It doesn’t have to be National Poetry Month for me to appreciate poetry. More than ever, I have been focusing on all the poetry found in my world. No, I’m not talking about reading tomes of poetry; I’m seeing it and feeling it.
When I watch an athlete or musician become immersed in their performance, I feel like I’m watching their poetry. Sometimes, when I’m in the midst of cooking, I feel the poetry of food.
Just like words in classic forms of poetry express thoughts and sentiments, I can feel the emotions of food: the cooking, presenting, tasting and even the choices I make as I prepare the food. I’m presenting a mood or sentiment. Ever heard of “prepared with love” or “food for the soul”? My friend makes pancakes in the shape of hearts to show her love for her children.
Take a moment and notice how certain foods evoke a memory or emotion.
I wish I had the skill to put into words the peace, joy and love that I feel while cooking. I yearn to wax poetic about the joy of blackberry eating in the fall like Galway Kinnell or the essence of onions by William Mathews! Who doesn’t love Dr Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham written in iambic tetrameter? And of course, there are iconic songs about food such as Weird Al Yankovich’s Eat It and Cheeseburger in Paradise by Jimmy Buffet, both lyrical homages to food.
Fortunately, there are many famous poems about food and cooking that we can enjoy. My favorites are the sillier poems by the late, great Shel Silverstein. He believed poems should be read aloud. Read favorites such as Everything On It and get silly with your own suggestions of what else should go on the hot dog (see below). I also love his poem, Italian Food, perfect to read aloud at the dinner table and have everyone suggest additional lines.
Old or young, it’s fun to make up silly poems about food. Wouldn’t this make a great daily project as we are all finding ways to stay engaged with each other. Have your children read them to their grandparents or other friends over Zoom or, make into cards to send to nursing homes.
Try simple poems such as a haiku. Our family favorite style has always been the limerick. It’s easy and doesn’t have too many rules (plus we just lean towards anything silly!) Here’s a guide for writing limericks.
There once was an apple all red and shiny…
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