Adrienne Su has authored four books of poems: most recently, Living Quarters (Manic D Press, 2015). These poems come from a manuscript-in-progress that focuses on Chinese food in America as a way of considering American culture, as well as the small, scattered Chinese-American community of Su's childhood in Atlanta in the 1970s and 1980s. Other poems from the project appear or are forthcoming in AMP, AAWW: The Margins, The New Yorker, Poetry, and New England Review. Recipient of an NEA fellowship, Su has taught at Dickinson College, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, since 2000. 

Chicken Corn Soup

Adrienne Su


Despite corn’s known origins,

the dish proclaims itself German,


known as Dutch here in Cumberland

Valley. While it has in common


with my forebears a non-aversion

to bird feet and on occasion


giblets, the soup I first knew as chicken

corn contained neither. Suburban,


Georgian, and as proud as any neighbor

of our own Jimmy Carter,


I saw no contradiction in Del Monte

and Swanson in a Chinese recipe;


that was how it had always been.

For this comforting one, you opened


two cans (broth, creamed corn),

warmed the contents in a saucepan,


then added watercress for an instant

first or last course, actual chicken


optional. But now that I’ve dwelled in

Dutch country for a generation,


the name evokes a hearty main,

a long-simmered production


dependent on sweet corn in season,

although most cravings kick in


when it snows. Thus the solution:

in winter, be a Chinese American


from nineteen seventy-seven;

in summer, check out the garden.

The International Aisle: Asia

Adrienne Su


Taste of ____.

Cup O’ Noodles.

Chinese Restaurant Tea.

Envelopes: curry, miso soup.

____ Kitchen.


My Mother's Pantry

Adrienne Su


Cured ham,

rice wine, wine rice,

gefilte fish, Dole fruit cocktail,

thousand-year eggs, chrysanthemum

tea, rice.


This Is Just To Say

Adrienne Su


I have eaten

the preserved plums

that you hauled

on the plane


and which

you were probably


for the rest of the year


Forgive me

they were memory incarnate

so salty

and so sour