Friday, May 6, 2011

Food-Inspired Creative Writing Prompts with Barbara Crooker

Elenat |

Hello and Happy Friday!

Today’s guest prompter is one of my favorite poets, Barbara Crooker.  You can read about her at the end of the blog entry today.  I highly recommend visiting her website and reading some of her poems.

Many thanks to Barbara for preparing our creative writing prompts today, and thank you to poets Diane Lockward and Ron Wallace for giving us permission to showcase their poems as excellent examples that we hope will inspire you. 

Barbara Crooker says, “I like to use food prompts when I’m teaching workshops, because even if the writing exercise doesn’t go anywhere, you can always eat the prompt.” 

Enjoy the two poems below and you will find Barbara’s prompts after the poems. 

Bon Appetit!


To a Potato

by Diane Lockward  (from her new book Temptation by Water)

I love the smell of you just before bathing,
the earth that clings to your skin,
your skin scrubbed and peeled, salted and eaten raw,
prelude to the flesh inside,

pale flesh, multitudinous pleasures,
tender and hot, steam rising from the slit,
coarse, squashy, and fluffy, requiring a ritual
of preparation, the recklessness of butter.

Bit of a bother, actually, and rather dull on your own,
always in need of enhancement.
Sliced and diced, mingled with cheddar,
sautéed, and restuffed into your skin,
the Marilyn Monroe of potatoes.

As I clutch you, plump and firm, in my palm,
I recall your humble roots, your poisonous leaves,
you among potato pickers, a crude tuber,
feeding so many mouths, sidekick to fried hunks of fish.                                                                       

You are a fat, dirty spud, a misshapen blob
of starch, carbohydrates, and useless calories,
disreputable nightshade, consort to blight and famine.

Some days I think you are merely a side dish.
Nights I suffer the pangs of starvation,
tantalized by dreams of french fries,
my mouth stuffed with crisp strips of gold.

You Can't Write a Poem About McDonald's

by Ronald Wallace

Noon. Hunger the only thing
singing in my belly.
I walk through the blossoming cherry trees
on the library mall,
past the young couples coupling,
by the crazy fanatic
screaming doom and salvation
at a sensation-hungry crowd,
to the Lake Street McDonald's.
It is crowded, the lines long and sluggish.
I wait in the greasy air.
All around me people are eating—
the sizzle of conversation,
the salty odor of sweat,
the warm flesh pressing out of
hip huggers and halter tops.
When I finally reach the cash register,
the counter girl is crisp as a pickle,
her fingers thin as french fries,
her face brown as a bun.
Suddenly I understand cannibalism.
As I reach for her,
she breaks into pieces
wrapped neat and packaged for take-out.
I'm thinking, how amazing it is
to live in this country, how easy
it is to be filled.
We leave together, her warm aroma
close at my side.
I walk back through the cherry trees
blossoming up into pies,
the young couples frying in
the hot, oily sun,
the crowd eating up the fanatic,
singing, my ear, eye, and tongue
fat with the wonder
of this hungry world.

(Note:  “You Can’t Write a Poem About McDonald’s” by Ronald Wallace appeared in Long for This World:  New and Selected Poems.)

Poetry Writing Prompts:
Write a poem addressed to another fruit or vegetable.
Or do your own take on the potato.
Or write a poem in the voice of (written by) a fruit or a vegetable.
Or write an anti-poem, such as “You Can’t Write a Poem About McDonald’s” by Ron Wallace
Fiction Writing Prompts: 
Try to work a potato into your plot line at a pivotal moment.
Or see how you can use the likes/dislikes of these spuds to reveal an aspect of one of your characters.

Non-Fiction Prompts (memoir, journal entry, creative non-fiction):
What sensory images do you associate with potatoes?  What early childhood memories do you have about eating your first potato?

Barbara Crooker lives and writes in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and son.  Her books are Radiance, winner of the 2005 Word Press First Book Award and finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance (Word Press, 2008), winner of the 2009 Paterson Award for Excellence in Literature; and More (C&R Press, 2010) .  Her poems appear in a variety of literary journals and many anthologies, including Good Poems for Hard Times (Garrison Keillor, editor)(Viking Penguin) and the Bedford Introduction to Literature. Visit her website:

1 comment:


    rising potato
    can't resist your earthiness
    I see life in you

    Michelle Balletto-Wooten
    © 5-6-11


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