Food, sex and poetry. Individually they inspire pleasure. When blended with creativity and attention to detail, each becomes all three.

A poem (story, novel) describing a spectacular feast, a particularly disastrous attempt at a new recipe for the boss, or Mama’s Frickadelli soup can evoke emotions equally as pleasant, sad or embarrassing as can one calling up the memory of one’s first, last, best or worst meal or sexual experience.

We all remember poems, in whole or part, that in some way affected us.

"Listen, my children, and you shall hear..."

"There was a young man from Nantucket..."

"Once upon a midnight dreary..."

"I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."

Lofty and inspiring or ribald and rude, they stick with us. Why? Because carefully chosen words and crafted phrases conjure up feelings well beyond their specific definitions. These vivid mental pictures remain in the reader’s memory and, at their very best, become part of what the reader believes about the world and herself.

One of the joys of writing poetry is in the exercise of choosing those words. I find perusing a dictionary as mouthwatering as reading any cookbook. The historical derivations, pronunciations and nuances found there are as important to a poem’s imagery as any subtle spice in a recipe lovingly passed from mother to daughter.

Reading and hearing good poetry is nourishing to any writer. Attention to the way poets craft images with internal rhyme, rhythm, line/stanza endings (or not) will enrich her desire, and ability, to move her reader. Writing poetry, practicing the reduction of a complex thought to a few carefully chosen words, will often clarify an image. Fleshing out this essence, one finds the result allows the reader to draw his or her own mental pictures and emotional conclusions; as we are admonished by writers, to be shown, not told.

Experiencing "el sabor", the flavor, of a poet’s word choices and phrasing will enhance our enjoyment of the process and encourage us to become more discerning readers and writers.