Poets in my Garden

Four people seated beneath an apple tree

Poets sur l’herbe

I have been hosting Planet Earth Poetry workshops in my home and garden for the past 8 years or so. It is a glorious time for me, feeding creative spirits and having poets roaming around the property.

This year the workshop was led by Jenna Butler, who kindly and carefully led poets of all levels of experience through some difficult environmental territory, under the theme “Songs for a Changing World: Writing Our Hope and Grief About Place”.

Two people writing at a tableParticipants spent some time introducing themselves and reflecting on their relationship with land (and water) before embarking on studying poetry models and being sent off at intervals to write.

My role in these events is Chief Eavesdropper and Provisioner, and it gives me a chance to do some recreational cooking and try out some new recipes. It’s also an opportunity to relive a past life: long ago I spent weekends and holidays enjoying the warmth of the kitchen at Strawberry Creek Lodge in Alberta, cooking alongside my remarkable mentor Tena Wiebe at workshops, retreats, wedding celebrations and meetings.

There’s a favourite New Yorker cartoon of a kitchen, captioned “So this is where the magic happens“. Here’s my version, showing my PEP workshop catering preparations. Kitchen countertop with messy arrangement of baking ingredients

One of my tasks is to provide a lunch to the poetry mentor, and this was Sunday’s lunch for Jenna: Watermelon Gazpacho, Pepperwiches, and Plum Panna Cotta (with fresh blackberry sauce). I was relishing the opportunity to use some summer ingredients, including plums from my garden, some salad vegetables and local blackberries. My nutrition training also influenced the menu which was strong on colourful vegetables and containing no ultra-processed foods. Tena taught me the powerful lesson that serving food made from scratch, with love, is a truly satisfying way to live (and eat)!Tray with food dishes as described

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