This collection, Diane Wakoski’s twenty-fifth book, gathers her best work from 1988 to 2000.
“All the poems in this collection,” she writes, “describe the ongoing process of discovering beauty and acquiring an aesthetic sensibility via food”––seeing and savoring it, cooking and sharing it, reaching out to all creation and drawing it in, devouring it, lapping it up, literally becoming one with it. In the title poem, chosen by Adrienne Rich for inclusion in Best American Poetry, the poet recalls an early memory of delight in pure color––”Red stains on a clean white bib. . . crimson blood on canvas.” Blood and crisp cotton as ink and paper, bread and wine as flesh and blood, the meal as art and as sacrament––this is the stuff of The Butcher’s Apron, a feast for lovers of good food and good poetry, and for those who, “as some women love jewels, love the jewels of life.”
Wakoski is a dedicated independent. . .self-mythologizing, autobiographically grounded, at her strongest when most self-consciously outspoken. The occasion of this second selected poems. . .may be the time to lift her [above] her cult constituency.
Dipping into this volume is like sticking your finger into a pot of honey. Highly recommended.