May 7, 2014 In My Memoriam
For this entry, I must be honest. To take a piece from Tennyson’s In Memoriam has caused me a sense of discomfort. For my ENG 303 class, we are required to take a piece of a literary work. For my other English class, we read most of In Memoriam, and I read onward on my own downtime. I found Tennyson’s elegy of despair, conflict of faith and doubt, and commentary of the conflicting ideologies of Religion and Science (Darwin’s Origin of the Species) to be very fascinating. His elegy provided a challenge that prompted me to use my critical thinking and analysis skills to interpret his work. Even though I found these aspects, and was indeed interested in learning how his writing style posed such poetic beauty, I was entranced and in love with his writing, and how we was able to express his grief. (On a side note, he wrote In Memoriam in a 17 year span. Now THAT is commitment!) I chose these stanzas, because I felt the offer an insight into what I am writing about.
Lines 9-12 Stanza 1
Let Love clasp Grief lest both be drowned,
Let darkness keep her raven gloss:
Ah, sweeter to be drunk with loss,
To dance with death, to beat the ground.
Lines 1-4 Stanza 16
What words are these have fallen from me?
Can calm and despair and wild unrest
Be tenants of a single breast,
Or sorrow such a changeling be?
Stanza 1-8 Stanza 23
Now, sometimes in my sorrow shut,
Or breaking intro song by fits,
Alone, alone, to where he sits,
The Shadow cloaked from head to foot,
Who keeps the keys of all the creeds,
I wander, often falling lame,
And looking back to whence it came,
Or on to where the pathway leads:
You can not only “see” Tennyson’s raw grief, despair and aguish for loosing a loved one, and questioning life, but you can feel it—very deeply. Even though this is only a fraction of the piece, this fraction already holds such power and awe. It’s like Tennyson was able to write emotion in it’s most basic and natural state. To have this level of ability to write—so much that Queen Victoria herself once regarded this piece and holy—is amazing. In my opinion, I think he is an even better writer than Jane Austen and Shakespeare combined (who are two of my favorite authors of all time). His writing style is unique, because it is so honest and revealing, without giving away any hidden agenda that he could have been documenting (referring to the conflict of faith and doubt, and Religion and Scientific discovery). At some parts of the piece, Tennyson doesn’t need to use flattering imagery, motifs, or any other basic visual literary tool to give the reader an idea of what he is writing about. Just the structure itself, the formation and fluidity of the words in the stanzas does just that. Tennyson is truly a wonderful writer, almost writing in a god-like fashion! He is a perfect example to demonstrate to writers—especially beginners—how dedication, commitment, and the time it takes make a piece worth while. It takes a high level of stamina—maybe not Tennyson’s–, as well as personal persistence, to be able to write superbly.
May 14, 2014 My Special Choosing
Today, I took a break from all my class reading. Some personal reading, or me time, has been long overdue. At college, we are adults. Everything is fast-paced and mature content. After spending so much time, divulged into literature that is fascinating—and not normally what I read—familiarity was good, awaited company. I must confess, at twenty years old, I still read the books that I used to read in High School. It’s sort of a guilty pleasure, a release from the reading I do in college. Of course, my favorite genre is paranormal romance, or what ever is trending on the selves. I’m not sure why I enjoy reading these books. That is, until, before I started this course. Among many, I chose to write about this new series, Shadow Falls. I have waited until they all came out, and, like most eager readers, have read through them, page by page, word for word. The last book, Chosen at Nightfall, is one that particularly captures my attention. Not only because everything is revealed in this series finale, but because of the writing by the author, C.C. Hunter.
I have never noticed her writing style for it’s uniqueness. Hunter writes with both descriptive style, especially when she sets the scene for her characters, while using a vast amount of dialogue. You would think this would work against her, yet it does the opposite. It’s refreshing, yet bears some familiarity with the plot development. As with any good series, the story flows quite smoothly, while leaving readers with appropriate cliff hangers that don’t create agony, but rather leave them wanting more. Hunter’s use of human behavior, particularly with emotion, body language, and dialogue make it much easier to see the scene before you, even more so, it feels as if you are possessing the character’s bodies, and being them. That’s how vivid her writing is. What’s even better is, for me, she gets right to the point. Period. She doesn’t lead her readers on, or emotionally manipulate them in her writing. I can’t recall there being a moment where I had to go back to reread something incase I missed something, or understood it correctly. That kind of clarity is great to have in any pleasure read. Aside from the characters and plot development, the writing style is simple, yet elegant in its own form. I don’t recall seeing a style like this. It’s new to me, and I quite like it.
P.S. you should read the series, and I hear there is a spinoff, which I look forward to!
May 21, 2014 Goblins in the Making
I just had to write about this, not only because the Goblin Market (by Christina Rossetti) is an interesting Victorian Piece on the feminine mystique, as well as the interesting outlook on sisterhood, but because a funny instance occurred in the class session when this piece was first introduced. One student presented the idea of lesbianism and the female outlook on sexuality—and he was a male student to boot!–, and offered concrete evidence and excellent analysis, and went on further to explain sexuality that is suggested by Christina Rossetti’s words. The professor was so embarrassed, and attempted to dissuade the argument and change the subject, that I wanted to further investigate the piece. Sadly, I will not be writing this post about how Lesbianism and Women Sexuality plays a role in Rossetti’s work and Victorian Literature. Rather, I wanted to focus on this section of the poem, because it stood out to me. This one section help a power and intrigue, that I wrote about it immediately
Days, weeks, months, years
Afterwards, when both were wives
With children of their own
Their mother-hearts beset with fears,
Their lives bound up in tender lives:
Laura would call the little ones
And tell them of her early prime,
Those pleasant days long gone
Of not-returning time.
Just this one section Rossetti wrote hold such a hypnotic tone, a sense of connection and awe, that I just had to comment on it. I am not a woman. I admit I do not understand what the female characters, particularly Laura, are going through. However, the way Rossetti writes, I am able to gain a strong sense of sympathy. I understand a mother’s suffering, because my own mother, as well as other mothers that I have had the privilege to know, have told me the struggles of motherhood, especially when it comes to their children. Rossetti’s writing style does catch my eye. She writes so clearly, and elegantly. I guess I can say that about all Victorian Writers, because it is one of my favorite eras. But Rossetti’s perspective on Sisterhood and Sexuality, to me, is revolutionary and powerful. It gave me an impression of her courage and confidence as a female writer, and how her words are able to appeal to both genders, while successfully addressing an important political issue to Feminism (it is suggested that she is indicating advocating against rape culture). She uses imagery and motifs as a sort of hidden language, that engages the reader to analyze and interpret her work—which is always fun for an English Major/Minor. These lines are so poetic and packed with emotion, that any reader can’t help being invoked with feeling (unless you’re a reserved person, which is fine).
May 28, 2014 Maya Angelou In Memoriam
Today, I learned a horrid truth—Maya Angelou, one of my poetic inspirations, a hero, a wondrous human being—passed away today. I found this out during my Victorian Literature class, despite the fact that this subject was irrelevant. I was not only shocked to learn of her death, because to me, she was just always there, seeming immortal, unstoppable. It was her courage and literary genius that was partly responsible for inspiring me to become a writer, to write my own truths, to be courageous in my writing. For today’s entry, I dedicate this to her, and I chose this poem, not only because it was the first one I read, but because it holds a strength for me and an insight I have discovered for myself. I took part of her poem, A Brave and Honest Truth, one of my favorite poems by Maya Angelou, to write about.
A Brave and Honest Truth
“…when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms
When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil
When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze”
I love Maya Angelou’s poems very deeply. She is a strong writer—which, to me, means she doesn’t hold back, and she reveals so much in just the formation of her words, and the structure of her poems. A Brave and startling truth does that—it reveals the truth, a personal truth that is defined my Angelou, while allowing interpretation that leads to the discovery of your own truth. Her words are so raw and honest, it inspires me to not hold back. As she once quoted, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” This poem reflects that—that if you have something to say, something to write, especially a subject you are passionate about, it is a great tragedy to hold it in. In terms of her writing style, Angelou is clear, concise and offers insight and imagery that is clear to the reader, even if they are not a fan of poetry. It leaves one with their own personal interpretation, while also holding her intent to why she wrote these beautiful lines. She does hold a strong reputation (Ethos) for me, and I imagine for anyone, even if they have never laid eyes on her poems. Just her name bring a smile to your face. This poem’s imagery—in fact all her poetic works—poses a unique quality in their imagery. The are so vivid, yet are metaphoric, and the reader is able to clearly see what she wants you too.
June 4, 2014 A Discovered Frontier
I normally write about literary pieces from my time at Cal Poly, especially my Victorian Literature class, but because this is my last entry, I thought I’d take a different approach. When I was desperately searching for something to write about, almost losing hope on something that I felt was worth writing, it was a weird, yet pleasant coincidence. I am a Realist, but even for me this was weird…a good weird. One of my residents, who I have tutored before, was sitting on a bench, alone, near the theatre building on my campus. It is a beautiful place to escape your stresses, to sit close to your significant other, and to create your masterpieces. I saw him sitting there, and because I thought he could use the company, approached him. We engaged in conversation, and he was reading a magazine for an LGBTIQ audience, Frontiers Magazine. Why did this catch my attention? On the cover was one of my favorite musicians, Tyler Glenn, a member of one of my favorite bands, Neon Trees. He told me this edition held an interview about Glenn’s coming out process, and some insight into the development. This must have happened a while ago, because the shock was apparent on my face. I had no idea Tyler was gay—in fact, that made me appreciate and admire him even more. I asked if I could borrow the coppy, so I could read the article.
I found Stephan Horbelt, the author of the article, very engaging, and a good writer for this magazine. What I liked best, because he was very punny (pun funny), was his title, “Tyler Glenn is Looking for Looking for Love in the 21st Century”. If you’re a fan like me, you know that one of Neon Tree’s kick ass songs is called “Love in the 21st Century” For Horbelt to be witty automatically caught my attention. It did help raise my interest, because I am a fan of Neon Trees, and who isn’t interested in a good coming out story? But it was more than that. Horbelt did the piece justice, and proved to use different writing styles, while holding accuracy that truly made his piece great.
Here is an excerpt:
“Modern day American culture seems to be reaching a point where gay musicians on the radio are no longer a controversial or even novel concept. The mainstream success of pop artists like Adam Lambert, Frank Ocean, Mika and Sia…have proven that in the music industry, well-crafted tracks and powerhouse performances are still barometers for success. To be openly gay in the recording industry will never cease to be important, of course, because music is a universal language—a process of listeners. While the road ahead of Glenn is most definitely not the easiest to travel, he is a welcome addition to a rapidly expanding roster of LGBT artists.” (pg. 85)
I recommend picking up a copy to read this article, regardless if you’re straight or not, or not a Neon Trees fan. When I read the article, Horbelt’s collection of quotes from Glenn and other sources was well utilized and well analyzed in his article. Besides the subject he was writing about, the article itself was able to hold my attention, and was able to engage my reading ability. Horbelt writes head on, and get’s straight to the point (haha). He addresses the music’s industry and the issue of LGBTIQ and the arts head on, while informing readers who are new to the subject, in a clear and concise manner. He also introduces different cultural issues—particularly the Mormon Religious institution and their views on the LGBTIQ culture-while still remaining to be organized and flow smoothly. That itself, is not easy, especially the transitional periods of any piece. I, as a writer, have so much difficulty with this. I always feel awkward when I have to make transitions, because I feel like I might confuse my reader by changing the subject. Yet, Horbelt makes it look easy and flawless! I recommend using this article as an example to see how he makes such transitions—as well as the excellent pictures with the article!
June 9, 2014 Where the Story Ends…?
My final entry for the commonplace book. My story doesn’t end here, nor does my practice in writing. Ironically, I wanted to write about where my interest in poetry all began. Before Maya Angelou, Jane Austen, and Shakespeare, there was him. If it weren’t for this man, I don’t think poetry would ever be the same for me. His name…Shel Silverstein
My first book that I read from him was “Where The Sidewalk Ends” My mom had gotten it for me, so I could start my own reading. She always read to me, every night, and every weekend afternoon, as long as I asked first. But, it came the time to try new things—to read by myself, and to read a different kind of book. He was the first person to teach me about poetry. I fell in love immediately.
This is the very first poem I ever read by him.
Where the Sidewalk Ends
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.
His poem is what you expect every poem to be. It rhymes, has a rhythm that you can count—which I found out later in my life was pentameter, contains vivid and specific imagery, and has a hidden message. When I first read this poem, I felt a beginning in my life. The way it flowed, the rhymes, the pictures I saw and how they made me feel, I could tell I wanted to learn and analyze poetry. I remember when the kids in my class hated it because they couldn’t understand it. Honestly, at first, I didn’t either. But I still loved it, because on the surface, it was, is, beautiful. Only then, when I looked back at it now, I feel as though from all I learned in my time in college, I can finally understand it. I learned how to analyze it, I know more terms, how to really look at it. It’s a new perspective. When I see this poem, I an see the emotion and intent Silverstein wrote. I can feel a fraction more of what he must have felt, or at least be able to understand what I am personally feeling. Compared to the other poets I have read, Silverstein’s poems are quite simple and modest. To me, I would think that as well, had I not read it first. But because it is special, it speaks to me, as a poem ought to. There are no social issues, a hidden agenda, a confession, or an observation. This poem is merely a reflection. And even though this is where the sidewalk ends, my sidewalk is just getting started…