Wong and Vardell on Poetry

April 19, 2022

Today, in celebration of National Poetry Month, I’d like to share this video from Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell, talking about the book Good Luck Gold & more by Janet and sharing a poem from Jen Bryant, “Laugh,” in Pomelo Books’ Things We Do: a Book of Alphabet Poems Featuring Verbs. Janet and Sylvia are the publishers at Pomelo Books, with wonderful anthologies full of useful ideas for the classroom and library. Janet Wong recently received the Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Let’s hear from them:

Janet and Sylvia mention these books in their video. They read “Laugh,” by Jen Bryant, from Things We Do. Find them at Pomelo Books.

Pomelo Books

You can also watch this video in which Janet answers ten questions Sylvia poses to her while Janet washes dishes.

Here is the poem Janet reads from Good Luck Gold & more:

When I was a baby,
one month old
my grandparents gave me
good luck gold:
a golden ring
so soft it bends,
a golden necklace
hooked at the ends,
a golden bracelet
with coins that say
I will be rich
and happy someday.

I wish that gold
would work
real soon.
I need my luck
this afternoon.

My thanks to Janet and Sylvia for mentioning First Laugh, Welcome Baby, which I co-authored with Rose Tahe, as another book of poetry about a tradition for welcoming a baby to this world just as Janet’s red egg and ginger party welcomed her.

First Laugh, Welcome Baby!First Laugh, Welcome Baby celebrates laughter, family, generosity, and kindness. This unique tradition of the Navajo, Dine,’ is best explained by Rose Tahe, Navajo elder, first author: The First Laugh tradition is a child’s first formal welcome into a family and clans. The celebration expresses the parents’ hope that their child will always be friendly, kind, and caring. Laughter is celebrated as an important, healthy, and healing aspect of the human spirit … During the ceremony the baby and parents hold a woven Navajo basket filled with special salt crystals. Guests are given a pinch of salt to renew their good character. Giving away precious salt is the child’s first act of sharing. As the baby grows, the family wishes that the child will have a happy life, many smiles, quick generosity, and a kind heart, and will gladly give to anyone in need.”

Celebrating traditions, babies, and Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell, who bring poetry to us all!

Nancy Bo Flood

As a fish-brain surgeon or a rodeo poem wrangler, I have loved stories. I strongly believe that words – in poetry or prose – help heal our hearts and give us new eyes to see the world. I was first a research psychologist studying brain development at the University of Minnesota and London University before following my passion – writing for children. Learn more...