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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Kissing the world goodbye

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Unsolicited Press
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Unsolicited Press
Detail from the cover of "Kissing the World Goodbye"

Expect to get grease and food splatters on Jennifer Clark’s new book, Kiss the World Goodbye (Unsolicited Press, 2022). It’s a memoir and a cookbook.

A conversation with Jennifer Clark
Hear the complete interview with author Jennifer Clark

Favorite family recipes are woven throughout the essays recalling the small details that make up a life. Clark writes that food, with its luscious scents and the process of preparing it, brings back memories like nothing else. An essay about Clark’s mother includes the recipe for Mom’s “Hedgy Meatloaf” and recalls making it herself as a new wife. Clark delights with vivid description spiced with humor as she recalls episodes of her life.

“I’m so excited that I have these recipes in the book because a lot of times I couldn’t find them,” Clark says. “The other day, I was making meatloaf and it’s like, ‘Oh shoot! Where’s that recipe? Oh, I’ve got it in my book!’”

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Courtesy of the author
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Jennifer Clark
Jennifer Clark

Clark’s memoir isn’t the usual chapter-by-chapter from childhood to now. Instead, her focus goes from small to big, big to small, moments that have caught her attention and somehow molded her. In this collection of essays, she’s as likely to write about Ernest Borgnine’s bushy eyebrows as to take a microscopic look at isopods in Tasmanian soil. She writes about sibling love and family coming together in the kitchen and over the dining room table.

Even as she reveals family dynamics, Clark would circle back with the subject of her essays to make sure that all remain friends.

“I wrote this book over the span of eleven years,” Clark says. “After I would write a particular piece, if I was going to send it out for possible publication, I would show that person first. For instance, my dad, there’s a lot about his health stuff in there, and I don’t want to be putting stuff out there if he feels uncomfortable. I would share those pieces with a particular family member. The response: I never got, ‘Oh no, you can’t do that,’ or, ‘No, that’s not true.’ It’s more that they felt honored. ‘Oh, somebody sees me! They see me in my flaws and strengths I maybe didn’t even know I had.’”

Jennifer Clark is the author of three full-length poetry collections: A Beginner’s Guide to Heaven (Unsolicited Press), Necessary Clearings, and Johnny Appleseed: The Slice & Times of John Chapman (both published by Shabda Press). She’s also the author of the children’s book What Do You See In Room 21 C? and the co-editor of the anthology, Immigration & Justice For Our Neighbors (both Celery City Books).

Clark will read from her latest book at this is a bookstore-Bookbug in Kalamazoo at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 19. Registration is required.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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