|The cover of A Bakeable Feast, by Klecko. (Photo by Mark C. Taylor)
|Klecko, baker and poet.
Danny Klecko, known by the mononym Klecko, would probably make fun of me for using the word “mononym” in the first sentence of this book review. Klecko is a poet and a baker, and his most recent book, published in December of 2023, is A Bakeable Feast: Bread. Sex. Honor.
A Bakeable Feast is a collection of 211 poems and taken together they offer insightful glimpses into humanity. Klecko’s poems are sometimes sweet, sometimes crusty, but they are always bursting with the flavor of real life. It’s hard to pick out specific lines I like from Klecko’s poems, because I just want you to read the whole poem.
Some of my favorite lines are in “Baking Memory #64”
“People are flawed—People are stupid
And seldom deserve trust
But if you stand outside an airport
When people send those they love away
It might be just enough to give you hope” (p.68)
There are many humorous moments through A Bakeable Feast. Klecko is Saint Paul, through and through, and every Saint Paulite will appreciate these lines:
“Because I was tired, Because I was lazy
Because I have money to burn
I stopped at Kowalski’s
Knowing they would allow me the pleasure
Of paying 40% more than their competitors” (p.138)
One of my favorite poems is “Baking Memory #131.” Klecko tells us about his attempts to work with young men who had recently gotten out of jail. They all ended up going back to prison. Klecko tells his wife that he has failed, and she offers him the wisdom:
“None of us has the power to grant healing
But we can offer moments worth remembering” (p.204)
Moments worth remembering, I love that. Marcel Proust would appreciate “Baking Memory #146,” Klecko’s ode to the madeleine. After Proust read Klecko’s poem, it would probably spur Proust to write another volume of his memoirs.
“Baking Memory #171” is another favorite of mine, as Klecko describes “The Quiet Man,” an owner of the bakery that Klecko didn’t always get along with at first. Over time, Klecko came to appreciate him.
“At times I thought he might be an angel
When I found out he shared a birthday
With Elvis and David Bowie, I had my answer.” (p.272)
That’s proof enough for me.
“Baking Memory #185” is a beautiful poem in which Klecko relates Tempe Debe’s story of meeting JFK in Duluth, eight weeks before his assassination. Tempe Debe was 24 years old then, a Native American woman working in downtown Duluth, and in their brief interaction, JFK made her feel heard.
“He told Tempe...
After she graduated college
He’d find a place for her
We need people like you
Then he left, as he crossed the street
He turned around and waved goodbye” (p.291)
Even if you think you don’t like poetry, you need to read A Bakeable Feast, there will be something in it that will grab you and touch your heart.