NaPoWriMo Day 20: Wendy Hind – Recipe for a new poem

We’re two thirds of the way through Napowrimo! Today Wendy Hind from Tiny Poetry Project makes a welcome return with a prompt that’s a recipe for success.

Cooking up a new poem

Think about a memory related to cooking. It can be about your lack of ability to cook, or your skill in cooking. Maybe it’s about watching someone else cook.

Please take 10 minutes to free write about the first memory that came into your mind with the above prompt. After 10 minutes, pick one small element from what you wrote down and write a poem based on this small segment. More than anything, don’t try to make it perfect – have fun!

My Memory/Poem


The perfectly scripted letters
Are marked with smudges
left by busy manicured hands.
Cream the butter, lard, and sugar.
Do not over beat, the recipe warns.
Add the eggs one at time.
Sift the dry ingredients together,
combine and then chill.

The simple galley kitchen
with Formica counters,
and warm electric oven
hum with impatience.
Finally, the wooden rolling pin
begins spinning at mock-speed,
making a sort of clinking sound
each time its lifted off the dough.

Always wearing a house dress
and pantyhose, reminiscent
of when she came of age in the 20s.
Always wearing a colorful apron
covered with clouds of white dust
appearing like a finger painting.
Always moving with the ease
of performing this ritual, a 1000 times.

Her cloudy blue eyes
look down on me
and wink, while sneaking me
a bit of cookie dough.
Bzzz, the timer startles me.
I carefully set down the
wooden rolling pin with a clinck,
smile, and swallow-up the dough.

Wendy Hind

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

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Episode 35: Wendy Hind – Tiny Poems

Wendy Hind from Lincoln, Nebraska, turned to poetry when her son was born with critical health problems. As her interest developed in poetry as narrative medicine for the soul she started the Tiny Poetry project, writing and sharing poems that deliver small but potent doses of hope, resilience, compassion and empathy. She shares some of the poems and talks about how the power of poetry is being increasingly recognised in the medical world.

Wendy also shares a poem written in response to Abbie Neale‘s writing exercise on clothing.

Wendy’s tiny poetry exercise

1. Think of a time when you or a loved one was ill. Take a few moments to write down five to 10 words that come into your mind when you think about that experience.
2. Next write a corresponding word next to each of the words you have just written. Maybe it is a descriptive word, maybe an action word, maybe a metaphor.  
3. Now read through the group of words circle those pairs that resonate the loudest with you. Add one more brutally honest word to each pair.
4. Take these words and attempt to compose a poem. The poem may be long at first. Often tiny poems are the result of paring down a longer poem – much like taking your initial list of words and taking out those words that are the least powerful. 
5. As concise brevity is the point of a tiny poem, every word must work towards the meaning of your poem.

Notes for a tiny poem

This is a great exercise for focusing the mind and writing about experiences that might be difficult to address. As you can see from the notes above, the initial list of does not have to be particularly creative or original. The words may or may not end up in the final poem but can help to pinpoint the one concise thing you want to say about the subject you’re writing about.

As always, submissions are encouraged. Please send you poems here to be featured on the blog or podcast.

You can find out more about Wendy and the Tiny Poetry project at

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

Wendy Hind – White Flag

Coming up on the podcast Wendy Hind from Lincoln, Nebraska, shares poems from her Tiny Poetry project and talks about how it was inspired by her son who was born with critical health issues. You can find more poems on her website.

White Flag
If you think I am going
to wave the white flag
you are mistaken.
If you think I am going
to retreat
you are wrong.
I may have to refortify,
I may have to bandage my wounds,
but I am not done fighting,
and I intend to win this war.
I will not surrender
to my pain,
nor to you.

Wendy Hind