Bread and Brandy: Food and Drink in the Poetry of Marilyn Hacker

Mary Biggs, The College of New Jersey
Vol. 24, No. 1 (Spring 2005), 129-150

This essay discusses the culinary dimension of Hacker’s poetry from 1974 to 2003. It shows how profoundly intertwined food and cooking are with Hacker’s primary, usually paradoxical thematics of sex and love, travel and home, and women. Women realize themselves in this poetry partly through domesticity. Most paradoxically, the essay argues that the figuration of food and cooking alternately emerges out of and returns to a sense of exile. Not only do women make home through food and drink in market and kitchen rather than at the architect’s drawing board or the construction site, but it is also more apparent to women than to men that home can be made anywhere except in spaces thoroughly corrupted, literally or symbolically, by patriarchal values. The essay further argues that making home will lead to a more satisfying life. However, Hacker’s sense that civilization may be preserved and even advanced through such values has become far less certain in recent years, and Hacker may, in her most recent volume, have finally left New York City, never to return.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]