The Olive Tree
Lily Alavi, a native of Iran who now lives in Bangor, joined us on April 3 as a guest chef in our continuing series of international dinners. More than 40 friends and their guests were treated to an impressive menu that included Mast-o Khiar (Yogurt and Cucumber Dip), Kashk-e Badenjan (Eggplant Dip), Javaher Polo (Jeweled Rice), Khoresht Havij va Alu (Chicken Stew), Eggplant and Zucchini Stew, Yakh dar Behesht (Paradise Custard), Baklava , and of course, mint tea. Every dish had a story. Javaher Polo (Jeweled Rice) provides a stunning example of this. Colorful and impressive, it is considered the king of Persian dishes and is served at weddings. The rice is garnished with orange peel, almonds, red barberries and green pistachio nuts; these represent rubies, emeralds, and other jewels. This visually stunning dish definitely set the tone for a very special evening of Persian hospitality.
Alavi reminded us that the soul of Persia lies in its rice. Those who were fortunate enough to share her hospitality and food would agree that it is also in the people.
It is difficult
to get the news from poems
Yet men die miserably everyday
of what is found there.
William Carlos Williams,
from Asphodel, That Greeny Flower
Works in Progress: a new series featuring writers reading and discussing their latest work, got off to a strong start on March 25th when Special Collections hosted three poets from the Maine literary community. Readers included: Kathleen Ellis, UM lecturer in English and the author of three collections of poetry, who is currently completing The Swimming Pool Poems. Co-editor of The Eloquent Edge: 15 Maine Women Writers, Ellis has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Maine Arts Commission, and she won Nimrod's Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize; Jennifer Anna Gosetti is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at The University of Maine. In addition to a doctorate in philosophy from Villanova, she holds an MFA in poetry from Columbia University. Her book of poems, After the Palace Burns, won The Paris Review Prize, and is due out in October. She read from a work in progress entitled Time Studies; and Sandra Hutchison, who received a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto for research on Canadian Women's Writing and a Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship for work on the literary leftwing in Canada. Her book of stories, Chinese Brushstrokes (Turnstone, 1996) was awarded an Ontario Arts' Council Grant for best manuscript and listed as a Canadian Publishers' choice book in 1996; and her poems from China were featured in the most recent Puckerbrush Review. She read from her recent poetry and from a collection of prose poems in progress entitled Ornaments.
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