Last year, in my senior year of high school, I took a college level English class.  I loved this class, my teacher had so much interesting insight over everything in the curriculum.  In fact,  even though I paid five hundred dollars and none of the credits of the class was transferred over to Macaulay, I never resented taking the class.  What really made the class memorable was the study of Transcendentalism.  The beginning of the class led up to the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau and the topics for the rest of the year revolved around their ideas.

The sole reason I am bringing this up is because Stephanie’s poem was favored by Emerson, who is one of my favorite people of all time.  Over the past couple of days, I was trying to establish a connection between her poem, “The New Colossus,” and Transcendentalism.  After a little bit of research, I found out that Emma Lazarus, the poet, considered Emerson as her mentor.  Clearly, Emerson influenced Lazarus’s works and I wanted to find traces of Emerson in the poem.

Reading the poem, it was clear that Lazarus was a follower of Transcendentalism.  My favorite aspect of Transcendentalism is the idea of how traditional societies trump a person’s sense free thought.  I think the Lazarus pictured America as a place where society does not oppose free thought, “Give me your…Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”  However, I may be wrong because Emerson wrote about how American society does the opposite. One day, may be for a future English class, I will invest a great deal of time to search up legitimate, research based, relations between the two.

Stephanie Solanki, 11/19/12

On Monday, in class I performed my poem “The New Collusus.” I was very nervous to go up because I thought that I would mess up the words once I got there. For all of my life, I’ve never been afraid of performing in front of people. However, my performances have been musical, and not dramatic like this performance. I took Dr. Kahan’s advice, and just pretended that I was somebody else. After performing, I found that the hardest part is actually getting up there. While performing, my main focus was performing the poem well. I wanted to make sure that the listeners would feel the same emotions that Emma Lazurus would have been feeling when she wrote the poem. I changed the volume of my voice at different parts and fluctuated it. I emphasized different words to draw attention to it. My reason for not following the rhyme scheme is to make the poem very epic and bold in nature. I was trying to make America sound like the glorious and welcoming country that it is. This poem was perfect for me because it applies directly to my life. I wouldn’t be where I am if the perception of America was different from how it’s described in this poem. I’m really glad that I got the chance to perform it.

November 19, 2012

Today was the last day of poetry presentations. Last but not least, Stephanie presented The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus. This poem did a great job of summing up all of the poetry from the past 6 classes. The New Colossus is a poem detailing The Statue of Liberty and what she stands for. This glorious statue was the first thing that immigrants saw coming into to the harbor. It represents what America and the people living here are all about; freedom, liberty and justice for all.

Now that we are done with poetry, we will be starting a cinematic portion of the course. When people watch a movie or a television show, they generally pay attention to the plot, the actors and maybe the scenery. Most people don’t realize the time and effort that goes into producing a simple 10 minute telecast, let alone a multimillion dollar movie. Since my freshman year at Farrell, I was involved in their television studio. I worked my way up the ranks, from a low level video editor to studio manager my senior year. As studio manager, I was in charge of working with the on air personalities to produce a well-executed telecast, lasting anywhere between 10 to 90 minutes. My job also included coordinating lighting, camera shots, various sets, video graphics and audio.

Professor Kahan showed us a clip of the 1950 film “All About Eve” starring Betty Davis. Since the film was filmed in the ‘50s, the filmmakers did not have the privileges that modern day producers and directors have. Editing did not involve hitting two keys on a keyboard and clicking save, but instead required manually splicing pieces of film together on a reel. Therefore, they had to rely on a technique we call today “shoot to edit.” This technique involved filming each scene relatively perfectly, only breaking scene at the end. In addition, only one camera was used to shoot. Very rarely did the angle change. The camera followed the main character throughout the scene.

Fast forward about 60 years to 2007. In 2007, the “Bourne Ultimatum,” the last film I consider in the Bourne Trilogy, made its debut.  In one particular scene, Matt Damon has a physical altercation with another agent, and there is a rapid change in camera angles and shots. This is all done on purpose. The rapid change in camera angles is used to keep the audience on edge. In addition to giving multiple views and vantage points of the same action scene, the fast pace makes the audience feel like they are actually there witnessing the event at full speed. In contrast, there was little change in angle or real movement of the camera period in “All About Eve,” giving it this quiet, formal, somewhat serious setting.

Finally, you can’t forget the importance of background music. If there is no music, there is no movie. In “All about Eve,” there was little background music until the climax of the scene, when party music started building. The same holds true in the Bourne movie. As we approach an action scene, the music becomes more dramatic and faster, subconsciously signaling the audience of the impending action. I really look forward to seeing the movies that Professor Kahan has in store for us, exploring a little bit deeper into the world of cinematography.

Final Day of Poem Performances – 11/20/12

Sadly, yesterday’s seminar class marked the last day of the poem presentations. I can honestly say, that by experiencing it as a class, I witnessed a side of my classmates; I never knew had existed before. Each of my friends have their strengths and weaknesses, and for some, public speaking wasn’t their forte. Each poem that was assigned, I think represented the person who read in some way or another.

I found it interesting how, Professor Kahan made Stephanie go last because her poem, I believe was the only one with a vivid and well-defined ending. Her poem was entitled, The New Colossus, and I personally think it summed up the ideals and beliefs all Americans embody. More importantly, the passion and enthusiasm it was spoken in, enabled me, as part of the audience, to get a much better feeling and understanding, behind what the author was trying to convey.

Each poem presented throughout the two weeks, touched me in a different way. However, ironically enough, they all described New York. I believe that this speaks quite highly of NYC, because it was analyzed and deciphered by different authors in completely different ways, but in the end, it all drew back to one common universal belief of New York. This feeling I got, mostly came from how well and effectively it was presented. Ultimately, if a poem that seems meaningless and prosaic is performed in a loud and enthusiastic manner, it will be absorbed much easier, and therefore I will understand it a lot better.

When Corinna presented her two poems, I couldn’t help but laugh, not at her of course, because I was in the same boat last week. We were both nervous and scared, but ultimately, we got through it and destroyed the barriers that once impeded our progression. By repeating your poem over again, the fears and worries disappear and you become one with the poem. I thought it would be a bad thing to have to redo my poem again and again, but it actually helped me understand it better as well perform it more artistically. Public speaking comes more natural for others, but the more that it is practiced, the better off you will be. This art is related to comfort levels because the more the person is comfortable speaking in front of a large group of people, the better and more informative their presentation will be.

Moving forward, we will be learning about cinema and having a guest speaker inform us about the world of movies and all it entails. Obviously, I am looking forward to watching movies in class, but I have to say, by doing these poetry assignments, I have a new liking for some poetry.

Final Poem Recitations: 11/19/12

Yesterday’s Seminar class really seemed to sum up the entire experience of reciting poetry.  The fears and questions we have all been grappling with over the past 2 weeks while reciting our poems were all laid to rest as the class discussed what it is like to have to get up and recite poetry in front of an audience.  When reciting poetry, the speaker has to step out of his or her comfort zone and become somebody else for the next 5 minutes.  The speaker has to take on a different personality, possibly one that is the very opposite of their own.  In addition, the speaker learns to read and say things differently, depending on tone, punctuation, and meaning.  What I’ve noticed during these poetry recitations is that each poem has a unique style and is meant to be read with different emphasis and tone.  I had never given this much thought before, but watching my classmates perform their poems and performing my own, coupled with Professor Kahan’s advice to each of us on how to make our poems more meaningful, made me see that each poem is like a person.  When I say “person”, I don’t mean that the poem takes on the personality of the poet; I mean that each poem has its own characteristics, its own interesting qualities, which contribute to the meaning and significance of the poem.  It’s interesting to think about.

As for yesterday’s poems, I really enjoyed listening to The New Colossus.  Stephanie read it with such fervor, she really made the message of the poem stand out.  To me, it seemed to take everything that America stands for and put it into words.  I think it was a very strong and powerful poem and it made me proud to be an American and also a New Yorker.

In looking back on all of these poems, I like how each poet was from New York and how each poem described a particular quality of New York in a different way.  It brought out the point that each person has their own opinion, their own point of view of the city.  It was also interesting to see how some poets took a minute quality, a small characteristic that people may or may not notice everyday and wrote an entire poem about it, shaping it, interpreting it in their own way, and thereby adding their own opinion of something that makes New York, New York.  I think that this was an interesting experience for all of us.  Not only did we have to confront the fear that most of us have of public speaking, but whether we were reading our own poems or listening to those of our classmates, we were hearing the words of New Yorkers who had come before us.  We are all New Yorkers and have our own opinions of the city already.  But listening to other people’s opinions may have allowed us to see different sides of New York, maybe ones that never would have crossed our minds otherwise.

Final Poetry Recitations 11/19 Ariana Z.

Today’s seminar marked the end of our poetry journey. Swathi was first up to finish off the poetry recitations. After reading her poem, Union Square, Professor Kahan asked the class if the reader truly needed to present the poem in a “sing-song” way. After thinking it over, I see that the answer to that question, is no. However, if I was given Swathi’s poem I would have probably read the poem the same way. I imagine that this is due to the many nursery rhymes I have heard since infancy. This is why I think that Swathi read it in a “sing-songy” way. It seems to become natural for our generation to turn things we read into a song. With that said, I have come to the conclusion that a poem’s message, or meaning, is easier to comprehend (at least when listening to it) when there is not a song involved. In the presence of a rhyme scheme, I seem to be taken away by the rhythm of the poem. I become captivated by the author’s word choice and their challenge to make the poem rhyme, rather than focusing on the idea he/she is trying to portray.

Corinna also went today; her poem White Egrets, really appealed to me. Besides the relatable meaning, I loved the analogies the poet used. The first was comparing his typewriter being misplaced as a musician missing his piano. The comparison was so perfect for the way a poet feels about his artistic instrument. The line that states the poet is waiting for the sound of a bird to “unhinge” the beginning of spring also stood out to me. Using something like a bird rather then a clock or a calendar to signal spring is similar to what I feel about the movie “Home Alone” and the holiday season. As soon as I see a commercial for this movie, I feel the traditions of the holidays come to life. However, if that movie (for some odd reason) is being played during the month of May my internal clock seems to be caught off guard. My assumption though, is that the poet was using this bird to represent how much time had passed since his loss.

Looking back on the poems that my fellow classmates and I have presented I see how they personify what New York City represents. In my opinion, it shows that New Yorkers have an open mind about so many aspects of life. This is evident in the multitude of topics that made up our presentations, one day consisted of discussions of Marilyn Monroe and homosexuality while the next was “people watching” on a bus and learning the “Engrish” language. With so many cultures and personalities that make up this city, I should have realized how different these poems would be at the start of our recitations. It is not until now, however, I see that despite these poets inhabiting one region of the world when writing their poems, their topic choices seemed to have no bound.