friday feast: diane wakoski’s “parkin” (+ a recipe)

Happy Halloween!

No tricks here today, just a rich, spicy, scrumptious treat — parkin!

I was compelled to bake a batch of this Yorkshire gingerbread after reading Diane Wakoski’s evocative, affecting poem.

Her musings about the Brontës brought back my own fond memories of visiting Haworth – absolutely fascinating how creative genius can flourish in such a carefully circumscribed, isolated world.

Sip a cup of hot tea, have a good bite of parkin, and find comfort in the words of this generous poet. The “small things” are not so small after all.

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friday feast: the biting humor of why do i chase thee by jessica swaim and chet phillips

“He who chases his own tail has a full circle moment.” ~ Issa Shih Tzu


I’ve got my nose in the best book!

Why Do I Chase Thee: Classic Poetry for Dogs from Elizabeth Basset Browning and Other Canine Masters by Jessica Swaim and Chet Phillips is tail-waggin’ brilliant and totally blows my ears back. Can you dig it?

Finally, finally, dogs have their day and their say. For far too long, silly humans have discounted their random bow wows, arfs, woofs, yips, and yaps. Here’s proof that some of these mutts were actually sniffing out sonnets and licking limericks with the best of them.

Make no bones about it, this snappy little volume features sixteen of the most celebrated poetic pooches of all time, including four-time Poolitzer Prize winner Rover Frost, iambic puptameter whizzard William Shakespaw, haiku master Issa Shih Tzu, and the somewhat repentant Dogden Dash, who knows just what to do with a rhymed puplet:


Judging by their ankles, here’s my educated guess:
The FedEx man tastes better than the guy from UPS.

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friday feast: hayden saunier’s the one and the other

“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.” ~ Emily Dickinson


Fasten your seat belts. This one left me reeling.

via Just a Pinch Recipes


by Hayden Saunier

The child hums as he carries, too late,
his grandmother’s sugar-dusted lemon-glazed cake

down the street to the neighbor who needs to be cheered,
too late for the neighbor

who’s stepped into the air
of her silent front hall from a ladder-backed chair

her church dress just pressed, her head in a loop she tied
into the clothesline, too late

he unlatches the gate,
walks up the brick walk on his tiptoes, avoiding the cracks

toward the door she unlocked, left ajar, who knows why
or for whom, if on purpose

or not, but because he’s too late
she’s gone still when he reaches the door and because

he’s too late, as he calls out and looks, brilliant sun
burns through haze

pours through sidelights and bevels
through chandelier prisms, strikes white sparks and purples

on ceiling and walls, on the overturned chair, on her stockings
her brown and white

spectator shoes on the floor
and because he’s too late he remembers both terror and beauty

but not which came first. But enough of the one
that he ran

and enough of the other
to carefully lay down the cake at her feet.

~ posted by permission of the author, © 2011 Hayden Saunier. All rights reserved. (Rattle #36, Winter 2011)

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Hayden: “I love the way objects, images and stories connect and find their way into a poem. An old friend had sent me an outrageous pound cake one Christmas and when I described it as ‘sugar-dusted, lemon-glazed,’ the story of the boy in this poem, told to me years earlier, came straight to mind. Everything came together through that sunny yellow circle with its center missing — dense, empty, bitter, sweet, gestures we make too late, a child’s ability to take in everything at the same moment, at once, and complete. It was all in the cake.”

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I still hold my breath every time I read this powerful, heartbreaking poem, as though I can’t believe what is happening, wishing I could somehow call the boy back to keep him from seeing what he will see.

The escalating urgency and suspense, and the intense crackle of opposites colliding are so masterfully executed detail by detail, phrase by phrase, in just one cascading sentence.

How fine is the line between terror and exhiliration — or are they one and the same?

We are left to ponder which is the greatest tragedy — that a woman committed suicide, that a child was traumatized, or that perhaps a life could have been saved if that cake had been delivered just five minutes earlier.

“The One and the Other” won the 2011 Rattle Poetry Prize, and is included in Hayden’s brand new book, Say Luck (Big Pencil Press, 2013), winner of the 2013 Kenneth & Geraldine Gell Poetry Prize.

I first stumbled upon “The One and the Other” online a couple of months ago while innocently searching for a cake poem, and have been haunted by it ever since. Totally unsuspecting, I could never have imagined, reading those first few words — “child hums . . . grandmother’s sugar-dusted lemon glazed cake” — that this poem would be laced with such a searing kaleidoscope of fragmented anguish.

I’d like to thank Hayden for granting me permission to share her poem and for providing a little backstory. Do pick up a copy of Say Luck; I’ve been slowly savoring and enjoying each and every poem.

♥ Visit the Rattle website to hear Hayden read “The One and the Other.”

♥ Hayden reads “Say Luck” at Listen Well.

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written by Hayden Saunier
selected by Laure-Anne Bosselaar
published by Big Pencil Press, 2013
Poetry, 94 pp.
*Foreword by Ms. Bosselaar

Hayden Saunier is a writer, actress, and teaching artist living in the Philadelphia area. She is the winner of the 2013 Gell Poetry Prize, 2011 Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize, and the 2011 Rattle Poetry Prize. She has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, is a Bucks County, PA, Poet Laureate, and the 2005 Robert Fraser Poetry Award Winner. Click here to visit her Official Website.

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poetryfriday180The lovely, talented and snickerdoodle-loving Keri Collins Lewis is hosting today’s Roundup at Keri Recommends. Check out the full menu of poetic goodies being served up in the blogosphere and enjoy the holiday weekend!


Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

friday feast: yes! we are latinos by alma flor ada, f. isabel campoy and david diaz

Which of the following statements is true?

  • Hispanics/Latinos are a single race who all look alike
  • All Latinos in the United States are recent immigrants, most of whom are here illegally
  • All Latinos speak Spanish and sound alike
  • Hispanic immigrants aren’t interested in learning English
  • Latinos are the largest and fastest growing minority group in the country and have lived in the territories now known as the United States for over four centuries.

If you guessed the last one, you’re correct, but did any of the other statements sound familiar? Chances are good you’ve encountered people who actually believe they’re true.

That’s one of the reasons Yes! We Are Latinos by eminent authors and scholars Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy (Charlesbridge, 2013), is a must read not only for young people but for everyone.

Art © 2013 David Diaz

This wonderful celebration of the rich diversity and mixed cultural origins of the more than 50 million Latinos in the U.S. informs, enlightens, and helps to dispel many commonly-held misconceptions about who Latinos are and the nature of their vital, historic role in the fabric of our society.

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friday feast: are your tomatoes laughing?

Seriously, who could resist a poetry book called Laughing Tomatoes?

Well, I certainly couldn’t, but I shamefully admit I didn’t actually know about this fabuloso feast of pure delight until just a few months ago.

This Pura Belpré Honor Award-winning bilingual 20-poem collection by Chicano poet Francisco X. Alarcón and Maya Christina Gonzalez was first published by Children’s Book Press back in 1997. Where was I?!

Likely staring at grumpy, aloof tomatoes and not appreciating strawberries for the “sweet tender hearts” they are, living a bland life full of ho-hum edibles, certainly not hearing the warm morning sun calling to me through my window, and — *shakes head* — totally oblivious to dew, “the fresh taste of the night.”

But now, having read this glorious, jubilant celebration of Spring and its earthly delights, family, culture and community, my life is complete!

I’m happy to say Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems/Jitomates Risueños y otros poemas de primavera is one of my favorite children’s poetry books ever. 🙂

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