A Sixth-Grader Writes a Book Report About the New Calvin Trillin Poem in The New Yorker

Illustration for article titled A Sixth-Grader Writes a Book Report About the New Calvin Trillin Poem in iThe New Yorker /i

“Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?” is a new poem by Calvin Trillin about how there are too many different kinds of Chinese people. It is a rhyming poem set in 2016 that was published in The New Yorker, a powerful magazine. The primary theme of the poem is that there are a lot of different kinds of Chinese people. The second theme of the poem is that it is Calvin Trillin’s job to keep track of them. The conclusion of the poem is that Calvin Trillin has a hard job.

Calvin Trillin is an 80-year-old author of best magazine stories. Before writing poetry like “Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?”, Calvin Trillin went to Yale school and authored humor pieces for The Nation. Family, travel, and food are also themes in Trillin’s work, which is probably the reason that Trillin wrote “Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?” In my opinion he went to China and said, “Wow! This is very big!”

The protagonist of the poem is a man who really likes Chinese people but thinks there are too many of them. He also really likes to eat Chinese food but is scared by how many kinds there are. He starts the poem by asking “Have they run out of provinces yet?” (Like the title.) He is confused because the names for Chinese provinces, which are like American states, are so confusing. Examples are “Uighur,” “Shaanxi,” and “Szechuan,” which are not English words that normal people know how to pronounce. This is why Calvin Trillin authored the poem. If he didn’t, there would be more names which would be confusing.


The antagonist of the poem is China, and all the states (“provinces”) in China, and all the different kinds of Chinese food. They just keep getting more in number, which is a conflict for Calvin Trillin. The poem shows this because he says, “We’ve reason to fret.” There was Cantonese food, then Shanghainese food, then Hunan food, then Fukien food, then Uighur food, then Xi’an food. The author infers that there is no reason for all these crazy names because they are all Chinese food.

The imagery of the poem is scary and the mood of the poem is confused and troubled. As Calvin Trillin says in the poem, “Now, as each brand-new province appears/ It brings tensions, increasing our fears./ Could a place we extolled as a find/ Be revealed as one province behind?” He misses “simple days of chow mein but no stress/ When we never were faced with the threat/ Of more provinces we hadn’t met.” This line rhymes with the title of the poem, which is “Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?” which is a question that is connected to the world because everyone understands that China is too big and they are taking American jobs and there are too many kinds of them.

In conclusion, Calvin Trillin hopes the answer is yes, China has run out of provinces.

Image via Shutterstock

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imTired™thatisall, Global Socialite

I’m just going to quote Angry Asian Man.

How dare a people and cuisine display complexity, nuance and diversity?