I’ve been immersed in food poems lately: April’s wonderful National Poetry Month MENUPOEMS project by the editors at Alimentum http://www.alimentumjournal.com/menu-poems/; collections of food poems for children that have come into my life while I’ve been working on my own food poetry collection; a recent edition of “The Writer’s Almanac” that contained not one but two wonderful tomato poems (a 19th century rhyming recipe and a delicious little Neruda ode).
I’ve been reminded how far back this food-poetry connection goes for me – back to A.A. Milne’s “Cottleston Pie” and “The King’s Breakfast”. Back to Ogden Nash (I even loved that “Custard the Dragon” was named for a favorite dessert). Back to John Ciardi, who I will forever adore for using the words “bituminous and anthracite” to describe burnt waffles in the poem “Mummy Slept Late and Daddy Made Breakfast” (take that, vocabulary level monitors). Back further still to nursery rhymes and “This Little Piggy”.
And not to be *too* nostalgic, a few recent favorites from kidlit collections include:
The craving-inducing concrete poem “S’Mores” by Laura Purdie Salas in Lettuce Introduce You: Poems About Food (Capstone, 2009). Hard to resist anything that includes marshmallows, chocolate, and the adjectives oozy and melty!
Having written a lot about eggs recently, including the concrete poem “Eggs Act” and the egg-appreciative article (plus recipes!) “Green Eggs and Glam” (in the current issue of Sashay Magazine http://www.sashaymagazine.com/), I resonate with Jack Prelutsky’s enthusiastic ode “Eggs!” in Carrots to Cupcakes: Reading, Writing, and Reciting Poems about Food, compiled by Susan M. Freese (ABDO, 2008). I’m particularly fond of the sound the swooshing retro sound of the line in which the poet tells the eggs that “when you’re shirred/ you’re sheer delight”. I suspect I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone on the street who knows how to make a shirred egg (or even what it is – an egg soft-baked under butter or cream) and perhaps the inclusion of that more unfamiliar dish makes the poet’s affection for eggs seem all the deeper.
Robert Weinstock’s “Pernicious”, not just for how he rhymes nutritious, delicious and suspicious, but also because he is the only other person I know who has put knishes in a kid’s poem (a knish makes a cameo appearance in my poem “What My Neighborhood Eats”). The illustrations in his book Food Hates You, Too – and other poems (Disney Hyperion, 2009) are full of visual jokes to accompany the wacky tone of the poems (especially striking is the praying mantis take-off on Goodnight Moon).
Lee Bennett Hopkins’ “Question”, a humorous wondering about cooking in an age of pre-packaged and store-bought prepared food in Munching: Poems about Eating selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins (Little, Brown & Co, 1985).
There are lots of others, which I’ll share another time. But in the meantime, what are your favorite food poems?