The Dinnerview: interviews about dinner. Pretty simple, right?
Writers and editors are asked frequently enough about their craft and process, but we too are regular humans who feed our faces. The Dinnerview pokes a fork at the dining preferences, quirks, and guilty pleasures of writers, editors, and other literary figures.
First up: Don Share
Don Share has been the editor of Poetry magazine since 2013, and previously served as the curator for the Woodbury Poetry Room at Harvard University and the Editor-in-Chief of Literary Imagination. Share is the author of four collections of poetry and lives in Chicago.
What has been your all-time favorite meal? When did you first eat it? Who prepared it? Is there a story that accompanies it?
DS: Memphis barbeque pizza, without a doubt.
I loved it growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, and used to eat it at Coletta’s Restaurant and Pete & Sam’s, both of which are true Memphis institutions, the culinary equivalents, for this particular dish, of Sun Records and Stax Records. Lord knows when I first had it, but I remember taking my high-school girlfriend to Coletta’s on a date once (it was our place, you could say), and to be a big grown-up that night, I ordered myself a glass of red wine. Well, Memphis was a small town then, and wouldn’t you know it? My mom and dad walked in right as we were being served. When my mom got a load of me and my chianti, she screamed. “OH MY GOD, MY SON IS ON A DATE AND HE HAS THE CAR AND HE’S DRINKING.”
I wish I could answer this question with some kind of folksy home-cooking story, but my generation was fed Tang, Cool Whip, Minute Rice, Minute Steaks, Beefaroni, Rice-A-Roni, and Swanson’s TV Dinners, so what can I say.
Favorite meal of the day?
I’d love to say lunch, à la Frank O’Hara. But it’s dinner on Friday night. My extraordinarily talented and devoted wife, the poet Jacquelyn Pope, makes pizza from scratch. There’s nothing like it on earth. There’s a warm family glow to a nice Friday night meal. She doesn’t like the idea of putting BBQ on pizza, however.
Do you snack while writing/editing? If so, what do you munch on?
Ha, yes. I’m doing that right now. Not good for my computer keyboard. I munch on raisins, dates, and banana chips. I used to munch on nuts, but now I’m not supposed to eat them. I could snack on tortilla chips till there aren’t any left in the bag, but I have to resist doing that. As it is, I’m chemically indistinguishable from a big tortilla chip.
Go-to late night snack?
I don’t snack at night. Too disciplined, I guess. But when I was a kid back in Memphis, we would snack on frozen pizza with ketchup on it, or sandwiches made out of lemon cookies and potato chips on white bread. I know. I’m sorry. Don’t ask.
What is your guilty pleasure food?
Oh, dear. Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut bars, which I buy every time I’m in the UK or Ireland. I don’t even have a sweet tooth, but I love those things. There are ten in my desk drawer right now, thanks to a poet I met in Cork recently.
Do you have any quirky food habits?
All of my food habits are quirky, I’m afraid. Most days, I’m just a plain old low-down sink-eater. Yet food, for me, is like poetry. Weird is exciting. Predictability is bad. Heart and soul are really great. And love is an essential ingredient.
Last meal request?
Anything that doesn’t have to be eaten with a straw.
What’s a food you don’t like that you really want to like?
My dad once proudly said that he never ate anything grown in dirt. We didn’t see too many vegetables around our dinner table, as you can imagine. Well, I try with all my might and willpower to like Brussels sprouts. But I know that it’s not going to happen. Not ever. I think legions of children will agree with me on that one.