Poetry Friday: Long Lost Treasures

Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading has all the poetry goodness of the world. This week many in the Poetry Friday Literasphere are celebrating our new Young People’s Poet Laureate, Naomi Shihab Nye.

Today you can read about Naomi Shihab Nye at Deowriter.

I’ve been organizing my writing room and that means finding some long lost treasures from former students.


Well, you can see how long ago this poem is, look at that printing! Lauren was either in 5th or 6th grade.

Ocean

People fly kites across
the sand
Kids play,
Shells wash up on the beach,
the blue and green water makes
crashing waves!
Sometimes things
get eaten and are never found,
fish jump with the whales
Under
The
Summer
Sun.

Lauren M, 5th or 6th grade

Land of the Elephants

Upon my bed, I dream of 8,000 pound elephants looking at me,
motioning me to follow them.
We walk for hours.
I rest curled up beside them all
under the starry night.
Wakening from deep sleep, I find myself on an elephant’s back.
We get to the edge of Africa.
everyone is as still as night,
The elephants blow their outstanding trunks;
I listen to its sweetness.
Magically a cloud falls from the heavenly sky.
My elephant puts me on this fluffy cloud
the cloud whips me through the air with ease
I find myself at a golden gate with elephants this land full of animals
they changed my clothes into a white gown
I lay on a bed of clouds looking Dow to my city.
Then I found myself on my bed surrounded by elephants.

Tanisha M, 5th grade

Back during this time, when testing wasn’t a priority and there weren’t blogs for posting student work, I coordinated a monthly First Friday for students to read a page from their stories or poems. We had such great fun.

I am lucky to have had these two wonderful girls who have grown into fabulous adults with careers and families.

WINNER, WINNER…

Dani at Doing the Work That Matters won a copy of A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE. Email me at macrush53 at yahoo dot com so I can get your address.

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Poetry Friday: An Interview with Janet Wong

Today, Dani at Doing the Work That Matters is bringing us all things poetry at the round up.

And here at Check It Out, I am thrilled to be interviewing Janet Wong about A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE. I have had such great success using this book as a mentor text during my recent time in classrooms. Food and family are such inspiring topics. Kids can relate to food and have strong emotions around food. It was such a delight to see them write their poems.

JRM: How did it come to be that you were able to re-issue an updated edition of A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE?

JW: A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED was published originally by McElderry Books (part of Simon & Schuster) in 1996. When it went out of print in 2006, the rights reverted to me. Right away I made a simple paperback reprint of the original book through BookSurge/CreateSpace, but last year I decided that I really wanted to tell the stories behind the poems and expand the scope of the book to make it more useful in a classroom. Sylvia Vardell and I create books through Pomelo Books (PomeloBooks.com), but our Poetry Friday books are somewhat different in flavor from this book, so I published this book through my YUZU imprint.

JRM:I love the backstory from the poem, “A Suitcase of Seaweed”.  I can just picture the anticipation of presents from grandmother and then the disappointed to find food instead.  What prompted you to write the backstory of many of these poems?

JW: I speak to children at many school visits each year, and I find that putting a poem in a “sandwich” of backstory and questions is a fun and effective technique. It’s not something I’d ever done in writing before this book, but I think it worked really well to give the established text a whole new twist.

JRM:Were there notes to look back on in order to write the new material, the back story?

JW: I think I might have notes and multiple drafts somewhere in a box in my garage, but I relied on memory for the backstories here.

JRM:I’m really questioning how it is that I have never tried kimchi.  I love cabbage, chili peppers, and garlic. What do you eat kimchi with or is it eaten alone?

JW: If you are a traditional Korean person, you eat kimchi with everything—and alone, too! Kimchi and several other little dishes of mung bean sprouts, boiled spinach, soy-soaked chili peppers, little fish, shredded squid, black beans, potato salad, etc.—“banchan” or “panchan”—will appear at every dinner (and often at lunch and breakfast), along with rice.

JRM:Were you at all tempted to revise the poems besides adding the new text boxes?  Were there poems that didn’t make the book?

JW: Yes, I was tempted to revise—but decided that it was best to leave the poems alone. All of the poems made the book.

JRM: In the poem, “Sisters”, you explain that the poem is really about your mother.  Did you ever let your mom know about the poem?

JW: No, I never told my mom that she was my sister in one of my books. She used to love it, though, when people would mistake us for sisters, especially after I turned fifty and my hair started turning gray. One stranger even told her that I looked like her OLDER sister! She really loved hearing that.

JRM:What do you hope readers will take away from A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE?

JW: I hope that readers will feel inspired to write about their own family memories—and snippets of memories. Poems are perfect for capturing little memories—an image, a taste, a funny saying.

JRM:Your “Advice for Writers” is spot on.  Especially the starting small and making the time to write. I have been thinking a lot about organizing poems.  Do you categorize your poems as you write so they’re easy to locate? What tips might you have?

JW: I wish I were organized enough to categorize my poems as I write! But one thing that I feel—and I think it’s a healthy thing—is that it’s OK to write something and do nothing with it. It’s OK if it gets lost. It’s OK if no one ever sees it. But if a person wants to share, and have other people read and talk about her work, then she shouldn’t just wait for a traditional publisher to say yes. Go ahead and use KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) or another company (Ingram Spark, Lulu, Blurb, etc.) to get it out in the world. Work like crazy on a book, get it done, and spread the word!

JRM:Yes, I agree! I’ve used KPD and Blurb for a couple of photo and poetry books. What is one food that all readers who read A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE should run out and try?

JW: Seaweed, of course! It’s funny that my grandmother needed to bring seaweed in her suitcase so that my mother could have it, and yet now you can buy it even at Walmart and Costco.

JRM:How does one choose a good restaurant for Asian food?

JW: Word-of-mouth and Yelp! Readers: if you need a recommendation for an Asian restaurant, just email me with your city name. I’m pretty fanatic about food (especially Chinese, Korean, and Japanese food) very good at sifting through Yelp reviews, and I also have tried a lot of restaurants (particularly in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Central Jersey, and Philadelphia). And if you HAVE a recommendation for an Asian restaurant that you love, let me know! (janet@janetwong.com)

Students wanted to know: What is your favorite food?

JW: Japanese: sushi (sweet shrimp, albacore), ramen (fresh extra firm noodles and broth cooked at least 24 hours); Chinese: dim sum (ha gow – shrimp dumplings), wonton noodle soup (shrimp and pork wontons with Hong Kong style thin but chewy egg noodles), soup dumplings, ma la (spicy tingling) beef tendon; Korean: soon dae (blood sausage); Mexican: cochinita pibil tacos (very soft stewed pork tacos with small corn tortillas), empanadas with potato; Italian: gnocchi (potato dumplings); Swedish: potato pancakes; Danish: potato chips (I had the BEST potato chips ever in Iceland, a Danish brand called Kim) . . . I think the better question is: what foods don’t I like? (Answer: I’m trying to stay away from processed foods that contain ingredients I can’t pronounce.)

I love this book SO much that I have an extra copy to give away this week. Please leave a comment and I will let the winner know next Friday.

Want to read some very fun food poems? Visit these posts:

Friday, May 17, 2019

Monday, May 20, 2019

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Poetry Friday: Food Poems Inspired by A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE by Janet Wong

Thanks to Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche for gathering all the Poetry Friday goodness this week.

Have you read this book?

If not, you need to buy it now or find it at your local library. It’s a great mentor text for getting students to think about their cultural background. Janet Wong published this book twenty-three years ago and just recently added back stories to the poems. More about that next week when Janet shares the answers to some questions I recently asked her.

I was back in the library this week. I had the opportunity to work with fourth and fifth graders. This book provided excellent food poems as mentors. I decided given the time allotment of thirty minutes over class, the SKINNY poem would be a good form for students to use to write a poem about a food for which they had strong emotions (good or bad).

When I take poetry workshops from Paulann Petersen, she often has words lists available for participants. I decided that given the 30 minute time linit, having a word list for describing food would be helpful. I provided this for students:

Today I have poems from fifth graders. I’m sharing poems all next week until our next Poetry Friday.

Arroz con Leche

By Jackeline C.

Mi favorito (my favorite)

Arroz con leche

Caliente (hot)

Sagroso (yummy)

Frio (cold)

Arroz con leche

Blanco (white)

Vapor (vape, steam)

Asucar (sugar)

Arroz con leche

Mi favorito

(I just love that she asked to write it in Spanish)

++++++++++++++++

Sushi

By Viktoria O

Fresh sushi on the table, yes! Tempting.

Spicy

Fresh

Delightful

Bite

Spicy

Scrumptious

Treat

Meal

Spicy

I’m eating the sushi on the table. Tempting.

+++++++++++++++

Quesadillas

By Gabriela A

Nice and hot

Quesadillas

Delicious

Cheesy

Goodness

Quesadillas

Soft

Tasty

Meal

Quesadillas

Nice and hot

+++++++++++++++

Sushi

By Hunter J.

Sushi, we bite into the rice

Sushi

Savory

Delicious

Tender

Sushi

Salty

Tasty

Fresh

Sushi

We bite into the rice

+++++++++++++++++

Chicken Wings

By Angel F.

Chicken wings are fiery

Chicken!!

Spicy

Hot

Delicious

Chicken!!

Mouth-watering

Burning

Rich

Chicken!!

Chicken wings are fiery

+++++++++++++++++

Pizza

By Osiris D.

Pizza is good

Pizza

Chewy

Delicious

Divine

Pizza

Dip

Soft

Cheesy

Pizza

Pizza is good

++++++++++++++++++

Caramel

By Dominik

Out of the package

Caramel

Oh

So

Good

Want

Some

More

Caramel

Out of the package

+++++++++++++++++++

Watermelon

By Sophie E

I wait for my mom to slice it up

Watermelon

Savory

Sweet

Bite

Watermelon

Yum

Drip

Juicy

Watermelon

I wait for my mom to slice it up

++++++++++++++++++

Poetry Friday: A Response Poem

Thanks to Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass for hosting Poetry Friday

Back in April, during National Poetry Month, I had the opportunity to sub in a fourth grade class. I read the book CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR?: POEMS of RACE, MISTAKES, and FRIENDSHIP by Irene Latham, Charles Waters. This was a 2018 CYBILS Poetry finalist.

As the students listened, I had them write down words and reactions to the book. Afterward we made a list of phrases. It doesn’t always work to finish the poem when I’m one day in a class and then gone for awhile as was the case with this sub job. But I know when I returned to the class we’d finish what we started.

This past Wednesday was that day. I prepared the strips and shared them. We read them aloud and determined that since we had some one that began, “Each night…” they would serve as the beginning of a new stanza. As I was writing, I noticed this line: “Fists clicked-Chains Cracked” and felt it would be a good repeating line. The first line and the end were givens.

Then each student placed their strip where they thought it might go best. We reread the poem, took away a couple lines, and came up with this response to Irene Latham’s and Charles Waters’ brilliant book:

Each Night

Each night we talked at the table
We didn’t know how
to explain the curse they gave
Some whites ashamed
about how they treated blacks
Fists clicked-Chains Cracked

Each night we plopped chains
classmates crumbled in shame
Classmates black and white
Some kids sat in shame
Fists clicked-Chains Cracked

Each night we gave forgiveness
We didn’t know how
to explain the forgiveness they didn’t give
Black and white forgiveness
Fists clicked-Chains Cracked

Each night we forgave classmates
with an apology
Classmates black and white apologized
Thunder cracked
Chains cracked
We forgave them
Shame hit
We cracked
In the end, we became friends.

© Mrs. Brown’s Fourth Grade Class

Today (as I’m writing this on TH) went into the class and we looked it over. We discussed tightening the poem and removing words. I explained how Stephen Kind reduces his drafts by 10% and Richard Peck tries to fine ten words per page to remove, I gave each student a draft and asked them to select at least five words that could be removed.
 

After the discussion, our poem looked like this:

This is the final copy:

It was a fun lesson to do with this class. I feel so lucky to be able to work with students on these mini-lessons.

Poetry Friday: The Color of May

Thanks to Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup for hosting all the Poetry Friday goodness today.

I returned to a kinder class a few weeks ago for a day of subbing. Since we had written animal sounds poems, I decided to use Joyce Sidman’s book, RED SINGS FROM TREETOPS, A YEAR IN COLORS. My example poem is at Deowriter.

Today and tomorrow, please enjoy these kinder poems.

Poetry Friday: Student Poetry Month

Thanks to Irene at Live Your Poem for hosting Poetry Friday this week

I interviewed Laura Purdie Salas about her new book IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT in March. That interview is HERE.


Then I had an opportunity to work with a fourth grade class. We made a list of classroom inanimate objects. I am featuring their poems all week.

Messy whiteboards
we get scribbled on all day
messy scribbles, writing
People write on me all day
boards you write on forever

~Allison S

Jumping water bottle
bouncing as a chair
I am as running as a lion
keep you hydrated
healthy

~Taryn

The restless recorder
I am as cheesy as a chisel
definitely delicate
sweet, sour, smart,
silent restless recorder

~Macy