That Which Rips Your Heart with Joy: An Afternoon Masterclass on Food Writing
With Aimee Nezhukumatathil
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“Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s poems are as ripe, funny, and fresh as a precious friendship. They’re the fullness of days, deliciously woven of heart and verve….Poems like these revive our souls.” —Naomi Shihab Nye
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat
to live… So it has been since creation, and it will go on.”
–from “Perhaps the World Ends Here,” Joy Harjo
When reading about food or drink, the mind races and rushes for associations and/or remembrances. In most gastronomical writing, food often has a subtext, a layering, or, forgive me, a flavor—tinged with grief, joy, shame, desire, or nostalgia. What gets so often lost or overlooked is the contagious exuberance that can happen when one takes a bite of food and wants to be a student of that dish, even of a singular ingredient—to be curious about where it came from and what it means to have a bridge for people to connect or a place to provoke and reclaim, as poet Thomas Lux once wrote, “…that which rips your heart with joy.” This session will send you off with notes for several solid first drafts of food writing.
Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of a book of nature essays, World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, & Other Astonishments, which was a New York Times bestseller and was named a finalist for the Kirkus Prize in non-fiction. She has also published four award-winning poetry collections, most recently, Oceanic (2018). Her poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, Quarterly West, New England Review, Ploughshares, FIELD_,_ Antioch Review_,_ Prairie Schooner, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Southern Review_, and_ Tin House_. Poems and essays have been widely anthologized in such venues as_ The Best American Poetry series, Billy Collins’ second edition of Random House’s Poetry 180: A Poem a Day and Language for a New Century: Contemporary Asian American Poetry _from W.W. Norton. Awards for her writing include fellowships from the Mississippi Arts Council, Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for poetry, National Endowment of the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Her writing has appeared in NYTimes Magazine, ESPN, and Best American Poetry. She is professor of English and Creative Writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.
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