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Monday, 28 March 2011

On cooking a poem.

It is like cooking, really it is.
You're wanting a meal,
you open the door to the larder
to see what is lying in wait.
If it's just eggs and bacon,
that kind of settles what you'll do.

You'll write a poem?
Somewhere in the memory
you have a store
of happenings,
of issues to explore and thoughts:
from these you choose the stuff to make your pie.

Talk of cooking brings to mind
how even banquets can be ruined
by cooking too fast or slow.
Some poems need to simmer for a year or so,
and some are better slapped down in a flash.
The trick, of course, is knowing which are which.

One day you may be making beans on toast
when out of that small can pops something like:
The big bang...
did not happen somewhere someplace, way out there,
but absolutely everywhere at once.
How could you go on cooking beans on toast?

15 comments:

Jim Murdoch said...

There’s cooking and there’s cooking raised to art. Carrie quite likes watching shows like Masterchef and I have to say I have been quite amazed with just what people can do with a few raw ingredients and half an hour and I guess poetry is like that too. I’m into plain cooking and I guess my poetry is much the same but then you get those who write bacon-ice-cream-poems, that shouldn’t work but somehow do.

Theodore Daniel Richards said...

I like the analogy of cooking and writing poetry. I would add that once the meal is cooked, the poet has to decide how much of the poem to put on the plate. Keep the portions small and then you are always hungry. Make your stomach growl. For me, I have these intense periods of abundance and then starvation.

Dave King said...

Jim
That's a wonderful response. Thanks very much for it. Yes, there is cooking and cooking raised to an art. And there's what I call pseudo cooking which is a form of posing or exhibitionism. I love your bacon-ice-cream poems!

Theodore
A warm welcome to you and thanks for your comment which I much enjoyed. You are absolutely right: so much depends on the dishing-up.

jane.healy said...

What wise words - and I enjoyed the two responses above mine. Someone once told me to write something down - polish it up then leave it for a month or more before going back to view it with a more critical eye, then add the finishing touches. I'm still at the too eager stage ...

Carl said...

Very much the same with painting and cooking really. You have all of the ingredients it is what you do with them that makes the difference. I used to brew my own beer and called it part science part magic and part art. All creativity is connected that way I think.

Gerry Snape said...

I agree with Jim...there's cooking and then there's cooking!!! you are...... then there's cooking!

Isabel Doyle said...

A fine recipe Chef King - I would add the importance of listening to the whispers of the Muse (= your chosen genie)

Monica Manning said...

It's as though you wrote this for me, and I thank you for that. It validated my need to let my story simmer. The last line is brilliant!

Hannah Stephenson said...

Cooking (and baking) is so rooted in process...it's very conscious in some recipes, whereas others are more organic. It perfectly mirrors the writing process, indeed.

120 Socks said...

I like the idea that you never know whats in the cupboard until you open the door, and that the ingredients that shape your meal/poem influence the process. And like all good cooks, the best meals come from an instinctive method grown over years of opening that door!

Two Tigers said...

And as with good cooking, good poem-making cannot be taught. You can study the basics, and should, but there will come a time when the recipe must be set aside and then the magic can begin.

Conda V. Douglas said...

Oh, I love this--of course I love to cook...and of course good cooking comes from the love of it, just like poetry!

Corinna said...

I love this. I needed to hear this. I'm still getting my poet shoes wet and fine tuning my instinct. Thank you!

Windsmoke. said...

Fantastic poem about food. From a delicous banquet to the humble baked beans on toast they are all yummmmy :-).

Helen said...

You have done it ... the definitive explanation on the art of writing poetry. Love this tasty bit.