Monday, February 6, 2012

Your Favorite Poems from the Book

Which are your favorite poems from A Suitcase of Seaweed? Tell us 1-3 favorites in a comment below. At the end of the week, I'll tally the nominations and put the top 5 in a survey poll. I have my own definite favorite poem from the book (not because it's the "best" but because it has a strong personal meaning for me). Maybe it's your favorite, too? I'll put it in the survey, and we'll see!

53 comments:

  1. My favorite poem is either "Sisters," or "Grandmother's Almond cookies." Sisters has a very sisterly feel to it, The admiration and perhaps jealousy that one can feel towards their siblings. An Grandmother's Almond cookies has a spectacular rhyme scheme, and an interesting subject. If I had to choose one of them, I think I'd choose Grandmother's Almond Cookies

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  2. Isola: And those almond cookies were really good!

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    1. Does the poem actually make the recipe? We were wondering in English class if we tried it whether or not it would make cookies.

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    2. YES--the recipe works. Try it out!

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  3. I think that my favorite poems would have to be "Sister" or "Hospitality". I loved the idea in Sisters and it reminded me a little of the differences between my sister and I. When I read Hospitality I could just picture that happening in someones house, and I thought about when my dad walks into the kitchen with his shoes on and we make him clean the floor. I think though if I had to choose only one, I would pick Sisters.

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    1. How terrific that you make your dad clean the floor when he dirties it with his shoes...Sounds like a good way to assign household duties!

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  4. I love all of the poems, but if I had to choose three they would be Our Daily Bread, Campfire, and Shrimp. Our Daily Bread has an immaculate rhyme scheme and last line. Campfire is as I said in your other post funny and very descriptive. Shrimp is one of your funnier poems I think. I also like the last two lines in Shrimp
    My brothers plate!
    This Shrimp is mine!
    I laugh every time. :)
    Posted By
    Noah Zobel

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    1. The poem about the last shrimp is very much a description of what used to happen when my family would go to a Chinese restaurant, and the big lazy susan would go spinning round and round with the last of this-or-that, and we were all so polite for as long as we could be before someone grabbed the last piece of a favorite dish and gobbled it down.

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    2. That sounds like my family, we are very polite util we realize that there are four of us and one piece left, and then we attack the plate. Often my parents tell me and my sister that they are older so they get the piece. I also love shrimp!
      Posted By
      NoZo

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  5. Ooo this is so hard but I think my favorite poem is Lotto. The imagery is amazing and it really shows how things could be hiding anywhere, in pockets, under cushions. I love it.
    Posted by
    Nathan Baron Silvern

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    1. I didn't mean to delete my whole response; I was just checking to see if I could delete my last name. Anyway--if I remember what I said--I think the key thing about a lottery is hope, if even just for a day (until the ticket comes up a loser), you took the steps required to make winning possible (finally buying a ticket instead of just talking about winning the lottery)...and now you wait in hope.

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  7. My favorite poems are "Grandmother's Almond Cookies" because it reminds me of my family and all my grandmother's recipes. I also love your poem, "Sisters."
    Libby M
    ARMS
    7th grader

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    1. Thanks! I'm surprised that so many of you count "Grandmother's Almond Cookies" as your favorite poem in this book. I used to celebrate the publication of each book with some special item (for instance, travel cups with a lid (and a poem printed on the side) for BEHIND THE WHEEL). The item I chose to make (to celebrate A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED) was...almond cookies! These almond cookies were "newfangled," though; the recipe was modified to include chocolate. I gave those cookies to the publisher and to special booksellers and they were a big hit.

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    2. They sound good! Especially with chocolate. It was hard to pick my favorite, because many of them reminded me of my own family.

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  8. This certantly is a hard one. I think that my favorite ones are Manners, Grandmother's Almond Cookies, and Hospitality. Manners and Hospitality really show how diverse cultures are, which I like. Grandmother's Almond Cookies really show how important recipies are to families and why they are neer witten down. You know them so well that you don't have to!

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    1. Sam: I agree with you on recipes...they really are important to families!

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  9. I think my favorite poems would be...

    1. Persimmons. I really love the imagery you used--I love the part about poking a hole in the screen with a pin. I also like the last couple lines, because they show such contrast.

    And....

    2. Poetry. I think the length fits the poem perfectly--it doesn't need to be any shorter or longer. It made me laugh, too.
    All of your poems are wonderful!

    -Ava B-C

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    1. Thank you, Ava! "Persimmons" came directly from a story my mother told me about her childhood. And I still remember the day when I stood outside with my grandfather, picking lemons from his tree and explaining to him what poetry is.

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    2. When I'm an adult I really hope to remember all the fun experiences--even little tiny things--short conversations and random inside jokes. It must be really a great thing to be able to write them down in poetry form for A Suitcase of Seaweed.

      I love how sometimes you know that a certain thing--no matter how small--will stick in your mind forever.

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  10. My two favorites would have to be Lotto and Grandmother's Almond Cookies
    I liked Grandmother's Almond Cookies because of the blunt feel to it. It felt perfect for memorizing a recipe.
    I liked Lotto simply because of how true it is. So many people scramble madly for money, just to buy a lottery ticket and have that chance of winning, ever though it is extremely irrational.
    If I had to pick one though, I would say Grandmother's almond cookies, because I like the way the poem seems to intentionally go out of its way to rhyme, which I find amusing.

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    1. Is the rhyme a little forced in "Grandmother's Almond Cookies"? A little, I guess==but not too much, I hope! (I do strive to make my rhyme schemes as natural as possible.)

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    2. It didn't feel forced at all actually. It felt like a style of using adding a single additive or additional thought. The added word made it seem more real. For example...
      "one pinch baking powder. Guess."
      also...
      "Mix it with both hands. No rush"
      The added words and brief language makes the poem seem like a chant, which I think makes the poem that much better.

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  11. One of my favorites is definitely "Poetry," because it has a lot of humor packed into those few sentences. My other two favorites would be "When I Grow Up" and "Manners." I love "When I Grow Up" because I think a lot of people feel like they have to grow up and be doctors or lawyers, but we are slowly breaking out of that little shell as we grow older. I love "Manners" because the poems and words really show the contrast in cultures that I notice a lot.
    My top favorite is definitely "Poetry," though.

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    1. The line in "When I Grow Up" about eating one chicken all year is one of my favorites because I do remember my grandfather saying that several times. And it is a great example, I think, of "show; don't-tell" (the classic piece of advice to authors). Being able to afford to eat only one chicken a year: yes, they were POOR!

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    2. It's hard to believe that people used to be so poor, considering how much more we seem to have now. It is a very good example of show; don't tell, which I'm always working on with my own writing.

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  12. I loved all of your poems but I think one of my favorites was "Rice Cooker." I really like how you talk about all the different steps and all the details and steps within steps.I really like the ending when you say "and wait for Mom, to come home." It left the me thinking of all the days that I will do the dishes or make the house look really nice and just wait for my mom to come home. I can totally relate to it because sometimes at home I will wash the rice and strain it. I always try my best not to have any rice fall out. Although they always do and I'm experiment new methods to make it so nothing falls out. I really enjoyed reading all of your poems!

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    1. "Rice Cooker" comes directly from my childhood experience. I remember washing the rice many afternoons (an hour before my mom came home). Growing up in Los Angeles, though, we did eat a lot of tacos, pizza, and burgers, too!

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    2. I love writing about memories and experiences because it makes me happy to remember all of those things I did. My cousins and grandparents live about an hour from L.A. in Orange County, I love visiting!

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    3. I love visiting So. CA too--and will be visiting 3 schools there next month (2 in Garden Grove and 1 in Palos Verdes). A lot of people think of Orange County as all-white and conservative, but there is a lot of diversity there (and great food)!

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  13. My favorite poem from the book would have to be Other because I think it demonstrates how people can be brought together no matter how different they are and that may have been what happened to Janet Wong when she came to the U.S. and tried to fit in.

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  14. I think the two poems that really made me think the most were 'Lotto' and 'Beat'. They both struck a chord with me because they are both very sad.
    In lotto I can almost feel the hope at the end of the week, hoping that all problems would be solved, and the rest of their lives would be great, only to face disappointment. It makes me think about how I have a life where I don't have to worry about money.
    Beat was great in two ways. In the first part I can't even imagine my parents hitting me with a rolled up newspaper when they were mad. The second part reminded me off all the times my mom has said, "I'm not mad, just disappointed," and I have burst out crying, because somehow that's worse. You captured that beautifully in Beat.

    Jonah Weinbaum

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    1. Spanking used to be quite common in families but thankfully we hardly hear about it anymore. But yes, it's very tough to deal with it when you know you've truly hurt your parents. My poem "The Onion" in The Rainbow Hand is on that same theme.

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  17. My very favorite poem is 'Poetry'. The one where your Grandfather asks what you learned in school and you say "Poetry" and he replies "Po-tree? It got fruit". I laugh every time I read that line. My Grandma has similar ideas to your Grandfather, even though she is Canadian like me because she hasn’t travelled as much as I have. My second favorite is 'Sisters'. I feel like I can really relate to this poem because to my brother. I think I am weak and he is strong so the way you phrased it really made sense to me and let me think about my brother in a different way, in the ways that he supports me. My third favorite is ‘Campfire’. I can relate to the first stanza because when I was living in Rwanda, my Mom and Dad would catch grasshoppers and cicadas and roast them up and eat them.

    By Riley Schmidt

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    1. You need to write your own version of "Campfire"--and I'd love to read it!

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    2. Thanks! I think i might do that!


      -Riley Schmidt

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  18. My favorite poem is "Sisters" because i really understood the poem because i have a sister too. We are nothing alike but at the end of the day we know we love each other!The poem reminds me of us too. i'm the ginger and she is the tofu. She falls apart really easily.

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    1. At Asian markets you can sometimes buy extra-soft dessert tofu in a clear plastic container with sweet ginger syrup in a separate small container on top: a nice symbolic dessert for your family!

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  19. I like the poem "Acupuncture" because I can relate to it. My mother has a scar on her arm thats the size of a quarter which she got from a shot. In your poem it says "she digs her finger into my skin to show me where the doctor stuck hundreds of needles" I like to contemplate her unique scar and poke it. I also like the poem "When I Grow Up" because when I visit my grandpa we go out to the balcony and we talk. He looks outside while drinking his Turkish Coffee, trying to put some common sense into me. When I was little I would say "I want to be a ballerina or an actress, I want to be a famous singer and play my guitar". He would always put down his coffee and say "look at your mother, be a hardworking lawyer like she once was. She's my smartest child; you should be my smartest grandchild". After nodding my head in agreement he would say "go get your ice-cream, you deserve it".

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    1. Alara: I love your phrase "trying to put some common sense into me." And yes, your grandfather sounds very familiar to me! I hope you write lots of poems, for yourself, for gifts, for fun--sounds like you have great material!

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  20. My favorite poem is "Straight A's". I like this poem because it vividly illustrates to me what it is like when you are expected by your family to get straight A's. I also find that its shortness contributes to getting the point across well. Better, in my opinion, than if the poem were longer. The last stanza is very reflective of the feeling that one has when s/he is under pressure to get straight A's. I think that my second favorite poem would be "Poetry" because the last line always gives me a laugh. I think this poem communicates well what it is like to come from an immigrant family. My third favorite poem is "Hospitality". I like that it shows how some people are ignorant of others' cultures. I find it interesting how your mother's reaction is to punish your guest by not offering food rather than asking them to remove their shoes.

    By: Ilya Yudkovsky

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    1. Yes, funny about my mother's punishment, but since food is her ultimate gift/reward, I guess it makes sense that not offering food is a punishment. I think it is a culturally Asian thing: avoid confrontation with strangers (by not talking about the shoes).

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  21. I agree that in Asian culture that food is the ultimate gift/reward and avoiding confrontation is a common practice. I definitely find being offered good food is a complement. For me food is wonderful and to not be offered food can be misery. I think that when people are ignorant of others' cultures it is difficult to learn about them when you are unable to realize your mistakes. Did your guest ever realize that she was supposed to remove her shoes?

    By: Ilya Yudkovsky

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    1. Ilya: I believe it actually has happened a few times that my mother has had guests who didn't remove their shoes. Once, my father said, "Maybe he had holes in his socks?"

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  22. My favorite poem is Manners because it described a lot of the different asian customs. Because I am half chinese, this poem really spoke to me. The description of how to eat rice from a bowl if you are chinese is exactly how I eat from a bowl of rice. I always found using chopsticks to be very hard, and sometimes hands end up the best utensil. Of course as an American, I also use a fork, knife, and spoon.

    I like how the entire poem had a funny edge to it.

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    1. Thank you! I think a person has to have experienced firsthand what it's like to shovel rice from a bowl into your mouth (with chopsticks) to appreciate that poem!!

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    2. That's very true, even though I am not very good at using chopsticks. Lots of my family use chopsticks but I don't usually use them. Sometimes when I go to restaurants, they have chopsticks for kids that have a special bridge between the two sticks, to hold them together.

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  23. My favorite poem is "Hospitality" because I think it shows how some people don't see the values in other cultures. In “Hospitality”, the guests did notice how the house was arranged differently from what they were used to. When the guests went into the house, the mom was upset because they didn’t notice how people are supposed to take off their shoes when they enter. I know it’s an Asian custom to take off your shoes when you’re inside a house. I always take off my shoes when I go into anyone’s house including my own, even though I am not Asian.

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    1. You're very thoughtful to take your shoes off! I don't always do that when I visit someone, but I at least ask (or offer) and look around to see what others have done...

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  24. It's always good to recognize things like that when visiting a guest. Every now and then I forget to respect a certain aspect of someone's life and I feel really embarrassed. I usually try to copy the actions of the host and see where that takes me.

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