Poem of the Week, by Ed Bok Lee


“Is it lonely to be a writer?” “What is the greatest and worst thing about being a writer?” “I loved your book because the brother in it is mean to his sister and my brother is mean to me.” “What if reading is really, really hard for you – can you still be a writer?” “My grandma used to read to me but she died.”

And, as the others file out, the solemn child who stands before me and whispers: “I’m the new kid.”

When I first began writing, I wrote only novels for adults. I couldn’t have imagined that my life would someday include visits to schools where hour by hour, first and second and third and fourth graders sit in criss-cross-applesauce rows on the carpeted library floor, listening. Watching. Thinking.

Why do I do so few school visits? Because kids. Their questions go straight into your heart, and then you carry them around with you forever. We bring kids into this fraught world and they have no idea what awaits them. But there they are, like the child in this poem below, by the brilliant Ed Bok Lee, turning their faces skyward.

Pink Lady’s Antenna Receives the Future
Atop my shoulders, she trots me like a Clydesdale.
Pink pussy hats & hearts, 100,000, thronging the Capitol.
When it begins to rain, some head for shelter,
Most chant even louder.
                   Is she okay? I shout.
Bridget momentarily lowers our umbrella & takes a picture:
Between pink hat and pink scarf,
                   Babygirl’s tongue, extended skyward like a stamen.

​For more information on Ed Bok Lee, please check out his blog

Poem-like Prose of the Week, by Kao Kalia Yang

img_3440A long time ago, I floated down a tunnel toward a light far away. The floating was slow and the sensation around me was warm and soft. I was conscious the entire time, not thinking but feeling, and the feeling was Here we go again. At a certain point, soft bits of metal touched the top and sides of my head. Nothing hurt. Everything was inevitable. What would happen, would happen. This is my memory of being born. (The soft bits of metal part had always confused me, until one day my mother told me I had been a forceps baby, pulled out at the end with metal tongs.) The below excerpt from Kao Kalia Yang’s beautiful, haunting memoir The Latehomecomer makes me remember it all over again, in a different way. From the sky, I would come again.


Prologue to The Latehomecomer, by Kao Kalia Yang

Before babies are born they live in the sky where they fly among the clouds. The sky is a happy place and calling babies down to earth is not an easy thing to do. From the sky, babies can see the course of human lives.

This is what the Hmong children of my generation are told by our mothers and fathers, by our grandmothers and grandfathers.

They teach us that we have chosen our lives. That the people who we would become we had inside of us from the beginning, and the people whose worlds we share, whose memories we hold strong inside of us, we have always known.

From the sky, I would come again.


For more information about Kao Kalia Yang, please click here.