Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's 'The Year of The Rabbit' ...So Why The Kumquats?

According to USPS' Beyond The Perf website, "...the Year of the Rabbit stamp design was inspired by artist Kam Mak’s memories of growing up in New York City’s Chinatown. Mak uses personal photographs as the basis for his sketches and, ultimately, his final painting."

The site goes on to say, "Kumquats, such as those depicted in the stamp art, are often given as gifts and eaten for luck during the Lunar New Year. The fruit holds a special place in Mak’s recollections, as shown in the poem below."

From My Chinatown by 'Year of The Rabbit' stamp artist Kam Mak

In Hong Kong, my grandmother
is in her kitchen
making pickled kumquats.

In Chinatown, there are kumquats
piled high on every street cart,
wooden crates packed full of suns.
mama takes forever, hunting for
the ones with leaves attached.
Leaves are good luck.

But she doesn’t know how to pickle them.
grandmother wouldn’t tell her.
“If I told you, you’d never come to see me again!”
she said, and winked,
slipping one last kumquat
into my bowl.

To see sketches and photos of other Lunar New Year stamp subjects Kam has done previously, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM