As part of the 2021 Dear Poet project, students around the country and the world wrote letters to Marilyn Chin in response to a video of her reading her poem “The Floral Apron” aloud. Marilyn Chin wrote letters back to nine of these students; their letters and her replies are included below.
Marilyn Chin also wrote a response to all of the participants of this year's Dear Poet project.
Dear Young Readers:
Thank you for your enthusiastic letters in response to “The Floral Apron!” I wrote this poem over 25 years ago and have received hundreds of lovely letters from students all over the world, sharing stories about their mothers’ and grandmothers’ delicious recipes that connect them to their familial and ancestral cultural heritage.
This year, students from all over America expressed their delicious memories. Jaris who is “half Persian and half Polish” shared his love for“eggplant stew, tahdig with cherries and pierogies.” Micah from Florida loves to eat “Adobo, Sinigang and Lechon Kawali.” Karen from Manhattan misses her grandmother dearly, recalling her making Tang Yuan and glutinous rice balls. Myra from Minnesota offers “Dan Dan Mien.” We are so blessed to be living in dynamic, pluralistic, multicultural society…where each of us can contribute rich ingredients to the delicious mix.
The iconic image of mother in the kitchen wearing a floral apron and preparing the favorite delicious foods of our childhood evokes a universal message of love and compassion. There is nothing more wonderful on this earth than sharing a warm meal with family and friends.
We must also remember that on the flip side of a warm meal is hunger. The squid, “lined up on the block,” “soft as a child’s nose,” is a disturbing image alluding to our forebearers’ sacrifice. They loved us, nourished us, struggled to bring us to this abundant moment. There are children in the world who still suffer food insecurity. We must never take our delightful life for granted.
Thank you for your brilliant and insightful letters, dearest young readers! Best wishes for a wondrously delicious and exciting future!
Chancellor Marilyn Chin