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Action Words And Poetry

Image result for verbs

Recipes are written with a precise use of language. The application of action words in the form of vivid verbs is a feature of this form of writing. I love the clear intent of words such as:

sift, dice, boil, sprinkle, sauté, blanche, pinch, muddle, chop, whip, slice, bake, season, salt, soak, plunge, dissolve, melt, boil.

What if these verbs were applied to a non-cooking topic? Could we create recipes for animals, traveling, feelings and emotions, seasons, learning or many other topics?

I recall a wonderful activity Natalie Goldberg presented in her book, 'Writing Down The Bones' (page 87, The Action of A Sentence) that coupled verbs one generally associates with kitchen actions with common nouns in order to create fresh new sentences and to increase writers awareness of the power verbs possess.

A further possibility is creating a recipe for some wondrous, new, edible delight…

Elaine Magliaro’s poem is a wonderful example of this approach. Elaine skilfully applies powerful verbs when creating a recipe for making a perfect morning. the allusion to a recipe is in evidence.

Image result for morning scenes

How to Make a Morning

Melt a galaxy of stars in a large blue bowl.
Knead the golden sun and let it rise in the East.
Spread the sky with a layer of lemony light.
Blend together until brimming with brightness.
Fold in dewdrops.
Sprinkle with songbirds.
Garnish with a chorus of cock-a-doodle-doos.
Set out on a platter at dawn and enjoy.
by Elaine Magliaro

We must choose our verbs carefully. They should assist the reader to visualize with greater clarity. They are the muscles of writing, adding power to the poetry we are attempting to make. Viva Le Verb!


  1. I am a lousy cook but am a fan of strong verb choice and I love the idea of using those cooking verbs in non-food related poetry. Thanks for your post Alan.

    1. Verbs are indeed a vital focus when we write so our verb choice is critical. Glad you liked the verb work Sally.

  2. "Set out on a platter at dawn and enjoy." That's exactly what we do. Now to chew! Thanks, Alan for a reminder about those verbs, but most important, Elaine's lovely poem.

    1. Elaine's poem has always resonated strongly with me Linda. Glad you like it too.

  3. I love that poem by Elaine--what a glorious morning she paints with those verbs.

    1. A glorious morning indeed Kay. A short, yet impactful, piece of poetry.

  4. This seems like it would be a great writing exercise that I'll have to add to my pocket. Thanks!

    1. Happy to share Rebecca. It is always gratifying when someone sees potential in a shared idea.

  5. Elaine's poem is absolutely delicious!

  6. Elaine's poem is gorgeous! She creatively captures so much of what I love about dawn. "Melt a galaxy of stars in a large blue bowl." Ahhhh....I have a long ago "Recipe for Early Morning Relaxation" post from a visit to Puerto Rico. You and Elaine have inspired me to revisit it and see if I can jazz up my verbs and create a poem. You've also reminded me to revisit Natalie Goldberg's book. Thanks!

    1. My focus upon such matters as verbs and sunsets has proved useful, it would seem Molly. I am therefore, well pleased.

  7. There is so much beauty in Elaine's poem. Choosing the right verbs is indeed a challenge. I have just added Writing Down The Bones to my Xmas wish list.

    1. Elaine's poem is a standout. I'm sure you will find much to delight you in Writing Down The Bones, Cheriee.


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