Wit on Rye: Paul Violi’s “Counterman”

photo by Baldomero Fernandez (Katz’s: Autobiography of a Delicatessen)<?em>

So, where’s the beef?

It all depends on who’s roasting it and how you order. Here’s to the many flavors of language, elevating the seemingly mundane into art, and having the appetite for a tasty serving of wit on rye.

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“Waiting at the Deli Counter” byJames Crandall

 

COUNTERMAN
by Paul Violi

What’ll it be?

Roast beef on rye, with tomato and mayo.

Whaddaya want on it?

A swipe of mayo.
Pepper but no salt.

You got it. Roast beef on rye.
You want lettuce on that?

No. Just tomato and mayo.

Tomato and mayo. You got it.
. . . Salt and pepper?

No salt, just a little pepper.

You got it. No salt.
You want tomato.

Yes. Tomato. No lettuce.

No lettuce. You got it.
. . . No salt, right?

Right. No salt.

You got it. Pickle?

No, no pickle. Just tomato and mayo.
And pepper.

Pepper.

Yes, a little pepper.

Right. A little pepper.
No pickle.

Right. No pickle.

You got it.
Next!

Roast beef on whole wheat, please,
With lettuce, mayonnaise and a center slice
Of beefsteak tomato.
The lettuce splayed, if you will,
In a Beaux Arts derivative of classical acanthus,
And the roast beef, thinly sliced, folded
In a multi-foil arrangement
That eschews Bragdonian pretensions
Or any idea of divine geometric projection
For that matter, but simply provides
A setting for the tomato
To form a medallion with a dab
Of mayonnaise as a fleuron.
And — as eclectic as this may sound —
If the mayonnaise can also be applied
Along the crust in a Vitruvian scroll
And as a festoon below the medallion,
That would be swell.

You mean like in the Cathedral St. Pierre in Geneva?

Yes, but the swag more like the one below the rosette
At the Royal Palace in Amsterdam.

You got it.
Next!

~ from Overnight (Hanging Loose Press, 2007)

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[review + giveaway] Keep a Pocket in Your Poem by J. Patrick Lewis and Johanna Wright

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”).

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. It’s Spring and time to revel in bright colors, animal friends, and the beauty of the natural world. Why not treat yourself or a friend to a charming archival giclée print by author/illustrator Elisa Kleven?

You can choose from a lovely selection of illustrations from some of her wonderful picture books. Do you recognize the above image from the cover of  Sun Bread? One of my fave foodie books! Wouldn’t it be a perfect print to hang in a nursery? I feel happy every time I look at it. 🙂

Bird and Sunrise

 

Glasswings

 

Spider Monkey and Mama

All prints are produced on 100% cotton acid free paper and Elisa will sign and inscribe them for you. These come in various sizes and are available via her website. Check out all the choices and add some gorgeousness to your life! In case you missed it, click here for my interview with Elisa about her newest picture book, The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

coolteacard1. Love finding cute notecards, and when they have TEA written on them I can’t resist! Louise Neumann of LouPaper calls herself a professional doodler. It certainly looks like she’s having a lot of fun celebrating “things that make life lovely” (food, travel, gardens, and cocktails) with her bright cheery designs.

coolpastariesnotebookHer Etsy Shop contains a nice selection of notecards, notebooks, prints and calendars. She has a cool series that features various states and the things commonly associated with them. She hasn’t done Hawai’i yet, but the Virginia one includes Williamsburg, Jamestown, peanuts, and the red cardinal.

coolvirginiacoolgardennotebookNaturally I’m partial to her food designs, which includes donuts, shellfish, beer, sushi, cheese and bread. And all done with marker pens! Check it out. 🙂

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2. New Book Alert: Hooray, Barbara Crooker has just published another poetry collection! Les Fauves (C&R Press, 2017) was just released a couple of weeks ago:

coolbarbarabookLES FAUVES is, as the title suggests, a collection of ekphrastic poetry, meditations on paintings from the Fauve and Post-Impressionist movements. But it also contains poetry’s equivalent to Fauvism, poems that take a walk on the wild side. There are language experiment poems, poems of word play, poems in form both usual (end rhymes, sonnets, ghazals) and unusual (abecedaries, traditional, embedded, and double helix), palindromes, anagrams, and word scrambles. Crazy word salad poems. Crooker’s subjects range widely, from living and working in a small village in the South of France, love in a long-term relationship, food as more than sustenance, faith in a secular age, grammar and usage, the pains and pleasures of the aging body. But always, what engages her most is what it means to be human on this fragile planet, at this time in our troubled history, still believing that “Beauty will save the world” (Fyodor Dostoevsky).

I just got my copy and can’t wait to dig in!

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ruby silvious’s exquisite tea bag art

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When is a tea bag more than just a tea bag?

In January 2015, New York-based artist and graphic designer Ruby Silvious began a tea-licious new project: she would record impressions of the moment every day on used tea bags. Sharing her visual journal, “363 Days of Tea,” on Instagram allowed her to push her creative practice and “spark a different kind of inspiration.”

rubyreplacementWhile most of us discard our tea tags without a second thought, Ruby saw them as unique mini canvases. Once family and friends heard of her project, they started sending her a variety of tea bags, some with different shapes and interesting tags. Sometimes the tea bags were kept intact after being emptied of their leaves, while others were split open and laid flat. Stains and torn edges became part of the beauty.

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I love the great range of subjects — whimsical everyday objects like mugs and umbrellas, shirts and pets, along with evocative glimpses of the natural world, interesting portraits and street scenes. Of course my heart quickened at the sight of soup cans, slices of pie, sushi, noodles, and teapots. 🙂

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ruby23This past Fall, Ruby published 363 Days of Tea: A Visual Journal on Used Tea Bags as a beautiful coffee table book. It’s wonderful following her creative journey day by day, marveling at her pieces of drawn, painted, and collaged microart.

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