welcoming 2020 with the barbara crooker blues

“If the politicians and the scientists, or both working together, cannot save us, perhaps those less practical friends and aiders of those who would live in the spirit, the poets, can provide us with a vision we can trust and live with?” ~ Hyatt H. Waggoner (Visionary Poetry: Learning to See, 1981)


Happy True Blue Year!

Yes, we’re going blue again in 2020, hopefully a year marked by truth and clarity. With 20/20 vision, we must resolve to see things as they really are by taking a good look at the facts and focusing on what is truly important for our survival as citizens and human beings.

In previous years, we made progress with THINK BLUE and BELIEVE IN BLUE. We now have a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, and in 2019, Virginia turned blue and you-know-who was impeached. Step by step. In this all-important Presidential election year, we must take blue to the finish line. 🙂



Ahem. I suppose you know what the Pantone color of the year is:



Here is why Classic Blue was selected:

We are living in a time that requires trust and faith. It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on . . . Imbued with a deep resonance, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue provides an anchoring foundation. A boundless blue evocative of the vast and infinite evening sky, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking; challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication.

~ Leatrice Eisman (Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute)

Just perfect! An anchor, a color of constancy, one we can rely on that will remind us to be big sky thinkers. Precisely the color we need this year.



TRUE BLUE = Steadfast in our convictions, loyal to flag and country, supportive of loved ones, trustworthy, a friend to those in need, true to our authentic selves, champion of beauty and creativity.

We’re especially delighted to kick things off with a trio of “blue” poems by Barbara Crooker.

Several times we’ve welcomed the new year with her poems; it’s good luck, and she’s definitely someone who, poem after poem, inspires us “with a vision we can trust and live with.” It’s the color blue, she seems to say, that embodies hope and happiness. Life not quite what you want it to be? Feel free to improvise. 🙂




“Soon” by Chikako Yamanashi



Dull morning, dove-colored sky, black trees.
Winter at its most monochrome. Months
until spring; don’t even think about it. Then
squawk, there’s a jay, a pure blue verb
landing on the feeder. And suddenly, you see
delphiniums, larkspur, hydrangeas.
And suddenly, even sorrow is bearable.

~ from Some Glad Morning (University of Pittsburgh Poetry Press, 2019)




“Rochefort’s Escape,” by Édouard Manet (1881)


title of an exhibit at the Philadelphia Art Museum

Who cares about those convicts rowing a path in the moonlight?
It’s the water we want to look at, taking its own sweet time
as it steps up to the microphone to solo, an improvisation in blue:

Ohio match tips, mouthwash, flax fields in France.
The moon, once in a while.
The moon, where I saw you standing alone.
The moon, forme d’Ambert, Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola.
Speedwell, rosemary, chicory, plum.
Skies, smiling at me. The wild yonder.
Something about a Monday. Something to get tangled up in.
Twelve bars, Bessie, Billie, Janis, piano, steel guitars.

Oh, Eddie Manet, he’s got the blues,
got paint on his shoes, done paid his dues,
oh, Eddie Manet, he’s got the blues,
yeah, he got them blues so bad . . .

~ from Gold (Cascade Books, 2013)




“Sun in My Eyes” by Ania Witwitzka



Whoever can see through all fear
Will always be safe

The Tao Te Ching
a dizain

It’s a day of brilliant blue, lightly smudged
with chalky clouds. In the larger world, there’s
fracking, climate change, industrial sludge.
But here, none of this can reach us. Who cares

about the news? I’m in this lawn chair,
secure in its embrace. In the distance,

the surf of traffic, the hum of bees. Chances
are, none of us gets to live forever.
The shadow of the vulture on the lawn
cannot dispel this blue euphoria.

~ first published in Quiddity




All three poems reference seeing and perception, from the “pure blue verb” that dispels sadness in favor of spring flowers, to the suggestion that in the eye of the beholder, a work of art can engender free-flowing reverie, to the reminder that we have the power to choose what to embrace (“blue euphoria”), while living in the moment.

Ekphrastic poems like “Manet and the Sea” are always interesting because they often say more about the poet than the painter’s intent. I enjoy seeing how poets interpret visual art, and Barbara’s jazzy riff on blue gets me where I live (do I have to mention the very cool Dylan reference in the poem?). She had me tapping my toes and snapping my fingers. I got the blues!

In 2020, ‘poet as seer’ will take on added significance. What would we do without poets who seek the truth and tell it true, helping us envision a better world?  Many times when I have felt off balance, a Barbara Crooker poem has set me right again. I remember to slow down, pay attention and revel in the simple beauties around me.



Do join us as often as you can this year — there is always a place at our table just for you. For now, pour yourself another cup of tea, nibble on some blueberry cream cake or fruit tart, and own the blue euphoria. Wishing you many pure blue verbs, smiling skies, and cool swings on the upbeat.








The wonderful and talented Kat Apel is hosting the Roundup this week. Zip on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere. Happy Weekend!




(Untitled) Paris View, by Louis Ritman, ca. 1915-1919.


“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ~ Carl Jung



* Copyright © 2020 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

48 thoughts on “welcoming 2020 with the barbara crooker blues

  1. Oh Jama, welcome back! And welcome to those blue threads you are making into a quilt for the year! Even the Pantone people are becoming poets! The choice seems quite political, doesn’t it? I love the looks of that blueberry cream cake and will find some “pure blue verb”s for you this year! Wishing you and all of us a very Happy 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the welcome back, Linda! I tend to agree that the Classic Blue choice is political. A very good sign, don’t you think? We must advocate the blueness even more this year.

      Every time Blue Bear asks to post for a photo, I think of you. It’s amazing how well he fits into the Alphabet Soup family. Thank you again for sending him!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I love everything in this post. That beginning quote (yes, we need those poets to help us see our way through the mess we’re in) hooked me and that Barbara Crooker poem took my breath away, especially as I look out my window at a very monochromatic (and slightly dreary) winter morn. And as usual, your photos are stunning–I love the tea and teddy bears and that cream cake has my mouth watering!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Blue Suede Shoes, Blue, Blue, my World is Blue, She Wore Blue Velvet, Blue Skies, smiling at me… so many blue songs.. Thanks for letting remember them on this blue sky, gorgeous winter day in NYC!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, a blue sky day for you in NYC!! NICE! Hope to share more blue songs in my Cool Things Roundups this year. I don’t think I’ve shared that second song yet . . .


  4. Your posts are always so beautiful, and I love this very “blue” post. Adding to Joanne’s comment with song titles, I’m thinking of My Blue Heaven and Blueberry Hill. That cake looks so yummy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Linda! Thanks for those blue song suggestions. Shall have to share My Blue Heaven sometime. Len says the cake was delicious (aren’t you impressed with my self control?). 😀


  5. When I first saw that Pantone color for 2020, I thought: That’s how you throw shade.

    I’m enjoying the Manet poem this week. Went to a retreat last week where a prompt was to write about a dreamy encounter with a celebrity. My roommate and I both chose artists!

    Wishing us all some “pure blue verbs” in the coming year.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Blueberries for Sal… Happy Blue New Year, Jama and friends! Looking for Barbara Crooker poetry (that’s not in my library) on Amazon, I found a nice anthology instead that you might like. It was published last April: Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection, ed. James Crews.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reminding me about that book, Kate. I’d heard of it and meant to look for it. I need to reread Blueberries for Sal, one of my all time favorites. 🙂


    1. I like “blue hullabaloo!” Apparently there are two Rochefort’s Escape paintings, one smaller than the other. I googled to learn the backstory about Manet’s subject. Interesting and based on a true incident.


  7. Bravo, Jama, for this invitation to the promise of a blue year! I love the lines of “Happiness” that read:
    The shadow of the vulture on the lawn
    cannot dispel this blue euphoria.
    Bet I know who that vulture is :).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m awash in your sea of blueness and enjoying all it’s offerings–poems and art…Thanks for this calming and reassuring post of true blues Jama! I just finished art for a client’s postcard that featured the pantone 2020 blue–I may share it sometime. Love your page of “Kidlit hotTEAs” too, thanks for a terrific post–here’s hoping the blues come in first this year!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, this is such a rich, glorious post–A visual and intellectual feast! Barbara Crooker is a wonder with her “pure blue verb”, her “wild yonder” and that “blue euphoria.” Her poems always move me. Your choice of paintings augments them beautifully. Your post is a lovely start to my day.Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Molly! Barbara always delivers, doesn’t she? She keeps things so fresh. As she is one of my favorite contemporary poets, it’s great that she writes about blue as often as she does. 🙂


  10. Jama, it is so good to be welcomed to the new year with thoughts, images, and poetry of true blue quality. Love this quote: “We have the power to choose what to embrace (“blue euphoria”), while living in the moment.” Embrace was my OLW last year and this quote is a guiding light into 2020.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the word Embrace, Carol. We do have to claim and reclaim our power to choose — how to live, who to love, to remain steady in our pursuit of what is right.


  11. love love your blues, Jama! Always inspiring and beautiful, not to mention yummy! by the way, somehow I managed to lose you, how do I resubscribe? Help!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for all the lovely blue in this post, the poems, the photos, the paintings, the politics…it’s just all delightful! I adore that “blue euphoria” that even the vulture can’t dispel. Happy New Year! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jama, I’m coming back to this post. I started it Friday…couldn’t finish (darn day job) and then am bookending my weekend mornings with it. It’s wonderful. I love your love of blue. And, I thank you for the introduction to Barbara Crooker. I feel like I should know her…but I don’t. I so appreciate your focus on what is seen clearly. I’m a Virginian…seeing blue!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay for a blue Virginia! You must look for more of Barbara’s poems — I know you’ll really like them. She has a list on her website of her poems that are online.


  14. Perfection in blue, Jama – Your offerings always fill my heart and senses to the brim. (I am surrounded by true blue walls at the moment – with a rainbow poster or two – doing a “shift” at our local campaign office for Mayor Pete!!) Big blue hugs to you, to Mr. C., and to all the bears and inhabitants of your world. XO

    Liked by 1 person

  15. What a wonderful lush vision of blue amidst those delicious photographs! I must make time for tea. Barbara Crooker is my favorite these days. Her poems speak to me, as if she reads my mind. Thanks for sharing these shiny blue ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Oh, welcome back, Jama! Your posts always leave me feeling not-blue and full of hopefulness for Blue waves. Love that even Pantone is encouraging a sweeping change. 🙂

    My husband gave me Crooker’s Some Glad Morning for Christmas, and I love it so. “Blue” has a similar feel to the Frost poem I shared on Friday — one moment of natural beauty, making all things bearable.

    Here’s to you, here’s to blue, and here’s to 2020~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, so true — one moment of natural beauty can indeed make all else bearable — all the more reason we have to be attentive and receptive. Excited to hear you received SGM for Christmas!! Hooray for Atticus! 🙂 Blue Wave for 2020 — the tide is changing.


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