‘Then put red tomatoes in’: Food & Memory Poems

A discussion of food and memory began our class in preparation to study Gary Soto’s Narrative Style poem, Oranges. Nostalgia and feelings came up a lot in our talks. What emotions are attached to memory and food? Why? Do memories change as time goes by? How?  Below are some examples of student’s work.

Lesson Note:  This session included a student group performance/ Poet’s Theater presentation of the poem. Here the young writers are asked to improvise, collaborate, utilize props, and present a performance to their peers in a very short amount of time. To ‘physicalize’ the poem quickly, removes the ‘inner editor’ and places the poem inside the body via muscle memory. It also allows a myriad of options for the poem’s interpretation.  At the end of the residency, ‘Oranges’ is usually the poem that is remembered most.

Ms. Wright, 7th Grade

Leahemiah J.

The first time I ate seafood
It looked like it was so saucy
It tastes like it is delicious or savory
It smelled like life
The restaurant made it as good as my mom
My cousin that it look as scary as it cooked
My friend Serenity Jones and I went to go it together
My other sister said that it looked like me or as a animal

By Cristina W. C.

I washed my apple clean like boiled water.
I bit the apple, sweet like cotton candy.
The empty smell of the apple made my stomach hungry.
Falling out of the tree, luscious like the rainbow.
Opening the apple in half, the refreshing feeling.

Ms. Wright, 8th Grade

By Rainbow L.

I cut my tomatoes that were so red
And beat the eggs that were so yellow
I started the burning fire
Then put red tomatoes in
And smashed the tomatoes
I used salt and sugar on the tomatoes, mixed them, and then took them out
I put the eggs into the pan and cooked it
Put the tomatoes back into the pan and mix them
The tomato eggs were red and yellow and smelled like tomato
I ate it with my family, and it tasted like tomatoes and eggs that were great

By Isaac P.

I brought out my knife and cut the orange
My thought of the sweetness of the orange

My knife is now wet due to the orange juice
The water swishes past the air onto the knife

Knife shining like crystals in a mine.



“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.