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.