Friday, October 5, 2012

poetry: on finding your niche

I found this amazing poetry website I'm in love with. Go here:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org

On the left tab, you can browse poems and poets. When you click on that, it brings up a page where you can narrow down your results by subject, time period, literary device, etc. Go to "browse poems" then click "poetic terms" on the left. Then click "techniques." Choose any of those techniques (one you're not as familiar with). Then, in a blog post, identify and define the technique you chose. Pick a poem you like that uses that technique. In a paragraph, analyze how that specific technique is used to communicate the speaker's purpose.

*remember, the goal here is to identify the subject and theme of the poem, then question how the speaker actually achieves that by looking at the tools he uses.

Find a poem that interests you. Mess around with the website a little bit--get familiar with it. You may actually come across a poet you don't hate (can anyone name THAT literary device I just used?)!

This blog is due no later than 8am Monday, October 8. And don't forget PAJAMA DAY! Bring breakfast food and snacks for a comfy cozy Monday, if you want. :)

27 comments:

  1. I chose a confessional to analyze. When I clicked on confessional the only poem that popped up was “Mental Mommy”, by Liam Rector, which is a very interesting poem. So basically through the poem’s juvenile diction, the reader can see that the speaker is a child. As this dark poem goes on, the reader will find out that this child (speaker) is telling about his forced separations with his mother due to her “mental issues”. Years later the mother comes back and the reader finds out that she has actually been in federal prison for stealing. The odd, weird part about the poem is that the child starts telling the poem at age 6, and as time progresses, at age 13 when his mother returns, the child’s diction is the exact same. His cognitive mental reasoning hasn’t changed at all. This might suggest that the child is actually the one mental and if that is the case, the author’s goal in writing this poem was to try to and get inside a mentally handicapped child’s mind. Rector tried to write a poem from the child’s perspective of being more or less, mental. Through saying that his mom was mental, the child is using confessional, and actually talking about himself. The handicapped improper diction is also how rector conveys the child’s unaware confessional. The bleak, eerie, accidental confessional of this mentally handicapped child is somewhat refreshing and makes for a very interesting read that deviates for the norm.

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    1. This is an excellent analysis, Allan!

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  2. I picked a poem that uses refrain. The definition of refrain according to dictionary.com is "a much repeated saying or idea". The poem I chose that uses this literary technique is "Everything is Free" by George Elliott Clarke. In the poem, it speaks of actions and ideas that are very common in life. For example, Clarke says, "Only the lonely Need much money: Everything is free." and "Don’t try to bind The love you find: Everyone is free.". The overall idea that Clarke is trying to get across is that the important things in life such as love, happiness, and life itself come free. You cannot pay someone to have genuine love for you, you cannot pay to be genuinely happy, and you cannot pay to be able to live a longer or well spent life. Therefore, everyone and everything is free. By using the repetition in every third line, it is connecting the ideas of the first and second lines together and also relating back to the subject at hand. It shows the reader the importance of the simple and free things in life. Also, the refrain adds to the overall pleasant sound of the poem.

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    1. Now focus more on how the repetition actually functions. You begin to address this at the end, but how does the repetition REALLY help the speaker drive his point home?

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  3. The literary technique I chose is Aphorism. Its literal definition is a distinction, or definition. The word aphorism originated from the Greek word aphorismós, and it was first used in the Aphorisms of Hippocrates. This 8 line poem is an example of an Aphorism. The poet uses aphorisms to describe opinions or appearances of different objects. For example, “Gas smells awful” explains the way my people view the smell of gasoline, and many people associate gasoline with a bad smell.
    Resumé
    BY DOROTHY PARKER
    Razors pain you;
    Rivers are damp;
    Acids stain you;
    And drugs cause cramp.
    Guns aren’t lawful;
    Nooses give;
    Gas smells awful;
    You might as well live.

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    1. You defined the literary technique, but where is the analysis?

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    2. I explained how the author used it.

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  4. I chose a poem using the technique of refrain. Dictionaryreference.com defines refrain as, "A phrase, line, or group of lines repeated at intervals throughout a poem, generally at the end of the stanza".

    Occupation 1943
    BY SAADI YOUSSEF
    We boys, the neighborhood’s barefoot
    We boys, the neighborhood’s naked
    We boys of stomachs bloated from eating mud.

    This simple, three-lined poem utilizes refrain in order to add depth and reinforce the theme of oppression and injustice in this poem, as well as to blatantly point out the subject of occupation (hence the title of the poem).This use of refrain is that of the repetition of the words "We boys" at the beginning of each line. In each line, Youssef speaks of the hardships of this occupation on the boys of the area. By using refrain, Youssef points out how "occupation" and "unjust oppression" are practically synonymous, at least in this case. The refrain solidifies the desperate cry of these boys to be heard, sympathized, and remembered for suffering these unjust hardships during a wartime occupation. If Youssef had not chosen to use refrain in this way, the poem's gut-wrenching effect on the reader would not be nearly as powerful and direct.

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  5. It makes me very angry that I can't paste on this. The technique I used is allusion. Allusion is basically when a work refers to some other work. The poem I chose is talking about the approaching summer. The author uses allusion to the Catholic bible to describe spring. It describes it as "purgatory" which is kind of a transition period. The poet uses this allusion to tell the reader that the transition is finally over and that it is finally summer.

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    1. This is a good beginning analysis, but not quite a full paragraph or analysis. Why would the author connect the ideas of religion and spring? What point is he trying to make by connecting those things? Because surely he could have just said that spring is a transition period.Dig deeper!

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  6. The poem I chose, "Last Simile" by Abid B Al-Abras, uses the poetic technique of simile, as shown in it's title. Simile, as defined on http://www.merriam-webster.com, is a figure of speech comparing two unlike things that is often introduced by like or as. This poem also uses very a anglo-saxon style of writing even though it was translated from the Arabic language by using elements such as caesuraed lines, one kennning, and the use of terms like "wyrd". This poem uses simile to describe a woman as an eagle or a fox waiting for her prey, a man. Al-Abras uses compares this woman to these two animals because they are animals known for hunting. By doing this, the author gets his point across that this woman is dangerous and that men should stay away from her.

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    1. It would be interesting to analyze the title, too!

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  7. I chose a poem using the technique of alliteration. According to Dictionary.com, Alliteration is defined as, "the commencement of two or more words of a word group with the same letter." Pretty basic technique... I have chosen a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins called, "Pied Beauty", that successfully portrays this technique. In this poem, Hopkins praises God for all the beautiful things in life like: "Fresh-firecoal chestnut falls; finches' wings" and the "Landscape plotted and pieced". He uses alliteration to emphasize some of the many creations that only God could make.

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    1. Couldn't he have used something else if he just wanted to emphasize a point? Consider what specific alliteration has. Other than wanting to emphasize a point (which most literary techniques do), why alliteration? Why alliteration of F and P? Dig deeper!

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  8. I chose a poem that utilizes the poetic technique of refrain. The poem is called “Under the Dome” by Elise Paschen. In each stanza, there are two lines. At the end of each last line the phrase “ Under the dome” appears. The poem is discussing nature and the living creatures, particularly butterflies, that live under this vast dome. The poet names various butterflies throughout the poem to give the creatures under the dome a large variety. Life and death are also spoken about to take place under this dome. In utilizing refrain, the repetition of a part of a line or stanza in a poem, the emphasis on the similarities in life are clearly depicted. Everything is said to take place under this dome, thus giving everything something in common. Whether it is a Monarch or a Banded Orange butterfly, they all live under this dome, which is the sky, and live and die. The refrain used for this particular line connects the living creatures and correlates them with each other.

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    1. I'd be interested to see you elaborate further on your last line. It seems like you almost introduce a new idea and then don't explain it. How does refrain connect the living creatures?

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  9. An Epigraph is a brief quote or statement before a poem (included in the poem itself most of the time) that aids in setting the readers mind on a specific tone, simply establishing that tone, or providing a teaser for a "moral" that would usually come after the poem. Ben Johnson begins his poem with, "Weep with me, all you that read This little story: And know, for whom a tear you shed Death's self is sorry. In this specific poem, Johnson establishes a tone with his epigraph. The reader knows, before beginning, that he is aboput to dive into a sad story on the subject of life vs. death. The reader can now understand the beginning of the poem in that context, something he couldnt do otherwise.

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    1. Concise but appropriately thorough. Good analysis. I would dig a little deeper into the idea of the tone it establishes here and how that epigraph affects the poem as a whole, then.

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  10. I remember learning about assonance in Mrs. Hammond's class, but I forgot what exactly it was. Since you told us to go for one we were less familiar with, I decided to go with this one. When I looked up the meaning, i found that it basically means vowel rhyme. More specifically, "the repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance serves as one of the building blocks of verse." I chose the poem "Davy Jones' Door-Bell" by Vachel Lindsay. This poem opens up with a subtitle "A Chant for Boys with Manly Voices" and directions: Every line sung one step deeper than the line preceding. In this poem, the poet uses assonance to dramatize the sounds going from a little boy's high-pitched squeaky voice, to a man's deep voice. While reading it (especially following his 'deeper and deeper' instructions), assonance is used to add humor and dramatization.

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    1. This is great analysis: "In this poem, the poet uses assonance to dramatize the sounds going from a little boy's high-pitched squeaky voice, to a man's deep voice."

      However, I'd like to see specific evidence of how those sounds are connected to that interpretation you made. What about the vowels sounds squeaky or deep?

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  11. The poem "Autumn" by Amy Lowell uses the device imagism. Imagism is imagery except the entire poem is all a very specific explanation of an image. This poem says " All day I have watched the purple vine leaves
    Fall into the water.
    And now in the moonlight they still fall, . . . " it paints an extremely vivid picture that the poet wants to bring the reader. These images may be things that are important to the poet or that the poet want people to connect with.

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    1. This is very vague. Yes, imagery is intended to paint a picture. But why does the poet use it here? What affect does it have on the reader? How does this contribute to the poet's subject or theme?

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  12. I have chosen a poem that uses Alliteration. Alliteration is "the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words." I chose the poem, "The Labyrinth" by Robert P. Baird. Alliteration is a key element in this because it stands out so much that one would have to try to not notice it. The alliteration enhances the other literary devices in it as well, such as personifying the walls by saying, "The stone walls wailed and whimpered." With so much alliteration, the poem stands out and even uses other literary devices a lot such as rhyme and allusion.

    Miss Johnson, did you use Epigraph?

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    1. This is excellent analysis: "The alliteration enhances the other literary devices in it as well, such as personifying the walls by saying, 'The stone walls wailed and whimpered.'"

      However, continue moving in that direction. You say several times that alliteration makes a line stand out. Well that's what literary devices do! So why does this need to stand out? And why alliteration over another literary device?

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  13. The technique I chose to analyze was Symbolism. Symbolism is defined as "The practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships." (
    TheFreeDictionary.com). The poem "Last Hope" uses this techniques as the main tool to convey the authors meaning and purpose. This poem is unique in that the speaker is someone who has died and is talking to a still living loved one. The speaker uses to symbols, a tree and a bird, to convey his feelings and desires to his loved one. He feels as if he is a tree in that he now survives as unchanging memory. No longer can he changes what people think of him, but his reputation and legacy is "rooted" like a tree. He longs to live again with the playful and singing bird but cannot because "Now nothingness, cold, owns my flesh". These symbols act almost like a metaphor to give the reader a sense of how the speaker feels and relates to the world. It also gives the poem a cohesive feel. The poem is a concise symbolic description of the speakers thoughts.

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  14. Assonance- resemblence of sounds, also known as vowel rhyme.

    I chose Davy Jones Door-bell by Vachel Lindsay because of the way he highlights the important parts of his poem using assonance. Lindsay uses assonance in her poem to bring into light the subject of death. He says "sky-bird sings... church-chime rings."
    He uses the examples because they both represent preludes to death. These sounds are often related as sounds that prelude death this is why Lindsay chooses these examples. Lindsay also names the poem to emphasize the importance of the content. The name of the poem represents the "deathbells of Davy Jones" which in this case, according to the poet are the sounds of sky-birds and church-chimes.

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