“Folding Won Tons In”- Abraham “Abe” Chang
Abraham Chang is a Chinese-American poet and musician born in Queens, New York. He attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and spent his college years in Boston. In 1998, Abe received an Academy of American Poets Prize. Soon after, he returned to New York to attend the MFA program at the University of New York. During this program, he was given the opportunity to work with multiple award-winning poets like Galway Kinnell, Sharon Olds, Donald Hall, and Philip Levine. Often times, Abe’s songs or poems tell of redemption or heartbreak. Also, he incorporates humor, wit, and joy into his poems. Also, Abraham’s poetry has been published in the journals of Turf University and Columbia University.
Abraham uses a very personifying vocabulary. The diction of the poem is very self-depreciating because they imply unskillfulness or incompetence. “I seasoned the pork like I imagine my mother would.” In this quote, he is attempting to mimic someone he believes to have accomplished a task correctly. However, words like ‘imperfectly’ show that he is concentrating on the little details much too seriously. He simply chopped the scallions unevenly, yet he had to describe them as imperfect. Which of course they are, but his use of this word implies that he was striving for perfection on his first attempt to make won tons. “Sheets of doughy skin, I only have the skill to buy.” Again, here he is degrading his own skill by saying that he is only capable of buying the sheets of the skin when he needs to be able to fold them as well. In the quote, “Mimicking from memory,” again he implies that he is striving for excellence which implies that he has very high standards set for himself. This could be related to theme later on because the reason for his high standards might be due to family pride or honor. Near the ending, the diction of the poem changed. The quote “…to seal my misshapen flowers,” and the words “new blossom…Newborns huddled,” implies that he acknowledges them to be his own creation. Also, he is admitting that although they are not perfect, he accepts them the way they are. Since he compares them to flowers, he is implying that none of them are exactly the same, but they are all beautiful. Also, he compares them to newborns because they might not be perfect, but they were his own creations and therefore, his diction is somewhat accepting and proud which transitioned from implying incompetence. The diction changes one last time at the ending. Words such as ‘overflowing’ in the quote “the soup bubbles to overflowing…” suggest impatience and anxiety. His word choice suggests that he is excited to finally have made his food and he is eager to consume it.
The Type of Poem is free verse. This can be confirmed because the author creates his own rhythm. An example of this is when he breaks his stanzas in between thoughts. Therefore, the poem is considered free verse because it is read thought by thought rather than line by line. Also, he breaks the last stanza midsentence which is also very creative and sets the focus to specific words. The author breaks the stanzas according to his thoughts and actions. A new stanza is formed when he is moving on to the next procedure in creating his won-tons.
All this figurative language aside, the Abraham is trying to convey to us his feelings about his first time living alone or away from his mother. He is basically telling us the procedures in which he attempts to mimic his mother’s extraordinary won-ton creating skills. He is telling us about how he is failing to create them perfectly like he thought he would be able to. They aren’t terrible, but not nearly as proficient as his mother’s won-tons. However, he decides to fret over the little flaws and imperfections of his creations. However, later on he accepts them as his first creations and a test of him being able to survive on his own by creating his own food. He even compares them to flowers to...
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