“Write down five of your favorite fruits or vegetables,” Richard Krawiec instructed the group of about 80. “Now, turn to the person sitting next to you. Together you are going to write an ‘Ode’ to one of them.”
Maybe it was the lure of heaping platters of cheeses, fruits and brownies nearby, but amid the laughter, the students quickly got to work.
Pomegranates, peaches…and poetry?
Yes, insists the energetic Krawiec , who conceived and edited the book The Sound of Poets Cooking. “What makes a poem a poem is information from your five senses.”
It was all part of the recent Sensoria Celebration of the Arts, presented annually by Central Piedmont Community College.
After a few minutes of noisy collaboration, Krawiec invited the pairs of poets to read their work aloud. The students proclaimed their affection, and occasionally their ardor, for watermelon, kiwis (see below), strawberries, passion-fruit, and even the humble green bean. The poets, many first-timers, applauded each other heartily.
Then the book’s contributors shared their work from The Sound of Poets Cooking.
Gail Peck transported listeners to Italy when she read “How Considerate of Pears.” Diana Pinckney invited the group “Trawling” for shrimp with her colorful and opinionated family.
Scott Owens described with breathtaking beauty, “How to Eat a Rose Petal Sandwich.”
Valerie Nieman explored the visceral world of hunting and preparing meat in “How We Live.” Terri Kirby Erickson shared a bittersweet slice of life between a man and his granddaughter in “Granny Smith Apple.”
And most poignantly, Debra Kaufman presented “Minestrone, Rainy Day,” in which a woman preparing soup learns a neighbor’s child has died.
Sometimes, poetry can seem inaccessible, too cerebral, or just too hard to understand. The ingredients combine in peculiar ways. The textures can be startling. But here’s another way to think of it: Poetry is an acquired taste, like a craving for carpaccio, oysters or okra, that most anyone can develop.
If we start with what’s familiar, and work with a seasoned professional, we can cultivate an appetite for it – and an appreciation beyond our imagination.
Ode to the Kiwi
O kiwi, how I love your soft hair
Like a newborn baby you look so
Tender and sweet.
But oh, your insides are green like
The Wicked Witch of the West
And you taste as sour as her cackling laugh.
You scream as I drop you into my blender,
As if Dorothy just dropped a house on you.
But oranges and bananas sweeten your disposition
And I fall in love with you all over again.
– by Pierre Hutchins with Amy Rogers
WFAEats // Ode to a Tomato by Jennifer Brule