friday feast: kate lebo’s pie-losophy

“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

Kate Lebo, the Pie Poet (credit: Christopher Nelson)

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.

Kate’s bestselling handmade zine can be purchased via Etsy.

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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MINCEMEAT PIE
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.

Learn more about Pie School here, and be sure to visit Kate’s official website for information about her writing.

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poetryfriday180The 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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weekend cooking button (2)180This 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!

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Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

48 thoughts on “friday feast: kate lebo’s pie-losophy

    1. Isn’t that video something else? It seems every time I turn around and find work to get excited about, the creator/artist is from Seattle. Need to visit again soon.🙂

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    1. It really is the perfect combination, isn’t it? Now that I’ve read a few of her poems, I’d like to taste one of her pies someday.

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  1. I can’t wait for the book! My daughter is a pie-making wizard & will love it-as will I. The beauty of the words leaves a very good taste, Jama and Kate! Love “transforming raw materials into something that will satisfy a specific hunger” and “She likes to imagine her movements as gusts of wind blowing her children around the world, her little boats.” Thank you!

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    1. Kate’s pie poems definitely have a wonderful element of surprise. I’m really looking forward to chatting with her about the new book — and of course I’m excited about her forthcoming cookbook with Sasquatch Books next year. She has made me SO hungry for peach pie🙂.

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    1. I agree — she’s definitely pushing boundaries, testing limits in her poetry as well as pie-baking — no wonder she calls it cliché-busting!

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  2. I’m finding myself salivating! I need some pie right away, maybe not mincement though. I mean, what is mincemeat – assorted meat stuffs? What IS that? I have been trying to find the answer to this question for a long time since my grandmother used to make mincemeat pies and my mother claimed they were her favorite kind of pie. Wonderful poem. Loved, loved, loved the last line.:)

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    1. Original mincemeat pies did have meat in them — these date way back to Medieval times, I think. Crusts were “coffins”, containers for the meats, not meant to be eaten. This mixture of meats, fruits and spices gradually gave way to the sweeter pie we see more often today, especially during the Christmas season. My aunt used to make a mince pie every now and then during the holidays, but it was never my favorite because it was too sweet.

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    1. Fall is coming — apple season! I predict lots of warm apple pie in your future. In fact, I predict you will bake some extra pies and send them to me🙂 . . .

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  3. Ooooh! You’ve been so missed Jama. I soooo love that bit about pies and metaphors: “Does the filling speak of glorious summer days or the dark broken pieces of regret?” You are just too luscious yourself to be oh-so-true.🙂 Will definitely try to find Kate’s poetry book! Sounds crustiliciously-tasty!

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    1. There’s just something about pie, isn’t there? Surely it’s the most democratic of desserts. I’ve never been called luscious before. You are just so smooth, Myra😉.

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  4. Wonderful, Jama! Like Linda, I fancied “She likes to imagine her movements as gusts of wind blowing her children around the world, her little boats.”

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  5. YAY!! Jama’s back!!

    I just finished half of an artisanal popsicle and half of an artisanal donut (the fresh pasta and meatballs will be dinner tonight with my homemade pesto and the gooey pecan roll will be breakfast tomorrow) AND NOW you have me craving pie!

    Love the pie/poetry quotes.

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    1. Okay, you’re killing me with talk of pasta, popsicles and donuts — and artisanal to boot? Torture! I didn’t realize there was such a thing as artisanal popsicles. Pretty high brow stuff.🙂

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    1. So do I. There’s so much truth right there — with writing, most of us are unbelievably, unreasonably hard on ourselves. It’s nice to hear of a writer who’s found a good balance. We all need tangible evidence that we’ve done something — and if it’s good to eat, even better.

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  6. How cool is that? Poetic Pies? Love. And lemon meringue is my favorite. Oh, maybe sour cherry. Well, apple is good. And key lime. And pumpkin. I love pie.

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  7. Pies and poetry – fab! Mince pies ie pies with meat and gravy in them are very popular here in New Zealand. although my favourite is a steak & cheese pie – yum – splosh on the tomato sauce (ketchup) and there you go!

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    1. Mmmm, savory pies! When hearing “mince” or “mincemeat” pie I tend to think of the sweet version with fruits and spices. I do remember enjoying meat pies when I lived in England, though.

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  8. Loved the post. Our family loves poetry and pies. At Thanksgiving I always have to make one mincemeat pie for myself. (No other converts yet) My mincemeat (home canned) is made from apples, raisins, oranges, pears, green tomatoes and lots of spices–no meat. Come to Mississippi on Thanksgiving and I’ll save you a piece.

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    1. This is interesting because Kate’s poem mentions green tomatoes and now here you are. I never realized they were used in mincemeat, but it makes sense since tomatoes are actually fruits. I bet your home canned version is really yummy. Save me a piece in November!

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  9. “Everyone forgives the pie-maker her tardiness.” I admire her balance of taking risks in her poems and staying grounded in pies. Baking is a Zen activity for me, and always has a happy ending, which I love. Thanks for sharing. Warm Derby pie with vanilla ice cream on top . . .

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    1. I’m with you — baking is definitely a great grounding, zen activity that yields tangible results you can share with other people!

      I don’t think I’ve ever had Derby Pie. Must investigate!

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