an interview with Nicole Gulotta

I love cookbooks. I’m the kind of person who reads a cookbook from cover to cover for its own sake. I will, of course, cook from it eventually, but to me, a recipe is a poem; the notes are an intimate glance into the life of its creator; the book itself, a work of art along the lines of the best illustrated picture books, or the most gorgeous photographic coffee table books.

In Nicole Gulotta’s debut, Eat this Poem: A Literary Feast of Recipes Inspired by Poetry, we have the best of my favorite worlds: a cookbook-memoir-poetry anthology, illustrated and designed  by Cat Grishaver. This book is an eclectic mix of recipes, ranging from the simplest snack to some very complex, hearty meals.  Five sections contain the work of 25 notable poets: Wendell Berry, Stephen Dobyns, Naomi Shihab Nye, Jane Hirshfield, Billy Collins are just a few. Nicole briefly discusses each poem before sharing her favorite recipes inspired by that poem as well as scenes from her life.

Make your way through the “Root Cellar” with Theodore Roethke before preparing Roasted Carrots with Sweet Tahini Sauce.

Enjoy reading  “Baskets” by Louise Glück,  while whipping up  Baked Eggs with Lemon Cream.

A cookbook with evocative illustrations, simple ingredients, more than 75 easy to follow recipes, and the best kind of writing: an intimacy that returns us to ourselves.

Nicole Gulotta contributes a regular column, “The Spice Chronicles,” at Life & Thyme and is creator of the blog Eat This Poem.

Filling the Creative Well

CG: Describe your earliest memories of yourself creating something.
NG: In addition to writing, I experimented with lots of craft projects growing up. Rubber stamping, in particular, was a real hobby for many years. I also cut words and pictures out of magazines, then decoupaged collages on my notebooks with special glue and silver duct tape.
 CG:  What does your workspace look like? How does it reflect and enhance your creativity?
NG: There’s a small nook at one end of my kitchen, and my computer sits underneath three slim shelves filled with my poetry books. I also have an embossed gold print reading “Just Start” framed and hung on the wall. To be honest, I don’t spend much time writing here, save for a few quick emails, or adding notes to a recipe I’m working on. I move around quite a bit with my laptop. One day I’ll use the dining table, another day I’ll sit on my bed, surrounded by pillows. Frequently, you can find me on the couch with my feet propped up on the ottoman.
     I suppose my entire home serves as a workspace, and to that end, I find my creativity flows most easily when things are in order. When the house is clean, when laundry is folded, and when clutter is removed, I feel like I can just sit and enjoy my space, with a cup of tea in hand.
CG: Is there a book, song, or work of art that you return to again and again to refill the creative well?
 NG: When I’m in a rough patch, writing-wise, I tend to pick up books that illuminate the writer’s life, like Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, or On Writing by Dani Shapiro. I don’t read the whole thing—just a few pages or a paragraph I’ve underlined, something to make me feel better about whatever stage of the process I’m in.
CG: Do you have a go-to activity that rejuvenates your creative spirit when you are feeling the well dry up?
NG: The answer is always walking. A little movement and fresh air allows me to think more clearly, solve problems, and brainstorm new ideas.

CG: Where can people can find you?

Website: www.eatthispoem.com; Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicolegulotta

Thank you, Nicole, and congratulations!!