friday feast: a tasting

photo: Sarah and Mike . . . probably.

Sometimes you’re thirsty, but you’re not quite sure for what.

That’s where Poetry Friday comes in.  A good poem, the right poem, will quench your need for solace, inspiration, enlightenment, the irreverent, even the absurd. Why not get drunk on words?

photo by Mick Stephenson.

Surely there’s nothing more evocative, soul-stirring or sensual than “the best words in the best order.” Poets, the sommeliers of the literary world, might assess words as they do wine, according to the “five S’s”: see, swirl, sniff, sip, savor. Each word must carry more than its weight in shape, size and texture, connotation, sensory qualities, and personality/character. When read aloud, the word should roll off the tongue, feel good in the mouth, sing. A good poem has a pleasant “aftertaste,” an emotional resonance for readers to savor again and again.

Fine words = fine wine → clarity, complexity, balance, distillation, expressiveness. I love a good extended metaphor. In Sarah Wardle’s cleverly crafted poem, winepress meets printing press. Sip slowly –does this vintage make your taste buds tingle?


by Sarah Wardle

First agitate the word in your glass,
swilling it round anti-clockwise
to let the air into the language.

Tilt the glass against the tablecloth.
Notice the colour. Is this word golden
or brick-red? Does the nose remind you

of freshly-mown grass or tropical fruit?
Is the word smoky or woody on the palate?
Do the syllables have a long aftertaste?

Has the word been aged? Do you like it?
Now try this. It is a controversial word,
the oldest vintage known to man. The seeds

can be used to grow this word in Europe
or the New World. Each climate gives
the word a different flavour. It’s versatile,

easily turned into language. Growers love it
across the financial spectrum. Many find
this word smooth and buttery, fruity and ripe.

They say it is an alpha word, their favourite.
Some drink it early and often, others will
store it in their cellars for drinking later.

Then again, still others find the word bitter
and acidic, screwing up their faces, saying
it reminds them of cat’s pee on gooseberry bushes.

There’s no accounting for taste. Make up
your own mind. What does it remind you of?
In the beginning the label said God.

~ from Poetry on a Plate: A Feast of Poems and Recipes (Salt Publishing, 2006).

photo by arosadocel.

What word(s) is in your glass today? I think most of mine were imported from Bordeaux. ☺

photo by penwren.

Today’s Roundup is being hosted by breanne at Language, Literacy, Love. Drink well of the many wonderful poems being served in the blogosphere this week. Some are best enjoyed chilled, others at room temperature. I think I can hear some of them breathing.

photo by habub3.

*Puzzle Time wine label image from Liqurious.

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.