Book Love – From the Standard Cyclopedia of Recipes: Adapted Poems by B.C. Edwards

From the Standard Cyclopedia of Recipes: Adapted Poems by B.C. Edwards

Medicinal shows once toured Europe and America. So called doctors would drive wagons from town to town, offering miracle elixers and other entertainments. My knowledge of medicine shows come from pop culture, the image of a man more entertainer than doctor purporting to sell cures. The man stands on his box or makeshift stage and with a flourish presents a bottle with some strange liquid inside. Is it medicine, a placebo, or poison?

B.C. Edwards’ From the Standard Cyclopedia of Recipes has the same feel of such medicinal shows, with the author himself presenting an assemblage of recipes and concoctions. Each of the poems in this book is an adaptation of a recipe found in a collection of household instructions originally published in 1901 by Frederick J. Drake and Company — recipes to make pure spirits, to cure distemper in horses, to restore burnt steel, to destroy the stumps of trees.

“Ask them how much it hurts. Really.
Drive spikes inward. Ask then.
Go on.
Every part until you have a porcupine,
the monster from Hellraiser
and now ask them how much it hurts.”

— From No. 674. Cure for Earache.

What unfolds is poetry as chemistry, words reacting with words to form new strange mixtures. Each time I pull the cork off a new poem, I’m not sure what I’ll get. Maybe it will evoke the ache of love, the sweetness of longing, the pain of lingering hope. Or maybe I’ll enjoy a contemplation on the nature of coffee, the preservation of birds and other animals.

“We are mostly concerned about being left alone.
We send text to each other
passed back and forth like fine sand
sifted charcoal back and forth
like we are archeologists with enormous screens
for sifting relics out of dirt.”

— From No. 757. How to make a Composition for Roofs.

As a fan of alchemy and medicinal shows and other feats of pseudo-miraculous science and a lover of poetry, this book is exactly my aesthetic. The recipes are surprising profound, strange, and compelling. Is it medicine, a placebo, or poison? What am I drinking down when I read these poems? I’m not entirely sure, but I loved the experience.

New Books in Poetry: Ready for the World by Becca Klaver

Ready for the World by Becca Klaver

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which the fabulous Athena Dixon speaks with Becca Klaver about her book Ready for the World (Black Lawrence Press, 2020).

Becca Klaver writes in the poem ‘Hooliganism Was the Charge,’ It offered reassurance which said, “You are not alone; I can hear you.” Her forthcoming collection, Ready for the World (Black Lawrence Press 2020), reminds us that no matter the digital distance between us we are never quite alone. A collection that both casts and dispels the bindings ever present via social media, patriarchy, and our own paths to growth, this collection allows readers to blur the lines between our sometimes carefully curated online lives and the magical beings we truly are.

Part spell book and a rumination on technology, Klaver explores womanhood and feminism from a distance and up close. These poems ask for us to find a remembrance and a reconnecting. She asks in the poem ‘Manifesto of the Lyric Selfie,’ what is burning in our little hearts?, and dares us to tear down what we think we know to find what we feel.”

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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