‘and dad/ and mom/and people/ and pool/’: Food and Memory Poems

Nikki Giovanni is a well-known African-American poet who spent summers with her grandparents in Knoxville, Tennessee, when she was a little girl, doing many of the same things kids like to do during the summer. Her happy memories of those summers inspired her to write a poem called ”Knoxville, Tennessee.” Students read and talked about this poem and then wrote their own food and memory poems!

I always like summer
you can eat fresh corn
from daddy’s garden
and okra
and greens
and cabbage
and lots of
and buttermilk and homemade ice-cream
at the church picnic
and listen to
gospel music
at the church
and go to the mountains with
your grandmother
and go barefooted
and be warm
all the time
not only when you go to bed
and sleep

Lesson Note:  ‘John S. Allen’s The Omnivorous Mind is an examination of the cultural and biological truths revealed by our evolving relationship with food. From the diets of our earliest ancestors to cooking’s role in the evolution of the human brain, to the preoccupations of contemporary foodies, Allen’s take on how and what we eat is consistently revelatory.’-Harvard University Blog, 2012.

Ms. Romano, 7th Grade

by JaVonte S.

I like summer best of all seasons
chicken and mac and cheese, Kool-Aid and
strawberry and watermelon and steak
playing with my friends in the park
and no one to tell me to get
back home again.

Chicago’s Summer
by A’niyah A.

I love summer
It’s the best
Homemade ice cream
and pizza
and Icy’s
And grilled cheese
And spaghetti
And strawberries
And walking to the park with friends
And swimming in the park
Just having fun outside with people I love

Ms. Turner, 6th Grade

Summer, Chicago
by Tahari

I like summer best
nacho, hot wings, ices, chips
and chicking wings
and tacos, pizza
and family and auntie
and dad
and mom
and people
and pool
and video games
and friends
and bike rides
and car rides

Family’s Summer
by Darylayjia

I like summer best
I can eat corn and tomatoes
and tacos and strawberries
and apples and spaghetti and
ramen and chips and watermelon
and fruit cups and quesadillas and
fiesta lime chicken and cake
and family and my school and my
dad and culture and life and
friends and being Hispanic and being
Mexican, and no one can change

Ms. Romano, 7th Grade

Winter Chicago
by Layla H.

I like winter best
and shrimp alfredo
and fries
and burners
and mac n cheese
and clouds
and family get-togethers
and happiness
with family and friends
to tell me to get back home soon.

by Kristen 

I like Spring best
and hot wings
and fries
and pizza
and tacos
the park
My uncle’s house
play with cousins
and siblings and joking
with family being with people
that make me feel safe
and loved all the time
and smelling flowers
and climbing trees
and play with dogs
and then going home

Ms. Turner, 6th Grade

Family and Friends
by Aalayah

I like winter best
ice cream is better than the rest
and burners
and stuffed potatoes
and cookies
and donuts
and movie night
with my
family just
relaxing and
dancin’ all night
long and playing
all night
long with my
family and

Winter Life
by Jacob

I like winter
I get hot food
and hot chocolate
and have a cozy time
and each chicken
and lamb
and greens
and mac and cheese
and have hot coffee one time
and pasta
and play the games
and play around
and have time with my family
and go out to eat
and cake
and ice cream



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.