A Suitcase of Seaweed

—Claremont Stone Center Recognition of Merit Award (author achievement award)

—a NYPL Book for the Teen Age

—Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies

—William Allen White Award Master List

A Suitcase of Seaweed is my second book, and my personal favorite of my books because I was able to pay tribute to both the Chinese and Korean sides of my family in it, while also talking about “American” me.

I divided the collection into three sections: a Korean section (in honor of my mother), a Chinese section (in honor of my father) and an American section (since I was born and raised in Los Angeles). Sometimes it was difficult to decide where a poem should go, and the determining factor was as small a thing as a certain salty smell. But there was no problem at all deciding where the poem “Face It” belonged. It is about my son, who is Chinese, Korean, German and French. As the poem says, he has my grandfather’s nose, and my husband’s mother’s eyes, but his mouth – his handsome, sweet-talking, big-talking mouth – truly belongs to him alone!

“Wong was born in America of Chinese and Korean heritage,
but the basic subjects she addresses in neat stanzas of free verse
aim at the heart of any family, any race.”
– School Library Journal

“Neat, well-turned poems, monologues, and aphorisms . . . The imagery is choice, the thoughts pointed and careful, the vocabulary attractive: In many of the pieces comedy and delicacy mingle in a single line.”
– Kirkus

GongGong* and Susie
from A Suitcase of Seaweed by Janet Wong

Susie sure is good
watchdog.
Got to be.
I treat her right.
Last night
almost
kill a skunk.

Did I tell you?
Many times
I did eat
skunk
soup.
Take out them
stinky thing,
cook
with garlic, onion.
Skunk, snake, night owl,
I eat them
all.
It was Depression time.
No work, nothing
to do.
We hunt, we fish, we camp.

Hey Susie, Susie,
want to eat
some chow
mein?

*GongGong is one Cantonese word for grandfather.

Copyright ©1996 by Janet S. Wong. All rights reserved.