Donald Hall begins his wonderful essay, “The Unsayable Said” by observing, “Poems are pleasure first, bodily pleasure, a deliciousness of the senses” and goes on to talk about how poems are “rich in the mouth” and claims that “we read with our mouths that chew on vowel and consonant.” Robert Pinsky talks about poetry as a “bodily art.” Poets take care with sound, with rhythm and repetition. They stitch together syllables like quilters stitch together scraps of cloth—to emphasize and to echo, to lull and to surprise and to create patterns often outside the edges of exact explanation.
Beautifully written prose does this, too. Syntax is everything in the hands of a skilled writer. How something is written—the way the words are put together—is, in fact, what it means. Too often in the mainstream media, the label “nonfiction” implies that the facts are more important than the art. But at Sweet we think creative nonfiction must be held to the same standards as the other literary genres. In short, it must taste good, not merely be good for us.
So yes, Sweet is about candy, cake, ice cream, chocolate—a cornucopia of desserts. There’s a reason “sweet” has come to mean “awesome” in slang. It comes back to the mouth, to pleasure. We don’t believe pleasure has to be light, as our issues show. But we also don’t want readers to go away thinking, “That was really hearty” or “What a healthy collection!” We want you to think, “Mmmm, sweeeeet.” We want you to find something here that you need, something perhaps not as practical as a potato, but just as vital.