"Eat This Poem" creator mixes wordplay with food play

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Arizona Daily Wildcat

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By day, Nicole Gulotta works for a private foundation that awards grants to nonprofit organizations, but by night she writes, photographs, designs and edits her blog, “Eat This Poem.”

“It was simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating,” Gulotta said of the transition from her blog “Cooking After Five,” to her new literary food blog, “Eat This Poem,” in January of 2012. “It’s a one-woman show. I hired a friend to design the logo, but everything else is me.”

Gulotta’s blog is striking in an unfussy way — quaint, like reading poetry from hardbound books while sipping tea. The straightforward visual line up of the blog allows Gulotta’s poem-oriented cooking posts to do all the work, as they should. Each post contains a poem and the inspired recipe, along with food preparation photos intermingled with text and Gulotta’s thoughts and experiences with the poem/recipe. The introduciton to each post is eloquently written and asks the reader to think beyond just food, or just poetry, or even the reader themselves. Gulotta leads the reader on their own little journey through earnest storytelling. Sometimes it’s just about how a tiny poem can carry a lot of weight; whatever is written, is always beautifully done.

Readers are able to look up recipes by charmingly titled meals genres like, “sweet endings” or “bites and nibbles.” Posts are also searchable by poet, currently 28 different poets are listed including William Carlos Williams, Pablo Neruda, Li-Young Lee and Frank O’Hara. Each poem contains a reference or reminder to food of some sort, David Yezzi’s “The Residency” inspired Gulotta’s vibrant scrambled eggs with red pepper puree with the lines, “the cook, with every egg he scrambles, knows/ that he is giving me fresh fuel to fashion” Katie O’Connell King’s simple haiku “Edamame Haiku” “Green fuzzy jacket/Bestows glossy tender bean/Slips passed lips and bursts” prompted a dainty Asian panzanella. Gulotta has collected all of the excerpted poems’ homes on a page called “bookshelf” where readers see a collage of book covers that when clicked on, lead them to Gulotta’s Amazon store for purchase. Gulotta encourages readers to fall in love with new food and poets alike.

It’s evident that “Eat This Poem” has been given the care and attention any good poet gives to their work, to each word they use, to the position of line breaks, to the music created. Gulotta started writing poetry whe n she was 15, when a high school teacher fostered her interest, eventually going on to pursue her MFA at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

“That was all I ever wanted to do,” Gulotta said. “I had no idea how I would make a living after that, but it was a personal goal of mine that I wanted to accomplish.”

After graduating, Gulotta let poetry fade into the background. “It’s always a shock to leave the academic world for the business world, because suddenly you’re not writing as much, and you’re not necessarily surrounded by people who share your passion,” Gulotta said. “Writing becomes very isolating.” This isolation is likely something most UA students in creative fields will experience during school-to-career transitions. For those of us in creative disciplines, how do we answer the question, “what are you going to do with that?” It’s been a constant open dialogue, and many exhaust themselves trying to explain that there is worth in their study of poetry, or figure drawing, etc. But ultimtely, it’s not about the people who ask those questions, it’s about the artist finding a balance with their desires and their needs.

Gulotta realized it was OK to only write one poem a month instead of more, and she encourages the rest of us “to just keep going.” Her advice is to take each phase of life and embrace it and learn from it because she believes that each of these phases has a purpose. She acknowledges that Eat This Poem wouldn’t have started if she hadn’t gone through Cooking After Five, and experiencing a void when she wasn’t working with poetry.

“I knew it was the right thing to do,” she said. “I loved poetry and writing, then it fell away and I loved food, and eventually it made sense to bring them together.”

For more information, check out eatthispoem.com

Follow us on Twitter @wildcatarts and follow Jeannie @jwwwood.


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