From Window Magazine: A Slice of Poetry

Claire Sykes
for Window Magazine

[ Editor's note: Kate Lebo will be reading from her book “A Commonplace Book of Pie” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, at Village Books in Belligham. More information is here. ]

Start with fresh fruit and some words, a spoon and a pen. Blend the dough with your hands and the phrases with your head. Shape everything into a pie and a poem, then put one in the oven. When done, share with others and devour.

That’s the recipe for Kate Lebo’s passion in life. “I need to bake and cook as much as I need to write,” she says. But her pies and poems aren’t finished until she includes other people. Even if you avoid making pie or taking in poetry, Lebo (’05, English) dishes out both in a way that’s hard to turn down. Meanwhile, one feeds the other for her when she’s stirring up her creative juices.

Her latest concoction is “A Commonplace Book of Pie” (Chin Music Press, 2013). The 96-page book, with illustrations by Jessica Lynn Bonin (’03, Art – Painting), features Lebo’s pie-related questions, advice and recipes; and “fantasy-zodiac” prose poems like “Pumpkin,” which begins:

Contrary to popular opinion, pumpkin pie-lovers are adventurous, quizzical, good in bed and voluminously communicative. No need to ask a pumpkin pie-lover if he’ll call ahead for reservations.

Says Lebo, “I wanted to make the book accessible, hoping that people who read the poems will want to read more somewhere else.”

Says Lebo, “I wanted to make the book accessible, hoping that people who read the poems will want to read more somewhere else.”

There’s more of her poetry in her first and forthcoming cookbook, “Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour and Butter” (Sasquatch Books, Fall 2014). Lebo, who lives in Seattle, teaches it all hands-on at her Pie School, held in people’s homes and elsewhere. At her Pie Stand events around the country, she serves up slices while everyone talks pie, sometimes à la mode with readings, performances, and artistic collaborations. And Lebo’s other public poetry readings often end with that homemade, fruit-filled pastry.

“She makes it fun, not only because there’s going to be delicious pie there, but also because of the nature of her poems and personality. Kate makes me see things in a way I haven’t seen before,” says Elizabeth Austen, poet and poetry commentator at KUOW in Seattle, who has hosted Lebo.

Lebo’s writing has also appeared in “Best New Poets,” Gastronomica, and Poetry Northwest, among others. She received a Nelson Bentley Fellowship, the Joan Grayston Poetry Prize, and a 4Culture grant. A longtime zine zealot, she is an editor for the handmade literary journal, Filter. For many years she worked at Richard Hugo House, a writing center in Seattle, doing everything from running the volunteer program to planning fundraisers. And her pies? Lebo judged the Iowa State Fair Pie Contest, baked at the American Gothic House, and won Best in Show at the first annual Cake vs. Pie Competition.

Read the rest of this story on the website for Window Magazine.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 12:25pm
Lebo. Photo by Christopher Nelson

Lebo. Photo by Christopher Nelson

Lebo. Photo by Christopher Nelson

Lebo. Photo by Christopher Nelson