A Creative Writing Prompt for Self-Reflection
Recipe for Raquel By: Raquel
Ingredients: 1 stick of sage 3 wisps of palo santo snaking through the air 6 ripe Haas avocados my father sent me in the mail—even though I said, "Papi, you do know they have avocados in San Francisco, right?" 2 noise complaints from neighbors complaining about my mother's incredibly loud sneezes 1 bowl of water placed under my bed at night my Tita told me would catch bad spirits 8 hours and 17 minutes of weekly phone calls to my best friends 10 "I wish you here's" 10 "I know's" that sometimes mean "me too's"
Directions: For the ultimate Raquel, put all the ingredients in a memory of your grandmother's comal that your father says he can't find, but just doesn't have the strength to take out of the box in the garage. Grind out the pain and anxiety and fear and darkness until you have a paste that resembles a short, brown, chubby girl. Steep her in grated ginger and turmeric and mother's prayers and brother's laughs until she emerges, ready. Repeat every day or as necessary.
I work at a creative writing youth education nonprofit, which means sometimes, I'm called to teach lessons. Teaching doesn't scare me, but writing does. An English major scared of writing currently writing a blog post? The irony.
But writing poetry can be scary stuff. You have to crack upon your soul like a pomegranate and sift the seeds with paper and pen. Luckily, a partner teacher my organization works with wrote a lesson called "Creative Recipes" for first through sixth graders to make writing poetry a little easier. So if a first grader could write a poem, I could write one slightly hungover in a ten-minute Lyft to work on a Saturday morning too.
Start with at least six "ingredients" and then use the following list of "cooking verbs" to expand and tie together the ingredients. I just wrote down the first things that came to my head and the rest just poured out. It's was fun, surprisingly easy, and of course, it doesn't make sense, but that never matters.
Add, bake, barbeque, beat, blend, boil, braise, bread, broil, chill, chop, coat, combine, cook, cover, crush deep-fry, dice, drain, fold in, freeze, fry, glaze grate, grease, grill, grind, knead, marinate, mash, measure, melt, mince, mix, peel, pour, puree, reduce heat, refrigerate, roast, sauté, separate, set aside, simmer, slice, soak, spread, sprinkle, steam, stew, stir, stir-fry, toast, toss, turn, whip...
Create a recipe-poem for yourself and share it with us in the comments below!
Image by Anna Kövecses