hoyte put out a call for poems about food and agriculture, she requested that authors submit poems in different forms. I am a huge fan of writing in poetic form. I love fitting my images and words into a set rhythm and rhyme scheme. One of my favorite forms for children’s poetry is an acrostic. In an acrostic, the first letters of each line work together to spell out words that relate to the theme of the poem. Writing acrostics feels like solving a puzzle to me. I love the challenge of working my poetry into the acrostic’s structure.
Farmers’ fresh produce from local suppliers
Asparagus trucked in for bag-bringing buyers
Ripe scarlet strawberries, stems green as May
Mauve and pink peonies pouf a bouquet
Early birds snag plumpest blueberries first
Rollicking fiddlers tap feet, croon their verse
Summer’s abloom with sweet cherries and corn
Melons and mint scent the hot July morn
August arrives bringing cosmos and poppy
Raspberries, jam berries, juicy and sloppy
Kale in the summer, kale in the fall
Eggs, by the dozen, at each farmer’s stall
Tomatoes in red, yellow, orange and brown
Seasonal treats farmed for markets in town
~ posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2015 Helen Kemp Zax. All rights reserved.
I am sorry to say that I am one of those cooks. I don’t really use recipes; I largely cook by instinct. I do use local ingredients whenever possible. I do buy organic. And as often as I can, I purchase my lovely ingredients from Farmer Jim. One of my favorite recipes is for vegetable soup. I make it all year long because my ninety-two-year-old mother loves it. She eats it every day. Here is the recipe, as best as I can reproduce it.
🍲 HELEN ZAX’S VEGETABLE SOUP 🍲
Peel and chop:
- 1 medium onion
- 2 small zucchini
Simmer together until soft in a lidded frying pan with a little olive oil and water.
Place together in a large pot:
- 1 quart organic stock: I use beef-bone stock made by Amish farmers. Vegetable stock works, too.
- 1 quart filtered water
- 3-4 carrots, chopped or sliced: Out of season, use one small bag organic baby carrots.
- 2 cups organic red tomatoes, skinned and diced: Out of season, add two small cans organic diced tomatoes.
- 1 large bunch rainbow chard, ripped into small pieces
- 1 bay leaf
- Sea salt to taste
- Softened onions and zucchini
For a hardier soup, soak one-half cup green lentils overnight in warm water with the juice from half a lemon. Strain and rinse the lentils before adding them to your vegetables and broth.
Simmer on low for an hour to an hour-and-a-half. Freeze what you don’t eat. The soup only gets better with time.
And although I love to eat the healthy, delicious foods my farmer brings to town each week, I do have a weak spot for dark-chocolate, sea-salt caramels. I even wrote a haiku in their honor.
sea salt dots a beach
of dark chocolate and my mouth
goes on vacation
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🍅 MATT GOODFELLOW (England)🍅
The poem comes from 34 years of crossing the Pennines, a range of hills that separate North West England from Yorkshire. I live just outside Manchester and have always had family in Sheffield who we regularly visited when I was a kid. My wife is from Sheffield also and so the journey continues…The scenery is breathtaking and the hills and moors are dotted with ancient stone farmhouses – and I suppose the poem stems from here: imagining the daily life of a leathery farmer up there on the bleak moors – a rugged, hard, life, I imagine, punctuated by beauty and wonder. And a determination to always be there.
Hills and humanity have always been entwined – and I love being so close to them. Even from my front room, when I open my notebook, I can be up there wandering.
THE OLD FARMER’S SONG
At the edge of the world, I graze my sheep,
where storm clouds swirl, and the valley cuts deep.
I’ve farmed this land for fifty years,
calloused my hands on shovels and shears,
raised my cattle as best I could,
a constant battle in thick bog mud.
But a soaring hawk, a hare on the run,
an early walk with the rising sun,
a horse’s flanks as they heave and steam,
frost on the banks of a snow-melt stream
make my old heart beat to the rhythm of the farm,
the low pig grunts and the cows in the barn.
Till I’m ash and dust, till I’m dead and gone,
I’ll be in these hills, and I’ll sing this song.
~ posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2015 Matt Goodfellow. All rights reserved.
In terms of recipes, I don’t really have one stand out favourite, I’m afraid. I do however like food to be incredibly hot and spicy. I enjoy curries, Mexican food, Turkish food, kebabs and generally anything that involves grilled meat and chillies!!!
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DEAR TOMATO: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems
edited by Carol-Ann Hoyte
photography by Norie Wasserman
published by CreateSpace, February 2015
Poetry Anthology for ages 8-12, 80 pp.
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🌺 POETRY MONTH POST SCRIPT 🌺
April sure zipped by, didn’t it? Here are several cool things that topped off a fun, inspiring month:
♥ First, I was tickled pink that Mary Lee Hahn wrote this poem (now I’m famous!). Thanks, Mary Lee!
A CLERIHEW FOR JAMA RATTIGAN
Jama shines above the rest,
Cooks up blog posts filled with zest.
She’s not gilding on a lily,
she’s the allspice in our chili!
Copyright © 2015 Mary Lee Hahn
♥ Thanks to Jone MacCulloch’s annual Poetry Postcard Project, every year I receive a fabulous illustrated postcard from one of the students at Silver Star Elementary School. It really is a treat to find them in my mailbox, and while I’ve enjoyed each and every one, this year’s poem from third grader Jalen was extra special since it perfectly suited us.
We are big fox fans here at Alphabet Soup, having lived with and watched fox families in our woods for the last 15 years. We feed our “furbandits” mostly every night (chicken is their favorite).
Thank you, Jalen, we LOVE your poem! 🙂
♥ For Poem in Your Pocket Day yesterday, I carried Eileen Spinelli’s charming poem from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books, 2015), compiled by poetry goddesses Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong:
THE POET CELEBRATES NATIONAL SOUP MONTH
is a favorite treat —
a soup to write poems in
as well as to eat.
Copyright © 2015 Eileen Spinelli
This just happens to be the first poem in the anthology, which totally rocks big time. Guess what Janet had in her soup yesterday? 🙂
Such a smart poet! 🙂 Stay tuned for more poems from this anthology soon!
♥ Finally, another big thanks to the steamy HotTEAs of Children’s Poetry, who provided us with a nourishing feast for the eyes all month long. Just in case you missed any of them, here’s an encore:
- Richard Michelson
- Charles Ghigna and Lee Bennett Hopkins
- Jorge Argueta
- David L. Harrison and Charles Waters
- Matt Forrest Esenwine and Greg Pincus
I hear there was a run on fire extinguishers, oven mitts, hand-held and electric fans, and flame retardant suits all during the month of April. 🙂
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Ellen at Elementary Dear Reader is hosting today’s Roundup. Zoom over and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Enjoy your weekend!
*Images posted by permission, photographs copyright © 2015 Norie Wasserman. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.