Book reviews from The Free Lance-Star.
It’s a feast of poetry
By Kurt Rabin
The Free Lance-Star
POET KEVIN YOUNG, for his latest anthology, has compiled a veritable feast of 158 poems by some of our most beloved poets. While some of the poems in “The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink” are about food itself—particularly butter, beans and barbecue (but most of all, blackberries. Who knew people felt so strongly about blackberries?!)—all evoke the experience of eating: the comforts, the memories, the dinner-table skirmishes.
An English prof at Atlanta’s Emory University, Young is, judging by his poetry, not immune to the charms of pork, collards and especially, gumbo. Other poets represented here include farmer–poet Wendell Berry, Seamus Heaney and Langston Hughes, and even a couple of poets who employ rhyme, including doggerel writer Roy Blount Jr., who, in “Song to Bacon,” puts the best face on the inevitable shrinkage that occurs when a bacon strip starts sizzling: “You also get a lot of lossage/ In life, romance, and country sausage.”
When I was younger, having to read poetry was a lot like having to eat Brussels sprouts. You knew it was probably good for you, but it was still tough to make yourself dig in. This collection is guaranteed to make verse a lot easier to swallow than it was back when it was required reading in school.
“Hungry Ear” makes a great gift for lovers of cookbooks. And an added bonus, there’s no dishes to do when you’re done reading.
Kurt Rabin is a copy editor for The Free Lance–Star.
THE HUNGRY EAR: Poems of Food and Drink
Edited by Kevin Young
(Bloomsbury, $25, 336 pp.)
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