Tasted_175_271_90.jpg
Please don't call Marion Brown a food poet. The Yonkers writer is more interested in interpersonal relationships, female identity and sexuality than apples.

But it's

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Headless Cookie and Peach Juice Metaphors at Book Larder This Weekend

Tasted_175_271_90.jpg
Please don't call Marion Brown a food poet. The Yonkers writer is more interested in interpersonal relationships, female identity and sexuality than apples.

But it's the nature of the poetry biz that chapbooks don't get published without a theme. "If you look at Auden or any of the great poets, they just wrote books, but here in this country, they have to be about something," Brown explains. And when Brown surveyed her work, she discovered many of her poems - which weren't food poems, or even meant to be about food - referenced eating.

"I don't consider myself a foodie, so I learned something about myself," says Brown, the granddaughter of a highly accomplished home cook and niece of a professional chef. (Full disclose: Brown's also the mother of local arborist Deb Brown, who was my roommate for one semester in college.)

Brown will read from Tasted, her new poetry collection, this Sunday at Book Larder. Few of the included poems could be classified as odes: Rather than spend stanzas on the peculiar glories of specific foods, she tends to focus on how food figures into memory and moments. "I have watched/ a man read a menu/ when I was on the menu, / chosen and set aside. A dish." she writes in "Eating with Fingers," which opens with an image of an Afghan woman whose "desire/ dries in her mouth."

Negotiating a meal, Brown says, can reveal "how you organize a life, how you attract others."

Of course, Brown reckons with the most famous food poem, William Carlos Williams' "This is Just to Say," better known as the poem about the plums in the icebox. In "Connoisseur," she chronicles the mouse who eats her fruit and doesn't leave a note.

"Poetry is almost as immediate as eating," Brown says. "It's about a very basic, sensuous experience."

Brown's free reading starts at 11 a.m.

The crowd pleaser in Brown's chapbook is "Turns in the Kitchen," a poem about two very different styles of cooking. "People respond to it very quickly by trying to identify their type," she says. "And the people who are most joyous are always 'hers'. Nobody wants to be identified as the one who cooks by the book."

Turns in the Kitchen

by Marion Brown

his

My husband reveres a

recipe, his religion

never to cheat me

of condiment or herb

With the cooking torah

open, he will rip off

his apron if rice wine

is missing and dah

to the store. A tasty dish

is lawful or nothing,

ten commandments obeyed,

when he feeds me.

hers

For my good eats

I spirit mace

from the spice rack

when nutmeg's not there

the flash of cress

for cilantro; yes,

fantasy, and I the magus

who improvises a carrot,

pulls rabbit stew out of a hat,

to his amazement

and mine.

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