Published: Friday, March 22, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 00:03
Photo courtesy of www.npr.org
Don’t start reading the delectable new poetry collection The Hungry Ear on an empty stomach. As the subtitle Poems of Food & Drink promises, the book is stuffed full of deliciously savorable poems about beets, garlic, carrots, bread, berries and just about any task you can think of that is food-related.
The book is arranged by the seasons of the year, then further broken down into categories such as “First Harvest,” “Giving Thanks,” and “Churning and Preserving.” The groupings are well thought out and the poems read well together, but I most enjoyed jumping in randomly and bumping into gems like Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to Salt” and “Ode to the Onion”; how can you not love poems devoted to such humble, hard-working staples?
After encountering the salted onions, I meandered into tubers and met a favorite poet, Jane Kenyon, and mourned with her the scrap of potato discarded too hastily, and discovered someone new to me, Linda Hogan, and visited in her garden for a bit. And then on to the berries! “Planting Strawberries” by Gerald Stern gave me my favorite line of all:
“They look like octopuses and their feet dance in the water as I cover them up to their necks.”
This is a fun collection to read as we await the onion snow and leaf through seed catalogues, always remembering, as Joy Harjo writes:
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.