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Food and poetry: in so many ways a natural pairing, from prayers over bread to street vendor songs. Poetry is said to feed the soul, each poem a delicious morsel. When read aloud, the best poems provide a particular joy for the mouth. Poems about food make these satisfactions explicit and complete. Pages can and have been filled about food's elemental pleasures. And of course we all know food is more than food: it's identity and culture. Our days are marked by meals; our seasons are marked by celebrations. We plant in spring, harvest in fall. We labor over hot stoves; we treat ourselves to special meals out. Food is nurture; it's comfort; it's reward. While some of the poems here are explicitly about the food itselfthe blackberries, the butter, the barbecueall are evocative of the experience of eating. Many of the poems are also about the everything else that accompanies food: the memories, the company, even the politics. Kevin Young, distinguished poet, editor of this year's Best American Poetry, uses the lens of foodand his impeccable tasteto bring us some of the best poems, classic and current, period. Poets include:Elizabeth Alexander, Elizabeth Bishop, Billy Collins, Mark Doty, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Louise Gluck, Seamus Heaney, Tony Hoagland, Langston Hughes, Galway Kinnell, Frank O'Hara, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Adrienne Rich, Theodore Roethke, Matthew Rohrer, Charles Simic, Tracy K. Smith, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, Mark Strand, Kevin Young
Kevin Young is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Ardency and Dear Darkness. His collection For the Confederate Dead won the Paterson Poetry Prize for Sustained Literary Achievement, and Jelly Roll was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He is also the editor of six previous anthologies, including The Best American Poetry 2011; The Art of Losing; and Blues Poems and Jazz Poems, from the Everyman's Library Pocket Poets series. Young is currently the Atticus Haygood Professor of English and Creative Writing and curator of Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University in Atlanta.