Prolific Poet Combines His Art with a Cooking Column

Curtis Dunlap, an information systems administrator at a community college in North Carolina, frequently writes when he’s not on the job. He’s not only a prolific poet, but he writes a cooking column and combines it with his poems that relate to his cooking creations.

Curtis exemplifies a poet who gets the general public interested in his art. All writers would do well to be this imaginative. So many writers tell me they have trouble getting their work noticed by the public. Curtis’ blog shows us that writers, especially poets, don’t live in a shell and can have a broad audience.

Curtis creates a couple of columns a week. He gets really creative with simple, inexpensive cooking ingredients. You’ll see that cooking is another one of his passions, if you follow his column, http://www.frugal

Below is one of his columns that he’s allowed me to reprint:

Comfort Food – Cornbread

There’s nothing like a bowl of soup or chili on a cold winter day to warm you from the inside out. I’m a chili fanatic. I like veggie chili, chicken chili, chili beans and just plain ordinary chili flavored with ground turkey, beef and/or pork.

I also enjoy a fresh out of the oven slice of cornbread to go with my chili. Requested by my good friend, Howard Lee Kilby, here’s a cornbread recipe that’s super easy to make.

Bacon Buttermilk Cornbread

Fry five or six pieces of bacon, reserve bacon fat.


1 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk

Combine dry ingredients; add beaten egg and buttermilk, mixing well. Pour into greased (reserved bacon fat) heated 8-inch or 9-inch iron skillet. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

There should be nearly a quarter inch of bacon grease in the bottom of the heated skillet prior to adding the cornbread batter. You can also stir a few other ingredients into the batter. I added chopped bacon, a chopped jalapeno pepper, eight ounces of cream style corn, and a little shredded cheddar cheese to my batter yesterday.

To serve, flip the cornbread out onto a dinner plate, slice and slather with butter. 🙂

Here’s one of my poems that seems appropriate for this post:

I sat with Belle today,
on a blanket,
under a pine tree.
She told me about her new recipe
for cracklin’ cornbread.
My eye lids became heavy,
I could smell cornbread baking;
I grew warm inside.
I asked questions
to prolong her stay,
how much jalapeno did you say?
drunk again,
under a Virginia pine
on that sweet Georgia accent.

–Curtis Dunlap
The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature – October 2010 edition

I thank Curtis for allowing me to reprint his column. Those of you who want to get started in column writing, can read my book that has been a Writer’s Digest Book Club Featured Selection. It’s “You Can Be A Columnist.”

About Charlotte Digregorio

I publish books. I have marketed and/or published 55 titles. These books are sold in 46 countries to bookstores, libraries, universities, professional organizations, government agencies, and book clubs. In 2018, I was honored by the Governor of Illinois for my thirty-eight years of accomplishments in the literary arts, and my work to promote and advance the field by educating adults and students alike. I am the author of seven books including: Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All; Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes; You Can Be A Columnist; Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features; Your Original Personal Ad; and my latest, Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing. The first four books have been adopted as supplemental texts at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan, and Catalonia. They are sold in 43 countries, and are displayed in major metropolitan cultural centers. These books have been reviewed, recommended, and praised by hundreds of critics, librarians, and professors worldwide. I am also the author of a poetry collection: "Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu by Charlotte Digregorio." Two of my books have been Featured Selections of Writer's Digest Book Club. I am regularly interviewed by major print, radio, and television organizations throughout the U.S. I regularly sign books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores, and do poetry readings at art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. I was recently nominated for two Pushcart Prizes in poetry. I have won fifty-nine poetry awards, writing fourteen poetic forms. My poetry has been translated into eight languages. I do illustrated solo poetry exhibits 365 days a year in libraries, galleries, corporate buildings, hospitals, convention centers, and other venues. My individual poems have been displayed at supermarkets, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. I have been nominated and listed in "The International Authors and Writers Who's Who" in Cambridge, England and in the "Who's Who In Writers, Editors & Poets U.S./Canada." I hosted my own radio program, "Poetry Beat," on public broadcasting. My poetry has been featured on several library web sites including those of Shreve Memorial Library in Louisiana and Cornell University's Mann Library. My background includes positions as a feature editor and columnist at daily newspapers and as a magazine editor. I have been a public relations director for a non-profit organization. I am self-employed as a public relations/marketing consultant, having served a total of 118 clients in 23 states for the past several decades . In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and libraries. I have been a writer-in-residence at universities. There have been about 400 articles written about me in the media. I have served on the Boards of writers and publishers organizations. My positions have included Board Secretary of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. I served for five years as Midwest Regional Coordinator of The Haiku Society of America, and for two years as its Second Vice President.
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5 Responses to Prolific Poet Combines His Art with a Cooking Column

  1. Sara Martin says:

    That’s great! Sounds like Curtis is a real Renaissance man. Thanks for sharing that yummy recipe.

  2. Merrill Ann Gonzales says:

    The interesting thing Curtis has done here, is to link haiku/poetry with regional cooking. He’s added more emphasis on taste and aroma than to our usual reliance on sight and sound. In linking the recipe with the poem, you come to know the “place” and “person” on another level… like an old friend you’d have over for dinner…or the friend that comes for coffee and gossip. He’s drawn attention to the fact that regions have “tastes” in poetry as well as food and that the food we prepare comes from what is available at the store, or in our gardens or in the farmer’s market…
    It’s an interesting concept. I wish him all good things with it. Thanks for bringing this to your reeaders, Charlotte.

    • Good points, Merrill. Curtis is really cranking out the columns! Thanks for being a faithful reader of my blog. Hope your writing is coming along well in these cold gray days.

      • Merrill Ann Gonzales says:

        Hi, Charlotte, To tell you the truth my soup has been coming along even better, but writing comes in spirts like today. Something about a snowy day when your schedule is changed gives you something interesting to write about… but I’ve been having a good time finding new haiku for my snowbird notes. Just published a wonderful one by John Stevenson on my FB page…sent it to Twitter too. In these days there are so many directions to go. As soon as my good Bristol comes, I’ll be able to go back to doing some serious drawing again. Lots to look forward to for the new year.

        Stay warm…and watch out for dragons.

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