Tiana Clark is the author of Equilibrium, selected by Afaa Michael Weaver for the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. She is the winner of the 2017 Furious Flower’s Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize, 2016 Academy of American Poets University Prize, and 2015 Rattle Poetry Prize. Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Best New Poets 2015, BOAAT, Crab Orchard Review, Muzzle Magazine, Thrush, The Journal, and elsewhere. She recently graduated from Vanderbilt’s M.F.A. program where she served as the poetry editor of the Nashville Review. Tiana has received scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Frost Place Poetry Seminar, and New Harmony Writers Workshop. She is currently the 2017-2018 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing. You can find her online at tianaclark.com.
Here, she talks about a relaxed holiday dinner, a love for coconut oil, and her dreams of Jiro.
On her all-time favorite meal:
It was the first time I made an entire Thanksgiving feast with my partner. We had been married for five years and had spent every holiday flip-flopping between our two families. But after the election, we just wanted to spend a holiday on our own.
We sweated and laughed in the kitchen all day. We allowed ourselves to be silly, which seemed like the first time since November 9h. We set the table and thanked each other and ate and ate. It wasn’t the best turkey we ever had—in fact, it was pretty tough and dry—but it was ours and we were in pajamas, and it didn’t matter that the world outside our door seemed to loom eminent and apocalyptic. For those few hours, I wasn’t scared or anxious or afraid to be myself. I didn’t have to censor how I felt or wear a bra. We danced in the kitchen, tracing recipes with our index fingers to make sure we followed it just right with every eye on the stove red and beaming. We laughed as we cleaned the kitchen floor after an exploded bag of brine, refilling wine glasses and forgetting whose was whose, stealing kisses between stirring this and chopping that.
We made a big complicated meal for just us.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
Dappled and sliced on the walls as it spills through the blinds from my kitchen windows while drinking my morning coffee.
On snacking while writing:
If I’m chasing a poem and in a good flow then I don’t snack at all. If I’m stuck and struggling while writing, especially during revision, then I’m snacking on everything. My favorite munchies: kettle corn, Trader Joe’s nacho cheese tortilla chips, gluten-free rosemary crackers, raspberries, and a case of coconut flavored LaCroix.
Her go-to late-night snack:
Mashed potatoes, cereal, apple pie, and cinnamon-buttered toast.
On her food quirks:
I’m currently in a serious cottage cheese phase, especially with pineapple on top—oof, yum! Cottage cheese gets a bad rap, because it sounds utterly disgusting, but those creamy curds are delicious and super nutritious for you.
Oh, and I guess I make my coffee pretty weird. I add coconut sugar, coconut oil, coconut creamer, and a scoop of Vital Proteins beef gelatin then blend it all in a high-powered blender for a frothalicious creamy concoction that’s great for a healthy gut.
Some people keep hot sauce in their bags, but I always have coconut oil on my person at all times, because you can literally use it on everything: hair, skin, burns, and food!
On her final meal request:
I would love to visit Japan and partake in the omakase tasting menu at Sukiyabashi Jiro with the master sushi chef, Jiro Ono. I’m with my partner, Ryan, as well as my best friend, Alex, and—if I’m allowed—my new puppy, Cooper Cashew Clark, with a big side of my uncle’s famous macaroni and cheese, an oozy corner piece with extra crispy corn flakes on top.