Exclusive Jacqueline Woodson Poem

So, because we are the luckiest YA literary magazine in the world, we get to share with you this “outtake” poem from Brown Girl Dreaming–one that, for whatever reason, never made it into the book. But here it is on YARN.

How To Eat To Live

Painting © Connor Lesniak (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cdlesniak/4153852075)

Painting © Connor Lesniak (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cdlesniak/4153852075)

When my uncle gets out of jail
the bacon in our house disappears forever
Pork is a sin
in my Uncle’s Qu’aran,
And it’s also Slave food, my uncle says
that we don’t have to eat anymore.
No more neckbones
or pork chops
or bar b qued ribs
No more boiled ham
or spiced ham
or spam fried with eggs.

When my uncle gets out of jail,
he brings a small book home
How To Eat To Live
no more shrimp or crabs or lima beans
no more peas or white potatoes.

and every evening we thank
our God Jehovah and Robert’s God
Allah. Each beet a blessing,
every grain of rice, a gift.

May the bellies of the world be filled.



JWJacqueline Woodson is the author of many books for children and teens, most recently the memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the Coretta Scott King Award, among others.

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