Listen to a short podcast by Lenni Sanders, our March Digital Poet-In-Residence, which includes two of Lenni’s poems about food.
A transcript has been included below for accessibility purposes.
Food poems – a short podcast
LENNI: Hello, this is Lenni Sanders speaking.
I’m here to talk about food today.
MAN’S VOICE: Cover all 9000 tastebuds [Lips smacking sound] Aerate it [Lips smacking sound] Warm it up.
LENNI: [laughing] Just a clip from a video I like. It’s about a professional ice cream taster, tasting some ice cream. I’ll include a link to it in the blog if you’d like to see it.
I wanted to share two new poems with you about food. They both come from a workshop which is part of a series called MUSE-LI, which is ran by the poets Winston Plowes and Gaia Holmes. It’s ran over Facebook and every Thursday you get two great prompts. That’s spelled M U S E dash L I.
Speaking of food writing, I wanted to mention a really interesting magazine for new experimental and literary food writing, Spoonfeed. Check it out! The magazine Porridge also publishes a strand of food writing called Comfort Foods which you can find on their website.
My poems I’m about to read about food aren’t about real food, they are both a kind of fantasy.
Please ignore any background sounds – I live in an apartment …
I showed up alone and waited for three hours,
where were you? I listened to your voicemail message
five times, tasted a different emotion in your voice
each go on the merry go round, in the words
of your message. “You’ve reached me — Lenni.”
Clearly, I had not. The ice in my first drink melted
slowly, at one point looking for all the world
like the shape of your lips, closed. Then later looking
like one of your pupils. Then finally a little of your breath
in night air. “Leave me a message and I’ll get back to you.”
The waiters were good to me, bringing me
edible flowers every time the clock rang
another hour: roses carved from carrot,
bright and wet. The petals of violets
on silver dishes, small, the type women
store their rings on at night on the dresser.
Finally, on the house, they brought me the breast
of the turtle dove, who never takes another mate,
accompanied by a stain of red wine sauce,
for blood, or to represent the heart.
And the waiters moved like dancers and their trays
were made of glass — their eyes were soft and wobbly
with the possibility of tears. Everyone there
was overwhelmed by something, nobody’s voice
rose above the water level, everybody’s hands
were trembling, except the chefs, whose knives
were expert, who could throw their knives
into black paper and pick out the constellations
without error, whose knives were shining honestly.
I try very hard
A tank of translucent blue-green jelly,
five feet across and higher, containing
within it real crabs and lobsters,
in positions suggesting life, creeping
across the bottom, which is sand
made of caviar and the smallest
most delicate breadcrumbs. When you select
which one you want, I plunge my hand
right in, the jelly gives way easily,
I pull it out, and you can go ahead,
it’s cooked already. The illusion falls apart
completely, smashed up, for a minute
of your enjoyment. It’s my pleasure.
The jelly is in the carpet. The jelly is in my hair.
The crab legs hang obscenely from your mouth,
O, who are ungenerous, and do not care about
the expense to which I went, or how many
crustaceans died today in shrieking pans,
on your account. Tomorrow – a salad
of crisp leaves, touched very lightly
with a savoury dressing, will make
a lifelike pot plant, in a pot made from
a fresh round sourdough — a venus fly trap,
which will perhaps eat you?