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Cream of Tartar

Pot-holdering a cloud
of toasted soufflé,
its voluptuous body
billowing over the dish,
we kept its infallible, flawless secret,

referencing the butter-
stained recipe card
by memory only.
Teamwork, we’d wink to each other—
and lots of stirring—never revealing

what separated mother and daughter
from our guests’ amazement
at this seeming perfection—
fleeting, and only as good
as our shortcut:

a bitter white powder lodged
in a glass spice jar
that doubles in volume without fail
what it starts with, transforming
impossible into easy.

“Each luscious recipe in this equally edible and biting poetry collection is a chapter metaphor, serving anorexia and addictions with delectable meals, a family heritage where the ultimate comfort activity is spiced with discomfort—like Wendell’s art, which tantalizes with sensual description—and sears with honesty and self-implication, which emulsify to a satisfying blend of self-acceptance, wisdom, and emergent serenity: ‘It’s the whipping/and the chill to follow—/shaving the dark,/square block into chocolate flakes,/blizzarding the tongue/of our sweet, short winter.’”


“A variety of tiers layer Julia Wendell’s poems. They are deliciously worded, with vivid memories of her childhood.”

Stephanie Donner, Cakes by Stephanie, Baltimore, MD

“Don’t be fooled by the delicious-sounding recipes that open each section of Julia Wendell’s startling new collection, Take This Spoon. This is not a book about cooking, although food is both her inheritance and her obsession. These are poems about the ingredients that go into the making of a life—in this case, that of a woman whose struggles with anorexia and addiction have taught her how to use language as the ‘pinch of salt’ that brings out the flavor—tart and poignant—for the reader. As I joined Wendell on her cook’s tour of what it means to be a mother and a daughter, I caught whiffs of Louise Glück and Jane Kenyon. Who can blame me for devouring the entire book in a single sitting?”

Sue Ellen Thompson, winner of the 2010 Maryland Author Award and editor of The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry,

“Julia Wendell’s Take This Spoon is an absolutely ingenious collection, melding recipes for the kitchen with poems reflecting upon family life—and it’s nothing less than delicious. The shifting constellations of parents and children, the insistent place of food in our domestic dynamics, all of the fruits of the earth and the fruits of our families, these are the currency of Julia Wendell’s exciting and moving new book. The conversational ease of these poems allows us a truly remarkable intimacy with the poet. Trust me; this is a book to read slowly, savoring every page.”

David St. John

“Julia Wendell finds the essence of living in the food she loves. Her poems haunt the space between bites, filling those gaps with sincerity of detail, with authenticity of sustenance, with ingredients from the heart. You can taste these poems and find them easily at your own table.”

Paulette Licitra, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, Alimentum

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