poetry friday roundup is here!

“You are as welcome as the flowers in May.” ~ Charles Macklin

Did you know May is National Strawberry Month? Please help yourself to some berries and a ginger shortbread cookie.

 

Hello and Happy May! Welcome to Poetry Friday at Alphabet Soup.

It’s a new month — the month of flowers, buzzing bees, birds building nests, and nature-loving free spirits dancing around a maypole with gay abandon (are you one of them)? 😀

 

Phoebe Wahl (2014)

 

I loved May Day as a child. We wore muumuu and lei to school, and in fifth grade, we learned the maypole dance for the school program. So fun to see all those colored streamers weave together.

Here are two short poems in celebration of this lovely month. Hope your days ahead are full of joy with lots of time to savor the blossoming beauty.

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“Vilma Picking Lilacs” by Tavik František Šimon (1910)

 

MAY NIGHT
by Sara Teasdale

The spring is fresh and fearless
and every leaf is new,
The world is brimmed with moonlight,
The lilac brimmed with dew.

Here in the moving shadows
I catch my breath and sing,
My heart is fresh and fearless
And over-brimmed with spring.

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“Field of Flowers” by Jo Grundy

 

FROM THE BOOK OF TIME
by Mary Oliver

I rose this morning early as usual, and went to my desk.
But it’s spring,

and the thrush is in the woods,
somewhere in the twirled branches, and he is singing.

And so, now, I am standing by the open door.
And now I am stepping down onto the grass.

I am touching a few leaves.
I am noticing the way the yellow butterflies
move together, in a twinkling cloud, over the field.

And I am thinking: maybe just looking and listening
is the real work.

Maybe the world, without us,
is the real poem.

~ from The Leaf and the Cloud (De Capo Press, 2001)

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Ben Giles (2013)

 

Now, please leave your links with the dashing Mr Linky below.  Enjoy all the poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week, and as Kahlil Gibran once said, “Be like a flower and turn your face to the sun.”

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💚 A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED & MORE GIVEAWAY WINNER! 💜

Thanks to all for your heartfelt comments and condolences about my dad’s passing. I enjoyed hearing about how your parents met, as well as your thoughts about race relations in our country.

Just so happens there were four Michelles among all the beautiful and brilliant commenters. Though M. Random Integer Generator was starry-eyed over all of them, he managed (with great difficulty) to select just one Michelle to win Janet’s book. And she is:

🌺 MICHELLE TURNER OF GOURMANDISTAN! 🌷

🎉 CONGRATULATIONS, MICHELLE! 🎈

Please send along your snail mail address so we can get the book out to you lickety split!

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Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

ruminating on janet wong’s a suitcase of seaweed & more (+ a giveaway!)

Sometimes good things can get even better.

I’ve always loved Janet Wong’s A Suitcase of Seaweed — it’s my favorite among her poetry collections. First published by Margaret K. McElderry Books in 1996, it explores her Korean and Chinese heritage and what it was like growing up in America.

When Janet was a Poetry Potluck guest back in 2012, I praised the relatable truths in A Suitcase of Seaweed, shared “Grandmother’s Almond Cookies,” and enjoyed hearing about her paternal grandparents. How wonderful to have a PoPo (grandmother) who was the “Boss of Dessert”!

In February, Janet published A Suitcase of Seaweed & More (Yuzu/Pomelo Books, 2019), which contains all 36 poems (+ 3 prose pieces) from the original book as well as lots of new text (backstories, musings, prompts). I loved learning about what inspired the poems, and appreciated the way she extended their themes and widened their contexts. I know her appealing prompts will get readers thinking, talking, maybe even writing their own poems and stories.

In “Love at First Sight,” the first of Janet’s Korean Poems from Part One, she imagines her parents in the early days of their courtship. They somehow met while her father, an American soldier stationed in Korea, would purchase fresh food for the troops from her mother’s family farm. Her mom could not speak English, and her father did not know Korean, but somehow they managed to communicate. It seems love has its own language.

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Park Hang-Ryul (1950 – )

 

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

I like to imagine Mother
when her face was full and smooth
and she wore her hair in a long braid,

and I like to imagine Father
with his crooked smile and his crooked crew cut,
wearing an American uniform,

running after her
in the narrow dirt streets
of her Korean village,

as she rushes away
laughing,
her long braid

wagging like the tail of a dog
that has found
a fresh bone.

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an easter tale starring mr cornelius and his checkmates

Happy Good Friday!

We’ve just read Tasha Tudor’s A Tale for Easter, and loved the part that said, “You can never really tell, for anything might happen on Easter.”

In the story, a little girl dreamed that a fawn took her on a magical ride through the woods and fields, where she saw  “rabbits smoothing their sleek coats for Easter morning,” “little lambs in fields of buttercups,” and “Easter ducklings swimming among the lily pads.” She even got to ride up over the “misty moisty clouds,” a place “where the bluebirds dye their feathers, and the robins find the color for their eggs.”

Mr Cornelius especially liked the part about having hot cross buns (or any other treat) on Good Friday, so he invited a few friends over for fun, food, and games. After all, it’s almost Easter, and anything might happen. 🙂

 

 

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another surprise book giveaway!

Never a dull moment around here.

Right after I announced last week’s NPM surprise book giveaway (There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth by B.J. Lee and David Opie), we were inundated with HARD STARES.

Ahem, ahem.

Firmly but ever so politely, the resident Paddingtons declared:

WE WILL NOT BE OUTDONE.

If Mr Cornelius and Blue Bear were doing a giveaway, so would they.

And so, 70-something Paddingtons are giving away a brand new copy of Soaring Earth: A Companion Memoir to Enchanted Air  by Margarita Engle, our current Young People’s Poet Laureate:

In this powerful companion to her award-winning memoir Enchanted Air, Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle recounts her teenage years during the turbulent 1960s.

Margarita Engle’s childhood straddled two worlds: the lush, welcoming island of Cuba and the lonely, dream-soaked reality of Los Angeles. But the revolution has transformed Cuba into a mystery of impossibility, no longer reachable in real life. Margarita longs to travel the world, yet before she can become independent, she’ll have to start high school.

Then the shock waves of war reach America, rippling Margarita’s plans in their wake. Cast into uncertainty, she must grapple with the philosophies of peace, civil rights, freedom of expression, and environmental protection. Despite overwhelming circumstances, she finds solace and empowerment through her education. Amid the challenges of adolescence and a world steeped in conflict, Margarita finds hope beyond the struggle, and love in the most unexpected of places.

Just released in February 2019, Soaring Earth has received **starred reviews** from Horn Book, School Library Journal and Shelf Awareness. Margarita is a master of the verse memoir and this is a beautifully crafted, powerful book!

For a chance to win, please leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EDT) Wednesday, April 24, 2019. You may also enter by sending an email with MARGARITA in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!!


Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

all aboard for the dining car!

Early Pullman dining car (late 19th century)

 

Ah, the romance of trains.

Is there anything more elegantly delicious than a freshly cooked meal served in a dining car?

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photo of Southern Railways diner by Bill Schafer (1973)

 

THE DINING CAR OF THE SOUTHERN CRESCENT
by John Campbell

The Southern Crescent
snakes its way through
the rolling fog shrouded
piedmont landscape;
a young man on spring break,
returning home from
college, crosses the creaky
passageway that leads from
Pullmans to the dining car.

Breakfast smells give rise to
an ambitious order of fresh coffee,
country ham with red eye gravy,
grits, scrambled eggs and
biscuits with blackberry jam.

The waiter, agile and accomplished,
dressed in a white starched apron,
steadies himself against the swaying
motion of the train; with serving tray
in hand and balanced, he places the
piping hot breakfast on a table decked
with a linen table cloth, pewter
creamers, thick silverware, coffee
cups and saucers and plates, etched with
a crescent moon insignia; a small
bundle of daffodils sit in a crystal
vase near the window.

The young man with the vittles before him,
relishes a feeling of adult composure
and delight. “How could life be this good?”
A breakfast fit for a king, waiters
eager to please, railway views of
rural Carolina: tenant shanties,
grazing black angus, abandoned junkyards,
brownstone depots and sleepy towns.

He, still unfamiliar with the niceties
of the wealthy elite, or even the acquired
dignities of his college
professors, avows, while pouring
coffee from a silver carafe into
a Syracuse China cup, that the
dining car of the Southern Crescent
is a place of utmost refinement.

~ from January Snow and Other Poems (Williams & Company, 2008)

 

Dining Car 3158 built by Pullman for Southern Railway in 1924. Original design featured open windows, clerestory roof, and ornate 1920’s fixtures (via TVRR).

 

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