dream job: poet or engineer?

Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey, London.
ENGINEERS' CORNER
by Wendy Cope

'Why isn't there an Engineers' Corner in Westminster Abbey? In Britain we've always made more fuss of a ballad than a blueprint . . . How many schoolchildren dream of becoming great engineers?' ~ Advertisement placed in The Times by the Engineering Council

We make more fuss of ballads than of blueprints --
That's why so many poets end up rich,
While engineers scrape by in cheerless garrets.
Who needs a bridge or dam? Who needs a ditch?

Whereas the person who can write a sonnet
Has got it made. It's always been the way,
For everybody knows that we need poems
And everybody reads them every day.

Yes, life is hard if you choose engineering --
You're sure to need another job as well;
You'll have to plan your projects in the evenings
Instead of going out. It must be hell.

While well-heeled poets ride around in Daimlers,
You'll burn the midnight oil to earn a crust,
With no hope of a status in the Abbey,
With no hope, even, of a modest bust.

No wonder small boys dream of writing couplets
And spurn the bike, the lorry and the train.
There's far too much encouragement of poets --
That's why this country's going down the drain.

~ from Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis (Faber & Faber, 1986)

Poets’ Corner (South Transept), Westminster Abbey, London.

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I always enjoy Wendy Cope’s wit and humor, but when she discusses engineers and poets, it really hits home. 

Talk about satire and irony. I’ve been married to an engineer for over 40 years and he’s never frequented “cheerless garrets,” nor has he had to “burn the midnight oil to earn a crust.” These scenarios are more in line with my own experience. 🙂

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“Hedonist’s List of Desert Island Essentials” by Vivien Steels

“Hawaii Retreat with Palm Trees, Sunset” via Beyond Dream Art.

It’s always fun to play with the “stranded on a desert island” trope: what item, other than food and water, would you take/most like to have with you?

Before the age of laptops and smart phones, people cited favorite books, or maybe a diary or radio. It’s quite a challenge to figure out exactly what physical possession you just couldn’t live without.

But what if the opposite were true: that you could be on that island with anything your heart desires (no limit with regard to quantity or practicality)? Say the word, and it’s yours.

British poet and artist Vivien Steels has come up with quite a provocative scenario.

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“Hot Chocolate” by Brett Humphries (oil on board, 2020).
HEDONIST'S LIST OF DESERT ISLAND ESENTIALS
by Vivien Steels

Blue iceberg from Arctic shores
melting into cool, mountain streams.
Chocolate Emporium effusing cocoa --
door always open, shelves always filled.
Cooking pot permanently flame-hot
to bubble water within its depths for
Chinese Jasmine-scented tea,
fragrance rising in coils of steam.
Tent, the size of small bungalow,
with bathroom 'en suite' included.
Bombay Curry House,
waiters and cooks ever-ready
to conjure spiced masterpieces
served on white plates.
Library, walls resplendent with books,
superb poetry section --
no overdue charges.
Softest duvet fattened with duck down,
hammock fittings to lasso two palm trees
under indigo sky christened with stars.

~ This poem first appeared in 21st Century Poetry (October 2001).
“Significance” by Elena Tuncer (oil on canvas).

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“In Praise of Dreams” x 2

“After Midnight” by Rene Lynch
IN PRAISE OF DREAMS 
by Wislawa Szymborska

In my dreams
I paint like Vermeer van Delft.

I speak fluent Greek
and not just with the living.

I drive a car
that does what I want it to.

I am gifted
and write mighty epics.

I hear voices
as clearly as any venerable saint.

My brilliance as a pianist
would stun you.

I fly the way we ought to,
i.e.,  on my own.

Falling from the roof,
I tumble gently to the grass.

I've got no problem
breathing under water.

I can't complain:
I've been able to locate Atlantis.

It's gratifying that I can always
wake up before dying.

As soon as war breaks out,
I roll over on my other side.

I'm a child of my age,
but I don't have to be.

A few years ago
I saw two suns.

And the night before last a penguin,
clear as day.

~ from Poems: New and Collected, 1957-1997, translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh (Ecco, 2000).
“Dreaming Girl” by Gilly Marklew.

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Dreams, whether fleeting daydreams, wish fulfillment night dreams, or long held desires — are important indicators of who we are, what we value, and sometimes they serve to motivate us to achieve certain life goals.

They’re also a fun way to consider the subconscious, unleash the imagination and verbalize the unbelievable.

Szymborska’s poem inspired California poet Gary Soto to write about his own dreams.

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“The Guitar Player” by Fabian Perez.
IN PRAISE OF DREAMS
by Gary Soto

after Wislawa Szymborska

In my dreams,
I lasso a wild steer on the first try.

I chauffeur Picasso
To meet up with Dali --
None of us is happy about this summit.

After licking my fingertips,
I play guitar masterfully.

I use index cards to make sense
Of the universe.

I discover my childhood cat in the neighbor's tree--
So that's where you've been, you little rascal.

I beg the alligator, por favor,
To make a snap judgement,
Will it be my leg or my arm?

Picture me swimming with dolphins.
Picture me with these dolphins
Sitting in lawn chairs.

I'm full of gratitude--
The lightbulb comes on
When the refrigerator door is opened.

Yes, I'm the scientist who solved laryngitis--
Now all of us howl at our own pleasure.

I get to throw a trophy from a moving car.
When I park my car,
I'm awarded another trophy --
Someone above is giving me a second chance.

~ © 2020 by Gary Soto. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 29, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
“Restraint 2 Cowboys Roping a Steer” by Don Langeneckert

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Szymborska seems to value artistic mastery as well as superhuman powers like flying and breathing under water, enabling her to face adversity, survive catastrophes and achieve a kind of immortality. She’s more philosophical and symbolic than Soto.

I like how Soto injects humor and a fond memory in his poem. His voice is conversational and accessible. Who can resist, “licking my fingertips,” the “snap judgement” of the alligator, or those “dolphins/Sitting in lawn chairs”? 🙂

Both express gratitude for their lives in lovely, distinctive ways.

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Of course I couldn’t help but think about my own dreams. Not only fun, but empowering. Fantasy makes life more bearable. Part of me says “impossible,” while the other part says, “why not?” Doesn’t writing make it so? 🙂

~ Maira Kalman (What Pete Ate from A-Z, 2003)

IN MY DREAMS

Sam Heughan begs invites me to live with him in Scotland.

I teleport myself to England at whim and the weather is always good.

I own Harrods.

The real Paddington Brown lives with us.

I am fluent in at least 10 different languages.

I live at the Plaza Hotel and join Eloise for tea in the Palm Court every week.

I bake the biggest, most delicious pie the world has ever seen and the people who eat it are deliriously happy for the rest of their lives.

My house cleans itself.

I inherit Maira Kalman’s inimitable talent.

Colin Firth and Paul McCartney have me on speed dial.

My singing is simply divine and I look good in hats.

I can leap tall buildings in a single bound – with my eyes closed.

I win a tango championship in Argentina with Robert Duvall.

Jackson Browne is a neighbor and whenever I pop over he sings for me.

Whenever I read a good book, I can step right into it and become any character I choose.

When Shakespeare, the Brontës, Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Michael Bond visit the Cornelius Rattigan Tea Room, we assure them they will be read and loved forever and ever.

I see my parents again.

There is no such thing as hate.

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Speaking of Vermeer:

Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth in “Girl With a Pearl Earring” (2003).

What do you dream of?

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The lovely and talented Catherine Flynn is hosting the Roundup at Reading to the Core. Bounce over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up around the blogosphere this week. Happy December!


*Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

🥧poetry friday roundup is here🌽

Please help yourself to apple cider, chocolate chip pumpkin bread, oatmeal raisin cookies and a Dreamy Pear slice.

Welcome to Poetry Friday at Alphabet Soup!

So, it’s almost turkey o’clock. Does Thanksgiving fill you with dread or anticipation? Will you find the holiday relaxing or stressful? A good sense of humor is essential whether you’re dealing with dry turkey, lumpy mashed potatoes, or high drama with relatives.

Mr Cornelius contemplates giant oatmeal cookies.

The older I get, the more I appreciate Melanie White’s Instagram caption: “Thanksgiving – when the people who are the most thankful are the ones who didn’t have to cook.” 😀

True, yet when you don’t cook, you don’t have any leftovers, which I think are actually the best part of Thanksgiving (hello, hot turkey sandwiches, apple pie for breakfast, sausage stuffing for lunch). When all the niceties and formalities of the holiday are over, you can finally be alone with your food and have your way with it.

Austin poet C J Beaman’s parody says it all.

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A THANKSGIVING POEM
by C J Beaman

Twas the night of Thanksgiving, but I just couldn't sleep, 
I tried counting backwards, I tried counting sheep. 
The leftovers beckoned - the dark meat and white, 
But I fought off the temptation with all of my might. 

I tossed and I turned with sweet anticipation, 
As the thought of a snack became infatuation. 
So I raced to the kitchen, flung open the door 
And gazed at the fridge, full of goodies galore. 

I gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes, 
Pickles and carrots, beans and tomatoes. 
I felt myself swelling so plump and so round, 
'Til all of a sudden, I rose off the ground. 

I crashed through the ceiling, floating into the sky 
With a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie. 
But I managed to yell as I soared past the trees... 
Happy eating to all! Pass the cranberries, please! 

May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump, 
May your potatoes & gravy have nary a lump, 
May your yams be delicious, may your pies take the prize, 
May your Thanksgiving dinner stay off of your thighs. 

Remember to share with those less fortunate,
And may your Thanksgiving be blessed!

~ Copyright © 2001, C J Beaman. All rights reserved.
“Pie in the Sky” by Dan Craig.

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🐜 TRUMAN’S AUNT FARM GIVEAWAY WINNERS! 🐜

Thanks to all who left interesting comments about your aunts. Thoroughly enjoyed reading them! After Mr Cornelius wrote all the commentors’ names down on pieces of paper, he tossed them into Paddington’s bush hat so Aunt Lucy could pick two winners. And they are:

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🥁 drum roll please 🥁

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🌽 JONE RUSH MACCULLOCH 🍗

and

🍁 MARY LEE HAHN 🥧

🎉🎉Congratulations, Jone and Mary Lee!! 🎉 🎉

Please email your snail mail addresses and we’ll get the books out to you lickety split!

Thanks again, everyone. 🙂

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Now, please leave your links with the dapper Mr. Linky below. Better take a few more bites to sustain you while you zip around the blogosphere reading all the fine poems, reviews, and poetic ruminations being shared by our poetry peeps this week.

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“Mulberry Cake” by Loré Pemberton

🥧 HAVE A SAFE, DELICIOUS, AND VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! 🍗


*Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

[beachy review] My Poet by Patricia MacLachlan and Jen Hill

“I have great respect for children. And I have great respect for their ability as writers.” ~ Patricia MacLachlan

“Words have not only a definition… but also the felt quality of their own kind of sound.” ~ Mary Oliver

Where do poets find their words?

Young Lucy learns the answer to this question in My Poet, a luminous new picture book by late Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan and illustrator Jen Hill (Katherine Tegen Books, 2022).

One summer day, Lucy and the poet next door – whom she calls “my poet” – explore their seaside town with a shared goal: to find words. Lucy, an aspiring poet, takes along her notebook and pen.

Together, they visit the farmers market, stroll along the beach with the poet’s dogs, meander through the woods by the marsh, and take refuge in a boathouse during a thunderstorm.

Throughout the day, Lucy notes that her poet sees objects differently, describing them in novel ways. A strawberry is a jewel. A stone has a story. Lucy wonders how her poet hears the words she writes about her dogs. 

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