Poems honoring the memory of meals shared with loved ones, imagined feasts, odes to vegetables… In her latest collection Food for Thought, Joyce Holmes McAllister pays homage to all things culinary, from the humble turnip to the dangers of garlic, from thoughtful cows to fed-up chickens, from reluctant little neck clams to the truth about caviar. This poet ranges widely in space and time, conjuring memories from the farm kitchen of her youth, meditating on the cooking of Alice B. Toklas, recalling a dear friend’s penchant for Hebrew National hot dogs, remembering the tradition of cocktail hour, and mourning the loss of her husband and dining companion of 40 years. Whether playful and light hearted or haunted by absence, these poems reflect the wisdom of a life fully lived, meals fully savored. At times bittersweet, always creative, McAllister’s work is permeated by her lifelong passion for gastronomy and poetry. Fellow poet and friend Mary Beth O’Connor has provided whimsical color illustrations for several of the poems.
Joyce Holmes McAllister’s first chapbook Before We Knewwas published by Foothills Press in 2016; the second, Return (Yellow Sofa Press), appeared about a year later. This is her first full-length collection.