Barbara Crooker’s “Fifteen Bean Soup” with “Saltines”

“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re fools when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more fools not to take delight in it while we have it.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham/epigraph from Some Glad Morning

 

There’s nothing more restorative on a chilly winter’s day than a spot of Yorkshire Gold and reading the luminous poems in Barbara Crooker’s latest book, Some Glad Morning (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019).

True to W. Somerset Maugham’s quote, Barbara’s ninth collection inspires us to take joy in everyday pleasures, hold fast to fleeting moments, and cherish the here and now.

Whether she is exalting in an explosion of spring flowers, mourning the loss of a friend, awestruck by an unexpected murmuration, ruminating on a Matisse painting, or celebrating food, glorious food (martinis, BLTs, cream puffs, summer peaches, fried eggs!), she is wholly present with verses that read like lyrical prayers, inviting us to a space of hope and light.

Over and over, she says, life is transient, ever-changing. Though loss, grief, and an acute awareness of mortality may be constant companions, these are the very things that make what we do have even more precious. We will always have the power to create our own realities.

Let the terrible politicians practice/their terrible politics.
At my kitchen table, all will be fed. I turn
the radio to a classical station, maybe Vivaldi.
All we have are these moments: the golden trees,
the industrious bees, the falling light. Darkness
will not overtake us.

Speaking of food, glorious food, it’s time for soup and crackers. In these two poems, Barbara serves up delectable portions of memory, nostalgia, metaphor, slurp-worthy detail, and earnest praise. Put on your bibs and enjoy!

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welcoming 2020 with the barbara crooker blues

“If the politicians and the scientists, or both working together, cannot save us, perhaps those less practical friends and aiders of those who would live in the spirit, the poets, can provide us with a vision we can trust and live with?” ~ Hyatt H. Waggoner (Visionary Poetry: Learning to See, 1981)

 

Happy True Blue Year!

Yes, we’re going blue again in 2020, hopefully a year marked by truth and clarity. With 20/20 vision, we must resolve to see things as they really are by taking a good look at the facts and focusing on what is truly important for our survival as citizens and human beings.

In previous years, we made progress with THINK BLUE and BELIEVE IN BLUE. We now have a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, and in 2019, Virginia turned blue and you-know-who was impeached. Step by step. In this all-important Presidential election year, we must take blue to the finish line. 🙂

 

 

Ahem. I suppose you know what the Pantone color of the year is:

 

 

Here is why Classic Blue was selected:

We are living in a time that requires trust and faith. It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on . . . Imbued with a deep resonance, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue provides an anchoring foundation. A boundless blue evocative of the vast and infinite evening sky, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking; challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication.

~ Leatrice Eisman (Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute)

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Barbara Crooker on The Book of Kells (+ a giveaway!)

 

Recently, I shared two food poems from Barbara Crooker’s new poetry collection, The Book of Kells (Cascade Books, 2018). As promised, she’s here to tell us more about working on the book while on retreat at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland.

The first 21 poems in the book (Section One) are a meditation on the The Book of Kells itself, with ruminations on the lettering, ornamentation, inks, vellum and various subjects depicted in the world’s most famous Medieval illuminated manuscript. The remaining three sections include poems about Ireland (flora, fauna, countryside) as well as Barbara’s observations about her spring and fall residencies.

You will note that Barbara considered food an important part of her residency experience (my kind of writer!). We thank her for detailing a few of her meals, and for sharing so many lovely personal photos of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre building and grounds.

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Tyrone Guthrie House

 

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getting our irish on: two poems from barbara crooker’s book of kells

“For the whole world was holy,/not just parts of it. The world was the Book of God./The alphabet shimmered and buzzed with beauty.” ~ Barbara Crooker (“The Book of Kells: Chi Rho”)

Please help yourself to a cup of Irish Breakfast Tea

 

Happy Almost St. Paddy’s Day!

Today we’re channeling our inner green with a little Irish breakfast and two food poems from Barbara Crooker’s new poetry collection.

The Book of Kells (Cascade Books, 2018) is Barbara’s eighth book, a masterwork of stunning, exquisitely crafted poems that left me breathless with awe and an even more acute yearning to visit Ireland again.

 

 

In addition to meditations and musings on the world’s most famous medieval manuscript (four lavishly decorated Gospels of the New Testament in Latin), there are observations about the Irish countryside, its flora and fauna, as well as personal reflections on time well spent during her two residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Co. Monaghan, Ireland.

 

Tyrone Guthrie Centre

 

Barbara marvels at the  beauty and singular magic of the Emerald Isle, whether blackbird, swan, lake, fuschia, wind, rain, the colors of autumn leaves (thank you, fairies), or “the bright splash of daffodils.” Ever present, profoundly human, she writes with an open, generous heart, reminding us to pay close attention to small miracles: “The rain’s thin music has set the world humming.” (“What is this world, but the body of God?”)

And of course I love that Barbara always knows just how to bring the delicious:

 

“Irish Breakfast” by Susan Carlin

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two scrumptious food poems from barbara crooker’s new book Les Fauves

Ever have this daydream?

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.

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