Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Making Bread -- and poetry

I used to bake a lot of bread although I hardly ever do these days.  I enjoy the whole process but I am able to buy quite good bread from a local bakery and, being one person it lasts a long time -- so long that,if it's a large loaf, I usually put half of it in the freezer  immediately .

Anyway, I was very interested in a bread baking article in the current New Yorker magazine by Adam Gopnik and found his writing fun reading. At one point I said to myseslf, this prose is in nearly  poetry - the word "Ozamandias" was the trigger to make me look at several sentences leading up to that unlike name.  At the same time, I'd been mulling the poetry prompt for this week's class and was not inspired. The class is so relaxed and open ended that I didn't feel apologetic about not having anything on the prompt.  But I really enjoy writing poetry and reading what I write and I'm aware of the idea of "found poetry" which one fines in prose no matter where that prose may be, a passage that can be arranged as poetry -- as it is or with some judacious cuts of phrases that seem unnecessary to a poem. 

Once I happened upon "Ozamandias", I read back and saw that, indeed, within a couple of paragraphs was a very amusing poem -- minus a phrase here, a couple of words there.  I also went to Google and read Shelley's wonderful poem to make sure it fit -- pondered happily for some minutes m memory of having see the statue (or so a guide said) that inspired that immortal poem.  For some more minutes I remembered the whoele afternoon in the Valley of the Kings and the thoughts then and since about that ancient empire and its stunning constructions still moving and magnificent despite three to four centuries of ruination.

So here is the poem I read to my class (with appropriate reference to its original author)

About Bread

Yeast is really just a bunch of bugs
Rooming together, like Oberlon grads in Brooklyn.
Eukaryotic organisms of the fungus kingdom,
Kin of mushrooms.
When you mix the little bugs with carbohydrates –
Wheat is a good one –
They begin to eat up all the oxygen.
Then they pass gas made up of ethyl alcohol
And carbon dioxide. 
The carbon dioxide makes bread,
The gas they pass makes alcoholic spirits
And it makes the dough rise.
It puts the bubbles in the bread.
The high heat of the of the oven simply kills
The remaining little bugs, leaving their work in place.
The tasty bits of your morning toast are all tombs
Of tiny dead creatures – the Ozymandias phenomenon
On a tiny scale.  Look on my works, you mighty,
And eat them with apricot jam.

Found Poem -- J. Calender, from The New Yorker 11-4-13
    “Bread and Women”, Adam Gopnik

3 comments:

Bev Sykes said...

LOL. With that mental image I may have to stop eating bread! Beautiful poem tho.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Humor -- will think of this when I eat my peanut butter and honey on bread for my lunch today. good post -- barbara

June Calender said...

Thanks Bev and Barbara. My poetry class enjoyed that found bit too.