Posts Tagged ‘learning is sweet’

The Sea = History

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Walcott is very awesome and I disagree that he is sexist for all you ladies out there who perceive his work as sexist.  I just think that he, like most poets transcend the notion of gender and if he loved a women then he loved her but he does consider the veil over people and he will not let a women trick him through lust for her.  On the other side of that a women could, rather than continue to feel trampled on by society, see themselves as having power over men because of the tools they possess-brains, seduction, being oppressed- women are the double edged sword, but please slice for good  and not for evil.  The man is a weak race that feels empowered when they belittle your powers so don’t be discouraged and read literature through the masculine lense that will always be there for you since the Man wrote History his way. Speaking of History I’d like to discuss “The Sea is History” because it brings in colonizing, Religion, and a bit of gender and I’m sure it could link to the long poem “The Schooner Flight” in several ways I just haven’t taken time to make the connections yet.  The Sea is Deep and so is “The Sea is History” but once you jump into the deep end you always wonder what it would feel like to touch the floor of the pool so I didn’t stop swimming until I felt something solid. What I retrieved from this piece has a lot to do with the search for Truth, a lot to do with the beginning of the Earth, a lot to do with The New and Old Testaments, a lot to do with Jesus, a lot to do with bodies of water.  When we think of bodies of water we think of people like Christopher Columbus and other Spanish colonizers who colonized and justified it through the spread of Christianity.  Walcott talks about “Sir’s” in this poem. I believe the “Sir’s” in this poem could possibly be colonizers(white male Dominance, enslavers, capitalists, chasers of gold, chasers of Truth by any means). Consider the questions that the Sir’s are asked: “Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs?/ Where is your tribal memory? Sirs” After addressing the Sirs Walcott takes us the notion of heaving oil- drawing oil from underground or even under water which is a capitalist effort nowadays. Walcott takes us through the Old Testament, starting with Genesis when God creates the world and appoints man as his regent, but man proves disobedient and God destroys his world through the Flood but preserves a righteous man, Noah, and his family. The new post-Flood world is equally corrupt, but God does not destroy it, instead calling one man, Abraham, to be the seed of its salvation(Wikipedia). The capitalist ship has set sail in the Third stanza “Caravel(spanish or Portuguese sailing vessel)/ and that was Genesis). However, there is some negativity associated with those caravel’s some packed cries, a little shit, some loud moaning and what not. Exodus, the second book of the bible is next when Moses leads the people out of Egypt.  Bone is addressed twice in this poem, first in the fourth stanza as being soldered by coral to bone but “benediction of the shark’s shadow” is even more interesting because the shark is similar to the whale in its uniqueness in how it is a massive scary creature but the difference is that it does not come up for air and that it is a predator of the water and must continue to swim to survive similar to capitalism in a way. Capitalism and business is ruthless and could care less about poor individuals. The better the fruit is for your health the more expensive it is. If the fruit is healthy and tastes good, double that. The Ark of the Convenant and the Ten Commandments are addressed in the fifth stanza (I would go line for line but I’m hoping you’ve read this far haha) “Then came the plucked wires of sunlight on the sea floor the plangent(loud) harps of the Babylonian bondage, as white cowries(the highly polished, usually brightly colored shell of a marine gastropod of the genus Cypraea,  as that of C. moneta (money cowrie)  used as money in certain parts of Asia and Africa, or that of C. tigris,  used for ornament(Dictionary) clustered like manacles(handcuffs) on the drowned women- so in the sixth stanza we have money and bondage, I’m not fond of math so you do it. The “drowned women”  could be women in general and their preoccupation with shiny things because the first line of the next stanza begins, “and those were the ivory bracelets” or we good escape the surface level interpretation and says it is in fact the Song of Solomon or the  Song of Songs (Old Testament) has often been interpreted as a parable of the relationship of God and Israel, or for Christians, Christ and the Church or Christ and the human soul, as husband and wife(Wikipedia).  In the tenth stanza capitalism is addressed again and so is the Flood: “of the tidal wave swallowing Port Royal(In the late 17th century it came to serve as the base of operations for buccaneers and privateers who raided the Spanish islands and ships. When the notorious Captain Henry Morgan(a Sir) established his headquarters there, the plundered gold poured in, followed by merchants and artisans who eagerly catered to all the appetites of the pirates (dictionary).)/ and that was Jonah(swallowed by the large fish for three days and then lived to tell about it) Question to the Sirs in the last line of the tenth stanza:”Where is your Renaissance-a renewal of life, vigor, interest, etc.; rebirth; revival (dictionary).? This questions is answered: “Sir, it is locked in them sea- sands out there past the reef’s moiling shelf, where the men-o-war floated down; strop(nautical word for strap) on these goggles, I’ll guide you there myself(Shabine like). I’ll now just point to major words that speak to my interpretation cause this is getting long:”Colonnades of coral”, “Weighted by its jewels”, “Gomorrah”- wicked place, please look up what the book of Lamentations was about in the bible!

I skipped to the major turn in the poem at the 18th stanza where “the spires lancing the side of God.” A spire is like the steeple at the top of a church or one could interpret this as the crucifixion of Christ on the cross. The next stanza is “as His (God’s) son set, and that was the New Testament. Women are brought back up, “White sisters clapping to the waves progress, and that was emancipation(equality between races, genders, etc.). Still no History, “only faith”-belief that Jesus rose from the dead, “then each rock broke into its own nation(Pangaea), “then came the synod(laws of the church, assembly)”

“with their sea pools, there was the sound like a rumor without any echo// of History, really beginning”- His Story or History.  I think Walcott is suggesting that the enslavers and colonizer’s History or Culture is that they were prophets for God even though they were enslaving people and stealing their land for capitalist reasons. Slaves were taught Christianity and were also abused on the bases of Christianity. Christianity became their only Hope for Freedom.



Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Although I don’t usually like poetry about war or battles, Komunyakaa’s word choice and descriptions just made me dead in every one of his poems in the Dien Cai Dau (Vietnamese for I am crazy or you make me crazy)  section for tomorrow. I particularly loved “You and I are Disappearing”. I looked up Bjorn Hakansson (the one who said the title) and he was a really cool guy-he had underdeveloped arms due to a pill his mom took during pregnancy and went on to form a group that helps others in similar situations. I don’t know the context in which the quote was said, but I’m curious as to why Komunyakaa chose that as the title.  (

I’m just going to list a few of my favorite lines/phrses because I just loved “You and I are Disappearing  so much:

  • The cry I bring down from the hills/ belongs to a girl still burning/ inside my head.
  • We stand with our hands/ hanging at our sides
  • She burns like oil on water.
  • A tiger under a rainbow / at nightfall.
  • She burns like a shot glass of vodka.
  • She rises like dragonsmoke/ to my nostrils.

As someone else mentioned, the line breaks are superbly orchestrated, giving the poem extra punch and adding an extra layer of awesomeness. I am just blown away by the creativity that takes place to come up with lines like “A tiger under a rainbow / at nightfall” when describing the girl burning. Komunyakaa is a genius when it comes to word choice and descriptions and I can’t wait to go all fangirl when we talk about him in class tomorrow.


Joy Comes in the Morning Sun

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
Before explaining “Morning Sun” the best I can. I want to start at the beginning of class Monday when Professor gave us the two perspectives of confessional poetry. (1)Confession-expiation of sins, self accusation non-conformism, suicide, in contestable, self surveillance. (2)poverty of the ideology, actual pain given and taken, politic repressive, socialism.  Being one who is very decisive, I have decided that I can not decide between the two for this poem and will strive to incorporate both perspectives within this “statue” of a poem, “Morning Song.”
Hearing a lot of “be carefuls” in class about our interpretations of pronouns like, “I” and “You” and who they might be, tells me to not be careful at all because the people who warn “us”, whoever they might be are not Sylvia Plath and are merely giving opinions.  Interpretations are merely that, ones own opinion of a given work. I give my opinion this fine evening. 
The pronouns to focus on in this poem are “Love/One”, “Our”, “I”, “Your”, and “We.” I know some begin to perspire when religion is brought into the conversation but it will be ok, I promise.  One may suggest “Love” is God and God is Love. “Our”, being society. or the “peanut-crunching crowd” that Plath would call them Or Nature birds chirping etc. “I”, is the speaker whoever you may be please take the mic when you have the chance, we can be the speaker box. “Your” or “you” is the most fun because it can be interchanged with the speaker or God. “We” isn’t as fun but it is synonymous with “Our.” Read along if you would like to overstand as Bob Marley would say:
God set you going like a fat gold watch.(wake up) “midwife”- at birth, slapped your footsoles(walk perhaps), Bald cry( first cry at birth) the elements(society or Nature)
Our voices(chattering in the peanut gallery, or birds chirping) New statue(Man or Women)
drafty Muse( Muse is good, drafty bad). We stand round blankly like walls(trying to capture you with their stares).
The third stanza is very tough but, you know how Jesus was created in the likeness of man? cloud (pure soul, Jesus) that distill a mirror to reflect its own slow Effacement at the wind’s hand, lots of natural stuff would tell me that God is present.
We as strong statue humans are cut down to the size of “flat pink roses” in the fourth stanza. pink roses(innocent babies)I wake to listen( I’ve heard of people not getting out of bed unless they “hear” that it is time, from something if it be an alarm, birds, a crash etc.)
God’s cry( to us), Victorian(champion to see another day). Your mouth( yawn perhaps or we haven’t cursed yet like a clean slate, or God’s cry is clear in the form of an alarm, birds chirping, or crash). The window square( my favorite part, regular old window or the sky).
and now you try( you little star you). Your handful of notes(what we know, our lexicon of knowledge, some suggest God speaks through us). clear vowels like the heavenly soul or cloud or wind, translucent and sacred and just like in Bishop’s “Armadillo”,”fire balloons”, regular balloons can be used to represent those souls that rise after death, we did it at my church during vacation bible school.
This poem is essentially saying every morning is a new beginning or a birth into the day.

Incidentally, if you were going home early tomorrow…

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

…what kind of sweet smackerel would you miss partaking in the MOST,cookies or brownies?

With that, see you ALL tomorrow! 😉

PS- This is a sacrifice, you realize: using an oven while studying Plath seems vaguely barbaric to me…

Brooks, anything but Babbling

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Actually, the babbling might be done on my part…

I am just very much enamored with Brooks, stylistically in particular. Her half rhymes are brilliant, and she has a great knack for internal rhyme– and those are two of my special favorite parts of reading poetry. In my opinion, one of the greatest delights of reading poetry is that it TASTES like something when the words take shape. Now, maybe that makes me sound like I’m experiencing synesthesia, but seriously, words have tastes, and poems, if done well, are entire meals. And I’m finding Brooks’ more than palatable.

My favorite passage in everything we read for our upcoming class actually occurs in our “first” page of reading, pg. 58, and goes as follows:

Oh oh. Too much. Too much. Even now, surmise,
She rises in the sunshine. There she goes,
Back to the bars she knew and the repose
In love-rooms and the things in people’s eyes.
Too vital and too squeaking. Must emerge. (5-9).

Ironically, this part of the poem, which I think is the most shattering part of the account of Cousin Vit, is written almost exclusively in iambic pentameter. Excepting the first line, which is full of Brooks’ characteristic spondees, it is rhythmically sound and hardly strays from the five even feet per line.

However, after reading further in the book, this is atypical of Brooks’ style: she is definitely a fan of spondees, and these lines could have easily been written more emphatically, with more stressed words and accents. My question is this: by letting us as readers “settle” into the comfortable ka-THUNK ka-THUNK rhyhtm of even iambs, was Brooks intentionally dulling the impact of recounting her cousin’s life in such personal terms, by making it seem “even-keeled” and “normal”? Or is it a slip of the wrist so that we are meant to note the striking discordance between her content and her form at such a poignant time in the poem? Just a thought, y’all. Told you I’m babbling.

Yummies: I will be calling them “Beat Bites”

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Who likes almonds?

Who likes cranberries?

Who likes/loves/worships/adores/fantasizes about/freaks out in the trees over the beats??

GET EXCITED. I am attempting culinary things… 🙂

Ask Dr. Scansion (CoPo edition)

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Q:  Dear Dr. Scansion,

I am new to formal analysis of poetry and am anxiously wondering: what terms do I really need to know? Can you help me navigate this new period in my education?


“Lady Lazarus”

A: Dear “Lady Lazarus,”

The terms of formal analysis and prosody are numerous, and some people may be comfortable taking on a more complex set, but for the most part you should have a vocabulary that includes the following:

1) basic accentual patterns: iamb, trochee, spondee, pyrrhic, anapest, and dactyl (Note: some people think that the pyrrhic doesn’t exist in English.  You will need to resist peer pressure and decide what seems true to you.  For my part, I believe.)

2) common metrical feet: trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, hexameter

3) common stanza names: couplet, triplet, quatrain, sestet, octave

4) useful ways to characterize sound patterns: rhyme, half- or slant-rhyme, assonance, consonance, dissonance, alliteration

5) terms that describe line/sentence formations: end-stopped, caesura, enjambment

You will also want to be comfortable with a handful of other terms, for example:  sonnet, sestina, blank verse, free verse.

Lady Lazarus, there are resources for people like you.  This site (is weird but) has a wealth of information about prosody and form, or you can turn to sites like the glossary on  for better for verse, which is less exhaustive but has clear definitions.  For better for verse also has an interactive feature that will let you practice scansion or study it for many poems. (Disclaimer: the site is much more devoted to the default iamb than Dr. Scansion, but it is a good resource nonetheless.)  In either case, don’t forget that reliable friends and grown-ups you trust can be helpful in working through these tough times.  Eventually you may even come to see formal and prosodic analysis as an important part of how you think and who you are.

All best wishes,

Dr. Scansion


Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Sarah A. Foote: somethin’ with coffee probably, Feb. 4th

Nico Madden: Bringin’ the party, EVERY DAY (and doughnuts in late February).

Adrianna Christesen: surprise… in March?

Abbie Rogers: something chocolate? in April

Sarah Kelly: something nice, I suppose…on February 13th

Shatara Downs: something fruity…..March 1st

Covenant Babatunde: chocolate chocolate etc….in March?!

Mason: Food. in April.

Mario: “Healthness sweetly.” in late January somethin’.

Upma: H.D. quote. on February 8th. *smh*

Julia Ruane: something yummy?! Soon!

Gigi and Ali: something good. TBD.

Tricia: sweetness. in February.

Hanna Lehnen: cookies? in February? TBD

Allison Martin: cupcakes on January 18th.

Molly Hodges: Surprise. TBD

Catherine Mohr: Who knows? on Who knows?

Tyshawnda Silver: something great! TBD.