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  1. #1
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    Default Anyone good with poems (lit major?)

    I need to write a paper of this poem for my AP Lit class, but I am *terrible* with poems. Truly awful. Anyone want to help me find where to begin? I would very much appreciate it.

    http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/poe...09po_poem_ford
    Quote Originally Posted by pinecone View Post
    I can't decide if I should saddle up the drama llama, dust off the clue bat, or get out my soapbox.



  2. #2
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    You might focus on the repetition, or the poet's choices as far as line breaks and lack of punctuation at times--how does the enjambment, punctuation, etc. reflect the content of the poem? That would probably be where I'd start. (:



  3. #3
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    I was an English major. I'm assuming that since it's for a lit class, this paper is supposed to be an analysis? Are you supposed to analyze multiple devices at work in the poem? Come up with a thesis about the meaning of the poem? The goal of the author? Having an idea of what you're supposed to be writing about can help us help you.
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  4. #4
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    I was not a lit or English major but I took AP Lit and I loved analyzing poems. I have forgotten most of the technical wording, but I was very moved by the poem and it alliterated to another poem that I am trying to recall both in title and author right now - it's going to drive me crazy, so if anyone else knows what I may be thinking of, PLEASE write about it!



  5. #5
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    Have you looked into anything with regards to the Iowa Writer's Workshop? I had Chuck Aukema in college and my published stuff was very much in this vein.

    I'm not so good at the interpretation...I can only take the angle of being the writer...but for example:

    Obligations (1999, Sarah M Young, Copyrighted)

    What do I have to do?
    Should I stay there only to fall here
    into a haze of radio dust and moon waves?
    murder you, resurrect me?
    Will anyone regret me if I choose to?
    This guilt they strap me with
    Boxed in. Responsibility handed out
    like new toothbrushes
    I know what to do, but it's only out of habit
    live without me--rearrange me
    my desire is within the words, upstairs in the nursery
    not around them, studying them, after them, to practice
    to rock,
    to cradle,
    to comfort,
    holding hearts in my hands
    Accidentally letting them drop on purpose
    to escape into the garden
    let the scalpel leave my hand
    dangerous knowledge
    escape it
    a new path, please find me
    in a place with less consequence



    Now this poem for ME was about the fact that I was supposed to be going to medical school. I was going to be a pediatric cardiologist. But in my heart, I just wanted to be a MOM. But there were expectations. And I was scared. I didn't want them, I was afraid I would screw up. But I was also afraid of disappointment.

    I felt like the person I was supposed to be was overtaking who I was. I wanted an out. I wanted less consequence. Less responsibility.

    My first version made sense. The one published does not make any damned sense. I was told to move some words around. Play with meanings.

    Perhaps the clue for your poem is to figure out what was meant, not what was said?
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...



  6. #6
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    Thanks for the help!

    Pretty much, the teach says to just write a 4-5 paper on pretty much anything (helpful, right?)

    He says that we can analyze the poem, write about how the poem is structured, diction and syntax, how the poem refelects the author, or really anything as long as there is a dtrong thesus and well written paper. This is part of the problem, I have no idea what exactly he wants, so I don't know where to start!
    Quote Originally Posted by pinecone View Post
    I can't decide if I should saddle up the drama llama, dust off the clue bat, or get out my soapbox.



  7. #7
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    Honestly, I think the hallmark of a good poem is one that you DON'T have to read five times to get half a clue of what the eff is going on.

    Plotwise as far as I can figure there is a man/woman couple, the woman is cooking a bird and is remembering (while she is cooking this bird) when a shaman came to bless her house. There are apparently parallels to be drawn between cooking a bird and blessing a house.

    Ritual? Home care? ???

    Then we are back in the present cooking situation, waiting for the dinner to be ready, and apparently this night began with the confession that "the woman he loved was with another man."

    Is the narrator talking about herself in the third person here and SHE is the one cheating on him?
    Or is he confessing that he loves another woman who is with someone else?
    I find this difficult to reconcile with the "She was nothing" at the top, because apparently the "she" who was nothing is the cooking, part-of-the-couple woman, and men generally say "she was nothing" about whoever it was they are/were having an affair with.

    Or are they not even a couple and this is just two people thrown together over a meal one night? He is telling her his problems with his partner and mother and she tells him about some "assault at daybreak? With some sort of parallel drawn between the people chanting in the (nearby?) schoolhouse and the "liturgy" between the couple over dinner.

    Liturgy = more ritual?

    Meanwhile the whole poem takes place in the past, because "It wasn't a year I could argue."


    Honestly, I have no idea.
    When you go to class and figure it out, please PM me.



  8. #8
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    What's your major? I would guess something with Math or Science.

    The trick with writing papers about poems or literature is that there is no right or wrong, there is only what you can and cannot prove. If you want to write a 5 page paper about how you think the writer is talking about a purple hippo, you can as long as your prove you thesis.

    If I were back in school and handed that poem and told to write these are the steps I would take.

    1. Read it and try to figure out what is happening in the poem because something is happening in the poem. It is just a different way of telling a story. I sometimes find reading it out loud to myself or having someone read it to me is helpful in understanding.

    2. Next, I would look at all the imagery in the poem. There is a lot of it in this one. What does it mean? What do you think it means? There are several images that repeat themselves throughout the poem? What is so important about these images? You can use different colored pens or highlighters to mark when images reoccur in the poem

    3. Remember that with poetry, every punctuation mark, every line break, every single word is there for a very specific reason. Ignore them at your peril.

    Ok, without analyzing the whole poem for you I'll give you an example. Lines 19-22 talk about writing an address across her chest. The first time through I didn't make much of it but towards the end of the poem, the food is compared to war rations. During the WWII they sent children out of London with tags with names and addresses on them for identification purposes. So I see the lines 19-22 in a different light, and connecting with the image on war that occurs later on the in poem.

    Does this make any sense?
    Hanlon's Razor

    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.



  9. #9
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    I write songs, not poems, so I won't be as much of a help as the above posters, but I would say, structure will probably be the easiest to write about, and/or diction and syntax.

    Good luck, BGH, and tell us how it went! I hate analyzing poems
    Rebel Without Cash!



  10. #10
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    Thanks tootsie! I appreciate the help!

    Rubies and pearls- I hate it too. I hate the entire class honestly, but I'm an (almost) second semester senior already accepted into my first choice college, so I'm not exactly killing myself to try and get good grades, lol. Senioritis really is a disease!
    Quote Originally Posted by pinecone View Post
    I can't decide if I should saddle up the drama llama, dust off the clue bat, or get out my soapbox.



  11. #11
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    English degree here.

    "begun by small confessions—/
    that this was just a rental, and mine just a floor"

    The speaker (who we assume is a woman, but might not be) speaks about the house initially as though it is hers, but then you discover that, no, really, it's just a rental, and it's not even her rental, she's just got a floor. Has she been stripped down to the base by this man and his many faults? But the floor isn't broken or cracked, and at the end of the poem, it seems like they're starting again.

    There are images of auguary with the bird and Shaman and even the "strip" of molasses laid out carefully.

    Reminds me of the Rita Dove poem "Four Empty Rooms", where she discusses a four-roomed house that is empty... but it's not really a house, but the four chambers of her heart.

    Anyway, I'll give you another bit of food for thought:

    The poem starts out with

    "Nothing is nothing, although/
    he would call me that, She was nothing."

    Look at the last word of the poem: "means"
    "The nice thing about memories is the good ones are stronger and linger longer than the bad and we sure have some incredibly good memories." - EverythingButWings



  12. #12
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    Default

    Some googling turns up that the man in the poem is a friend of the poem writer, not her husband, and that she's writing about when she moved to a small town in Amish country from big "dangerous" New Orleans and promptly got not only burglarized but mugged there. The shaman's house cleansing alas didn't end up helping.



  13. #13
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    littleum- Very helpful, thank you!

    coanteen- Do you have the link for where you found the info? I've been googling like crazy and can't turn up much
    That info ties in perfectly. I found that lavender symbolizes trust (or mistrust), sage (in this poem burnt) symbolizes wisdom, long life, and esteem. Then there is the lines "Then I told of the assault at daybreak between/ the houses.....where the apostolate studied first-century script and song"

    So the burgalry in an Amish town is clear knowing the info you gave me. I would love to have the link, so I could tie in this info and cite it!


    Thanks again everyone, you guys are really helping me out!

    ETA, ten second later I found the link! I searched using Katie ford mugged and it popped right up. Thankyou!
    Last edited by Big_Grey_hunter; Jan. 16, 2011 at 02:07 PM. Reason: I'm stupid
    Quote Originally Posted by pinecone View Post
    I can't decide if I should saddle up the drama llama, dust off the clue bat, or get out my soapbox.



  14. #14
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    I'm doing decently with the paper thanks to you guys! Anyone have any last tips before OTD is over?
    Quote Originally Posted by pinecone View Post
    I can't decide if I should saddle up the drama llama, dust off the clue bat, or get out my soapbox.



  15. #15
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    I think I came into this thread a bit late. There is a poem called, "the fish" i think...crap I can't remember who it is by. It is amazing. at work, so i can't elaborate and it looks like you have already picked one so, maybe next time...



  16. #16
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    Don't forget, if you used an Internet source, to correctly cite that source and any others you use in the correct format for your paper (for English, probably MLA)!

    As a high school English teacher, that's the #1 mistake I see, and, at least in my classes, it costs a LOT of points!


    Second biggest mistake I see is having a great thesis and strong opinion, but not adequately backing it up with direct evidence from the poem.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenryisBlaisin' View Post
    Don't forget, if you used an Internet source, to correctly cite that source and any others you use in the correct format for your paper (for English, probably MLA)!

    As a high school English teacher, that's the #1 mistake I see, and, at least in my classes, it costs a LOT of points!


    Second biggest mistake I see is having a great thesis and strong opinion, but not adequately backing it up with direct evidence from the poem.
    Don't worry, I'm saving all the links for citing.

    And my problem's always the opposite. I can get great facts to back up any thesis you give me, but I suck at writing my own thesis!
    Quote Originally Posted by pinecone View Post
    I can't decide if I should saddle up the drama llama, dust off the clue bat, or get out my soapbox.



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