Spine to Spoon – Victuals: Ronni Lundy’s Appalachian Cookbook

“Spine to Spoon” is a series that digs into our Library’s rich stock of cookbooks and culinary collections. Each month, I’ll pick a book, try it out and write about it. I can’t share my dishes with you, but I’d love to share our books! Follow the “Spine to Spoon” tag to keep up with my kitchen.

Celebrating Gwendolyn Brooks with Revise the Psalm

Even though she lived in Topeka for just over a month, Gwendolyn Brooks was indeed born there. 2017 would have marked her 100th birthday, and towns all over Kansas were alight with celebratory readings, walks and exhibits throughout the year. Beyond the state borders, fresh anthologies and rejuvenated collections were released in honor of the woman who penned some of the most iconic poetry of our time.

Whiskey, Wilde and the Western World: An Introduction to Fenton Johnson

In this 2017 collection, which brings together essays originally seen in Harper’s, NPR, The New York Times and elsewhere, Fenton Johnson provides the reader with a fascinating timeline in the life of an activist. This timeline is particularly gripping because it spans many decades and multiple subjects, including faith, sexuality and family life. Johnson has spent more than thirty years as an outspoken writer and activist for this population, and Everywhere Home weaves us a beautifully-written tale of advocacy and passion.

Mai Der Vang’s Ancestral Ode

I just finished Mai Der Vang’s recently released collection, Afterland, and my ears are still ringing. The residual hum left after reading her haunting poems makes it difficult to let go, even after you put it down.

Spine to Spoon: Over Easy by Joy Wilson

As someone who inevitably fills every hour of the day with some kind of odd gig or pet project, I often find it hard to leave an entire chunk of time totally free and set aside some time to savor summer while it’s here. But exploring a new cookbook is a great excuse to take a break in the kitchen, and you can always justify taking a break to cook (everybody’s got to eat sometime, after all). Recently, I was lucky enough to be able to spend an entire morning with Joy Wilson’s Over Easy: Sweet & Savory Recipes for Leisurely Days. Based on title alone, it sounded like the perfect companion for a belated break from a busy week.

Examining Life Through Bots and Bodies: Jorie Graham’s Newest Poetry Collection

As far as American poets go, Jorie Graham is a superstar. With over thirteen collections of poetry to her name, she steadily remains well-loved and revered. She has served as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, has received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and took over Seamus Heaney’s role as the Boylston Professor of Oratory and Rhetoric at Harvard. To say she is a heavy hitter in the poetry world would be a gross understatement.

Spine to Spoon: The Aleppo Cookbook by Marlene Matar

Marlene Matar’s The Aleppo Cookbook: Celebrating the Legendary Cuisine of Syria, is a delicious dedication to a city and its food. If I could, I would eat only olives, beans and bread for the rest of my life, and I just might be able to with this book in hand. Matar presents us with a plethora of dishes, from a simple lentil stew to more complex creations like stuffed lamb dumplings. Still, each recipe is easy to follow and most include adaptations for the more adventurous cook.

Le Guin’s Poetry Urges Us Towards Awareness

Many know Ursula K. Le Guin through her hefty body of science fiction and fantasy work, perhaps The Lathe of Heaven or the well-loved Earthsea series. Others might be familiar with her books on writing, like the beautifully titled Steering the Craft: A Twenty-first Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, published in 2015. Still others devote themselves to her poetry, and its gently lilting verse. For those unfamiliar with the latter part of her repertoire, Le Guin’s newest collection, Late in the Day, provides a lovely introduction.