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.

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