This past Wednesday, we continued our poetry presentations. Although I enjoyed a majority of the poems and discussions, there were a couple that stood out to me from our last class. It probably comes as no surprise that Naomi’s presentation was the one that stood out to me the most. Even though I expected her to do a good job, I was still very impressed with the acting that accompanied the reading of her assigned poems. The attitude that she attached to them was an interesting addition to her interpretation, and also very amusing. Her background in theater really seemed to help her out with this assignment. In addition, the poet that she was assigned was very interesting, and her poems were very fun and unique as well.
Aside from the odd set of poems Naomi presented, Christian’s and Shumaila’s poems were also pieces I enjoyed hearing. They were both based on the same style, which we had discussed when looking at a different piece in an earlier class. Talking in such great detail about a basic and many times tedious event/experience is something I love to see when reading poetry. In my personal experience, it opens your eyes to the things that you take for granted or simply look past. After reading pieces such as these, I start to appreciate the normal things more. Everything begins to seems more entertaining and you even start to feel happier. This style also makes poems more relatable which I find to be very important for a poet to accomplish.
On Wednesday in seminar we continued to recite our poetry selections. I was able to perform my three poems by Dorothy Parker. My three poems were Resumè, Observation and Love Song. I enjoyed performing my poems and playing the sarcastic and snarky side of Parker’s poems. She was a strong woman who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind during a time period when women were expected to be seen and not heard. I admire her voice and her bravery to overcome the expectations of her society, as well as the traumas of her personal life. I feel that the three poems, which I recited in class are a perfect representation of Parker’s life and work, and I’m happy that I had the opportunity to present her work.
In addition to performing my three Dorothy Parker poems, I enjoyed hearing my classmates perform their poems. Christian and Shumaila’s poems were interesting because they were snapshots of life. They described people’s experiences while commuting through a city and all of the different people that they encountered. This past saturday I took the bus for the first time in a few months and I enjoyed people watching during my trip. The little old lady who sat across from me, the middle age man with a bag of groceries from the Met supermarket, the sisters who were fighting over who got to sit down. Everyone had their own story and own destination. With these poems in mind, I was able to pay more attention to the various faces in front of me and see the beauty in this perfunctory task.
Helen Keller once said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” After seminar class today, I see that this intelligent statement clearly applies to poetry. Since most of the class have read their poems already, I was able to witness many different styles and techniques in poetry reading, and I have found that the poems that had emotion tied to it were the most beautiful. After Andrew read the poem Return of the Native, the whole class took turns saying the phrase “BangClash!” with the emotion that comes along with the words, and we saw how the feeling really adds to the poem. This can also be seen in the poem that Andrew wrote himself. The poem literally gave me chills. Once again, it was the emotion behind the words and his connection to the poem that made it so beautiful.
Naomi also demonstrated in her performance the importance of connecting to the emotion behind the words. Though her poems weren’t long and flowery, she did a great job of making them beautiful by acting them out and reading them as if she wrote them herself. Though I still did not get to read my poem yet, I hope that I will be able to perform it with the same confidence and emotion that my classmates had when performing their poems.
In today’s seminar, we continued our poetry readings. Once again, everyone did an excellent job of putting their all heart and emotion into their recitations. Everyone’s poems were different; however, everyone spoke in a very convincing and heartfelt tone that conveyed the message of each poem perfectly.
Christian’s poem was about what was behind a cab driver’s smile, and what his life was like beyond his seemingly emotionless job as a cab driver. This made me think, because we really never stop to think about what people’s lives are like beyond what we see. If we really could see into everyone we meet’s personal lives, we really would be astonished that they weren’t these robotic people that only existed at the place and time we saw them. Andrew’s original poem gave me the chills, as it was about something i could relate to easily. He used perfect diction as he chose the words of his poem, and they flowed like a song. He read it with such conviction behind every word that it took me back to places that the poem reminded me of.
This Wednesday began our second session of poetry recitations. During this class I heard a couple of very interesting poems from my classmates and presented three poems myself. Christian’s poem about the cab driver was written in a cool style. It allowed me to understand that poetry can be written in nearly any format. The content of the poem was about a “snapshot” of an unusual cab ride the author had experienced. The cabbie’s personality was more intricate than the author expected. This made me think about all the times I have wondered about the true identity or personality of bus drivers/cab drivers I encountered. Shumaila had a similar poem, in that it was also written as a snapshot of the author’s experience. The author was entertaining herself by thinking about alter egos that random people she saw may possess. I think its a lot of fun to use your imagination to think up a background story for someone or something you don’t know anything about.
I presented three poems to the class. The first was A Trip on the Staten Island Ferry. This poem was interesting and easy to understand; I enjoyed reading it. In my interpretation, the poem is a letter to a young person to cherish New York and the ferry, for it holds many wonders and mysteries that even the oldest souls have not discovered. Return of the Native was my second poem. This one was a bit more complex and difficult to capture in a performance. My reading led to everyone in the class individually saying “BangClash!” with some enthusiasm. The last poem I performed was called Time Shift, and I personally wrote this one. I figured since I had already wrote this poem, poetry recitations in class would be the perfect opportunity to share it. I read it with the expression I imagined it with, and that I had been practicing on the other poems. The class seemed to really like it, and I even got a lot of people coming to me personally to tell me they enjoyed it. Its an awesome feeling to put yourself out there and get some positive feedback. It was a very intrinsically rewarding experience.
On Wednesday, we continued our poetry presentations. Before my recital, Christian gave his presentation. Although it was initially a novel concept, after carefully analyzing the poem with Dr. Kahan, I was able to understand how certain poems are categorized as “snapshot poetry”. Most of the time, when we get inside cabs, we never think to talk to the driver. We don’t think that maybe the driver might be educated with a doctorate. However, in this poem, we see the driver and passenger exchange a conversation.
I was amazed to see how just the scenery of New York City inspired some of the best poetry. Additionally, I saw Andrew recite a poem he wrote himself. It was amazing to see how much emotion can go into a poem, and how communicated to the listeners. It definitely gave me chills listening to the way he performed his work.
One of my favorite performances was Naomi’s, I loved the way she put so much emotion into her work. She was able to tap into the emotion that the poet must have been feeling. I saw how researching the life of a poet could provide some very valuable insight into what mood the poem was meant to resonate.
Over the course of the last week, I have really enjoyed listening to all the poetry. I can honestly say that I wasn’t really looking forward to a week full of poetry recitations. However, I have grown a new appreciation for New York as well as poetry. I look forward to hearing the remaining students perform their poems, and to furthering my knowledge of literature and the arts.
On Wednesday, November 7th, I performed The Cabdriver’s Smile by Denise Levertov. When I first read the poem to myself, I found it to be pretty straightforward; I thought that Levertov was alluding to the fact that even though we might not really consider it, people like cab drivers might have a very interesting life story. We only view them as people who provide services for us, but we don’t really know about their lives.
As straightforward as I found the poem to be, there was one part that didn’t really register with me until we discussed it in class: “Something like spun steel floats invisible, until questions strike it, all round him, the way light gleams webs among grass in fall.” The spun steel was the wall the cab driver put up between himself and the passenger. He was a “tough guy,” as Levertov stated when opening the poem, and he likely didn’t care much for interacting with passengers, and thus, he put up an emotional barrier between himself and his passengers. It wasn’t really noticeable, though, until the passenger asked him questions. I really liked this analogy, for some reason. I just really appreciated Levertov’s creativity in describing the interaction between driver and passenger.
The thing that surprised me most about performing this poem was the fact that I really wasn’t nervous at all. I don’t know if I seemed like I was, but I know I didn’t feel any nerves at all. Normally I’m not very good at public speaking. I tend to clam up, and my nerves get the best of me. This time, however, I felt completely at home. I was expecting to get nervous as I usually do, but I didn’t, and I was pretty happy about that.
On Wednesday, we continued our poetry recitals. The first up to read her poem was Jackie. The name of her poem was Harbor Dawn, by Hart Crane. Jackie’s poem described a person living on the harbor in New York City and the sounds that he heard while he was dreaming. He speaks of the horns of the boats coming into his dreams. This has happened to me on several occasions when the music I set as an alarm became integrated into my dreams and did not wake me up. If we go a little deeper though, we can see that he is trying to make a connection between all of the people who have lived and slept in the same spot over the past 400 years that Manhattan has been inhabited. Something unusual about the poem was that there were notations in the margins that weren’t just definitions, but a separate piece of the poem criticizing and commenting about the piece. It is almost as if Crane is being his own critic.
Another poem that got my attention was Christian’s reading of The Cab Drivers Smile by Denise Levertov. The poem described the driving of a cab from three different points of views– the cabbie, the rider and an outside observer on the street. We have all ridden in a cab at one time or another as New Yorkers. Most of the time, people get in the cab, tell the driver where they need to go, and don’t speak to him again until they have arrived at their destination. In this poem, however, there is something that draws the poet to cabbie. They exchange friendly conversation, but the author describes a “spun steel” wall that the cabbie has developed to keep him from making connections with the patrons and risk getting ripped off.
Finally, Naomi did an incredible job of reading the three poems Resume, Observation, and Love Song, by Dorothy Parker. From the text of the poems, you can tell that the author had some anger issues. Observation has to be the simplest, yet most powerful of all three poems. It essentially states all of the things that she should do in life, such as getting a good night sleep and abstaining from “fun” to be a “good woman”. The author ends the poem with the lines, “But I shall stay the way I am, / Because I do not give a damn.” These poems were written when women had a set role in society and were forced to stay within those confines. The final two lines show how she rebels to stay true to herself.
During wednesday’s seminar class, we continued to recite the poems that professor Kahan gave to us. Knowing that I did not recite my poem on monday and that I had a good chance of reciting it on wednesday, I was very nervous. Not only did I recite my poem during this class, I was also chosen first to do so.
When professor Kahan chose me to preform my poem first, it caught me off guard. I automatically felt my heart racing. Even though I felt ready and I prepared my poem and my interpretations, I still felt uneasy when my name was called. My poem was The Harbor Dawn by Hart Crane. This poem describes the Manhattan harbor while incorporating his feelings for his true love as well. This had to be one of the most difficult poems I have ever interpreted. It was hard for me to find the flow of the poem and the true meaning of it. There are many interpretations of this poem. Some are simple and others are more in depth. Regardless, the summary of my interpretation is that the poet is having a dream of what he wishes his life could be life. That life is to live as a homosexual. When the poet refers to his loved one, he is not talking about a woman but in fact another man. In order for the class and I to understand the poem better, she made me reread the first part of the poem with the included notes on the side. At first I found these notes more confusing than helpful. Then I realized that they help set where the poem takes place and with who it takes place.
Overall I liked reciting my poem. It was good public speaking practice while also having some entertainment as well. Even though I was nervous, I still enjoyed telling my classmates my interpretations of the poem. I look forward to the other poems that still need to be preformed!
On Wednesday’s seminar class, we continued our poetry recitations. One of the poems that really stood out to me was Christian’s poem. After he recited the poem the first time, I must admit I did not completely understand what the poem was trying to say. However, after further analysis by Professor Kahan, I began to see how this was a snapshot poem. It provided insight into how an outsider taking the time to describe and analyze his surroundings could see much more than just a cab driver. For someone who takes cabs or public transit, it is often easy to forget that the person behind the wheel is much more than a driver. In fact, that person could posses a fortune and have a PhD for all we know. This poem made me think of how despite seeing someone everyday, you truly do not know a person until they let you in.
Another example of a snapshot poem that was more comprehensible, in my opinion, was Shumaila’s poem. As the author of her poem described her surroundings I became captivated by the way she gave alter egos to the people on the bus. The author let her imagination truly run wild when describing the caviar and adultery taking place in the bus drivers life. And I was shocked at her suggestion of the person of god in the poem, in reality being a mugger. When Professor Kahan asked the class what a “mugger” looked like I was actually stumped. There really is no answer to that, and though some may assume a mugger would look more like a hoodlum than a priest, you really do not know. Questions like that often get tested on shows like “What Would You Do?” (a personal favorite). When stereotypes are proven to be present it never ceases to amaze me. After our second day of poetry recitations, I can say that snapshot poems have become a preference of mine.