• Amy Toledano

How to Make Curry Goat by Louise McStravick

What is it?

How to Make Curry Goat is a book of poetry containing thirty-three poems by Louise McStravick. The collection explores McStravick’s mixed Jamaican and “Brummie” background, growing up, and of course, how to actually make curry goat.

What is it about?

How to Make Curry Goat is a life cookbook; real recipes/instructions are blended with life advice and commentary on growing up. Each of the thirty-three poems are a nod to McStravick’s Jamaican heritage, her experience growing up and living in Birmingham, and/or to growing older. As food is such an important part of any culture, McStravick uses it as a window into her lived experience.

The poem, “A daughter’s guide to poaching an egg” details the process of making a poached egg while using it as a metaphor for adapting, something someone like McStravick with a mixed heritage is no stranger to. In, “How to make Curry Goat,” the collection’s namesake, McStravick creates a mock conversation between herself and either her father or an older Jamaican male relative. The poem is vivid and lively. She mixes Jamaican Patois with British English while mixing Jamaican and British ingredients to make a Caribbean staple. How to Make Curry Goat is ultimately about mixing — ingredients, backgrounds, languages, and experiences all into one beautiful dish.  

How did it make me feel?

It made me nostalgic for a childhood that I never had, which is a testament to McStravick’s brilliantly arranged words and exceptional world-building skills. Each poem, even the shorter ones, are pregnant with vivid imagery. All of them are noteworthy, but the ones that most stick out are “Just Another Road in Erdington,” “How to Make Curry Goat,” and “Adult Braces.” “Just another road in Erdington” is rich revisiting of McStravick’s childhood, “How to make curry goat” is a creative recipe, and “Adult braces” is a short poem about conforming. This line from the last piece stood out the most: “It hurts, so it’s working.” McStravick has a real talent for transporting you into the worlds that she creates and How to Make Curry Goat is proof of that.

Where is it available?

From Fly on the Wall Press as an ebook or softcover.

Anything else?

This is a brilliant bit from “Just another road in Erdington”:

“Two witches used to live on the street,

their hair had white streaks

and they would scare children with their silence;

they had no sweets.

One day they were in the newspaper,

gassed in their garage, suicide, death, violent.

We regret calling them witches.”

Rebecca x

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