Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Thanksgiving Poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar

A Thanksgiving Poem
By Paul Laurence Dunbar

    The sun hath shed its kindly light,
    Our harvesting is gladly o'er
    Our fields have felt no killing blight,
    Our bins are filled with goodly store.

    From pestilence, fire, flood, and sword
    We have been spared by thy decree,
    And now with humble hearts, O Lord,
    We come to pay our thanks to thee.

    We feel that had our merits been
    The measure of thy gifts to us,
    We erring children, born of sin,
    Might not now be rejoicing thus.

    No deed of ours hath brought us grace;
    When thou were nigh our sight was dull,
    We hid in trembling from thy face,
    But thou, O God, wert merciful.

    Thy mighty hand o'er all the land
    Hath still been open to bestow
    Those blessings which our wants demand
    From heaven, whence all blessings flow.

    Thou hast, with ever watchful eye,
    Looked down on us with holy care,
    And from thy storehouse in the sky
    Hast scattered plenty everywhere.

    Then lift we up our songs of praise
    To thee, O Father, good and kind;
    To thee we consecrate our days;
    Be thine the temple of each mind.

    With incense sweet our thanks ascend;
    Before thy works our powers pall;
    Though we should strive years without end,
    We could not thank thee for them all.

From our Tea & Poetry Book Club family to yours,

Monday, November 16, 2015

Celebrating the Birthday of American Poet Craig Arnold

Image credit: Associated Press
Today we celebrate the birthday of Craig Arnold (November 16, 1967 – April 27, 2009). He was an American poet and professor. His first book of poems, Shells (1999), was selected by W. S. Merwin for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. His many honors include the 2005 Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize Fellowship in literature, The Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship, an Alfred Hodder Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, an NEA fellowship, and a MacDowell Fellowship. Please enjoy his poem Meditation on a Grapefruit as we commemorate him today! And while you're at it, go grab yourself a nice hot cup of tea!

Meditation on a Grapefruit
By Craig Arnold

To wake when all is possible
before the agitations of the day
have gripped you
                    To come to the kitchen
and peel a little basketball
for breakfast
              To tear the husk
like cotton padding        a cloud of oil
misting out of its pinprick pores
clean and sharp as pepper
                             To ease
each pale pink section out of its case
so carefully       without breaking
a single pearly cell
                    To slide each piece
into a cold blue china bowl
the juice pooling       until the whole
fruit is divided from its skin
and only then to eat
                  so sweet
                            a discipline
precisely pointless       a devout
involvement of the hands and senses
a pause     a little emptiness

each year harder to live within
each year harder to live without

Source: Poetry (October 2009)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Celebrating the Birthday of American Poet, Karl Shapiro

Karl Shapiro, Manhole Covers, American Poet
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Today we celebrate the birthday of American poet, Karl Shapiro (November 10, 1913-May 14, 2000). We invite you to enjoy his featured poem for today, Manhole Covers.

Manhole Covers
By Karl Shapiro

The beauty of manhole covers--what of that?
Like medals struck by a great savage khan,
Like Mayan calendar stones, unliftable, indecipherable,
Not like the old electrum, chased and scored,
Mottoed and sculptured to a turn,
But notched and whelked and pocked and smashed
With the great company names
(Gentle Bethlehem, smiling United States).
This rustproof artifact of my street,
Long after roads are melted away will lie
Sidewise in the grave of the iron-old world,
Bitten at the edges,
Strong with its cryptic American,
Its dated beauty. 

He was appointed the fifth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1946. Poems from his earlier books display a mastery of formal verse with a modern sensibility that viewed such topics as automobiles, house flies, and drug stores as worthy of attention.

According to
Shapiro experimented with more open forms, beginning with The Bourgeois Poet (1964) and continuing with White-Haired Lover (1968). The influences of Walt Whitman, D. H. Lawrence, W. H. Auden and William Carlos Williams were evident in his work. 
Shapiro's interest in formal verse and prosody led to his writing multiple books on the subject including the long poem Essay on Rime (1945), A Bibliography of Modern Prosody (1948), and A Prosody Handbook (with Robert Beum, 1965; reissued 2006). 
His Selected Poems appeared in 1968. Shapiro also published one novel, Edsel (1971) and a three-part autobiography simply titled, "Poet" (1988–1990). Shapiro edited the prestigious magazine, Poetry for several years, and he was a professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he edited Prairie Schooner, and at the University of California, Davis, from which he retired in the mid-1980s. 
His other works include Person, Place and Thing (1942), (with Ernst Lert) the libretto to Hugo Weisgall's opera The Tenor (1950), To Abolish Children (1968), and The Old Horsefly (1993). Shapiro received the 1969 Bollingen Prize for Poetry, sharing the award that year with John Berryman.
Happy Birthday Karl Shapiro!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Have You Tried Tea Eggs?

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Have you had a tea egg? That's right, a tea egg. This Chinese savory snack is also known as marble egg. The process takes a pre-boiled egg which is cracked and boiled again in tea along with other spices. Cracks in the egg shell create marble-like patterns. These flavorful eggs are a traditional Chinese food and are commonly sold by street vendors, night markets and Asian restaurants.

Many regions such as Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia create tea eggs to adapt to their native palates. For the best results, it is recommended that the eggs be allowed to steep for several hours or longer. These eggs are traditionally eaten cold. If you have tried tea eggs please share your experience with us.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ode To Autumn, a poem by John Keats

Today we are serving up the poem, Ode To Autumn, by John Keats. Pour yourself a cup of tea and fall into the arms of this poetic autumn salutation!

Ode To Autumn
By John Keats

    Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
    With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
    To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
    And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
    And still more, later flowers for the bees,
    Until they think warm days will never cease,
    For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.


    Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
    Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
    Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
    Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
    Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
    Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
    Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
    And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
    Steady thy laden head across a brook;
    Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
    Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.


    Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
    Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,
    While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
    And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
    Among the river sallows, borne aloft
    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
    Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
    The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.