It was nice to jump back into seminar after a week off from classes.  This session was very enjoyable since the class had plenty of engaging discussions.  However, even though the discussions were a blast, my favorite part was rereading my poem to the class.

At first I felt uneasy about my second reading, I thought that it was not the way it was supposed to be read.  The recording of Langston Hughes on Youtube had been in a very slow and mellow tone.  I realized after the session that my personality and the way I read Night Funeral in Harlem the first time did not flow in harmony.  Instead, presenting the poem with a sarcastic tone was a much better performance.

As a matter of fact, Langston Hughes was known as a comical man.  Imagining Hughes read the poem in a manner such as mine would not be too farfetched in my opinion.  Perhaps Hughes was at a very old age when the recording was made, which would justify his slow and smooth reading.

Even though I initially felt uneasy with my second reading of the poem, it was still a good time.  In all honesty, I think of myself as a great presenter. I was in a presentation team for a business program in my senior year of high school and I did pretty well.  The program had multiple competitions in which the presenters had to present lengthy business plans and sit through grueling Q & A sessions.  The reason I did so well was due to the fact that I presented with my natural personality; I did not try to mimic someone else as I did with Langston Hughes.

Hopefully, we will have more presentations in the future.  Presentations are vastly more enjoyable than a meer essay.


Today, we began our poetry performances. I enjoyed all the different poems that were read today. Austin started us off with To Brooklyn Bridge by Hart Crane. I thought the sounds of this poem were very soothing. “Out of some subway scuttle…”, “…Accolade thou dost bestow”, and “…prophet’s pledge” were some of the things that stood out to me. I also liked how the poem used a lot of older modern English words such as thou, thy, and thee which I think added to the Biblical feel of the poem which I felt while the poem was being read.

I also enjoyed Night Funeral in Harlem by Langston Hughes. It reminded me of how some preachers dictate their sermons. The speaker of the poem asked a question that was follow by an answer. Looking at the structure of the poem, I can see how much it resembles a song. I think the structure of a poem is very important as it affects the way the poem is read. If this poem was one whole big stanza, I feel it would lose how it feels like a song. After Ariana read Love and Marilyn Monroe (after Spillane) by Delmore Schwartz, I thought the poem was a big joke making fun of how Marilyn Monroe tried to be taken seriously. After the poem was read a second time, I realized it wasn’t a big joke and the speaker was on Monroe’s side.

The poem Ariana read made me realize that sometimes poems need to be read more than once to grasp the meaning. Understanding the poem when someone is reading it can be quite difficult. Now, that I’m looking at the poem myself, I can analyze certain parts more in depth rather than trying to catch everything that was being said at the time. It’s not that easy trying to think about what the person reading the poem has just said and listen to what they’re saying in the moment. For the next presentations, I’m going to try to listen without thinking too much into things. When the person is finished I will begin to analyze the poem.

– Amber G.

Stephanie Solanki, 11/5/12

Today in Seminar Class, we had poetry recitals. I have always loved poetry, and I have always loved hearing different interpretations of poetry. For me, poetry is like music. It has a rhythm and a beat, and the experience of hearing poetry is like listening to a concert for me. A person can express one poem in many different ways. It was nice to hear my classmates express themselves or different sides of themselves through their poetry.

I really liked the poems that were given to each person. It seemed as if the poem was meant for the person who performed it. Everyone shined through their poetry. Each poem emphasized certain personality qualities in the performer. I was able to “hear” the personality traits of the speaker through the performances. This was because of voice intonation, hand gestures, emphasis of words, and rhythm and beat choices.

We had a class discussion about zeitgeist and social perceptions on women. Years ago, Marilyn Monroe was considered promiscuous because she was comfortable in her body and flaunted it. In this era, we would not think that a beautiful women is a promiscuous. It is not a correlation that occurs to us. This then led to the discussion of power between the people and notorious celebrities. In my opinion, the people give celebrities their power through attention and gossip. Celebrities need attention to stay in the spotlight, and so they rely on the people to keep them there. I liked having a full class discussion and hearing the opinions of others. I think we should do that more often.

I cannot wait to perform on Wednesday, although I have touch acts to follow. My classmates did great jobs, and I hope that I will too.

Poetry Recitations: 11/5

Let me begin by saying I really enjoyed Monday’s seminar class.  We began poetry recitations and while poetry is not my favorite topic, I do enjoy hearing poetry being read and hearing other people’s interpretations of poetry.  I love how one poem can mean several different things to different people, and how there is not one concrete answer about a poem’s meaning, because a poem speaks differently to each individual person. 

There were two aspects of Monday’s class that both surprised me and resonated with me.  First, after reading my own two poems, “Lament” and “Recuerdo,” by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Dr. Kahan pointed out that sometimes, a poet’s personality and the way they write are at odds with each other.  Millay was known to be a very flamboyant person around other people and in society, and yet, the poems I read seemed to be very conservative, simple, and moderate.  I had never given much thought to the idea that personality and writing style can be so contrasting for one person.  I personally liked the idea of having two different sides: one everyone sees and one that is more private and hidden, just for that own person to express his or her feelings or ideas.

The second class discussion that particularly interested me was the discussion that began with Marilyn Monroe and ended with the idea that the way people are portrayed is not necessarily true, nor is it “their own fault.”  Everybody knows Marilyn Monroe as a promiscuous, provocative, showy actress, singer, and model from the 1940’s and 1950’s.  However, as we discussed in class, how can we know that this description was who she really was?  What right do we have to judge her and label her?  Some people might argue that she wanted the attention and knowingly made a name for herself.  But in reality, what we know of Marilyn Monroe is a result of the media and other people’s ideas about who she was.  Sure, she is and was known to the American people as one of the most well-known sex symbols in contemporary culture, and that was no doubt, a result of the time period when she was popular; but there was so much more to her than we could ever know.  We tend to label people based on what we see and the gossip we want to start; the catch is that the gossip we start and the labels we attach usually only refer to one aspect of the person’s personality.  They most likely have much more substance than we give them credit for. 

I look forward to hearing the other poems in the class and seeing the kinds of discussion they lead to.  These discussions not only interest me, but help me develop a more open mind about the world around me.

11/5/12 Ariana Z. (Poem Recitals)

Todays seminar consisted of our first round of poetry recitations. While listening to my fellow classmate’s poems, I was amazed to hear how different they really are. From homosexuality to coping with death, these poems had a plethora of meanings. I was shocked to find out that the poem I recited, “Love and Marilyn Monroe (after Spillane)” by Delmore Shwartz, happened to be the most talked about poem.

Ultimately, the class got into a discussion of how Marilyn Monroe, though known for her provocative image, was not actually promiscuous. The class seemed to conclude that Marilyn Monroe was more than simply a sex symbol. This is what I stated to be personified by the poem. The poem focused on the woman behind this overly sexual character. Professor Kahan stated that even though Marilyn Monroe had this image of a sinner (by the fifties standards) she did in fact try to live a “normal” life. Attempting to have children during both of her marriages.

When discussing this poem, I thought about how celebrities use certain characteristics to create their signature style. For example, who is Lady Gaga with out her outlandish outfits? And where would Katy Perry be had she not expressed her feelings about kissing a girl? These otherwise taboo forms of dress and behavior would probably label these women as “sinners.” In my opinion, these women are not truly these characters they portray. Instead, I think that they are brilliant business women. How? Simply for taking advantage of the human interest in all things that are not the norm.

11/5/12 – Poem Recitals

Today’s seminar class was definitely interesting and unique. Prior to class, each student was assigned one or two poems that had to be researched and recited in front of the class. Also, we were to give brief details we found interesting about the particular poet or poets that Professor Kahan assigned.

However, towards the end of class, the class got a little sidetracked and we began discussing the influence of the media on women and how the audience portrays them. For example, Marilyn Monroe was looked upon as a sex symbol because of the various things she had done during her life. This falls hand and hand with our discussion because, people during this time perceived Marilyn, as a very provocative and promiscuous woman, simply because the media and other forms of news reported her in this way. It’s very rare for people even in today’s world, to produce an opinion solely based on what they feel. This relates closely to the presidential election. For example, there are many news channels and radio stations that are either Pro Democratic or Pro Republican, and if one listens to these networks on a constant basis, their outlooks and views are greatly affected. This idea was one of the topics discussed in today’s class, leading me to question if I fall into this category, or if I base my judgments on what I personally feel, despite what the media and my family tells me.

But, I must touch on the fact that even though I didn’t recite my poem yet, I get the feeling that speaking in front of the class is easier said than done. Many of my classmates, had a difficult time expressing their opinion and speaking clearly, which is a very common problem during public speaking. Thankfully, Professor Kahan was able to clarify any loose ends within the poems, enabling me to get a better understanding of what the poet is trying to portray. Hopefully, when I present my poem on Wednesday, I won’t be corrected too much, but I take all corrections I receive in a positive way and try to use them to better myself.