Friday, April 14, 2006

Toasting poetry

Just sitting around adding a layer of cookbooks to the layer of poetry books on my desk. A gift from the gods -- well, from Susan in Calgary really -- arrived in my mailbox yesterday: the gastro-biography Toast, by that most laid back of the British celebrity chefs Nigel Slater. Pretentious is certainly not a word you could use about someone who describes his mother's chronically burnt toast thus:
"It is impossible not to love someone who makes toast for you. People's failings, even major ones such as when they make you wear short trousers to school, fall into insignificance as your teeth break through the rough, toasted crust and sink into the doughy cushion of white bread underneath. Once the warm, salty butter has hit your tongue, you are smitten."
Meanwhile I peruse recipes of a non-toasty nature as I have been smitten myself by an insane plan to cater my own book launch. Will I never learn? I think it was finding a caterer who charged $69 for a smoked salmon cheesecake that unhinged me. So I and my crispy assistant Miss Vicky will take care of things.

I've picked up another half-read book. This time it's the always unpredictable and hugely successful anthology Staying Alive, edited by Bloodaxe's own Neil Astley (check out his controversial lecture, Guile, Bile and Dangerous to Poetry). I was surprised - favourably - to discover Gwendolyn MacEwan among the contributors; and Anne Michaels, P.K. Page, and lots (7 poems!) of Alden Nowlan. One or two of the section introductions are more confusing than the poems -- I have long been baffled by Astley's assertion that Elizabeth Bishop's Chemin de Fer could "be read as a 'coded' account of female masturbation." Huh?!? Still, the poems themselves are ones to be grateful for and it is a wonderfully broad selection.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooooh, how I loooove Miss Vicky! Lime and black pepper may well be my all-time fave...

As for female masturbation in Chemin de Fer uh, I know I didn't go there with it...

Too weird.

10:50 a.m.  

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