Food and poetry: in so many ways a natural pairing, from prayers over bread to street vendor songs. Poetry is said to feed the soul, each poem a delicious morsel. When read aloud, the best poems provide a particular joy for the mouth. Poems about food make these satisfactions explicit and complete.
Pages can and have been filled about food’s elemental pleasures. And of course we all know food is more than food: it’s identity and culture. Our days are marked by meals; our seasons are marked by celebrations. We plant in spring, harvest in fall. We labor over hot stoves; we treat ourselves to special meals out. Food is nurture; it’s comfort; it’s reward. While some of the poems here are explicitly about the food itself--the blackberries, the butter, the barbecue--all are evocative of the experience of eating.
Many of the poems are also about the everything else that accompanies food: the memories, the company, even the politics. Kevin Young, distinguished poet, editor of this year’s Best American Poetry, uses the lens of food--and his impeccable taste--to bring us some of the best poems, classic and current, period.
Poets include: Elizabeth Alexander, Elizabeth Bishop, Billy Collins, Mark Doty, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Louise Glück, Seamus Heaney, Tony Hoagland, Langston Hughes, Galway Kinnell, Frank O’Hara, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Adrienne Rich, Theodore Roethke, Matthew Rohrer, Charles Simic, Tracy K. Smith, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, Mark Strand, Kevin Young