nine cool things on a tuesday

1. There’s nothing ho-hum about Oregon-based ceramicist Sara Swink’s work. She creates human and animal figures that tease our thinking and beg interpretation. She takes something familiar and gives it a dreamlike, bizarre, or even humorous twist. Her distinctive pieces definitely compel us to take a second or third look.

Her love of clay began when she was eight, with the encouragement of a neighbor who was a potter. She learned to throw on a potter’s wheel, hand build and mix glazes in high school, even buying her own wheel with money earned cleaning houses.

Some twenty years later, she began taking ceramics classes, then studied art history, printmaking, drawing, and foundry work at several universities while teaching. Studying with Coeleen Kiebert (whose approach is to fuse artmaking with the psychology of the individual) was pivotal in shaping Sara’s work. Sara’s pieces can be seen as expressions of her inner psyche; there is a personal narrative that runs through all her art.

Sara opened Clay Circle Studio when she moved to the Portland area in 2006 and continues to offer workshops. Find out more about her classes at her official website, where you can also view a wonderful archive of available and past pieces.

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Chatting with Author B.J. Lee about There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth (+ a recipe and giveaway!)

Talk about Bayou Bliss!

Today we have the distinct honor of welcoming children’s author and poet B.J. Lee to Alphabet Soup to celebrate the official release of her debut picture book, There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth, illustrated by David Opie (Pelican Publishing, 2019)!!

B.J.’s a former librarian whose poems have appeared in oodles of periodicals and anthologies, including Highlights for Children, Spider Magazine, The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations, One Minute Till Bedtime, The Best of Today’s Little Ditty, Dear Tomato, and the National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry.

Yes, this girl’s been busy scribbling away in her Florida hideaway, and her first picture book is rollicking good fun. She’s taken the classic “There Was An Old Lady” cumulative nursery rhyme and given it a Floridian spin — a cool way to introduce kids to some of the critters who hang out in her part of the country.

Seems B.J.’s Gator swallows a moth — who knows why — and it makes him cough. Only one thing to do: swallow a crab to grab the moth. But the crab “skittered and scuttled and gave him a jab.” What to do? Swallow an eel to nab that crab!

As you can imagine, this was just beginning of Gator’s problems. He keeps swallowing more creatures, bigger and bigger each time (have you seen the stomach on that guy?) until he actually gulps an entire lagoon! Hoo Boy!

You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens to this guzzling gator and all those bewildered animals in his belly. Kids will love turning the pages to see what animal’s next (ray! pelican! panther! manatee! shark!). Of course this story is a riot to read aloud with its catchy rhymes, repetition, bouncy rhythm and amphibious alliteration (cough, cough). And David Opie has amplified the hilarity with his emotive, dynamic illustrations.

Just had to ask B.J. all about her publishing journey, tinkering with the text, and yes, she’s sharing a recipe (did someone say PIE?)!

🎈HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY, B.J.! 🎈

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wrap your lips around this: “Perfect for Any Occasion” by Alberto Ríos

“Pie, in a word, is my passion. Since as far back as I can remember, watching my mom and dad make their apple pies together every fall as a young boy, I have simply loved pie. I can’t really explain why. If one loves poetry, or growing orchids, or walking along the beach at sunset, the why isn’t all that important. To me, pie is poetry that makes the world a better place.” ~ Ken Haedrich (Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie)

“Eat Pie” by Julie Paschkis (click to purchase archival print)

 

Imagine what it must be like to have everyone squeal with delight upon seeing you.

You look soooooo good, they all say, you’re exactly what we wanted! You remind us of Grandma and all that is right with the world.

So you bask in the glory, maximize your flake. Living a life of applause is the only way to go.

 

“Apple Pie and Tea” by Tom Nachreiner

 

PERFECT FOR ANY OCCASION
by Alberto Ríos

1.

Pies have a reputation.
And it’s immediate — no talk of potential

Regarding a pie. It’s good
Or it isn’t, but mostly it is — sweet, very sweet

Right then, right there, blue and red.
It can’t go to junior college,

Work hard for the grades,
Work two jobs on the side.

It can’t slowly build a reputation
And a growing client base.

A pie gets one chance
And knows it, wearing as makeup

Those sparkling granules of sugar,
As a collar those diamond cutouts

Bespeaking Fair Day, felicity, contentment.
I tell you everything is great, says a pie.

Great, and fun, and fine.
And you smell nice, too, someone says.

A full pound of round sound, all ahh, all good.
Pies live a life of applause.

 

2.

But then there are the other pies.
The leftover pies. The ones

Nobody chooses at Thanksgiving.
Mincemeat? What the hell is that? people ask,

Pointing instead at a double helping of Mr.
“I-can-do-no-wrong” pecan pie.

But the unchosen pies have a long history, too.
They have plenty of good stories, places they’ve been —

They were once fun, too —
But nobody wants to listen to them anymore.

Oh sure, everybody used to love lard,
But things have changed, brother — things have changed.

That’s never the end of the story, of course.
Some pies make a break for it —

Live underground for a while,
Doing what they can, talking fast,

Trying to be sweet pizzas, if they’re lucky.
But no good comes of it. Nobody is fooled.

A pie is a pie for one great day. Last week,
It was Jell-O. Tomorrow, it’ll be cake.

~ from The Dangerous Shirt (Copper Canyon Press), copyright © 2009 Alberto Ríos. All rights reserved.

“Sixteen Pies” by Wayne Thiebaud (1965)

 

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Are you swooning over “A full pound of round sound, all ahh, all good”? 🙂

Must say, haven’t seen rhyme used to such tantalizing effect in a long time . . .

This poem made me an instant Alberto Ríos fan. Nothing more delightful than celebrating pie while contemplating larger truths tucked beneath the crust, such as — seize the day, easy come-easy go, aging and invisibility, the inevitability of change.

I’ve been thinking about the leftover pies, the unchosen ones. “Leftover pie” is not really part of the Alphabet Soup vocabulary — “disappearing pie” is more like it. 😀

The poet also implies that there are some pies that have fallen out of favor — once chosen and enjoyed, but somehow no longer appreciated. I suppose there are some vintage pies we don’t see as often anymore — remember lemon chiffon, grasshopper, vinegar, or chess pie?

And I don’t really mind mince pie because it makes me think of British Christmases. 🙂

BUT. The thing about pie is that the more “old fashioned” it is, the more we love it. Sure, there are some cute ‘n sassy hand pies making the rounds these days, but nothing comes close to a homemade deep dish apple pie, or other perennial faves like pumpkin, blueberry, peach, chocolate cream, and lemon meringue.

Because pies, are, you know, FOREVER.

What’s your favorite pie? Do you have a fond pie memory to share?

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Alberto Ríos is the author of 11 collections of poetry, including Whispering to Fool the Wind (1982), which won the Walt Whitman Award; The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body (2002), which was nominated for a National Book Award; and, most recently, A Small Story About the Sky (2015). He has also written three collections of short stories and one memoir. Ríos’s work has been included in over 300 journals and over 250 anthologies, and he was featured in the documentary Birthwrite: Growing up Hispanic. His awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Walt Whitman Award, six Pushcart Prizes, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Latino Literary Hall of Fame Award. In 2014, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Currently the first state poet laureate of Arizona, Ríos is also the Regents Professor of English and the Katharine C. Turner Endowed Chair in English at Arizona State University in Tempe.

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The lovely, lithe, literary and eminently likable Linda Baie is hosting the Roundup at TeacherDance. Tiptoe on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere this week. Enjoy your weekend. 🙂

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“The sandy beach reminded Harold of picnics. And the thought of picnics made him hungry. So he laid out a nice simple picnic lunch.

There was nothing but pie. But there were all nine kinds of pie that Harold liked best.

When Harold finished his picnic there was quite a lot left. He hated to see so much delicious pie go to waste.

So Harold left a very hungry moose and a deserving porcupine to finish it up.”

~ Crockett Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crayon)


mmmmm, pie – the best part of Thanksgiving!

 


Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

Winnie-the-Pooh and The Royal Birthday by Jane Riordan and Mark Burgess (+ Honey Chocolate Pie)

Mr. Cornelius practicing the royal wave.

Hello Hello!

What’s the best way to honor two beloved British icons with 90th birthdays this year?

Feature them both in a beary good story, of course. 🙂

All art © 2016 Mark Burgess.

Mr Cornelius is convinced 2016 is extra special and that 90 is a magic number. On January 13, much to the delight of the 50-something resident Paddingtons, Michael Bond turned 90. On April 21, HRH Queen Elizabeth turned 90 (with her official birthday celebration taking place just over a week ago), and this coming October marks the 90th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh’s first book.

Goodness. This is like a golden trifecta for us anglophiles who are mad for Brits, books and bears! Just so happens that Her Majesty loved the Pooh books when she was little, and the year she was born, Mr. Milne dedicated his Teddy Bear and Other Songs (1926) to her.

What does this Palace Guard have stashed under his hat?

Earlier this year, Mr Bond was asked to write an address for the National Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen’s 90th Birthday. His “Reflection on the Passing of Years” was read aloud at the service by Sir David Attenborough (and yes, he turned 90, too, on May 8). This piece, a special gift for the Queen, described the experience of life for those born in 1926. Is there any better gift than the gift of words?

So we could say that in effect Paddington has “met” the Queen, but until this new story Pooh had not.

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friday feast: a taste of kate lebo’s pie school cookbook (+ apple pie recipe)

“The best way to make pie is to learn how to trust yourself and follow your nose — and the rest of your senses. That’s a poet’s advice too.” ~ Kate Lebo

Some of you may remember when Seattle pie poet Kate Lebo visited Alphabet Soup back in January to talk about A Commonplace Book of Pie (Chin Music Press, 2014) — a delightfully quirky collection of prose poems, recipes, baking tips and ephemera. *licks lips*

In essence a fantasy zodiac that upends our assumptions about what poetry is and can be, her pie poems invited us to look at ourselves, face our fears, and articulate our desires.

Now we can delve even further into our tantalizing pie obsessions with Kate’s brand new cookbook, Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter (Sasquatch Books, 2014), a between-the-covers sampling of her popular Pie School pastry academy classes. Oh, what a beauty it is!

Sure, there are many good pie cookbooks out there with tasty recipes and advice about how to fashion the perfectly tender flaky crust. But how many of these contain chapter intros and recipe header notes that read like prose poems? How many that serve up pie making process, social history, personal anecdotes, gorgeous photos, vintage chic, sass and class with such verve and heart?

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