One long summer in Honolulu, Oahu, I spent the morning hours watching old movies on a local television channel. In addition to adaptations of literary works such as David Copperfield and The Count of Monte-Cristo, all of which I had then read only in Chinese, there were also obscure cinematic pieces like Elephant Walk and Green Mansions. My family had just immigrated to the States that year. Lack of close captions did not hinder me from comprehending the gist of the stories presented, or from concocting my own interpretation. I like to think that it was the programming manager’s unique sensibility that led to such an eclectic selection and presentation every morning, which in turn alleviated my angst stemmed from the trial of learning a new language in a less-than-ideal environment.
Besides the aforementioned matinee, the Disney channel contributed to my addiction to the small screen. Had Hayley Mills’s movies from the 1960s not re-run multiple times daily on the station, I would not have questioned the remaking of the1998 The Parent Trap.
Many years later, when my reading and listening skills in English improved, I introduced myself to the magazine The New Yorker and Mr. Garrison Keillor’s radio program A Prairie Home Companion. Mr. Keillor is also the host of the daily program The Writer’s Almanac. Catching A Prairie Home Companion fortuitously while on the road is easier and always a delight. The Writer’s Almanac, on the other hand, can be most readily accessed via the Internet.
Will you pick a favorite among the following tea-themed poems featured on The Writer’s Almanac?
The December 29, 2009 program ended with Dale Ritterbusch’s Green Tea. You can listen to Mr. Keillor reading this poem here. A few months earlier, also in 2009, Rock Tea by Gary Gildner was in the spotlight. And most recently, there was Margaret Hasse’s At the Tea Garden, from her poetry collection Earth’s Appetite – what a title for any publication!
The shortest and sweet Green Tea has my vote because I drink mostly green teas nowadays. Moreover, I have a penchant for English words like “celebration.”
It was not necessarily the grade F I received in the Communications class – or the teacher who made fun of the spelling and pronunciation of my last name – that made the learning environment in Honolulu less than ideal. The educational system is perpetually plagued by the disenchantment of major players, and by dearth of meliorism in general.
This summer I finally saw Mr. Keillor, in person, at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Why didn’t the strangers sitting around me laugh heartily? Perhaps they were new to the hilarious characters featured in many of the regular segments? As always, the sketches were teeming with cultural elements that were distinctively American, and forms of sophistication that are both erudite and lucid.
Most likely Mr. Keillor has hosted a live program near wherever you are in the States. Search the archive, or attend a live performance the next time the troupe is in town!
Images courtesy of the contributor.