Food for Thought
As a chef, Gabrielle Myers, M.A. ’08, was fascinated by the connection between the natural world and the nourishment it provides. As a professor at San Joaquin Delta College, she enjoys teaching courses on creative writing. As a poet, she combines her passions for food and writing into a new poetry collection, Too Many Seeds (Finishing Line Press, 2021). Due in December, the poems highlight the complexities of food production that Myers witnessed working on an organic farm, in restaurants and catering kitchens, and in the Mariani Packing Co. dried fruit factory in Vacaville, California. The poems were written over a period of five years, during which time Myers attended UC Davis for her master’s in creative writing.
How did you become interested in the subject of food?
My love of food has been driven by my constant fascination with how plants grow into what nourishes us. When I was a kid, I would spend hours gardening with my parents and grandparents, amazed at how out of the seemingly dead earth, greenness could expand and multiply. Growing things has always astonished me.
After college, I went to culinary school in San Francisco and spent over a decade working in restaurants and catering companies. While I was cooking for a living, I mostly worked at fine dining farm-to-table restaurants. How we eat, what we eat, how we treat the food we eat, how we treat the people who create our food, how we tend to the earth that produces our food — these concerns mattered and drove the meals that we would prepare.
After working in restaurants for many years, I decided I needed a break from the hectic lifestyle. I wanted to return to my writing. I applied to UC Davis’ M.A. program and got accepted for fall 2006.
What do you hope your readers will take away from Too Many Seeds?
Like many writers, I hope that when people read my book they develop their own special relationship with its contents, that it ignites memories and emotions in them that stir them into awareness of life’s sensuousness and value. We are enmeshed in the natural world with each bite we take, and that entanglement requires us to be aware of our impact. How we treat the earth and our food determines how we treat ourselves and each other — there is no distance.
The setting for the poems in your book is in the Sacramento and Davis area. What inspired you to concentrate on that area?
I grew up in Rockville, Maryland. When I started attending UC Davis and later moved into Sacramento, the abundant fruits and vegetables filling the fields and crowding the farmers’ market stalls almost overwhelmed me. So much life surrounds us in the Davis/Sacramento area, and almost everything grows here. Every day we can witness and consume the vitality from our fields, and then immediately plant another crop that will nourish us in just a few weeks.
How did your time at UC Davis influence your writing?
My time as a grad student at UC Davis changed my life in a profound way. It ignited my drive for teaching, showed me how to write books and introduced me to how to read as a writer. While at UC Davis, I learned how to build and maintain my own practice with writing, how to write every day regardless of life’s distractions and busyness. I learned that writing well takes so much work, requires us to read widely and that one is never done editing and revising a piece of writing.