Posts Tagged ‘let me tell you about the naughty list’

A Far Cry from Africa

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

As Julia’s earlier post touched on, Walcott seems to ground us as his audience most specifically in terms of location, often through his titles; however, in his piece “A Far Cry from Africa,” I found the notion of “Africa” to be much more abstracting than stabilizing. Rather than “Africa,” Walcott’s title maybe improved upon by being more specific to the REAL issue at hand: “A Far Cry from Africanness.” If this sounds silly and reductive, that’s because it is, linguistically. But on some level, isn’t this what Walcott is actually addressing in this piece?

In any case, it seemed awfully timely to focus on this piece right after the Multicultural Fair, because that is precisely what strikes me most about it– how poignantly and obviously MULTIcultural it is. The cultural awareness does not necessarily stem from racial differences, although that’s definitely a huge aspect of it– just the sheer number of times Walcott brings “whiteness” into the text stands out in itself. However, it is the idea of betrayal of one’s heritage rather than race that sticks out the most– “Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?” (27) This is reminiscent of some of the language Langston Hughes uses when he writes of his biracial background, and yet he has accepted and exemplified his own blackness in no uncertain terms. I think it is always difficult knowing “where to turn” in situations of multinational understanding of the self. Thoughts, yeses and nos?

Incidentally, did anyone notice that the first stanza of this piece has ten lines, the second has eleven, and the third has twelve? Weird… 🙂

Also, for your viewing/listening pleasure:

“Africa” by Toto, an 80s classic. I still can’t quite figure out what they’re talking about, though…



For Monday

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

New Walcott  readings, replacing White Egrets:

The Sea is History

A Far Cry from Africa

Sea Grapes (or listen to DW read)

Dark August


Midsummer, Tobago

The Schooner Flight

Snake eats tail

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Gjertrud Schnackenberg is criticized for her use of pentameter because of its musical quality.

X. J. Kennedy was a light poet because he refused the shades of confessionalist.

Dana Gioia attacks academia and career poets as the downfall to poetry even though he is an unpolished formalist.

Adrienne Rich has her sonnet sequence like Professor Scanlon stated but it rejects the norms of traditionalism with the lesbian themes.

My question today was, “Are the New Formalist poets any different than other experimenting poetic genres?”.

And I talked about this with Andy after class.

I think we came to a middle ground that if it affects the form and it rejects the norm, then it isn’t exactly reverting towards the past, but that it is creating a new movement.

I think the New Formalism movement was just as experimental as the other poetry movements we have encountered.

I know Mario had an antagonistic view of the New Formalist, when it came to content vs. form, but I think the content is what makes the form so powerful such as with Adrienne Rich’s Lesbian infusion, the lightness of X.J.’s poetry, and Schnackenberg’s lyricism.

I too prefer a form to be birthed through my creativity like Mario and Vollmer, but I think that our way is just one of many which makes a creative poet, and we can’t reject how the formation of art occurs, because then we become just a hypocritical as the people we are trying to persuade into understanding our ingenuity.

Shadows & Ghosts

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Alright, Komunyakaa loves talking about shadows & ghosts (& he really loves ampersands- by the way).

“Gray-blue shadows lift/ shadows onto an oxcart.” (Starlight Scope Myopia 1-2)
“unaware our shadows have untied/ from us, wandered off/ & gotten lost.” (A Greenness Taller Than God 20-23)
“We’re men ready to be fused/ with gost pictures, trying” (Seeing in the Dark 14-15)
“with a platoon of shadows” (The Edge 7) also, not techinically a shadow/ghost, but still: “to the charred air, silhouettes of jets” (27)
“Ghosts share us with the past & future” (Jungle Surrender 1)
“Sometimes I wrestled their ghosts” (Short-timer’s Calendar 14)

& the list goes on…

I’m not sure what point I’m trying to make, but I guess I’m just wondering what you make of this repetition. Obviously, I can understand why ghosts & shadows would appear in a collection of poems about war, but I feel like Komunyakaa has to be more brilliant than this. Beyond lost souls what do you think these figures represent?

another burning question…

Garrett mentioned to me the other day that Vollmer used the ampersand exclusively and that he had meant to ask her about why she made this choice. Now, I can’t help but notice that Komunyakaa also uses the ampersand exclusively. I really want to know whether this was an editor’s choice or if this was the poet’s preference and their reasoning. What do you think?

Dying/in love with Komunyakaa

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Okay, so if there is one thing to always remember about me, it is that Eliot and Ginsberg are in an eternal war over my poem-lovin’ heart… only they’re both dead and neither one of them will ever know it. Which is why I don’t feel so bad about cheating on them with Komunyakaa… because I’m definitely falling in love with his poetry, too.

I’m actually embarrassingly emotional about this right now, so I won’t go into too much detail about it, except to say that piece after piece, I keep noticing his line breaks more than anything else… in a very good way! I think “Jasmine” in particular provides an excellent example of this: if you get a chance, go back and check out the line breaks of “I thought my body had forgotten the Deep/South…” (4-5); “My mind is lost among November/cotton flowers…” (12-13); and “The trumpet’s almost kissed/by enough pain…” (23-24). They’re really exceptional, in my humble opinion.

While you’re still messing with “Jasmine,” by the way, you should totally check out “Duke” and “Basie,” a.k.a. the famous jazzers Komunyakaa is referencing in this particular piece. Duke Ellington and Count Basie were two super-influential jazz pianists, and if you don’t know what they sound like, you should seriously look ’em up. 🙂 Additionally, “Clifford’s/shadow” refers to Clifford Brown (I’m guessing), who was a brilliant up-and-coming jazz trumpeter who died way too early as a passenger in a car accident, shocking and devastating the jazz world. He was incredible, too, and would have definitely had a stunning career if not for his death, hence the “shadow” and “ghosts” in the poem. Just fun jazz facts for your musical edification. 🙂

Also, “Returning the Borrowed Road” totally killed me, if not for the sole reason that my dad is spending a lot of time in Missoula, Montana, nowadays. It just really hit home.

I can’t WAIT to talk about him/all of this tomorrow.

Vollmer essay prompt is posted

Sunday, March 31st, 2013


Monday, March 18th, 2013

Mind over matter or lobo

splatter of a readily reached

region, My epicenter.Com


Pewter chipped, reprogrammed, reset.

 Regret and now a brain fart, a

tart vegetable. Out of sync


With my sweet red beat. They speak of

 chemical imbalances, a

tragic faint foreshadowed until


I realize all is fair in this

dense heir. They will not confiscate

 this southern mental state. Hexed by


Celexa? or accept fair fate

Visual trifecta. Left right,

left, right, inner sight, stumble, re-


 Gain, refrain, play with the toys not

Your organs. Pituitary

playground, cerebellum jungle


Gym, true monkey bars, mental hide

 and seek. Close your eyes and count down

from ten. Seek until you hit The


Fence. Have a seat on a bench. Be

happy with the inch or take The

 green mile. Strapped in your own elect


Tric chair on top of your frame. Framed,

buckled in dimensions, dead dig-

its. Remembering math class and strain.


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.

More about Frieda

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Erica has posted a really interesting Q&A article with Frieda Hughes already, but I found this article that I thought was really interesting too.

In the article Frieda Hughes is quoted on how she is against BBC’s 2003 movie, Sylvia. The article also includes two verses of her poetic response to the movie, titled “My Mother” (I found the full poem on Tumblr but didn’t want to post it because I didn’t know how accurate it was). The poem uses a lot of images from “Lady Lazarus,” which i think is kind of interesting. In the article one of the verses starts out with Plath’s “peanut crunching crowed,” which Frieda Hughes calls the “peanut eaters.”

The Bean Eaters…

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

…reminded me of that one part of “Kaddish” where Ginsberg tells his mother, “There, rest now. No more… (hands, relatives, etc.)”

How does that relate to Brooks and The Bean Eaters might you ask? Because I think the listing of objects/loss thereof has much more to do with the process of aging than it does the person him or herself. So the bean eaters, who lean over “in their rented back room that is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths, tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes” (11) are simply aging in the stead of their belongings, because their abiotic objects cannot.

Brooks puts it well when she says earlier in the poem that they are “Two who have lived their day, but keep putting on their clothes and putting things away” (72). This suggests that motion is what keeps us alive, and keeps us if not sane, at least functioning. Even on a useless level, where these two have run out of things to do with their lives except for put their clothes on and “put things away,” their existence is validated by the fact that they keep moving.

In contrast, Naomi of Kaddish is lobotomized and later dies, and in doing so, escapes these mundane reasons behind being alive. She does not keep moving, and so it is therefore unnecessary for her to be alive, from this point of view. Anyway, I hope someone else sees a connection here, because it struck me very strongly as I read the poem, but I’m having a hard time expressing why here.