possessed by jaye schlesinger’s paintings

Go ahead, take a bite. You know you want to.

As soon as I spotted this sandwich created by Michigan artist Jaye Schlesinger I was a goner.

Those of you who nosh here regularly know I have a penchant for photorealistic paintings. Especially of food. It’s a good calorie-free, guilt-free way to indulge (my eyes are always happy to do the chewing). 🙂

What’s interesting about Jaye’s formal training is that she holds MFA’s in both Painting and Medical Illustration (both from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor). When I read that she worked as a medical illustrator for fifteen years, producing art for textbooks and journal articles, I thought, aha! — that accounts for her precision.

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a sampler of poems from Marrow of Summer by Andrea Potos

Imagine spending a stimulating Saturday evening visiting Gertrude Stein’s famous Paris salon at 27 rue de Fleurus. You’d wile away the hours hobnobbing with the likes of Picasso, Hemingway, Matisse, Fitzgerald, and other artistes et écrivains d’avant-garde célèbre.

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas with Matisse, Hemingway, and Picasso (Brett Kaufman/bkbiography)

Alice B. Toklas might serve her famous Mushroom Sandwiches with Clear Turtle Soup, a lovely Violet Soufflé, and A Fine Fat Pullet, followed by a Tender Tart or even Custard Josephine Baker (what, you were hoping for Haschich Fudge?). 🙂

Wisconsin poet Andrea Potos revels in a similar scenario with her whimsical poem, “Imagining Heaven,” just one of the many finely crafted gems from her latest poetry collection, Marrow of Summer (Kelsay Books, 2021).

In some ways a companion to Mothershell (Kelsay Books, 2019), where Andrea lovingly distills fond memories of her mother Penny, Marrow of Summer is written “For all the beloveds, gone on,” honoring not only Penny, but her grandmother, father, and lost friends.

With intuitive insight, Andrea captures small revelatory moments, where gratitude, joy and hope eclipse the weight of loss and longing. It could be the whirring of hummingbird’s wings, the somber sound of the cello, or the startling flame of cardinal feathers: she is always fully present to wonder and willing to embrace the miraculous. 

John Keats portrait by Joseph Severn (1821-23)

A fascinating aspect of Andrea’s work is how she cultivates a romantic, ever blossoming interior landscape — fertile ground where art, music, history, travel, and literature happily commingle to inform her poetic process. Her affinity for John Keats, the Brontës, Emily Dickinson and Renoir makes it easy to picture her thriving in a century gone by.

19th century colorized engraving of Charlotte Brontë by William Jackman

I thought it would be fun to share several poems from Marrow of Summer that speak to her writing and the beloved creatives who inspire her. I thank Andrea for sharing a little backstory for each poem along with personal photos. I must admit, her idea of heaven is pretty close to mine. 🙂

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[review + recipe] Beatrix Potter, Scientist by Lindsay H. Metcalf and Junyi Wu

Sometimes in late summer, especially after we‘ve had a lot of rain, giant white mushrooms sprout up in our woods. Their tops can grow as large as dinner plates if the deer don’t take a bite out of them first.

They seem quite magical; I like to imagine fairies or gnomes using the flat mushroom tops as writing desks or tabletops, happily setting out their acorn teacups for special guests.

I actually became more interested in mushrooms about 20 years ago after learning about Beatrix Potter’s fascination with fungi, and then seeing her incredibly beautiful botanical drawings.

While most everyone knows Beatrix as the author and illustrator of the Peter Rabbit books, and perhaps as an ardent conservationist who helped preserve some 4,000 acres of pristine countryside in the Lake District, few may know she was also a dedicated naturalist who devoted about a decade of her life to mycology (the study of fungi), with a special interest in mushrooms.

I was understandably excited when Beatrix Potter, Scientist (Albert Whitman, 2020) came out last summer, because so far it’s the only picture book biography that takes a closer look at this lesser known aspect of Beatrix’s life.

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poetry friday roundup is here!

“Poets sing our human music for us.” ~ Carol Ann Duffy

Welcome to Poetry Friday at Alphabet Soup!

Hope you’re having a good April and enjoying National Poetry Month, whether you’re reading, writing, listening to, or discovering new poets (or all of the above). 🙂

I do love poems about poetry, and can’t think of a better time to share this favorite by former UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

I found it in her New and Collected Poems for Children (Faber & Faber, 2014), which includes some new verses along with work from four of her award-winning collections. It’s simply chock full of goodness — there’s even an alphabet poem which I should share some time.

The Queen receives incoming Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy (July 2009).

I find it interesting that UK Poet Laureates serve for such long terms. Although they’re now appointed to 10-year fixed terms, prior to 1999, they served for life (upon recommendation from the prime minister and approval of the sovereign). 

Carol Ann’s tenure was from 2009-2019. She was the first female, the first Scot, and the first openly gay and bisexual poet to be so honored, breaking a longstanding tradition of almost 400 years! UK Poet Laureates receive an annual honorarium and a barrel of sherry. 🙂

“Flying Kites” by Renie Britenbucher (2011)
THE WORDS OF POEMS
by Carol Ann Duffy

The words of poems are nails
which tack the wind to a page,
so that the gone hour 
when your kite pulled you over the field
blows in your hair.

They’re hand-mirrors, a poem’s words,
holding the wept tears on your face,
like a purse holds small change, or the breath
that said things.

                                   They’re fishing-nets,
scooping sprats and tiddlers out of a stream
or the gleaming trout that startled the air
when you threw it back. The words of poems

are stars, dot-to-dots of the Great Bear,
the Milky Way your telescope caught; or breves
filled with the light of the full moon you saw
from your bedroom window; or little flames
like the tongues of Hallowe’en candles.

The words of poems are spells, dropping
like pennies into a wishing-well, remember
the far splash? They’re sparklers,
scrawling their silver loops and hoops
on the night, again in your gloved fist
on November the Fifth.

They’re goldfish
in their sad plastic bags at the fair,
you stood there. The words of poems
are coins in a poor man’s hat; the claws of a lost cat.
The words of poems are who you were.
“Ursa Major” by Kristiana Parn

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Now, please leave your links with the dashing Mr. Linky below. Enjoy gallivanting from blog to blog, reading the many words of poems being shared this week. Thank you for joining us and have a nice weekend. You can find the NPM Kidlitosphere Roundup at Susan Bruck’s Soul Blossom Living.

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Another bite for the road.

*Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

leaves you wanting Moore

“Ice Cream Man”

When Scott Moore was just six years old, he drew a policeman on a horse arresting a six foot tall intoxicated duck. A sign of things to come? 🙂

Well, Scott didn’t grow up to be a policeman, and as far as I know, doesn’t regularly cavort with quazy quackers, but he is a master of surrealism, or of what he calls, “out-of-scale realism.”

“Milk and Cookies”

A 40-year resident of Laguna Beach, California, Scott painted traditional watercolors before making an international name for himself in recent decades with his photorealistic, fantastical pieces. 

“Toastmaster”

He typically uses two scales in the same painting, placing tiny figures in retro scenes to tell stories inspired by childhood memories, dreams, and his boundless imagination.

He creates these works in a 1,000-foot studio which he built by excavating a second floor beneath his home. He likes having his studio, which resembles an antique store, on a different level. What a cool collection of 50’s and 60’s tin toys, old books, kitchen and household memorabilia! What fun it must be to “shop your own shelves” for a clock radio, milk bottle, cookie jar, or coffee can to add to your pictures.

“Sell Phones”
“Corner Market”

What Scott doesn’t already own, he finds on the internet. His only cardinal rule for painting is “to be true to the light source.” Otherwise, anything goes, as it can, and often does, in dreams: objects float or change drastically in size as they become part of the studied drama.

“Coffee and Donuts”

Artistic talent runs in the Moore family. Scott’s dad was a watercolorist and graphic designer. He encouraged Scott to pursue graphic design in college because it was too hard to make a living as a fine artist.

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