J’adore Nathalie Lété!

 

 

Oh, so charming, beautiful, enchanting, distinctive — Nathalie Lété’s art! I was attracted to her unique style upon first seeing her decorated plates at Anthropologie.

 

 

 

 

As you probably know, I’m a ceramics freak, and loved her flowers, birds, and folkloric motifs before I actually knew who she was. Until I did a little research, I HAD NO IDEA her designs were everywhere, and I mean on everything from clothing, rugs, fabrics, children’s toys, greeting cards, postcards, and lampshades, to jewelry, linens, totes, and in children’s, graphic, and coloring books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s a global brand extraordinaire with huge markets not only in Europe, but also in Japan and Australia. Mixing various media and techniques, she is that rare artist whose work has enormous commercial appeal. She’s worked very hard to establish herself in a highly competitive field.

 

 

 

Nathalie is a Paris native, the only child of a German mother and Chinese father. She credits her mother with reading extensively to her as she grew up, claiming that the themes she loved from childhood — flowers, animals, textile patterns, fairy tales, toys, folk art — are what continue to inspire her work today. She loved the children’s book illustrations she saw and spent lots of alone time drawing and living in her imagined world.

 

 

She spent her holidays with her grandmother in Bavaria, where she enjoyed exploring the forest (her favorite fairy tale is “Little Red Riding Hood”). Even now, when she is in nature, she recalls those good feelings and tries to convey them in her art.

 

 

 

She also credits her father with influencing her artistic sensibility. Though he was often absent because of work, she remembers her home being filled with lots of silk paintings.

 

 

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a peek inside marjorie maddox’s Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises

 

Clever is as clever does. Poetry lovers, are you hungry for some “mind-doodling, eye-dazzling, ear-bending, new-fangled, old-fashioned fun”?

Look no further than Marjorie Maddox’s fab new book, Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems (Daffydowndilly Press/Kelsay Books, 2020)!

Whether you’re hoping to jump-start your own writing, or are looking for a unique tween or teen classroom resource, you’ll love how this book injects new meaning into the popular writing dictum, “show, don’t tell.”

The 27 upbeat, inventive poems offer “plenty of tips and tricks” by exemplifying the very forms and concepts they are trying to teach. Rather than analyze abstract definitions from afar, budding poets can step right inside each poem for a dynamic, interactive learning experience. What better way to get the lowdown on couplets, for example, than by reading this:

 

COUPLET

Poetic twins all dressed in rhyme
stroll side-by-side in two straight lines.

 

Made you smile, right?

The first five poems are lessons in summoning, appealing to, and heightening the five senses — fundamental advice on how to approach either reading or writing poetry. The practice of quieting the self to imagine and envision what’s “beyond the ordinary,” and listening for “the small sound between breaths that stirs when you inhale” are good places to begin.

When you “inhale deeply and equally,” know that “Your nose, noble and brave,/knows how to adjust to each form of aroma . . . Keep following the trail of scent to sniff out the meaning.” When it comes to touching a poem, we are warned against “an anemic wave” in favor of a forceful clasp, remembering that, “This is a hands-on operation — the more fingerprints, the better.”

This is my favorite of these sensory delights (no surprise):

 

 

HOW TO TASTE A POEM

The table’s well set, but please
come as you are. No need for white gloves
or black tuxedos. Pass the appetizer plate
to your left and try a lightly fried haiku
or lemon-peppered limerick. Nibble away
as you would a jumbo shrimp stuffed with oxymorons.
For an entrée, may we suggest a well-done ode
or an Italian sonnet smothered with marinara sauce?
Now, sit back and savor the syllables
until your taste buds plump with flavor,
but leave room for dessert —
aged alliteration topped with assonance and consonance:
a sugary smorgasbord of simply scrumptious sounds.

 

Sheer pleasure to wrap your lips around the mouthwatering metaphors, to nibble on the nimbly crafted lines. Who would not delight at a meal served up with such wit and finesse, in a voice friendly and accessible, that seems to say, let me show you precisely what I am. Irresistible!

Maddox’s subsequent poems introduce such literary devices as pun, paradox, personification, onomatopoeia, and enjambment, even having simile explaining metaphor in sassy Valleyspeak (I’m, like, totally impressed). 🙂

Poetic forms given the marvelous Maddox treatment include the clerihew, triolet, sestina, villanelle, acrostic, and both the English and Italian sonnets. By the time we encounter “Getting Ready with Iambic,” we’re treated to a “marching, metered day,” with pentameter our “favorite game to play.”

Once readers have enjoyed the poems, they can move on to the Insider Exercises, for a chance to practice for themselves what they’ve just read about: using concrete details based on the senses, writing dramatic monologues or any of the fixed-forms using the instructions in the clerihew, sonnet, or sestina poems as guides. Writers are also able to experiment with line and stanza breaks, and knock themselves out with a bag of fun tricks (puns, paradox, onomatopoiea, acrostic).

Young writers will find Maddox’s ingenious poems entertaining as well as educational. In both poem and exercise, Maddox ultimately encourages readers to approach poems as friends, being open, “faithful and patient,” gently coaxing the muse to reveal her meaning.

She also emphasizes the importance of finding poems on subjects we like, poems we would like to spend time with and get to know better. I think this goes a long way towards dispelling the fear and hesitation many people have (regardless of age), about reading or writing poetry. Too many are turned off because they have been force-fed verses that are too abstract or obtuse, or they’ve been forced to “analyze” rather than experience a poem. When you think of poems as friends, those relationships will naturally engender human emotions, which constitute the beating heart of poetry.

 

 

BEFRIENDING A POEM

Invite him home for dinner
but don’t insist on rhyme;

he may be as tired and as overworked
as his distant cousin Cliché.

Best to offer intriguing conversation
that’s light on analysis.

Allow for silences and spontaneity.
Most importantly, like any good friend,

be faithful and patient;
remember to listen.

Sometimes he’s shy
and just needs a little time and coaxing.

Much of what he has to say
lies between the lines.

 

Inside Out is the perfect way to celebrate National Poetry Month, at home or in the classroom. Do check out this writer and teacher friendly delight, which brims with clever wordplay, refreshing images, and evocative challenges, all presented from a novel vantage point. Turn these poems inside out and back again, and watch your writing flourish.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published twenty collections of poetry and prose, including the children’s books A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry (Philip Huber, illustrator; WordSong, 2008; Wipf and Stock, 2019), Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems (John Sandford, illustrator; WordSong, 2009; Wipf and Stock, 2019), and I’m Feeling Blue, Too! (Philip Huber, illustrator; Wipf and Stock, 2020).

She also has poetry for children in many anthologies, including Paul Janeczko’s Hey, You! Poems to Skyscrapers, Mosquitoes, and Other Fun Things (Robert Rayevsky, illustrator; HarperCollins, 2006) and The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems (Richard Jones, illustrator; Candlewick 2019). In 2002, she was one of five national judges for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Children’s Poetry Book of the Year Award. In 2019/2020, she chaired the jury of judges for the same prize.

In addition, Marjorie Maddox has a dozen collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize; WordTech, 2004; Wipf and Stock, 2018); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist; Poiema Poetry Series, Cascade Books, 2016); Local News from Someplace Else (Wipf and Stock, 2013); Perpendicular As I (1994 Sandstone Book Award)—the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite Press, 2017); Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor with Jerry Wemple; PSU Press, 2005); Presence (assistant editor); and over 550 stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies.

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INSIDE OUT: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises
written by Marjorie Maddox
published by Daffydowndilly Press/Kelsay Books, April 2020
Poetry/Nonfiction for grades 7-12, 62 pp.
*Includes Glossary
**Available for pre-order now from the publisher

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♥️ 2020 NATIONAL POETRY MONTH KIDLITOSPHERE EVENTS ROUNDUP ♥️

Once again, I’m collecting links from any poetry-loving bloggers who are doing special projects for Poetry Month. Please send your info to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com, and I’ll happily add you to the Roundup. Also, please help spread the word via your social networks or any relevant listservs. Thanks so much!!

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The lovely and talented Michelle Kogan is hosting the Roundup. She’s sharing some wonderful springtime poems from the 2017-2018 Today’s Little Ditty Anthology. Be sure to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Have a good weekend, and stay safe and healthy.


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

a little sweetness goes a long way

 

Happy Spring!

You know what they say, when the going gets tough, the tough eat chocolate!!

If you’re self isolating and need a little lift, or you’re in the market for some Easter candy, consider buying your goodies online at Chocolate Chocolate, the DC area’s BEST shop (a family business co-owned by authors Frances Park and Ginger Park).

Due to COVID-19 concerns, Chocolate Chocolate is closing its doors to walk-in trade for now, but they’ll be in the shop between 11-4 p.m. weekdays to fill phone and online orders. If you’re in the DC area, they’re also offering curbside delivery.

Best of all, FREE SHIPPING!! Just use code Freeshipping4u at checkout.

 

Frances Park and Ginger Park at Chocolate Chocolate, Washington, D.C.

 

You may remember when Frances and Ginger dropped by to talk about their delectable memoir, Chocolate Chocolate: The True Story of Two Sisters, Tons of Treats, and the Little Shop That Could (Thomas Dunne, 2011), and their unique cookbook, Allergies, Away!: Creative Eats and Mouthwatering Treats for Kids Allergic to Nuts, Dairy, and Eggs (St. Martin’s, 2013).

Did you know you can also order autographed copies of all their books via the Chocolate Chocolate website? Check out their award-winning books here.

As you can see, Mr Cornelius is thrilled with his Easter candy — and the order got here in record time (less than 24 hours). Can’t beat the fast, personalized service. So, don’t fret about going out to the store and risking exposure for any of your chocolate needs. A few clicks, and you’re all set.

Visit Chocolate Chocolate!!


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

[review + recipes] Cooking with Bear by Deborah Hodge and Lisa Cinar

 

When the snow begins to melt and early morning bird song fills the air, everybear knows spring is coming. Time to yawn, stretch, wake up from long winter naps and get cooking!

Loud whoops and hollers erupted in the Alphabet Soup kitchen when Mr Cornelius and the other resident bears first saw Cooking with Bear: A Story and Recipes from the Forest, by Deborah Hodge and Lisa Cinar (Groundwood Books, 2019).

They were certain Ms. Hodges had written the book just for them, and with the fist pumps, prancing, drooling, and yes, page licking, it was all I could do to get them to pawse for a minute to take a breath. 🙂

 

 

Cooking with Bear is the companion book to Bear’s Winter Party (2016), where we are first introduced to amiable, good-hearted Bear. Since the other animals in the forest are understandably wary of him (sharp teeth, long claws, so big!), he spends most of his time alone. Bear decides to change that by throwing a party.

After sprucing up his den, he whips up some huckleberry tarts, honey-ginger cookies, and spiced cranberry tea. Deer, Beaver, Fox, Hare, Chickadee, and Squirrel all have a great time singing, dancing, and getting acquainted with Bear over his homemade treats. At party’s end, they leave Bear to settle down for his winter’s nap. Now he’s content that when spring arrives, he’ll have “a forest full of friends.”

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“Great Breakfasts of My Childhood” by Ryan Warren

“Every Boy and Girl Needs a Hot Breakfast”/Cream of Wheat ad by Frederic Kimball Mizen (1926)

 

Good Morning!

Hungry for a little breakfast?

Coming right up!

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Top ‘o the Morning Lucky Charms Pancakes

 

GREAT BREAKFASTS OF MY CHILDHOOD
by Ryan Warren

My grandfather liked to fry potatoes on Sundays,
peppery and thick with soft onions,
though he knew I did not care for onions,
people didn’t seem to ask much then
children’s opinion on food preparation.
My grandfather, who lived to pull crisp waffles
from the electric iron, though always soggy
by the time you ate them. Who loved a big stack
of Krusteze pancakes, cooked a little too black,
adorned by cold chunks of margarine and Log Cabin Syrup.
On weekdays, though, it was oatmeal,
thick from the pot, clumps of hardening raisins
softening as they were stirred in
with milk, with little rocks of brown sugar.
occasionally, Cream of Wheat instead.
My mother rose later, with my brothers,
and breakfast from her was always a surprise —
though she loved toast the best. Cheese toast,
melted cheddar sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon toast,
toast with peanut butter, with honey, with butter and jam,
with a soft boiled egg quivering atop, sprinkled
with salt and pepper. Eggs, eggs so many ways.
Scrambled with hot dogs, with cheese. Poached. Fried,
yolk unbroken, toast to sop up that sunny puddle of delight.
We were a breakfast family, no “Just a cup of coffee for me.”
Breakfast — to fortify your day, arm you for school, work,
occasionally, and for feverish stretches at a time, for church.
Different churches, different times. We moved in strange
cycles of devotion. But from breakfast we never wavered.
I’ve never understood those for whom food is merely fuel.
And I’m sure they’ve never understood me. How even a bowl
of sugar cereal, dug deep into a cartooned Saturday morning,
Lucky Charms or Captain Crunch or Frosted Flakes
or whatever had been on sale that week, could be a kind of devotion,
a ritual, richer than any of the churches we wove in and out of.
Or sometimes we just had it for dessert.
Don’t even get me started on dessert.

~ first published in The Scarlet Leaf Review (April 2017)

 

Pooh Toast by Marie Saba

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