Sandra Gilbert (2016)

Sandra M. Gilbert

“These are all ekphrastic/culinary poems—poems responding to various painted scenes of eating—and so are spin-offs from my book, The Culinary Imagination: From Myth to Modernity (WW Norton, 2014). I hope the poems can stand free of the paintings, though they’re definitely allusive. In the absence of the images that inspired me, I’ve sought to inscribe ideas that seemed central to them. After some years of writing about food and the words with which we respond to food, I wanted to create poems that somehow reflect fascinating paintings. Arguably, after all, the “culinary” is the “cultural”—consider Claude Lévi-Strauss’s famous The Raw and the Cooked—so that to focus imagination on the kitchen, the hearth, the cauldron, is to turn to the magic that makes us who we are. Also in a more recent book, an anthology titled Eating Words: A Norton Reader of Food Writing (Norton, 2015, coedited with Roger Porter), I’ve turned again and again to this subject. And in the new collection of poems I’m just completing, tentatively called “Saturn’s Meal,” I intend to explore it further. As the great gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin famously wrote, “You are what you eat,” but I also believe that you are what you write about what you eat!”

Sandra M. Gilbert has published eight collections of poetry, most recently Aftermath (2011) and also numerous books of prose. She is currently at work on a new collection of poems, “Saturn’s Meal,” and with Susan Gubar, she is coauthor of The Madwoman in the Attic and coeditor of The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women, along with many other volumes: the two received the 2012 Award for Lifetime Achievement from the National Book Critics Circle.