I’d never been to a Burns Supper before, though of course I knew about them.
Burns Suppers, in my mind, were loud, fun and full of Scottish people gathered together on Robert Burns’ birthday to celebrate his poetry and life. The main ritualistic novelty would be the serving of the haggis, the meat pudding pulled from the pot fresh,hot, dripping with juices, waiting to be punctured with a ready fork, brought to the head of the table on a huge silver platter at full arms’ length, steaming away as if it were a battleship – in my mind, maybe even the type of battleship called a ‘dreadnought”.
Haggis has always seemed scary to me, though I’m an adventurous eater. I have a block, actually, about the word “haggis”. Each time I try to remember the word I have to look it up. It escapes my memory, and all I can think about is the image of this large grey-brown tuberous shape, steaming furiously away.
The recently Burns Dinner (not Supper, Dinner) I attended was planned as a “new” form of Burns Supper, more easily digested, perhaps, by what one thinks of as “generalist” eaters (which is what most people are, no matter what they claim). Hosted by The Glenlivet whiskey, the idea was to reinvent the traditional Scottish foods to suit modern tastes. The main course of business, of course, was the whiskey tasting that accompanied the dinner as well as the dessert created and prepared at the end of the dinner by chef Christina Tosi of Milkbar/Momofuku fame.
Peter Karras, The Glenlivet Master of Scotch, gave tasting notes on the progression of four whiskeys at dinner. I’d already introduced myself to Peter at the bar before dinner simply because his jacket was the most magnificent color of dark burgundy (and after my first few sips of the whiskey cocktail they’d given us I absolutely had to comment on it). His sartorial taste was matched by his knowledgable and humorous instruction on the whiskeys.
No poetry was read at dinner except a hopeful sing along of Auld Lang Syne (the full version, with all the difficult pronunciations) at the end of dinner, but Burns’ poems were posted along the walls on elegant sconces, lit by flickering candles.
Care to join me?
“Whiskey, like a beautiful woman, demands appreciation. You gaze first, then it's time to drink.” – Haruki Murakami
“Some of us look for the Way in opium and some in God, some of us in whiskey and some in love. It is all the same Way and it leads nowhither.” – W. Somerset Maugham
1. The Background
Frank Sinatra discovered Jack Daniel’s one sleepless night in the early 1940s. “It’s been the oil to my engine ever since,” he later said. He famously praised “anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers or Jack Daniel’s.” Frank always kept a bottle nearby, offstage, and he was buried with a flask of JD in his casket.
In her autobiography, Judith Campbell Exner—the moll who was mistress to both John F. Kennedy and the head of the Chicago mob—recalled a day spent with Sinatra. He “acknowledged the comings and goings of an endless string of visitors, growled at flunkies, drank martinis, ate lunch, drank Jack Daniel’s, ate hors d’oeuvres, drank Jack Daniel’s, ate dinner, and drank more Jack Daniel’s.”
By the mid-1960s, Sinatra could drink a fifth of Jack Daniel’s and still go on stage.
Like any respectable Sinatra aficionado, I’ve imbibed my share of Tennessee’s trademark sour mash whiskey. And as the author of a new book titled “Sinatra’s Century,” I had extra incentive to try the latest ultra-premium Jack Daniel’s bottle, sent to me by my editor at The Wall Street Journal. Called, by coincidence, Sinatra Century, the limited-edition 100-proof whiskey was aged in 100 “alligator-charred” oak barrels (so called for their scaly interior surface, the deepest of all the chars used to impart flavor and color to the liquor). It hit shelves in October, in plenty of time for toasts to Frank Sinatra on his 100th birthday, December 12, 2015.
I wrote my book because I’ve loved the singer’s voice, musical savvy and definitive versions of standards ever since I heard “All the Way” and “Witchcraft” on the radio when I was 8 or 9. Timing it to the centennial, I wrote the book in 100 parts, because Sinatra’s career ran parallel to and threw into relief what Henry Luce called the “American century,” and because the century is the perfect form for a subject with so many facets.
"Fried things are highly popular at any celebration: they add a piquant variety to the menu; they are nice to look at, possess all of their original flavor, and can be eaten with the fingers, which is always pleasing to the ladies." Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste.
This is really a public service announcement disguised as a cooking post. In case you hadn't noticed, we're deep into latke season here. If you read through this post, study the photos, and follow the instructions, you will never have to eat the leaden, oily, flabby discs that so often pass as latkes in restaurants and delis, and, yes, your relatives' homes. My friend, the superb writer and editor and Food Network judge Gabriella Gershenson (photo, above) has generously agreed to share the outstanding recipe passed down from her Latvian babulenka and perfected for the modern kitchen by her mother, the superb chef and caterer Anna Gershenson. Your search for latke heaven ends now. By heaven I mean that your latkes will be thincrispflavorful and so light that you will dispense with all social niceties such as dishes, knives, and forks and eat them with your hands as soon as you can after they emerge from their brief bath in bubbling oil.
We begin: As Anna instructs in the recipe at the bottom of this post, assemble your ingredients and cooking accouterments. You will need several bowls, sheet pans, lots of paper towels, some aluminum foil; the kinds of things that may not immediately come to mind. If you have to stop mid-cooking to find them, latke perfection could be out of reach this time around. (Below, the ingredients: eggs, flour, onions, potatoes, oil. You will also need salt and pepper.)
Before we took this photo, Gabi and I had already peeled and cubed a boatload of russet potatoes. The type of potatoes is key: you want a starchy variety. I'll leave it to the food scientists to explain why. You also want to have a lot of oil on hand (Ed. note: Gabi uses Canola.)
Once you're at the point shown in this photo, you grind the onions and potatoes. "WTF? Grind? Every latke I've ever made has used shredded potatoes." I know, I know, me too. At first Gabi and I couldn't believe it either but you do grind the potatoes. You fit your food processor with this blade and blast away. How do you know when your potatoes have been ground to the proper texture? You listen to Anna: When you see that the potatoes are beginning to slide in the bowl and don't just sit attached to the walls, and moisture starts appearing, it's time to stop.
Next, you dump your first batch of ground onions and potatoes into a strainer set over a large bowl. Grind and strain the remaining potatoes and onions and when you're done, a goodly amount of milky water will have accumulated in the bowl. Peer through the water and you will see that the bottom of the bowl is coated with a thick white paste. This is the potato starch. Pour off the water, being careful to preserve the starch (see photo, right).
Later, after dinner, we examine your uncle’s photos
of trees, flowers, waterfalls, birds
until I just can’t stand it another second.
I am not at one with nature. Never was.
Some of the people can be fooled all of the time,
even when you yawn right in their faces.
Guests, or ghosts, have taken over the house,
lounging in the living room, watching t.v.
Ugly images of war and politics are all I see.
Cancel the rest of the holidays, please, until this
-- Terence Winch
Today I’d like to feature writing by nine contemporary American poets whom I like. I’ve known most of them for a while, although I’ve made the acquaintance of some recently through their work.
I asked each of them to send me one piece of new writing from a work-in-progress, recently published collection, or forthcoming book. All are wonderful poets, so naturally, most sent poems. One sent an excerpt from his new (poetic) novel. All are persons whom I esteem for their thoughtfulness and resolve, in addition to their incisive insight and verbal verve. All are poets who give generously to other poets and to their communities inside and outside of writing.
I feel lucky to know them and their work.
The first poem is by poet and translator Rosa Alcalá from her forthcoming collection M(y)OtherTongue (Futurepoem, 2016), her third poetry collection. Rosa’s book Spit Temple: The Selected Performances of Cecilia Vicuña (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013) was short-listed for the PEN Translation Award.
As if the memory of burning hairs from hooves or soaking tripe in vinegar might an enclosure make, traction from the present leads us back and not to the other side of the curtain where a woman wails to pry open a lid. We casually break off pieces of crackers and wipe on cheap napkins oil and anisette, until the middle child crosses the threshold, unafraid. We have failed in the most basic rule, to never turn from offal in favor of quiet or self-care or need, as if the ugliness and flavor of it would make unpronounceable our names. When we knew the secrets of transformation, of the long simmer, the cure, the careful pluck. Still, we fail every moment we turn our slippery grammars against us and let our children be adopted into perfect homes. We stood there, my brothers and I, ladling the honeycombed stomach into your dish, the last holders of something funny, yet never told again, as a cowlick fixed moments before the bulb flashes. We laughed that we knew the joke and were the joke, but would fail the test of translation. For which our children groan, and push away a dish, and throw open the curtains, their sunshine so big and so original. What do you call it, when in a mind and in a language the sun goes down? When you float from floor to floor or let your sister braid your hair an afternoon before the war? “I leave and they don’t know. To find a bed that is my own.”
David Groff is a poet, writer, independent book editor, literary scout, and teacher. His most recent poetry collection, Clay, was chosen by Michael Waters as winner of the Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence (Trio House, 2013). The following poem is from his collection Bloodwood, a work-in-progress.
A Boy’s Own Jesus
The older brother I never had,
the one who knew the way
to the bathroom in the dark.
Okay with rushed prayers
He who witnessed the fists
gut me to breathlessness.
Able to sleep during storms.
Trustworthy, though with
like a father after a few drinks.
Never a father.
from his own hard father.
Suffering little children
who suffered, yet suffering
when I lay my weight on him
and made his thighs tingle.
Shaking his head at my penis
pronging, this pollution,
Looking good in a loincloth,
his pained man muscles
turning me truant.
Desire and dying,
made one body.
In my fevers
rising with robe-wings
over my wild boat,
feeling fevered too,
keen to each degree.
Making me his special boy.
His arms held and wrestled me.
A cradle or a cage,
devil or deliverer.
Rachel Levitsky’s poem is from her work-in-progress invoking the couplet, Warren Beatty films, and other relevant forces. Her most recent collection is the verse novel The Story of My Accident Is Ours (Futurepoem, 2013).
hedging bets. against loving a mother
sexy mom horrified she had a fat ass
resist telling this ongoing mother ruth’s chest
now dead dad herb speaks. he and i tussle
whether i can write or not. not ‘hemingway’ or a genius.
can't find out later how he did that.
abandon the stories of the past. not something special.
the refugee is me / not me. [peter: jew / not jew]
a memoir because my life is interesting enough to me to remember the bits and
pieces and to tell. i liked this beginning. this manner of just telling.
nothing overly fancy and overreaching like those sentences in the last book.
sentences just the same…in this weird couplet form…holding to the position of
poet more than poem. my problem holding on, believing in the effects of accretion. i
think i need to tell my lover wait i need the ongoing story wait i need
our conversation to accrue i will lose a sense of myself i will forget what i have
written i have been trying to collect this life over and over again no one ever
stays the witness. no. i won’t make you. let slow cactus grow. menopausal
and continuously wet. corita’s painting of nin.
going in to come out.
Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo’s poem is from her debut collection Built with Safe Spaces, forthcoming from Sundress Publications. Xochitl-Julisa notes this about her collection:
“Built with Safe Spaces is a collection of poetry inspired by Los Angeles, my grandmother, and the Arizona-Mexico border where I volunteered as a desert aid worker in the summers of 2011 and 2013. By traveling from the green hills of Los Angeles to the jagged canyons of the Sonoran desert, it is my hope these poems illustrate a speaker driven to activism by a need to honor her family's journey as Mexican immigrants.”
Our Lady of the Water Gallon
Un mensaje a mis compañer@s
I etch black line Sharpie Virgenes
on plastic water gallons: one arc,
Ichthys in the sand at travelers’ feet;
one post carving, hobo’s mark
on the road. The Virgen speaks to faceless
shadows traveling when the land is dark.
I etch black line Sharpie Virgenes
on plastic water gallons. One arc
is the bridge between L.A. and Arivaca,
liquor store murals and water drawings,
dogs on lawns and dogs trained to attack a
man and woman darting up Hippie Mountain.
They’ve hiked this far from Guatemala
on one plastic water gallon, one arc.
Ichthys in the sand at traveler’s feet
is the tale of a man left shirtless and shoeless
beside thorny mesquite. Como un pez sin agua,
he is fished off the road limp and nearly witless.
In the arms of compañeros he asks,
“¿Es esto sentir la muerte?” Barely conscious
he is Ichthys in the sand at traveler’s feet.
One post carving, hobo’s mark,
would mark our “angel food” with a cross,
but cross signs feel wrong to fingers
wanting a symbol with less power, more loss,
like desert flower blooms, or a growing belly
beneath blue robes of water and gloss.
I need one post carving, hobo’s mark.
On the road, the Virgen speaks to faceless
suffering. A woman seven months pregnant
hikes with garlic-lashed calves (snake safe-guard).
Bleeding and cramping, body bent
to ground, she makes mud salves and prayers
to Our Mother: keep my unborn daughter radiant.
On the road, the Virgen speaks. To faceless
shadows traveling when the land is dark
I say, I see the fresh footprint in the riverbed,
the torn blanket ditched on the hillside.
At a rest stop shaded by oak, I tread
slow, count empty gallons, read what remains.
I promise you are not invisible, nor discarded,
people traveling when the land is dark.
I etch black line Sharpie Virgenes
to cloak rocky paths in stars
and hope one will guide you home.
When muscles spasm and farm lights appear too far,
know that I built this poem with safe spaces.
But because no words can erase your scars,
I etch black line Sharpie Virgenes.
Our fiction exception is from David Micah Greenberg’s recently completed novel Concourse, the first in his five-volume cycle of novels about New York City. Also the author of the poetry collection Planned Solstice (University of Iowa Press, 2003), David notes:
“Concourse is a novel set in the Bronx, in which the lives of an emergency room physician and a public servant become entangled during a corruption investigation. The book weaves together narrative, verse and essay, as in this excerpt about the history of food in the experimental novel."
The history of the novel is food, crowds, and charity.
The history of nations is different from a history of human nature, because with nations time must be spent, but with human nature it must be observed. Nations are as an eleemosynary repast against which human nature rebels, to reveal that which is worth telling. In the 18th century charitable action becomes a subject of the novel; Tom Jones, is taken up by Squire Allworthy. The squab was served with a charred bread pudding, glazed in a truck of smoke.
Balanced against the feast are characters who mingle unconstrained by station, though limited by context — as the infinite variety of typesetting, and its narrow combinatory rules. The martini was blended with scotch so as to smoke the concoction. Charity intrudes to make the better man not attend; it is the ability to choose this attendance which sets the novel apart, and provides neither duty nor relief.
And crowds come and grow, bringing with them famine and Thomas Malthus, the patron saint of the novel. Why is it that with increased communication — moveable type, the internet — art becomes more hermetic? Is it a rivalry between charity and nature? The terrine had a glaze that smelled like sex from a certain angle. A calm superiority buffets it. Because the conscious author rests over the crowds like a simile over a hawk, or a hawk over unsuspecting crowds, the reader maintains the predator’s view. The beef carpaccio had seaweed and sliced hazelnuts with a lemon vinaigrette, but there was also mutton.
The one-sidedness of simile is a joy and lament on human nature. It is a charity that does not crucify distinction upon a cross of ever-proliferating, voice. An enormous caesar salad was made from kale and hazelnuts, with the egg white thickly drizzled. It does not expect patronage; it does not believe it should live without work, but strives to entertain. Do the ravenous masses enjoy hunger? The nature of hunger is to warn, to circumvent, to sort in the pleasured brain — guests who disappear before pain sets. The fruits were forward and the wine was a mess.
And if our lives and opinions matter then these thoughts driven into the body already decay, like a hull on its side in the Irish Sea. The pork belly, smoky and crisp, lay in a smoked tomato reduction with stringy scallions. The wine’s metallic and floral notes were almost salty, against the seared and puckered fluke in yuzu. The moment is indelibly orphaned. Madness is real and will always cling to us; it has a better ability to describe and predict, even the tide against shoals. From the birth of chance, a sidelong glance. The unseen sands have become us.
The following poem is from fellow Philadelphian Jason Zuzga’s forthcoming first poetry collection Heat Wake, which will be published by Saturnalia Books next March. Saturnalia’s catalogue describes the book thus:
“Heat Wake the phrase could designate the heat of the just-deceased animal, the warmed seat, the legacy of the anthropocene, the Fata Morgana that swirls and ripples sightlines. Heat Wake the book swirls with tactility, biology, evolution, and desire: hands reach, grab, feel, and are held as the poems percolate with quick sonic link and variation. The poems unfold amid the presence of stubborn rocks, ocean, suburban New Jersey, all approached at a queer angle . . . .”
A long sugar stick—translucence
molecular ribbon—held dark inside
this mouth against this tongue.
Scissor this word from printed fiber.
Let this persuasive stain dissolve
under tongue like a pink snowball
held by mammal hand inside
an aluminum house or
standing in this sunlit creek.
Burn this on a pyre of
research-jangled and car-blown.
Delete “this” with a clap
from air, from the file of words;
scratch this from the sand
with pointed stick.
This through-line will connect
you—to me, whether you be of tar,
of electric, of pheromone
spat through tube.
Amy Uyematsu is the author of four esteemed poetry collections including The Yellow Door (Red Hen Press, 2015) and Stone Bow Prayer (Copper Canyon, 2005). This poem is from her new collection Basic Vocabulary.
A Handful of Knowing
Even as a child she prefers their company. Each day the girl goes to Stone
Mountain and chooses one of the ten thousand stones which lie at its base.
Sometimes she picks a jagged rock, studies it from different angles to see
it brighten and darken in the shifting light. Or she might spread a handful of
pebbles on her outstretched palms and marvel that no two are exactly the same
size or shape. If she finds a boulder big enough for her to recline on her back, she
can take in the sky. Before long the girl is able to touch each granite gem with
the deft fingers of a sculptor, delighted when a once grainy surface turns glassy
and smooth. Sitting among the rocks and pebbles, she listens with them to a world
that stirs, grateful when something new flurries in and glad when mountain quiet
returns. As time passes, the girl grows so intimate with the stones that no one
notices she's become old and weathered and silent like them. Song birds and lizards
rest on her. Small fingers trace the lines on her face.
(after watching a video on Michael Grab, a Boulder artist who stacks boulders)
Pay close attention to the feel of each rock.
Remember that balance requires a minimum of three contact points.
Let fingers go light.
Notice even the smallest clicks, some smaller than millimeters.
Continue to meditate.
Use the tiny to large indentations as a tripod so the stone can stand upright.
Connect with the rock's vibrations.
Wait for it to become nearly weightless.
Listen to it become still.Expect the impossible.
Arrange one rock so it barely touches the next rock then one more.
Splash some water on the slowly rising sculpture.
Welcome the wind rushing through.
Believe in the steadiness of these stones.
Be as patient.
Know that simple gravity and devotion form a limitless glue.
Count on the zero point of silence within.
Michael Snediker is the author of the poetry collection The Apartment of Tragic Appliances (Punctum Books, 2013). His poem is from a recently completed collection New York Editions, which he describes as:
“A ‘translation’ of Henry James’s fiction into poems, and an experiment in ‘close reading’ brought so close it sometimes blurs. Both poem and manuscript are interested in how something like desire (or hope or lonesomeness) is and isn’t translatable across genre and time, between persons and characters: the relation between feeling and form as they both wear down and into each other, and carry each other along.”
Time isn’t the solution
our alchemy happens in,
time is the alchemy,
lost art of the hasp
of a Roman fibula
made sharp in the sea
Like the tomb of Hector
where the boy hides,
the air in the wings
of our throats is
doomed to repeat
the spell of a soul
lifting out of the body
the body’s threshing.
That you know it
doesn’t mean it
incurable, each morning,
your fall into the marble
baths of Diocletian
which you haunt
like something you died
I wish I’d known you
when the silver
of your beard
the alarming ease
with which the outside,
And our last poem for the evening is from Joanna Klink’s luminous new collection Excerpts from a Secret Prophecy (Penguin, 2015), her fourth collection.
If there is a world, let me be in it.
Let fires arise and pass. The sky fill with evening air
then sink across the woodlots and porches,
the streams thinning to creeks.
In winter there will be creatures half-locked in ice,
storms blown through iron grates, a drug of whitest ardor.
Let the old hopes be made new.
Let stacks of clouds blacken if they have to
but never let the people in this town go hungry.
Never let them fear cold. If there is a world,
let it not be temporary, like these vague stars.
Let us die when we must. And spinelessness
not overtake us, and privation,
let rain bead across tangled lavender plants.
If there is a world where we feel very little,
let it not be our world. Let worth be worth
and energy action—let blood fly up to the surface skin.
If you are fierce, if you are cynical, halfhearted, pained—
I would sit with you awhile, or walk next to you,
and when we take leave of each other after so many years,
the oaks will toss their branches in wheels of wind
above us—as if it had mattered, all of it,
every second. If there is a world.
Friday at six, martinis straight up with olives. Plymouth or Hendricks. Tanqueray for JA; Bombay for Jim Tate ("lower proof so I can drink more of them"). A couple of eye drop's worth of dry vermouth, preferably Noilly Prat. Mucho hielo. Shake vigorously in a pickle jar. Yes, I know that shaking as opposed to stirring risks "bruising" the gin, and also that you slightly dilute the end profuct, and frankly my dear I don't give a damn. I like drinking the thing in a y-shaped glass with a floating island of chipped ice on top.
And then we talk.
Marshall McLuhan comes over and says that Obama is the "coolest" US president since JFK. The "hot" presidents were LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton. Carter was neutral. W was mildly cool but only in relation to Al Gore in earth-tone garb.
Woody Allen looks down at the floor as he plays Cole Porter on his clarinet. He is really a very modest fellow.
Kim Novak doesn't have to act. All she has to do is stand there.
The waiter brings over a tray full of Algonquin cocktails. Since I have no pineapple juice, freshly pressed or otherwise, I had to substitute grapefruit juice, and the rye ran out so I used Canadian Club in honor of Don Draper, as follows: one and a half jiggers whiskey, one jigger Noilly Prat dry vermouth, one jigger of grapefruit juice, times two, shaken. "Delicious," Stacey says.
Judy Garland sings: "Our love affair will be such fun, / We'll be the envy of everyone. / Those famous lovers we'll make them forget / From Adam and Eve to Scarlett and Rhett." Lyrics by Arthur Freed, music by Roger Edens.
Jack Benny asks: Has the NEA done anything since Dana Gioia left the helm of the agency?
John Ashbery says that "Jack Benny was my role model."
In the works are three doctoral dissertations on JA in relation to Mr. Benny's radio show. "Anyone who would understand Ashbery's poetry had better listen to the radio shows of the early 1940s," says Professor McGuffin with the authority of Jacques Barzun on the subject of baseball.
I just thought of a skit featuring Danny Kaye and Bob Hope -- an abbreviated version of Kafka's The Trial. Kaye says he is looking and Hope says he may have to wait a long time.
Joni James sings "As Time Goes By." Here's to you, Herman Hupfeld: "Moonlight and love songs never out of date, hearts full of passion, jealousy and hate / Woman needs man and must have his mate."
And I don't know. Third base. -- DL
[From the Archives, originally posted September 28, 2012]
In the spirit of Halloween, I'm serving up poets from the past for the New School's Inquisitive Eater. Here's my second post, about a W.H. Auden poem inspired by M.F.K. Fisher:
M.F.K. Fisher (1908-1992), could count among her many admirers the poet W. H. Auden (1907-1973) who in his introduction to Fisher’s “The Art of Eating” (MacMillan, 1954) boldly states: “I do not know anyone in the United States today who writes better prose.” He cites several examples, including the passage below.
“I now feel that gastronomical perfection can be reached in these combinations: one person dining alone, usually upon a couch or a hillside; two people, of no matter what sex or age, dining in a good restaurant; six people, of no matter what sex or age, dining in a good home. . . A good combination would be one married couple, for warm composure; one less firmly established, to add a note of investigation to the talk; and two strangers of either sex, upon whom the better-acquainted could sharpen their questioning wits . . .” (The Art of Eating, pg. 738)
Isn’t’ that terrific? Fisher’s conviction and specificity are qualities that make her writing so enjoyable, and so difficult to imitate, though many have tried.The essay from which the passage is taken (“From A to Z: The Perfect Dinner”) likely inspired Auden’s poem “Tonight at 7:30.” in which he translates into poetry what Fisher describes so deftly in prose. Here is a representative excerpt:
comity the gathering should be small and unpublic:
at mass banquets where flosculent speeches are made
in some hired hall
we think of ourselves or nothing. Christ’s cenacle
seated a baker’s dozen, King Arthur’s rundle
the same, but today, when one’s host may well be his own
chef, servitor and scullion,
when the cost of space can double in a decade,
even that holy Zodiac number is
too large a frequency for us:
in fact, six lenient semble sieges,
none of them perilous,
Is now a Perfect
Social number. But a dinner party,
is a worldly rite that nicknames or endearments
diminutives would profane: two doters who wish
to tiddle and curmurr between the soup and fish
belong in restaurants, all children should be fed
earlier and be safely in bed.
Well-liking, though, is a must: married maltalents
engaged in some covert contrast can spoil
an evening like the glance
of a single failure in the toil
of his bosom grievance.
Continue reading over at The Inquisitive Eater
I'm thrilled to be "Medium of the Month" over at The New School's The Inquisitive Eater. Here's my first selection:
A persistent fantasy of mine is that someday I’ll convince a team of great chefs to prepare a meal based on Ben Jonson’s poem “Inviting a Friend to Supper.”
I read the poem as having three parts: the fawning invitation, the description of the groaning board, and the promise of a convivial atmosphere. I love that up front Jonson stresses that the company is more important than the meal. And from today’s vantage point, Jonson comes off as the original locavore: the food must be seasonal and affordable (And, though fowl, now, be scarce, yet there are clerks, / The sky not falling, think we may have larks.).
Continue reading over at The Inquisitive Eater. . .
I’m thrilled to announce that I have been named the first poet laureate of the New York City Greenmarkets, the largest and most diverse outdoor urban farmers market network in the country, with over 50 locations throughout the five boroughs. My job is to select poems of high literary merit that showcase foods and beverages that are seasonal and specific to our region.
The poems will be printed along with recipes by noted cookbook authors and chefs and distributed free at all markets.
One of the first poems I’ve picked is “Nettles” by Katha Pollitt from Antarctic Traveller (Knopf,1982). Katha has graciously allowed GrowNYC reprint it. To read her poem and the accompanying recipe, click on the link below:
Do you have a favorite food poem? Please enter the title and poet in the comment field.
Later, after dinner, we examine your uncle’s photos
of trees, flowers, waterfalls, birds
until I just can’t stand it another second.
I am not at one with nature. Never was.
Some of the people can be fooled all of the time,
even when you yawn right in their faces.
Guests, or ghosts, have taken over the house,
lounging in the living room, watching t.v.
Ugly images of war and politics are all I see.
Cancel the rest of the holidays, please, until this
-- Terence Winch
I'm already sick of turkey. I'm sick of the idea of it, disgusted by the thought of it, huge, pale and looming on the kitchen counter, threatening and nasty, unconciliatory like the approach to a war. Those goosebump pimples on its hide, the nasty neck looking like someone's severed penis captured and wrapped in tight plastic with dangling gizzards, bloody liver, little gobs of excess fat, it all adds up to sheer terrorism, and I won't have it. Not for the rising aroma from the oven that serves as the fireplace-replacement of our times, steely and meaningful; not for the drumstick which screams like a Medieval painting when wrenched free from its tendons, hungering peasants and small children alike.
-- Karen Resta
(Ed note: Lisa's father is very much with us this week so I thought I would bring back this post from 2009.-- sdh)
I met Lisa Vihos when David and I visited Lakeland College in Wisconsin last October. We were in a workshop together and I loved her poems. Later we talked about food and cooking and I was thrilled when she agreed to contribute a recipe. Lisa's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Free Verse, Lakefire, Wisconson People and Ideas, Seems, and Big Muddy. She loves to cook for family and friends (see how happy she is in the photo above, with her sister and dad?). Lisa maintains a weekly poetry blog here. And here's what she has to say about this week's recipe for spinach pie:
I learned how to make spinach pie from my paternal grandmother, Irene Vihos, who was born on the island of Melos and came to America in 1932 as a young woman with a small daughter and very limited English. My grandfather was already here, slinging hash in a Greek diner in Detroit. My father was not yet born. When I knew my Yaya, she lived on Avery Street in a dark house filled with old things. The bright spot in all this darkness was the kitchen, where she served nose-tickling Vernor’s ginger ale in colored metal tumblers and cooked up dandelion greens she had picked along the roadside, drizzled with olive oil and lemon. In the bright kitchen in the dark house, my Yaya taught me to make a puff pastry for spinach pie. She did not teach me to roll individual thin sheets of phyllo dough, though recipes for this can be found on the Internet. I am told there is one bakery in New York that still makes fresh phyllo. I switched to frozen phyllo in my twenties and never turned back. I like Athens brand, available in any grocery store.
Phyllo can be one of the most maddening substances on earth. After making many dozens of spinach pies in my life, here is what I have learned about it: Like a recalcitrant child, the phyllo dough will constantly be telling you, “you are not the boss of me!” And just as you would do with a child, you must lovingly push onward and let it know in the kindest of ways that in fact, you are the boss, and it is going to have to do your bidding.
It helps immensely to properly follow the thawing instructions as written on the box. Take it out of the freezer two hours before you will use it, just like it says. Do not try putting the phyllo in direct sunlight for a 20-minute speed thaw. Plan ahead!
Have all the ingredients mixed and ready before you open the phyllo package. Don’t be leaving your phyllo exposed to the air while you are melting butter or mixing spinach or anything like that. If you must leave your phyllo unattended to go to the bathroom, answer the phone, or help a child tie a shoe, make sure to cover the sheets with a clean, dry dish towel to protect them from the air.
Work quickly and stay calm. A few sheets may stick together. A few sheets may end up in shreds. No matter. If you keep your wits about you and just keep pushing on, you will end up with a spinach pie. I have made a whole pie from shreds and a few well-placed sheets that kept their shape! Remember, butter is your friend and can be used to glue everything together if need be.
In the making of spinach pie, as in life, there are no mistakes! Only reminders to pay closer attention to detail next time. Be quick, but not sloppy. Mend when mending is required. Do not skimp on butter. Stay calm. Be kind and gentle. Do not tear into fragile things. Share. Spinach pie tastes best when eaten with friends. Yasoo!
1 lb. package frozen phyllo dough
3 10 oz. packages frozen chopped spinach
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
24 oz.. container small curd cottage cheese (sometimes, I only use ¾ of it and I eat the rest for lunch)
2 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1.5 sticks of butter, melted (approximately - if anything you will need more)
3 Tbls chopped fresh dill (optional)
Remove phyllo from freezer at least two hours before you will be making your spinach pie and leave it on the kitchen counter to thaw. (Read the instructions on the box. They know what they are talking about! See “A Note About Phyllo” above.) Preheat the oven to 375. Melt 1.5 sticks of butter on low heat and keep it melted but watch so it doesn’t burn.
I was telling you yesterday about my first poetry teacher, Nancy Willard. I pulled a book she wrote off my shelf over the weekend, in preparation for blogging here. I found some really good stuff in it, just in the first essay alone. That is as far as I’ve gotten. I’m slow, sometimes.
I acquired this book many years ago, but never read it. Perhaps you can relate to this habit of buying books that often go unread until many years after their purchase. Is this a common problem among writers? There is so much to absorb. Better to buy the book then to have it go missing.
The book of Nancy’s I am referring to is Telling Time: Angels, Ancestors, and Stories and it is a book of essays on the craft of writing. It is exactly what I need right now as I find myself dangling on a limb of my own making, as far as my writing goes. I have slowed on poetry a bit, trying my hand at prose with that hovering memoir that I described on Day 1, as well as a novel that is crawling all over itself attempting to find its story. And don’t forget blogging.
The first piece in Nancy’s book is called “How Poetry Came into the World and Why God Doesn’t Write It.” Interestingly enough, it starts with the writer recounting a tale about being in a book store and seeing a book called The Lost Books of Eden, which she considered buying, but decided against. She left the store and went down the block, but the book called her back.Unfortunately, within those few minutes, the book had been purchased by someone else. The knowledge was gone. (This is why you should always buy a book without thinking twice.)
So, in the wake of this loss, the writer imagined what The Lost Books of Eden would have said. The text told of Adam and Eve finding the words for things, finding them in a well in the garden. The serpent says, “What God calls knowledge, I call ignorance…What God calls ignorance, I call story. Help yourself to an apple from the tree that stands in the center of the garden.”
And once they had eaten the fruit and were thus forced to leave Eden, Adam knew that what they would miss the most was not eternal life, but the well from which all their words had floated up, effortlessly. The angel escorted them out of the garden, saying:
“God doesn’t want the well. What use is it to God? So he’s letting you take it with you.”
“Where is it?” [asked Adam.]
“The well is inside you,” replied the angel. “Much more convenient to carry it that way. Of course, it’s not going to be as easy to find as it was in the garden, where you could just lean over and take a drink. Sometimes you’ll forget the words you’re looking for, or you’ll call and the wrong ones will answer. Sometimes they’ll be a long time coming. But everything the well gave you it will give you again. Or if not you, your children. Or your great-great-great-great-grandchildren. And since God created you in his image, you have His dream power. By the grace of dreams we may meet again, blown together by an emerald wind. And I hope you’ll remember me with metaphors and make a lovely web of words about me. I hope you’ll make some marvelous—what do you call it?”
[Adam said the first word that came into his head.] “Poetry.”
Last May, I took the train from Grand Central Station to Poughkeepsie and I visited Nancy and her husband the photographer, Eric Lindbloom. They took me out for a delicious lunch at the Culinary Institute of America and then we went back to the house. I sat with Nancy in her curious, lovely den, in her most curious and lovely treasure-trove of a home, filled with wonderful hybrid objects that she has made over the years and all manner of assembled chotchkes and painted furniture.
I confided to her that I have recently eased up on poetry and that for some unknown reason, I am attempting to write a novel. She was extremely encouraging, and told me to keep exploring my story, whatever it was, and that the words would come. Thinking back, I am sure she was admonishing me to locate my well.
While we were together, I asked her to read her poem, “How to Stuff a Pepper.” I wanted to capture her on video to send this as a gift to Stacey Harwood, our fearless leader here at BAP digital. Stacey had told me that she liked this poem very much. Unfortunately, my iPhone was new to me at the time and I did not know how to shift the camera from photo to video mode. (Imagine that, a Smart phone, smarter than its user!) All it takes is a flick of the finger, but I did not know.
Nancy began reading and I missed the opportunity to record her. I did, however, accidentally snap this telling picture of the poet’s hands.The mind may do the thinking, but the hands must do the writing.
As I promised yesterday, here is the poem, “How to Stuff a Pepper,” a small treat this Wednesday for Stacey Harwood.
How to Stuff a Pepper
Now, said the cook, I will teach you
how to stuff a pepper with rice.
Take your pepper green, and gently,
for peppers are shy. No matter which side
you approach, it's always the backside.
Perched on her green buttocks, the pepper sleeps.
In its silk tights, it dreams
of somersaults and parsley,
of the days when the sexes were one.
Slash open the sleeve
as if you were cutting into a paper lantern,
and enter a moon, spilled like a melon,
a fever of pearls,
a conversation of glaciers.
It is a temple built to the worship
of morning light.
I have sat under the great globe
of seeds on the roof of that chamber,
too dazzled to gather the taste I came for.
I have taken the pepper in hand,
smooth and blind, a runt in the rich
evolution of roses and ferns.
You say I have not yet taught you
to stuff a pepper?
Cooking takes time.
Next time we'll consider the rice.
Writing, like cooking, takes time. Let’s go to the well and let’s sit a while. Let’s consider the rice, the onions, the garlic, the peppers. Let’s sprinkle some cinnamon, some almond dust. Let’s invent a recipe. Together, we’ll make a fine meal.
Greetings, poetic earthlings. I’m pleased and honored to be on deck once again in the BAP blogosphere. It has been a while since I’ve written here and a lot has happened since my previous gig. The last time I blogged for BAP was in the fall of 2011. I remember this time frame because it coincided with my brief stint as a grad student in the Masters of Counseling program at Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
At that time, I was employed as the college’s alumni director (even though I am not an alumna of Lakeland). Now I’m the grant writer there, but no matter what one does at Lakeland, staff gets to take classes for free. Back then I thought, “What am I waiting for? Get a new master’s degree for heaven’s sake. It costs nothing!” A person can only go so far in life with a master’s degree in art history. (In a previous life, I had gone pretty far, though: 20 years as an art museum educator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Getty Museum, and then the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan. But I digress.)
Art educator, alumni director, therapist? What was I thinking? As much as I relished learning about pathologies, the ethics of counseling, and how to be sensitive to humans of all stripes, I realized that at my advanced age, becoming a therapist was not a stellar idea. I had this notion that I wanted to blend poetry and therapy to help people become more self-aware, more emotionally healthy. But I realized that, like they admonish on the airplane, I needed to secure my own air mask first. If anyone was going to get healed by writing poetry, it was going to be me. Selfish, but true.
So, I dropped out of the program after two semesters in order to focus on my writing. (I must digress again to say that after a strong start at Vassar in 1980 under the tutelage of Nancy Willard and Brett Singer, I slowed to a complete halt and did not start writing poetry again seriously until age 48. So to say I determined I had to focus on my writing means something particular in this context. I was choosing not to let my writing get stifled again. How could there be time for poetry if I was launching a new career? Better to stay in the career in which I found myself and allow poetry to grow up around it. Right?)
What happened next was I had some health issues that required surgeries and extended hospital stays and bed rest. I was off work for eight weeks, during which time I thought it would be a good idea to try my hand at memoir. (I read two at that time that inspired me, Peggy Shumaker’s Just Breathe Normally and John Daniel’s Looking After.) I veered off poetry a bit to tell the story of my life. I wrote over a hundred pages, but the memoir remains unfinished. I don’t know which arc of my life is the focus of the tale, so the text lies dormant for now, dangling, or maybe I should say, hovering.
I recovered from my health woes, but on the heels of that fiasco, my father fell ill at the end of 2012. Georg Vihos had just moved from Hamtramck, Michigan to Hallandale, Florida, to establish a “winter studio” for his art, when all his systems began failing. My sister and I went down to retrieve him and convinced him to move to Sheboygan. My next nine months were spent fretting over my dad, who endured a lot of pain and hardship as he shut down.
He passed on September 26, 2013. Soon after he died, I started a blog in his honor called Frying the Onion. I named it this because dad once told me that if he ever felt out of sorts or sad, he would fry up an onion and pretty soon, the smell would fill the house and make him feel calm and cheerful again. I used the blog as a field in which to exercise my grief. It helped. If nothing else, friends could follow me and comment and mourn with me. My words had meaning, not just for me, but for others. That is what every writer hopes for, isn’t it? To touch unseen readers.
The days leading up to Georg’s death were the saddest days of my life. As I approach the first anniversary of his leaving, many of the same feelings are rearing their ugly, grief-stricken heads. I am grateful to have the opportunity to blog for you during this trying time. Like frying an onion, writing gives me a chance to peel back layers and reveal what is hidden, stirring it into something buttery and carmelized, something therapeutic, an aromatic gift that makes me weep. I put on my air mask, keep breathing. I write, I share, I heal.
In the coming week on this blog, I look forward to examining with you some lessons learned from a variety of teachers, some poets, some not, some who arrived in unexpected packages. For today, I close with a poem on the power of the onion, by Lakeland colleague, friend, and mentor, Karl Elder:
Apple of Lucifer,
So long you’ve
Remained your own translucent
And am off-center
Having invaded your
Against my wishes,
Against the grain,
Any way I slice you
On the cutting board,
Rendering a map
Of your world,
In spots I’ve fumbled
The dull paring knife,
I cannot now
Nor ever put
You together again
Though you fall
In piles of perfect
Treasure of Proserpine,
Poem in Many Parts,
Favorite of Mine,
Gives you cause
Extending long after your death,
Reek of your anguish,
For I have known
Known all the onions—
I weep for
Your radiant pain.
“Onion” appeared in the Spring 2002 issue of Salt Fork Review and was posted on November 1, 2013 on Frying the Onion.
(Ed note: The Inquisitive Eater is one website I visit often. It publishes a brilliant mix of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, visual art, news. This piece recently captured my attention and I contiue to return to it so it seemed worthwhile to share it here. sdh)
Haut-cuisine extravaganzas like Plaza-Athéneé Lobster Soufflé are not usually my thing, either as a diner or as a cook—too rich, too fattening, too much of a production—but when my neighbor Stan and I attempted to make it one New Year’s Day and failed, it haunted me. The soufflé lurked out there, along with the perfect rye bread and a Kosher dill that mimicked the exact taste and texture of a Guss’ Pickles pickle, in the deep pool of unrealized cooking dreams, just beyond reach. Besides, Stan, whose disappointment was much keener than mine, claimed it was one of the best things he’d ever eaten.
Stan was an accomplished home cook and for many years, Plaza-Athéneé Lobster Soufflé had been his specialty. He had promised several times to make it for my husband Stephan and me, but each time we came to dinner with Stan and his wife, Leslie, the dish failed to appear. He baked delicate gougères, a beautiful whole red snapper with herbs, a gorgeous rosemary encrusted leg of lamb, but no soufflé. Finally, during a dinner at our house, he had to admit that he couldn’t do it. Already in his late eighties, he found it increasingly difficult to make any of the elaborate dishes he used to execute with ease. The lobster soufflé required too many steps, beginning with killing, cutting up and cooking the lobsters, and took too many hours—three, at least—for him to contemplate.
Stan looked chagrined after his confession, obviously embarrassed to have to acknowledge that he was too old for the job. That’s when, impulsively, I suggested that we make it together. I had never made a soufflé and would get a lesson in how to do it. Stan would get the aid of my hands. I would be his sous-chef and do all the clean-up, enabling him to concentrate his energy on cooking. Together, surely, we could manage.
Stan emailed me a copy of his recipe, his shopping list of ingredients penciled in a column down one side. I would make sure we had everything we needed on hand: two lobsters, a carrot, an onion, chives, parsley, Cognac, dry white wine, heavy cream, dry sherry, butter, flour, eggs, and parmesan cheese. I read the sheet over once, twice, a third time, trying to fix an outline of the many steps in my mind. It was the sort of recipe that had to be executed quickly, without hesitation: fall behind and the cream would boil over while the butter burned.
Even though it's high summer, you may be thinking about a winter escape to Florida. You should consider staying at the Betsy, in South Beach, where David and I have stayed and where, in the interest of preserving the legacy of poet Hyam Plutzik, the people behind the scenes have established the Writers Room to support writers.
Since its official opening in April 2012, the Writer’s Room has hosted over one hundred writers—poets, novelists, journalists, playwrights among them— during which these writers have presented readings of their work, published or in-progress. The Betsy Hotel makes the room available to visiting artists and writers working a wide variety of domains and disciplines, at many project stages, but with a hyper-focus on poets during final-stage efforts.
The hotel itself is a stunner. With the graceful symmetry of its Georgian architecture, the Betsy Hotel stands in proud contrast to the Art Deco neighbors that typically define the historic area of Miami known as South Beach. First opened in 1942 as The Betsy Ross, the hotel had gone through several incarnations until 2009 when it was renovated top to bottom and reopened as luxury accommodations, with 61 rooms and suites, a BLT Steak restaurant, a pool, spa, and a superb rooftop lounge with expansive ocean views.
The lobby, with its palm trees and Terrazzo floor, captures the sultry atmosphere of the tropics so convincingly that I half expected Bogart and Bacall to walk in off the set of To Have and Have Not. Ceiling fans turn lazily overhead and the capacious sofas and wing chairs invite you to order a cocktail from the bar and settle in for intimate conversation or hours of reading, or simply to watch the parade of international guests making their way to and from the hotel’s nearby beach.
David and I booked a “Superior” room that overlooks the courtyard pool. Though the room is small, the amenities elevate it beyond the usual: king-size bed with luxury Frette linens, plush bathrobes, cult brand (Malin+Goetz) toiletries, and flat screen TVs in the bedroom and bathroom. Suites double the space, with separate living rooms and sofa beds.
Immediately after check-in we headed to the bar for a LaBrava Cooler, a refreshing combination of Hendricks gin, St. Germaine, sage simple syrup, and cucumber. Nearby, a couple enjoying the final night of their stay devoured hamburgers with a tower of onion rings along with the BLT Steak signature popovers, which they nicknamed “crack-overs.” I was soon to discover why. Served warm, they are addictive; oversized, eggy, and topped with Gruyere cheese.
Dinner at BLT Steak the following evening was a relaxed affair. The restaurant had introduced its new menu, the star attractions of which, in my book, were the charred octopus over silky sous vide pork belly, lentils, and saffron-lobster broth, and the perfectly grilled Wagyu steak with an herbal chimichurro sauce. The key-lime panna cotta dessert provided a not-too-sweet palate cleansing finish.
As luxurious as the accommodations are, The Betsy is set apart from other hotels in its class by the owner’s commitment to the arts. Descendants of the acclaimed poet Hyam Plutzik (1911-1962), owner Jonathan Plutzik and his sister Deborah Briggs support the arts by sponsoring and hosting events year-round and by making available The Writers Room to which writers and artists can escape -- gratis -- in order to work. One wonders why more hotels don’t carve out such spaces. -- SDH
Here in New York’s Finger Lakes, corn season arrives late and leaves early. If you're like me, when you spot the first ears at a farmers market or roadside stand, you go a little crazy. Even though I’m usually cooking for just my husband and myself, I tend to buy dozens of ears at a time. My favorite comes from Ed Fedorka (above, also known as "the corn dude"), of Rainbow Valley Ranch, because corn is all he sells. Ed is living proof in my experience that if you make just one thing, you’re going to strive for perfection (think Antonio Stradivari). When corn comes in, Ed’s table at Ithaca's farmer's market is strewn with his super sweet varieties ($5/dozen); later in the season, he adds corn for popping packaged in neat plastic bags shaped like hands.
This season’s first corn coincided with a string of brutally hot days, days so hot that to boil water to cook the corn in my usual way would have made our un-airconditioned kitchen uninhabitable. Instead, I soaked the ears, still in their husks, in the sink filled with water, and threw them on the covered grill for roughly 10 minutes. The corn took on the smoke from the hardwood charcoal and was delicious, no butter or salt required. Even so, we had five large ears left over from a meal that included grilled wild salmon (also in season), and a salad.
The next day, with the temperatures holding steady in the 90s, I decided use the corn for a cold soup, nothing fancy. I stripped the kernels into the blender, added the last of my garlic scapes along with salt and pepper and a fistful of fresh cilantro (stems and leaves). After liquefying the corn, I streamed in about a cup of water, enough to thin the contents to the consistency of a pancake batter, and strained everything through a mesh sieve. Once chilled, the resulting soup was the essence of corn, or as some might say, the flavor of Kansas in August.
Fresh corn always reminds me of this poem, by Elaine Equi:
I strip away
your pale kimono.
Your tousled hair too,
comes off in my hands
All ears and
tiny yellow teeth.
from Surface Tension (Coffee House Press, Sept 1989)
(Ed note: This post first appeared on August 10, 2011)
I don't know when David and I first found our way to Frédéric Bouché's Ports of New York winery. It certainly wasn't during a tour of the many wineries around the Finger Lakes wine region. The tiny building where Bouché makes his red and white Meleau Port wine sits on a small lot in the midst of an urban industrial landscape, near an auto-repair shop and a production studio.
Behind the building's welcoming facade, Bouché uses state-of-the-art techniques and equipment to produce his rich and flavorful wines. We left our first visit with two bottles and over the years have returned often, sometimes with friends, to restock. David loves Melon au Porto, a classic preparation that was even found on the menu of the "Champlain", one of the French Line transatlantic ships sailing from Le Havre to NYC in the 1930s. (In fact, we'll be having the pairing tonight, as the nearby Jackman Vineyards has perfected the traditional Charentais melon, prized for its sweetness.)
A few months ago Bouché mentioned in an e-mail that he wanted to "do something with poetry and Port." The timing was serendipitous; David had published several well received translations of French poetry and was working on others.
It all came together last week, when an overflow crowd of poets, poetry lovers, and Port lovers gathered in Bouché's winery to sample his wines and listen to David read his up-to-date translations of prose poems by Charles Baudelaire, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Henri Michaux, which he believes are "among the glories of French culture." David fell in love with French prose poems ("the best prose poems in French, and therefore the best prose poems in the world") while a student in Cambridge, England. Bouché, Elise Finielz, and Niels Drouin read poems in their original French.
Here is a slide-show of pictures from the evening. To read the full captions, watch the show in full-screen mode:
In addition to the poems mentioned in the slide show, David read sections from Apollinaire's "Zone," winner of the Virginia Quarterly Review Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry and Apollinaire's five-line "Hôtel" which took him twenty years to translate to his liking. ("The first and last lines stayed the same. It was the middle three that I couldn't get right.").
Join David Lehman and Frédéric Bouché for a summer evening of:
Poetry & Port
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Ports of New York Winery
815 Taber Street
Sample Ports of New York’s delicious white or red Meleau wine while listening to David Lehman read his award-winning translations of poetry by Charles Baudelaire, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Henri Michaux. Frédéric Bouché will treat you to poems in their original French, all in the intimate space where he crafts wines unique to the Finger Lakes.
David Lehman is the creator and series editor of the annual Best American Poetry anthology, now in its twenty-sixth year. He edited The Oxford Book of American Poetry and is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently New and Selected Poems (Scribner, 2013). He was awarded the Virginia Quarterly Review Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry for his translation of Guillaume Apollinaire’s “Zone.”
Frédéric Bouché is the owner and winemaker of Ports of New York, where he produces the bold red and elegant white “fortified” Meleau wines using the traditional method associated with the production of Port. Bouché built his winery from the ground up, using salvaged materials for much of the building's façade. He maintains a small but fascinating museum which includes winemaking materials passed down in his French winemaking family for several generations. Arrive at 7:30 for a brief tour.
Books and Port will be for sale.
I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.