Kissing in Vietnamese
by Ocean Vuong
Photo by Peter Bienkowski
Workshop Title: Haunted
Read part of – if not all of – the historical context provided so they have an understanding of the lingering effects of the Vietnam War, particularly toward those who were not even soldiers.
Have your students read Ocean Vuong’s “Kissing in Vietnamese.” When they are done, discuss how the speaker’s grandmother is still affected by the lingering effects and memories of the Vietnam War.
When your students are done, have them brainstorm a list of people they know who are still “haunted” by their past, who have memories that still affect their lives today.
Have your students write a poem, much like “Kissing in Vietnamese,” in which they discuss a day in the life of somebody they know who still shows symptoms of being affected by something in the past.
When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.
Area of Focus: Imagery
If your students are not familiar with the concept of “imagery,” go over the introductory lesson.
Read part of – if not all of – the historical context provided so they have an understanding of the lingering effects of the Vietnam War, particularly on those who were not even soldiers.
Read Ocean Vuong’s “Kissing in Vietnamese.” As they’re reading, have them pay particular attention to the intensity of the images and the purpose behind the intensity of those images.
Have your students analyze the imagery in the poem. In the assignment, they are to essentially “edit” a student sample essay and complete the student’s analysis of the poem. Your students may work in the following document. Instructions are provided at the top of the page.
When your students are done, briefly share their answers with the class, then show them the exemplar essay so they can see if their answers were similar in scope.
- Community / Culture
- Death / Grief
- Home / Homelessness
- Mental Health
- Figurative Language
- Selection of Detail