Sunday, November 30, 2008

And Momma's in the Bedroom...

Speaker #2: Hanging Fire by Audre Lorde on p. 872-873 of the Norton

Lorde chose the speaker of this poem to be a fourteen year old teenage girl facing all of the problems through high school. The effect of this choice is reflected in my initial emotional reaction to the poem. After reading it, I found that I wanted to write about it because I could sympathize with the speaker. True, I did not go through everything the speaker is touching on, but I know I can relate to many of the incidents. In choosing to have the poem written from a teenager's point of view, the reader is able to dig past to her own past and connect with what is being talked about in the poem.

If Lorde had chosen to write this poem as an adult, I don't think I would've had the same reaction to it. Since the speaker is talking about things that are actually going through her mind in the moment, more meaning and emotion are added to the words. This is almost a confession or journal entry by this teenager, expressing all of her anger and confusion in the moment. The constant repetition of "and momma's in the bedroom with the door closed" is like a recurring thought in the speaker's mind. It nags him/her to the point that all she can think about is that her mother is never around. All that the speaker seems to long for his acceptance or attention from her mother and somehow cannot gain it.

The emphasis on physical features in the poem displays the speakers feelings about herself as well. Since she seems to be very focused on the negative aspects of her appearance, she probably doesn't have anyone to tell her that she is beautiful. Her confusion seems to be rooted from the lack of attention of her mother. I can gather all of this simply from the repetition about her mother and the vivid adjectives she chooses when describing her appearance. The overall meaning of the poem is enhanced by Lorde's choice to choose a teenage girl as the speaker of this poem. It adds depth and emotion to the words, leaving a great impact on the reader.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dressing My Daughters

Speaker #1: "Dressing My Daughters" by Mark Jarman
This poem isn't in the can find it HERE =)

The speaker of this poem is the father of two young daughters. In writing the poem from the point of view of a father, we get an amusing feeling. This father seems to be overwhelmed in the situation he is in, having to dress his daughters for church on Sunday. He speaks quite freely and therefore makes a connection with the reader. As a daughter, I know how difficult it can be for a father to dress his daughters in their Sunday clothes; it isn't easy. However, this father doesn't seem annoyed, he appears more amused and reflective. Instead of dwelling on his daughters' bickering, he recalls his own past and how he acted just as they do.

After reading this poem for the first time, I read a biography on the author. I found that he likes to write in narrative style because he thinks it allows more people to connect with is writing. I agree. In choosing to have the speaker, the father, speak naturally as if he is speaking his memories aloud, gives deeper meaning to the poem. Also, it allows for more people to understand what he is saying. People don't want to have to go through each line of a poem to discover what the speaker is saying. Mark Jarman gives this father a natural, laid back way of speaking and that leads to a further understanding of the poem.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

These I Painted Blind.

TONE #2: Persimmons by Li-Young Lee on pg. 847 of the Norton.

I found multiple tones throughout this poem. It is as if they author almost told it in different acts in the way that the tone changes. While he may be speaking about the same object, he has a different view on depending on the situation he is in when he speaks about it.

In the beginning the poem has a tone of annoyance. The speaker cannot seem to differentiate between the words "persimmon and precision." He speaks about being frustrated with his teacher for slapping the back of his head and making him stand in the corner. In the stage of his life, the persimmons are a source of anger and annoyance for the speaker. Later, when he talks about Mrs. Walker again, he falls back on the tone of annoyance. He's already learned about persimmons from his mother and chooses to simply observe the other students. In context with his time at school, the speaker is quite annoyed with persimmons.

In the stanzas about Donna and the other words that got him into trouble, the speaker has a reminiscient tone. While he may have embarassed himself, the speaker looks back fondly on these memories. What seems to be his first time with a girl is connected with his confusion with Chinese words. He also speaks about other words that gave him trouble over the years and how he connects those words with his own experiences. Through this entire section, the speaker is quite lightly reminiscient of his memories.

When he goes back to speaking specifically about persimmons, we hear about his father. This section seems almost regretful and happy at the same time. He gives his father the persimmons when he is going blind because his mother told him that inside each persimmon "something golden, glowing" can be found. When we later find out that the father made the painting of the persimmons when he was blind, they take on a greater meaning. The speaker chooses to end the poem with the father's words. In doing so, we get an uplifting tone at the end. It's as if we feel the enlightenment that the speaker experiences through his father's words.

Overall, the tone changes throught the poem as the speaker makes his way through life. The persimmons are more of a symbol for the significant moments in his life. He connects his memories with words and objects, just as any human does. The persimmon has not only created lasting memories for the speaker, but due to the various tones we are able to see that the persimmon is significant to many.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Quiet Nazi Way...

The first tone poem I chose was "Woodchucks" by Maxine Kumin. It can be found on pg. 843 of the Norton.

When I read this poem through the first time it didn't quite catch my attention until the very last sentence: "If only they'd all consented to die unseen/ gassed underground the quiet Nazi way." Reading this line snapped my attention to the page and I had to go back and re-read the poem. When I did, I discovered how greatly tone impacts the overall meaning of the poem. Kumin is commenting on the humanistic views on violence. In comparing the killing of woodchucks with the killing of Jews in Nazi Germany, the poem is put into perspective.

The tone changes throughout the poem. In the beginning, it has more of an aggravated tone. The speaker does not have much of a connection to the killing of the woodchucks other than the fact that they are ruining his/her yard. However, as the gardener begins to kill the woodchucks one by one, a more excited tone arises. I use the word excited in a negative manner. The speaker becomes enthralled with killing each of these woodchucks until every last one of them is dead. He/She pays attention to how the mother "flipflopped in the air and fell" instead of feeling remorse for how they died, as he/she did in the beginning of the poem. The final line is almost back to an annoyed tone, but in a very different manner. The speaker seems to wish the woodchucks had not put up a fight at all; that if they should have died silently as the Jews did in Germany.

The tone of this poem definitely changes throughout. The shifts in change parallel with the speaker's emotions, actually creating the strong emotion we feel from the reader. Without such a strong feeling of annoyance and excitement through the poem, it would lose much of its meaning by the end.


Get ready to read the wonderful insights of Kasey C. Quinlan:)