I’ve been using J. Kenji-Lopez-Alt‘s recipes for some time now, since my son told me about the Food Lab and Serious Eats. This year, we had our holiday dinner on Saturday, but some family arrived on Wednesday. It didn’t seem fair that they’d miss all the leftovers, so I decided to make a small turkey on Wednesday, have a couple of days of turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey pot pie, before the big day.
I’ve seen Kenji’s posts about spatchcocking the turkey, cutting the backbone out, flattening it and cooking it splayed on a rack over a cookie sheet. But he also had a post about cooking a whole turkey with a baking steel. Continue reading “The great turkey test” →
I was looking for a poem that was appropriate for thanksgiving, but not too sentimental. This one seemed to fit the bill.
Not because of victories
but for the common sunshine,
the largess of spring. Continue reading “Something not too soppy…” →
When we were in St. Petersburg, we noticed that the people in the street seemed generally depressed. When we talked about this, Larry commented that there was not a lot of opportunity in Russia, “You don’t see people lining up at the borders trying to get in,” was how he put it.
Today, Larry read an article in the paper that posited that acting happy influences people to feel happier. “Maybe we should tell that to the Russians,” he suggested.
I rarely post poems by 19th century poets, preferring to stay with the contemporary. But in this poem by John Keats, if you simply substitute modern pronouns for “thy” and “thine” and “thou,” seems to me it could have been written tomorrow.
And Keats, 1795 – 1821, is just barely a 19th century poet. This poem is almost 200 years old.
The Living Hand
Continue reading “Keats” →
Gerald Stern, born in 1925, will be here reading in Albany on this Friday evening at St. Albans’ Church. I’ve always wanted to meet him, as my family name is Stern, and he looks very much like a relative. Here’s one of his poems that I particularly like: Continue reading “Gerald Stern” →
Many modern hens are too refined to set on a nest of eggs and hatch chicks. The instinct to get “broody” is bred out of them, because they stop laying. Commercial farmers would rather mange egg production and incubation. Continue reading “Meanwhile, back on the farm” →
So many writers and artists have had to leave their country for political reasons. In his wonderful, strange novel, Love and Garbage, the Czech writer, Ivan Klima (translated by Ewald Osers) articulates the problems of exile succinctly. He is at a party at a university in the United States:
“…they all turned out to be pleasant to me and full of smiles as Americans are, and with varying degrees of urgency they asked me to explain what on earth possessed me to want to leave their free and wealthy country to return home, to a poor and unfree country, where they’d probably lock me up or send me to Siberia. I tried to be equally pleasant. I conjured up some kind of patriotism, some kind of mission, until I hit on a convincing explanation. I said that back home people knew me. Even if I had to sweep up garbage in the streets I would be for them what I was, what I wanted to be to the exclusion of anything else, a writer, whereas here, even if I could drive around in my little Ford, I would always be just one of those immigrants on whom a great country had taken pity. These were my boastful words. In reality I wanted to return home, to the place where there were people I was fond of, where I was able to speak fluently, to listen to my native language.”
Continue reading “The immigrant writer” →
If you are lucky in your life, you have a chance to meet a larger-than-life spirit, one whose presence becomes an ongoing inspiration. Galway Kinnell was that for me. I met him at a time in my life when I was consumed by work and family and hadn’t written a poem in years. It was the first night of the first poetry workshop at Squaw Valley Community of Writers (1986). He was in charge, and after dinner he explained that we needed to write a poem and submit it by 8 am for the next day’s workshop. He was welcoming, matter of fact, made the impossible seem possible.
The spirit of that workshop–the idea that after you read your poem, someone immediately jumps in and says something they like about it, that no one offers criticism unless asked, that discussion focuses on what is working in the poem–leads to better work from everyone. The self-censorship that is the enemy of good work diminishes. I’ve written some of my best poems at Squaw Valley, and Galway’s spirit lingers still.
Here I am, with Sharon Olds, Brenda Hillman and a woman whose name I’ve forgotten on the last night of the last time he was there.
I’ve posted poems of his before: St. Francis and the Sow, Blackberry Eating, Weaving the Morning, Everyone Was in Love… but here’s one I haven’t posted:
On the tidal mud, just before sunset,
dozens of starfishes
were creeping. It was
as though the mud were a sky
and enormous, imperfect stars
moved across it as slowly
as the actual stars cross heaven.
All at once they stopped,
and, as if they had simply
increased their receptivity
to gravity, they sank down
into the mud, faded down
into it and lay still, and by the time
pink of sunset broke across them
they were as invisible
as the true stars at daybreak.