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I am thrilled to have this poem appear in the book Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems, edited by Carol-Ann Hoyte. I love the collection. It includes a wonderful variety of poems and subjects and writers, and it’s a perfect size to hold in your hand.
I’ve lived in both New York City and Hong Kong where very few people can have backyard gardens. As I sat down to write a poem to submit to the anthology, I was thinking about the kids who live in cities like these. I didn’t want them to feel left out, to feel that a book about food and agriculture wouldn’t have something in it for them.
I was also remembering a Facebook post that a friend had put up when she was growing tomatoes in her window. How would she pollinate them, she wondered. I enjoyed seeing her pictures and the suggestions people made.
With these thoughts in mind, I sat down to write, and I imagined I was the child with no backyard but with a window and a tomato plant. I almost felt like an actor getting into character. Once I was in the head of the child, and I was sitting next to my plant, I knew what I would say and what I would write.
I did want the poem to be scientifically accurate so I read about tomato pollination and learned that they don’t actually need bees. They are typically self-pollinating with a little help from the wind. However, I did also find that there was such a thing as too much scientific accuracy. For a long time, the poem read:
that spreads your pollen
from stamen to pistil.
I liked the idea of getting such great words in the poem but in the end I decided they interrupted the flow of the poem.
My favorite metaphors in the poem are the stars and the moons. I grow cherry tomatoes myself and I remember going out to look at them when I was writing and noticing that the flowers looked like stars. Stars naturally led to moons. Growing tomatoes naturally led to eating them. Eating the harvest naturally led to wanting to save some of the seeds for next year.
I hope you’ll take a look at the many other wonderful poems in the anthology. Renee at No Water River posted videos of four of the poets reading their work.
This was a big week for learning new things. I discovered it wasn’t too difficult to put words over an image in Word or to share sound through SoundCloud. You might want to give it a try. If I can do it, you can too.
For more Poetry Friday, visit Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong at Poetry for Children.
See you soon,