Monthly Archives: January 2013

Food, Glorious Food

Check out my review of Optimist Club cookbook in Myrtle Beach Sun Times today.

Homespun compilations such as these are  often treasure boxes of great recipes–some developed in families or communities,  some saved from times past and updated.

Have you made a recipe book of your family’s favorites? Consider it–more on that in coming weeks.


Preparing to Teach Poetry

Preparing to Teach Poetry.

Preparing to Teach Poetry

Getting ready to teach my poetry seminar at the library.

So excited about it! To be in the presence of children as they create is a very exciting thing!

I see myself as more of a guide, introducing them to their own creativity than a teacher, tho I will pass on to them any technique I have learned and certain aspects of poetry that can be”learned”. Mostly tho we will experience the creative process together.

Crissy, librarian at Hickman shared this book with me–if I had a textbook for the course, this is the book I would choose–it is written by Sharon Creech, award -winning children’s author of Walk  Two Moons.

The title of the book is Love That Dog and it explores poetry through the eyes of a reluctant poet, first as he learns to appreciate poetry, then to write it, then to share.

It is a small masterpiece.

Sunday is for Poets!!!

Sunday afternoon is the day the Brunswick County Poetry group meets. How fitting that the review of Alice Osborn’s book “After the Steaming Stops” ran in the Sun News.

Check it out–she is great!

What did you charge for that? Nothing??? What was it worth?

As a writer, I rarely write for free unless it is to publicize my book or the work of a friend–occasionally, a poem or story that has not been picked up for pay slips into a free mag because I want readers.

As a performer, I am often ASKED TO PERFORM WITHOUT CHARGE. That is a different matter. Here , in the world of performance, I often donate a performance for a worthy cause, to serve my community, to serve children, to serve (in the case of a workshop I am doing locally this winter) the cause of introducing children to performing and writing.

I have learned to pick causes and venues I love, that please me because I have learned that often, agreeing to perform free means you are not valued. That does not matter (in the case of the library workshop, they DO value me–in fact, so much I am humbled since I feel it is beyond my worth). I have to value what I am doing and the experience , That is the criteria–why? SO I can be a cheerful giver.

So, send your nine-year olds to Hickman Library in Calabash NC Tuesdays , starting Feb 12 to get an introduction to how to read, write, and read your own poetry.  I will be leading more than teaching, along with Amy Duncan one of the very talented and committed librarians who works there.

Our goal for those who come? To enjoy poetry and to see the library as a place for fun!

And it’s free!!! Why free? Because we hope that it will be beyond price!


Italian Onion Soup Inspired by a Recipe by Sara Moulton

Last week’s newspaper included an “Italian Onion Soup” by Sara Moulton, someone I admire in the food world.

So, I tried it–well, that is, being Italian, I used her recipe as a guide and came up with one of my own. A key factor in her soup is the use of a poached egg instead of the usual swiss cheese and crouton topping for the soup.

She wanted you to poach the egg in boiling water with some vinegar in it–I used an egg poacher. These litte pans are great! Ours can do six eggs at once but you can get smaller ones for not too much money. You could adapt further and do an over-easy egg to put on top, but that would add grease.

Here is my recipe, with thanks to Sara Moulton (serves 4)

3 pieces of thick-sliced bacon

3 pounds of onions sliced thin–I used two vidalia medium sized and three standard yellow

2 T flat parsely

3 cans (15 oz) of beef broth, low sodium. I use swanson’s because there is no MSG

1/2 cup white wine

3 T olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

8 slices of whole wheat baguette, toasted for serving on side

pecorino romano cheese

four eggs to poach


In a dutch oven, saute the bacon. When bacon is done, remove to dish, leaving grease at bottom. Add the onions to the grease along with the olive oil and simmer slowly for about twenty minutes. Keep dutch oven covered but stir frequently. When onions are soft add the broth and the  wine.  Uncover and let cook, even boil a bit for about twenty minutes. Let the soup rest for an hour or so and then heat to serve. While soup is reheating, poach the eggs. Spoon into bowls, add a poached egg to each bowl. Before serving crumble bacon and sprinkle some pecorino romano over each egg. The whole wheat “toasts”  should be served on the side.

Sara’s recipe calls for red wine and more of it. I like a lighter version, This soup has more onions to the bowl than my sister-in-law’s French Onion Soup recipe.

This  is a bit more rustic. I made it even more rustic with the whole wheat bread.


A Day to Remember and look ahead

We look to the past in order to pave the way to a better future.

Today is a day to remember the goals Martin Luther King put before us, including a nation united in equality of opportunity. This should pave the way for a stable, exciting, future for all of us. It’s a a double teachable moment today, with the innauguration taking place –a democracy peacefully putting in a new president.

Get to the Heart of It! NC Poet, Alice Osborn shares why she writes

In the course of a review of Alice’s latest poetry collection, After the Steaming Stops, I asked her a few questions about why she writes. She was kind enough to talk freely about her creative process. I could only use a sentence or two in my review, so I asked her if I could share the entire review with my blog readers. (Check upcoming issues of Readers’ Corner in the Myrtle Beach Sun News for the review.) Here it is:
Joan: When did you start writing poetry?

Alice: I officially started in 8th grade in English class—we made a collection of our poems about nature and I watercolored many of the pages. My favorite poem was entitled, “Why the Wild Geese Fly” and I created a poem about the expanding universe after modeling from another poem. In 10th grade I won 2nd place in my school’s poetry contest—I still have the trophy! It was a three-page epic poem about the death of King Arthur. After high school I stopped writing poetry until I was in my mid-twenties, then started up again in my early thirties when I remembered the violent death of a high school friend of mine. I wrote a poem about her and it was named Honorable Mention in NC State’s annual poetry contest. Nothing took stop me after this! Later that same year I self-published my first book of poems, Right Lane Ends, with Catawba Publishing Company in 2006. I wrote all of the poems in Right Lane Ends over the course of just four months from April to August 2006. Talk about a real burst of creativity! My poems emerged from auditing a summer poetry class at NC State and taking a one-week intensive women’s poetry workshop. After I wrote these twenty or so poems, I had them edited and reviewed by my wonderful weekly poetry group. Then I consulted with my boss at the time who was a self-published author herself, and she gave me the confidence to call up Catawba and work up the contract. At the time I had also scheduled my book’s book launch for October 13th at our favorite local coffee shop so I knew that I had to get order my books by Labor Day so I could get my books delivered a few days before the launch—and it happened!
Joan: You write and teach several genres (pls name) –what do you especially like about writing and reading poetry?

Alice: I teach memoir all the way from beginning to advanced as well as memoir editing

Fiction and fiction editing

Comedy writing

Marketing and publicity for writers

are some of my offerings in 2013. I also write book reviews for Pedestal Magazine and have written nonfiction articles and personal essays.

I like reading and writing poetry for the challenge—it’s not easy and it’s not for everyone. I especially like when I discover what the poet’s trying to say in as few words as possible. I also love studying song lyrics for the cool phrases I can pinch out—one of my favorite lines is from Matchbox Twenty’s debut album, Yourself Or Someone Like You on the song “Girl Like That.” Rob Thomas sings “I’m same old trailer trash in new shoes.” Wow! Rob is saying a whole lot about himself and his past in 7 words.
Joan: Who are your fave poets?

Alice: I love male poets!

Robert Louis Stevenson

Walt Whitman

Robert Frost

Yusef Komunyakaa

Ai (OK, the exception)
Joan: Over what time period did you write the poems in this book?
Alice:Over four years. The youngest poems were from the fall of 2011 and the oldest from the summer of 2007 when I ventured to the Iowa Summer Writing Festival at the University of Iowa in Iowa City to study poetry with Juliet Patterson. Juliet still leads me and several other poets in a monthly correspondence class. I still had several “extra” poems from Unfinished Projects, which came out a year before After Steaming that didn’t fit—the poems in Unfinished revolve around the theme of houses and home. So I threw them into After Steaming. All of my poems in my book are narrative poems about love’s flare-ups and endings. They are mostly true stories of what happened to me as a three-, eight -or ten-year old and how inappropriate my parents acted with me. As a kid, I remembered these incidents, locked them into my head so one day I could write about them. All of the quotations from my folks are real. Some poems weigh more on the father than the mother to give them equal time and I’m sympathetic with both. As I mentioned before I also love to write about death! I also have two historical poems about a near death and a death and how they affected me. My poem “Early” is about a train engineer who kills someone on the tracks just because he was doing his job. I got the idea from that poem by reading the paper. The article said that over the course of a train operator’s career they will kill three people, on average.


Joan: How long did it take you to find a publisher?

Alice: I got lucky! I had known M. Scott Douglass, the publisher/editor of Main Street Rag since 2005 because he was a regular vendor at the all of the NC Writers’ Network (NCWN) conferences. In the spring of 2008 he published “Carport Carpenter” in his quarterly magazine and he knew who I was because I regularly submitted to his chapbook contest every May. I saw him at the Spring NCWN Conference and told him I would submit again to his contest. He gave me a few tips on how to pick a theme and a title. Then later that summer, while I was on vacation, I got an email from Scott asking me to send him my manuscript because the judges hadn’t selected me for a top spot. I happened to have my flash drive and the rest is history! Unfinished Projects, which contains “Carport Carpenter,” was published December 2010.



Joan: What does the title phrase mean–is it after the partying as in military terms or is there another meaning?

Alice: I got the title of my book, After the Steaming Stops from an Aunt Jemima waffle box—if you check out the instructions on the back you’ll see some of the boxes say, “Bake until the steaming stops” after you’ve poured the batter into a hot waffle iron.  I love to make waffles on Sunday mornings and came across this phrase—and thought, “how intriguing.” I changed it to “After the Steaming Stops,” to reveal what happens after the anger and after the love is gone. Many of my poems use domestic imagery and I also wanted the title to have an element of danger—which is steaming. Steam will burn you and it can also melt your love. Love is represented by the frozen popsicle heart that’s being lowered via a ladle into the pressure cooker. In this case steam, one of the three states of water, is a metaphor for love in my book. Some love is solid (you know it’s unconditional), some liquid (it flows all around you and you know it’s there), some is steam (it’s in the vapors and you don’t know if it really even exists).
Joan: Why should ordinary people read poetry–what does it do for us

Alice: Poet Betty Adcock says, “Literature teaches us how to live,” and I want to add that so does poetry. We learn that people who lived hundreds of years before us loved, laughed, feared and suffered. We learn that they were human beings too and not the stiff folks from history books. Poetry provokes us and makes us look inward so we see the world differently. Many adults are afraid of poetry, mostly because they think they’re too dumb to get it and don’t want to read something that’s hard. This isn’t true, of course. They need to set aside their fears and go to a poetry reading with a friend and open up their minds. That’s why I host so many events and poetry readings in non-threatening venues where there’s lots of wine and chocolate! Non poets can experience the poetry of me and my friends and feel comfortable that poetry is of this world—it’s not separate and formal.

More about Alice:

Alice Osborn, M.A. is the author of three books of poetry, After the Steaming Stops (Main Street Rag, 2012), Unfinished Projects (Main Street Rag, 2010) and Right Lane Ends (Catawba, 2006) and is the editor of the anthology, Tattoos (Main Street Rag, 2012); her past educational and work experience is unusually varied and now it feeds her strengths as an editor who makes good writers great authors. Alice teaches creative writing all over the country where she uses sensory images and road-tested prompts to stimulate her students’ best work. Her pieces have appeared in the News and Observer, The Broad River Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Soundings Review and in numerous journals and anthologies. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband and two children and three parakeets: Woodbird, Birdstein and Perry. Visit her website at


AFTER THE STEAMING STOPS is her most recent collection of poetry; previous collections are Right Lane Ends, and Unfinished Projects. The latter prompted these remarks from author Homer Hickam: “I love Alice’s poetry.  She gives me thoughts I’ve never thought, and dreams I’ve never dreamed.  She uses words like a master potter—molding the clay of the mind into vessels that hold not things, but life, place, and time.”  AFTER THE STEAMING STOPS seems a book more of broken dreams than of new or unexpected ones.  There is no sentimentality in the face of death, departures, endings: “Loss reminds you about change, / and what you are willing to throw away.” The funeral of a princess becomes backdrop for a more intimate loss, and tears betray determination more than grief: “… I cry for another death coming. / It’s time for me to move out of his place, / tell him what he’s afraid to say, / and take his fat cat and a few towels in the parting.”


OK, so it’s not Wednesday

Food day was yesterday and we were on our way back from Durham, NC where we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Nana’s on Monday night and a great lunch at the Nasher on Tuesday where we fed our cultural appetites as well with the Matisse exhibit.

Nana’s had a level of food you cannot even buy for home preparation–Joe’s venison and my red snapper were outstanding!

Nasher shared their recipe for quinoa salad with me–olive oil, pepper, salt, dill, red bell pepper and cucumber–of course some water too–they made an excellent curried chicken wrap in spinach wrap using yogurt instead of mayo–I plan to try that too.

Art–Add it to your menu

Of course you put your children’s artwork up. But what about introducing them to the great masters? Even if you don’t live in a city where great art is on display, you can add art to the menu by taking high quality art books out of the library and oouring over them withyoru chld. Buiy postcards of art and put them up in the child’s room. Right alongside the posters and other “kiddie” items.

Art lets us breathe new air. It takes us into new visual worlds and stimulates the mind. The leaps of imaginatio  great scientists make are often compared to the leaps of imagination made by an artist. So, give your child a math and science boost–take him or her to an art exhibit today–online, in a book or in real life (best if you can).