This simple and honest book is a collection of 42 poems selected by Janet
Wong from a notebook of poetry she wrote over a period of time. Deciding which
poems to incorporate was special and she says she chose the title poem Good Luck Gold
because she feels lucky to be poet. Wong further explains that “luck plays
an important role in traditional Chinese culture” (Janet S. Wong).
Wong grew up in Los Angeles with a Chinese immigrant father
and Korean immigrant mother. Her poetry reflects many things including her deep
ties with her family, her Asian heritage, and discrimination she felt both blatant and hushed.
Her voice rings clear in such poems as Math when she says, “Asians
are quiet Asians like numbers. Me, I like to shout” (Wong). Her poem called
Waiting at the Railroad Café talks about being ignored at a restaurant. Dad insists
on staying as part of her education but finally the she leads him from the restaurant saying, “We’re not equal.
Other poems introduce customs, foods, and celebrations. The reader can
picture ducks hanging upside down in grocery store windows, from the poem Deli Circus
or almost smell the cart of dim sum as it rolls by, in the poem Dim Sum. Wong addresses the old world custom of foot binding in the poem Bound
Feet in very graphic imagery, “soaked in salt for softer bones, rolled and …tied in packages of tender meat”.
Still other poems talk about the family. In Losing Face, she wins an art contest and doesn’t want to disappoint her mother and tell her she traced the
picture. Wong speaks sadly about the grandmother she doesn’t recognize
with all the makeup covering her face in the poem, Funeral.
Short but powerful, these poems open up the world to Wong’s Asian background from her Asian American upbringing
and give readers an understanding about what it is like to be from a different culture and subjected to some form of prejudice. It will allow insights into a different cultural background yet permit readers to
relate with many of the same issues from their own experiences. This book received
the Claremont Stone Center Recognition of Merit Award (Janet S. Wong).