ADD POEM FOR TUESDAY

September 27, 2010

I am shocked and appalled to find that I omitted this from the syllabus somehow: “Bronzeville Woman in a Red Hat,” 103-106.  Please add it to your readings for 9/28.

Categories: Uncategorized.

Tags: , , ,

Thoughts on Brooks’ two mothers

September 23, 2010

I wanted to do a brief reading of parts of Brooks’ poem “A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi. Meanwhile, a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon,” focusing on the relationship between the two mothers and the persistence of red throughout the work. I think this is an absolutely brilliant poem; Brooks takes the perspective of the white wife ( instead of the black mother, a victim that I thought might draw more sympathy from a reader) and uses the form of the traditional ballad with a hero, a damsel in distress, and a “dark” villain, and then, deconstructs this perspective completely and systematically throughout the poem.

In the middle of the fifth stanza, on the top of page 77, Brooks writes (about the white mother), “So much had happened, she could now remember now what that foe had done/Against her, or if anything had been done.” Up until this point Brooks had gone through the ballad structure and subverted it; she says the supposed dark villain is really a “blackish child” and that the supposed white knight “rushing/With his heavy companion to hack down (unhorsed)/That little foe.” Now that we see she can’t even remember how she was wronged by the dark “little foe”, we are better able to envision the guilt that must be flowing through her every thought–primarily symbolized through the color red reappearing.

It is almost as if this guilt is inherited, that the red flows through her kids; at one point the husband slaps her child and “Surely her Baby’s cheek/Had disappeared, and in its place, surely/Hung a heaviness, a lengthening red, a red that had no end.” And later the red comes oozing from her husband’s hands and mouth. And a hatred for him grows from her guilt.

But I couldn’t really find much mention of Emmit Till’s mother until “The Last Quatrain.” In class, Professor Scanlon suggested that we consider the idea of a common motherhood connection between the women, and, the degree to which this connection transcends racial boundaries. From what I read, the redness is present in the The Last quatrain as well, but it is more attributed to the mother’s environment than to her immediate emotions and psychological state; however, maybe the red –and perhaps this word suggests both guilt and grief– has spread so much that it completely envelops her surroundings. I think Brooks did want to forge some kind of connection between the two mothers, especially with the inclusion of the red theme in the last quatrain; but I’m not sure to what affect their feelings of grief and guilt as mothers really transcend racial boundaries. I couldn’t really find any direct evidence to support that argument. Did anyone else find anything in the text that supported or maybe even refuted this idea?

Categories: Uncategorized.

Tags: , ,

go with the flow.

September 23, 2010

Since we only had time to ask, “Alright, what the heck is Brooks saying here?” in class, what did everyone think of the poem? Did anyone feel like Brooks tries so hard to disguise the basic plotline that she winds up taking away from the flow of her poem? Does Brooks get too lost in her imagery? The poem felt very forced to me, like she went back over it multiple times to make sure every word was thoughtful enough, and I feel like that kind of labor ruins the beauty and idea of a poem.

When you have to try that hard to get what’s even going on, how can you really feel it?

I thought Bishop’s and Ginsberg’s poems flowed very easily, but reading The Anniad I felt like I was choking over every line. It’s not just the “guessing game” element of the writing style, but I think Brooks tries to take on too many things at once, image-wise, and that all of these images don’t quite go together/add to each other/build the poem up in the right way. Brooks’ poems didn’t leave an impression on me, as Bishop’s poems left impressions image-wise and Ginsberg’s did emotion-wise.

I think of Bishop and I think of unique, colorful descriptions of fishing, of that one fish with flower-patterned scales who had a beard like war medals. I think of the neat comparison of a trip from the country to the city as being like traveling up the leg of a man and into his chaotic, pulsating brain. I think of Ginsberg and I think of anger and despair, and a flow that was so effortless that I can remember individual lines of his poems. I think of Brooks and all I can easily recall is “tan man” and “Fine Prince,” a million food descriptions of black skin and really tangled images. I think of repressed, daydreaming characters hiding behind layers and layers of ambiguity who can’t spit out what they mean, leaving the flow of the poems…blocked.

Categories: Uncategorized.

KADDISH CHALLENGE

September 22, 2010

Think about your own cultural and or religious belief system. Then, in response to your relationship to someone real or imagined, living or dead (or to Allen and Naomi’s relationship if you like), What would your version of the Kaddish look like?

The following is my seizured attempt at the Irish Catholic version of the Kaddish.
You may notice that my Elegiac Epistle varies somewhat from Ginsberg’s Kadddish, in that, it, for the most part, abandons the repetition of the recipient’s name. That is because we (Irish) invented the understood pronoun – and frankly, it doesn’t matter whether it is understood or not, because it only lends to the circuitous nature of the traditional Irish art of story-telling; however, for the sake of those who are not Irish, I will try not to lose you in confusion.

Last Epistle to Robbie
June 14, 1963 – June 26, 1978
Carried on the wings of doves
accompanied by the cries of vultures into eternity

I

My mind wanders back – to a warm June evening – the last time we were together.
The light turns green, we wait to cross –
wait for the traffic to slowly inch forward-
wait – until the bottleneck clears
and the cars start moving faster,
wait – for just the right moment.
Then we enter our dance with eternity,
laughing and running, we jump and dodge
in-and-out of speeding cars,
daring God to take us.
But He refuses to answer.

We run into Highs flush with adrenaline,
confident in our invincibility.
You offer to spend your last dollar
on a candy bar for us to share.
Waiting to pay – someone calls out a question
from somewhere in the back of the store.
The clerk looks away
for only a second.
I lift a pack of Marlboros from the counter,
put them in my pocket – You pay.
We go out into the night.

We walk next door to the coin laundry.
We’re alone – we’re broke –
You busy yourself with a coat hanger
trying to jimmy the coin slots.
I thumb through the Children’s Illustrated Bible,
a free sample with mail-in postcards in the back,
left on a table in a dimly lit corner
by some lonesome evangelical salesman,
who chose this place –
because it was safe – an easy sale;
no attendant to ask for permission.

I wonder how he stumbled into this place – whether he got lost in his travels.
If he had to forge some paperwork –
Was God happy? Did God smile?
I ask you if you believe,
God has a sense of humor. You say ‘Yes.”
Just then your body shutters all over;
the shock tosses You across the room.
I scramble to retrieve seven coins
scattered across the floor.
I place them in your hand, but you hand them back.
You say you’re ready to go now.

Outside, you hand me a golf ball
and save two for yourself.
We heave them wildly into the vast emptiness.
From out of the darkness – the sound of shattering glass –
wild cries; we run for ourlives , feeling
the breath of our unknown pursuer,
his steps at our backs, as we flee into the night
laughing and shrieking for joy amidst cries of foul.
The unseen stranger, intent on retribution, stumbles
and we are saved by a root springing up from the darkness.
The chase ends in silence.

II

I got the call from your sister three days ago –
She said they found you dead,
crushed under the weight of your Grandfather’s favorite tractor.
I think back to our elaborate dances – taking chances with God
and daring him to answer.
It seems funny, now, how God made the call
when You were doing nothing at all wrong this time.

I remember you telling me once about your parents being deaf
and how it was like you and your sister had your own secret code;
You could speak and your parents couldn’t understand.
You even said you shared a private language, like twin-speak;
only you weren’t really twins, just Irish –
ten months of separation – I thought of her then,
making all of the calls and funeral preparations.

III

I stand at the threshold of the dimly lit parlor,
peering in. A wooden memory pressed tightly in my hand.
I linger- a moment more, outside the door,
staring lovingly at the cross that has left
its imprint upon my hand,
unsure whether I want to part
with this symbol of our relationship
but I know that you, Robbie, would want it.

Looking down into my sweaty palm,
I see –
its just a plain wooden cross, upon a leather strap-
No Jesus hanging – No crown of thorns –
Just a memory.

Wordlessly, your sister waves me in
and I make my meager offering.
She speaks to your parents, silent words
flowing effortlessly from her fingertips.

Your parents, standing on opposite sides of the room,
erupt in angry gestures,
arguing, over the closed lid of your casket.
They grind out guttural utterances.
I imagine that I understand.
Your mother’s hands wave emphatically
through the air, and the frown on her face
shows her displeasure.

Even without words I understand,
her answer is no; but, Robbie, your father
unleashes a crescendo of words.
They dance silently from his lips and body
his eyes pleading for understanding.
Finally, your sister asks me to leave
your cross with her. Your parents will decide
the final disposition of my gift.

As I turn to go, the priest enters
offering little words of comfort
your parents don’t hear.
Discerning his somber black mantle
and escarpment boasting a simple cross,
I wonder –
If he really has faith
in the power of exorcism.

He catches my eyes,
looks in piercingly –
I stare back at an edifice rended.
Peering into the precipice
I see –
You and I dancing into eternity.
The priest, his conversation ended,
turns away.

Homily

Blessed be the Lord, our God, the one true
God who goes before us to make a place
at the table of his father, with all
the Saints who go before him.

Oh Hosanna on highest, in your mercy
all praise and glory are yours forever.

Blessed be the child who goes before us.
Blessed be his father and his mother;
grace to his parents left in their sorrows
to carry on without his cherub face.

Oh Hosanna on highest, in your mercy
all praise and glory are yours forever.

Blessed be the mourners who remember
the loss of his tomorrows. Peace to those
who gather here to say farewell
to this tiny fallen angel of God.

Oh Hosanna on highest, in your mercy
all praise and glory are yours forever.

Blessed be the one son of God who died,
was buried, and rose again to atone
for the sins of all who have fallen short
throughout eternity. Peace be with them.

Oh Hosanna on highest, in your mercy
all praise and glory are yours forever.

Amen. Forever and ever. Amen.
Go now, my brothers in eternal peace
The Lamb of God be with you forever.
Amen – Clink, Clank, Scatter rosary beads.
Designed by Tim Sainburg from Brambling DesignDesigned by Tim Sainburg from Brambling DesignDesigned by Tim Sainburg from Brambling Design

Categories: Uncategorized.

Tags: ,

Parody of Ginsberg’s “America”

September 22, 2010

As promised, a parody written by a former student, Lauren Ireland, in which she addresses the Grandma from Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”  You will enjoy it more if you read “America” first.

Ginsberg Responds to Flannery O

Categories: Uncategorized.

Tags: , ,

A Bronzeville Mother and a Mississippi Mother

September 22, 2010

From the University of Memphis special collections (see the first site Sirena links to below in her post on Emmett Till):

Categories: Uncategorized.

Tags: , , , ,

Another Look at “the mother”

September 22, 2010

I want to take a look at some of the content we didn’t get a chance to talk about in class yesterday in regards to Brooks’ “the mother”.  Looking at the first paragraph, Brooks uses a lot of “you’s” to discuss abortion – “You remember the children,” “you will never…”.  It’s as if in this section she’s staying disconnected from the topic – she’s almost lecturing the audience on what will happen if YOU go through this process.  I interpreted this disconnect as Brooks reflecting on what would certainly happen if you were to have an abortion – possibly even doubting the act, presenting it as a disgrace or mistake.  The line “you will never” is repeated three times, an emphasis on what is taken away from you in this context.

After the first paragraph, Brooks shifts into using “I” as the subject for the rest of the poem.  “I have heard in the voices”, “I have contracted”.  She is no longer staying disconnected to the topic – we hear her personal experiences and her thoughts on the subject.  However, I think there is still a sense of disconnect with the subject, only now it is more of a disconnect by way of uncertainty.  “If” is used at the start of a few lines in the second and third stanzas, as if to ask if her decision was the right one, or as if to ask permission to be forgiven.  There are also a number of questions posed within the second two stanzas: “Whine that the crime was other than mine?” and “how is the truth to be said?”.  Both reemphasize the uncertainty of the mother, and although there is no longer a disconnection with the topic, Brooks has staged her poem as a constant flow of uncertainty; a feeling that I’m sure goes hand-in-hand with the decision of abortion.

Categories: Uncategorized.

Jon Pineda

September 21, 2010

People,

I thought you might be interested in checking out the website of our visiting writer, Jon Pineda.

Categories: Uncategorized.

Tags: , ,

Throwback to Ginsberg

September 21, 2010

Hey Guys,

I know a few of us went to the National Gallery to see the Ginsberg Photography exhibit, but since everyone couldn’t make it, here are a few photographs:

http://www.homo-neurotic.com/2010/08/31/polyamorous-beats/

Categories: Uncategorized.

Bronzeville

September 21, 2010

A great deal of Brooks’ poetry focuses on Bronzeville, a traditionally African American neighborhood in Chicago.  This link has information about Bronzeville and links out to several other sites as well.  Here are a few images :

Categories: Uncategorized.

Tags: , , , ,

Page 11 of 18« First...«910111213»...Last »