Sunday, April 13, 2014

Assignment 24: Response to Dorothea Lasky

My Monster, My Self - Eleanor Davis

Dorothea Lasky

This is a world where there are monsters
There are monsters everywhere, racoons and skunks
There are possums outside, there are monsters in my bed.
There is one monster. He is my little one.
I talk to my little monster.
I give my little monster some bacon but that does not satisfy him.
I tell him, ssh ssh, don’t growl little monster!
And he growls, oh boy does he growl!
And he wants something from me,
He wants my soul.
And finally giving in, I give him my gleaming soul
And as he eats my gleaming soul, I am one with him
And stare out his eyepits and I see nothing but white
And then I see nothing but fog and the white I had seen before was nothing but fog
And there is nothing but fog out the eyes of monsters.

On the “Browse Poems” section of the Poetry Foundation website, there was a list of “poems about ghosts and the supernatural”.  It led me to find Monsters by Dorothea Lasky, which first appeared in Poetry Not Written for Children that Children Might Nevertheless Enjoy by Lemony Snicket, a favorite author of mine.  I loved the simple childlike language of this poem, for it contrasted the dark seriousness of the subject matter.

The poem started with characters that are hardly “monsters”, such as raccoons, skunks, and possums.  I suspected the narrator was a very young child, for to her, animals might appear as monsters.  Then the poem took a rather haunting turn with the line “There is one monster.  He is my little one.”  The possessiveness of this line suggests that either the monster is under the narrator’s control, or the narrator is under the monster’s control.  We soon learn that it is unfortunately the latter.

I relate Lasky’s “little monster” to the Jungian shadow or “devil” conscious.  Everyone has a dark side – an inner pet that demands attention.  I love the line “I give my little monster some bacon but that does not satisfy him.”  The narrator feeds her monster food from a small animal, which circles back to the poem’s beginning.  One might interpret this as the speaker feeding off the dark monsters of others.  But I think the fact that bacon is so greasy, heavy and juicy, it shows how truly hungry the little monster is. 

I studied the Jungian shadow in a psychology course here at Ringling.  The shadow is a dark side that we choose to hide or ignore because of its negative associations.  We hence cover our true selves with a mask and hide who we are – our thoughts, truths, opinions – until we’re ready to explode.  I equate Lasky’s “little monster” with the Jungian shadow.

The end of Monsters is even more disturbing, for the narrator transforms completely into the monster. Her vision becomes that of the darkness that was living inside of her.  As I stated previously, the childlike language of Lasky’s work is so effective because it shows that even the calmest and most innocent people can have bad sides.  The line “shh, shh, don’t growl little monster” makes one visualize a child attempting to tame or comfort an animal.  But even this calm and caring character transforms into a monster herself in the end. 

Assignment 23: Poem (Song)

We Blew It
an original song by Brenna Thummler

The time has come to garden with my
Green thumbs
Planting you inside my
Fresh mind
Now it looks like girls and boys
Can grow with perennial ties

So we grew
Held my ground like roots then
Fall came and I was
Falling slowly for you
In your grey striped sweater
That fell to my knees
My skin was no longer blue

Held our trust
In the shell of an armadillo
Outside they tied their bonds with weeds
While we planted a willow

It withered as soon as we grew it
Gave me splinters from trying to glue it
Our time was up - we knew it
Feels like a dandelion lost in the wind
Because we blew it

Dried up and done
Waiting for the rain to come
So we don't have to tend this garden
One on one
Heavy rain leads to flood
It's drowning us out
Because our mouths are filled with mud

Bridge 2:
Lost our trust
In the shell of the armadillo
Now our bonds are tied with weeds
Because we murdered the willow


Bridge 3:
Break the stem and let go
Fruitless seeds that we sow
Wishes hollow we know
Only needles can thrive in the snow

It withered as soon as we grew it
(Break the stem and let go)
Our time was up we knew it
(Wishes hollow we know)
Feels like a dandelion lost in the wind
Because we blew it

Monday, April 7, 2014

Assignment 22: Response to Poem

Rain Advertising - Victoria Chu

AAA Vacation Guide
Ernest Hilbert

Paris in the Spring, Autumn in New York,
Singers pair a city with a season
As though it belonged to it all year long.
They should try to put a few more to work:
Trenton in winter needs a good reason;
Scranton in summer seems so very wrong.
How about Cincinnati in the spring?
Autumn in Passaic, or in Oakland?
Some cities just lack glamour and appeal,
And there is no point arguing the thing.
No one reads through stacks of brochures to spend
A honeymoon in Allentown. Let’s get real.
Most places on the map, you must believe,
No one wants to visit, only to leave.


I chose to respond to AAA Vacation Guide after browsing through poems on The Poetry Foundation website.  Although older and classic poetry is beautiful, I love contemporary poems about current events, the media, modern places and things – it has a different sort of “fresh” feel and is relatable.  I saw the title AAA Vacation Guide and was immediately intrigued, especially as my mom is an avid AAA member, frequenting their office for pamphlets and brochures prior to any trip.  

One thing I really liked about this poem was the rhyme scheme.  As I’ve mentioned in previous responses, I enjoy rhyme schemes that go against the typical “ABAB” or “ABCB” patterns.  Hilbert has clearly put a lot of thought into his rhyme, but it feels more spontaneous and less sophisticated, which reflects the more casual, laid-back tendencies of today’s society.   There’s a similar mood to his language itself, especially in the line: “Let’s get real”.  The poem becomes colloquial, as if the writer is speaking to a friend or family member rather than a literary audience.  I think this establishes a much stronger connection between writer and reader.

This poem reminded me of an article I recently read on the top-most overlooked cities in the US.  Places like New York, Washington D.C., and Chicago are tourist hotspots and one can find extensive brochures on such.  But there are so many beautiful cities that no one will ever visit, and it’s sad how much we neglect while following the trail of the media.  We hear that New York is the place to go, so we flock there as if we can’t make our own decisions.  I’m lucky, for I grew up in an incredibly small town and it’s because of this, I believe, that I have a stronger appreciation for the “underdog” towns.

The last two lines of Hilbert’s poem were my favorite: “Most places on the map, you must believe / no one wants to visit, only to leave.”   Honestly, I feel like this is every place on the map.  No matter where one lives, it seems that he or she wishes to be somewhere else.  Perhaps it’s because we get bored too easily.  Perhaps it’s because the media shoves everything we need to know about Paris or New York in our faces before we have a chance to experience them in person.  The AAA top vacation spots are no longer a surprise, no longer pique curiosity.  I think the author of this poem hints that the hidden beauty of smaller towns is what makes them so spectacular.

My mom and I are taking a trip to New York City right after the semester ends, and she’s already begun collecting tourist brochures and researching “attractions” online.  Of course there will always be the “must-dos” while in the city, but this poem makes me want to simply wander and partake in something we didn’t read about, haven’t heard about – something new and undiscovered that will add something to the trip that we hadn’t anticipated.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Assignment 21: Poem

For a Reason
Brenna Thummler

It all happens for a reason.
Dad screams
Until you cry
When you cry
Mom wonders why
Parents hassle
Parents hound
Bringing tears by the pound
And not one tissue left
For you to blow your nose
There’s reason I suppose.

It all happens for a reason.
Doctor says you
Have the flu
Have a syndrome
Have a cancer
And several mental issues
Like depression
Or aggression
Anxiety for
That you can’t help but expose
There’s reason I suppose.

It all happens for a reason.
Your push forward
Through dark gray
Further from the
Light of day
Just a step
Away from black
And you can’t find
Your way back
And the odors that will
Guide you home -
You’re allergic to those
There’s reason I suppose.

It all happens for a reason.
You make friends
Who won’t accept you
Fail to give and
They forget you
In the theater of
The all-aloners
You can only search
For friends within
The empty rows
There’s reason I suppose.

It all happens for a reason
You fall deep, deep, deep
For the King of healing Hearts
A man that could save you
But instead just betrays you
So you settle
For the silver
One that blames you
One that shames you
One that haunts you
One that taunts you
Calls you fat
Calls you weak
Until you starve
Refuse to eat
Until you’re drowning in your clothes
There’s reason I suppose.

It all happens for a reason
You hang by a thread
Feels like hanging
Like the dead
Then you’re scissored:
Blood clotted lungs
You’re told you’ll never make it
Your final song has been sung

But you live.

Someday you may
Sing again.
Feel again.
Fight again.
Be right again.
And even if you’re
Stuck down low
As if the picture froze
Well that’s the way life goes

There’s reason I suppose.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Assignment 20: Response to Chloe Honum

Dancer in Front of a Window - Edgar Degas

Dress Rehearsal
Chloe Honum

Branches etch the film of ice
on the studio window. A crow looks in,
hopping and shrieking when I dance
in my black tutu, trimmed with silver.

The ballet master says, you are its mother.
But in a crow’s sky-knowing mind
could I be so misconstrued?
Out of the blackest

cold-wet air, the crow seems molded.
The stars will not wake up to guide it
back to the creek of shadows
where it was formed. Practice, practice.

I am smoke in darkness, climbing away
from a burning hut, in an otherwise empty field
on which the fire is slight and low,

and the rest of it is snow.

I stumbled across this poem on the Poetry Foundation website and was immediately drawn to it because of my background.  I took dance lessons from kindergarten to my senior year of high school and they were such a huge part of my life.  The opening of this piece reminded me a bit of The Black Swan, but with a crow instead.  The dancer moves in a black tutu, becoming one with a crow outside the window.  A ballerina focuses her entire body and mind on portraying her role.  If she is cast as Clara from The Nutcracker, then that’s exactly who she becomes when she puts on her tutu and steps into the spotlight.  I loved that Chloe Honum established a connection between the dancer and the crow, for this immediately established an eerie feeling, and I think ballet is darker than most people realize.

The imagery adds even more darkness to this poem.  The line “Branches etch the film of ice on the studio window” suggests that it’s wintertime, which from personal experience adds even more power.  There’s something about the contrast between the icy outside air and the sweat and heat from dancing – I remember feeling like I was warming the world with my passion and movement.  The studio in winter is cold and keeps the mind alert, but after hours of practice the windows begin to fog and you forget what lies outside, what lies around you, or even where you are and how long you’ve been there.

I read a bit about the poet; she wrote this poem about her time in high school when she wanted to be a ballerina.  She remembers spending long winter days rehearsing in the studio by herself.  She felt isolated and alone, but she was okay with that.  I was confused about the last verse of Dress Rehearsal, for it didn’t seem to connect with the rest of the poem.  However, I think it emphasizes the contrast between heat and cold that I mentioned before.  It also adds to the sense of “loneliness” that the poet felt during her studio time.  Designating herself as “smoke”, she responds to the mental state of a dancer: drifting away from consciousness and forgetting all but the passion in her head and her heart.  The burning hut in an empty, snowy field symbolizes one dancer, sweating with determination in an otherwise frigid atmosphere.