Friday, May 30, 2008

The No-Cry Sleep Solution - Elizabeth Pantley

Title: The No-Cry Sleep Solution
Author: Elizabeth Pantley
Year: 2002
Country: USA
Pages: 276
Rating: 3.45 out of 5

As the title implies, Elizabeth Pantley's book introduces a method of helping your baby get to sleep, and stay asleep, without CIO (crying it out). I picked it up for two main reasons: Maya often didn't fall asleep until 9-10pm at night, and she would only take naps on my lap or in her baby carrier. This was our situation two months ago, when she was four months old.

I can't profess to know if her method would help stop night wakings, because for us, that is not a problem. Maya still wakes 2-3 times a night, but goes right back to sleep (usually) after a quick eating session. She's a tiny baby, so I don't want to cut out the night feeds yet, and since we co-sleep it really hasn't bothered me. 

Although fairly common sense, Pantley's advice on setting up a bedtime routine was probably the most important change we made that helped Maya fall asleep. It's hard...the computer was in the same room that she sleeps, but I made a firm 'lights off, no computer' rule after 7pm. Combining this with a daily nighttime routine of bath, book, nurse, sleep...and we noticed immediate improvement. Now, Maya is almost always asleep by 8pm, and my hubby and I have a good 1-2 hours of free time at night! Furthermore, she typically wakes up for the day around 7.30am - almost 12 hours of sleep! 

Our other problem is nights. I applied the book's ideas for nighttime sleep to her daytime nap with somewhat mixed results. I sort of got Maya to sleep in the crib, but not very well (this was after two weeks of using her method) Instead, I now put her down for naps in the family bed, the same place she sleeps at night. I might go back to the book after we move and start to transition Maya to sleeping in the crib at night, but I'm not too sure how effective it will be, and I may be looking for some ideas elsewhere.

It's a good place to start, especially for any parent who does not want to use a crying-it-out method. But, I'm not entirely convinced her methods work.

Friday Fill-In May 30

1. For me cynicism is the opposite of creativity. 
2. The Blood of Flowers was the last excellent book I read. 
3. I like fill-ins because they're fun and a great source for procrastination
4. In nature I like looking at everything!.
5. Obama should win the US elections. 
6. The last time I laughed with all my belly was when Maya was making some very silly faces in reaction to my husband's antics.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to catching up on my blogroll, tomorrow my plans include going to the farmer's market and Sunday, I want to go to a festival!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Giveaway: The Blood of Flowers!

Title: The Blood of Flowers
Author: Anita Amirrezvani
Year: 2007
Country: USA/Iranian-American
Pages: 377
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

You can find the author's website here. The book was also long-listed for the 2008 Orange Prize.

First sentence: First there wasn't and then there was.

Blood of Flowers is set in 17th century Iran, and describes the journey of a young woman and her mother from a small village to the large Persian city of Isfahan. The pair are forced to migrate to Isfahan after the death of the girl's father leaves them without a dowry for her marriage. They seek out shelter and assistance in the home of a wealthy uncle. The uncle, Gostaham, is a master rug designer and colorist for Shah Abbas. Although his wife Gordiyeh treats the mother and daughter as servants, Gostaham sees a natural rug-making talent in the young girl, and begins a personal tutelage that is usually only reserved for boys.

The fourteen-year-old girl, who is never named in the novel, is a headstrong individual who tends to make rash decisions that often lead to disastrous results. One such decision puts her in a position in which she is forced to accept a sigheh--temporary marriage--to a wealthy son of a horse trader. Throughout the story, she struggles through a personal journey on many levels: arriving in an unknown city, honing her skills as a rugmaker, but most importantly, growing into a greater maturity level while staying true to her inner spirit.

The tradition of rug-making is explored in-depth, and is a delight to read about; Amirrezvani describes this rich tradition in a beautiful, insightful prose. Folktales are interspersed throughout the narrative in a style reminiscent of Arabian Nights, paying homage to Iran's rich oral tradition. One of my favorite aspects of the book is the description of the Isfahan. All of my senses were awakened with the lush descriptions of the city's great square--The Image of the World--and the adjacent bazaar filled with thousands of vendors selling food, spices, carpets, wool, shoes, leather, in a cacophony of food, culture, and entertainment.

Historical fiction is a wide, varied genre, and has its fill of not-so-great books. Blood of Flowers is definitely one of the more original stories in this genre that I have read in a while. This story is about a girl in a male-dominated culture wishing for more independence, as well as a rich description of the arts-centered Persian culture and traditions of the 17th century. The paperback edition includes a conversation with the author, where she hints at another novel exploring Iranian history. I am eagerly looking forward to her next publication! I also greatly appreciated her recommended reading appendix. I love when books include these lists, and while I have read a few on the list, and already have a few mentioned on my TBR list, there were enough new-to-me titles named to get this book lover's heart racing.
"All our labors were in service of beauty, but sometimes it seemed as if every thread in a carpet had been dipped in the blood of flowers." (p.351)
More quotes from the novel can be found in my last Sunday Salon post here.

Blood of Flowers Giveaway
The publisher was kind enough to include an extra copy of the book along with my review copy, so I will be giving away a copy to one lucky reader! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. The drawing will remain open until Friday, June 6th, at 5pm EST. You can receive an extra entry--and double your chances of winning-by linking to this giveaway on your blog. Just leave a link in the comment section. Sorry to those outside North America, but this contest is only open to those in the United States and Canada.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Baby Maya at six months!

Wow, I'm six months old!!! And just as cute as the day I was born. :)

This picture was taken the beginning of May, but I can't believe how much Maya is growing! We have started solid foods recently, and her current repetoire includes sweet potatoes, avocado, rice cereal, and banana. All homemade and organic, she's one healthy bub! We're still trying to figure out her eye color, which seems to hover somewhere between blue/grey, hazel, and brown--which pretty much covers just about all the options. :)

In the writing world, Rachel Carson was born on May 27, 1907 in Springdale, Pennsylvania. I have long admired her work, particularly Silent Spring, a book that was both groundbreaking and ahead of her time. First published in 1962 as a serial in the New Yorker, it helped to launch the environmental movement, educating the general population on the dangers of pesticide use, specifically DDT. More than 40 years later, her work maintains its relevancy, as well as both its critics and supporters. 
- this info courtesy of 'Maryland Morning' on NPR Radio, which I heard on today's broadcast.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Salon - May 25

The Sunday Salon.comI was hoping that today would be a relaxing day, with a break away from packing. And, with how the day has started, it is certainly looking optimistic! Maya woke me up today at 8.00am. I couldn't believe it! I feel lucky that she sleeps until 7.30, but this was a real treat. 

We got up, and I had one of my favorite breakfasts at this time of year when the days are warm but the mornings cool: oatmeal with strawberries and cream. The strawberries are delicious, pesticide free, and from a local farmer that really produces some sweet, delicious, beautiful strawberries (his asparagus is really good, too). The cream (actually, milk) is from Trickling Springs Dairy, comes in glass bottles, made from cows that are free-range and grass-fed and not given hormones or antibiotics. To top it off I had a cup of Eastern Shore Tea Company's Victorian Rose tea, in the little ribboned bags the company is known for. With the exception of the oatmeal, all the food came from a 50-mile radius of my home (well, the tea was probably imported, but the company is local).

And now, on to the reading. I have been taking a break from going through all of our boxes in storage, and focused on reading the last few days. I finished L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton, and am right in the middle of The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani. If I didn't have a six-month old baby (yes - she will be 6 months old tomorrow!!), I probably would have lounged around all day yesterday finishing this wonderful book.

The Blood of Flowers largely takes place in a city I know little to nothing about, Isfahan in Iran. The descriptions of 17th century life in the city are exquisite, and have spurred a bit of research on this time period in Persian history. I have also added another destination I would love to visit. The massive square at the center of the city, Naqsh-e Jahan Square, is still intact and is a UNESCO world heritage site. 
"As we walked into the square, I noticed that most of the buildings were tiled in the purest colors of sun and sky. The dome of the Friday mosque looked all turquoise from afar, but up closer I could see it was enlivened with swirling vines in yellow and white. Garlands of white turquoise blossomed on the dome of the Shah's lemon-colored mosque. The arched gateways to the mosques sprouted a profusion of tiled white flowers that looked like stars sparkling in the blue of twilight. Every surface of every building glittered with ornament. It was as if a master goldsmith had selected the most flawless turquoise, the rarest of blue sapphires, the brightest yellow topaz, and the purest of  diamonds, and arranged them into an infinity of shimmering patterns that radiated color and light." (p. 35)
On the south side of the square sits the Shah mosque, and on the eastern side is the Isfahan Grand Bazaar. The bazaar is one of the oldest and largest in the Middle East, and sounds so irresistible:
There were thousands of shops in the bazaar to answer every desire, whether for carpets, gold jewelry, silk and cotton cloth, embroidery, shoes, perfume, trappings for horses, leather goods, books, or paper, and on normal days, all kinds of foodstuffs. (p.55)
Pair this with the detailed description of persian carpet making, from creating a design, knotting the rug together, and negotiating a final price, and you could almost list this book under the Middle East travel section! I have always been disappointed that my opportunity to visit parts of the Middle East was thwarted (my study abroad program in college, Semester at Sea, had included parts of the Middle East in the itinerary until the 2000 Cole bombing caused the Suez Canal to close while we were in India, and our passage was blocked).  This book is certainly renewing my desire to head over there.

I have many friends from Iran, and Persian culture has always fascinated me. Therefore, I might have more exuberance than most over this novel, but unless the ending is thoroughly disappointing, I have a feeling I will be recommending this one to many of my friends! And, the publisher was kind enough to include an extra copy along with my review copy to giveaway on my blog, so if you think you would enjoy this book, keep an eye out for that giveaway. I will be putting my review and the giveaway up on my blog by the end of the week.

This is a longer Salon post than I usually write, but I will still end it with a few of the books I have added to my TBR list this week.

Book coveting around the blogisphere:
  • Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, reviewed by Callista at SMS Book Reviews
  • Ending Slavery: How we Free Today's Slaves by Kevin Bales, mentioned by Eva at A Striped Armchair
  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford, reviewed at Lotus Reads
  • The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton, reviewed by alisonwonderland at So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Friday Fill-In - May 23

1. On my laziest day I like to lie and bed and read all day long
2. Packing boxes for our move makes me feel like I'm being productive. 
3. I love little babies and big hugs
4. This summer I want to go to the beach as much as possible, since we will be living fairly close to the coast.
5. Reading other book review blogs and thinking, 'That would be a fun thing to do!' made me start my blog.
6. Red gala apples and orange julius are both yummy, but not together.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to hopefully watching Juno, tomorrow my plans include packing and Sunday, I want to pack some more!

Baby Shoes - Dashka Slater

Title: Baby Shoes
Author: Dashka Slater (Pictures by Hiroe Nakata)
Country: USA
Year: 2006
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

This is a very cute, fun book. Baby has brand new, white shoes, that he picked out all by himself. We follow Baby throughout the day as he tramples through plums, jumps in puddles, and plays in the grass. After each activity, a stain in a new color is added to his white shoes. 

The best part of the book is the 'refrain' that follows each mishap: Baby says, "Uh-oh!" Mama says, "Oh, no!" But those shoes just go, go, go. After reading this once with Maya, we found ourselves saying 'uh-oh's and oh-no's after each of Maya's antics. It caught on quickly, and brought quite a few laughs out of Maya. The watercolor style illustrations are beautiful and with a catchy flow, I'm sure this would be a hit for toddler-aged kids.

BTT - May 22

Books and films both tell stories, but what we want from a book can be different from what we want from a movie. Is this true for you? If so, what’s the difference between a book and a movie?

The majority of the times that I watch movies, I am looking only for entertainment. Except for the occasional documentary, I don't watch movies to learn new information. With books, although I do read for 'entertainment only' purposes at times (chick lit and mysteries come to mind), I also love non-fiction, which I read to further my knowledge about subjects that I am interested in. I also read fiction from other countries to help broaden my awareness of other places and cultures.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Sea, The Sea - Iris Murdoch

Title: The Sea, The Sea
Iris Murdoch
5 out of 5

First sentence:
The sea which lies before me as I write glows rather than sparkles in the bland May sunshine.

The Sea, the Sea starts out in the form of a journal, written by Charles Arrowby, a newly retired playwright/actor/director, who has adjourned to an old house outside a small village on the English coastline. He has decided to leave the London scene for good, and spends his time cooking simple meals--poached eggs on nettles, spring cabbage cooked slowly with dill, porridge with brown sugar and cream, and vegetarian stew--and diving into the sea for daily swims.

The beginning of the book sets this scene, describing his meals, daily activities, and his new home in an impromptu, journalistic style. Then, about 50 pages in, two things change. First, we see Charles for the first time from an outside perspective, through the letter he receives from Lizzie, an old flame. Second, Charles spots his long-lost childhood love, Hartley, in the local village. As the book shifts focus to Charles somewhat bizarre quest to destroy Hartley's marriage and re-claim her for himself, Murdoch shifts to a more straightforward narrative technique.

The opening scenes of Charles' adjusting to a life of retirement helped me as a reader to retain a semblance of sympathy for a character that becomes quite despicable. Although I detested his actions (he seems to make the wrong decision at every turn, and succeeds in lashing out at everyone around him), I could see the unacknowledged hurt and suffering that spurred him to take those actions. I really loved the gothic undertones; there were parts of the story that sent shivers down my spine and were very unnerving, in a way that most modern horror stories fail to achieve.

At one point, Charles' cousin asks him "What is the truth anyway?" And, I spent much of the novel trying to figure that out. I never did quite succeed, but I believe that is part of Iris' point. I also loved that the sea is a character itself, and we see its many emotions: cruel, gentle, and playful, amongst others, through the course of the novel. The story was very much a page turner, and I would definitely recommend it to others!

"Jealousy is perhaps the most involuntary of all strong emotions. It steals consciousness, it lies deeper than thought. It is always there, like a blackness in the eye, it discolours the world." (p.84)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday Salon - May 18

The Sunday
It has been a while since I have had time on a Sunday to both read and do a Salon post. Today I was finally able to make time during Maya's afternoon nap.

This afternoon I just finished reading The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch. I have been meaning to read one of her books ever since I saw the movie Iris a few years ago, and this one has been sitting on my bookshelf for more than a year. It may be the length that kept me away, as it is a bit of a chunkster, or a fear that my high hopes would not be met. I need not have worried, this may become one of my favorite books of the year, and I can't wait to read more of her books! 

Charles Arrowby, the main character, is not very likeable, in fact he is downright ornery, conceited, arrogant, manipulative, and foolish. Yet Murdoch sets a scene that is both a beautiful work of prose and a page turner, something I did not expect. I especially loved the incorporation of several gothic elements. I will post the full review in the next day or so.

I have had quite a few books trickling in over the last few weeks. Here are some of my most recent acquisitions. Up next is Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani, a novel that takes place in a 17th century Persian village. I received this as a review copy, plus one more to give away in a raffle, so keep your eyes out for that upcoming giveaway!

Books received by publishers or authors to review:
- Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
- Crimson Portrait by Jody Shields
- Mattland by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert (picture book)
- Cheetah Cubs and Beetle Grubs by Diane Swanson (picture book)
- The Apprentice's Masterpiece: A Story of Medieval Spain by Melanie Little
- African Psycho by Alain Mabanckou

Books bought at the Barnes and Noble bargain sale:
- The Saffron Kitchen - Yasmin Crowther
- The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany
- The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd
- Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture  by Juliet B. Schor
- Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala
- Snakes and Earrings by Hitomi Kanehara
- The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Books passed on to me by my mother-in-law:
-Brookland by Emily Barton
- The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

From Paperbackswap:
- Beirut Blues by Hanan al-Shaykh
- The Sandman Vol. 2: The Doll's House by Neil Gaiman

Right now, Maya is not so quietly asking for my attention, so I will try to get back with links to the above books later tonight. I would love to hear feedback from those who have read any of them!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Fill-In - May 16

1. There is absolutely NO way you can get me to bungee jump
2. A rise in the barometer reminds me that summer is almost here! 
3. I cannot live without my underwear. 
4. Hang gliding  and horse-back riding are two things I'd like to try.
5. When life hands you lemons, squirt them on your grilled fish.
6. Lazy summer days are my favorite childhood memory.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to reading more of The Sea, the Sea, tomorrow my plans include walking down the street to watch the Preakness horse race (we live 1/4 mile from the racetrack) and Sunday, I want to start packing!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Country: Zimbabwe/UK
Year: 1998
Pages: 235 pgs.
Rating: 5 out of 5

First sentence: Mma Ramotswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of Kgale Hill.

Agatha Christie's Miss Marple has long been my favorite on the mystery scene. However, she now has strong competition with Mma (Precious) Ramotswe, the one and only lady detective in all of Botswana.

After her father's death, Mma Ramotswe sells her inheritance, a herd of cows, to set up shop as a detective in Gaborone, Botswana. Her agency, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, is the only one of its kind, and it is not too long before clients begin seeking out her services. This book, the first in the series, seems to be laying the groundwork for future adventures.

Precious Ramotswe is a delight! She is a warm, compassionate, intuitive African lady, and is the embodiment of all that modern Africa is striving to be. With a love for the red desert earth she grew up next to, she is proud of her country, and I loved to read about her reflections of Botswanan life.  Her sense of humor is contagious, and I look forward to reading more of the series. And, although I have been to South Africa before (Mma Ramotswe lives very close to the Botswana/South Africa border), I can now add Botswana to the list of countries I would like to visit!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Expanding Horizons Challenge Wrap-Up

Well, we have finally moved the computer out of our bedroom, where Maya also sleeps. Which means I can now update my blog and browse the internet after 7pm, which is usually the only point in the day I have the time! I have a back log of 1000+ posts to visit, at least everyone else has been busy blogging!

I came so close to finishing this challenge, with the Indian/Indian-American category left unfinished. I don't feel too bad about this. I read a lot of Indian fiction and planned on reading less this year so I can catch up on some other regions (mainly Africa and the Middle East).

UPDATE: How could I forget a big thank you to Melissa at Book Nut! First, for hosting this wonderful challenge, and second, for sending me the lovely Bride and Prejudice DVD for posting the 100th review. THANK YOU MELISSA!!!

1. African/African-American
Links - Nuruddin Farah (Somalia) (Finished 08 Jan 2008)

2. Asian/Asian-American
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See (Finished 27 April 2008)

3. Hispanic/Latin American
The Motorcycle Diaries - Che Guevera (Finished 20 April 2008)

4. Indian/Indian-American - DNF

5. Middle Eastern (Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Turkey...)
Gate of the Sun - Elias Khoury (Lebanon) (finished 28 March 2008)

6. Native Peoples 
The Birchbark House - Louise Erdrich (finished 7 April 2008)

The best book: Definitely Gate of the Sun by Elias Khoury. While I didn't dislike any of the books, quite a few of the others only generated lukewarm feelings.
What book could I have done without: The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevera. It wasn't what I expected, and I like some of his other writing much more.
Any new authors: Lisa See, Louise Erdrich, Elias Khoury, and Nuruddin Farah were all new to me. With the exception of Lisa See, I would love to read these authors again.

Stay Tuned!

Things have been busy here, and I have not been left with any time for updates and reviews recently. But I'll be back shortly!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See

Title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Author: Lisa See
Country: USA
Year: 2005
Pages: 269 pgs.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

First sentence: I am what they call in our village "one who has not yet died"--a widow, eighty years old.

See's historical novel takes place in a remote part of China during the 19th century - a time when all girls had there feet bound at the tender age of seven, marriages were arranged by the time they were ten, and women were confined to the upstairs room of their home for the majority of their life. We meet Lily, daughter of a farmer, and Snow Flower, who is the descendent of a wealthy, respected family. They are paired up as laotong, or "old sames" in a match meant to last a lifetime, a bond that is stronger than marriage. Communicating through nu shu, a secret women's language, Lily and Snow Flower send messages to each other on a fan, sharing their hopes and dreams.

It has taken me a long time to work out a review for this novel. One reason is my currently chaotic life as we prepare to pack up and move out-of-state. But I have also had a hard time putting into words what I feel about this book. On a purely entertainment level, it is a wonderful read. However, Lisa See's American perspective dominates the novel, and I felt she really didn't have a firm grasp of the culture and time period of 19th century Hunan China to write this story. It is not necessarily a book to read for insight into Chinese history and customs, as I fear it may be filled with inaccuracies. For that I would recommend Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Winner!

Congratulations to Madeleine, who won a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I love the randomness of in choosing prize winners!

I am on my way back to Baltimore today from house-hunting in New Jersey. After a stop over in Philadelphia to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit, we'll be heading home, and hopefully I'll have more reviews up soon (as well as posting my own challenge list for the Neustadt Challenge). I have a terrible back log of reviews to write, including Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See and The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. 

Oh, and yes we did find a home! We decided to rent again for the time being, but found a cute 2 bedroom townhouse in a nice area. After looking at quite a few dumps, we came across this gem. Now, the packing begins. :)

Thanks to Maggie for the great challenge button!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Neustadt Challenge

**This is a sticky post** 
(scroll down for most recent posts)

Up for a Challenge??

After much thought, I have finally decided to dive into the world of hosting challenges. Therefore, I introduce the Neustadt Challenge, which will run from May - August 2008. The Neuwhat, you say?

The Neustadt International Prize for Literature is a biennial award for a body of work by poets, novelists, or playwrights. The prize is not limited by geographic area, language, or genre, and is hosted by the University of Oklahoma and the international literary publication World Literature Today.

I only recently learned of the existence of the Neustadt Prize, after reading Links by Nuruddin Farah, the 1998 award recipient. I quickly looked up other winners, and added quite a few authors to my TBR list. Then, I thought to myself, I should share this joy with others! Hence, a challenge is born. And if anyone could help create one of those neat image buttons for the challenge, let me know!

You have two options with this challenge, which will run from May - August, 2008.
1. Read three books/plays/collection of poetry by one of the authors who have received the award.
2. Read three books by three different authors.

You can combine any or all of your books with other challenges. There will be giveaways and fun stuff for participants, because I love to give things away!

Here is the list of award winners. In the weeks leading up to the challenge start date, I will be posting information about each writer and their work. If you would like to join me, just sign up with Mr. Linky below.

2008 Patricia Grace (New Zealand) - to be awarded in Fall 2008)
2006 Claribel Alegría (Nicaragua/El Salvador)
2004 Adam Zagajewski (Poland)
2002 Alvaro Mutis (Colombia) 
2000 David Malouf (Australia) 
1998 Nuruddin Farah (Somalia) 
1996 Assia Djebar (Algeria) 
1994 Kamau Brathwaite (Barbados) 
1992 João Cabral de Melo Neto (Brazil) 
1990 Tomas Tranströmer (Sweden)
1988 Raja Rao (India)
1986 Max Frisch (Switzerland) 
1984 Paavo Haavikko (Finland) 
1982 Octavio Paz (Mexico) 
1980 Josef Škvorecky  (Czechoslovakia/Canada) 
1978 Czeslaw Milosz (Poland) 
1976 Elizabeth Bishop (USA) 
1974 Francis Ponge (France) 
1972 Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia) 
1970 Giuseppe Ungaretti (Italy)

The Neustadt Challenge Sign-Up 
Edit: Please link to your challenge post, even if it is just preliminary, so other participants can easily find it on your blog.