April is National Poetry Month ~ and National Poetry Writing Month.  


NaPoWriMo for short.

And it’s a crowd-pleaser.

images NaPoWriMo began in 2003. Poet Maureen Thorson decided to take up the challenge (modeled after National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo) and invited other poets to join her. Since then, the number of participants has grown larger every year, and many writers’ organizations ~ local, national and even international ~ host NaPoWriMo activities. robert_lee_brewer_hs I’m celebrating here ~  at Poetic Asides, a website hosted by Robert Lee Brewer, senior editor at Writer’s Digest. It’s the 2014 April PAD Challenge, a poetic bacchanal. BYOP, of course. The “PAD” stands for “poem-a-day.” So each and every morning, there’s a new poetry prompt. Brewer throws out a life preserver along with it ~ his own attempt at the prompt (wished for and welcome), then it’s my turn. And yours. There are plenty of poemming days left. Post as few or as many times as you like. logo-napowrimo You can read the poetry, wallow in it, share it with your writing group, spread it across your social network. There are so many doors to open ~ start anywhere, walk ‘write’ in. images But if you want to be considered by a ream of genuine poet-judges for publication in the Poem Your Heart Out anthology, you need to post your poem in the comments. It’s free and easy ~ the prompts (open to space-warpingly vast interpretations) magically appear each morning.

Click here~   http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides.

…. imagesSo, it’s now Day 16 of the April PAD Challenge and it’s been downright envibing so far.  I am inspired by the poets, a neighborly, infectiously upbeat bunch. They gave me the idea to put some rocking’ glad rags on my iambs and start a brand new blog.  mental crumbs gives my poems some stylin’ and profilin’ in honor of National Poetry Month.


So, add some poetry to your site (or create a new one right here at WordPress), tag your post with NaPoWriMo, and have some sure-fire fun.



Toni 4/16/14


Emily Dickinson, the Poet Foodie

Tuck in your napkins, people.  Today’s post is all about food.  Food in verse, that is.


Sometimes poetry is more than just poetry.

The Hungry Ear is a collection of poems that celebrates the pleasures and sorrows of food.  Kevin Young cooked up, er, edited this book.  He says that, much like the best meals, the best poems are made from scratch.

I like the sound of that.  It’s the way we do things in my kitchen. Fatto a mano.

My Grandmother made braciole.  I bet poet Joseph Bathanti’s did, too.

Braciole is a Sicilian dish and, yes, it starts with a hammer.  Unless you have a butcher in the village like Lina’s.


Braciole by Joseph Bathanti 

With the cast iron claw


silver in endless

bouts of fire, forged
in Manfredonia,

by my blacksmith
grandfather, Paolo
Battiante, arrived

at Ellis Island
on the Luisiana,
out of the province

of Foggia, 1907,
where his name
was altered, like so many,

the hammer secreted
in his tunic –
my mother pounds

on butcher block
flank steak to temper,
then lays on each softened tongue

olive oil, garlic, parsley,
salt and pepper, before
trussing them into scrolls

bound with string
from Stagno’s Bakery,
and dropping them

into the incarnadine majesty
of the sauce to roil
the rest of our lives. Amen.




Here’s a Poetic à la carte menu to whet your appetite ~  

Butter   http://www.poetryfoundation.org/features/audioitem/1902

To Eat of Meat Joyously  http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poems/eat-meat-joyously

Speed and Perfection http://www.phys.unm.edu/~tw/fas/yits/archive/hirshfield_speedandperfection.html

Artichoke  http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoem.do?poemId=7611


Food is pop culture. It’s who we are.  It sustains us.  It connects us.  So does poetry.

Finally, an Homage to Guacamole. Make some today. If the timid-but-stormy Clownfish is torqued to the limit, tomorrow we’ll be dunking in the dark.

Do you have a favorite food poem?

Or one you wrote from scratch?

Toni 2/6/13


Last May, WWWW walked to work (and back) with the spirit of Wallace Stevens. Because his poetry is regarded as “extremely technical and thematically  complex”, Stevens is sometimes considered a willfully difficult poet. But he is a provocative thinker, as we discovered while trying to parse the meaning of “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” on a bedazzling spring day in Hartford, CT.

In honor of this maximum brilliant poet, we invite you to walk with us.   Happy Birthday, Wally.


Eleanor Roosevelt once said that it was important to do something every day that scared you.  But I prefer Anna Quindlen’s advice ~ she thinks that we need to surprise ourselves everyday, with surprises that arrive “through happy happenstance, doodles on the to-do list of life.”  The latest surprise for WWWW ~ a trip to Hartford, CT.


The best thing about our trip to Hartford?  All the belly laughs over thin men and bawdy wenches, the snorting with laughter at our birding skill ~ and oh, the words, the words!


We drove to 118 Westerly Terrace in Hartford, CT and walked to work with Wallace Stevens.  Well, kind of.  A Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Stevens died in 1955 but the organization, Friends and Enemies of Wallace Stevens, keep his legacy alive though The Wallace Stevens Walk. (A poet with enemies? Business colleagues say he was a bit gruff and would sometimes answer long technical letters with a letter back that tersely stated, “No.”)

We retrace the steps of the insurance guy who had feet in two worlds, making his daily roundtrip, a two-and-a-half mile trek, on neighborhood sidewalks where he composed much of his poetry. The story goes that the businessman/poet was pretty tall, hulking almost, and somewhat overweight. (I’m thinking ~ Really? With all that walking?) He’d be spotted lumbering along, head bowed, then stopping to back up a few paces and repeat his steps.  WWWW thinks he must have been working out the tricky rhythm of the words in his mind.  In the steely shadow of the blackbird, we follow a series of stones along the twists and turns of concrete.  We see what Wallace Stevens saw, through his roving eyes, his thirteen ways of looking.


Trust me, the WWWW touristas got a gray-matter workout.  We became one with the birds.  In 13 stanzas and 246 words.

We actually walked the series of stones twice, backwards and forwards, pursuing the dream with an interlude at Ambrogio’s Capital View Deli to devour wraps and sandwiches, then have a look at the statue of Alice Cogswell.


C’mon, walk with us up Asylum Avenue.  Steven’s poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, is engraved on a series of stones beginning here, at the Hartford Insurance Group, where he worked for 39 years. We search the horizon for twenty mountains in vain.

Stone I

Just behind a black iron fence at Asylum Hill Congregational Church (Mark Twain’s church, by the way) is Stone II.

Stone III is located in front of the Hartford Conservatory.


On a small lawn at a branch of the Hartford Credit Union, we are of four minds as to what Wally is thinking.

Stone 4


Close to the road, right in front of the huge St. Francis Hospital, is Stone V.

There’s plenty of bird noise to prompt an avian investigation.  So we hunt for its source.  Is it a Rusty Blackbird?  a Tri-colored Blackbird? No, wait, wait, it’s a….BirdGuard Pro?!?!?!?

Stone VI is in front of the Greater Hartford Classical Magnet School.
(Here we experience a minor distraction as we desperately attempt to be interviewed and filmed by a local news crew.)


Stone VII is on what feels like the boundary between urban and suburban.  I wonder if Stevens noticed it, too, as he strode to and fro.


Across from the Connecticut Historical Society Museum is Stone VIII.


Set alongside the driveway of a massive brick mansion behind a black iron gate, this stanza on Stone IX alludes to the Stevensian circles we are going in, trying to decipher the meaning of his words.


Set on a slope in front of yet another manse, across from Steven’s favorite haunt, Elizabeth Park, is Stone X.


Stone XI is on the corner of Terry Road,

an odd one-way/two-lane road divided by a grassy median.


Now we’re on Westerly Terrace and nearing “home.”  Not far, as the blackbird flies.

Stone XII


In the grass in the median in front of Steven’s home is the final stone in the series. During the entire walk, we see and hear cardinals, wrens, chickadees, and bluejays.  But it’s the blackbirds we came for. And thirteen ways of looking at them.

The Wallace Steven House

Stone XIII

After we eye the sky one last time, we hop in the car and ask Siri to find us a coffee shop.  We’re so ready for a jolt of Java. So grab yourself a cup and have some fun with this link to a clever interactive version by Edward Picot ~ just another doodle on the to-do list of life.    http://www.edwardpicot.com/thirteenways/

Toni 5/19/12