Here’s book 9 of the 10 Capstone poetry books I wrote in 2007. If you haven’t already heard about the overall process, and if you’re interested, you can read about it here.
After I finished Chatter, Sing, Roar, Buzz: Poems About the Rain Forest, I moved on to the food poetry collection. I wasn’t really looking forward to this one a whole lot. You’d think I’d love it—food and poetry are two of my favorite things! But it seems to me that most successful food poems tend to be rhyming, clever, and funny.
I was afraid the whole book would end up with such a narrow range of mood/voice that it would get boring. I mean, I could write a heartfelt ode to macaroni and cheese, but would it work for a kids’ book?
Anyway, I got the images, and I did my usual step of just going through them and jotting notes about what kinds of poems popped into my head. And I wrote my editor, Jenny Marks, with a question:
One more question: Do the poems need to be about the item *as* food, or could the food pic be an illustration of the poem in general.
In other words, could I write about a visit to an apple orchard for the apple poem, even though the pic doesn’t show the orchard? Or could I write about a kid’s birthday, but not necessarily the cake, and have the cake illustrate it?
The answer? Nope, I couldn’t. The product planning team wanted the great majority of poems to be “poems about food as food.”
OK, so I got to work writing first drafts of poems. I wrote poems about pancakes and pizza, donuts and sushi, picnics and the food pyramid.
I wrote haiku, limericks, and even a sijo, inspired by Linda Sue Park’s Tap-Dancing on the Roof. Most of the poems are fun, but it didn’t feel quite as one-note as I had feared.
I got feedback from Jenny and worked on a revision. There were of course plenty of changes and suggestions to consider, but most of them were minor. So all in all, the process was smooth as French silk pie.
Here are a few of the poems from the collection. These are not the images from the book—they’re just to give you an idea of it.
I bite into sweet
summer—it drips down my chin
sliding, twirling, dangling
parmesan, butter, garlic, meatballs
rolling, splashing, staining
pour the batter
brown both sides
spread the butter
let the syrup
eat them all up
By the time I finished the book, I was stumbling toward the finish line of the 10 Capstone poetry books. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to write these books, but I was also looking forward to finishing up the process. 10 poetry books in one year is a lot!
I submitted a bunch of possible titles:
Saved by Blueberries
Slurped or Burped or Sipped
Extra, Extra, Extra Cheese
Pour the Batter
The Incredible, Edible…Root?
What a Birthday Candle Stands For
No Green Beans Until You Finish Your Cupcake
Slurped or Burped or Sipped (the title of a poem about milk) was my favorite, but Capstone decided on Lettuce Introduce You: Poems About Food. Once I finished this book, I had just one more project on the horizon: transportation poems. I’ll post about that one soon.
Thanks for letting me share about my poetry books here:>) Because I have a bad memory and my work-for-hire books turn into a blur looking back at a bunch I wrote all close together, it’s so nice for me to have a little record of the process here.