Monday, November 12, 2012

Omnivore Odes: Poems About Food, Herbs and Spices

Cynthia Gallaher’s chapbook Omnivore Odes: Poems About Food, Herbs and Spices brings together poetry, foodie fantasy and herbal healing into one collection.

After some glorious hours of kitchen testing at the Culinary Suite of the Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a workshop at the Culinary Institute of New England in Vermont, and time spent cultivating organic fruits and vegetables at Lisa Fishman’s Poetry Farm in Wisconsin, I wrote Omnivore Odes to celebrate superfoods and wonder herbs in our era of otherwise fast food and depleted nutrients.

The poems span foods from carrots to tempeh, herbs from black cohosh to turmeric, and spices from cayenne to cinnamon.

Cinnamon: The First Shall Be Last, and Last First

Cinnamon radiates like sun-warmed brick
in Sri Lankan woods,
where bark curls into little scrolls
where the world writes childhood memories.

Its beguiling fragrance
beckons grown-up customers into shops,
quickly sells market-listed houses
as heated ovens exude its allure.

Cinnamon, once the spice
that launched a thousand ships,
its coppery payload, darling hostage
of world trade and exploration.

To those from India, cinnamon
tastes like curry,
to Cincinnatians, chili,
to Mexicans, café canela,

But to most western tongues
its dozens of dessert appearances
seem to form their own
12 days of cinnamon Christmas.

Between sweet homemade apple pie,
crock-pot mulled cider and
oversized rolls sold in airports,
it’s the all things nice part about

This spice,
an insulin stand-in
to lower
blood sugar levels.

Did we not notice until now
its covert worth behind kitchen cabinets,
when it dropped its rolled-up-in-a-rug disguise,
to reveal its power to metabolize.

~ Cynthia Gallaher

Omnivore Odes: Poems About Food, Herbs and Spicescan be ordered through Finishing Line Press. It also makes a unique gift for your poetry-loving, foodie or natural healer friends.

Order Omnivore Odes

Here are a few comments on Omnivore Odes from authors I admire:

“What fun! In Omnivore Odes, Cynthia Gallaher uses wit and deft language to sing the music of the kitchen larder. Gallaher’s whimsy wanders from Popeye landlocked in the Texas spinach capital of the world to peanuts, ‘like the elephant, what many of us work for.’ In her gifted hands, the foods and spices of everyday life undergo transformation into fairy tales and new mythologies.”
~ Linda Rodriguez, author of Every Last Secret (St. Martin’s Press), Heart’s Migration (Tia Chucha Press) and The “I Don’t Know How to Cook” Book – Mexican (Adams Media)

“Cynthia Gallaher weaves threads of science with seeds of the sacred. The result – a walk along a path that informs with delight. Certainly the best herbal poetry since Shakespeare.”
~Steven Foster, senior author of National Geographic’s A Desk Reference of Nature’s Medicine and Peterson’s A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs

Omnivore Odes by Cynthia Gallaher is now one of my favorite books of poetry -- giving voice to food, herbs and spices. The poems are so well-crafted she succeeds in making them simple, and in that simplicity lies richness. She paints with words -- and the paintings she leaves are vivid and bright. Especially inspired by the line in the poem ‘Black Cohosh Cool’ – ‘That a certain age can’t be played in a minor note.’ Her poems make me hungry for such wisdom.”
~ David Hernandez, the “unofficial” poet laureate of Chicago and founder of “Street Sounds” poetry musical performance ensemble

Cynthia Gallaher, a Chicago-based poet and writer, is author of three full poetry collections and a writing workshop leader. She is on the Chicago Public Library’s list of “Top Ten Requested Chicago Poets” and named one of “100 Women Making a Difference” by Today’s Chicago Woman Magazine. She tweets about food and poetry at ◦

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