Today we’d like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Laura Shovanon the official release of her first middle grade verse novel on April 12! Hooray for Laura!!
The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary (Wendy Lamb Books, 2016)is a captivating story told entirely through a series of poems written by one fifth grade class over the course of a year. We meet 18 diverse, distinctive, quirky, totally believable kids navigating the changes that come with friendships old and new, first crushes, and other relatable challenges such as divorce and stepfamilies, death and illness of family members, being the new kid, homelessness, assimilation and identity.
Though each has his/her own hopes, dreams, and concerns, these students form a special bond over one big change that affects them all: their beloved school is facing closure at the end of the year. Inspired by their teacher’s political activism in the 60’s, they are determined to make their voices heard to help save Emerson.
“I think what poetry finally does is to help us experience our world as intensely as possible.” (Mark Strand)
Have I mentioned just how much I love this year’s National Poetry Month poster?
Featuring the first stanza of Mark Strand’s “Eating Poetry” cleverly drawn by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, it’s the poster to top all posters. Period.
As we gear up for the official start of Poetry Month next week, we simply must don our finest bibs, polish our knives and forks, and wholeheartedly nosh on Strand’s delectable words. As he once said, “The reader has to sort of give himself over to the poem and allow the poem to inhabit him.” Ladies and Gentlemen, lick your chops!
EATING POETRY by Mark Strand
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.
The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.
Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.
She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.
~ from Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House, 1980)
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Clean, precise, surreal. Vintage Strand. A good poem produces a visceral reaction in the reader. As we internalize it, it may momentarily dally with our intellect, but ultimately it taps into our emotional core and arouses our instinctual essence, raw and animalistic. A good poem is a transformative experience.
Have you ever loved a food so much you wanted to inhabit it?
I guess there’s truth in the saying, “Home is where the cacao is.” 🙂
HOME SWEET HOME
by Kate Bingham
I need a chocolate bar I can live with,
nothing too big, a red-brick biscuit base, perhaps,
south-facing, on a quiet, tree-lined residential street
where parking late at night won’t be a problem.
Nothing too crumbly either. I don’t want
to be sweeping up bits of cornice all weekend
and pestering the surveyor with each new crack
in the milky bar matt emulsion shell.
It’s got to be the sort of place I can forget about,
with cocoa solids minimum 65 per cent
and nougat foundation limed with soya lecithin
cement and bourneville guttering
no matter what the cost because you can’t price
peace of mind and that means no original features,
nothing too fancy, nothing architect-designed.
There’s only me, I know exactly what I’m looking for,
not space so much as surface area, a honey-comb interior,
with wafer walls and butterscotch parquet
leading from room to room, each mouthful lighter,
sweeter than the one before and breathed, not tasted,
like a puff of icing sugar. Coming home
will be a hit, a score. I’ll drop my hand-bag in the hall,
tie back my hair, lie down and lick the floor.
It’s always a treat to “discover” a new-to-me poet, and Kate Bingham’s winsome and witty verse was just what I needed to chase away my cabin fever and winter blues. (When in doubt, think brown, and don’t be afraid to cross over to the dark side.)
After nibbling on this poem, I began to fantasize about the choco-cabin of my dreams.
Hmmm, something warm and cozy,
all furnishings made of the finest Belgian chocolate:
Some people like to wear their lampshades, I like to eat mine.
What’s a home without tasty flowers?
I must have a bottomless chocolate teapot that pours and pours all day,
and good quality flatware. Why just lick your spoons, when you can lick your knives and forks too?
What else? A nice old-fashioned rotary phone in case I need to order take-out or call Mr. Firth. For any robo-calls or annoying telemarketers, I’d eat the receiver.
Yes, a good tool kit to tinker and fix,
and a piano (I can play Schumann’s “The Happy Chocolate Farmer” by heart)!
Oh yes, this is where I’d sleep (and dream about mountains of dark sea salt caramels).
Mr. Cornelius would sleep here:
Each morning I’d hop out of bed, slip into something comfortable,
click my heels together,
turn on my laptop, then write the tastiest blog post ever, bar none.
Now, you may eat this post, if you like, along with a Mississippi Mud bar:
Tell me, where do you live?
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Poet and Author Robyn Campbell is hosting today’s Roundup. Check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Hope you find the chocolate bar of your dreams!
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This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Slip on your chocolate dress and come join the fun!
Mr. Cornelius, a diehard Downton Abbey fan, was beside himself the other day when four members of the Crawley Clawley family accepted his invitation to tea.
He’d been going on and on about how much he’s enjoying Season 5 because it’s mainly about love, romance and secrets. He likes the warm and comfortable relationship between Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, is happy Isobel is hooking up with Lord Merton (nice digs!), is relieved Tom Branson said goodbye to annoying Miss Bunting, loves that handsome Atticus is eyeing up Rose, and is tickled pink about Dowager Countess Violet’s secret past with RussianPrince Thing-a-ma-jig. 🙂
While Lady Mary’s hotel assignation with Lord Gillingham had Cornelius tsk-tsking for a few days (scandalous! loose woman! how risqué!), he gradually came around and revealed his own secret: he’s had a crush on Lady Mary since Season 1 (boy can she rock a pair of opera gloves).
He’s not intimidated in the least by either Tony Gillingham or Charles Blake. They can jostle all they want for Mary’s affections. Cornelius will charm her with his secret weapon.