We will examine what bread and poems are made of—starting with the most basic ingredients –flour, water, (yeast), and salt/words, and then build from there. This is not a course in how to write a poem, and I will not provide a formula for how to write a poem. Instead we will play with language and our emotional, spiritual, and aesthetic reactions to it and go from there. Nor will we work from a standard recipe for making bread. By then end of the workshop you will have made three different breads that you can make at any time, often with just whatever you have on hand and without more than the most basic measuring. You will be able to have bread on your table even at the last minute. You will also be able to make an excellent loaf of “artisanal” bread when you have the time to plan ahead. You will also be able to trust your own choices when writing, knowing that they are yours and valid. Please note that this retreat is aimed specifically at those with little or no experience and might feel intimidated around more confident bakers and writers. If you’ve ever held off from either pursuit, this is the workshop for you.
Steve Turtell began baking bread in his teens, around the same time as he wrote his first poems. He worked in various wholesale and retail bakeries and catering houses and restaurants for almost ten years before going back to school to earn a BA in comparative religion, and an MFA in poetry, studying with Allen Ginsberg. His 2001 chapbook, Letter to Frank O’Hara was the 2010 winner of the Rebound Chapbook Prize given by Seven Kitchens Press and was reissued with an introduction by Joan Larkin in 2011. His collection of poems, Heroes and Householders, which critic Marjorie Perloff called “subtle and charming” was published in 2009 by Orchard House Press and was reissued in May 2012 in an expanded second edition. He lives in New York City but can be found lurking in well-lit corners of the internet where he posts mouth-watering pictures of his latest breads and pastries. You can follow him on Twitter as @rdturtle and friend him on facebook.