Up by four o’clock and to my office, and by and by Mr. Cooper comes and to our modell, which pleases me more and more. At this till 8 o’clock, and so we sat in the office and staid all the morning, my interest still growing, for which God be praised. This morning I got unexpectedly the Reserve for Mr. Cooper to be maister of, which was only by taking an opportune time to motion, which is one good effect of my being constant at the office, that nothing passes without me; and I have the choice of my own time to propose anything I would have. Dined at home, and to the office again at my business all the afternoon till night, and so to supper and to bed. It being become a pleasure to me now-a-days to follow my business, and the greatest part may be imputed to my drinking no wine, and going to no plays.

My clock
is the only tune.
Nothing passes without time—
no days,
no wine.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 7 August 1662.

…got right again with much ado, after two or three circles and so on, and at Greenwich set in Captain Cocke, and I set forward, hailing to all the King’s ships at Deptford, but could not wake any man: so that we could have done what we would with their ships. At last waked one man; but it was a merchant ship, the Royall Catharine: so to the Towerdock and home, where the girl sat up for me. It was about three o’clock, and putting Mr. Boddam out of my bed, went to bed, and lay till nine o’clock, and so to the office, where we sat all the morning, and I did give some accounts of my service. Dined alone at home, and was glad my house is begun tiling. And to the office again all the afternoon, till it was so dark that I could not see hardly what it is that I now set down when I write this word, and so went to my chamber and to bed, being sleepy.

After the ship
the wake.

At the dock
the girl sat alone

till it was so dark
I could not see

what it is that
I now write.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 5 August 1662.

Up by four o’clock in the morning and walked to the Dock, where Commissioner Pett and I took barge and went to the guardships and mustered them, finding them but badly manned; thence to the Sovereign, which we found kept in good order and very clean, which pleased us well, but few of the officers on board. Thence to the Charles, and were troubled to see her kept so neglectedly by the boatswain Clements, who I always took for a very good officer; it is a very brave ship. Thence to Upnor Castle, and there went up to the top, where there is a fine prospect, but of very small force; so to the yard, and there mustered the whole ordinary, where great disorder by multitude of servants and old decrepid men, which must be remedied. So to all the storehouses and viewed the stores of all sorts and the hemp, where we found Captain Cocke’s (which he came down to see along with me) very bad, and some others, and with much content (God forgive me) I did hear by the Clerk of the Ropeyard how it was by Sir W. Batten’s private letter that one parcel of Alderman Barker’s was received.
At two o’clock to dinner to the Hill-house, and after dinner dispatched many people’s business, and then to the yard again, and looked over Mr. Gregory’s and Barrow’s houses to see the matter of difference between them concerning an alteration that Barrow would make, which I shall report to the board, but both their houses very pretty, and deserve to be so, being well kept. Then to a trial of several sorts of hemp, but could not perform it here so well as at Woolwich, but we did do it pretty well.
So took barge at the dock and to Rochester, and there Captain Cocke and I and our two men took coach about 8 at night and to Gravesend, where it was very dark before we got thither to the Swan; and there, meeting with Doncaster, an old waterman of mine above bridge, we eat a short supper, being very merry with the drolling, drunken coachman that brought us, and so took water. It being very dark, and the wind rising, and our waterman unacquainted with this part of the river, so that we presently cast upon the Essex shore, but got off again, and so, as well as we could, went on, but I in such fear that I could not sleep till we came to Erith, and there it begun to be calm, and the stars to shine, and so I began to take heart again, and the rest too, and so made shift to slumber a little.
Above Woolwich we lost our way, and went back to Blackwall, and up and down, being guided by nothing but the barking of a dog, which we had observed in passing by Blackwall, and so…

we must find order always
in the ordinary multitude

I view the private letter
that is a well-kept grave

above us the wind
unacquainted with sex and fear

the stars guided by nothing
but the barking of a dog

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 4 August 1662.

Here in central Pennsylvania, summer’s full bounty is upon us. SWEET CORN signs pop up along every road and highway, causing mini traffic jams rivaled only by those at the farm stands offering early peaches. In the woods, chicken mushrooms appear on random stumps and logs almost overnight, neatly stacked like piles of bright orange books, while in the meadows, blackberries are ripening so fast that the bears and human pickers together can barely keep ahead of them. Our neighbors’ free-range chickens are laying more than ever, though judging from their strident daily celebrations, the novelty of this creative act has yet to wear off. They’re watched over by a rooster named Clem who sounds the alarm at the first sign of a predator, even driving deer away from the neighbors’ big vegetable garden. His late rival is in the freezer, but this living rooster is likely to feed them ten times more.

All of which is to say I can’t imagine a better time of year to launch a new series featuring the intersection of poetry and culinary arts: Poets in the Kitchen. When I emailed Luisa about it last week, I was pleased to learn that she already had plans for a cooking-related writing project, so the series will give both of us a chance to try out some ideas. But we want to extend an invitation to guest contributors as well. If you’re a poet and there’s some recipe you’ve invented, inherited or otherwise made your own, we’d love to hear about it. Posts in this series will be centered on recipes (or recipe-like things such as instructions for hog butchering, pickling, or making maple syrup) written as plainly or as lyrically as you like. The recipes should be accompanied either by original poems (reprints are fine) or lyrical prose vignettes establishing some connection with poetry. Images, videos, and audio recordings may also be included. We don’t have a formal submissions process around here, but you can contact me or Luisa with any ideas you might have, and we’ll take it from there.

Why poets? In the first place because Via Negativa is a poetry blog, but also because we are fascinated by the contrast between the abstract—some would say spiritual—nature of writing and the essential corporeality of preparing food. And the manner in which these two types of creations are intended to be consumed couldn’t be more different. Or could it? Is it possible to cook for the ages? Can we say with Rumi that our poems are like manna, made for such immediate consumption that “Night passes over them, and you can’t eat them any more”? We want to probe connections not only between writers and what they cook or eat, but also the larger relationship of writing/literature to appetite and desire.

To whet your appetite, and perhaps suggest avenues of exploration, over at Moving Poems Magazine I’ve assembled an annotated gallery of “Ten Culinary Poetry Videos.” Here’s one of them, Thomas Lux’s “Render, Render” as animated by Angella Kassube—a poem about writing that uses metaphors from the kitchen: