‘In a tiny house’: Food and Memory Poems

In this lesson, we talked a lot about food and our likes and dislikes and what makes our ‘taste’ uniquely ours. Poems need not always be hard to decipher. Distilling a moment is often the key. Students read Li-Young Lee’s, From Blossoms and Nikki Giovanni’s poem about place, food, celebration in, Knoxville Tennessee, which summons a speaker’s voice of childhood.

Nikki Giovanni is a well-known African-American poet who used to spend summers with her grandparents in Knoxville, Tennessee, when she was a little girl, doing a lot of the same things you like to do during the summer. Her happy memories of those summers inspired her to write a poem called ”Knoxville, Tennessee.”

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. Ruan, 7th and 8th Grades

Chicago, Illinois
Canming J.

I like summer best.
Memories of China.
Homemade ramen noodles
and fried rice
and ice cream
and playing in the sand pit
and old computer
playing video games on my old computer
with my friends
my mom said get off the computer

Ms. Wright, 8th Grade

Summer is the Best
by Yuying M.

Summer is my favorite season
In a year
I get free from school
Picnic with family
We have watermelon
And pineapple
And ice cream
And Barbeque
And swimming
play games with friends
I can wake up late
At this time
I like summer
Summer is the best!

by Jiaxing M.

I love summer
best of all
summer party
and ice cream
and burgers
and fries
and soda
and hot dogs
and watermelon
and barbeque
with friends and family
have fun all day.

Ms. Wright, 8th Grade

by Annie C.

Fall, my favorite season.
It rains as I enjoy my favorite,
And sushi,
And taro sago,
And Stir-Fried Udon Noodles,
And fried-rice.
I want to enjoy all of these,
With my parents
And my friends.
It is very fulfilling.
It makes me feel happy.
It comforts me when I’m sad,
My love for food is crazy.

by Kelly C.

Chicken in winter
To celebrate the
Lunar New Year
The feeling of home
Is one to treasure

With friends I enjoy
Getting boba milk tea
Walking in the spring air
The memory of fun
I’ll remember forever

In the summer
I eat ice cream
To cool down
It gives me the feeling
Of happiness and joy

In a tiny house
Filled to the brim with family
We enjoy hot pot
While they eat pig skin
I enjoy fish balls

Autumn afternoon
by Yenifer L.

A chilly autumn afternoon
going to a restaurant with my family
sitting at a table
waiting for my meal to be served
waiting for chicken wings
and Sichuan boiled fish
and fried pork ribs with bitter melon
and lobster
and chang shou mian
and cake
laughing and having fun
Happy Birthday!




“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.