Happy May, and Welcome to Poetry Friday at Alphabet Soup!
So, a new month, the month of flowers and strawberries and Mother’s Day (sigh). Tell me, on the first of May, did you wash your face with morning dew to maintain your youthful appearance? Will you scamper through the meadows wild with a garland of blossoms in your hair?
And are you smiling right now? In the UK, May is National Smile Month. Sounds good to me (call me Cheshire Cat). 🙂
I think a good way to celebrate this new month is with a Mary Oliver poem. We’ve talked before about the importance of art, beauty, and gratitude. Whether you write or draw, it all begins with careful observation, being fully present, and as Oliver says, “learning to be astonished.” What is your message?
MESSENGER by Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
~ from Thirst: Poems (Beacon Press, 2007)
Though this poem is the perfect writer’s credo, this “job” of rejoicing in the wonders of the natural world is a worthy one for all human beings. In this way we become stewards of this fragile earth. In this way we are all poets. 🙂
I’m anxious to see what you’re sharing this week, so please leave your links with the amiable Mr. Linky below. Do help yourself to a little light refreshment to bolster you on your travels from blog to blog. 🙂
🎈 KEEP A POCKET IN YOUR POEM GIVEAWAY WINNER! 🎉
Happy to announce that the winner of a brand new copy of Keep a Pocket in Your Poem by J. Patrick Lewis and Johanna Wright is:
TANITA S. DAVIS!!
Please send along your snail mail address so we can get the book shipped out to you pronto.
1. Been enamored of Phoebe Wahl’sart ever since reading her debut picture book Sonya’s Chickens (2015). Love the timeless, old-fashioned, folk art feel of her watercolor, collage and colored pencil illustrations. There’s a good reason she won the 2016 Ezra Jack Keats Award for New Illustrators. 🙂
Besides her picture book illustrations, I like her 2017 Slow Food Calendar. The four color letterpress prints are gorgeous and distinctive. Can’t get enough of the intimate scenes of people working together in the kitchen or enjoying the outdoors. Though the 2017 calendar is sold out, Phoebe will be making one for 2018 — can’t wait!
She’s also done some wonderful pieces for Taproot Magazine and the Taproot Calendar.
Can’t beat that delightful handmade look. And don’t you love seeing men working in the kitchen? 🙂
See more of Phoebe’s work at her official website, that contains a link to her online shop which features prints, cards, t-shirts and accessories. She just started taking pre-orders for these new Fruit and Flower enamel mugs yesterday (love!).
2. Have you been to the Post Office lately? Love these new Delicioso Forever Stamps, just released on April 20. These spicy beauties were designed by none other than children’s book author/illustrator John Parra!
You may remember we featured John as a hotTEA of Children’s Literature not too long ago. Pretty cool to think of him whenever I send a piece of snail mail out into the world.
3. It’s been awhile since we’ve checked on Christopher Boffoli, the ingenious Big Appetites photographer known for his scenes featuring tiny people posed in captivating food environments.
I always wish I could shrink myself and enter his world of giant macarons, cupcakes, and pies. Check out his website for prints and notecard sets.
4. Speaking of checking up on people, I recently visited Handmade by Mia’s Etsy Shop and she’s having a Spring Sale on some of her wool felted items (up to 40% off).
Look for her trademark big-eyed birdies as well as elephants, flowers and foxes. If you’re a Moomin fan, you’ll like her Moomin pouches, buntings and key fobs. 🙂
Mia was one of the first people I interviewed for my Indie Artist Spotlight series. She’s one of the nicest Etsy sellers I’ve encountered — great, personalized service and I like how she recycles vintage materials (100% Finnish wool) for her bags and pouches.
6. New Book Alert! Excited to hear that Aussie Poetry Friday friend Kathryn Apel just published her third verse novel for younger readers, Too Many Friends (University of Queensland Press, 2017)!!
Tahnee wants everyone in her Year 2 class to get along and be happy. But what happens when all of Tahnee’s friends want her attention at the same time? And how can Tahnee be friends with Lucy, when Lucy doesn’t seem to want any friends?
A novel about friendship and school life, and the balance we all need to find to be the best friend we can be.
Sounds delightful. 🙂 I do enjoy reading Kathryn’s posts at Kat’s Whiskers— they’re cheery, upbeat, and fun, and display her fondness for wordplay and flexing her poetry muscles. Too Many Friends follows her two other verse novels, Bully on the Bus (2014) and On Track (2015).Order any or all three via the publisher. Congratulations, Kat!
7. Part of being a diehard Bob Dylan fan is not only keeping up with his musical projects, but with his painting career as well. He’s had several solo exhibitions in England over the years, the most recent of which was “The Beaten Path” at the Halcyon Gallery in London.
This collection features scenes from the American landscape; we get to see parts of the country through Dylan’s eyes — what does he notice, what does he consider worthy of interpretation? It did not escape me that he chose to paint a Donut Shop (even more reason to love him). 🙂
Vanity Fair recently featured an explanation in his own words about what he hoped to accomplish with this project:
For this series of paintings, the idea was to create pictures that would not be misinterpreted or misunderstood by me or anybody else. When the Halcyon Gallery brought the idea of me doing American landscapes for an exhibition, all they had to do was say it once. And after a bit of clarification, I took it to heart and ran with it. The common theme of these works having something to do with the American landscape—how you see it while crisscrossing the land and seeing it for what it’s worth. Staying out of the mainstream and traveling the back roads, free-born style. I believe that the key to the future is in the remnants of the past. That you have to master the idioms of your own time before you can have any identity in the present tense. Your past begins the day you were born and to disregard it is cheating yourself of who you really are.
The entire article is worth a read, as it provides a nice insight into his creative process.
It’s interesting to learn about people who became famous for one particular art form, but who also excel in others (E.E. Cummings, Joni Mitchell, Paul McCartney, Red Skelton, and Tony Bennett were/are also painters). With multi-talented individuals, I imagine there’s a lot of valuable cross-fertilization of inspiration and ideas.
Signed limited edition giclée prints from “The Beaten Path” are available online via Castle Galleries.
Enjoy this short EuroNews video:
8. You’ve no doubt seen Molly Hatch’s work while you’ve been out and about, here, there or everywhere, maybe sometimes not realizing who the artist was behind that cool mug, kitchen accessory or tote bag.
I first noticed Molly’s ceramic pieces at Anthropologie. While I’m partial to her tableware, I’m just as happy to enjoy her wonderful, quirky drawings on stationery and notecards.
There’s something about her work that’s old fashioned but fresh and contemporary at the same time. In addition to highly collectible merchandise, she’s done some cool museum installations. How much do I love that she creates wall paintings with ceramic plates? I appreciate the intersection of functional and fine art and will devote more time to researching Molly’s many creative avenues.
9. Finally, I’ve been following the very cool Heads Together Campaign spearheaded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to help end the stigma around mental health.
In this video, they discuss the importance of initiating conversation as a first step in healing. Prince William and Prince Harry speak candidly about trying to cope with the death of their mother Princess Diana. I also appreciated Prince Harry’s mention of how social media can distort one’s perception of well being. Heads Together is doing good work!
Alright chickies, I wish you a Happy Tuesday and a Good Week.
“INSPIRE means, Seeing what you’ve done here fills me with energy and new thoughts and the desire to now try to see what I can do!” ~ Amy Krouse Rosenthal (One Smart Cookie: Bite-Size Lessons for the School Years and Beyond)
About ten years ago, I read my first Amy Krouse Rosenthalbook, her adult memoir Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. It spoke to me because I’m an alphabet freak, and I’d never seen anyone tell her life’s story in a series of quirky alphabetized entries, a free-flowing yet carefully curated non-linear celebration of simply being alive.
I loved Amy’s penchant for cataloging ideas, recalibrating time, pruning memory. She embraced spontaneity and serendipity, indulging an irrepressible passion for making, creating and connecting. In the playground of her brilliant mind, she made the muddy, crystal clear; the cliché, passé; the ordinary, extraordinary.
After reading her memoir, I looked forward to each of her children’s picture books. Like a fairy godmother, Amy could wave her intuitive magic wand and make time-worn concepts and storylines fresh, relevant, and fun. Her joy and heart were infectious, and she had an uncanny knack for imparting advice and wisdom with a light, whimsical touch.
About twenty-five years ago, I purchased a copy of Baby Bear’sBedtime Book, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jane Dyer. As an avid teddy bear collector, I was mad for bear books and instantly fell in love with Goldie and Baby Bear. There was such warmth in Jane Dyer’s pictures, a quaint old-fashioned charm and innocence that made me feel safe and comforted.
I’ve been a Dyer fan ever since, swooning over her work in Piggins, Time for Bed, Animal Crackers, I Love You Like Crazycakes, Blue Moon Soup, the Little Brown Bearseries, and more recently, Oh My Baby, Little One, The House That’s Your Home, and All We Know. Sweet, but never cloying, gentle and endearing, her human and animal characters are always rendered with such love.
I want to inhabit her cozy interiors with their wainscoted walls, polka dot curtains and checked tablecloths, and befriend the adorable dogs, cats, bunnies and sheep dressed in human clothing.
Needless to say, I was over the moon when I saw Amy and Jane’s first COOKIE book. Two of the very people I’d admired for so long inthe same book! Double the goodness, double the joy! 🙂
Keep a poem in your pocket
and a picture in your head
and you’ll never feel lonely
at night when you’re in bed.
~ Beatrice Schenk de Regniers (“Keep a Poem in Your Pocket”)
So begins J. Patrick Lewis’s brand new poetry picture book, in which he pairs 13 classic poems on a variety of subjects with his own inventive parodies. Beatrice Schenk de Regnier’s opening poem sets the tone by touting the delights of the imagination, while Lewis’s poetic response (“Keep a Pocket in Your Poem”) advises us to think up wondrous, concrete objects (“red hawk feather,/silver penny, pinkie ring”) to spark the creative process.
In his introduction, Lewis explains that writing a parody is the best way to pay tribute to someone else’s work. He’s clearly a poet who likes to tweak, twist and tinker — not only with words, but with ideas, thoughts, and emotions.
As old poem faces off against new, it’s interesting to see the different directions Lewis has taken as he echoes, mimics, and counters. With this side by side format, young readers are given great examples of how one might imitate a well-known poem, whether they choose to express a similar sentiment (Lewis’s “Winter Warmth” in response to Langston Hughes’s “Winter Sweetness”), or contrast the original (Lewis’s “Rats” vs. Rose Flyeman’s “Mice,” or Lewis’s “Hail” vs Carl Sandburg’s “Fog”).
You decide to take a break after writing all morning. When you step outside, instead of your ho-hum suburban neighborhood, you find yourself in one of the most beautiful villages in southern France.
Breathe that bracing air! What a gorgeous, deep blue cloudless sky! Love the quaint cobblestone streets, ivy climbing up ancient brick walls, morning glories spilling out of flower boxes. And crusty baguettes in bicycle baskets!
Mmmmm — what’s that heavenly aroma? Following your nose, you spy a charming boulangerie just around the corner. Your prayers have been answered! Give us this day our daily bread — and we would not object in the least if you’d like to throw in a few French pastries. Mais, oui!
Thanks to the inimitable Barbara Crooker, we can visit the boulangerie of our dreams at this very moment. You have to love a country where food is an art form and bakers are revered, where the universal language of deliciousness brings people closer together. There is no finer way to feed the soul than to savor each bite with passion and gratitude.