Sunday, April 12, 2009

Messy Room - Free Verse

By Shel Silverstein!

Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
His underwear is hanging on the lamp.
His raincoat is there in the overstuffed chair,
And the chair is becoming quite mucky and damp
His workbook is wedged in the window
His sweater's been thrown on the floor.
His scarf and one ski are beneath the TV,
And his pants have been carelessly hung on the door
His books are all jammed in the closet
His vest has been left in the hall.
A lizard named Ed is asleep in his bed,
And his smelly old sock has been stuck to the wall.
Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
Donald or Robert or Willie or--Huh?
You say it's mine?
Oh, dear, I knew it looked familiar!

I believe that this poem isn't really as deep as one would try to make it. He is criticizing the mess of this person's room when it turns out to be his to which he replies with a simple "oh, dear." Which means that this mess obviously wasn't a big deal at all. It's almost as if he's saying that it doesn't matter if your room is messy, people make mistakes and they move on. He is able to live in his own room right? So why should he bother making a big deal out of this mess. Normal and human people probably have messy rooms and I believe that he is trying to tell the readers that it is OK to be a little messy once and a while. It's all in good fun because it's so absurd. His underwear is hanging on the lamp and his smelly sock is stuck in the wall.

This is supposed to be a relatable poem because everyone's room gets a little messy once and a while. Shel Silverstein is telling us to move on, worry about something else instead of getting caught up in our own worlds or even worrying about other's so much.

Slam Poetry

Well, knowing absolutely nothing about Slam Poetry besides the cliched open mic atmosphere that is presented in movies, I decided to google famous Slam Poets in order to find some direction. The first name I came across was Alix Olson which brought me to another name that I remembered from watching a movie in Creative Writing Class: Suheir Hammad.

I absolutely loved this when I heard it. It is so powerful.

I believe that Suheir Hammad wrote this for her opinion to be heard first and foremost. She wants listeners to understand where she is coming from as a woman, and as a Palestinian. Amid all the people who continue to talk about "the first bombs being dropped over there" and how they're going to "get them so bad", she wants them to know that they are lumping a group of people together for the actions of a smaller group. She wants people to take a step back and actually realize the hypocrisy of the assumptions that they make. She is talking about how so many people assume that they know her because of the actions that a few others have performed. Of course, she is talking about 9/11 and where there once was steel, "now there is sky" and where there once was "flesh" there is "smoke."

She finds comfort in a woman that she describes as having "flesh." A woman who lends out her hand to help. This flesh is actually the capacity to love and forgive. Suheir is talking about the fact that this woman has substance and the fact that she has a heart. The way Suheir says it shows that there is very few of those people out there.

Although it was brief, she mentions what views people have on "evil." She says that it is now associated with some writing and a flag, but she wants people to know that not everyone is truely evil who comes from that same country. She asks why white people haven't been "villainized" and I believe she has a point. You can't judge someone based on someone else's actions.

"Over there, is over here now" explains how she feels about the way she is treated by other Americans. She realizes that she and her family will never be treated the same again and she knows that although she sees the beauty in the Muslim faith, but others will not because of how they have been portrayed.

I think I've said it enough, this poem is about learning to listen to other people's stories. It is impossible to stick a label on someone else based off of another person's actions.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Death Fugue" - Paul Celan. Elegy

Black milk of morning we drink you at dusktime
we drink you at noontime and dawntime we drink you at night
we drink and drink
we scoop out a grave in the sky where it’s roomy to lie
There’s a man in this house who cultivates snakes and who writes
who writes when it’s nightfall nach Deutschland your golden hair Margareta
he writes it and walks from the house and the stars all start flashing he whistles his dogs to draw near
whistles his Jews to appear starts us scooping a grave out of sand
he commands us to play for the dance

Black milk of morning we drink you at night
we drink you at dawntime and noontime we drink you at dusktime
we drink and drink
There’s a man in this house who cultivates snakes and who writes
who writes when it’s nightfall nach Deutschland your golden hair Margareta
your ashen hair Shulamite we scoop out a grave in the sky where it’s roomy to lie
He calls jab it deep in the soil you lot there you other men sing and play
he tugs at the sword in his belt he swings it his eyes are blue
jab your spades deeper you men you other men you others play up again for the dance

Black milk of morning we drink you at night
we drink you at noontime and dawntime we drink you at dusktime
we drink and drink
there’s a man in this house your golden hair Margareta
your ashen hair Shulamite he cultivates snakes

He calls play that death thing more sweetly Death is a gang-boss aus Deutschland
he calls scrape that fiddle more darkly then hover like smoke in the air
then scoop out a grave in the clouds where it’s roomy to lie

Black milk of morning we drink you at night
we drink you at noontime Death is a gang-boss aus Deutschland
we drink you at dusktime and dawntime we drink and drink
Death is a gang-boss aus Deutschland his eye is blue
he shoots you with leaden bullets his aim is true
there’s a man in this house your golden hair Margareta
he sets his dogs on our trail he gives us a grave in the sky
he cultivates snakes and he dreams Death is a gang-boss aus Deutschland

your golden hair Margareta
your ashen hair Shulamite

This is an Elegy to Holocaust Survivers and it is pretty horrific when you think about what he is writing about. I was certainly disturbed by some of the imagery here.

The imagery of black milk could possibly be seen as a Euphemism (the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt). I see it as almost the blood of the other members of the concentration camps. They must drink this black milk in order to survive, but in turn they are killing their own friends and family members like Shulamith who I believe the speaker is related to. He is writing about digging other people's graves. Usually milk is seen as something pure and white, but here it is something that the reader clearly loathes because he "must" drink it. IT is something that isn't good at all and it is scary to think about having to sacrifice others so that another person can live.

They are ordered by the "Meister" who is actually Hitler. He plays with his "snakes" that are actually his Nazi soldiers. The Allusion (A reference to something supposed to be known, but not explicitly mentioned; a covert indication; indirect reference; a hint ) of the snakes is to associate Hitler with possibly the devil.

Rising in smoke to the sky is another image that is truly disturbing. The speaker is talking about burning the corpses of the dead through the euphemism of finding a place in the sky.

"Ode on Melancholy" - John Keats

Ode on Melancholy

NO, no! go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kist
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of glob├Ęd peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

The first stanza of this poem explains that the reader must not forget or try and avoid the feeling of melancholy which is evident from the first line, "No, no! Go not to Lethe, neither twist." Lethe hapens to be a river that people drink from to forget and Keats is telling you to basically embrace your melancholy, do not try to forget or repel what it feels like. And he does not want us to find comfort in our prayers using the Yew-Beads.

In the second stanza, Keats uses figurative language (to make a meaning fresh or clearer, to express complexity, to capture a physical or sensory effect, or to extend meaning) while describing the fit of melancholy as dropping from the heavens and on to the flowers that droop. He uses flowers because although the flowers are drooping, they are still beautiful. Keats wants the reader to realize that they should make some kind of good out of any situation. Although the "shroud" of rain hides the "green hill" the hills will still be there when the rain is gone. He wants us to wait out the feelings, embrace them, and somehow see it as a positive emotion.

In the third stanza, Keats explains that even joy is short-lived. Beauty and Joy must die. Keats is telling us that we must embrace all feelings because it is wrong to surpress them. He doesn't tell us what happens if we do, but he does not want us to have that happen.

"One Art" - Elizabeth Bishop. Villanelle

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

"The art of losing," was something that I interpreted at first as just being forgetful. She talks about losing her car keys and losing names of places and people which won't "bring disaster."

However, as the poem continues, the things she loses increase in value such as her mother's watch and even rivers and continents. She misses them, but they weren't very tragic losses and this is because she has become so used to losing things. The purpose of why she starts out with losing car keys is because she starts to numb herself to the idea of loss (something that is very hard for many people to deal with). She does not make a big deal out of losing her car keys, nor does she make a big deal out of forgetting people's name. So when the time comes that she loses "you" it doesn't affect her as much as one would probably think it should. This is where the art of losing becomes something that she has "mastered" because it takes a while to numb your feelings about losing something that meant a lot to you.

I believe that Bishop is saying that this is a good thing. She is telling the reader that it is not hard to master the art of losing, but it takes some practice. So when a "disaster" does strike, people will not have a hard time moving on. She wants people to be able to move on because if they dwell in the past of losing someone and trying to recapture their memories with them, they will never grow into a stronger person. She wants the reader to be strong about losing something like she is.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Parent's Pantoum by Carolyn Kizer

Comment on this, please :)

How would you describe the relationship between the daughter and her children?

A pantoum is composed of a series of stanzas with four lines called quatrains. The second and fourth line of the first stanza are used as the first and third of the next stanza. In the last stanza, the first line of the poem is used as the last line of the poem.

At the beginning of Parent's Pantoum, a concerned motherly voice speaks to us. She begins by asking us a question that almost seems desperate, "Where did these enormous children come from?". She realizes that her children have grown up so quickly and they have become," more ladylike that we have ever been," but they still walk in their "fragile heels," which I believe to symbolize their fragile nature in general. It seems that there is a disconnect between the mother and her children, and the fragile heels are possibly their relationship that is on the rocks.

As the poem continues, she seems to be complaining about her children. She realizes that they, "moan about their aging more than we do," and she seems to be frustruated that they can't stop and live for a while. I believe this might be a comment on the fact that the new generation is too uptight and that they can't slow down. Their life is always structured and rigid and it is hard for the older generation of parents to watch them become so busy. She wants her children to appreciate life more, "why don't they brighten up?"

She compares herself to stars, and I believe that maybe she still wants the spotlight, but she knows her life is dedicated to her daughters at that moment. She has to spend her life caring for them now, so they become, "second-childish."

I believe in general this poem is about the disconnect between the old generation of parents and the new generation of children. The children in the poem seem to not want anything to do with their parents, occasionaly throwing them, "morsels of their history," and the parents have a hard time relating to the kids because, "they never listen to their stories." But in the end, the speaker realizes that they are just mirrors of each other, but they are scared to admit that to the other one because they know it's true.

Listen! To Carolyn Kizer read the poem:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Audre Lorde...

Audre Lorde
  • Born on February 18, 1934 in New York City.
  • Her parents were immigrants from Grenada and she is the youngest of three sisters.
  • Lorde received her B.A. from Hunter College and an M.L.S. from Columbia University.
  • Married Edward Rollins in 1962 and had two children, Elizabeth and Jonathon, before divorcing in 1970.
  • Her book From a Land Where Other People Live (1972) was nominated for a National Book Award.

Interesting Fact

While she was still in high school, her first poem appeared in Seventeen magazine.