Reviews for Loves You
These poems offer their reader a vital and distinct poetic imagination, one in which visceral, urgent imagery and multivocality are born not of the traditionally modern subconscious, but of the very real, waking predicament of being so often forced into a state of translation, either to others or to oneself, until “I am a message that I lie against / I touch its soft ears.
~ The Academy of American Poets
This third collection from Gambito (Delivered) is part verse, part recipe book. The recipes take on the quality of verse while the verse begins to take on the simultaneous invitation and instruction of recipe, with gorgeous, rich sensory details infusing both. Divided into sections headed by the five flavors (“Umami,” “Sour,” “Salt,” “Bitter,” “Sweet”), the book explores parenting, identity, and language itself. Gambito frequently deploys the cento form to canvass language and the way it can be used to fetishize, aggress, and degrade. The blunt power of the end-stopped line is alive in Gambito’s hands. In “First Born,” she writes, “Basically: my wish is that you are never, never pierced through the heart.” Elsewhere, the recipes are accompanied by emotional framing, such as “Watermelon Agua Fresca (For When You Need Me).” The collection explores the sensation of remembering as much as the memories themselves: the specific domestic nostalgia triggered by the scent of a meal or the gut punch of a repeated insult. The recipes feel like meditations, rituals in the midst of life’s chaos and unpredictability. A compelling book that only adds to Gambito’s stirring oeuvre.
~ Publisher’s Weekly, starred review
Gambito wields the recipe as a poetic form and an act of resistance, inviting us to eat with her Filipino American family while revealing the ways immigrants and people of color are demeaned and marginalized. Part chef, part historian, Gambito is a true innovator, witty and playful on the page. Her spare poems use short, punchy lines, and juxtapose conversational language with surreal images to draw readers into her imaginative world. Always, she returns to the tactile grounding of food: “The fronds of spearmint around you. A blanket of rice. A sparkler of oil in black pots.”…. Her work contains a multitude of voices and questions: nannies and cleaners, entitled employers, an oblivious American who likes Chinese food best and wonders if Filipinos eat their own dogs. “Loves You” simmers with opposing truths. Love and cooking, hunger and care, humiliation and need are inextricably linked, sometimes in terrible ways. And Gambito’s poems sing out in invitation — come, sit with us, let poetry feed you.
~ The San Francisco Chronicle
The writing reflects a range of emotions, from hope and humor to shame and anger about the way Filipinos and other Asians are often misunderstood and demeaned. In this distinctive, highly anticipated third book, Gambito challenges readers to consider what sustains and nurtures them.
~ The Washington Post
This hugely anticipated collection is simply Gambito’s finest work yet—a remarkable folksong and jubilee of the heart—and stomach. The connections of food, love, and landscape bubble and froth together here in a stunning and dazzlingly original compilation. I’m mesmerized and made hungry by the sheer romp-racket of these provocative pages dotted with delicious recipe-poems that will certainly convince you
to ask for seconds or even thirds.
~ Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Sometimes I find myself holding my breath when I read a Sarah Gambito poem — I never know where it’s going, and I can’t wait for it to take me there. There’s a jittery, wisecracking wisdom to these meditations on the immigrant’s haunted inheritance, powered by equal parts shame, nostalgia and a barely camouflaged anger. These are poems that seduce and throw punches, sometimes both at once.
~ Ligaya Mishan, New York Times, Hungry City
This stunning book had me in tears. Sarah Gambito captures what so many of us children of immigrants and people of color know: that food can be an immense source of joy as well as of pain and humiliation. By interweaving recipes throughout, Gambito challenges us to look at recipes not just as a how to guide but as a window into our history, a history which too often is denied. In one poem, she writes, ‘Where is the poem where blood pushed through the fabric?’ Gambito’s book is the answer: a singular collection that oozes with humanity and vulnerability.
~ Zahir Janmohamed, co-host of Racist Sandwich,
a podcast about food, race, gender, and class