Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Reader’s Den, Poetry Month

Reader's Den: Poetry Selections, "Learning to Love America" by Shirley Geok-Lim Lin


For the month of December, the librarians of The Reader's Den have decided to spotlight some of our very favorite poetry. To get things started, I'd like to take a look at the poem "Learning to Love America" by Shirley Geok-Lim Lin. You can read this and many other great poetry selections at The Poetry Foundation's website. Be sure to reserve and/or check of the other works by Shirley Geok-Lim Lin available through the library.

"Learning to Love America" (from What the Fortune Teller Didn't Say) by Shirley Geok-Lim Lin (b. 1944, Malacca, Malaysia)

Learning to Love America

because it has no pure products

because the Pacific Ocean sweeps along the coastline
because the water of the ocean is cold
and because land is better than ocean

because I say we rather than they

because I live in California
I have eaten fresh artichokes
and jacaranda bloom in April and May the rest of the poem here... then come back for discussion questions below!

Moonlight over the Pacific, Scenic, Digital ID 66815, New York Public Library

Here are some discussion questions about this poem for you to think about:

  1. In "Learning to Love America" by Shirley Geok-Lim Lin, the poet uses several "I" statements to explain her own experiences as an immigrant to the United States. Based on what she says, do you think that she has had an overall positive or negative experience?
  2. The majority of "Learning to Love America" uses visceral images involving the senses, specifically taste and touch. Why do you think these senses were highlighted in particular? Could these senses, for some reason, be somehow more important to the poet? Why?

Want to discuss what you think about "Learning to Love America"? Use the comments section below to begin the discussion! Be sure to provide suggestions to other readers on your favorite poems. We want to hear what you think about poetry!


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.


what is the message behind this poem?

Post new comment