Friday, November 19, 2010

Frost: "The Road Not Taken" the Right Road?

Robert Frost is a famous poet today. If anyone were to mention his poem "The Road Not Taken" in daily conversation, I'm sure everyone would know the reference. This week in poetry we went over this poem in class, and I've read it several times before. I always thought it was an optimistic poem about taking the high road and doing your own thing instead of going along with the crowd. I even used it on an application essay to get into school. However, we learned in class that it's more of a sarcastic poem, that in fact Frost was mocking the optimistic idea I had believed was the message of the poem. It made me wonder what was going through Frosts mind. Did he really feel this way? Does that mean the road not taken is the right road and that people always make the wrong choice, and that's what makes the difference? It just baffled me to learn that this poem was really sarcastic. I just wonder now, what road is right? and what road is wrong? This poem really opened up doors for me, and now the analysis has shut those doors. At the same time, though, it just makes me more curious as to what was going through Frost's head as right and wrong. I still love this poem, just in a different way.
Childrens Poetry: Friend or Foe?
When I was a little girl, my mom would read me childrens poetry since I practically begged her to. Shel Silverstein was my absolute favorite. My fourth grade teacher had introduced me to all of his books and I bought them immediately after. Even the school librarian at my elementary school would read us poetry every week. At that age it seemed so fun and harmless to listen to it. This past week, though, we went over childrens poetry in our class. I could not believe what I was picking up in it. There are such harsh issues included in childrens poetry, why would an author put such strong emotions in literature for children? Most children may not be able to understand what the author is really saying but now that I’ve experienced more in life and can pick up on these things, I was able to. Maybe there’s a child out there who was gone through hardship with a real understanding of things that could potentially pick up on the poetry too. At a young age poetry seems cute and fun, but now I’m not so sure. I think that maybe childrens poets should lighten up with the intensity of their poems, after all they are only for children.

The "Informal Chronicler" that is Bob Dylan



            I seem to always find myself saying that I probably should have been alive in the sixties, and that I would be a hippie who was part of the Anti-War Movement. Although, sadly I was not and as of late there has not been a time machine invented. However, there are many who were such individuals and I am able to read about their exciting lives.
            One man whose life is particularly interesting is Bob Dylan. An American singer-songwriter, whose powerful and meaningful lyrics became anthems for the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements, Dylan was born on May 24, 1941. Originally named Robert Allen Zimmerman, he grew up in Minnesota. From childhood he was tuned to music: he constantly listened to the radio and even formed several bands in high school. Zimmerman enrolled at the University of Minnesota in 1959 and became highly interested in folk music and later explained that it was because folk dealt with “more despair, more sadness, more triumph, more faith in the supernatural, much deeper feelings.”
            The first time he began to introduce himself as “Bob Dylan” was when he was involved with the local Dinkytown folk music circuit by campus. The name change was influenced by the poetry of Dylan Thomas and he later explained in an interview that, “you’re born, you know, the wrong names, wrong parents. I mean, that happens. You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free.” What I love about Dylan is that he speaks so truthfully, from his mind and heart.
            Now known by people as Bob Dylan, he dropped out of college at the end of his freshman year and moved to the concrete jungle of New York City in 1961. In the beginning, Dylan played at various clubs around Greenwich Village and obviously became signed, not too long after. Within the next few years and the release of two albums, Dylan began to gain popularity. What has been most popular of Dylan’s music is his lyrics, which are extremely meaningful and relevant. His lyrics are what associate Dylan with poetry; he has a poetic power through his words. He was even influenced by the Beat poets such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Bob Dylan was such an influential individual himself as his songs spoke to people about the current issues of that time. Dylan was referred to as an “Informal Chronicler” by the way in which he communicates with society.
            Dylan continues to tour the world to this day on his “The Never Ending Tour.” He is such an influential and honest individual. I only hope that someday my words will resonate with and affect as many people as Bob Dylan has. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This is a test

Mr.Lewis is helping me figure out how to blog. It's going swell. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beat. Beat. Beat.


Drugs. Beat. Nonconformist. Ingenuity. Love. Life. New York. California.
^ Allen Ginsberg’s life.
           
            Alive in a time in America where picket fences, poodle skirts, sock hops, drive-ins, and more were part of the everyday society, Allen Ginsberg was an odd man out. In fact, he was one of many individuals that rejected the perfect consumerist society of 1950s America, so-called the Beats.
            What began as a small group of friends converging over common interests and ideas turned into a movement known as the “Beat Generation.” The original or “core” group consisted of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and William S. Burroughs. These individuals met in the area around Columbia University of uptown Manhattan in the mid 1940s. The group slowly expanded, especially as they moved west to San Francisco. These individuals were all united under one common passion: writing. Their passion led to a generation that allocated such “cultural influence” that still affects young individuals today.
            Ginsberg was one of the originals, there at the very beginning. Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey on June 3, 1926. Growing up, Ginsberg highly admired Walt Whitman. He was admitted to Columbia University in the fall of 1939. At this time he met and began close friendships with his fellow Beat pioneers. His close friends led him to a “New Vision” that Ginsberg defined in his journal: “Since art is merely and ultimately self-expressive, we conclude that the fullest art, the most individual, uninfluenced, unrepressed, uninhibited expression of art is true expression and the true art.”
            He moved to San Francisco in 1954, and with “The ‘6’ Gallery Reading” which took place on October 7, 1955, the Beat Generation was born. The Beats rejected consumerism and the media-driven society, often making fun of such in their poems and works. The Beats were united under a common theme: “a rejection of the American middle-class values, the purposelessness of modern society.” This generation was seen as a group of outcast misfits by the American middle-class society. However, it sparked the minds of many brilliant individuals and several movements came in its wake including the Hippie generation and the Anti-War movement of the young generation of America. Never have so few individuals inspired so many, since!

“The so-called Beat Generation was a whole bunch of people, of all different nationalities, who came to the conclusion that society sucked.” - Amiri Baraka
           
Major Beat writings to check out!



Howlin' over Chicago and Troupe


“& this is the music;
the kids of Chicago have eyes that are older
                                         than the deepest pain in the world
& they run with bare feet over south/side streets
shimmering with shivers of glass
razors that never seem to cut their feet;
they dance in & out of traffic—“

            These few lines from Quincy Troupe Jr.’s “Chicago (for Howlin’ Wolf)” embody the very essence of youth within the great city of Chicago. Strong, ruthless, and unyielding are a few characteristics that come to mind while reading this passage. The famous poem describes the “city of the big shoulders,” Chicago, in all of its dirty glory.
            As I read this poem, a sense of excitement fills my soul and it makes me feel restless in a way. Here, Troupe describes the city and its inhabitants, never stopping and always living as much as they possibly can. The poem is inspirational in how it states that although the city and its people face dark and challenging times filled with uncertainty and doubt, they keep pushing through and never give up. The poem fills me with hope and I believe that whenever I feel as though there is a “wind/blade” that is “so sharp & cold” cutting through my very essence and world, I know that I will be able to push through the pain and live on.
            I believe that Troupe’s poem is also an homage to the city of Chicago and its’ unyielding strength and industrialism. Although Troupe discusses the gritty and sometimes cruel city, his approach is softer and more musical than Carl Sandburg’s in “Chicago.” Troupe’s poem definitely embodies influences of the folk and blues musical styles and the way in which the poem flows reminds me of a Van Morrison or Neil Young tune, which I particularly like. Another aspect of Troupe’s poems that is so enjoyable is how he puts sparks of energy into his words and messages. He writes with such passion and emotion, which is truly necessary to create a good poem.
            Troupe was certainly capable of writing a good poem. In fact, he wrote numerous excellent poems that allowed him to receive many awards. The famous poet dropped out of college, joined the Army and traveled to France. He met many influential individuals, experienced different cultures, and found himself through enlightening events. Troupe began carrying a notebook around with him, much like my favorite Jack Kerouac, after he was advised to do so by the French existentialist writer Jean-Paul Sartre. He moved to the West Coast at one point in his life and actually gave poetry readings on the beach, accompanied by Jimi Hendrix (how completely awesome is that?!). Troupe also struggled through many difficult and trying experiences in his life related to racism and difference. However, he was able to overcome these obstacles and grow from them.
            Troupe’s life, filled with countless amazing experiences, inspires me to not be afraid to live, and in fact to live my life as fully as I possible can. I am inspired to live with sparks of energy flying off of me, and like a kid of Chicago, razors never seem to cut my feet as I go dancing in and out of traffic: the traffic of my life. 

A sample of Troupe's genius: 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The evolution of Poetry Inspired the Evolution In Me

My Poetry class is the class i feel i did the most growing in. I feel as though over the 8 weeks spent in this class, my eyes were open to so many new ideas and so many knew icons i now admire so much. The depth of knowledge i have obtained in this class has not only influenced me in poetry but also in life altogether. The morals and motives of all of the poets we have learned about inspired me to be more like them and have a different perspective on what life is and how it should be lived.

the evolution of poetry has inspired me to take risks and evolve internally myself. I am now striving to be the best "me" that i can be. I am very happy to have been in such a class that has inspired me to this extent. I really enjoyed this class and will never forget it or the people in it. ALL HAIL MRS. LEWIS!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Oh My Love, Poetry


            I have always been a lover of poetry, as I have always been a lover of cake and everything sweet. However poetry is not merely sweet. It may be poignant, heated, tender, blissful, somber, etc. but I find that all poetry is passionate and full of soul and emotion, whatever emotion that may be. Although I had a fairly keen sense of poetry entering my fall term class, I have learned so much since! As the final days of my fall semester course come to a fin, (which is French for ‘end’) I see that this class has truly been my most beloved.
            Since the humid days of August to the blistery days of November, I have looked forward to poetry. I could rely on the class to be intriguing, lively, and humorous…a perfect finish to a lengthy and tiresome day of school. Every day, there was sure to be a heated and opinion-filled discussion, overrun with laughter. I was astonished and impressed with my piers’ ability to write poetry as well as decipher poets’ works. I was able to see improvement in my own poetry-writing skills and gained a greater confidence in my work as well. Not only were the writing workshops enjoyable; so were the reflections of famous poets! We discussed Tennyson, Browning, Whitman, Frost (a personal favorite), Sandburg, Parker, Cummings, Hughes, Nash, Jarrell, Ginsberg, Dylan, Brooks, Knight, Baraka, Giovanni, and Troupe who all brought their own unique style, belief, and emotion into their poems. It was a pleasure to read and discover interesting aspects of the poets’ lives and how certain events influenced their writing. There is ingenuity from every writer and it is amazing to see how the poems relate to the times they were written. The discussions of these extremely talented individuals has allowed me to delve into their other works and find poetry that I am now awfully fond of! Possibly my favorite experience, if not the workshops, is the blog. I have come to adore writing posts, finding it incredibly fun as well as challenging! I believe that I shall begin my own blog soon!
            I have come to view poetry in a new, even brighter, light and will sincerely miss the class in my next semester. I only wish that every teacher could be as passionate, enthusiastic, caring, and kindhearted as the wonderful Mrs. Lewis (aka The Sassy Librarian)! She truly made the class what it was and I will miss having her as a teacher everyday. I am entirely grateful for the experience and will cherish my time in this poetry class for all time! 

Peace and love to all! 

Is it really that time already?

Poetry has been a class that has changed me in every aspect. I am grateful that I was able to have taken the class and show the importance of expressing yourself. When I first came into the class my view on poetry was very different from what it is now. I thought that poetry was only for girls and that it was weird for guys to write poetry. I didn't really like poetry at first either. The first day of class I remember that we were told to write a poem about a tomato. I could not understand the significance of this but I was coming in open minded to the class and just decided to do it. After several classes, I started to warm up poetry and the fact that I was going to have to write it.

There were several instances when we were forced to step out of our comfort zone and to write about things that we were not used to. We had to write about many things and one that I felt was extremely hard to write was the one about the trip to Walgreens. There was just so much that one could write about and so many ideas that I had but I did not know how to put all of it on paper. After countless number of hours sitting starting at paper I just started to write about how I felt and it just came to me. I started to realize that poetry came from the heart and it came from how you felt at that moment at time. It was hard to try and make up how you felt about poetry because it just didn't feel real.
I have to say that I enjoyed all of the reflections of the different poets from the past till the present. I was able to see what all of the poets had in common and what was different. With all of the different poets one could see that each one of them had something that was unique. Whether it was enjambment or unusual topography each of the poets taught me something different and unique. Learning all of the different types of way to get your reader interested in your piece of art, I started to use some of these techniques in my own work. I truly wanted to impress my audience as many of the other poets did and I was able to in some of my work. I learned a lot from these reflections and always made sure to read in depth about their background. I quickly found out that most of the artists that had great poems were those who expressed themselves about a particular thing that had a huge impact in their lives. I wanted to be able to do the same thing and show my audience how something important inspired me to write.
The group poem was my favorite exercise of the entire year. It was something that was very exciting to do because it incorporated several ideas from different people. It took a long time to finally get together and write the poem but there were just so many things that the group wanted to put into this group poem. When we finally got together, we wanted to make our poem about Facebook. It included status updates, likes, pokes and messages to one another about members within the group. We all took on parts of different people with different stereotypes and created a poem around that. Overall it was a great poem when we performed it in class and it was very different from the other poems that were presented in class. I felt that for once, I was in the poetry slam. The poets that take part in the poetry slam are really good and do a great job performing. If I have the chance, I want to go to one and see it live. The ones that we viewed in class we really good and made me want to create a poem just as good as theirs.

Overall this has been a great class and I can't believe that it is really that time already.
It is time to move onto the next english class. I really don't want to go and I have to say
that this is the best english class that I have taken at SEM. I hope that there will be a
Poetry II but I will never forget everything that i was taught in this class.
Mrs. Lewis, thanks for such a great english term and I will continue to write poetry,
because it is something that one can express themselves through after a rough day.

Howlin' for Blues

Quincy Troupe Jr., author of "Chicago (for Howlin' Wolf)", was obviously influenced by blues music in the 20th century. Chester Arthur Burnett was born on June 10, 1910 in White Station, Mississippi. Better known as "Howlin' Wolf", he was a famous blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player.


Chester Arthur Burnett was mentioned in Troupe's poem and he was, hands down, one of the many influential American artists. "No one could match Howlin Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits". He was good at what he did and many of the songs that he wrote had true deep down meaning that many would be affected by. He is an influential person who will be remembered forever.

In 1955 Wolf moved to and settled in Chicago, Illinois. Moving there was important because it brought him in contention with Muddy Waters, as they competed for a position in Chicago clubs and at Chess records. One could see that Wolf had the drive in him to compete for spots in Chicago to get his name out there and at the time it was much harder to try to get the world to know you. When 1956 rolled around, he recorded "Smokestack Lightin" with Willie Johnston, and Hubert Sumlan on guitars, Hosea Lee Kennard on the piano, Willie Dixion on bass and Earl Phillips on drums.

By 1975 he was tired and ill. Howlin Wolf had several problems which included heart attacks at the beginning of the decade and was suffering from cancer. At the end of 1975, he went into the Veteran Administration hospital in Illinois and he finally died on January 10, 1976.

I think that Troupe mentioning Howlin' Wolf in his poem was something that everyone at that time could relate to. He was such a good blues artist that he even inspired poets to write about him. In comparison to other poems that poets have written about Chicago, Troupe's has a different vibe to it. The poem still didn't represent Chicago as a pleasant place, but it was still a city of creativity and the working class.

Troupe's inspiration through Howlin' Wolf has inspired me to think of blues music in a whole new way. It has a deeper meaning and it is more than just a catchy rhythm. And now...I'm howlin' for blues.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On the (Dirty, Free, Beat) Road


One of my all time favorite authors/poets, Jack Kerouac, can be compared to the “Cup of Dirt” dessert. He was an individual, raw at the edges (and perhaps the core), who never took the painless or simple way out and looked at life as a never-ending journey. His life was gritty and imperfect, much like the “dirt,” with strong hints of sweetness that kept him breathing and existing every day. 
            The famously innovative and radical author was born on March 12, 1922 in Massachusetts. His first language was French-Canadian, which can be deduced from his surname, Kerouac. His writing career officially began with the publication of his first novel, The Town and the City, in 1950. Around this same time, Kerouac began to mix with a “group of New York based intellectuals” that included one of my other favorite poets, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs, while hanging around the Columbia campus. These characters were a part of the awesome Beat generation that Kerouac became a pioneer and spokesman for. He also became great friends with each of them. Jack was known as an iconoclast individual who lived his own way on his own terms. His mantras of life included drugs, sex, alcohol, poverty, and travel among many others. What I admire so much about him is that he lived life without limits, he was unafraid. Kerouac embraced unfamiliarity and innovation.
            He was a writer in the truest form. Kerouac was known to always carry a notebook around with him and wrote constantly. One of my all-time favorite novels of his, On the Road, is a largely autobiographical account of his road-trip adventures across America and Mexico in the late 1940s. The final draft of this truly brilliant novel was supposedly written by Kerouac in a mere 20 days. The published version was cut of several explicit passages that displayed Kerouac’s true genius. However, the edited version was still amazing and thought provoking. In 2007, Viking Press released a new edition of the novel entitled On the Road: The Original Scroll for the 50th anniversary of the original publication. This new edition is a transcription of the original draft that was typed by Kerouac and includes the sexually and drug-ly explicit passages that were previously removed. I have not read this version yet, but I am dying to! 
            Kerouac’s style is genius, raw, and real. It has energy that can be felt through the passages, deep within a reader’s soul and mind. He was heavily influenced by jazz, much like everyone else. (I mean, how could you not be? Jazz is just THAT amazing.) Kerouac referred to his style as “spontaneous prose” in how he truly rambled in his writing akin to a stream of consciousness. What is purely sensational about Kerouac’s writing is that it is primarily autobiographical. So many of his amazing passages were based on actual events, written with excitement and wonder. His style can be referred to as “free flowing prose,” and as an aspiring writer, I believe this to be utterly amazing and inspirational. Kerouac even created a set of guidelines for his style, Belief and Technique for Modern Prose. The list compiles thirty “essentials” to the style which some, I believe, can be applied simply to life in general.
            Although Kerouac was an amazing individual, known for his ingenuity, he suffered from a deep love of drugs and alcohol. Kerouac also became depressed, which I feel could have been due to the fact that he felt and lived with such intensity that it somehow hurt him. He succumbed to internal bleeding, due to extensive alcohol consumption, on October 21, 1969. Although he died at quite a young age, Kerouac left a style of writing among several brilliant novels that are cause for inspiration to this day. He has certainly influenced my life and thought process. I am enthused to travel and genuinely see and experience the world in its bona fide nature. Perhaps one day, my life should fit the bill, or plate of “Cup of Dirt,” much like Kerouac’s as I write of my imminent experiences and verve of life.
 
My favorite quote from On the Road: "I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'"


A video of Jack Kerouac performing a bit of On the Roadhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MjPtem6ZbE

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chocolate: The Soul of Cake / Blues: The Soul of Music




Chocolate is to cake as Blues is to music: soulful, rich, and all-around amazing. It’s quite ironic that I use this analogy, for this post deals with the Black Arts Movement and its association with Blues music. A little chocolate thunder for you.
            Now, the BAM was a period that spanned the 1960s and 1970s in America and was considered the artistic branch of the Black Power Movement. Amiri Baraka is accredited with starting the movement in Harlem. Time Magazine described the movement as the “single most controversial moment in the history of African-American literature – possibly in American literature as a whole.” The most common form of expression during this time was through poetry, and this poetry was highly influenced by blues music. The Black Arts Movement deals with looking within an individual’s own background, history, race, tradition, and culture and pulling from those roots to establish an artistic style. The Black Arts, therefore, had influences of blues and jazz.
            Although this movement was short-lived and seemed the most unsuccessful of Renaissance artistic movements, it set the course for multiculturalism in America that successfully exists today. Now free expression of any race and culture is mostly accepted and even encouraged. This would not be possible without the inventive and revolutionary thinker, Amiri Baraka, among many others who contributed to the movement. Much like cake, which used to be very plain and unoriginal, is now used to express emotions and individuality through colors, flavors, messages, etc.
            The Blues style of music that was extremely influential in the Black Arts Movement, is still apparent in music today. Such an example of this influence is one band that I am simply falling in love with, The Black Keys. Consisting of Dan Auerbach (vocalist and guitarist) and Patrick Carney (drummer and producer), this blues-rock music duo is becoming highly more popular each day. Formed in 2001 in Akron, Ohio, the band has since released thirteen albums and EPs and sold 1.7 million records. TBK is said to have the same stylings and energy as Muddy Waters and Elmore James, famous blues artists. 
            This band is just one of many examples of the influence that Blues and the Black Arts Movement have on our culture and arts to this day. Like chocolate, these indulgences are hard to resist!

A little taste to stimulate your palate: 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ayo DJ Bring That Back

Sampling in music is the act of taking a portion of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a different sound recording of a song. The art of sampling originated in New York City in the 1970's with the birth of hip-hop.Sampling has been done since the beginning of time with a sampler. With the sampler one could "sample" playing back beats from old times and making new pieces of work with the sounds from the music of other artist. Sampling is also possible by "tapping loops or with the use of vinyl records.

Samples are basically one part of the song, like a break, used in another. For example down below after you read the entire blog post, an example of sampling will be shown below by your truly. For instance sampling is done by sampling a piece of "Im coming up" with "yeah" that eventually goes into "The Dj got us falling in love again" all written by other artist. But this is sampled to male a "cooler" new danceable version of a song, remixed to match the "hip" of today's society. All in all the sampling has become extremely popular within today's day and age and is used very heavily in the music industry.

Artist like Rick James sued MC Hammer for infringement of copyright of the song " U can't touch this". The law suit was settled when Hammer agreed to give credit to Rick James. Throughout history sampling has been an area of contention from a legal perspective. Early sampling artist used portions of other artist recording's, without permission: once rap and other music incoperating samples began to make A LOT of money. Many artist took action claiming it was a copyright infringement to steal other artist work. Some fought back against the accusations which were true in many cases saying that the samples were "fair use" and that the samples just reevaluated the music.

In today's society there is without a doubt sampling in several songs. There are remixes that are done by DJ's in real time using samples from the 70' and 80's at clubs, dances etc. Being a part time DJ for my school I happen to know a lot about the music industry and how sampling has a huge impact on the world that we live in today. As I stated being a DJ myself i use sampling to create remixes that are more danceable with some of yesterdays old and a little of today's new. A lot of the songs, beats, kicks, bass. beats, instrumentals that were created back than are very catchy. Even though some are very plain, repetitive, and not danceable they are very usable, adding a new twist to a song that you want to create with samples.

With the basic use of samples in today's society i feel that many people have ignored the fact that its simply just taking someones piece of art that was long hard worked on. It seems to me that people do acknowledge the fact that the work is not there's and go on to appreciate the new creative song that was made out of the old samples from way back when. I have to say that the most popular songs that i remixed using loops are very danceable and well favored by the crowd. Below is a posted link of the website in which you can find the song at mixed by Dj Donald Bradley. Enjoy and until we get caught up in the mix again, im outta here.
DJ Donald Bradley

I


Monday, October 25, 2010

Rita Dove: A Living Legend


Born in Akron, Ohio, Rita Dove was destine for success. It was embedded in her genes, seeing as though her father was the first African American chemist to work in the the United States and her mother achieving high honors in high school for literature. In 1970, Dove graduated from Buchtel High School as a Presidential Scholar, making her one of the 100 top American high school graduates that year. the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1977. Rita Dove was appointed poet Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1993, the first African American to be appointed, and received a second special appointment in 1999.Dove is the second African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Dove is not specific to any specific genre or era of literature. Her wide-range of topics and precise poetic language makes her not easy to categorize. Her most famous work to date is Thomas and Beulah, loosely based on the lives of her maternal grandparents, for which she received the Pulitzer Award for in 1987. But besides the Pulitzer Award, Dove received numerous other awards including 22 honorary doctorates, the 1996 National Humanities Medal, the 3rd Annual Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities in 1997, and most recently, the 2006 Commonwealth Award of Distinguished Service in Literature, and many many more. From 1994-2000 she was a senator of the national academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa. Rita Dove has accomplished a lot in her lifetime. Although many don't know her, her legacy has already been created, even as she is living today. She is the true meaning of a Living Legend.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

America's MOST visible Female




Family the single most important word in everyones life. This past weekend was a busy one for all and it was an important one as many parents came up to visit their children, along with taking the time out to conference with teachers. Below is a poem that I created myself as today gave me the time to finally sit back and think about the true meaning of the word above:

Family

Family is something that cannot be replaced

In some instances it may have to be chased

Family is something that is hard to face

Especially when you need your space.

Family is something that is unique

And there may be times in which you may seek

Family is something that is not always complete

It is something that many of us wish was concrete.

Family is something that requires a whole bunch of love

It is something created by him from up above.


Maya Angelou a poet that I feel that I can relate to without a doubt. Her birth name is Marguerite Ann Johnson and she was born on April 4, 1928. She is known as "America's most visible black female autobiographer" and has written several autobiographies on her childhood and early adult experiences. Her first autobiography about the first 17years of her life named " I Know Why the Caged Birds Sings" She received international recognition and was nominated for the National Book Award . She has been awarded over 30 honorary and was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1971 volume of poetry "Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie".

Angelou was a member of Harlem Writers Guild in the late 1950's and was an active member of the Civil Rights Movement and served as a "Northern Coordinator of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference". She was a a teacher that taught at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Caroline where she holds the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship Studies. She has made around 80 appearances a year on the lecture circuit. Without a question she was well known and she recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration She was the firs poet to make an inaugural recitation Robert Frost at John. F Kennedy's inauguration 1961. Along with all these accomplishments she was recognized for having the longest-running record on The New York Times Paperback Nonfiction Bestseller List.

Angelou had a long and extensive career which also included poetry, plays, screenplays for television and film, directing acting, and public speaking. As one can see she is one talented person and was able to do so much to contribute. She was also a successful as a playwright and actress. She appeared in a supporting role in a mini television series Roots. Overall she was very successful person with being able to take part in so many things.

I felt that it was important to chose Maya Angelou because one of the most important themes in her autobiographies are "kinship concerns" from the character-defining experience of her parents' abandonment to her relationships with her son, husbands, and lovers throughout all of her books. She reminds me of my mother because she struggled as a single parent but however was very successful.

Being able to learn more about Maya Angelou has helped me a lot. I am able to see her type of writing and how the theme of "family" played an important role in all of her works. I enjoyed reading some of her poems and it has in turn inspired me to write one of my own. She is a great poet and at 82 has done so much to contribute to society, and to help students like me explore the deeper meaning of family. Like family was something important to Maya Angelou it is something that without a doubt important to me and to me my mom is like America's most visible female. She does everything and anything for me and no matter what happens I know she will always love me.



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Influenced during the 1960's




Bob Dylan born on May 24th, 1941 is an American singer as well as a song writer who plays an important role in the music industry. His music was directed related to the things that occurred in the Civil Rights movement and one could see that most of the issues that affected him came across through his music . To name a few of the songs that were important, there was Blowin' in the Wind and The Times They Are a-Changing. Before getting into the influences into what made Bob Dylan write these songs its important to note the importance of the Civil Rights movement and how it had a major impact on the people of that time.


The American Civil Rights Movement was the movement in which many people in the United States tried to outlaw racial discrimination against many of the African Americans. During this time period many issues arose. To begin with racial segregation was a problem because public facilities as well as government services like education were separate by color. Those who were colored of course were underfunded and inferior to white people at this time. Another issue was disfranchisement in which many of the white male democrats gained power and made voter registration more inaccessible to blacks. Many blacks were forced off the voting rolls and the number of African American voters dropped dramatically.Exploitation caused increased economic oppression for blacks, latinos and more. With this it denied economic opportunities and lead to a widespread in employment discrimination. Last by not least the violence that occurred was huge. Due to the advantages that whites had over blacks many found this unfair and took the violate way out.


The Times They are a-Changin' wrote this song as a deliberate attempt to create a change for the movement. The song was directly related to the Civil Rights movements and "it was a song with a purporse". He wanted to give the people "what they wanted to hear" and writing a song that would help the Civil Rights Movement was something done that is definitely remarkable. It was also known as the "protest song" because he aimed to ride upon the unvoiced sentiment of a mass public. This song was used to give the people a sort of "outlet". Blowin' in the wind was related to the first song trying to complete the same objective. He was trying to capture the frustration and aspirations of black people powerfully. His songs were without a question a question "moving" because they touched the lives of many blacks during the Civil Rights Movement and got many people to relate to the situation they were put in during this time period. The songs till remain famous because many people can look back at the history of their ancestors and dwell on what occurred through these songs because the

songs are directed related to what happened.


Doing the in depth research of this singer made me think about the song that we did a reflection on in class called "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll." I feel that this is important to be talked about because this was a situation when a black woman was working hard. A white man had killed her with his cane and was simply placed in jail for 6-months. Shortly after, everyone would forget what he did and it would not matter what he did because he was a white male. Even though Hattie Caroll was a good person, William Zantzinger was drunk and killed her in a matter of an instant.


Without a question Bob Dylan was an important figure during the Civil Rights Movement. He was able to touch the hearts of many blacks and have songs that relate to the way people were being treated during that time period. His songs had a lasting effect and continue to do so because of the deep meaning behind them. Bob Dylan is a great singer overall and highly favored by many people.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Prior to meeting my grandfather, I had only knew both my grandmothers. In fact, the presense of manly figures in my life was not always evident which in reality could have skewed my image of what i man should be but was luckily not thanks to the powerful influence of women in my life. But a grandparent for most individuals are the ones who enstill the core values that builds the foundation for your overall life. So, in poetry class on grandparents day at Wyoming Seminary I couldn't help but think about just how much of an influence grandparents have on young people today and what not having them in your life would effect a person.

Grandparents, in general, play the role of wisdom in a family. One could often expect words of wisdom from a grandparent. The memories of a person's grandparents should make a person feel good. From the warm cookies to the money they snuck you while their mother wasn't looking. "The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy. " This quote comes from Sam Levenson, an American humorist, televisions host, and journalist. The bond between children and grandparents according to Levenson is evident. They are one of a child's first friends. A child needs a grandparent, anybody's grandparent, to grow a little more securely into an unfamiliar world. A grandparent helps an individual from birth in their adapting to life.

So, As I sat their in a sea of love in my poetry class, I thought of what my grandparents meant to me. i never knew either of my grandfathers. I met one but he didn't know who is was. (he was already senile). But i did learn a lot from my grandmothers. one of the many lessons they taought me was to never compromise my core values for anything or anybody. And that is one that sticks in my mind and will has made me who I am today.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What Would We Do Without Grandparents?

So...this Thursday, on Grandparent's Day, I realized the importance of grandparents. My grandparents live in Spring Hill, Florida, so it isn't very often that I see them. When I was growing up, I lived with my grandparents and there wasn't much to do so I became very close with them. Although I only visit them now, it used to be very, very different. It is so weird that distance has made us so much closer. Now, when I visit them, I realize how much I missed them and how much they mean to me. They helped raise me and if it weren't for them, I wouldn't be alive right now.

While we were in poetry with grandparents, I started wondering; which poets have been influenced significantly by their grandparents? As I did some research, I found a famous Poet Laureate; Rita Dove. Born in 1952 in Akron, Ohio, she has written 6 poetry collections that have been published. Among these 6 is Thomas and Beulah, which was given the Pulitzer Prize in 1987.



Thomas and Beulah was written based upon the lives of a married black couple born in the early 1900s; her grandparents. Although semi-fictionalized, it is a chronological story of her grandparents' lives during the Great Migration. Although her grandfather's name was Thomas, as it was in the book, her grandmother's name was actually Georgianna. Through a series of poems, Thomas and Beulah speak of their love for each other although they cannot be together all the time. The poems are told from two different perspectives and include issues of love, marriage, their lives together (or not) and sadly, death. The poems are to be read as a narrative and are meant to show the reader the struggles that her grandparents went through.

I think it is amazing how Rita Dove's grandparents were held together no matter what because their love for each other was so strong. Without them, Rita Dove would have never even been alive to write about them. Looking back, I continue to think; where would I be if it weren't for my grandparents? Between my grandparents and my parents, they have struggled through equality issues and have gained many civil rights, making a much better world for me to live in. For that I am thankful, as everyone should be, for my grandparents.

Monday, October 4, 2010



Will the mix of chocolate and vanilla satisfy everyone? Will it satisfy the chocolate fans even though it isn't full chocolate but they can still relate to it. Or will it satisfy the vanilla fans who aren't use to that extra chocolate mixed in but will accept it due to the resemblance to their usual vanilla? In the early 1900's, the mentality of people were as so, between the controversial issue of race in America. Black and White America in the early 1900's were very much different from each other, bot culturally and economically. So one could imagine that the mixing of the two was a heated debate between the two parties. It was seen as almost insulting to people both black and white if a person was of mixed race. They were often looked down upon. In the late 1800's, around 1850 and on to 1890, there was a huge increase in the number of mulatto people in the USA. "The distribution of the mulatto race, at all times for which the facts are known has been in general accord with the ratio of the races." The reason for their discrimination against them was the fact that white people in this time tended to accent on the fact that they were still black and black people accented that they were not "real black" people. They were often referred to as mulatto, a word used to denote someone with a white parent and a black parent. As time progressed, the entertainment business was becoming more and more prominent in the early 1900's, many African Americans become the driving forces in the industry. However, white audiences has strong feeling about why their children shouldn't be listening to "these black people sing. In 1959, one of the most impacting historical monuments were built and housed the studios that many of our legendary icons today. It was Barry Gordy's, Hitzville USA better known as Motown records. This music took a while to earn its respect but eventually became one of the most historical events musically.
The chocolate and vanilla swirl in the entertainment industry may have been some people's only way of accepting African American music. It seemed as though the white audiences accepted people black people who were of a lighter complexion or resembled closely to them. So these lighter skinned black people and even the "Mulatto" people were better accepted in the music industry. It was the reason for some African American a
rtists' success. For example of this was the American born, singer, dancer, and actress Josephine Baker. Josephine's light skin played a major part in her success in this time. There was still a struggle for Black equality in this time period so a black woman being in a motion picture was a major accomplishment. Being coined with the names "Creole Goddess" and even the "Black pearl" and being referred to as beautiful at this time by a white audience was very rare and one could credit that to her resemblance to them with her lighter complexion. This is not to shadow Josephine Baker's talent at all. All of her acco
mplishments were very influential to many artists today such as Estelle and Beyonce.
The evolution of African American in the entertainment industry has grown significantly over the years. The success of Black entertainment is on a rise and has yet to reach its peak. Even the deviation from the whole light skinned vs dark skinned idea has waned. The time period his changed completely and it is a whole new splurge of thinking and ways to create music and brand new ways of thinking. I believe i will call it a new renaissance for music. Making music a piece of cake!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rivers that lead to Happiness



James Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902. Overall he had a very simple life and began to write his poetry in Lincoln Illinois. He did attend Columbia University in Mexico and than took on a few odd jobs as an assistant cook, launderer, and a busboy, and than traveled to Africa and Europe working as a seaman. Reading his biography i noticed that Hughes claimed Paul Laurence, Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman as his primary influences. He is particularly known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties. I felt that is important to realize that all of the poets named above influenced his writing. Each one of this individuals had an important impact on the way that Hughes wrote and i felt that it was important for one to understand how each one of the poets influenced Hughes in their own way.

Paul Laurence was one of the first African Americans to gain national recognition. During his day he freed slaves from Kentucky. Both of his parents separated shortly after his birth, however Laurence would talk about the stories of plantation life throughout all of his works. Even though Laurence was a fine student he was unable to attend college because of his finical situation so he took a job as a elevator operator. He went on to make a self published collection called Oak and Ivy and sold copies in his elevator for a dollar for the people that rode his elevator. With that being said he had an overall successful carrer but i feel influenced Hughes because of his writing about life on the plantation. In Hughes poem The Negro Speaks of River he talks about many rivers and how life was during the time period in which he lived in. This poem was talking about how dangerous the rivers were during this period because slavery was very popular. One could be sold down the Mississippi River and be working for the rest of their lives. I feel like Hughes had a direct affect on Hughes poetry because of him describing the slavery life, like Laurence talked about in his poems of the days on the planation.

Carl Sandburg was a poet that had a different life. His life was a rough one and he had emigrated from Sweden. His family was very poor and Carl left school at the age of 13 to take on odd jobs from laying bricks to dishwashing to try to support his family. He traveled to Kansas as a hobo, than served in the Spanish American War. He attended Lombard for four years and was able to become known as a poet. Over time his work became known by others and he was starting to write in the free verse like Whitman had cultivated in college. I feel like Carl Sandburg contributed to the way that he wrote because of his free verse poetry. There was no one structure to the way that everything was said. It was all freely put into a poem and had a lot of meaning that was built deep inside of the words.

Last but not least Walt Whitman was the last influence that Hughes had. He had a family with 9 sisters and brothers. At the age of 12 he began to learn the printers trade and fell in love with the written word. He was a man that taught himself most of the things that he learned and he read a lot becoming familiar with the works of Homer, Dante, Shakespeare along with the Bible. He founded a newspapers called the Long Islander and edited a large group of Brooklyn and New York papers. There is not a doubt in my mind that this man could not have had any affect of Hughes. He worked hard all of his life and did everything himself. He did not go to others for help and basically self taught himself everything he was able to accomplish. He was very successful writing in many places and becoming well known. I feel that because of his reliance on nobody it helped Hughes to write poetry that way and to not have to rely on anyone to get the things he wanted done.