Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A (Photo) Poetry Book (CC)

Considering we are reading and analyzing poetry in AP Lit, I thought I could share what I'm planning to do for my senior project.

I kind of came up with the idea "last minute"- the night before I thought the proposal was due. Before I began writing that up, I kept thinking to myself what can I do for this project that will be something I will enjoy? what do I even enjoy doing? damn it! Then I thought about how much I enjoy writing poetry and how much I love photography and BAM- the idea of a photo-poetry book was born.

For my senior project, I will be writing a variety of poems and taking several photographs to ultimately combine the two and print a book as my final product. In the book, there will be at least 10 original poems (depending on the pricing, I'm hoping I can do more than that) written by me with a photograph- one I've taken with my precious Nikon FM10- to accompany each. The photographs will serve as "symbols" or "representations" of the poems.


Now I'm not sure if I'm really any good at writing poetry but it's something I like to do. It's one of my ways of release- a way I can vent and really get all that I'm feeling and thinking out of my system. It's funny because in my everyday speech- in my discussions, in my conversations- it seems like I never know what I want to say; more so, it's that I never know how to put my thoughts into words. I usually free-write all of my poems- I don't explore too much with them. A haiku here, a sonnet there, a complete mess everywhere else. That's all it really is for me.

I also like to read other people's poetry; it might be a friend's work or a dead poet's but the point is, I tend to like reading what they've written. Sometimes- a lot of the time actually- I may not really know what certain poems mean; I can try, I can really try, but to no avail. I can say this for some of the poems that we have read during this poetry unit in AP Lit. No titles are coming to me right now but I've definitely stumbled upon poems that might as well have been written in another language. I'm not afraid to admit this.

To be quite honest, I haven't written any poems lately. Maybe it's because I don't have as much time as I used to, I'm not sure.  I'll have great ideas for things I could write- I'll even write these ideas down but I just haven't been able to write what I want to. My senior project will really help me get back on track on one of the things I like doing most. It will also force me to really seek and try different techniques and styles of poetry- something that will get me out of my comfort zone. Nonetheless, I'm very excited to begin working on this project. I have a feeling (and I hope this feeling sticks) that I will be proud of my final product. I'm going to love seeing my writing and my photography in a book that I've created.

It's gonna be dope.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Out of Water (PR)

Out of Water 
By Marie Ponsot

A new embroidery of flowers, canary color,
                        dots the grass already dotty
                        with aster-white and clover.

I warn, "They won't last, out of water."
The children pick some anyway.

In or our of water
children don't last either.

I watch them as they pick.
Still free of what's next
             and what was yesterday
they pick today.

I came across this poem on the Poetry Foundation's website as I was looking for a poem to write a response to. It was published in 2002 by Marie Ponsot out of her book SpringingNew and Selected Poems. As simple as it seems, this poem says a lot about our youth.

In both of my Sociology and Psychology classes, we have discussed youth and the cognitive and social developments one undergoes both in childhood. We have looked at how we think and develop as children and why children do what they do. I think in many ways, teenagers still share similarities with children. As this poem goes to demonstrate, children tend to live in the moment and do what they please without thinking of the consequences; could we not say the same for teenagers? Of course, that's not always the case for adolescents, but it is true to say that we teenagers are often impulsive and do what feels right in the moment. Nonetheless, as shown in the poem, children are unintentionally egocentric and have trouble seeing things from different points of view than their own. The narrator warns the kids, "They won't last, out of water," and although they are told that these flowers will die if they are picked and not put into water, they continue to pick them anyway.

Wonderfully and simply put into words by Ponsot, the children are then compared to the flowers themselves: "In or out of water children don't last either." One might take that as "well of course, people need water to live" but this is poetry- the meaning is always deeper than what is on the surface. With that however, people can have their own interpretations of certain poems. A lot of emphasis is put on that line, and I can assume that it is the essence of the poem, what it all really comes down to.

Despite being compared to flowers, which live longer in water, children whether you leave them "in or out of water," whether or not you keep them close and raise them right, they do not last. Not meaning that just they will die, well because, we all die, but that they cannot stay young and ignorant and innocent forever. Even flowers eventually whither.

For me, this poem is a great reminder that youth does not last as long as we'd like it to. Our childhood is our time to be care-free and instinctive because after that, we are these stressed, insecure, teenagers with no self-identity and although we may still be instinctive and care-free at times, we are expected to think of the consequences, to think of our future. Perhaps all of this is getting to me now because I will be leaving for college soon and there is so much I wish I've done thus far and even though I may still be technically young, I don't feel it.

As George Bernard Shaw once said, "Youth is wasted on the young."


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lo-Lee-Ta (IR)

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul."

Lolita is one of those stories that although the material may be disturbing- a.k.a. a thirty-something year old's (Humbert's) obsession with a young girl named Lolita- is a story that sticks with you. At least, that is the case for me.

What really gets me is the way Nabakov attempts to make his readers sympathize with him by the way he explains himself- he does one heck of a job with that one. The entire book is filled with Humbert justifying his actions on why he does what he does to/ for Lolita. His charm, his wit, his humor, his lure, all contribute to the mixed feelings one might feel about this tale- and not to mention is astounding writing style (très belle). Nabokov basically seduces the reader. Although Humbert (do not hold the rest of the sentence against me) is a pedophile, a rapist, a murderer, and an overall really sick person- he absolutely loved Lolita. He was head-over-heels, obsessively and stupidly in love with her. Did that give him the right to rob her of her childhood? No, and  it isn't until the end of the novel that Humbert starts to realize this:

"What I heard was but the melody of children at play...the most vivid of laughter, or the crack of a bat, or the clatter of a toy wagon...I stood listening to that musical vibration from my lofty slope...and then I knew that the hopelessly poignant thing was not Lolita's absence from my side, but the absence of her voice from that concord" (Nabokov 308).

Humbert Humbert met Dolores Haze- Lolita- when she was 12 years old- an age too young and too naive for a young girl to truly grasp the aspects of sex and infatuation. Nonetheless, as Humbert writes, she ends up seducing him rather than the other way around. As the story continues however, she becomes less and less interested in Humbert, as he remains ever so obsessed with her. She stays with Humbert out of fear of being put into an orphanage and it isn't until she's older, and wiser (somewhat at least), does she realize she really can leave him. Lolita ends up running away with Quilty (a character of Humbert's nature) and by the end of the book (now age 17) pregnant and married to a Richard F. Schiller. 

Her character is both an interesting and stressful one. Of course the reader does not approve of Humbert's relationship with her, but we see a different side of Lolita after her mother's death. She transitions from a flirty, witty character that seduces and confines in Humbert to a bratty (well, she was bratty in the first place), unappreciative, manipulative girl who does not all return Humbert's feelings. Admittedly- and Humbert's romantic, persuasive telling of the story is to blame- I was very annoyed with Lolita at times and found myself perhaps over commiserating with Humbert's troubles. Read this book if you want to understand where I'm coming from.

I've spent some time thinking about a theme for this novel and it's definitely hard to pinpoint. Maybe it is that we should never give into our inner insticts; or that obsession over a person is not the basis of a stable relationship; perhaps it is that innocence is automatically taken away when a child's childhood is robbed of them, as Humbert did to Lolita. I personally recognize the theme having more to do with the whole "innocence" idea, and the consequences that result when it is taken away from a person. To think of the life that Dolores Haze might have lived if Humbert was never brought into the picture. All the traits that made the character of Lolita- not the simple, wide-eyed Dolores we met at the beginning of the story- would not exist.