In Wednesday’s class, we continued our poetry readings. At last, I got up in front of the class and read my poem, “The Weary Blues,” by Langston Hughes. When I first encountered the poem and read it to myself, I really was able to experience the emotions of the poem. I could picture the musician playing his weary blues, playing his piano with incredible passion behind every note. I was able to understand how the pianist felt, and I could even get a mental image of how he looked and acted while playing. “The Old Guitarist” by Picasso immediately came to my mind when thinking about this. I pictured the pianist draped over his piano, making tired, weary swaying motions.
Professor Kahan helped me read the poem how it was meant to be read. Since the poem has 3 different voices that are portrayed, it must be read in 3 separate tones. Langston Hughes speaks his own thoughts as he observes the musician, then also sings lines like “Sweet Blues” and “Oh Blues” to make the poem flow like a blues song. When the musician sings, Hughes inserts the lyrics so that the song is contained in the poem, and the entire poem flows like the song that is being heard by Hughes.
On Wednesday we continued our poetry recitations. I have not found one of these days to be boring. Every presentation has been great, and I feel that watching our classmates perform up front has brought us closer together. I thought James’ performance was awesome. The poem, In-grish, sounded at first like a lot of babble and nonsense. Indeed, some of it was, but it turned out to have more depth than I expected. It was full of jokes and James’ enthusiasm, facial expressions, hand gestures, and rhythm enhanced the experience. The whole poem was written in a sarcastic tone relating to the author’s trouble of never learning his native language, Chinese. The sarcasm and witty humor conveyed that he is not remorseful for only speaking English. However, as stated in the poem, his parents were remorseful.
Rob’s reading of The Weary Blues was another interesting performance. The poem had multiple layers of poetry within itself. The author was listening to a musician sing the blues on the street. The poem felt a little dry the first time it was read, but once Professor Kahan laid down a bluesy melody on the piano, it felt full of life and soul. The music helped Rob and the rest of the class find the rhythm in the words themselves.
Penina’s poem and performance both blew me away. She was given a poem that was written about New York in a very harsh, malevolent tone. The author was very frustrated with New York’s everlasting workforce, which persists through every hour of the night. This leaves no time for peace and quiet, and the author wanted to sleep. Penina definitely practiced the poem beforehand because she read it with an amazing flow and articulation of all the right words and syllables. The accents she used on the violent words included in the poem perfectly conveyed the author’s passionate dislike for NYC’s restlessness.
In class on Wednesday, we continued poetry presentations. I particularly enjoyed James’ and Rob’s performances. When James performed Ing-grish by John Yau, he seemed to have prepared perfectly for it. His timing was impeccable, and he executed it very well. He emphasized all the right parts and gave the poem a breezy feel, which I felt was very appropriate, as it was a rather humorous poem. This isn’t to say, however, that his poem was just a joke. If you really look into it, the poem is about the struggle to learn the English language in a bilingual home. English is a very complicated language, and growing up in a home where the mother tried to get Yau to learn Chinese compounded the issue. He never really did learn Chinese, as he humorously alluded to at the end of the poem, but that didn’t change the fact that English has many odd quirks to it. It must have been a true struggle for him, but the way he wrote his poem shows that he was able to take it all in stride. I think that is truly admirable. He was able to constructively pour his feelings out into a poem and keep it light-hearted at the same time.
Rob did The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes. At first, it wasn’t the greatest presentation, but then Professor Kahan accompanied him with some background music. The music accented the poem very well, allowing Rob to really let the words flow out almost like he was performing a song. He then redid it, without the background music, and yet I was almost able to hear the music as he was speaking. That’s how musical his performance was. I really enjoyed it and found it very interesting how poetry can be so musical, even if there is no music actually playing.
On Wednesday, we continued our poetry presentations. I love how these presentations bring out a side of our classmates that we have not seen so far. It forces us all to be more comfortable around each other. Everyone has done an amazing job on each poem, making me look forward to what else they will do over the course of the next four years.
One of my favorites was James’ performance of Ing-rish. I think his personality meshed well with the witty mood of the poem, forming the perfect combination. Rob’s performance was also pretty interesting. He performed with Dr. Kahan, playing piano on the side. It made the poem feel more real, and it was quite moving.
Last Tuesday, our seminar class went to see Dr. Kahan at the Center for Arts as part of the Chamber Music Collective. They commemorated the birthday of Claude Debussy by performing some of his best works. was given the chance to see Professor Kahan in concert at CSI. One of my favorite performances was the Opera piece. I was amazed by how loud her voice could be, and also how she managed to speak while her voice was so high pitched. It was nice to see all the different instruments coming together as harmoniously as they did in the beautiful performance.
On Wednesday in seminar we continued our poetry presentations. My favorite poem which was recited was Brendon’s poem “Check Mate” by Lucio Mariani. The poem spoke about a man’s life and death and his hopes for the future. The speaker of this poem was deceased, and once this fact became clear the poem acquired a very dark and interesting perspective. This poem struck me because it brought me back to September 11, 2001 and made me think about the lives of all of the people lost on that day, including my cousin firefighter John A. Santore. What if these people could speak? What would they say? What would they think about how their loved ones have moved on…or in some cases, haven’t? This particular speaker was thinking about his father who is most likely all alone now that his son has passed away, and his mother who was never part of his life. He hopes that now that he is dead, people will remember him and his life. This poem is a unique tribute to the victims of September 11th, because it is told from the point of view of one of the deceased victims. I have read books where the story is told from the dead, but I had never read a poem where the speaker was deceased, and I appreciate this poem for its unique voice.
In addition to “Check Mate” I enjoyed focusing on the rhythm of poetry. I enjoyed listening to Rob recite his poem by Langston Hughes with piano accompaniment. It felt as if the poem came with it’s own soundtrack, and it was easy to fall into the rhythm of the words when it was presented in this format.
Wednesday’s seminar class was yet another day dedicated to poetry presentations. Even before the first round of presentations, I remember thinking that by the end, I would probably lose interest. As it turns out, this was far from true. Every presentation so far has had something special about it. For example, during Wednesday’s seminar class, Robert recited his poem, “The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes, to a tune played on the piano. The music made it more entertaining than when he first read it. Because of this addition, I paid more attention to the words and the message of the poem. I felt as though I was in a different time period, listening to an artist perform a piece about his own personal experience. Another example is James’ presentation, which stood out for the amount of enthusiasm and theatrics that were involved. However, the poem that he was assigned was very unique and entertaining even on its own. I loved the idea that a poem with so few actual words could not only have such meaning, but also be so relatable. Just like in the poem, I feel as though I have disappointed my family by not knowing the language they grew up speaking. Although I know that I am an American, I find myself having a hard time drawing the line between the two cultures I associate myself with. To help make this piece a bit lighter and less serious, it seems the writer makes fun of the English language. This poem had me thinking about the flaws and illogical construction of our language, which I feel contributes to my struggle every time I have a writing assignment.
Today in seminar class we had more poetry presentations. So far, I have seen everyone in the class come out of their comfort zone with these presentations and they have done extremely well with their presentations. Every day so far we have had a lot of fun with these presentations. From getting a good laugh out of me trying to not end every sentence like a question, to shouting out BangClash, we have had a lot of fun with these presentations, and today was no different. During the second half of Brendon’s presentation, some of us had a chance to rap in class. Everyone had a funny rap to say and it was fun watching my classmates be put on the spot and put together a few rhymes. It was also interesting to see Brendon perform his poem as a rap.
All of the performances were great today. I enjoyed James’s presentation of Ing-grish by Joh Yau. I thought that his poem was very amusing. He had a poem that was tailored for his personality, and he did a great job of performing it with his hand gestures and the inflections in his voice.
I was very impressed with Rob’s poem. It was nice to see his poem read alongside a piece of music. There are a lot of songs that I consider to be poetry combined with music, but I had never thought that actual poetry could be combined with music.
I was also very impressed with Penina’s presentation. I am used to seeing her as a quiet person, which is the complete opposite of what I saw when she performed her poem. She became a different person and performed her poem with a lot of emotion, which was very impressive.
On wednesday, the class continued with their poem recitation presentations. Even though I already presented my poem, I was still nervous for my classmates who still had to present their poems. However, I was very impressed with the way they recited their poems. Everyone did a great job and I enjoyed every poem that was read that day.
One poem that I really enjoyed was James’ poem. He read Ing Grish by Joh Yau. His poem was about a chinese-american whose parents immigrated to America from China. Although he could not speak chinese, the poet pokes fun at the english language and how difficult it is for chinese speaking americans to pronounce some english words. I loved the humor involved with this poem and I thought it was the perfect one for James to preform. James presented this poem with the exact humor it needed. His accent and his hang gestures truly made it very entertaining for his classmates.
Another poem that I really enjoyed was Penina’s poem. She read New York at Night by Amy Lowell. This poem was about how New York City has changed during the night. Before, the city used to shut down at night time. Now, since the city was in the process of modernizing, the poet is understanding the true meaning of “The city that never sleeps.” However, the poet treats this new modernization of New York in an unappreciable way. I was very surprised by Penina’s performance. Since she is a very quiet girl, I never expected her to perform with such character and emotion. She went outside her comfort zone and gave a great performance.
I think that my classmates are doing a great job presenting all of their poems. Even though some were more difficult than others, everyone put all their heart and focus into their poems, which was very noticeable by the rest of the class. I look forward to hearing the rest of the poems on monday’s class.
For today’s class we continued the poetry presentations. I’m going to start with the last performance of the day, Penina’s reading of “New York at Night” by Amy Lowell. I was very surprised when Penina started reading. I wasn’t expecting one of the quietest people in our class to start off as strongly as she did. I especially enjoyed how the last time she read it; she emphasized certain words to give the poem more of a visual image. I think it’s interesting to consider when the poet lived, 1874-1925, during the Industrial Revolution. Even thinking back to Washington Square, I was surprised to hear that parts of New York City where pretty uninhabited. As the city became more urban, more people began moving there so, it must have been strange to see trees replaced with factories and apartment buildings.
Another memorable performance was Rob’s reading of “The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes. When Professor Kahan played background music for Rob, I could envision this poem being read in a speakeasy. I thought the background music Professor Kahan played for Rob to get into the groove of the poem not only helped him but also the class as listeners. While Rob read his poem for the last time, I was also playing the music in my head.
James performed “Ing Grish” by John Yau. I thought this poem was going to just be a little funny poem with little meaning but I was wrong. The literary devices used in the poem are not simple and the meaning is a pretty deep one. I think in one reading the meaning might fly over someone’s mind but upon careful and repeated reading, the true meaning of the poem is revealed. I think it was daring for the poet to write a poem with so much meaning in a comical way.
Tuesday night, the class was given the chance to see Professor Kahan in concert at CSI. As the Chamber Music Collective performed the pieces by Claude Debussy I recognized what professor Kahan had said about Debussy’s music seemingly having no true beginning or ending. As whimsical and enjoying as it was, there were many moments where I thought the piece had ended, and almost began to clap. I soon realized that the audience and I had to wait for cues from the musician to signify the piece was officially over. This uncertainty of its ending appealed to me, actually. Overall, I can say that the night was a great opportunity to listen to music that I otherwise would not have encountered.
On Wednesday’s seminar class we continued our poetry recitations. Brendon’s poem “Check Mate” seemed to be the poem we analyzed most. I thought that the connections between the chess game and 9/11 were quite brilliant. At first, I thought it was peculiar how the poet chose to use the word “fat finger” to describe where he grew up. As the poem went on however I saw the connection between the chess game and hands–which you play chess with.
Another motif that seemed to occur in the poem was the presence of “doubles.” With the twin towers, two cigarettes, two players in a game of chess and the presence of two rooks per player it is something you cannot ignore. I think the fact that I noticed all of these doubles is because it reminded me of Hitchcock’s Stranger on a Train, a film where seeing double is an understatement. Another thing that I found interesting was that the two cigarettes smoked by the poets father also represented the passing of time. Rather than taking the usual pack of cigarettes to finish their game, the poet and his father took only the time of two cigarettes to finish the game. Undoubtedly, from the excitement of his first accountants check. Ultimately, I enjoyed the poem and the cleverness of the connections.