I always find that writing found poetry stirs up my creative side. Try collecting all the newspapers in the house, old love letters, recipes, grocery lists, old science textbooks and cut out the interesting words and sentences. Then throw them on the floor, and start picking up the pieces. Write down the words and sentences in their random order, and start filling in the blanks. You’ll end up with a whole new original poem!
Love, a Recipe
You will need:
1 large onion
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into one-inch chunks (about 3 cups)
½ teaspoon turmeric and arsenic
1 can (14 ounce) coconut milk, sweetened
1 unfertilized human heart (if not in season, they are available by the dozen in your grocer’s freezer)
Coarse sea salt to taste
Gingered lime (for garnish)
- Slice onions. Do not notice another beautiful woman walking into the room. Do not mutter to yourself in Dutch, keep slicing. The onion is not a metaphor. You are not slicing smaller and smaller gyres of grief. Add garlic.
- In large saucepan over medium heat, simmer coconut milk. Do not chant “I love you, it’s you I love.” Simmer, simmer.
- Add the sweet potato and the heart. Make sure to give yourself ten minutes for the auto-autopsy. If you are using frozen heart, make sure to tenderize it properly. Do not hear the fragmented laughter from the other room. Keep stirring.
- Add turmeric, arsenic and onions. Do not overreact. He is not examining the curvature of eye, tit and ankle while you are seasoning.
- Salt, 2 cups salt. Disregard the salt in your tears, the salt in your wounds, or that time you made out in the ocean.
- Ladle the soup into four bowls, top with a spoonful of jasmine rice. There are no substitutes. There is no time between the gingered lime and the ecstasy. Do not imagine poisons and ways to disguise them. If he sees you crying, blame it on the onions.
- Freeze. This dish is the kind of thing that keeps and does not change.
Here is a poem I wrote when I was 18—how embarrassing! As you can see from the poem, there is a great deal of teenage angst! I was trying to play with the recipe form at the time, and see what happened. For me, poetry has always been a kind of fun language experiment. This is from a real recipe that I love, and I just substituted the ‘real’ ingredients for more ‘poetic’ ones.
Author of the Month: Sandy Pool
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Sandy Pool, and I am a poet and multi-disciplinary artist. Currently I divide my time between Calgary and Toronto, where I am working on my doctorate degree. My second book of poetry Undark, An Oratorio, was just released in the fall with Nightwood Editions.
When did you realize you had a passion for writing?
I think I realized pretty early that I loved writing poetry. Although I chose theatre as my major in university, I wrote poetry through much of my teenage and early adult years. I suddenly realized I was sneaking off to write poetry instead of doing my other homework! Ever since then, poetry has been a huge part of my life.
What pieces of writing/authors have had the greatest impact on you?
I think Canadian poetry has had a huge impact on me as a young writer. I spent a great deal of time learning the history of Canadian poetry, and it has certainly changed the way I write. I like seeing how poetry developed as a form, and I like to incorporate different styles and traditions in my work. I would recommend to any young poet that they read as widely as they possibly can within the genre they are writing in.
How and when do you find time to write?
I usually try to set aside a few hours a day where I can ‘write.’ Sometimes I don’t get a single thing on the page in that time. I think people often forget that taking a walk, or reading, or even just relaxing can also be part of the writing process. I try not to get too stressed about finding time to write. I just curl up with a warm drink and see what happens!
What has been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?
I think my biggest challenge has been believing that I have a story to tell. Coming from a small Ontario town, I often felt discouraged. Not only were other poets few and far between, but I also felt that no one would ever want to read what I wrote. When I talk to young writers today, I am excited to see that they feel more hopeful, and I think this is because there is so much great literature coming out of Canada. I really hope that young writers don’t allow anyone to discourage their dreams of writing. I hope they know that they do have a story to tell—and it’s an important part of Canada’s literary conversation.
How have you changed as a writer over the years?
I think I’ve changed a great deal over the years. The more I learn about writing, the more I realize that I know very little indeed. In fact, I think my work has been coming from this place of insecurity lately—and, I think, it’s an exciting place to work from. Embracing this insecurity has given me a new angle into my own work. I used to worry a lot about “saying something important,” but now I’m more focused on what I can learn. For me, this focus on learning has been a very valuable artistic tool. There’s always so much more to know!!
It’s spring. The sparrow dies instantly. Quick bang, the streetcar suspended. Small black body. You can still see white, speckled, small grains of rice across the back, twittering youth. You insist on a proper burial. Together we glide through the city, bird cupped in our palms. The concrete, post-rain, bleak and lunar. We speak elliptically, sleep-talk about death, wings immobilized in flight. The air thickens, we breathe out. Our hulls contain us, solemn as prayer, our delicate shells of bone . . .