This poem doesn't have a title at the top of the page like most poetry books. But rather a line at the end that is the identifying line but also fits into the poem itself. This poem is in Amanda Lovelace's book called "the witch doesn't burn in this one". The entire book is about the struggles of being a female; the challenges, the hardships. It opens up the conversation about men underestimating women, sexual assault, sexism.
The first time I read this poem I felt empowered, I felt gratitude. Reading the lines:
"& every woman who walked these fields before me & made the path soft enough for me to walk though to get to the side they could never reach"
Is a "shoutout" to every single women that has helped to move women equality one step further. It is a shoutout to the women who never saw what they did matter. It is a shoutout to every women who fought for gender equality and helped to set a path for so many more women to succeed. The started the foundation for equality and others built upon it. The fields are for the women who first entered the workforce, the women who fought for voting equality, for the women who were the first women to be such and such. They made it so many other women could go on to fill the roles of jobs that were "manly" or specific to men. They broke the glass ceilings for someone else to break another one.
The last line, which I also used as the title, says
"but i owe some things to myself, too."
This line is very important. Every women has to take their own steps in making change. Her success is not only because of other people who made it easier for her to get there. Her success is also because of her determination and hard work.
Another thing that adds meaning is the use of all lower case letters. Not once in the poem is the letter "i" capitalized. I believe it is used lower case, and every other letter in the poem, to symbolize gender equality. That no other letter (person) is more significant than the other and all should be used the same way.
Line 9 is a single symbol. Is it the "&" which means and. I believe this is a symbol for linking. The lines before it say:
"who walked these fields before me"
and the lines,
"made the path soft enough for me to walk through to get to the side they could never reach"
Line 9 is a linking line, just like the "woman who walked these fields before me" were a link to future successes of women.
The poem "How to Fight" is in the picture above. I chose to upload a picture instead of a link because I could not find the poem set up like this anywhere else. The first thing I noticed about this poem was the way the stanza's are staggered and on opposing ends of the page, it gives the effect of a "fight" I believe. Each stanza is like it's own thought, but it is also continuous from the previous thought, adding more on to the "argument" before it. Smith starts his poem out with a personal connection talking spelling bees.
"My favorite part of class was always the spelling bee."
Smith uses personification frequently throughout the poem to give his messages, he personifies words. He first gives the words physical meaning when he says in line 4
"...slip on syllables..."
He continues with this trend in the third and fourth stanza's saying lines such as:
"words were the only way I ever knew how to fight"
"Spelling bees were a battleground were teachers trained be to wield a language as a tool & fist & weapon..."
In the second stanza Smith talks about how he used to "use my fingers to trace an outline in the air of words Mrs. Roberts read from her blue dictionary" and in the fourth stanza he says "...yarning to those who would rather make an outline out of me"
By including the teacher holding a dictionary, he is saying these words he only knew how to spell, had meaning. He was merely spelling them out, trying to "trace an outline" of them for his teacher, without knowing their true meaning, only what he needed them for. This means that his final phrase "... yarning to those who would rather make an outline out of me"
is about racism he has faced in his life. People trying to "trace an outline in the air" of who he is based off racism. This poem talks about how Clint Smith learned how to use his words to clearly express his emotions and fight against: the single story, systematic racism, oppression, social problems, he and others face. He learns how to speak out against these things on paper, with great affect because as he says in stanza 3
"...we were told they could hurt people..."
Spelling bees taught him to use his words, which is why this poem is so powerful and meaningful. He talks about this false outline he is being put into and shows us how he was taught to fight against it.
I chose this poem by Jennifer Franklin because when I read it, I instantly felt what the author was trying to say. The author is trying to convey that the first person you fall in love with is in every person you fall in love with after. Each person we love is in the next person we love. Franklin says in the first sentence:
“The boy beside me
is not you but he
is familiar in all
the important ways.”
We have some sort of list in our minds for who we fall in love with I believe. Despite when we seem to think "Oh such and such is so much different than the last person I dated" are they really that different? They might be different in the way that they don't have the qualities you disliked in the last person, but they have the same qualities you loved in them. Franklin goes through life knowing she is finding the same person repeatedly. She poses a question at the end of the third stanza into the fourth:
afflicted by my kindness, they leave
me with my music.”
I think the break in between “they leave” and “me with my music” helps to relay two meanings:
-that every person she is falling in love with keeps leaving.
-the phrase “me with my music” makes me believe they are leaving her in the same part of her life, continuing the same way she has always lived, and it doesn’t affect her as much as the time before maybe.
By using the word surrogate it also enforces that every person is just another version of her first love, the first guy she keeps trying to replace and just keeps falling in love with over and over again. Which she admits to in the poem by saying:
“I pass through life
finding you over
and over again—"
Her final sentence in the poem hit me in the heart in a way, because I felt the honesty in her words. Its like she is addressing every person she has and will fall in love with in her lifetime.
“I loved you before
I ever loved you.”
She knows the same person she originally fell in love with is in the person she falls in love with next. That sentence is a beautiful way to end the poem and to make sure the reader understands the meaning of her poem.
I've chosen to write about "what the ocean said to the black boy" because when we broke off into groups in class this was the poem we were assigned, but also it really is a deep poem. There is np capitalization in the poem which gives the sense of almost like Smith is speaking quietly to you individually. The entire poem is about the suppression of black people in our society. I make this inference because of the stanza
"a little too much I'ouverture in you
a little too much turner
a little too much of what they already had enough of"
and the line
"you just a drop of ink"
l'ouverture and Turner are the last names of two men who lead two great slave rebellions. This is part of what leads me to believe this piece is about the suppression of black people. I believe the "ocean" Smith is speaking of in the poem is our society. Which is why the line:
"you know how many of ya'll I swallowed"
is so deep. It means that society has ignored African Americans for so long, just pushed them under the "surface" and that we have completely "drowned" them out.
"I know you can float
felt you bobbing along my surface
before you even knew you could"
Society knew/knows that they were/are suppressing a whole race of people but continues to ignore it. You can only silence someone by ignoring them, "drowning" them out. Smith ends the poem with such a powerful message, completely calling out society on their ways.
"they call me blue because
they don't understand how the sky work
they call you black because
they don't understand how god work"
1.) I am a twin.