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Meet the Teaching Artist: How Food Invokes Poetry with Kashiana Singh

by Writing Workshops Staff

5 months ago

Meet the Teaching Artist: How Food Invokes Poetry with Kashiana Singh

by Writing Workshops Staff

5 months ago

Intertwining the flavors of life and the verses of poetry, invites you to embark on a sensory journey like no other. How Food Invokes Poetry, a captivating four-week generative Zoom workshop, explores the enchanting relationship between food and the art of poetry. Led by the accomplished poet Kashiana Singh, whose literary works have resonated with readers worldwide, this workshop promises to awaken your senses and ignite your creativity.

Food and poetry converge in this workshop to explore the profound connections between nourishment and expression. Each week, you'll delve into different dimensions of this intricate relationship, from food as a marker of life's milestones to its role in the immigrant experience, and the way it evokes memories and reflects the stories of women. As you engage with evocative poetic texts and create your own food-inspired poems, you'll embark on a poetic journey that celebrates culture, identity, memory, and more.

Kashiana Singh's expertise and passion for this topic make her the ideal guide to lead you through this transformative exploration. Join us at the kitchen table of words and flavors, where poetry becomes a witness to the world served on a platter.

Hi, Kashiana. Please introduce yourself to our audience.

My poetry universe is one of hidden corners, apertures of light, and the liminality of experience verbing into memory. A reinforcing thread between my 29 years as a business professional is the strength of language. My page believes that poetry metabolism begins in the ordinary and ends in unexpected detours. I do pay tribute to my cultural matrix and write poems that are peopled with and honoring the activities of mothers, fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers elevated to poetry that is also unapologetically is simmered in home spices, fusing the art of cooking, and the being of womanhood to language. I practice work as worship which was also my TEDx talk.

What made you want to teach this specific class? Is it something you are focusing on in your own writing practice? Have you noticed a need to focus on this element of craft? Or is this just your jam and you love it?

I proudly carry my various geo-political homes within my poetry. Intersections between food, feminine, family, politics, passion, body, economics, culture and above all memory has always been braided within my own poetic practice. Food pathways, poetry as a vessel for food and vice versa, witness of food and poetry as witness, worship at the dining table - Poetry and Food are both emblematic of life and its markers. Therefore the desire to crystallize this topic into a class structure, workshop and create a community kitchen of poets.

Give us a breakdown of how the course is going to go. What can the students expect? What is your favorite part about this class you've dreamed up?

The class will build one aspect of food and poetry over another. I expect the sessions to simmer and stew resulting in some enriching outcomes. I expect participants to uncover stories that stay bubbling inside our pots and pans, learn from each other and make the everyday images, tools and culture become the source of poetic transcendence. I am most excited about nourishing the creative spirit of our classroom through close reading of poems that are each a master class in visual, aural, tactile, embodied and spiritual aspects of poetry.

What was your first literary crush?

Too many to pin point one. I have vivid memories of stage reading - Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner and Oh Captain My Captain still give me goosebumps. Khushwant Singh who was a novelist that wrote about the largest refugee crisis - Train to Pakistan. Mary Oliver and her poetry of deep attention. Joy Harjo and the Kitchen Table. Jane Hirshfield and her dharma poems. Kaveh Akbar, Leila Chhati, Ada Limon, Ocean Vuong, Rilke, Dorianne Lux, Jericho Brown, James Crews. Oh... this question is so unfair!!

What are you currently reading?

English as a Second Language by Jaswinder Bolina, Deluge by Leila Chhati

How do you choose what you're working on? When do you know it is the next thing you want to write all the way to THE END?

kneading my inner map
into an expedition
resetting the contours of my journey

looking outwards until leaves sprout their length
eating bowls of lentil soup with no half-measures
touring oceans for a living

failing, rising, failing without a barrel of regrets
choosing to undress in daylight
letting the dishes sit longer
lingering around to watch my child become a composition
resetting the contours of my journey
recalculating, anchoring, recalculating

I am a fusion of all my sensibilities and geographies. The language and words I bring into my poems come from all the places(literally, bodily, spiritually, culturally) that I have directly and indirectly been influenced by, and is inherent to my poetic refrain. I say that my poems help me continually focus and refocus towards a center of gravity.

Where do you find inspiration?

Poetry is a talisman I carry in the center of my being. A poet's job is to gather the daily sediments, to marinate language, ask questions. Poetry for me does not need inspiration beyond the world I live and breathe in and the world we investigate. Therefore my inspiration comes from shelling peanuts around the fire, rocking a newborn to sleep, feeling the scar on my husband's left wrist, the leaves, trees - always trees, conversations - specially the ancestral stories. And then the world we so stubbornly tear down everyday - its quiet screams, or its abundant joy. I find inspiration in the differences and similarities of our food, language, beliefs.

What is the best piece of writing wisdom you've received that you can pass along to our readers? How did it impact your work? Why has this advice stuck with you?

Write terribly - but write. Poetry is almost always in the small specific moments.
It impacted my practice, it made me come to the poem as I would to the temple.
It is a meditative act - an act of submission - of extreme humility. 

What is your favorite book to recommend on the craft of writing? Why this book?

Robert Hass: A Little Book on Form, and Mary Oliver's A Poetry Handbook, for the specific, conversational, accessible style.  

What’s your teaching vibe?

It is a learning moment. Makes me feel cherished. Again, I come to it as I would to prayer - with my whole self.

Learn more about working with Kashiana:

You can learn more about Kashiana's upcoming class, How Food Invokes Poetry 4-Week Generative Zoom Workshop, and sign up now to avoid the waitlist!

Instructor Kashiana Singh is the author of the poetry collections, Woman by the Door (Apprentice House Press, 2022), Crushed Anthills (Yavanika Press, 2019) and Witching Hour, forthcoming from Glass Lyre Press. When Kashiana is not writing, she lives to embody her TEDx talk theme of Work as Worship into her every day. She also serves as Managing Editor for Poets Reading the News.

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