The April 2016 uproar over Calvin Trillin’s ‘New Yorker’ poem “Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?” resonated with me, eliciting a poem and an essay, both of which are ultimately less about the Trillin poem than about the realization that more stories need to be told.
This brilliant review of Living Quarters in Public Books, by UCLA Professor Allison Carruth, gets to the heart of the poems, setting them in the context of where they were made: in Carlisle, at Dickinson. Carruth corrects the outdated divide between rural and urban places, using both Carlisle and Maxine Kumin’s New Hampshire as literary examples.
Ann Fogler ’15, Voice Performance major, and Nicholas Cardelia ’15, Music Composition major, are collaborating with me on Living Quarters’s book launch and reading at Whistlestop Bookshop, 129 W. High St., Carlisle, PA, on Thursday, April 2, 2015, at 5:00 p.m. Ann and Nick will give a behind-the-scenes presentation on setting the poem “On Writing,” and Ann will sing samples. I will read poems from the book and sign copies, and we’ll all take questions.
“Literature and Food,” a new English 101, is underway. We’ve read M.F.K. Fisher’s “Young Hunger,” on being nineteen, ravenous, and the helpless guest of well-meaning elders who, having forgotten youthful appetite, nibble a bit of toast now and then. Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman, to me anyway, grows funnier every time – and tragically relevant, half a century after its writing. Up this week: poems from Kevin Young’s anthology The Hungry Ear, specifically Catherine Bowman’s haunting “1-800-HOT-RIBS,” Gerald Stern’s exuberant “Planting Strawberries,” Seamus Heaney’s top-of-your-head-removing “Blackberry-Picking,” Tracy K. Smith’s understated “Appetite,” and Robert Hass’s “Poem with a Cucumber in It,” which is not what it sounds like. Later this month: John Thorne’s essay “Loving to Cook,” which beautifully states the dilemma of being a passionate cook.
My fourth collection of poems, Living Quarters, was published by Manic D Press in April 2015. Five years in the making, this collection relies on domestic space as an organizing principle. Its final poem, “To a Student Dying Young,” dedicated to the memory of a member of Dickinson’s Class of 2011, was in the fact the first to be written. The poems that followed – often about cooking, eating, gardening, and the procuring of food – attempt to make everyday peace with the chaotic ways life can unfold. Seasonality and sustainability – hot topics in both the food world and in higher education – are supposed to provide solace, but their comforts are not as simple as they may appear.
Sample poems from the book can be found on this site under Poems.