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Regular news and insight from our many poets, writers, educators and facilitators

22 May 2023

Posted by Tabby Hayward


This week we were writing poetry about food! After sharing favourite flavours of crisps, the writers noted foods they associated with:

-Being alone/independent
-Love (of any kind)
-A longing/craving

They then picked one to free write about - we had everything from fish and chips to a bear shaped birthday cake, okra to carbonara!

Next, we read a range of food poems - Nina Powles’ ‘Mid Autumn Moon Festival, 2016’, Naomi Shihab Nye’s ‘The Travelling Onion’, Toi Derricotte’s ‘My dad & sardines’ and Bill Holm’s ‘Bread Soup’. We discussed their different approaches to using food in the poems, what the food allowed the poets to talk about, and the ways in which they each used language and structure on the page. Inspired by one or more of these, the writers worked on their own food poems - perhaps using it to explore a relationship with home, culture or heritage, a memory, a relationship with a person, the food’s history, and/or celebrating the food. The results were by turn hilarious, heart-warming, moving and poignant.

A Sunday Roast - Charlotte

The smell of a Sunday roast reminds anyone of home

Roast potatoes crackling in your mouth

With its skin that someone’s left in the oven for too long

Vegetables stacked as high as the eye could see

And always the leftovers that the kids didn’t want mum to think they didn’t eat

The gravy

The controversial gravy

You can never win when cooking gravy

Some like it thin some like it thick

And somehow no one can get it to everyone’s taste

The stuffing that someone has slaved away on but no one is kind enough to tell them that it’s horrible

It’s too tough and barely tastes of anything

Well nothing you can put your finger on

The watery broccoli that makes you look around the room

Trying to think who you can give it to eat instead of you

Sprouts, brown or green

Cabbage that sometimes you’ll have to cover in gravy to stand

The sunday roast brings people together on a few things

But nearly always needs some work


Tess' Poem

Growing up in a country
That is not yours
Not your language
Not your food
Not your customs
It can be tough.
A screaming four year old
Demanding lemonade
In a pink plastic cup-
No, not your lemonade,
My limonade-
It can’t have been easy to handle.

They didn’t have my peanut butter,
My hagelslag or my paprika crisps.
Nowhere was I served stamppot,
Or spinazieschotel.
They didn’t even know kale.
Imagine that:
Ten years without your favourite veggie.

Even now my dad brings with him
Krentenbollen from his travels.
You don’t grow out of foods
If you can’t have them.

And that’s why I still drink Fristy.
I still want funnies in my sprinkles.
I missed the foods we couldn’t have
But when they were right in front of me
I hardly noticed.
To be fair-
I was only four. 


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