The Looking Glass : New Perspectives on Children's Literature, Vol 6, No 1 (2002)

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Pig &
Pepper


Mango Mornings: The Delectable Poems of John Agard

The Cook


The Cook has been thinking a lot about change lately. The last few years have been a whirlwind of change, of John Agard's "new beginnings, doors closing and opening," both for The Cook personally and for many of the friends of The Looking Glass.

The Cook's favourite Agard verse is from the poem "Camel's Invitation": "Touch my hump and the desert will linger on your hands," because it reminds her of hiking in the Sahara and eating dates, and because it's true, as Agard writes, that "From this day on you will walk with your lips to the sky."

As Agard wrote about his experience as Poet in Residence at the BBC: "... poetry sensitises us to language and to human connectedness, so it should have a role to play in an organisation whose motto is 'And nation shall speak peace unto nation'."

It seemed natural, then, that Agard's poetry should find a place here at The Looking Glass, a place also devoted to language (in the form of literature for children) and human connectedness (in bringing together people who care about children and their books).

The Cook is often struck by the synchronicity of life. After months of searching for the Perfect Poem for the Poetry Issue, after months of trying to figure out how to tell the Fearless Editor there would be no Poetic Pig and Pepper, she sat down to a breakfast of fresh mango and tea, and opened the email. Up popped a note from the aforementioned Fearless Ed., which included the following suggestion for poetry:

"Or one of the more tropical Caribbean rhymes (John Agard?), perhaps, to use some nice mango or papaya..."

Which reminded me that there was another mango in the fridge, and a copy of Agard's marvellous collection, We Animals Would Like a Word With You, on the bookshelf -- a collection filled with rhythm and wit, two of The Cook's favourite ingredients. As you can see in poems like:

Goldfish Reflections

From this position
in my bowl
of glass
I watch time pass
like food crumbs falling slow.

A Conference of Cows

Here munching grass
Watching time pass

The Bedbugs Marching Song

Bedbugs
Have the right
To bite.

A search of the Internet turned up the poem "Windrush Child," which summarized The Cook's thoughts about change and life and mangoes in these lines:

think of storytime yard
and mango mornings

and new beginnings
doors closing and opening

will things turn out right?
At least the ship will arrive
in midsummer light

All of that munching, crunching, chewing and biting of crumbs makes one hungry.

Well.

The Cook's Recipe For a Mango Morning

Ingredients:
1 fresh mango, suitably ripe and juicy

Method:
Buy a fresh mango.
Peel and slice the mango.
Eat.
Read a poem.
Dream.
Repeat as desired.
Mango Sites

For those who want to do more complicated things with their mangoes:

http://freshmangos.com/mangorecipes/

http://www.mango.co.za/articles/category/10

John Agard Sites

John Agard at the BBC, on the website of The Poetry Society:
http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/content/archives/places/bbcagard/

Author Biography:
http://www.puffin.co.uk/nf/Author/AuthorPage/0,,1000000146,00.html

Information about John Agard at the Commonlink Web Site (a site aimed at "linking global citizens," developed by the Commonwealth Institute, the British Council and NSW Department of Education and Training)
http://www.montageplus.co.uk/commonlink/findout/agard1.htm

"The Embodiment" online:
http://www.aldeburghpoetryfestival.org/html/poemagard.htm (Note: only works in MS Internet Explorer)

Read an excerpt of an Agard poem written for The Royal Mail's Milleneum Stamps collection:
http://www.royalmail.com/dda/stamps/poetry_of_stamps/extracts.htm#2

Still hungry? In "The Calypso Alphabet," Agard wrote that r is "for roti. Eat it like bread, flatter than a bake." So of course, there's a recipe to go with it:
http://www.canteach.ca/elementary/novel14.html

 

The Cook is presently sojourning in the culinary capital of France (don't tell the Parisians, but that's actually Lyon), and trying to look elegant with fresh mango juice running down her chin.


Volume 6, Issue 1, The Looking Glass, 2002

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Mango Mornings: The Delectable Poems of John Agard" © 2002
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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680