Thursday, January 28, 2016

Paradise Drive

According to the Marin Independent Journal, poet Rebecca Foust studied sonnets intensely for two years before writing Paradise Drive, and even wrote her grocery lists in sonnet form for practice.  Published in 2015, this collection features 80 contemporary sonnets, and won the Press 53 Award for Poetry.

What is a sonnet?  Truthfully, I have not thought about sonnets in years, and had to refresh my memory with some quick, online searches.  Simply put, a sonnet is a song.  In terms of structure, a sonnet is a fourteen-line poem written in iambic pentameter. The two basic sonnet forms are the Petrarchan and the Shakespearean (from poets.org).  Paradise Drive features modern sonnets that tell the story of Pilgrim, the narrator and persona of these poems.  I may as well define Pilgrim as well.  A pilgrim (from the Latin peregrinus) is a traveler who is on a journey to a holy place. Often this is a physical journey to some place of special and/or religious significance (definition from Wikipedia).  It can also refer to a metaphorical journey.  This is an apt description of the persona in Paradise Drive, Pilgrim, who has traveled from Altoona, PA to Marin County, CA, and is now on a different sort of journey.

This collection of work is introduced by Tom Lombardo, the Press 53 Poetry Series Editor.  The first sonnet in Paradise Drive is titled Paradise Drive.  It describes the colors and physical beauty of Marin County, of Phoenix Lake and Mt. Tam, a natural paradise.  In the next poem, though, we meet Pilgrim, and we feel the angst.  She lives in a large house, and her children are gone; she is an empty-nester. (Hopefully, Rebecca Foust does not hate this term; I'm not sure how I feel about this term; my kids are not living at home right now, although my college-age daughter, my youngest, is a freshman in college, and comes home during breaks.)

In Cocktail Party (and also in Another Party, Another Bathroom), Pilgrim describes being at a party and escaping to the bathroom so that she can read in peace; books and reading provide solace from the surrounding superficiality, and indicate Pilgrim's quest, for something deeper.  These sonnets are humorous and intelligent.  Party Etiquette (1. Remain Upbeat and Polite) has a sardonic tone, in contrast to the "Tupperware optimistic" of PTA moms.  In the sonnet, The Quest, Pilgrim searches for something more elusive, "Maybe the chance to do an angstrom of good, make beauty or protest or laughter". At this stage in her life, Pilgrim does not want or need things.  She has done well financially and is comfortable.  Pilgrim cares about her inner life, and she wants her time to be valuable and meaningful, not frivolous.  In Party On, she laments "the fear of falling in love with it all", because she is content but doesn't want to become complacent--she wants something deeper and more meaningful. 

While reading this collection, I wondered if the book was autobiographical.  I found out (in the same Marin Independent Journal article referred to above) that the book is semi-autobiographical; Rebecca Foust says that 60% of it is about her, and the other 40% is "wildly" made up.  Unfortunately, the suicides of three Marin women were real. These tragic deaths inspired the poet's work, at least in part.


Over the course of several days and evenings, I read these beautiful, haunting sonnets, using a cloth butterfly as a makeshift bookmark.  Rebecca Foust succeeds in achieving what Pilgrim in the book sets out to do: to find a deeper meaning or purpose, precisely through her creative work and fulfillment as a poet.  The Notes in the back are interesting and shed more light on the background and content of these sonnets.  Rebecca Foust has certainly mastered the sonnet as a form of poetry, as a form of art.  Paradise Drive made me think about many things, and about sonnets, in a general sense.  I wondered if I still had my copy of The Sonnets by Shakespeare.  As you can see in the photo below, I found my copy, in a bookshelf.


Have you ever written a sonnet, maybe in school?  It's not an easy feat. (As we used to say in French class, c'est difficile!)  I've attempted to write a sonnet (Shakespearean), below, about Paradise Drive (which I will edit further), which will be best understood by someone who has also read the book.


Ode to Paradise Drive

Rebecca Foust's Pilgrim, like Anne Bradstreet
An idealist, an eloquent Persona
In sonnets, the poet's chosen choice
Animate Pilgrim's strong, vibrant voice.

Subjects are diverse--her "asparagus" son,
The Seven Deadly Sins (Overheard at the Party)
I read about Greed, Pride, Envy, Lust, Wrath,
Gluttony, and Sloth, I read about Dogs and Loyalty.

Pilgrim has a lot to say, that's no jive
She's risen above her Altoona past
But riches alone are not enough
Despair hovers (hidden), alongside perfection.

Life is just a party, but parties weren't meant to last
Pilgrim's quest is deep, meaningful, and vast.

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Thanks to Serena from Poetic Book Tours for inviting me to participate in this book tour.  For additional reviews and features, please visit the other stops on this tour for Paradise Drive.  I've linked this review to Serena's 2016 Poetry Challenge.  As always, your comments are welcomed!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Tahini Broccolini

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  I shop at Trader Joe's so often that I'm almost embarrassed by the frequency.  Shopping at Trader Joe's enhances my mood.  The food is high-quality and healthy, and the prices are very reasonable.  While they don't carry everything, they do have a a lot of great stuff, and much of it's organic--yay!  Additionally, the people who work at Trader Joe's are helpful and friendly, the island-themed decor is appealing, the background music is fun (gotta sing along), and the food samples are tasty (at the very least, I have a tiny cup of coffee, which fuels my after-work shopping).  I could go on and on.

Like the author of the The I Heart Trader Joe's Vegetarian Cookbook, Kris Holchek Peters, I think that Trader Joe's is the best.  I recently made a trip to Trader Joe's (luckily, we live very close to one!) to pick up a couple of things I needed to try out the Tahini Broccolini recipe from the cookbook. (I received this cookbook as a Christmas present from my sweet hubby, as mentioned in my last post.)  I needed the two most important ingredients in the recipe, broccolini and tahini sauce.

Of course, I bought more than just those two items (it's impossible to resist the tempting goodies at TJ's, many of which are now staples in our home), and I made an exciting discovery--organic coconut milk!  I will use this the next time I make curry.  But for now, here is the recipe for Tahini Broccolini.



TAHINI BROCCOLINI
Grilled in the panini press


Ingredients:
2 (8-ounce) packages of Trader Joe's Broccolini, ends slightly trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 (8-ounce) container Trader Joe's Tahini Sauce

Serves 3 - 4
 
Directions:
I've "rewritten" the directions for this simple recipe just a bit.  The basic idea is to season the broccolini with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, then to roast or grill it for about 8 - 10 minutes, until the stalks are tender (but still crisp), and to serve it with the tahini sauce.  I used 1 (8-ounce package) of Trader Joe's Organic Broccolini and about half of the 8-ounce container of Trader Joe's Tahini Sauce, as this was a side dish for two, me and my husband.  I was intrigued by the idea in the cookbook, to grill the broccolini in a panini press.  I'd never thought of doing that before.  I grill sandwiches in the panini grill, but that's about it.  Our panini press is on the small side, so I grilled the broccolini in two batches, using a medium heat.


After grilling the broccolini, I put it in a warm oven (about 250º) for a few minutes, to heat up the cold tahini sauce, and to keep the vegetables warm; then I sprinkled it with some oregano (because I can't leave well enough alone).  It really is delicious! 


This particular recipe is vegan and gluten-free.  The I Heart Trader Joe's Vegetarian Cookbook features 150 recipes, and includes a vegan version of every recipe.  I may try several other recipes from this cookbook.  The Tuscan Tomato Soup, African Peanut Stew, and Thai Lentil Simmer sound especially tempting. 

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I'm linking this post to Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads, and Foodies Read 2016, hosted by The Spirit Blog.



Thanks for reading!  Are you also a Trader Joe's fan(atic)?  Your comments are welcomed.

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