Linh Dinh and the politics of food

PoemTalk #51, released in March of 2012, featured our discussion of Linh Dinh's poem “Eating Fried Chicken.”  Here Dinh playfully and bitterly engages food, war, and race. The poem appeared in his book American Tatts, published by Chax in 2005. For PoemTalk’s 51st episode, Thomas Devaney, Susan Schultz (visiting from Hawai'i), and Leonard Schwartz (visiting from Olympia, Washington) joined Al Filreis to talk about this work of apparently straightforward address yet tonal complexity. <--break- />Dinh’s PennSound page includes several performances of “Eating Fried Chicken.” The recording we used was made during an extensive “Studio 111” reading in Philadelphia in December of 2007. During the discussion Tom especially wrestles with the problem of tone. There’s plenty of humor in the poem, he notes, but one can also read the speaker as a person who has “taken all the trouble inside of him and he’s internalized it.”  Thus the “debts you owe me” — debts presumably the “brother” of line 1 owes the speaker — remind Tom of a tonal double strategy (particularly on questions of race) that Linh Dinh has learned from the early Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and from Etheridge Knight: “going on the offensive," as Tom puts it, "and yet implicating himself fully.” [READ MORE]