Thursday, June 9, 2011

Coming Of Age Project-poem


         Days would drag by
                              not a care in our hearts
            or a fear in our minds.
                        We would play under the sun
                                    and dream under the moonlight
of the fun that awaited us.
            We had scrapes on our knees
                        and tears in our eyes
                                    but we were un-destructible.
            Eventually though,
we saw the end of a setting sun
                        and the rise of a new one.

So many things
                        I wanted
                                    to be.
So many places
                        I wanted
                                    to see.
I tried
      to do everything
                                     the time grew too short
               and eventually
                        the alarm clock rang
and it was time to leave one
                        and enter another.
As I grew
I wished to grow
to be all the things
                        that were lost
                                                            right when found.
            of course life
                        kept on ticking away.

And as the days flew by,
            I spent too much time
                        wishing that
all things could stay just the same.
But nothing would go back
                        to the carefree days

            there were things
                                                I wanted to be
            and places
                                                I wanted to see.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reading Response 2

         Throughout “The Girl Who Fell From The Sky,” by Heidi Durrow, the main character Rachel experiences a lot of changes, and a lot of emotions about her self, life and family that she cannot explain. The book takes place over several years for her, and during those years she deals with hatred, loss, and self-questioning. I believe this is a coming of age novel because the things she deals with are key aspects of growing up, and coming of age.
            Rachel deals with a lot of loss as a kid. Most of her family (minus her father) died when she was very young. As she gets older, she struggles with many memories, memories that she wishes she could return to. Though she only knew them for several years, they had a great impact on her life. Right when Rachel was getting used to life with her Aunt Lorretta and grandmother, her aunt dies tragically, leaving her once again in shock.
            She also deals with a lot of hatred. At multiple points in the book, it is clear Rachel is somewhat angry at her father for not coming back for her. She needed him for support, and he did not even make an effort to contact her.
 “”Why hasn’t daddy come back for me?’ I asked. ‘I just don’t know, darling. I just don’t know.’”
Rachel deals with hatred about her race from others as well. When she first moved in with her grandma and aunt, none of the other kids could figure her out, and some of them disliked her for her differences.
            The most important thing Rachel deals with in this story is self-questioning. She questions constantly throughout the book whether or not she should be proud of her ethnical background. She deals with many issues as a child because she is mixed; she feels like people will not accept her because of who she is. Not just other people, actually, she has problems with self-acceptance as well.
             The main shift Rachel goes through in this book is innocence to experience. She is at first innocent to racism, and fears it. Once she has an experience with racism, she learns to ignore it and be proud of who she is, and that though there are many non-accepting people in the world, there are even more that are accepting of others (this is also an example of false view of world to correct view.)
            Growing up may be the hardest point in a person’s life, with all the shifts and experiences with real life problems, but is still very important. The years between childhood and adulthood are the ones where all the things you learn and experiences you have with the world lead you to be who you are in later life. In some cases, like Rachel’s, you find your true self, and learn to stick with it. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Coming of Age: Reading Response 1

Racism has been an issue affecting many people across the world for many, many years. "The Girl That Fell From the Sky," by Heidi Durrow, is a book about several children dealing with race related issues along with the struggle of growing up. Rachel Morse, the main character of the book, is a victim of pressure and confusion because she is mixed. She feels like she can remain loyal to only one of her backgrounds because of the social pressure she faces in society.
 As a child, Rachel was the lone survivor of an accident that killed her mother and siblings. She dealt with many family problems when she was young: she had a racist stepfather, a nervous mother, and split parents that she both loved very much. I think her parents divorce may have caused her to feel like she had to choose about who she was; she felt like she could be either white like her mother, or african american like her father.
Rachel, after the accident, was taken in by her grandmother and her aunt, and forced to start at a new school. At school, other children were as confused as she was about her background. They told her how to act if she wanted to fit in, how to be.

"I am light skined-ed. That's what the other kids say. And I talk white. I think new things when they say this... They tell me it's bad to have ashy knees. They say stay out of the rain so my hair doesn't go back. They say white people don't use washrags... I do. They have a language i don't know but I understand. I learn that black people don't have blue eyes. I learn that I am black. I have blue eyes. I put all these facts into the new girl."

She had trouble making friends. She feared that if she was seen with white people, she would now be accepted by black people and vice versa. I believe she may have felt like she could be a part of only one group of people. As she grew older, she started lying about her background.

"'Where did you get those beautiful blue eyes?' he asked. I hesitated to answer. Telling people only led to changed impressions. 'from my Aunt Loretta', I say quietly."

Though there may be less racism around children now than there was during Rachel's time (1970's), kids do still deal with the same kinds of social pressure. All Rachel wanted was to be normal. Many kids nowadays will do anything to be normal, to fit in. The truth of the matter is, there is nothing anyone can do to change who they are.
"The Girl Who Fell From the Sky" was a very well written eyeopening book, that led me to an understanding of a saying. "Be true to yourself." You will be surprised how much admiration a person may get for being original.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Prompt: An Experience With Pain/Loss

One of my first ( and [quite luckily] only) experiences with pain/loss was when I was 7 and my goldfish died. I know, this doesn't really seem like a very major loss, but for me, it was. I cried several times, and spent several days feeling sad. It was my first real experience with loss.
   I had gotten my fish from a magician named Amazing Ken who was at my birthday party. I had gotten many goldfish from him in the past birthdays, but this one I felt was special. I named him Harry. Amazing Ken's birthday goldfish I knew were not meant to last long, so when he died a month later, I wasn't terribly surprised. I had been coming back from vacation with my family when he died. I looked at him and immediately, with my 7 year old knowledge of fish death-causes, determined that he died of a fish stroke. I was extremely sad.
  Growing up, everyone experiences loss in someway or another, whether it is a small goldfish or a family member. Though many different types of things can be lost in life, there is one thing that I know for certain everyone loses- their innocence. I believe that when my fish died, a little piece of my innocence died. That was the first time I realized that things actually do die; before that incident, I though that death was just a made up thing used to scare little kids. An experience with loss, while growing up, I believe is a very important experience to have.

Prompt: Important epiphanies/realizations

We have just read "The Fury of Overshoes" by Anne Sexton. The poem is narrated by a person who appears to be looking back on their childhood, and remembering little things. After reading it, it really  got me thinking about how children feel about adulthood, and how adults feel about childhood.
  As a kid, I always wished I was big. I always admired the fact that grown ups got to make decisions on their own, without their parents looking over them. They got to live in their own houses, and make money, and have jobs (which as a kid, always seemed to be so much easier than school.) Now that I'm older, I wish exactly the opposite of what I did as a kid. I would do anything to be carefree again, and to have my parents make my choices; sometimes I think I'm not ready to make choices on my own. Soon I will have to deal with real problems, problems greater than "she stole my favorite pencil." Now that I'm getting close to be able to make choices on my own, suddenly I don't want to anymore.
  This makes me realize that growing up, we always want things we can't have. I have always known this, but only now do I start seeing that it applies to things greater than just toys. It applies to life, especially certain points in it. As a kid, I wanted to be big. As a teen, I want to be young again. There is no doubt in me that when I'm an adult, I'll wish to be a teenager.
  This realization has lead me to a decision. Instead of wishing I could be somewhere else in my life, I should enjoy everything I am now, and everything I have now. Wishing for pointless things will only lead to more wasted time, and more regrets in the future.
Anne Sexton's poem gave me a whole new perspective on life, and got me realize that the only time that matters now is the present.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"My Papa's Waltz" Response (final draft)

I read “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke in class for the first time a few weeks ago, and almost immediately I liked it. Though I enjoyed many aspects of the poem, the thing I liked the most, and found the most interesting about the poem was how the poem appears to have different meanings. Some people in my class when we first read it believed that it was about a boy being abused by his drunk father. Others, like myself, interpreted the poem as simply a narrative about a young boy waltzing and playing with his dad. The main reason I believe this is: the father could possibly not have been drunk in the first place.
My group and I believed that the father in the poem may not have been drunk. The majority of my class said that he was, and I can sort of understand why. After all, the first two lines of the poem are:The whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy…” Many people immediately thought that this line meant that the father was drunk. I did too, but after thinking about it for a while, I realized that though it is still a possibility that the father is drunk, he may not be. No where in the poem does it state how drunk he is. He could possibly just have been drinking a little, not enough to actually be drunk.
      The second line states that it is enough whiskey to make a small boy dizzy. The boy is most likely standing very close to his father since they are waltzing, so it’s not like he can smell the whiskey from far away. Also,  the amount of whiskey, or just alcohol in general that it takes a little kid to feel dizzy is not a lot at all. I remember when I was really young feeling dizzy standing near my dad if he had drunk maybe a glass or less of alcohol. Just because a little kid feels dizzy standing right next to his or her parent who had been drinking, it doesn’t mean the parent is necessarily intoxicated.
       In the second stanza, there is this line:We romped until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf…”
A lot of my classmates again presented this as evidence the father was drunk. I saw it a different way. I think that just because the dad is knocking things down while dancing doesn’t mean he is drunk; it is quite possible that the father is just clumsy, or maybe a bad dancer. 
      This is a line in the third stanza: “…every step you missed, my right ear scraped a buckle.”
Again, many classmates thought that in this line, the little boy was getting hit by his dad. The boy is most likely very small, likely not taller than his dad’s waist. Maybe, since they are dancing, his ear is just scraping against his dad’s belt buckle.
There is no evidence in "My Papa's Waltz" that the father is intoxicated and beating his son. Then again, there is never a wrong way to interpret a poem. Most poems are written as mysteries: authors want you to have several different perspectives of the poem. Though I have my opinions about the meaning of "My Papa's Waltz", I can see the other side of the argument in some ways, and I understand that there are many more ways to see the poem.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Shakespeare Extra Credit

I had a very hard time trying to think of something good to write about. I read about four detailed articles about Shakespeare's life. While reading, I found myself focusing on specific parts of Shakespeare's life: his childhood and his missing years. I tried to connect the two together while reading; I wondered if maybe it was something that happened in his childhood that caused him to disappear for over seven years, and also if either of those could have been what inspired him to write. After doing research on specifically those two parts in Shakespeare's life, I ended up with answers, but even more questions.
William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564.  His father was a leather merchant, his mother was a local land heiress. They were both well respected.  Shakespeare attended a grammar school in Stratford, where the majority of his lessons learned there involved Latin: everything from Latin authors to writing Latin-like stories and compositions. When Shakespeare was 18, he married Anne Hathaway, who soon after gave birth to three children.  The little information known about his childhood makes his childhood appear to good; he got at least some part of an education, his parents were respected, he grew up, got married, and had a family.
Not long after his children were born, 21 year old Shakespeare disappeared, then reappeared in London seven years later. No one was exactly sure where he went, or what he was doing in that time, though some people say (and I completely agree) that perhaps he was seeking out adventure. He was still basically a kid when he got married (18 years old.) He had most likely not even been out of his hometown yet. It is likely that Shakespeare, one of the greatest writers of all time, was scared that he would be stuck in Stratford with his family forever.
In 1616, a man named Richard Davies offered a theory of where Shakespeare was in the seven years he was missing. He claims that Shakespeare hunted for animals like rabbits and deer on property that belonged to Thomas Lucy. It is rumor that Lucy, after many times of catching Shakespeare on his property, grew angry and tormented him by having him imprisoned and whipping him. This made me think that maybe some of Shakespeare's work/story ideas came from all of those days he was being tormented. Maybe some of his tragedies were based off of the long days he spent in prison. This lead me to another idea: Shakespeare wrote hundreds of sonnets, and many stories too. Maybe some of them are based off of the experiences Shakespeare had in his missing years. Maybe his inspiration to write came from the adventures young Shakespeare look for, and most likely found. Though the story Davies told is most likely false, these theories about his inspiration are very possibly true.
Today, many centuries later, people still try to uncover mysteries about William Shakespeare and his life. Learning about Shakespeare's life really made me think about his writing in a very different way.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Revised Response: My Papa's Waltz, draft 1

"My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke is a great poem. In class, we discussed what the poem could be about, and we concluded that "My Papa's Waltz" has more than one meaning. Many people in my class assumed that the poem was about a drunk father beating up or being to rough with his small song. I believed that this poem is about just what it appears to be about on the outside: a son waltzing with his dad. During the debate, I was in a group that was neutral. Even though we were supposed to be able to see both sides of the poem, we all agreed that the poem was not about a boy being beaten by his dad. Our first point was that the father may not have been drunk, he could have just drunken a little. And yes, in the poem it does say "the whiskey on your breath can make a small boy dizzy," but it is not like it takes  a whole lot of alcohol in the air to make a young boy feel dizzy, just a little bit would be enough. In the second stanza, the speaker of the poem talks about how "they romped until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf." Again, my group thought that this does not mean he was drunk; it is possible that the father is just clumsy, or maybe a bad dancer. In the next stanza, there is a line that says: "...every step you missed my right ear scraped a buckle." The majority of the class thought that in this line, the father is actually hitting the son. Though this is possible, I think that since the boy is small, and might not be taller than his father (who he is dancing with)'s waist, the line may just mean that since his dad is clumsy and missing steps, his ear scrapes against his dad's buckle.
 Though I have my opinions, I can see the other side of the argument. This poem may be about a kid getting beat up by his dad. If this is true, I think that it is possible the child doesn't even know he is being abused. He, after all, is very young, so it is possible that he is not aware of what is father is doing; thus adding a third possible meaning to "My Papa's Waltz."
  This poem could be a metaphor for getting beat up by a drunk father, a poem from the point of view of a little kid who is un aware he is getting abused, or a poem simply about a son waltzing and playing around the house with his dad. It could be other things too, it all depends on how you read it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Response to Angela's Ashes

Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish catholic Childhood.
When I first read this line from "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt, I paused to think about my childhood. I had never had thought that my childhood was miserable. Not perfect, but not miserable. I didn't believe that any childhood could really genuinely be miserable. That is, until I read "Angela's Ashes."
Angela's Ashes is a memoir about Frank McCourt's childhood in Limerick, Ireland. There, he dealt with starvation, illness, deaths of siblings, a drunk father, a difficult school, taunting classmates, and terrible conditions, but he still manages to tell the story of it in such an amusing, lively way. I did not understand how someone who had been through a childhood so horrible could be so happy about it. While I was thinking about this, my brother asked me a question:
"Why do bad things happen to good people?"
I wasn't exactly sure how to answer that question at first. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that if everything was always perfect, we wouldn't have any reason to become better people. After considering that some more, I thought again about my childhood. Every childhood is miserable, maybe just not as miserable as Frank McCourt's. To quote Angela's Ashes once again:
"The happy childhood is hardly worth your while."
When Frank McCourt grew up and came back to New York (where he was born), he was able to appreciate how much he had in life all the more after going through such tough times. He could finally  appreciate all of the little things he had gained since his experiences in Limerick. In some ways, misery really does makes people better. Without misery, there would be nothing to appreciate about life.
Angela's Ashes is one of my favorite books. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Three Good Blogs

It is hard to say much about such good blogs.
The first blog I'm going to mention is Sammie Jo's. All of her responses are very detailed, long, and intriguing. She talks about all aspects of what she respond's to. Her responses are very well written, and make the reader think more deeply.
The second is Emma's. Like Sammie Jo, her responses are very meaningful and deep. She points out that somethings like the poem "Starry Starry Night" by Anne Sexton could have double meaning. She real digs deep into the meaning of the text.
The third blog is Fatima's. She, like the two before, clearly thinks very deeply about the text when writing responses. Her posts express opinions of her own, and also explore other ways people could view the texts she reviews.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Response to "My Papa's Waltz"

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mothers countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scrapped a buckle.

You beat time on my head,
With a palm caked hard with dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

Response: Today in class, we debated over whether or not this poem was about a father abusing his child. My group was neutral, and really, I think this poem could be about an abusive dad, or just a drunk father waltzing and having a good time with his son. We know the father has been drinking in the poem, but it is debatable whether or not he is actually drunk. Some people in my group think that "waltzing" could represent the father stumbling around and possibly harming his kid. Others thought that when waltzing is stated in the poem, it just means waltzing. Again, it could be either, but it does seem like the speaker of the poem (the child) is having fun. If he was getting harmed, the poem would possibly be more grim, and the child would most likely be trying to avoid his dad.  Personally, I think that this poem is just about a drunk dad dancing and playing with his son. This poem could be just that, or it could have deeper meaning. I think that this poem was possibly written to have two meanings. As for which one is right, it just depends on how you read it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Narrative Poem With Rhyming Scheme

I ran
I shouted
the sky was dark black
my brother was missing
I couldn't go back.

People sat excited,
 food being shared,
while I remained searching,
saddened and scared.

At last (BAM), the sky lit up bright
people cheered, and I cheered
for I could see through the night.

I began to run faster
"I'll find him!" I said,
and of course, there I saw him,
his four year old head.

I called to my family,
we rejoiced with glee
as he turned and smiled,
 looking at me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

An Incident Poem

I remember the sun,
shining bright in my eyes,
the heat sticking close
to my skin
the feeling of freedom
so great inside me
I truly felt like a good kid.

I rode on a bike,
so proud and free,
for it was the first time
I remember
Everything was new
everything a first
I wished I could be there forever.

I heard a call to start coming home
and turned around with my friend
Though I wished not, I really wished not,
the fun was ready to end.

Now my friend rode her bike
slow and uncertain,
while I rode proudly and free
Feeling quite lucky and smart, I did,
I decided to ride around she.

I turned onto the grass
and fell right on over, bringing
my bike right down too
There was a crash and a crack,
I lay on the grass,
stunned and unable to move.

My arm was broken,
and my chance of bike rides,
all because of my young thoughts and pride.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Response to "Incident"

Incident, by Countee Cullen

Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
and he was no whit bigger,
and so I smiled, but he poked out
his tongue and called me, "nigger."

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December,
of all the things that happened there
That's all I remember.

I found this poem very interesting.
I noticed that the poem does not express very much emotion or mood, which I think may have to do with the character being eight years old. At the beginning of the poem, the character seems very happy and innocent. As we talked about in class, he is young, and life for him probably is easy and carefree. In the next stanza he encounters a little boy about the same age as him, and is friendly toward him. The boy responds by calling him something. In this moment, it seems like the character is sort of hit by reality. This is his first encounter with the real world, not the world that might be seen through a child's eyes. The fact that there is not much mood expressed by the character in the poem makes me think that maybe he was feeling confused. He was pulled out of childhood into a position which he may have not understood completely. It is also possible that the boy who the character encountered was confused too. They were both young, and he may have just been saying it because he had heard other people say it, and he thought it was alright.
This poem is on a very serious issue, but is written in a way that does not seem very serious. The poem has rhyme and rhythm, which add a childish factor into the poem. I think that if this poem had been from the point of view of an older person, maybe an adult, there would not be rhyme and rhythm, and the poem would be more serious and emotional.
This poem was written in the 60's.

Poem about Committee 2000

Swimming swimming around my head and on the page.
Lining up, marching into battle.
I see them dance across the paper
in such unison, such beauty
yet at the same time
contrasting, fighting for what seems right.
This is a war.
A strangely elegant war between color and shape.
They clash and collide
until battle ends.
Neither one a winner.
All that remains are scattered troops
in an artistic confusion

Monday, January 10, 2011

Art Response

Andy Warhol, Committee 2000
I saw this picture for the first time today and immediately liked it. I was not really sure what it was a picture of, though I had a few guesses, and I still don't really know.
I really like the contrast between shapes and colors in the painting. When I look at it, I feel like I'm looking at the remains of a battle between shapes and colors. I also like the fact that I don't know what it is a painting of. You don't need to know what it is a picture of to know that it is modernly beautiful. In my opinion, growing up is confusion. Growing up, we don't know what we will be like later in life, or who we are. Confusion is beautiful. Life is full it, confusion is what makes life more real.
This painting is now one of my favorite paintings.