ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Cohen is associate professor of English and Creative Writing at SUNY Plattsburgh. Her 2003 memoir, The Family on Beartown Road, was a New York Times Notable Book of the year and a Barnes and Nobles Discover Great New Writers pick. Last year, Saint Julian Press released her book Bird Light, poems from the annals of her lifelong affection for birds and bird watching.
Praise for THE PATRON SAINT OF CAULIFLOWER
How to prepare for the end of the world except by trying to feed the world? In The Patron Saint of Cauliflower, Elizabeth Cohen gives us poems that nourish the starving soul, recipes and spells and odes in praise of what sustains us, even against the gravest odds: food and love and the imagination, itself. She turns her passion for the physical world –– plant, animal and human –– into magic, metaphor and music here. The children of Aleppo are eating grass, but they have also trained themselves, in her reckoning, “to hear the sound of sunshine/on broken glass.”
––Cecilia Woloch, author of Earth and Tzigan
Elizabeth Cohen just became one of my favorite contemporary poets. These poems are fusions of poetic craft and canny wisdom. I'd say "cunning," but there is nothing elusive about the poems: they come straight at you. The speaker is so real that you sense how language can reckon with the present. These poems won't leave you lonely. On the contrary, you'll feel sustained and inspired long after the poet has thrown down the mic. I don't think we've had a poet since Roethke who can draw so effortlessly on her poetic palette, or one since Rilke whose ink feels so alive on the page. I am grateful to be able to hold in my hands a work of unsinkable wisdom, spirit, humor and love. In Whitman's words, “All things please the soul, but these please the soul well.”
––Jerry Mirskin, author of Crepuscular
Picture a Gate Hanging Open and Let that Gate be the Sun
Before there was LITERATURE, lyric poems were charms, spells to make love happen, curse, alter weather, protect children, heal, provide safe passage into other worlds. The poems in this collection are potions conveying an old magic, spells that Elizabeth Cohen casts that conjure beauty in its detail and oddness, in its tragic and joyful embodiments. What are the secret ingredients these poems contain? Something beyond technical skill, but including it. Something the reader discovers inside.
––Stuart Bartow, author of Questions for the Sphinx and Einstein's Lawn
Fair warning, dear reader, dear reader with food cravings, with recipes and no one to cook them or cook for but your own flawed self, with heartbreakingly busy appetites, with a love for the grains and strains of this world so fierce you're ready to eat these poems. Fair warning. Elizabeth Cohen's cabbages and figs, cauliflower and cakes, starvation and salt, will fill your mouth and stir your soul. These poems will trip on your tongue as you eat them out loud. They'll stick to your heart like love, like the tremendous love that went into crafting them, like the love that concocted us all.
Kaplan, author of Dreamlife of a
and Ecotones, forthcoming in 2019 from Eyewear Ltd!
In elegant, candid, raffish poems (about food but also about everything) Elizabeth Cohen again shows us how poems can be loci for ardent life. Her unmistakable voice is confiding and intimate--and her extraordinary charm is to seem offhand and yet, with invisible art, to have made every line true.
Bernard, author of
Miss Fuller: A Novel and Romanticism: Poems
Elizabeth Cohen’s latest book of poetry presents a literary feast for the mind and heart. How wise to interweave the comforts of food (goulash, artichoke, raisinets) into the unnerving state of today’s world. These poems reveal how our attention to both words and the sustenance we offer ourselves and loved ones may well be a saving grace. As we wrestle with fears of an apocalypse, all of us these days need “more than…Beauty” to get by. That’s not to say these poems aren’t beautiful. They are, with their rich lists of life’s moments (“a book left out in the rain, heartbreak, snow-caked walkways”) and a reassurance that even if the world is unravelling, cabbage is steady.
––Donna Baier Stein, Writer and Editor – Tiferet Magazine
Reading Elizabeth Cohen’s, The Patron Saint of Cauliflower, I'm reminded of Baudelaire's saying that “Any healthy man can go without food for two days--but not without poetry.” In this collection that celebrates what we eat from the mundane (the pretzel) to the gourmet (asparagus in fig sauce), Cohen has served up lines that satisfy the poet and foodie, reminding us how both arts help us celebrate our humanity. Each of these poems is “a psalm, a portent, a proof-in-the-pudding” and each rich, flavorful, delicious.
––Gerry LaFemina, author of The Story of Ash and Palpable Magic
Elizabeth Cohen’s The Patron Saint of Cauliflower clamors with the voices of ten thousand mothers passing their history and knowledge to daughters who, in turn, will share with their own offspring. These nimble words are “food is love” manifest: “Bathe the asparagus in beetroot / Bask in the blistered fig . . ..” Cohen’s poems are rich with allusions not only to the alchemy of cookbooks, but to the alien magic of apples and other spellbound fruits.
—Bertha Rogers, poet – Bright Hill Press Founder and Editor
“The world is unraveling, but the cabbage is steady.” This astonishing statement, as wild as it is domestic, characterizes the inventive, rollicking feast that is, The Patron Saint of Cauliflower. Vegetables appear as their true selves, like the humble cabbage revealed as “the tough orb in its squeaky jacket.” Under Cohen's white-hot gaze, edibles and non-edibles alike undergo a chemical change that releases their fury and autonomy—the ubiquitous paper cut “sits/on the throne tip of the thumb/like it has won/the class award for cruelty,” and an apple startles with its quiet declaration of resistance: “I am an apple … I am not sin.” These poems germinate in the realm of women; kitchens and children starving in civil wars, and they speak to the truth of human desire, rage and loss; the strength to transform what we are given, into what we want.
McGee, author of Sober Cooking,
Heirloom Bulldog and Bonanza
Elizabeth Cohen's Patron Saint of Cauliflower is matter of fact and practical: "I am preparing for the end of the world." Cohen takes the most ordinary of images and glories in them as signs for trouble and triumph throughout human existence. And she does this with the care and attention of a gourmet chef, but this chef is more like a mother. She feeds us because we need to eat.
––Jericho Brown, author of The New Testament
Elizabeth Cohen’s food poems for the soul pretend nothing away: not the horrors of the current world, not the fears of a mother for her children, not the sinister forces of greed and corporatism that infuse even our daily bread. All foods are allowed on her table, coexisting in relative harmony, but some—like ideas, ideologies—are healthier than others. Never healthier-than-thou, however, Cohen leaves it to our palates to judge both tastes and ethics; even her side-glances at the world of consumer goods that seems to offer so much but gives so little are not wholly un-seduced. Let yourself be seduced, reader, by this layered food, these precious leaves, where bitter opens upon sweet, then savory, then spicy, and the diction’s touch is light even as the imagery is deep: Page through the stained, sticky pages/of the hallowed book,/imagine the way sweet and mellow/can be conjured from nothing.
––Natania Rosenfeld, author of Wild Domestic
Anthony Bourdain, move over! Elizabeth Cohen is also a maestro of food, but not food for the sake of food. In her sizzling collection food, both actual and metaphoric, is counterbalance to human loss and pain and terror and premonitions of apocalypse. Like the cabbage, these poems are “Pure muscle that comes up from the earth.” Today, when our garden appears to be vulnerable to every species of parasite, we need all the muscle we can manage. The cabbage abides, and by partaking of Elizabeth Cohen's poetic sustenance, so will we.
––George Drew, author of Fancy’s Orphan
Cover Art: Alexandra Eldridge
Publication Date: June 15, 2018.
Number of Book Pages: 80
For review copies, contact: Ron Starbuck or Elizabeth Cohen
To schedule readings, book signings, and book group visits, contact Elizabeth Cohen: Elicoh@aol.com
Press Release with Photo