Arboretum offers "Food as Metaphor" writing class

Author Jules Nyquist

Author Jules Nyquist

It's no surprise that the tastes and smells of certain foods trigger strong memories. But have you ever considered using those memories as a starting point for your own poetry, fiction, or short story? Local author Jules Nyquist (her latest chapbook, Appetites: Poems on Food, Drink, Sex, tells you she's got some experience in this area) will guide students as they use food as a starting point when digging into the writing process as part of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's upcoming "Food As Metaphor: Writing Inspirations from Food" class. We talked with Nyquist to find out more about the class.


1. Describe your upcoming class, ""Food As Metaphor: Writing Inspirations from Food." In "Food as Metaphor" we look at everything about food and how it affects our lives because food permeates everything. It's not a class about food writing, but more of the creative writing and writing inspirations and how your memories are associated with food.

2. What sort of food-related writing exercises do you do? One example would be an exercise where we write about a favorite childhood food and what memories are associated with that (mine is macaroni and cheese). You can use the food as a starting point to write about what your family was like, what your childhood was like--it spurs memories. Holidays are really big too, and the kinds of foods associated with different traditions.

3. How did you come up with the idea of a class that uses food as inspiration? When I was working at the Loft Literary Center back in 2000 I did a lot of reading on food and was interested in it, so it seemed like a good idea for a class. It grew from there, and every time I taught the class I was adding different things. Now I have a reading list to give to people, and I keep gathering more info.

4. Which foods inspire you? My family is Swedish, so putting those foods back into my life as part of holiday traditions is inspiring to me. My family never did those traditions growing up, so I'm trying to work in some of those foods like rice pudding or herring, it gives me a good feeling to do that. It also helps to try the local foods when you're traveling because the food tells you a lot about a culture if you are open to trying it.

5. Your latest book of poetry revolves around food. Coincidence? With a lot of my poems I saw that the common theme running through them was food and appetites, so I arranged the chapbook by breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it really seemed to fit together well. It shows how food permeates our lives that way.

"Food as Metaphor" meets Thursdays, March 10, 17, and 24 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the Learning Center at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. The course is $80 for Arboretum members and $90 for nonmembers and is structured for all levels of writers. For more information, call 952.443.1422 or register online at

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