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Interview with the Editor

Richer Resources: Hello, Sally. Thank you for joining us today for this interview. Putting together an anthology of poetry on food seems like an extraordinary activity. Whatever prompted you to undertake such a project?

Sally Zakariya:
I wondered that myself more than once! But really, food in its many aspects—personal, sentimental, sensual, universal—is a natural subject for poetry. I realized I had written a number of poems about remembered meals, nurturing cooks, and food as a symbol of communion and contentment, and I found that other poets I know had, too. And because food is so basic to our relationships with family and friends and lovers, I thought many poets would like to have such an anthology on their own shelves—and perhaps to give copies to their favorite cooks.

Richer Resources:
Many of the poets in the book appear to be quite well known. It almost looks like a who's who of poetry. Did you receive quite a few submissions? It must have been difficult at times choosing what to include.

Sally Zakariya:
Getting submissions was the easy part, once the word got out via blogs, listservs, Facebook, and word of mouth. In fact, I received hundreds more poems—good ones—than we could use. And yes, the contributors include poets laureate, prize winners, and widely published poets—an impressive group. Selecting which pieces to use was really difficult, and the final choice was, I freely admit, subjective. What spoke to me? What sang or growled or snickered in a way I hadn’t heard before? Early on, I knew I wanted to group the poems thematically, which helped. I ended up with six sections: Amuse Bouche, What We Eat, Food and Love, Food and Geography, Kitchen Memories, and Food and Mortality—soup to nuts with a few extra snacks thrown in.

Richer Resources:
It must be challenging putting any anthology together, with all of the submissions, a large number of poets and, in this case, a few recipes thrown in as well. I am sure you found that staying organized was key. What else did you use to help guide your way through?

Sally Zakariya: Organization was a real challenge. My only answer was to keep reams and reams of notes and lists and stacks and stacks of printouts of poems. Midway through the process, we suffered a catastrophic computer crash—not just the hard drive, but the external backup drive as well (a case, I have to believe, of murder/suicide, and yes, I wrote a poem about it). Luckily I had put most of the copy on a thumb drive, and some clever techies salvaged everything that was lost. I also had advice and support along the way from my husband and from a few poet friends, to whom I’m eternally grateful.

Richer Resources: What did you enjoy most about this project?

Sally Zakariya:
That’s a hard question—I enjoyed the whole process, even while I was tearing my hair out. But I was particularly happy to have the opportunity not only to shape the contents of the book but also to design it inside and out.

Richer Resources:
Are you planning a follow-up anthology?

Sally Zakariya:
I’d love to do another but haven’t settled on a topic. Any suggestions? :)

Richer Resources:
We will ask around about that, Sally. Thank you for this interview.  

About Ust>

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