I was lucky enough to get to hear/meet poet January Gill O'Neil yesterday afternoon at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle. Her first full-length collection, Underlife, appeared from CavanKerry Press in 2009, and was a finalist for both the Foreward and Patterson Poetry Prizes. Underlife is filled with poems at times sumptuous, risky, funny, playful, sexy, food-ful, and wise. Here's one to whet your appetite:
I am from hush puppies & barbecue
from chitlins & fatbacks
hog maws & hog jaws & grits & scrapple.
Outside stands a dogwood tree we have let
overgrow from laziness
& a driveway cracked
with blades of grass.
I am from Rosemary & Stanley,
the last model in the series.
Around our house honeysuckle blesses the air,
seasons the heat of summer into a main dish.'
I am a plum black garnish to the day.
Wafts of smoke from pots on the stove
steam the kitchen.
Salt & Pepper stand at attention
next to the potholders on the counter.
Dinner is ready--no time for parsley.