Saturday, January 25, 2014

Prompt #174 – Dinner Party

We all love to eat yummy foods, and there are many wonderful food poems for us to “consume.” But straightforward food poems aren’t on the menu this week. Instead, let’s write about a whole dinner party. Imagine that you’re the host or hostess. Who would you invite? What would you serve? What would the diner table conversation include? Have fun with this. Be a little outré or surreal if you wish, or work toward a more serious “message.” Remember that any food poem, like a love poem, can be rich, satisfying, and representative of human experience.


1. Consider writing a poem about a dinner party for famous poets. Imagine dining with T. S. Eliot, Shakespeare, and Emily Dickinson.

2. Write your “feast” poem in the form of a menu. Below are some ideas for a literary feast.

Prawns Quixote

Mac(Beth) and Cheese
Chicken Sandwiches on Catcher in the Rye Bread
Tale of Two Zities
Of Rice and Men Casserole
Salem’s (Lot) Pot Roast
Leaves of Grass(fed) Beef
Lord of the Fries Potatoes
Edgar Alan Poe-tato Salad
Romeo and Julienned Veggies

The Sundae Also Rises
Bananas Karenina

Huckleberry Gin and Tonic
Tequila Mockingbird
The Old Man and the Seagram’s
A Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose

3. Write your poem from the perspective of a guest at your dinner party.

4. Write a two-part or two-stanza poem from the viewpoints of two guests at your dinner party (famous poets, contemporary celebrities, historical people, sportspeople, military personnel).

5. Write your poem from the point of view of a food item on your table.

6. Write a poem about a dinner party at which no food is served. What extended metaphor can you develop?

7. Write a poem about a dinner party at which something other than food is served.

8. Don't forget to choose a specific meal for your dinner party: breakfast, lunch, high tea, dinner.


1. Don’t be afraid to be humorous, but keep in mind that a serious tone will work well for this prompt.

2. Use images that appeal especially to the senses of sight, smell, and taste.

3. Invite your readers into your poem (and into the dinner party) with imagery and figures of speech that capture their interest and imaginations. You need a great first line or “hook.”

4. Think in terms of making your poem representative of human experience. The dinner party may be your subject, but there should be a deeper meaning between the “courses.”



  1. Very creative indeed! I absolutely LOVE the list of literary food items! What fun!

    1. Thanks, Jamie! Those menu items aren't all original, but some are. It would be great fun to host a dinner party and serve some of them.

  2. Great ideas! Everyone loves food, right? Those menu items are a hoot.

  3. Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)January 28, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Clever and creative! I once threw a dinner party here in Ireland at which all the dishes and drinks were named for Irish authors. I didn't use the wonderfully creative names that you suggest, but a number of famous Irish authors were celebrated through food. It's great fun to incorporate edible treats into literary events.

    1. Thanks, Maire! I'll bet your dinner party was wonderful!

  4. Here's a link to some literary dinner party ideas.

    For some weird reason, this prompt made me remember the scene in the Tom Jones movie in which Tom and Mrs. Waters tuck into a tavern meal. There's no connection, of course, just a thought and just sayin'.

    1. Thanks, Sandy, for your comment and for the link. It's really funny that you thought of the old tom Jones movie scene—I remember it well, and it's even available for viewing on YouTube.


    —once was a time for talk of their children, preschools,
    babysitters, their own parents. Years passed, talk became
    curfews, college, weddings, grandchildren. Friends
    changed, wines changed, Lancers Rosé gave way to
    Pinot Grigio, Shiraz.

    Now it might be dinner with friend, spouses gone, canes
    loop around handbag handles, arch over chairs. Talk
    becomes a spare-part litany: one friend tells of stents,
    another boasts that he escaped stents or bypass until
    someone gently reminds him that he wears a pig valve
    where his mitral valve used to be.

    The friend who dines on tuna so close to raw it could jump off
    the plate and go for a swim: I got a new eye this week (really a lens
    after the cataract was removed). Women with hair hues unlike
    anything to match their ages wonder how they can compete.
    One offers that she’s missing an appendix, another confesses
    to a padded bra. (Old friends—they look at her chest, nod.)

    At the table’s head, the pal with the new knee sits so he can stretch
    his leg, the replaced-hip owner looks for a comfortable position.
    Soon they’ll move on to lab reports: who owns the good cholesterol,
    who the bad, who takes generics, whose plan allows brand names.
    They chuckle at their plights yet know that dinner with friends
    won’t go on forever as they imagined it would when they talked
    of their children, preschools, babysitters, their own parents.

    —Gail Fishman Gerwin, from Dear Kinfolk, (2012, ChayaCairn Press)

    1. Thanks so much for sharing this, Gail! Readers, if you want to order a copy of Dear Kinfolk, here's the info:

      Dear Kinfolk,
      ISBN: 978-0-9882949-0-5
      To order a copy of Dear Kinfolk, contact

      Winner—2013 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence

      About the Book:

      “Gail Fishman Gerwin’s powerful new collection Dear Kinfolk, proves Gerwin has a range that is rare. Her psychological portraits explore youth; the Holocaust; the deep connection between dogs and owners; long-term marriage, children and grandchildren; and the discovery of self. Gerwin delves into each subject with intelligence, insight and an underlying emotion that is often spiced with ironic humor. Her trademarks are specificity, candor, and gorgeous imagery. Gail Fishman Gerwin is like a master diamond cutter. Her poems have clarity, depth, and shine brightly. Dear Kinfolk, is an exquisite book of poems, one I absolutely love.”

      —Laura Boss, author of Flashlight (Guernica), founder and editor of Lips

    2. Love the poem, Gail Gerwin! It's so true that as we get older our dinner table conversations change dramatically in subject. Sigh ... oh, to be young again. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

    3. Lovely poem, Gail Fishman Gerwin. And so very true! I showed it to my wife and she agreed. Thanks for posting it.

    4. Lovely poem Gail. And so true to life.

    5. five
      16, 17, 18, 19, 20
      two dollars
      two in change will buy a healthy snack
      honey coated
      peanuts, raisins and seeds
      This isn't a nut!
      A tooth! Quality control
      just isn't what it should be
      It's MY tooth! Right in front
      now I look like a hillbilly
      what a trans formative treat

    6. So sorry about your tooth, Risa. Thanks so much for sharing the poem. Those short staccato lines give a great sense of something breaking ...

    7. Hey, Gail Gerwin -- I found your other book on eBay and bought it! Thanks for sharing the poem here -- very true.

  6. @Risa, a gratis snack from Trader Joe's bought me a new crown, and I don't mean a tiara. @Rich, really? Ebay, wow! @Jamie and Ed, many thanks. And Adele, as always, thanks for the great prompts and blog.

    1. Hope you'll share with again, Gail! It's always a pleasure to hear from you and to read your poems!