Welcome to Episode 19 of New Recruits! If it’s your first time here, check out Episode 1 for more info about how this thing works.
Ketzia is part of the middle school crew that I mentioned back in Episode 16. Her parents’ house was the best place for sleepovers— partially because their basement has a kitchen in it which meant easy access to midnight chocolate milk. When we were in sixth grade, Ketzia had a sketchbook that she filled with drawings of her favourite anime characters. Now she teaches fashion and illustration at Ryerson and she makes cool art and she’s published a book and she has a gallery show on right at this very moment. My friends are impressive. Oh, also, she did the cover art for Stickup and my issue of Cough, for which I am eternally grateful.
Ketzia is also my only friend who understands my deep and complex relationship with food. I’ll let her Instagram speak for itself.
Catriona Wright’s Table Manners is another book I acquired from Knife Fork Book in Kensington Market. (Again, go there. It’s great.) So I messaged Ketzia after I read it and said, “hey, I have a book of foodie poems. Want to read one for New Recruits?” She sent me back an enthusiastic “ok!”
I gave Ketzia three poems from Table Manners to choose from, and she chose the poem that opens the collection. Here’s Ketzia Sherman reading “Gastronaut”:
What was your first impression of the poem?
I can relate! My life low-key revolves around food, I spend most of my income of trying new food trends and fancy restaurants. It really created a visual, I could imagine the gross but amazing descriptions. The grotesque images were kind of captivating.
Which line of the poem do you like best?
The final of course! Unicorn haunches and fairy wings.
I love the fantasy imagery, its girly and grotesque all at once. It harks back to childhood and innocence but also the absurdity of food trends.
What does this poem make you think of?
Instagram, it pretty accurately reflects the relation between bloggers, the jealousy and competitiveness online. As well as the fantasy of blogging, making even the simplest image seem extraordinary.
Have you encountered a poem like this before? Is this poem different from what you expected poetry to be like? If so, How?
I don’t read much poetry, but this is definitely different than what I have experienced. The poetry seems to be more in the visuals it inspires and the rhythm of the text. I know its stereotypical, but I don’t usually expect poetry to follow such a linear narrative. It made it easy to read and identify with, without needing to understand complex metaphor or confusing prose.
Does this poem remind you of any other piece of art or media?
Nothing I can think of immediately. But it definitely creates imagery which I think would be fun to illustrate.
Do you have any questions for the poet?
While this seems like a critique of food trends and the industry around it, I think there is also a positivity to this depiction and a fun approach. I would love to know the poet’s interpretation and intention.
Ketzia Sherman is a twenty-something illustrator and fashion professor. Avid selfie taker and food photographer.