September 28, 2008

Review by Linda Benninghoff

by Joanie DiMartino

Finishing Line Press
PO Box 1626
Georgetown, KY 40324
ISBN 978-1-59924-160-9
2007, 30 pp., $12.00

The poems in Licking the Spoon are about women—women having children, women involved with men, and women–in some cases, generations of women–cooking. The motif of cooking runs through most of the book and is introduced with the quote: “’Not yet Americanized. Still eating Italian food,”’ preparing the reader for the vivid descriptions of food, and in some cases ethnic food, that will follow.

In the opening poem, the poet prepares onion soup and cornbread in a 1778 hearth: “The heavy iron/ peel scrapes across the brick hearth/ to its own rhythm/ a beat laden with forgotten melodies of stern/ women’s voices, ill children, and dread/ of the coming winter.” The act of cooking ties the poet to past generations of women. Whenever possible, the poet uses metaphors of food to describe people and objects. Yet there is also a focus on relations between the sexes, as in “Domestic,” where the poet, after having been attacked by her husband, wonders about “Restraining order[s]. Court order[s]. Custody order[s.”

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