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Poetry Book Review:

What Feeds Us

by Diane Lockward

what feeds us by diane lockwardFew members of the fairer sex can deliver verse as brassy and sassy as Diane Lockward and still maintain that cross-kneed ladylike quality of grace. In What Feeds Us, Lockward once again proves that craft is keen. And so is she.

I wish I could say I enjoyed reading What Feeds Us as much as I liked her previous book of poems, Eve's Red Dress. Nevertheless, What Feeds Us exemplifies Lockward's commitment to strong imagery, charm and wit, and versatility of language. Her tastes are delectable.

What Feeds Us is a collection of poems that explores the rich world of food and haute cuisine through metaphor, sensual prosody, and breadth of vision if not depth of spirit. Lockward proves she is just as comfortable in the free verse vines of Postmodernism as the visual playfulness of concrete poetry and forms like the ghazal and triolet. Divided into four sections, What Feeds Us is a journey into the soul of hunger, feast and famine, female sexuality, and spiritual growth. Anyone can enjoy these poems.

Lockward's skill and craft can best be illustrated in the lines of one of her best poems. An ear for music and an eye for the subtle interplay of words is necessary to appreciate "The Best Words", but she manages to pull off being dirty by flirting with the cleaner side of the dish. Just read:

    The ones that sound obscene but aren't, That put a finger to the flame but don't burn. Words like asinine, poppycock, titmouse, tit for tat, woodpecker, pecorino, poop deck, and beaver. In tenth grade Mr. Mungonest, my English teacher, called Barney Feeley a young dastard and silenced the room. Dastard! I was seduced by words that flirt with danger but don't end up in bed. The threat of Shylock's If you prick us, do we not bleed? And fructify - I wanted to conjugate that sinuous verb, like Proteus, changing its form, oozing into fructuous, assuming the official ring of fructification, advocating like a president's wife for the Fructification of America. Wild words that shake their hips, thrust out their genitalia, and say, Feast on this. Sexagesima - my God! what a word for the second Sunday before Lent. Sextuplicate, the versatility of it - noun, verb, adjective - always occurring six times. And on the equator, positioned just south of the Sickle of Leo, the constellation Sextans. My twelfth grade English teacher was Mrs. Cox. We could not get enough of her name. We raised our hands and called, Mrs. Cox, Mrs. Cox, choose me! until we drove her out of school swearing to become a secretary or a nun, but not until we'd fallen in love with Edmund the Bastard. Cockatiel, cockatoo - words with wings. The hoarfrost of winter, lure of a crappie, handful of nuts, kumquat, lavender crystals of kunzite, the titillation of shiftless and schist, the bark and bite of shittimwood, music of sextillion and cockleshells. And always somewhere in the distance, Jerry Lee Lewis, blond curls flapping, groin pumping, fingers pounding the keyboard, his throat belting out Great balls of fire! - words like fat radishes burning my tongue.
Never have the words of the English language been so spit shined. Lesser poets would have flubbed it up to the core, but Diane Lockward teaches us how to say the right words at the right time and, more importantly, how to appreciate language for its juiciness, its drippiness, its sexy, saucy, palate-watering teasiness, and if there is one woman on the planet who fructifies better than any other, it's Diane Lockward. Buy What Feeds Us today and eat every word.

Order your copy of

What Feeds Us
by Diane Lockward


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