The Hungry Muse
January 9, 2011
Roy Blount, Jr.
At the Banana Cafe
The Hungry Muse
The 29th annual Key West Literary Seminar kicked off this week with the first of two sessions dedicated to exploring the role of food in literature. This year’s seminar, “The Hungry Muse, An Exploration of Food in Literature”, brought many of the nation’s finest writers to the island. Some might be considered specifically food writers, while others might have some significant work that involves food, but each brought insight into the nature of how food imbues just about every aspect of our lives and their writing.
Dan, Molly & Miles
Session one welcomed Diana Abu-Jaber, Roy Blount Jr., Frank Bruni, Billy Collins, Jason Epstein, Jonathan Gold, Darra Goldstein, Madhur Jaffrey, Judith Jones, Harry Mathews, Molly O’Neill, Julia Reed, Ruth Reichl, and Calvin Trillin.
Ruth Reichl & Diana Abu-Jaber
Diana & Ruth
The interesting mix and variety of types and styles of writing made for some fascinating conversation that was enhanced by the diversity that included memoirists, poets, novelists, journalists, editors and critics all who examine food as part of their work. Not meant to be a conference about “cookbooks”, the seminar hoped to get in to much greater depth on the nature of food (and drink).
Madhur Jaffrey & Darra Goldstein
Nancy, Jonathan Gold, Diana Abu-Jaber & Mark
This year the program chair was our friend Nancy Klingener, who kicked off the first full day of session 1 with an impassioned introduction which at once welcomed the panelists and guests and introduced them to our island community in a beautiful speech. Nancy writes a literary blog (linked below) where you can get her take on the action. I have also posted a link below to the official KWLS blog “Littoral” by the talented Arlo Haskell. Both of those sites offer better insight than I possibly could into the seminar and are well worth a look for those interested in the meat of what happened.
Kerry, Madhur & Sanford
For me the first day was a welcome feast of literary laughs courtesy of readings by Billy Collins and Roy Blount, Jr. and delightful panel discussions and readings. One of the highlights for me was a wonderful discussion between the lovely, intelligent and funny pair of Diana Abu-Jaber and Ruth Reichl. I also enjoyed the presentation by the renowned editor Judith Jones, which had already been posted on the Littoral site for your listening pleasure.
Judith Jones, Judith Miller & Jacob Epstein
Roy Blount, Jr.
The day passed by far too quickly and the evening was busy as well. It began with a food related art exhibit at the Lucky Street Gallery followed by a new addition to the seminar, “The Flavors of Key West”, which replaced the traditional Friday night dinner.
Ilana & Kathy
The Flavors of Key West involved seven of the finest restaurants in Key West closing down for the night and opening exclusively for KWLS participants who had signed up in advance. The restaurants included, The Café Marquesa, Louie’s Backyard, Azur, Antonia’s and The Café among others. Kathy & I had reservations at the Banana Café where we joined a sold out group in enjoying an amazing 8 course, 4 hour dining extravaganza.
The restaurant chefs each created their own special menus and most went completely over the top. It was an incredible experience and pretty much a complete success. The only downside is that it cut in to the time we got to spend at the wonderful, eclectic Friday evening party at the rooftop apartment of Key West icon David Wolkowsky. By the time I arrived it was pretty late and the party was in its final throes. But after a spectacular first day, it hardly mattered at all.
Bone Island Books