237th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 237th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s book suggested.

Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2014 Dive Into Poetry Reading Challenge because there are several levels of participation for your comfort level.

For more poetry, check out the stops on the 2013 National Poetry Month Blog Tour and the 2012 National Poetry Month Blog Tour.  And think about participating in the 2014 National Poetry Month Blog Tour — signups will begin in March.

Today’s poem is from Nikki Giovanni’s Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid (my review):

Allowables (page 109)

I killed a spider
Not a murderous brown recluse
Nor even a black widow
And if the truth were told this
Was only a small
Sort of papery spider
Who should have run
When I picked up the book
But she didn't
And she scared me
And I smashed her

I don't think
I'm allowed

To kill something

Because I am


What do you think?

Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid by Nikki Giovanni

Source: William Morrow at HarperCollins
Hardcover, 143 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid by Nikki Giovanni is a combination of essays, fantastical stories, and poems, but each is steeped in family memory, foodie love, and careful observations about the modern world.  She shares not only her passion for food and cooking with her grandmother and mother, but also the power of that food to bring people together.  Food also becomes a source of power in the book as she tells stories and engages in poetic dialogue with the reader about how fear mixed with hatred can be just as dangerous as cutting pure cocaine with other foul substances.  By the same token, a little fear can be motivational and should be sprinkled in like the spices in our food.

“We are foodies, my family and I.  My grandmother was an extraordinary cook.  Her miniature Parker House rolls have been known to float the roof off a flooded house in hurricane season.”  (page 1)

Through hyperbole, passion, and personal anecdotes, Giovanni coaxes the reader into thinking about larger issues that affect family life, from the political agenda to the curbs on human rights and war.  She urges the reader — gently and forcefully — to chase utopia (whether that’s a beer or an ideal) with all of our passion and drive because if we do not chase it, we become complacent and bored.  Her essays, stories, and poems piggyback off of one another from the discussion of mutual assistance in the Mayflower Compact to the priceless value of loving relationships.

Poets (page 74)

Poets shouldn't commit
That would leave the world
To those without imaginations
Or hearts

That would bequeath
To the world
A mangled syntax
And no love
Of champagne

Poets must live
In misery and ecstasy
To sing a song
With the katydids

Poets should be ashamed
To die
Before they kiss
The sun

Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid by Nikki Giovanni is a mixture — a hybrid — of the personal and the universal, of poetry and story, and of relationships and society that will force readers to think about their own lives, their great passions, and the world around them.  Giovanni may not be overtly striking the match to spur societal change, but she’s planting the seed and asking us to nurture its growth — even if it is just within us — to germinate our own utopia.

About the Author:

Poet Nikki Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on June 7, 1943. Although she grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, she and her sister returned to Knoxville each summer to visit their grandparents. Nikki graduated with honors in history from her grandfather’s alma mater, Fisk University. Since 1987, she has been on the faculty at Virginia Tech, where she is a University Distinguished Professor.

Visit her Website.

Book 2 for the Dive Into Poetry Reading Challenge 2014.

Mailbox Monday #248

Mailbox Monday (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  November’s host is Rose City Reader.

***Just a note to say that a poll about what the community wants to do about hosting Mailbox Monday’s meme is on the Mailbox Monday blog. Go Vote.***

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received:

1.  War’s Trophies by Henry Morant from the author for review.

Murder and robbery on a seemingly routine intelligence mission in Vietnam cause a young army officer to exact his own revenge on a band of Viet Cong turncoats and his own senior officer. The lieutenant then settles into the relatively quiet life of a Seattle editor–until the senior officer is released from prison after 20 years and unleashes his own nightmarish game of copycat revenge killings on the editor’s friends and colleagues. Meanwhile, the police suspect the editor is the Seattle serial killer. The two ex-officers wage a deadly cat-and-mouse battle to determine which one will become the war’s last trophy.

2. Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid by Nikki Giovanni for review from William Morrow.

The poetry of Nikki Giovanni has spurred movements and inspired songs, turned hearts and informed generations. She’s been hailed as a healer and a national treasure. But if her reputation is writ large upon the national stage, her heart resides in the everyday where family and lovers gather, friends commune, and those no longer with us are remembered.

And at every gathering there is food, food as sustenance, food as aphrodisiac, food as memory. A pot of beans are flavored with her mother’s sighs, this sigh part cardamom, that one the essence of clove; a lover requests a banquet as an affirmation of ongoing passion; an homage is paid to the most time-honored appetizer, soup.

What did you receive?