Saturday, February 27, 2010

T.C. Boyle

This was a interesting story the author had me believing that Maddy had been killed, but at the end it was like not so fast just kidding. After reading the story I was wondering who the speaker was I didn't know if the story was written based on personal experience of Boyle's or was it just the husband speaking. I was surprised the ending turned out with Maddy being okay because most stories I've read when the parents go through those kind of emotions the end result is usually tragedy. Not being a parent myself I can't relate to what it would be like to get a phone call like that saying your child has been in a accident, but I'm sure it's news no parent ever wants to hear. I'm sure most parents worry when their kids are gone, but at the same time I know parents don't get much alone time when children are around so its probably welcome moments for them. I imagine parents kind of dread the day when their children are old enough to go out without them and probably worry a great deal,but I believe that all one could do as parent just let them go and hope they come home safe in one piece. After all, you can't keep children locked the house just because of fear that something terrible is going to happen to them because that's just not logical to do. Some people may consider it selfish of parents to react the way Maureen did at the end, but I think it's only our human nature because your glad it's not your child that died; however we always feel a sense or remorse for those whose experience the pain of losing a family member. I wasn't really sure what the reference to the meteor was I'm assuming it meant that any given moment some traumatic phenomenon could happen and wipe us all out; however that may be the wrong interpretation of the authors intent.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Martin Espada

These poems were certainly politically based in context especially "Bully". With the references to Roosevelt I thought from a historical aspect Latin Americans might have a certain level of anger towards Roosevelt because during his presidency he was constantly getting involved in affairs in that region. This poem could also represent immigration to some extent because of the second and third stanzas. "The Skull Beneath the Skin of the Mango" was a little bizarre in context, but still easy enough to read. I thought this poem was focused on the economic stranglehold America had put on Latin America as businessmen found it profitable to establish commerce in some of those countries. I suppose the poem is really implying how America has bullied there way around Latin America imposing there will wherever they see fit. I wondered if the "Mango" was interconnected to El Salvador because I thought maybe that is the cash crop of the region. Not knowing the history of Latin America well I wondered if the "skulls" represented the bodies of people who may have been opposed to American involvement in the region. After looking at some of his other poems the general theme I gathered was immigration, and economical imperialism the US had in Latin America.

Adrian Louis

Just as Alexie wrote about Indian culture so did Louis. The difference between them was Alexie focused more on the past life of Indian culture; whereas Louis focused more on present day life. In "Dust World" I thought this one based on modern day life on a Indian Reservation in South Dakota because of the reference to "badlands". I wondered if this poem was based on his own experience mainly because the use of first person, but the way it's segment leads me to believe this poem is talking about different segments of his life. "Without Words" seems to be his account of how his people and Indian cultures are decomposing across America because the white had taken everything from them including there pride and dignity. "Looking for Judas" at first glance seeing the word "Judas" in the title its easy to assume this a spiritual poem, but in reality "Judas" is a metaphor for trader because of his betrayal of Jesus. I thought this poem was about how the white man has betrayed Native Americans all these years which is most certainly true in most accounts. How can you not feel for Native Americans and everything they have lost after all they were here first and we have taken almost everything there is to take from them I would blame them if there bitter still even today.

Louise Gluck

Her poems were very well organized almost like song lyrics and the language is simple and easy enough to understand. I got the feeling these poems were derived from her own family or childhood experiences even though she only uses first person in a couple of the selections. For example, in "Penelope's Song" I had mixed impressions about this one because one one hand is it talking about her own experience as an adult when her lover was to return, but in some ways I think this poem could be referring to a child who has been bad and anticipating their father's return in order to apologize. For some reason these sequence of poems look to me like they might showing me a layout of her life from childhood to adult because of the choices of words she uses in each poem. Like in the "Reunion" I thought this may have been a return from a husband or lover who might have left or maybe had an affair only to return 20 years later. I thought that way because the context of "Circe's Grief gave me the impression there was turmoil in her personal life.

Sherman Alexie

I enjoyed these poems because it was something different from the normal stuff we read so far and because I've always had an interest in Native American culture. Each one of the works were interesting in there own ways but one thing they all had in common was the mention of white people or as some refer to the dominant culture. In "Evolution" I got the idea this was referring to the way Indians were constantly giving away there land and worldly possessions to the white man and when nothing was left to give but their lives we took them too. What gave me that impression was the pawn shop references and Buffalo Bill being the white man in charge. The only impression I could get out of "Scalp Dance" was a direct reference to Indian cultures because the woman in the picture seemed to be telling me about the culture of Indian life. "How to Write" gave me a distinct idea he was referring to the mingling of races between white women's desire for Indian men and Indian men's desire to have a Indian women. The word hero is the key word used in the passage because Indians believe a hero is a white/Indian mixed person meaning they would be brave and noble and not suppose to cry in front of anyone, but themselves. I was surprised by the reference of Indian women who love Indian men must be half breed from horse culture; therefore I thought that was a rather harsh statement about the women from your own race.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Sea Oak"

I must say that was a rather bizarre story, but I thought it took a little to long to develop. I didn't really know which direction the story was heading until Bernie was back from the dead. I'm assuming that Bernie was communicating with her family from the grave and not so much from the living room. They had troubled life prior to Bernie's death, but I was glad to see they aspired to do better with themselves afterwards. I guess Bernie knew their potential to make a better life for themselves, but they obviously needed some motivation to get them going. I thought Bernie must have been a unselfish person because it seemed like she spent her life always doing for others especially since she never married or had children of her own. I also got the impression that the family didn't really appreciate who Bernie was or how much she meant to the family until she was gone. The was without a doubt a strange story, but I can appreciate the message delivered in the outcome.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

T.S. Eliot

I also realized I never wrote about T.s Eliot and so not wanting to steal any body's ideas I went back to re-read the material. After reading Eliot's poems it was clear he was very much a part of the modernist poets and highly regarded for his works. Just from reading the poems I got the sense Eliot focused on writing about both cultural and religious changes. From the two selections we read "Journey of the Magi" and "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" I took away different thoughts. In the Love Song I felt like this man wished so badly to be noticed and important, but in reality that just wasn't the case. It looked like he was envisioning himself being able to be social and well received by others, but in reality he was really so lonely inside because none of his visions he believed was ever going to happen. He obviously believed he would die a lonely old man with no one even noticing he is gone. In the "Journey of the Magi" the only thing I could get out of this poem was that the "Magi" perhaps represented Bethlehem and the poem was based on the birth of Christ. All the details and descriptions led me to assume that was the message of this poem. Some examples of references were lines 5,11,13-17,and 27; however I think this poem would be a representation of Christ's life and death too. The poem could also be a desire for spiritual rebirth through the faith in Christ. I think it could be said that Eliot was a powerful poet who was highly respected by other literary critics.

Eudora Welty

This was another story I skipped by mistake. I found "Why I Live at the P.O." to be rather peculiar read simply because of the way things unfolded during the story. What was suppose to be a 4Th of July celebration turned out to be nothing, but family turmoil and heartache for those involved. I never really understood the significance of the hat though and why the discussion even came up about Shirley T being adopted. I kind of wondered if maybe Shirley may be considered the outcast of the family. This may be a weird observation, but I wondered if there might have been a bit of incest involved in this storyline and perhaps Mr. Whitaker never really existed. Some of the phrases or comments led me to think that way even though I think Mr. Whitaker may have really existed in the first place. With Shirley going to live in the Post Office maybe that was a place of peace and refuge from the turmoil she has faced within the local community and her family. I thought her family was incredibly rude and disrespectful to Shirley; therefore even if the child is adopted or not why was it made into such a big deal anyway. I think this story would definitely fit a couple of categories as we discussed in class such as, loneliness, betrayal, treatment of women, and moral conflicts.

Tillie Olsen

I skipped this story by mistake, but after reading it I found it to be a good read because I'm sure there are plenty of single mother's who could probably relate. Emily seemed like a child that had rather ordinary desires and just loved her mother very much. Not having children of my own I can only believe that most children cry when their mothers leave them to go off to work during the early years that would seem natural to me. I'm sure her mother only went to work because she had to provide for the two of them being a single mother. Emily obviously commanded a great deal of attention, but I guess she felt frustrated with her mother somewhat for not being available more often to spend time with her. Then when her mother remarried and another child came into the picture that really didn't sit well with Emily, which happens with many children at least at first that's true. I could be wrong, but I can't put the entire blame on her mother for the strained relationship they had because I think Emily could have been a little less bitter about the situation. I thought it was clear that both of them really loved each other very much. I think maybe between her mother working, the birth of Susan, and housework duties Emily may have felt like the forgotten one in the family. I've known guys and girls who have actually gone through similar scenarios in their families too. I'm sure this type situation could have a psychological effect on a child when feeling forgotten or left out from within the family circle. I felt like throughout the story it seemed like her mother felt a since of guilt for the way things had happened, but I'm sure she did the best she could. I would hope in a situation like this that maybe Emily would come to understand everything during her adult years and maintain a good relationship with her mother not bitterness.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Raymond Carver

This story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" was a good read. The four of them brought up some interesting points while they talked. The concept of love can be different to each of us of coarse. Like Terri's relationship with her ex-husband isn't really that unusual, but that's not really the kind of ideal love we think of naturally. Unfortunately, there are both men and women who do think of love in that way even though its not an ideal relationship. I've known men and women who really think like Ed did even though its not morally right doesn't mean Ed didn't love her he just took the wrong approach. Mel's relationship with his ex-wife is probably more common because that is usually the way people feel after a divorce especially if their spouse has the children and house. I imagine that every man or women loved their spouse at first even if the end result was divorce I know I did and just like Mel I found myself wondering what happened or where things went wrong.Then the story about his father's accident was inspiring to because he loved his wife so much that it pained him so much not to be able to look at his wife I would call that genuine love. I took from story the lesson to be learned was that despite how every one shows their love in different ways because not everyone knows how to love through affection and sheer passion for the other. Some take things to far through jealousy and rage, but that doesn't necessarily mean they don't love their mate.

Adrienne Rich

She was an interesting poet because it seemed like who works were all based on relationships between men and women as well as written from a feminist perspective. The poem "Diving into the Wreck" I thought was interesting because she used underwater exploration as a way to express herself. I was curious if the poem was strictly based on a feminist point of view or was she talking directly about her own feelings. I liked array of object's used in this poem on in particular was the wreckage, which I thought may have represented marriage or sexual relationships meaning there was a direct correlation between the two. What gave me this impression was lines 71-77 which read "and I am here, the mermaid whose dark streams black, the merman in his armored body we circle silently about the wreck we dive into the hold". After reading both poems and some about her background it helped to better clarify her thoughts behind the poems. I had read she has been a advocate for gay and lesbian rights during her life and she did have bisexual tendencies too; however I think the poems could reflect heterosexual or homosexual meanings depending on each persons opinion. She was a very detail oriented poet she really paints a vivid picture in the readers mind to help dictate the tone of each one.

Philip Levine

In the first selection "Animals Are Passing From Our Lives" I think the pig may have represented us as humans and how we just go thought the motions in every day life. The imagery used was like the daily operations of a slaughterhouse I suppose a similarity to our routines to how we just fall in line and do the same things as one another. The last line "No Not this pig" I think maybe was a statement that he wasn't going to be complacent and just follow along. The second selection "They Feed They Lion" gave me the impression that the speaker was indeed white even though the poem was more actually about the oppressed workers both black and white. In some of the information I read Levine worked along side a black man in the factory where he obviously gained more knowledge about the treatment of the workers and the black citizens especially. I noticed he also used some spiritual references too like in line 22 for example when he said "from bow down come rise up" and suppose that meant its time for citizen or workers to rise up against the oppression rather than continuing to bow down. In the last selection "Fear and Fame" I think he may have been describing the look on people's faces as we rode a bus or went about the city. Once again I think this poem was dedicated to the blue collar workers who have dangerous jobs and put their future health at great risk only to spent the rest of their days suffering from diseases or sickness related to a certain job all for what.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

John Ashbery

In the first selection "They Dream Only of America" I was curious who the poem was really talking specifically about because the speaker seems to change a few times. I mean in the title "they" is used and "he" as well along with "we"; however with the change in point of view I wasn't entirely sure who the poem was referring to directly. I assumed that Ashbery was talking about family members and himself too. The 3rd-5Th stanzas really made me wonder if he might be talking about his father and the very last line also contributed that assumption as well. I kind of wander if maybe he is reflecting on some fond moments with his father or maybe they are on a road trip together. The one part that really was tricky for me to understand was line 17, which I wondered who Ashbery was referring to in that line when "he" is used. For me, I can't seem to come up with a conclusion on what the "cigar" and the "key" represented because of my uncertainty about the speaker of the poem. The only main conclusion I could draw from "Street Musicians" was perhaps Ashbery observed the daily life's of street musicians in a urban setting watching how they maintain survival. I also thought that he might have gotten some of his information directly from a street musician through maybe a personal interactions if indeed my assumption is correct. I say that only because in some of the lines like 15-22 seems like some of that information probably would only be known by someone who actually experienced it first hand.

Margret Atwood

I liked this story the different scenarios were interesting as they played out. I'm sure the American dream for everyone is probably "A", but most of us probably don't have our life's work out in a story book way like that.I mean seriously who wouldn't hope for their life would play out like "A". I thought "B" was the most common of all the endings that may occur more often due to the fact that the divorce rates are so high today. The next most likely scenario to occur would probably be "C" in my opinion because there is many couples who marry someone with an noticeable age difference and the younger one ends up running off unless their spouse is wealthy. I thought it was interesting how despite how each ending played out in the end both John and Mary died. Maybe this story should have had a different title because none of the endings were really that "happy" except for "A". I'm not sure what the authors purpose for these alternate endings were perhaps she was trying to show the reader possible scenarios to how relationships sometimes play out. I like the statement in "F" when she said "you'll have to face it, the endings are the same however you slice it". I think it would be interesting to see how different these plots would be if the script was "happy beginnings".

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sylvia Plath

After reading some of Plath's poems I thought she seemed to be troubled or depressed a great deal and given the difficult life she had that's understandable. Plath is a masterful poet, but her poems are very gloomy and depressing to read. In "Tulips" I got the impression Plath was either sick and wanted to just be left alone or maybe she was just depressed an didn't want anyone around her. The poem's title I is a representation of people bringing her tulips and maybe she really dislikes them very much at least that's what I thought. I thought Plath made references to that in lines 49 through 59. The other poem was "Ariel" this one didn't have a depressing tone really it seemed more like a release. I was just curious if maybe Plath was having somewhat of a sexual release after her marriage failed and maybe she's ready to put herself out there again. I found the metaphor she used interesting comparing herself to Lady Godiva the goddess who supposedly rode naked and bareback on a horse; therefore maybe she is expressing her emotions and she feels like doing the same thing metaphorically speaking. One common trend I did notice in Plath's poems was her use of metaphors because each of the poems contained several I suppose that is the way of she could best express herself or convey a message to the reader.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Anne Sexton

After reading Sexton's poems I got the impression that she was more of a feminist writer because her poems seem to be geared towards the experiences of a women or her own. Of coarse,the role of women did change in society during the 50's & 60's through new laws in favor of women.In the chosen selections Sexton shows us her different ways of composing poems. In "Her Kind" she compares herself to a witch meaning just like witches have been misunderstood she has too. "The Truth the Dead Know" I thought was partly a reflection or tribute to her parents death and the idea of what it must be like to be dead especially since her parents both died in the same year. That's the first time I ever heard a casket referred to as a "stone boat". Maybe she had been grieving and this was the best way she could express herself or cope with their death. In the poem "And One for My Dame" I thought this one was a reflection of Sexton's relationship with her father on a routine basis and coincidentally her husband followed in her father's career. According to,the poem she lived with father who worked more than he spent quality time with her and now she has married a man who is doing the same thing.

Robert Lowell

Lowell was an interesting poet because as the bio mentions his poems were written in apocalyptic in nature, which proves to be true after reading some of the poems myself. For instance, in "For the Union Dead" was written about an area of his home town that was changing due to economic growth. The Aquarium, and Boston Common I suppose was a place that holds sentimental value to him so he wasn't to happy I guess when those places were being replaced by something new. I could relate to his feelings if something in my hometown, which held sentimental value was being torn down or removed I would me upset as well. I guess Lowell wasn't the kind of person who is receptive to change or progress. I like the historical references he uses to represent the value of the park. Apparently, there is a statue on the grounds of the park with Civil War Colonel who fought along side black soldiers in battle, which may have been a icon for the community for many years and now it's about to be gone. I suppose the theme of the poem would be a bitter sweet end to the statue and the history that surrounds it. Lowell's home town is becoming a booming metropolis and he's just not thrilled about the changes taking place.

John Berryman

After reading Berryman's bio and the chosen selections as well as some of the others it seemed obvious that his father's death tragic death really took a heavy emotional toll on him. I was curious why the poems were numbered in random numbers as they were my initial thoughts are maybe these were representing some amount of time that had past since his fathers death perhaps. In the chose selections I was wondering if maybe he was starting to question himself or wonders who he has become. At this point his seems to be talking kind of crazy like maybe a depressed or angry person might do. For example, in "40" it sounds to me like he's become suicidal or filled up with so much mental turmoil that it's destroying him from the inside out. It just felt like after reading several of Berryman's selections that this was a man who lost his way and never made it back.In the end I suppose Berryman"s emotions got to be to much to handle as he took his own live as the bio mentioned.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I read this story several times and I honestly just don't get what in the world the message is I suppose its just going right over my head. If someone would care to explain that would be great or I suppose I'll find out in class soon enough.

A & P

I liked this story very much mainly because I worked in a grocery store myself and this situation sounds exactly like something that could very easily have happen to me. This story was enjoyable to read I liked how he used animal references when referring to the customers. It was funny once he spotted the girls he followed them all through the store from his cashier position with his eyes. Ironically, I was the same age as this character when I worked in a grocery store too because every pretty girl that came in as a guy you was just hoping they would come through your checkout line hoping to find out more. It was noble standing up to his boss for the sake of the girls but probably not the smartest thing to do considering the girls didn't even see him do it. I think once he realized in the parking lot what he had just happen it must have dawned on him how he overreacted.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Theodore Roethke

After reading the selections of this author they were both interesting in their own way. As his bio indicated I thought some of his poems were perhaps a reflection on lessons learned from his alcoholic experiences.I did like how he described the river in every aspect and it gives the reader a chance to maybe picture what the river really looks like. I thought his attention to detail made the poem easier to understand and visualize the river. As for the "My Papa's Waltz" I was under the assumption that he's was referring to being beaten by a drunken father. I suppose it safe to say that his home life experiences probably had an influence on his own alcoholic problems. While briefly looking at some of his other poems those seem to be very detailed oriented as well and they too describe different aspects of nature or whatever surroundings he happens to be in that inspires him to write.

Allen Ginsberg

All I can say about this guy is WOW! what a drastic change compared to all the others I read so far. I suppose this poem "Howl" was written from the experiences of Carl Solomon in the mental institution with people he evidently meet during his stay. Man! did he have some crazy things to say and I don't think he held back on anything. I mean he just let it all hang out in this poem and it was certainly an interesting read. He certainly didn't hold back on talking about possible controversial subjects. I didn't really fully comprehend his reference to Moloch and what it all meant. In the third segment of the poem when he said to "Carl Solomon! I'm with you in Rockland I wasn't sure if that was the name of the institution or was that a reference of something else.

Frank O' Hara

After reading the chosen selections I liked the casual and relaxed style he used in the poems. I thought all the poems were interesting in their own ways because each one seem to describe a situation he may have encountered at some point or maybe his mental state at a given time I think helped him develop these poems. I noticed he seem to show much interest in New York City due to the fact that all the poems seem to have some kind of reference to New York in the context. To me he just seem like a writer who just enjoyed the simple things NYC has to offer on any given night like fine dining and some good jazz music and visiting the art galleries too. I thought he took those experiences of living in NYC and just expressed his personally feelings in poetry without controversy involved. I noticed he also tends to use colors in some of his work to represent an implied message to the reader maybe the color is an overall symbol of what he's trying to express.

Gwendolyn Brooks

After reading some of her background prior to reading the poems it really helped me to better understand the why she wrote the way she did. I suppose in some ways she was probably considered to be an extension of the Harlem Movement writers because she employed some of their techniques as well as her own. For example, she brings in racial status to some of her selections. I found her style to be interesting though because it was as if she was writing about specific situations within the south Chicago community. In the first chosen selection "of DeWitt Williams on his way to Lincoln Cemetery" I got the impression this was maybe written during the boys funeral possession or sometime thereafter or perhaps this could have been some kind of eulogy someone delivered at his funeral as well. Either way I appeared it be a reflection of his life and the places he most frequently visited during his days. I didn't think this poem displayed an racial comments with the exception the reference to the old slave song "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" or maybe that song is always sung at the funerals in African American communities don't know I can't speak from experience. The other selection looked to be written about someone she may have known who's live was cut short in a tragic way. This poem may have been written based on a personal experience.

Elizabeth Bishop

In the chosen pieces I inferred a sense of depression,loneliness or perhaps self-esteem issues. I noticed she uses some kind of animal references in several of the pieces in the text. Could it be that she uses animals instead of humans perhaps to represent a certain message in each of her selections. I could be completely wrong, but for example in "The Man-Moth" the character acts as though he is suffering from some insecurities maybe of low self-confidence as well. To me this poem signifies a man who is extremely lonely and perhaps is just bored with life because of maybe doing the same routine everyday. The other selection "One Art" gave be a sense of negativity because the whole thing talks about nothing but losing at what not sure maybe life I suppose. If i read this selection while in a good mood it might just bring me down a notch or two due to the depressing vocabulary used. I liked both poems, but they just both seemed so dreary and depressing to me. One thing I did appreciate was her style of writing her works were very descriptive which helps most readers understand the content better sometimes. In reading some of her bio she did have a great deal of turmoil during her younger years maybe that has a direct connection or translates into some of the poems.