As editors, we had to ask ourselves—Did we pick this theme because it was obvious and we were hungry? Food can be gratifying, dull, or arduous, but are there any in-betweens? Are we either followers of the eat-to-live or live-to-eat creed, or can we be agnostic about it? These questions were on our minds as we opened our call, and we were met with so much more.
We received masses of submissions in every genre, the content and voices of which were diverse; writers and artists certainly had a lot to say about the subject. We went from being anxious that our issue would be starved of varied voices and opinions, to wanting to devour every morsel of delicious poetry, fiction, CNF, and visual art that we could stuff into the pages, and found ourselves wishing we had a bigger plate.
We’re thrilled to share with our readers new work from Marilyn Dumont, a suite of six new poems that explores the duality of life and death, and the culmination of this concept in a simple meal. We also spoke to Ruth Ozeki, who shared with us why she has explored the subject of food and agriculture frequently in her fictional narratives after investigating them in her non-fiction work.
Between water, apple pie, noodles, chrysanthemum tea, Glums Wareneki, narwhal brain, and “puddle of paltry ‘stew’”, the stories we have collected reveal how food almost always hinges on some form of memories, politics, history, hardship—and sometimes, all of these at once. And at other times—pure joy and restoration. These works of poetry, prose, and art explore the topic in all its facets and crevices, but all share the commonality of food. The power of food. The glory of food. The pain of food. As our poetry coordinator, Terri Brandmueller, puts it in our RoomMate interview, “When you combine food and literature, you hit a kind of sense-memory jackpot.”