Thursday, July 28, 2011

Progress & A Poem about Soup-Bliss

High Summer Readathon Progress...

I'm proud to report that I've finished Dante's Divine Comedy, adapted as a graphic novel by the famed artist Seymour Chwast.  His black-and-white illustrations definitely brought a darkly humorous tone to the famed narrative poem.

Also, I read the final essay in a book I've been savoring a sip at a time, local luminary Brenda Miller's Blessing of the Animals.  Now I can head over to our fantastic local bookseller to buy her new collection!

Finally, and my shining accomplishment today:  I finished Roots!!  I'm so grateful to Laura over at Booksnob for hosting the read-along that continues through mid-August.  I feel quite sure that I would never have made it through what's turned out to be a fascinating read without her solid encouragement each week.  And then, of course, there's Michelle to thank for hosting this readathon that nudged me toward the finish line!

Next up:  The Odyssey (in graphic novel form) and 200 pages of War & Peace.  Will I make it?  Fingers crossed.

And here's my Word & Question poem for this month.  It's hosted in July by Salome Ellen over at her blog, so hop on by to sample far better efforts than mine!

Bliss Soup (or what to do with all that summer bounty)

purple Signos, red Lapins,
Ewok-point shih tzus,  chestnut chickadees,
chartreuse spearmint, lavender sheets,
magenta geraniums, golden raspberries,
cloudless sky touching green fjords,
gray late sleep,  
books of assorted ripeness and heft,
occasional Arnold Palmers,
Siam star basil, and sunshine blues.

Set a pot of idle cogitation on to simmer
 (prime it with two Ts of sense memory, or two ‘turns of the pan’).

Reverently place each of your ingredients,
preferably while they’re still
verdant with potential,
on the chopping block.
Hold each down tight with your gaze
(stare intently). 
Dice, dissect, or throw each in whole –
chef’s choice -
into the broiling broth.

Simmer awhile – one hour or three –
until fully fuzzled,
the pooch, the pen,
the flower, the fjord,
tempered by variety,
each aswirl in the other,
alchemized to indistinction.

Strain the substance of this stew.
Retain the rinds,
the hulls of the summer day:
They compost well,
and the red hen will
shoulder and peck
to keep them

Season the strained broth
while it’s still warm.

Behold:  the soup should be the gold
of remembered

Word: Bliss
Question:  What's in the soup?


Enbrethiliel said...


My former students would have committed crimes worthy of Circle 7 for a graphic novel of Inferno!

And had one been widely available at the time I was teaching, I would have advised them to buy it as the primary text. (The honour students and assorted nerds would have the option of reading a good translation--or if they can, the original Italian [LOL!]--for extra credit.)

This might seem to go against my unimpressed opinion of adaptations, but in the case of great works of world literature like Inferno, I think working the imagery and values into young people's language should be the first priority. Appreciation of what Dante could do with words? Well, we Anglophiles already reading translations (which I'm almost as down on as I am on adaptations), so let's not elevate them to some canonical status!

Laurie said...

I so agree, E, about hooking young readers w/imagery first, and that's probably what I'll do with Dante, if I ever teach his works(Inferno's currently taught in Advanced Placement lit., and although I'm trained up to teach it, I haven't yet).

If I put this particular graphic text on the loaner shelf in my classroom, though, I have no doubt that it'll catch fire, so arresting is the imagery.

Ah, translation: ever an issue, and not one easily resolved.

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

Congrats on your reading and for finishing Roots! I failed miserably at Laura's read-a-long and finally had to throw in the towel. I just had too much reading on my plate. I will read it though. I've been wanting to for years.

You can do it, Laurie! You can finish that War and Peace. Rah! Rah! LOL

Lovely poem too. =O)

Ash Oldfield said...

I'm so impressed by how much you have got through in such a short space of time. Good luck with War and Peace - I get so confused with who is who in it that I gave up about a quarter of the way through. When I was a teacher I used to read it when supervising exams, and I would sit there with my mouth wide open in some of the battle scenes.

Happy reading :)

Laurie said...

M - Thanks so much for visiting today; this readathon has motivated me!
A - I'm surprised too. And guess what? I just read the graphic novel of The Odyssey! Wow. Amazing what avoiding War & Peace will inspire...
But folks, I'm riding for a fall: Today was a glorious day here (71 degrees, blue skies with a breeze, all the blueberries and cherries and raspberries ripe and ready for picking), and tomorrow I simply must take advantage of another stellar summer afternoon, so my guess is that little reading will occur. Real life trumps books. Sometimes.

Salome Ellen said...

Laurie, I really love this poem! (Despite your disclaimer over at my blog ;-D) It's the kind of thing I wish I could do; vivid images, just enough alliteration, no rhyme. It makes a picture-book story in my head, and I'd kind of like to see it illustrated, but I suspect that would detract from the open-ended feel, by making things too concrete. Thanks for playing!

Enbrethiliel said...


Laurie, I can't believe I missed your poem the first time I came to this post! I guess the idea of an Inferno graphic novel was just too distracting. ;-)

Like Ellen, I love it! The art of reading as the boiling of the perfect broth: what a glorious idea! =D I think you had an excellent pairing of prompts this month.

It's really a gorgeous poem: I don't think I could do it justice with a single reading and will be back "to taste" it again! =)

Thanks for playing again this month. I'm so glad you decided to join our game!

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