Poetic intersection

Back on Thanksgiving Day, I posted two notes on poetry: a the poem “Convalescing” by the late Jack Gilbert; and a Seamus Heaney poem on oysters from Kevin Young’s 2012 collection The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink (NY, Bloomsbury Group). Now my copy of the Young volume has arrived; it’s handsome and full of pleasures (taking as its subject matter not just food, but also the social occasions on which we share food) — and it has two poems by Jack Gilbert in it.

These are “Hunger” on p. 24, in which the poet digs his finger into an apple, and “1953” on p. 239, which takes place in a cafe and ends with the poet’s tears falling on his eggs.

Two other notable virtues of the book: its cover art, by Laura Letinsky, a still-life with partially eaten canteloupe; and its index. Indexes are seen too rarely these day, even for collections of material, where their utility should be obvious (but publishers hate spending money and space on them). In this case, the index has the obvious types of entry — title of poem, name of poet — but also some entries on things prominently mentioned in the book (friendships, gardens, rituals of eating, Virginia mountains), especially the food described (asparagus, cucumbers, rhubarb, Velveeta). Wonderful.

Letinsky’s cover:

And about her:

Much of Letinsky’s work alludes to human presence, without including any actual figures. For example, in the Morning and Melancholia (c. 1997-2001), and the I Did Not Remember I Had Forgotten (c. 2002-2004) series, Letinsky seems to document the aftermath of a sumptuous gathering or dinner party. (link)

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