a new poem from penny harter

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” ~ from an Irish headstone

 

I was so pleased to hear from New Jersey poet Penny Harter recently, who sent along a new food poem she had just written.

You may remember when we featured Penny’s “Moon-Seeking Soup,” “Your Grandmother’s Whisk,” and “One Bowl,” all referencing her late husband, esteemed poet, translator, and haiku scholar William J. Higginson. With these poems, we saw a poet moving through various stages of grief, as words facilitated emotional release and healing.

As those of us who have lost loved ones well know, one really never stops grieving. We instead find a way to live with loss. Penny’s poignant poem reminds us that as time passes, we move on, but the heart, ever tender and hopeful, never forgets.

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MARMALADE

Sitting in our regular booth in the Prestige Diner,
often on our way home from some poetry event
or other, you always ordered eggs over-easy
and whole wheat toast, but we could never find
those little plastic packets of orange marmalade
in the small square dish by the napkin holder.

Now that you’re dead, do you still love marmalade?

Before we knew you were sick, we were driving
through a spring landscape, branches blossoming
white, sweet and easy miles disappearing beneath
our quiet tires, when suddenly you said,
I can’t imagine all this going on without me!

How fluently the names forsythia, red maple
flowed from our tongues that day, the engine
of our life together well-tuned and fuel efficient.
How can it be eight years since you drove alone
over the horizon? Yet I, too, have moved on,
weathered lonely nights, betrayals of my own body.

There is still marmalade, the sticky jar on my shelf
almost empty. I spread it thickly on this morning’s
whole wheat toast, and its bitter sugar lingers
on my aging tongue. Dearest, wherever you are,
know the heart makes room for other loves, although
I love you still, and I wish you marmalade on toast.

~ Copyright © 2017 Penny Harter. All rights reserved.

 

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Penny: I just wrote “Marmalade” over MLK weekend while at Peter Murphy’s annual Poetry and Prose Getaway. We were given a model poem as a prompt and it had the word ‘marmalade’ in it. Suddenly the diner memory surfaced, and I was off and running with it. Then I benefited from work-shopping it in a small critique group. Funny what one word can prompt if the grove is ripe!

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7 cool things on a monday

“Seven days without laughter makes one weak.” ~ Mort Walker

copyright 2014 Margie Moore

1. Big thanks to children’s book illustrator Margie Moore for allowing me to showcase her adorable “Mouse’s Kitchen” in my blog header this month. Since I had to crop some of the illo to fit the header space, thought I’d post the original so you can see some of the details at the bottom. Margie says she did this watercolor for Babybug Magazine. FYI, Margie is CakeSpy Jessie Oleson Moore’s mother. Sweets and awesome talent run in the family! 🙂

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2. Heads up, Poets: Richer Resources Publications is seeking poems about food and eating for a new anthology to be published in 2015. You can submit up to 3 original poems (simultaneous and previously published okay). Deadline: November 1, 2014. More here.

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3. Have you heard about the brand new BookDragon Book Club? It’s presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and hosted by Terry Hong and HapaMama’s Grace Hwang Lynch, who invite you to join them each month for tasty reads by notable Asian Pacific American authors. They will announce a new book the first Tuesday of each month and then hold a live virtual conversation with the author on the last Tuesday. In between, they will post reviews, guest posts, resources, etc., with lots of chances for discussion and interaction.

 

Their inaugural title is Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh (Beth) Nguyen. It’s been getting rave reviews and Terry Hong says it’s one of her top 3 favorites for 2014 thus far. It sounds intriguing — a connection between Laura Ingalls Wilder and Vietnam? Click here to learn more about the club and watch Beth’s welcome video.

The live virtual chat with Beth (and with fellow readers, bloggers, etc.) will be held tomorrow (Tuesday, August 26) at 1 p.m. EST/10 a.m. PST.

4. Speaking of Laura Ingalls Wilder, novelist and biographer Pamela Smith Hill will be teaching a free online course via Missouri State University that runs from September 22 to December 1, 2014. Laura Ingalls Wilder: Exploring Her Work & Writing Life, “will expand your understanding of the literary themes, style, and historical underpinnings of Wilder’s Little House series.” Click here for full course description and enrollment information.

Some of you may know that Pamela Smith Hill is also the editor of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography (South Dakota State Historical Society, 2014), the much anticipated previously unpublished autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, to be released on November 20, 2014. Learn more about this exciting book at The Pioneer Girl Project site.

 

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5. If you’re a fan of haiku and haibun, check out Penny Harter’s guest post, “Circling the Pine: Haibun and the Spiral Image” at The Music In It: Adele Kenny’s Poetry Blog. We’ve had the pleasure of featuring the work of both of these fabulous poets here at Alphabet Soup, and are pleased to mention their new books:

 

Penny’s The Resonance Around Us (Mountains & Rivers Press, 2013), just came out last Fall, and Adele’s new book, A Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing At All (Welcome Rain Publishers, 2014) will be out in December, and is now available for pre-order.

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6. Because of my interest in the handmade and heart-made, and because the spoon is my favorite utensil, I find Josh Nava’s 365 Spoons project very cool. This Nashville woodworker is hand carving a spoon from local wood every day in 2014. You can follow Josh’s progress on Instagram. Here’s a short video showing him at work:

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7. Last, but certainly not least, in case you missed this short film about Maira Kalman from Gael Towey’s wonderful “Portraits in Creativity” series, I’m sharing it here. I love that Maira thinks everyone is “deeply eccentric,” and that she’s playing a duck in Isaac Mizrahi’s production of “Peter and The Wolf.”

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Happy Monday, All!

I hope at least 7 good things happen to you this week — that you write 7 good words, share 7 kind words with others, and reflect on 7 things you’re thankful for. 🙂

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

 

friday feast: one bowl by penny harter

via Space Answers

I’m happy to share another beautiful haibun written by Penny Harter today, the title poem from One Bowl, Penny’s first eBook, which won a 2011 Snapshot Press eChapbook Award.

In a recent interview at Female First, Penny said that One Bowl is a kind of sequel to Recycling Starlight (Mountains and Rivers Press, 2010), poems she’d written in the first 18 months following the death of her husband, renowned haiku scholar William J. Higginson. Penny feels the poems in One Bowl are “less raw and more contemplative, showing that time does heal.”

“One Bowl” took my breath away when I first read it — its unadorned language so pure and luminous, its message especially appropriate for this season of material excess. Knowing that this was written by a poet well acquainted with grief (Penny also lost both parents in the same year), I was also reminded that a loved one, one single person, can be a person’s entire universe. I like how she blends the temporal and the celestial, creating ever spiraling associations with the human heart at its core.

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friday feast: “your grandmother’s whisk” by penny harter

(click for recipe)

Some of you may remember when I featured Penny Harter’s beautifully crafted haibun, “Moon-Seeking Soup,” last October. It was written in response to her husband William J. Higginson’s passing in 2008, and included in her chapbook, Recycling Starlight (Mountains and Rivers Press, 2010).

She and Bill liked to make a special root vegetable soup together. In the poem, she’s making the soup alone, needing the light of the moon but getting the earth, as she sees her sole reflection in the ladle. This healing soup of love and memory marked a step toward accepting her loss.

In today’s poem, Penny captures another poignant moment — she thinks again of Bill as she prepares breakfast with his grandmother’s whisk. Hold memory in your hand, whip new beginnings as grace transforms sorrow.

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friday feast: two poetic peas in a pod

Did you know that June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month?
 
Let’s celebrate with PEAS!


*gele*/flickr

Today, we have not one, but TWO perfectly penned pea poems (one of them by a poet named Penny). I’ve titled this post "Two Poetic Peas in a Pod," because the similarities between the poems are quite uncanny. Both are entitled "Shelling Peas," both refer to fond childhood memories with grandmothers, both contain references to little boats from children’s literature, and both are written in seven stanzas. To top it off, both poets live in New Jersey (the Garden State), and their first names contain five letters ("e" + double consonant + "y"). I mean, what are the chances?!

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