Features and Occasionals

The Poet’s Kitchen: With Fork and Pen

By Judyth Hill

Come in, come in! Free-trade Guatemalan coffee—is percolating! The syncopated pulse, the blue orange flame flickering beneath the silver pot and that come-hither aroma invite us to wake up to this luscious day!

Editor’s note: Many years ago, CATALYST editor Greta and art director Polly attended the Talking Gourds Poetry Fest in Telluride as guests of festival founder and CATALYST contributing writer Art Good­times. He introduced us to poet and chef Judyth Hill, and it was a meeting of kindred spirits, to be sure. She, too, became a CATALYST contributor, writing ostensibly about food, but really about the wealth of being alive. Judyth is a woman of exclamation.

She lives on a farm in Mexico these days, and conducts writing retreats. We welcome her back with an occasional column about cooking and writing. Yes, you will find a writing exercise wedged like a surprise treat inside this delicious cake. Eat, eat! It is all meant for joy.

—Greta deJong

Let yourself be drawn by the strong pull of what you really love…


If I waited for perfection…I would never write a word.

—Margaret Atwood

“Follow your Inner Moonlight; Don’t Hide the Madness.”

—Allen Ginsberg

“I am what is all around Me”

—Wallace Stevens


Come in, come in! Free-trade Guatemalan coffee—is percolating! The syncopated pulse, the blue orange flame flickering beneath the silver pot and that come-hither aroma invite us to wake up to this luscious day!

Welcome to Simple Choice Farm, just outside San Miguel de Allende. The kitchen opens onto a verdant garden: blur of crimson, the bougain­villea in their richest winter reds, against a backdrop of Organos cactus and voluptuous garambola, studded with fat tunas, their delectable fruit. A set of romping boxer puppies, Brewster and Rosie; our black Lab, Lily, and her grown doggie kids, Simone and WinkyLucas; and 20 chickens making all the fresh brown eggs we need!

There’s tea steeping as well: fresh ginger root, with a smidgen of cayenne.

Fling wide the French doors: The sky’s a sweet rose haze, rooster’s raucous crowing fills the early Mexican morning.

The scent of jasmine wafts in, competing with cinnamon oatmeal raisin cookies, sautéed onions and spinach for the frittata. Mari, talented sous-chef and wisewoman, deftly slices papaya, melon and piña, making a platter of succulent fruits, onto which she’ll toss a handful of local berries, just for Beauty.

Which is what the Poet’s Kitchen is all about. We are in the all-hands-on-deck business of making beauty. Every act in this kitchen is sensate, sensuous; is playful, attentive—and fun. Is full of Joy: feeding us on many levels.

Class today! Poetry on Godfire: WildWriting with Spirit, and 15 students will come to study the poems of Benares poet, Kabir, 1398-1518 (yes: 129 years!), and share their new poems with each other.

Many have special food needs: Isn’t that the way these days? Some eat no wheat, others no meat, still others no sugar, no dairy. One is a vegan. Daunted? Nope! Our job as poets, as artists, as Aspiring Humans, is to throw a Yes into the world. Every week, we delight in creating a feast for the senses, that lovingly and lavishly seduces and satisfies every appetite and diet.

Lately I have been intrigued by the cookbooks of Ani Phyo, and brunch now includes a raw dessert. A long-time baker and chef noted for over-the-top butter and cream: I want to create raw dishes that seduce us!

The poets arrive, abuzz to see what is spread for their delectation: quiche with emmenthaler, gruyere and organic bacon, that spinach frittata, dotted with feta cheese; enormous blueberry muffins, oatmeal raisin cookies and cocao shortbread, a Tarahumara feast bowl laden with fruit from our daily market, and the star of this week’s show: Coconut Almond Lemon Truffles, piquant by way of lemon and apricot, subtly lush by way of vanilla bean and almond. And raw!

After chatting and eating, we read, study, and WildWrite in a swirl of scent and savor and inspiration. Ahhhhhhh: Heavenly! Or maybe: Earthly!

Welcome to the Poetry Kitchen. Welcome to WildWriting! Here we prepare and serve something to feed your Soul, and body, both.

WildWriting is our version of Writing Practice: one of the sine qua nons of our Writing Life.

This Practice is the way we have access to the one inside who sees anew: and needs to play, to rest, to range and rove and dream.

WildWriting is a practice of Inner Listening. Deeply, with Passion, Curiosity & Constant Amazement! Our job is to listen and write down whatever we hear inside.

Take your writing journal on a Listening Journey! Walk….and Listen…..And Take notes…just Notes…. Jot! You know how.

Take Notes on the Sounds of this So Utterly Riveting World! Visit a garden, café, the forest, a riverwalk. Anywhere you like! Are you pulled somewhere, reading this?

Let the world flow toward you in sound: birds’ chatter, wind in slight breezes…rustle and gust, a radio playing somewhere….? What else? Write it down!

Sit in a café, sip and listen: clatter of cups, hiss of espresso, bits of conversations swirl: so enticing…. Listen! A cantata! The samba set to plate and silverware! Write it down!

Let the symphonic, sumptuous world sing to you. Be rocked in this mighty music. Be all the way attentive, heartbreakingly alert, aware, alive to the tender tendrils of sound moving toward, away, around you….vining and binding you heart and soul to Here, Now.

Write it down. Let these aural jots be the wellsprings of today’s work. Or are they already a poem coming in fast?

Look at your notes: Choose any line you like. Copy it at the top of a blank page: WildWrite for 10 minutes. Have Fun! Follow your lines as they come! Speak from them! Talk back to them! Range far afield! Get lost? Stay lost & keep writing….Riff!! Write quick! Write hot! Stay excited!

Please read your WildWriting aloud to yourself.

Wow….huh? Yes! Rest upon your laurels! Breathe deeply! ReJoice!

It’s pleasure to serve you!

This article was originally published on February 1, 2013.