Poetry Speaks Who I Am with English Breakfast Tea

I picked Poetry Speaks Who I Am up at the library because I thought it would be great practice with the students I tutor. The book comes with a cd with recordings of the poets reading their poems. I love to hear a poem read by the original poet because then you are hearing it the way they hear it in their heads.

I ended up sitting down and reading this entire collection of poetry in one sitting. It is designed for middle school and high school students, but can certainly be enjoyed by an adult reader. Some of the poems brought back emotions and worries that I haven’t experienced in years, while others were still very relevant to my life.

This was not a life altering or shattering collection of poems, but I can see that it may be for a young adult struggling with those uncertain years. I sipped some English Breakfast tea because it was my favorite when I was in school. I truly enjoyed the nostalgia brought on by poems like “In the Fifth Grade Locker Room” and “Baseball”.

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Cane River by Lalita Tademy with Sweet White Tea and Oranges

This book was recommended to me by a friend, and although it seemed like a book that I would love, I just kept carrying it around. I would pull it off the shelf intending to read it but after carrying it for awhile and never cracking the cover, it would end up back on the shelf. Once I finally started reading, however, I couldn’t put it down.

Cane River by Lalita Tademy has a truly unique premise. The author did research into her own family history and then crafted a novel based on what she learned about her own family line. It traces a line of strong women that starts in slavery and ends in the 1930s.

The strength of these women is intoxicating. They face pains that I cannot even fathom and yet because of the bonds of family and their own persevering personalities they bring about their own happiness and satisfaction.

I literally did not want to put this book down and found myself fighting for time to read it. A story of strong women, race, and family ties, this book is a must read. I read it with sweet white tea and oranges.

The sweet white tea is made with white tea but made the same a traditional sweet tea. oranges are then quartered and added to the brew. Left to set the tea takes on a beautiful citrus twist. The tea is strong and the oranges fresh, a perfect mix for the strength and beauty found in Cane River. 

Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah with Green Tea

I carried this book around for awhile before actually starting it, but once I finally got past the first few pages I ended up reading the book in one day. I feared and worried about Adeline and felt pain for the cruel treatment she received.

The unnecessary death of a loved pet was absolutely shocking and heartbreaking, it was in this moment that I felt the worst for poor Adeline. Towards the end of the novel, however, I began to lose sympathy for her. Her obsession over the will and constant protest that the money wasn’t important but then happily accepting money from her siblings felt false. Although, I understand that she just wanted to be included it was difficult to believe her motives when she obsessed over the money.

Even with an ending that felt insincere, overall this book evoked feelings of sadness, shock, and heartbreak. I can’t imagine the pain of living your life knowing you were unwanted in your family. Unfortunately for Adeline, her family was dysfunctional at best and overall seemingly incapable of true love or affection.

I enjoyed green tea that my father-in-law brought back from China. The green tea sweetened with honey was a warm and comforting treat to a book about a very cold family. Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah gives great insights into life in China during the 1900s, shows how painful it can be to be unwanted, and proves that you can endure even bleak circumstances.

Red Holler: Contemporary Appalachian Literature edited by John Branscum and Wayne Thomas with a Beer

Red Holler is a book that my professor in college was working on when I graduated, so naturally, when I found it at the library I had read it. It’s an anthology of Appalachia literature edited by John Branscum and Wayne Thomas. I found myself moved by many of the included pieces as they showed the good, the bad, and the pride that is often found in Appalachia.

I was pleasantly surprised by the love shown towards a strong, stubborn, and in many ways difficult section of the United States. Appalachia is shaped by poverty, weather, and sheer determination. Red Holler was careful to show these aspects with the humanity and personality of the people.

If you grew up in Appalachia read it to be reminded why your home is unique. If you are curious or judgemental towards Appalachia and its people then read it to become aware of the strength and softness that exist there.

A cup of tea just didn’t cut it when it came to reading Red Holler. Instead, I settled in with a Blue Moon and it fit Appalachian literature better than tea ever could. If, however, you don’t want to drink a beer then I recommend iced tea. I grew up with it being brewed in a huge mason jar on the front porch.