Poetry Friday: Celebrating Janet Wong

In case you haven’t heard, Janet Wong received the NCTE Award for Excellence in Children’s Poetry at NCTE’s virtual gathering last weekend! Hooray! Congratulations, Janet! As Poetry Friday regulars know, Janet is a champion of poetry for children. Along with Sylvia Vardell, she created Pomelo Books, and published the acclaimed Poetry Friday Anthology series, as well as many collections specifically designed to help teachers bring poetry into the lives of students. She has published countless volumes of her own poetry, including my favorite, A Suitcase of Seaweed. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor.

I have had the good fortune to meet Janet on several occasions. She is the friendliest, most generous of humans, and I am forever grateful to her for the nurturing support she has given to me as poet.

Janet has written many incredible poems throughout her career, but I don’t think this one can be shared often enough.

Please be sure to visit Carol at Carol’s Corner for the Poetry Friday Roundup. Stay safe, everyone!

24 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Celebrating Janet Wong

  1. Yes! Let’s celebrate Janet–her poetry, her teaching, her mentoring, her cheer-leading, her spirit, her love of poetry, poets, children, everyone! So wonderful to see her appreciated and celebrated in this way.

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  2. Hooray! I had heard…but I love to continue to celebrate. Janet Wong has built up poetry for children AND their adults in such a respectful, loving way. I’m grateful for the support I have from her, Pomelo Books and the community of poets that include all of us. Happy Thanksgiving, Catherine. I’m enjoying some extra writing time…and it is good.

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  3. Congratulations to Janet! What a well-deserved honor. I love “Let’s Pledge Between Us” and just shared it with my classes this week. We decided we’re going to use it as a mentor poem to write our own class pledges. PS–I’m also a big fan of “A Suitcase of Seaweed.”

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    • Tanita: I found myself nodding at everything you said during our jury experience for the NSK prize. SERENA SAYS is on my TBR list and I’m looking forward to it!!!

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  4. What a wonderful tribute to Janet, Catherine. She is a shining star in the world of poetry, I for one have felt her warmth, support, and desire to bring the best of poetry to children. She is our beacon leading us on and I am thrilled for her award. Thank you for sharing Janet’s success.

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    • I am thrilled to celebrate you and your devotion to children’s poetry, Janet! Thank you for checking; I do have the updated version of A Suitcase of Seaweed. I hope you and your family had a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

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      • Yes, our Thanksgiving was safe (because we all stayed put and didn’t travel) and happy (or at least not sad, because we’re all still healthy). I keep reminding myself that there is so much to be thankful for nowadays—in just the little things.

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  5. I’m so very pleased to see all the celebrations of Janet all over social media–and quite proud also that our committee had so little difficulty in selecting her for the award. There’s always more to discover: her NIGHT GARDEN from 2000 was directly inspirational to both my books!

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    • Thank you, Heidi, for pouring yourself into your volunteer literacy work! (I know that serving on committees is a lot more time-consuming than most people realize—and I appreciate it!)

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    • Susan: The title of that book comes from the poem that describes how my Korean grandmother brought seaweed (and dried squid and anchovies and chili pepper) in her suitcase when she visited us in California in the 1970s (before there were so many Korean supermarkets there). Kids usually think it’s a disgusting thing (as I originally thought when I was a kid), but the writing prompt gets them to understand why she did it. And almost all of the kids will admit that they, too, would bring some favorite food items with them to another country (if, for instance, the other country didn’t have chocolate or potato chips). I hope you enjoy the book—make sure to look for the “& MORE” version with the writing prompts!!

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      • Janet, Thanks for letting me know. Now I’m looking forward to reading your book even more! And I’ll definitely look for the and more version!

        My grandparents all came here from Europe about a century ago. I know they didn’t have much, but I wonder what they packed in their suitcases. (Not seaweed, though!)

        Thanks for sharing with me and in your book(s). It’s a real gift to help children understand what we all have in common even if our specifics are different.

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  6. I’ve had the opportunity to be in workshops with Janet on several occasions and watch her work with a large group of students to elicit poetry from everyone. I also attended a library session that was fabulous! We need more poetry ambassadors like Janet. I agree with the committee’s choice wholeheartedly. thanks for honoring her today, Catherine. My favorite book is Night Garden.

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    • Ramona: I remember my admiration when I first learned about your volunteer work on Mercer Island—you dedicated your career to those kids and then continued sharing your passion for poetry even in retirement! And I remember that KCLS session, too. Great memories!!!

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