Alexis Pope is the author of Soft Threat (2014), as well as three chapbooks. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, cream city review, Poor Claudia, Prelude, and The Volta, among others. She received her MFA from Brooklyn College, where she taught Composition and was a member of the Belladonna* Collective. Pope now lives in Chicago with her daughter, works in a very tall building, and recently ‘taught poetry’ for The Writers Center.
Here, she talks inherited snacking instincts, ice cream in bed, and the way meals make families.
On her all-time favorite meal:
I don’t know that I can pick an all-time favorite. I’m a Libra, so making my mind up about anything is more than a chore. Like, the favorite anything questions almost put me into a mild form of panic. I don’t want to choose one meal over another so as not to hurt feelings / of the food, of the people I did or did not eat it with. So I’ll do this:
My dad was in town a couple weeks ago and because we haven’t really spent time alone together since my daughter was born, I wanted to have a conversation like we used to over a meal he can’t get in Ohio. We went to an upscale cocktail joint that is very cozy and casual. I drank an Old Fashioned and he had some local beer, I think Daisy Cutter, and we ordered hard boiled eggs (I grew up with that egg stench in the house every time he’d make egg salad / we’re both fans) that each came in these little dishes and neither of us knew what to do so we just did. After that we walked across the street and ordered the same drinks and a cheese plate with all the extras (I inherited my dad’s snacking instincts: cheese with apples, cream cheese on anything, peanut butter always, and more cheese), which we devoured happily.
The main coarse was fried chicken and biscuits (There’s a place where I grew up that was known for its fried chicken and every time we went to my grandma’s we’d order a big bucket with a side of JoJos) but the chicken thighs were beaten/flattened and seasoned and fried and then rolled up and sliced into circles—roulette, I think. These biscuits were something else and I’m not going to describe them, but the conversation was able to take place, move through corridors of memory, open and unfold due to the meal.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
Meals are intense times of the day when there’s a four-year-old you’re feeding. But if I get a morning, it’s coffee and toast with butter while the dark turns light. No music yet except the wind and birds, rattle of the El. I miss Brooklyn for the sunsets though. I’d sit on my fire escape with a glass of wine and watch the shades collide until there was nothing. The traffic lights reflecting on the street.
On snacking while writing:
I’m more of a water/coffee/tea while writing person.
On her go-to late-night snack:
Ice cream in bed with one big spoon, dark chocolate with sea salt kept cold in the fridge, salty crackers with a strong cheese—these are a few of my favorite things.
On her food quirks:
Salt and vinegar potato chips dipped in ketchup. The end.
On her final meal request:
God, this is hard—but I think it’d be a big spread across a large table with room enough for everyone I love. We all bring a dish that means something to us, or simply was made with our own hands. And we share it all, passing it around.
Over the winter I got to prepare and eat a week’s worth of dinners with some dear friends, and I think you make your own family that way. It’s an intimate thing / adding spices together, sharing the chopping, mixing, stirring, and then to sit and taste what you each brought to the meal. That’s good. That’s all I could want for a last meal.