Emily Dickinson, the Poet Foodie

Tuck in your napkins, people.  Today’s post is all about food.  Food in verse, that is.


Sometimes poetry is more than just poetry.

The Hungry Ear is a collection of poems that celebrates the pleasures and sorrows of food.  Kevin Young cooked up, er, edited this book.  He says that, much like the best meals, the best poems are made from scratch.

I like the sound of that.  It’s the way we do things in my kitchen. Fatto a mano.

My Grandmother made braciole.  I bet poet Joseph Bathanti’s did, too.

Braciole is a Sicilian dish and, yes, it starts with a hammer.  Unless you have a butcher in the village like Lina’s.


Braciole by Joseph Bathanti 

With the cast iron claw


silver in endless

bouts of fire, forged
in Manfredonia,

by my blacksmith
grandfather, Paolo
Battiante, arrived

at Ellis Island
on the Luisiana,
out of the province

of Foggia, 1907,
where his name
was altered, like so many,

the hammer secreted
in his tunic –
my mother pounds

on butcher block
flank steak to temper,
then lays on each softened tongue

olive oil, garlic, parsley,
salt and pepper, before
trussing them into scrolls

bound with string
from Stagno’s Bakery,
and dropping them

into the incarnadine majesty
of the sauce to roil
the rest of our lives. Amen.




Here’s a Poetic à la carte menu to whet your appetite ~  

Butter   http://www.poetryfoundation.org/features/audioitem/1902

To Eat of Meat Joyously  http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poems/eat-meat-joyously

Speed and Perfection http://www.phys.unm.edu/~tw/fas/yits/archive/hirshfield_speedandperfection.html

Artichoke  http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoem.do?poemId=7611


Food is pop culture. It’s who we are.  It sustains us.  It connects us.  So does poetry.

Finally, an Homage to Guacamole. Make some today. If the timid-but-stormy Clownfish is torqued to the limit, tomorrow we’ll be dunking in the dark.

Do you have a favorite food poem?

Or one you wrote from scratch?

Toni 2/6/13

12 thoughts on “A READABLE FEAST

  1. Thank yo so much for this post! The video of Signora Lina is priceless and I felt as if i’d been transported back in time to my youth. I noticed how she used the same two-pronged fork to stir the braciole as well as the cooking pasta. It may vary from family to family but in ours, Mom’s generation and those before all used forks far more than they did spoons. My generation is the opposite.
    I should be going to bed but now I want some braciole! 🙂


  2. Never can figure out how Toni can love food so much and still weigh little more than
    100 pounds!!!! Wish she would share her metabolism. 🙂


  3. My mom made braciole all the time…. I can still taste it…. By the way, not remembering the Italian word for hammer tortured me… My trusty Italian dictionary rescued me…. the word is martello. Loved your post.


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