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Durham, NC 27701

Writing Workshops & Retreats - France, Italy, North Carolina


Candace writes - "Lost in Tuscany" and "Poem and Gnocchi"

Mimi Herman

Preface to a Food Poem: 

Lost in Tuscany

Why didn’t I realize that Tuscany isn’t flat, that it’s a series of ridges and valleys, I mean I’d read about it, and seen pictures, and watched movies, but no, the sharp hills were a surprise, and so going for a walk and not sticking to the country road was dumb because I got lost in an olive grove and panicked when I realized I had no phone, no ID, and no Italian apart from some coffee and food terms and unhelpful words such as chiaroscuro and fiasco although maybe fiasco would come in handy and no one knew where  I was except that the previous day when I’d gone for a walk I’d met a guy picking mushrooms and we had a long chat in Italian which only he knew, of course, and my friends were amazed that I got in his car but doing that made sense to me as it was raining but today I had seen no one except a black cat in the olive grove and he was beautiful but no help and what the hell is the Italian word for help, and I started imagining search parties and maybe missing the special apple dessert but mostly I was worried about not having enough time to write my poem or story about the cooking lesson  and how northern food is all mixed together and southern food is in chunks so that you get a different taste with each bite and how your feelings are important when you are cooking and I was glad I was not cooking at the moment as I felt kind of bad and mostly silly, but I realized if I were cooking I’d be in the kitchen and not lost,  so I said to myself, just breathe, and I did and that helped and I kept walking around the edge of the olive grove until I found a place where the bank was shallow enough for me to slide down a bank onto a little road and I followed it for a while thinking it had to go someplace  and it went right by an abandoned farmhouse I remembered, so I was heading towards my home, my temporary home, and by the time I got there I had an idea for a poem and the world was calm again. 

Candace F.

Poem and Gnocchi


To make a poem


take words

and space

maybe punctuation

maybe not


each word--flower,

each letter--petal

each space--air


arrange the words and space

with passion


balance is critical

the poem must breathe


To make gnocchi


take squash

and egg

and flour

and space

maybe spice

maybe not


squash--for colour

egg and flour--for texture

space--for taste


arrange the food and space

with passion


the gnocchi must breathe


And the poet says

make gnocchi first

to feed the poem


Candace F.

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