127 USES OF PALM TREES

Jen Karetnick

include alcoholic sap, fed to
babies and beentos, swaddled
in emancipated ways. Add one


Star beer bottle of palm oil, portable
and characteristic, dropped on a map
to sprout and spread. Culture-bound


by any standard, deny the pallidly
deficient, colonial imprint, the inept
Anglicized experience fermented in


Turkish towels. These are the ancient
structures. The tin-roofed, bamboo-sided
nutrition. The lean-tos of authentic subsistence.

 

 

 

Found from Hatchen, Harva. 

Kitchen Safari: A Gourmet's Tour of Africa.

New York, NY: Atheneum, 1970.

PROCESS

Jen Karetnick

This poem was written as a collage using words from a vintage cookbook similar to the ones pictured. I collect these cookbooks because I also write cookbooks, and I like to see the progression in the field. Some of these were written for new gadgets at the time; some were written for brands; others were themed; and some are personal, handwritten books that are deteriorating. In that respect, nothing's really changed. But language-wise, these older books use diction and syntax that we no longer employ—and poetically, they lead to such surprising places. This poem is one in a series that I began when I first started to go through my books in anticipation of a move. I realized that I would have to downsize my collection and put most of the ones I kept in storage. We did eventually move this past November, and I have unpacked a few boxes so far, but the book that this poem came from is still apparently in storage.

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