introducing readers to writers since 1995

April 11, 2005

"We Keep Our Mouths Full and Busy..."

by Ron Hogan

bascove.jpgA few months ago, I mentioned reading Sustenance & Desire, an anthology of poems and essays about food edited by Bascove and illustrated with her paintings. Last week, I went to the New York Public Library on 53rd Street, across the street from MoMA, to meet her in person and hear readings by three poets from the collection.

After an introduction by publisher David Godine, David Lehman began with an excerpt from Nabokov's Speak, Memory, then segued into a Katha Pollitt poem about mandarin oranges. Selections followed from Edna St. Vincent Millay ("a much better poet than some people condescendingly think"), Richard Wilbur ("another poet I think is greatly underrated"), and Jane Kenyon's "considerable" "Man Eating." Lehman then switched to some of his own verse from The Daily Mirror and his new collection, When a Woman Loves a Man.

Next, Vickie Karp read excerpts from Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed; the passages about Ehrenreich's foray into waitressing led into an Ann Caston poem and then some of Karp's own poems. She concluded with part of Margaret Visser's essay, "The Artificial Cannibal," and then Charles Simic came up to read Allen Ginsberg's "A Supermarket in California," followed by work from Nobel laureates Wislawa Szymborska, Pablo Neruda, and Czeslaw Milosz. After a short poem by Gwendolyn Brooks, Simic closed by reading four of his own poems, including "Crazy About Her Shrimp." If all this whets your appetite, an exhibit of Bascove's paintings for this and other recent books will open next month at the Uptown Gallery; who knows but which authors might be showing up on opening night?

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