Friday, December 27, 2019

Writing with the Senses

Finnish Coffee Braids
Photo by Amy LV

Students - I baked the bread you see in this picture yesterday afternoon, and it really IS Mrs. Roske's braided bread recipe. When I was a little girl, our church had a yearly bake sale, and every year I waited for that bread. Every year we bought it...if it was still there. This is a Finnish bread made with my favorite spice, cardamom, and as you can see, it's brushed with a sugar glaze. It is fun to paint the bread with a paintbrush!

Beginning today's poem, I planned to write a free verse poem, though a little rhyme did creep in. More important is the repetition of Mrs. Roske's braided bread, because hearing those words again in the poem mimics the way I thought about that bread in my mind over and over -- before, during, and after eating.

Does my stomach really have ears? Well, in a way. In a way. And for a poem, in a way is enough. In fact, sometimes in a way is even better than really.

I feel very lucky to still have this recipe, copied from our church's old cookbook. And as I plan to do more bread baking, it felt right to begin again with my favorite.

Favorite Old Recipe
Photo by Amy LV

Do you have a food that sings to your stomach? Do you love a smell that sings to your nose? Is there a sight that sings to your eyes? Or a texture that sings to your sense of touch? Remember, our senses feed our poetry selves. Pay attention to your senses. You might even make lists in your notebook of favorite things to see, smell, touch, hear, and taste. Any one item from any one list could call a new piece of writing from within you. If you like, mix your senses up a bit as I did, allowing my stomach to hear.

As you write, you may choose to play with a repeating word or line. If you're unsure if your choice works, read the words aloud a couple of different ways to see which sounds (feels) best to your ear (stomach).

Happy New Year wishes to all of you, and thank you for your companionship on my writing journey. I am grateful for you. If you'd like to find a Poem Farm New Year Poem, here you go:

2011 - January 1
2014 - New Year's Eve
2016 - Wisdom

Michelle is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at at Michelle Kogan with a poem and artwork reminding readers of the importance of activism at this time in our earth's history. We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness every week throughout the new year ahead.

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. Oh, each year I grow older those recipes become more special markers of my youth. Yes, I have recipes. And, what a source of writing inspiration they are. A rich feast. Thank you for the poem and the idea. Enjoy the bread. It looks delicious!

  2. Mmmmm. Mrs. Roske's bread would have spoken to me as well. My paternal grandmother was Swedish and we have cardamom (and saffron) running through our veins. In Swedish tradition, the eldest daughter -- my sister -- assumes the baking duties for St. Lucia Day. My sister carries on the braided bread tradition beautifully. Cheers! xx Christie

  3. I love the homage you pay to Mrs. Roske with the repetition of her name in your poem. This morning I was considering how there are many types of poetry in our world, and how there is poetry in baking. Mrs. Roske's beautiful bread fed you then, nourishes you with memories now, and sparked your poem to enrich us all. Poetry, right?

  4. The bread is lovely and the poem just right. I have recently been playing around with a muffin recipe from my mother-in-law. She made them for my father-in-law to reduce his cholesterol, so we call them Papa muffins. Now little Leo is eating Papa muffins. A family tradition is one to cherish.

  5. I love your braided breads, the pic of the old recipe, and I can taste the sweetness of your poem through your reading, lovely! Senses are wonderful especially shared in poems. Thanks for this textural post Amy, and Happy New Year!

  6. I love poems where the title is the first line of the poem!
    I make from-scratch cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning. Working the dough makes me want to get back to bread baking.

  7. I love the idea of smells and sights that sing to you. Your bread is gorgeous, and it sounds delicious, too. Happy New Year, and happy baking!

  8. Amy, your poem and photo brings me back to my childhood as I watched my Nonnie making her famous Easter egg braids and honey dolls. There is such intricacy and beauty in your braided bread. it is always great to keep old recipes. This holiday I baked a few recipes that brought back thoughts of my mother in the kitchen. Great line: "our senses feed our poetry selves." Happy New Year to you.

  9. Love this poem, Amy! And looking at the old recipe reminded me of the holiday recipes I just tucked away for another year. The paper is stained and some are falling apart, but part of the experience is touching those precious scraps and thinking of those who passed them down to me. Happy New Year!

  10. I am not a bread-baker nor even really a baker--more of a cook--but Mrs. Roske's recipe kind of made me want to buy yeast and go at it! I just finished off the last of my mom's pecan sandies and this year have enjoyed more than ever those foods that only come once a year, and the specialness of those handwritten recipes that we tuck away. The ears of our stomachs are listening!