Poet in the Kitchen

I wrote this line today… I knew when I wrote it that more would follow.

In its way, soup is poetry in a bowl…any recipe, really, is not unlike a poem.

One of the decisions in a poem is about line breaks…knowing where the units of thought, sound, image, begin and end. Recipes too have their groupings—dry that gets sifted and wet that gets creamed and added, if baking; or layers that build when cooking…oil, tomato paste, onion, garlic, green chili, cumin, cayenne…before the carrots before the lentils, before the broth.

Pace is a connection too. Time must be taken to cream well the butter and sugar, lest a dough be grainy. It takes more than a moment to let spices bloom, onions soften, and yeast to leaven. Listening takes time too…listening for sound, listening for insight or the whisper of the universe. And listening to what is already on the page—is it true to the inspiration, does it move? It all takes time. If rushed, the whole will tell and those who engage with it will know—though the knowing may be subtle. The cook and the poet will know too and not be satisfied.

Both practices—composing verse and working with a recipe— are about the addition and adjustment of elements for the sake of a greater whole. The spoon, the finger, the friend…all ways of tasting what is in process and considering—Too much of something? Too little? And then decide—how to bring into balance, into harmony…Or how to highlight the zing, the secret, the whoaaaa…and achieve the praise of raised eyebrows and the nodding of heads. Poetry is not so far removed—One must taste the words, savour them next to each other, and decide about the sounds—is it too soft-edged, too slippery, clumsy, or sharp? Do the contours of sound follow the shape of what I wish to say? Do the textures achieve the contrasts and cohesions the whole deserves?

The focus, the attention, the listening, the spaciousness of time, thought, being. The ways that one engages the senses… The praise of wonder—a phrase that wraps lovingly around something wanting said, the perfection of chemistry that leads to caramelized onions, to brioche, to the precise moment when lemon curd sets up into creamy, tangy, goodness. The beauty of vegetables arranged at the Farmer’s market that takes my breath away every Saturday; the way Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey can make me weep and so too a spoken word artist who marries voice to verse and sets it free, sets it soaring, breathing, shape-taking… Shape-taking like ingredients becoming something more when brought together…Shape-tasting like soup, in a plain bowl and lifted with a simple spoon; like soup, bright, warm, deep, delicious, good for the soul, and holding the promise that comes with nourishment and the pleasure of something more, something beyond…which is as real and true as the experience at hand…and for which there might not yet be language.

And isn’t that a good thing… there is more verse to come.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Marie says:

    Very reflective!


    1. Thank you…! It was pure pleasure to sit long enough to let this appear…


  2. Beautiful, Kim: Your poetry, your soup and YOU!
    Lentils are so inspiring…


  3. Genie Bryan says:

    So glad to find your blog and know you are well and still writing!


    1. Whoa!! How are you, where are you, what are you up to?? Good to hear from you…!


      1. Genie says:

        I am safe & sound 🙂 In Georgia teaching at a small regional state uni, happily married (Who knew that could happen!!). Feel free to shoot me an email at the email address I provided when I left my comment for more sharing 🙂


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