Slow living is never more relevant than when writing. I began writing poetry in 2005. Bad poetry, admittedly. Billy Collins, the former US Poet Laureate who has been called the class clown of poetry, famously said that he had six hundred bad poems he had to write until he got them out of his system. No mater how many poems it takes, learning the craft of writing poetry takes time and a lot of ink. And paper in the circular file. It keeps me humble, that each time I sit down to write, I am beginning again at the beginning.
Stories, too. Narrative arc, action as driven by a character and what she desires. When I first showed what I hoped was going to be a story to my writer friend Cathy Ostlere, she kindly said, “This is a fragment, dee. It belongs in a story, but it isn’t a story. Yet.” How you learn.
A novel in progress.
Essays, creative nonfiction underway.
March 2021. I am so pleased to announce that my eighth book, Bread & Water: Essays, will be published by University of Regina Press in Fall 2021. I will post cover art as soon as I have it. As my friend Murr likes to say, “Onward!”
The lyricism of Bread & Water interweaves culinary insights and literary essays to pose fundamental questions about how we live––and how we feed––the larger hungers that motivate our lives.
“When I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it . . . ” —MFK Fisher
When chef and writer dee Hobsbawn-Smith left the city for rural life on a farm in Saskatchewan, she planned to replace cooking and teaching with poetry and prose. But—as begin the best stories—her next adventure didn’t quite work that way.
Food trickled into her poems, her essays, her fiction. And water poured into her property in both Saskatchewan and Calgary during two devastating floods.
Bread & Water uses lyrical prose to examine those two fundamental ingredients, and to probe the essential questions on how to live a life. Hobsbawn-Smith uses food to explore the hungers of the human soul: wilder hungers that loiter beyond cravings for love. She kneads themes of floods and place, grief and loss; the commonalities of refugees and Canadians through common tastes in food; cooking methods, grandmothers and mentors; the politics of local and sustainable food; parenting; male privilege in the restaurant world; and the challenges of aging gracefully.
It is an elegant collection that weaves joy into exploring the quotidian in search for larger meaning.
Some advance comments:
“An eloquent, lively contemplation of food and its myriad connections to life. ” —Alice Major, author of Welcome to the Anthropocene
“[Bread & Water] will send you back to your own kitchen to do it with care, gratitude, and love. ” —Trevor Herriot, author of Towards a Prairie Atonement
“dee’s passions for the visceral stuff of life—food, cooking, love, running, loving, grieving—beckon us all to the table. ” —Jennifer Cockrall-King, author of Food and the City
“[dee Hobsbawn-Smith’s] words are luminescent on the page, weaving together images and stories I won’t soon forget. No matter where you are, her words feel like home. ” —Renée Kohlman, author of All the Sweet Things and Vegetables
“It will come as no surprise to readers of wildness rushing in that dee Hobsbawn-Smith is also an accomplished chef. Here is a feast of tastes and flavours arriving from many regions and nooks of existence, served up with a wisdom that knows its wordless ‘loveliness in loss’ equally with its sharp jolts of awe. ” —Don McKay, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize for Strike/Slip
“Written with heart and intelligence, Bread & Water: Essays is continually entertaining and rewarding. The tone—self-aware, curious, a little vulnerable—is at once individual and communal, and creates a winning humility perfectly suited to the essays’ explorative nature. ” —Judge Tim Bowling, SK Writers’ Guild 2014 John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Award