Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Janet Wong - My Green Grandfather

My Green Grandfather
Janet Wong

If you praised my grandfather
for being green,
he would check his favorite flannel shirt
and say, "You see paint?"

But he is as green
as the snow peas he grows in his garden.
Green as the old glass jars in his garage
that hold pins and nails and hinges.
Green as the avocados he buys
from the little store on the corner.

If I praised my grandfather
for his small carbon footprint,
he would check the bottom of his shoes for dirt,
then say, "Size 10 EEE."

I walk on my tiptoes beside him.

©2009 Janet Wong. All rights reserved.

Janet Wong has been an invited author at the Easter Egg Roll at the White House and has been on Oprah. I mention those things not because they have anything to do with poetry in specific, but, well, they're really cool anyway! Of course, she has also won fans and awards for her poetry, and I actually first came to be a big fan while judging on a Cybils poetry panel where her book Twist was under consideration. If you know any kids (or adults) who take yoga, you really should read Twist with or two them. The look of recognition on kids' faces, in particular, when they hear a poem about one of the poses they know is priceless.

While it's a great poem for Earth Day, I also love My Green Grandfather, in part because I read it and I firmly believe that this MUST be Janet Wong's grandfather she's talking about. Is it? I have no idea, nor does it ultimately matter. But, to me, that ability to suck me in to the poem's world... to make it seem so personal even if it's only been something personal that's a jumping off point (if that!)... is one of the many remarkable things about her writing. I'm very happy to have a day-appropriate poem today, but more than that, I'm really thrilled to have a poem from Janet Wong as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday was my contribution to the month, I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti Is Grown. Tomorrow... My Sister and Me by Nikki Giovanni!


BookChook said...

This chook is still resonating to the poem, and the comment where you nailed it: "... that ability to suck
me in to the poem's world... "

tanita✿davis said...

Funny how back in the day that wasn't green, that was "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." And it works with either name.

janeyolen said...

Perfect poem. Perfect Janet Wong poem. (Which is to say, perfect poem!)


joyce said...

Lovely. Makes me think of my "green" grandparents and their huge garden and cellar full of preserves . . .

Anonymous said...

So perfect for Earth Day - or any other day. I love Janet's work.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Okay, I LOVED this poem. Something about that grandparent/grandchild connection. This poem really proves that the specific IS universal.
Thanks for sharing this Greg. And Janet, thanks for writing such an amazing piece!

Janet Wong said...

Thanks, everyone, for your lovely words!

Yes, this poem was inspired by my memory of my grandfather and his many simple ways of living an accidentally/incidentally eco-friendly life. My grandfather is one of my favorite subjects; he lived such a sensible life, all 98 years of it!

Linda said...

What I like about Janet's poems is that there's always something I can connect with, and my students have said the same thing. Their current favorite is her collection Behind the Wheel. Boys really get into those poems.

Elaine Magliaro said...


As you know, I'm an admirer of all your poetry. This poem touches a special place in my heart. My maternal grandfather truly had a green thumb. He tended to his backyard garden like it was one of his grandchildren.

Happy Poetry Month--and hope to see you up in Massachusetts some time soon.

meredyth kezar said...

What a great blog. I loved this poem as it reminded me of my father who wasted nothing... How the world circles. I linked you to my blog in Vancouver, British Columbia