a touch of yellow

“Yellow is capable of charming God.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

“Yellow Teapot” by John Hubbard Rich
YELLOW BUTTERFLIES BRING HAPPINESS
by Sharon Lask Munson

When she relocated to her new home
I gave my darling niece a teapot,
bestowed lifelong advice --
every home needs a touch of yellow.

Days later, a friend wrote
she was wearing the butter-yellow sweater
I gave her on a blustery day.

There have been other yellows --
first daffodils of spring,
summer sunflowers,
my citron slicker,
daisies -- he loves me, he loves me not,
the gold ring on my finger.

I slice fresh lemon for tea,
spread local honey on toast,
sing "My Only Sunshine."
I admire the canary a friend
keeps in her kitchen,
the melody of his song.

I remember Dagwood and Blondie
in the Sunday funnies,
snap up Atlantic Avenue
and Marvin Gardens playing Monopoly,
watch out for children
as yellow school buses pull up to the curb.

I bake lemon meringue pies,
buy butter to spread on sweet corn,
make goldenrod toast
for Sunday night suppers,
center the table with beeswax candles,
keep curtains open as the moon rises.

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Just a touch of yellow, even a tiny bit, brings joy, sunshine, radiance, optimism, vitality, freshness, hope.

It’s almost impossible to be sad once yellow flutters in.

One Christmas when I was 10 or 11, I received a yellow cardigan — it had pretty scalloped trim around the collar, sleeves, and hem — and yarn covered buttons! How I loved it, even though it was usually too warm to wear it. The important thing is that it came from a favorite aunt who had excellent taste in all things. Her gift made such an impression on me that I’m still thinking about it over 50 years later.

Like Munson, I, too, rejoice at those first spring daffodils (the only flowers we have that are deer proof), and I love all things butter, baking delectable treats with it, melting it over popcorn, spreading it on warm biscuits or toast. It simply makes everything taste better. Hello, beautiful butter, my lifelong friend. You can make me ecstatic with a single pat.

This poem also made me think of my parents. My dad’s favorite pie was lemon meringue, and though there were no sunflowers in our yard, we had cheery oncidium orchids and an abundance of yellow plumeria thanks to my mom’s green thumb. Yellow plumeria lei for May Day and Aloha Week — such good memories!

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exploring the land of blue

“Blue is therefore most suitable as the color of interior life.” ~ William H. Gass

 

“Moonlit Night” by Anton Pieck (1941)

 

THE LAND OF BLUE
by Laura Mucha

Across the valley, it waits for you,
a place they call The Land of Blue.

It’s far and near, it’s strange yet known –
and in this land, you’ll feel alone,
you might feel tears roll down your cheek,
you might feel wobbly, weary, weak.

I know this won’t sound fun to you –
it’s not – this is The Land of Blue.
It’s blue – not gold or tangerine,
it’s dark – not light, not bright or clean.

It’s blue – and when you leave, you’ll see
the crackly branches of the tree,
the golden skies, the purring cat,
the piercing eyes, the feathered hat
and all the other things that come
when you escape from feeling glum.

Across the valley, it waits for you,
a place they call The Land of Blue
and going there will help you know
how others feel when they feel low.

~ from A Poem for Every Day of the Year, edited by Allie Esiri (Macmillan, 2017)

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As the poet explains at her website, this poem was written for a poetry workshop in response to a painting she saw at the National Gallery in London. The painting featured two mountains with a “land of blue” in the distance. She thought perhaps people went there when they were sad.

Though initially written as a children’s poem, Mucha’s observations about sorrow — that experiencing it ultimately helps us develop compassion and empathy — certainly applies to adults as well. I was also reminded of how Mr Rogers stressed the importance of honoring children’s emotions and encouraging them to speak freely about what they were experiencing.

I do love how art begets more art (which is why I’ve always enjoyed ekphrastic poetry). In Mucha’s case, her emotional reaction to the painting inspired her to explore often untalked-about-feelings within the safe space of a poem.

Every day I look at a lot of art, listen to music, and read inspiring words, both poetry and prose. How effectively a piece is able to instantly make me feel something is a good gauge of its worth.

I agree with William Gass that blue is most suitable as the color of interior life. Picasso comes to mind, with his famous Blue Period. He was going through a profound depression after the suicide of his friend, but just as Mucha suggests about the nature of despondency, he was eventually able to move past his dark mood in a few years.

Although blue is quite often associated with coldness and melancholy, we see through the works of other artists that the “land of blue” may also be one of peace, serenity, calmness, reflection, and deep, abiding beauty.

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friday feast: a little bouquet of color + a special julie paprika giveaway

It’s here, it’s finally here!

Happy Spring!

We must celebrate with what so many of us are craving after such a long hard winter: COLOR!

But why settle for plain blue when you can have indigo or blue moonshade? As for green, make mine Elysian. Let’s bask in the evocative names of colors and the flights of fancy they inspire. And yes, you may call me Sheba. 🙂

 

POEM FROM A COLOUR CHART OF HOUSEPAINTS
by Wendy Cope

Limeglow of leaves –
elf, sapling
in Elysian green,
she’s jitterbugging
in the forest.
She is froth, the tang
of julep, capering
among the ferns.
Passion, the firedance
of her fantasy,
fireglow of poppy
and corona, ember.
Casanova, peerless
demon, jester!
She burns, a firefly,
Apollo’s geisha.
Her sandgold hair,
spun silk kimono,
melon and lemon sorbet
on the balcony,
white wine, gardenias.
That honeysuckle year –
if he could ransom
one sunlit day!
Indigo seascape –
Melissa in cool,
blue moonshade.
Harebell, naiad,
exotic ballerina,
she commands the bay,
the midnight swell,
the surf, pale gossamer.
Autumnal in brogues,
beige twinset, russet
tweeds, she takes
coffee at eleven,
sherry at noon –
dreams of Tarragona,
castanets, a man
who called her Sheba.
Her mood
is violet, nocturnal.
Aubrietia, phlox,
wisteria delight her
more than roses.
Solitude, a purple
robe, a last
long hazy evening.

~ from If I Don’t Know (Faber & Faber, 2001).

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SPECIAL JULIE PAPRIKA GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate warmer days and the earth’s reawakening, we’re giving away one medium size (13″ x 19″) archival print of any one of Julie Paschkis’s paintings available at her new shop Julie Paprika! That’s right! Your choice!

Here are a few examples:

“Happy Family”

“Balanced Reader”

“Tortoise and Hare”

“Low Crow”

“Fruitful”

Gorgeous work! And any one of these (or another of your choosing) can be yours! Simply leave a comment at this post telling us what you’re most looking forward to now that Spring is here, no later than midnight (EDT) Wednesday, March 25, 2015. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Winner will be announced next Friday. Special thanks to Julie for this generous dash of Paprika in our Soup :). Good Luck!

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♦ 2015 POETRY MONTH KIDLITOSPHERE ROUNDUP ♦

If you’re doing something special on your blog for Poetry Month in April, please email me with your information: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com, so I can include you in my Roundup post. Can’t wait to see what everyone will be up to!

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poetryfriday180Beautiful and gracious Catherine is hosting today’s Roundup at Reading to the Core. Throw on a silk kimono, pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere this week. Is it still too cold for lemon sorbet on the balcony?

 

Yours in pale gossamer,

Sheba
xoxo

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

friday feast: noshing on color

“Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.” ~ Pedro Calderon de la Barca

via Chapman Cultural Center

Feeling winter weary and color starved?

I think I’ve had my fill of brown, grey and white. I know too well the bare bones of the trees, how they cast long shadows across our snow-blanketed yard. I’ve had lots of time to ponder the individuality of snowflakes and marvel at the magic of icicles. But enough with the bark and rocks and dry stalks.

I want green. And pink, yellow, lavender, teal. Drench me in indigo, lime, scarlet, magenta, emerald, fuschia, and orange. Read me a sweet poem that will transport me from my cozy armchair to a place of sheer delight. Let me feast on color.

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book buzzin’

Yes, we’re mostly about food-related books here at Alphabet Soup, but that doesn’t mean we don’t ooh and ahh over other titles — especially those written and/or illustrated by folks we know and love. Here are some recent and upcoming releases we just had to tell you about:

THE NUTS AND BOLTS GUIDE TO WRITING PICTURE BOOKS by Linda Ashman.  “Have an idea for a picture book? Already working on one? This 150-page handbook offers instruction, advice, exercises, resources, encouragement and more to turn your idea or work-in-progress into a ready-to-submit manuscript. It also includes interviews with leading children’s book editors and industry professionals who provide insights and advice from their side of the desk.”

This one’s a beauty — nine chapters worth of clearly presented, insightful, practical writing advice drawn from Linda’s many years as an author, poet, writing teacher, critiquer, reading advocate, and lover of children’s literature. It’s like having a friendly writing coach by your side as you try to whip your manuscripts into shape. I especially like her chapters about writing humor and experimenting with form. The Guide is currently available for sale as a PDF via Linda’s website, and will be available soon in an ePub version for e-readers.

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MY BLUE IS HAPPY by Jessica Young and Catia Chien (Candlewick, 2013). We always go a little crazy over debut picture books, so a big Huzzah to Jessica! Officially released on August 6th, this book challenges commonly held assumptions about colors and celebrates individual perspective. Is red always angry? Is pink pretty or annoying? Colors are closely associated with emotion, and it’s fascinating to explore the different ways we experience them. Is your orange “fun like a bouncing basketball” — or “serious like a warning sign and a tiger on the prowl”? What a great primer for creative thinking! To learn more about chocolate-lovin’ art teacher/Nashville resident Jessica and her wonderful book, check out this most excellent interview.

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