good advice for creative types from Marge Piercy

“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ~ Ray Bradbury

“Young Woman Writing” by Pierre Bonnard (1908)

I have always believed writing chooses you, rather than the other way around.

You are either compelled to write, or not.

No sane person would willingly choose the loneliness, rejection, crippling self doubt and relative poverty that are part and parcel of the writing life. The rewards must come from the creative act itself, from having made sense out of chaos if even for a fleeting moment.

Given that you absolutely cannot help yourself — that you must write to feel alive  — you simply go about setting down one word after another after another every single day, while battling your inner demons and that pesky inner editor.

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friday feast: “Oatmeal Deluxe” by Stephen Dobyns (+ a recipe)

“Breakfast” by Alberto Morrocco

Hello, Snowy Winter Morning! What’s for breakfast?

I’ve been an oatmeal-for-breakfast girl for quite some time. Sure, I dallied with cold cereal and Pop-Tarts® in my reckless youth, and even went through a yogurt, fruit, and granola phase. But now, I look forward to starting each day with a warm, comforting bowl of quick cooking oats.

When you live with more than a few bears (300+ and counting), you can’t help but channel Goldilocks. You bask in the fairy tale dimension of porridge, by now having perfected cooking time, addition of milk, maple syrup, berries and nuts to an enviable “just right.”

L. Leslie Brooke (The Three Bears)
via Greg Abbott (Society 6)

Some consider oatmeal bland and boring, ooey gooey pablum for the unimaginative. Fie on them, I say! Obviously they haven’t considered oatmeal’s poetic possibilities. Think of Galway Kinnell, who eats his oatmeal with charming companions like John Keats. And then there’s the inimitable Stephen Dobyns, whose tragicomic oatmeal fantasy reads like the magic porridge pot meets roguish Rodin. While some may sow their wild oats, others sculpt them. No time for mushy romance.

Love me, love my oatmeal. How will you shape your destiny?

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Barrel-aged Oatmeal via Serious Eats

OATMEAL DELUXE
by Stephen Dobyns

This morning, because the snow swirled deep
around my house, I made oatmeal for breakfast.
At first it was too runny so I added more oatmeal,
then it grew too thick so I added water.
Soon I had a lot of oatmeal. The radio
was playing Spanish music and I became
passionate: soon I had four pots of oatmeal.
I put them aside and started a new batch.
Soon I had eight pots. When the oatmeal cooled,
I began to roll it with my hands, making
small shapes: pigs and souvenir ashtrays. Then
I made a foot, then another, then a leg. Soon
I’d made a woman out of oatmeal with freckles
and a cute nose and hair made from brown sugar
and naked except for a necklace of raisins.
She was five feet long and when she grew harder
I could move her arms and legs without them
falling off. But I didn’t touch her much –
she lay on the table – sometimes I’d touch her
with a spoon, sometimes I’d lick her in places
it wouldn’t show. She looks like you, although
her hair is darker, but the smile is like yours,
and the eyes, although hers are closed. You say:
what has this to do with me? And I should say:
I want to make more women from Cream of Wheat.
But enough of such fantasy. You ask me
why I don’t love you, why you can’t
live with me. What can I tell you? If I
can make a woman out of oatmeal, my friend,
what trouble could I make for you, a woman?

~ from Heat Death: Poems (Atheneum, 1980)

Laura Walls Taylor

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[review + editor chat + giveaway] Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson

Birdsong, flowers blooming, “a sea of summer air.” What a singular delight to linger over this new collection of Emily Dickinson poems!

Emily Dickinson, edited by Susan Snively and illustrated by Christine Davenier, is the first book in a new Poetry for Kids series published by MoonDance Press. The 35 poems are arranged by season, beginning with Summer. And what a joyous welcome it is:

It’s all I have to bring today,
This, and my heart beside,
This, and my heart, and all the fields,
And all the meadows wide.

Who could resist such a generous invitation to tag along with Emily as she spies a skittish bird, describes what it’s like to chance upon a snake (“grass divides as with a comb”), and cheerfully provides a “recipe” for making a prairie (“it takes a clover and one bee”)?

After the carefree explorations of summer, there’s a gradual winding down as Autumn arrives, with poems about a garden preparing for the cold weather, sunsets, and the passage from life to death. Winter ruminations strike a fitting contemplative tone: snowfall magically transforming the landscape, an industrious spider spinning a web, imagining what heaven might be like.

With Spring, the welcome signs of new life, a delightful letter from a fly to a bee, and fanciful cloud gazing:

A curious cloud surprised the sky,
‘Twas like a sheet with horns;
The sheet was blue, the antlers gray,
It almost touched the lawns”

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friday feast: renée gregorio’s “Solitude Dinner” (+ a recipe)

“I frequently dream of having tea with the Queen.” ~ Hugh Grant

photo by Jake Chessum

So yes, Hugh’s here.

Funny about that. We have the same recurring dream involving the Queen. Mine would be more along the lines of a daydream, though.

Hugh likes to visit when I’m having breakfast. He’s just as grumpy as I am in the morning, so we don’t talk while we’re eating. We are totally simpatico and I’m polite enough not to mention the big orange juice stain on his shirt. In fact, I give him the last brownie and he doesn’t even have to explain why he deserves it. It takes all my willpower not to call him “Floppy.”

I’m thinking “Notting Hill” is my favorite of all his movies. It could have something to do with Al Green singing “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” but more likely, every time I see that film I remember Saturday mornings at Portobello Road Antiques Market, or the best-I’ve-ever-had lemon sole fry-ups at Geales.

I’m happy to live inside the world of Renée Gregorio’s whimsical poem of gratitude. Here is a kindred spirit who also summons famous and familiar guests to her table. We never really dine alone, do we? At this marvelous place where memory, fantasy, and yearning intersect, it feels good to recognize what truly feeds us.

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cookie capers, reindeer poems, and a holiday blog break

Backward, turn backward, O Time in your flight;
Make me a child again just for tonight.”
~ Elizabeth Akers Allen

Ramona Quimby dropped by!

‘Tis the season for cookies, cookies, cookies, those crispy chewy crumbly tokens of love, sweet love ❤️.

If pies are the best part of Thanksgiving, then cookies are definitely the best part of Christmas. We all have our favorites — cookies we make for gifts, parties, exchanges, or just for ourselves (because we deserve it, right?). What will be on your cookie platter this year?

from Baby’s Christmas by Eloise Wilkin (1980)

Hmmmm, let me guess — sugar cookies cut in the shapes of stars, bells, or candy canes? Or maybe Chocolate Crinkles, Snickerdoodles, Mexican Wedding Cakes, rich Butter Cookies or old fashioned Gingerbread? Oh, I know! Molasses Spice! Spritz! Raspberry Thumbprints! Pecan Shortbread, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Classic Chocolate Chip? Maybe you’re into Stained Glass Cookies, Coconut Macaroons, or (you saucy minx) Rum Balls! Oh ho! 🙂

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