A poet is a professor of the five senses, Lorca taught us. Gregory Emilio understands this beautifully. There are prayers here and songs of wonder, there is a communal voice and one of solitude. There is elegy and rhapsody. This book is alive. As Emilio writes in one unforgettable page (a cento!): “Saint Anthony, patron of sausage makers, / guide my pen and unkink my tongue. I sing / of a hog theater where hogs performed as men.” Gorgeous, surprising work.
— Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic
The fact that food, like sex, mediates for us with death provides the guiding metaphor for Gregory Emilio’s ingenious book Kitchen Apocrypha, which might equally well be titled Kitchen Epiphany. Beginning with a delightful amatory /gustatory rewrite of Yeats’s “Leda and the Swan” (“we stumbled out of the bedroom, dizzy / and undone, rapt and abandoned: hungry”), this collection riffs on many foodstuffs, spinning through poetic forms as it does so. It examines food service as well as food; it examines anorexia as well as satiety. The elemental fire by which food becomes food is felt also as the Paradise (California) wildfire, for the contents and activities of the kitchen, Emilio suggests, are a way of understanding the world. The true hospitality here is not an industry but a sacred duty to the stranger (to the reader), what the Greeks call xenia. This book is good company.
— Karl Kirchwey, author of Stumbling Blocks
Though Jesus assured us that we could not live by bread alone, still manna from heaven manifested itself as bread, and the eucharist is a meal of bread and wine. Food is both literal and metaphorical. The poetry in Kitchen Apocrypha, about the preparation and consumption and worship of food, is a cuisine of muchness and plenty, and delicious in the richness of its vocabulary and invention. By the end of the book, you may feel stuffed, but you’ll want more.
— Mark Jarman, author of The Heronry