“Making pie, I love the hunger and delight of the hands. You don’t have to touch cake, but you have to touch pie.” ~ Kate Lebo
Sometimes you just gotta have pie.
That’s why I was positively giddy when I chanced upon Kate Lebo’s prose poem, “Lemon Meringue,” in the Summer 2013 issue of Gastronomica.
Kate’s been on my foodie radar for a couple of years now; I first saw her drool-inducing double crust fruit pies at Cakespy.com, and earlier this year, Susan Rich shared Kate’s “Chocolate Cream Pie” at The Alchemist’s Kitchen.
Seeing “Lemon Meringue” made me want to find out more about this Seattle-based poet who loves shaping dough as much as crimping a good line of verse.
Pies are a companion piece to Kate’s writing — both processes involve transforming raw materials into something that will satisfy a specific hunger.
In a recent interview at Ploughshares, Kate discusses the two things pie has taught her about poetry:
1. When I make a cherry pie, I’m not mad that it didn’t turn out to be a blueberry pie. So why would I beat myself up for not writing poems just like Kay Ryan or Sylvia Plath (who loved to cook) or Laura Jensen? Pie gave me an invitation to be satisfied with what I made given the materials I had, and not internalize self-doubt. I eat self-doubt for dessert. Maybe that joke doesn’t make sense. But you get what I’m saying.
2. People know exactly how to respond to pie. I bring a pie, they freak out, we eat the pie, everyone’s happy. Even if I’m two hours late! Everyone forgives the pie-maker her tardiness. A lot of people do not know how to respond to poetry. They approach it with impatience, doubt, fear, annoyance, irony, dismissiveness, boredom. I need to make something that everyone knows how to receive, where the demands of the gift are clear. I need that badly so that I can continue to conquer self-doubt and write and publish and go go go.
You’ll be pleased to know Kate’s first book is coming out this Fall: A Commonplace Book of Pie (Chin Music Press, 2013), an expanded version of her original zine, is what she calls a poetry booby trap. So, you might think you’re getting just a cookbook of pie recipes, when in fact you’ll also be treated to some real and imagined pie facts, a pie horoscope, cool ephemera — and surprise, surprise! — these ingredients have been baked into intriguing, arresting, delectable pie poems, including “Lemon Meringue” and the one I’m sharing today, “Mincemeat Pie.” The new book also features two dozen beautiful watercolors and illustrations by Jessica Lynn Bonin. A good way to make poetry more palatable, don’t you think?
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by Kate Lebo
Only one woman alive today would say her favorite pie is mincemeat. She makes hers with green tomatoes and mixed assorted meat-stuffs. Her grandchildren hide her slices in their mouths and spit them into milk glasses when she gets up to answer the telephone. No thank you. Now is not a good time. She wanted to be a writer. She took photographs and painted, wore Isadora colored scarves that covered her hair like hair, was the most beautiful woman in town and justifiably vain. She likes to imagine her movements as gusts of wind blowing her children around the world, her little boats.
Posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2013 Kate Lebo. All rights reserved.
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The saying goes, “easy as pie,” but in this poem as well as others in her book, Kate examines not only the personalities that align with certain pie types, but also the mysteries and complexities of pie as metaphor — what is hidden beneath the top crust? Why the tension between the container and the contained? Does the filling speak of glorious summer days or the dark broken pieces of regret?
I’m happy to report that Kate has graciously agreed to stop by Alphabet Soup later for a little pie talk, so stay tuned for more about her pielicious new book!
Now, here’s a little topping for today’s post. Enjoy, “Bliss,” a little movie Kate made recently about how to read a pie and eat a book.
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Kate Lebo is a Seattle-based poet who teaches creative writing at Richard Hugo House and pie making at Pie School, her cliché busting pastry academy. Her work has appeared in such publications as AGNI, River and Sound Review, Gastronomica, Poetry Northwest, and Best New Poets. She is currently writing a pie cookbook to be published by Sasquatch Books in 2014.
This Fall, Kate will be on the road promoting A Commonplace Book of Pie and she’ll be hosting Pie School classes in private homes or other venues wherever she’s appearing. Click here to see her schedule and here to register for a pie making class! The object is to have fun and make the best pie you’ve ever tasted.
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The lovely and talented Betsy is hosting this week’s Roundup at I Think in Poems. Check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere and bake a pie this weekend!
What kind of pie are you?
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This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on a big bib and join the fun!
Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.