Friday, April 22, 2011

And So, We Commence

Hello everyone!  Happy Friday!  It is with dear sadness that I write this last post.  The class that this blog project pertains to is nearing its end, and my final post is due today.  In this class, I have enjoyed learning about how to write effectively for the Internet and how technology has shaped and continues to shape the way we write today.  However, the thing that I have enjoyed the most in this class, is writing for this blog.  My idea for this blog erupted from a combination of my passion for poetry and my quirky habit of contemplating about life and formulating my own theories as to why things are the way they are.  Beginning this blog, I realized that I had to narrow the scope of “life,” as life can include a multitude of topics.  Therefore, to do this, I chose to focus only on poetry written by contemporary women writers.  I must admit that I was rather reluctant to do this, primarily because I was unfamiliar with much of the work of contemporary women poets, and also because many of my personal favorite poems did not fall within this scope.  However, reaching this point and looking back, I am delighted that I decided to get out of my comfort zone and go for the challenge; for I have came across beautifully rich poetry and talented poets that I may not have encountered had I taken a different route.    

One of my goals for this blog was to write about various life issues.  I do not know if I have succeeded in doing that.  Although the poems that I selected may have varied widely in theme, I think that my interpretations of these poems were usually quite similar: they often exhibited therapeutic qualities and frequently alluded to following dreams and accomplishing goals, finding ways to remain optimistic in daunting situations, and finding pride in being an individual.  Re-reading my posts, I realize that my interpretations may have been a reflection of me in my current stage in life: I will be graduating from college in a few weeks, and it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that my mind has been recently preoccupied with the issues of following my dreams, reaching my goals, overcoming steep obstacles, and placing the finishing touches on who I define myself as an individual.    

I must admit that maintaining this blog was indeed a challenge.  As the school semester progressed and as my amount of class work gradually increased, I found it more difficult to find time to submit posts.  Again, I apologize for those long periods of inactivity.  Nevertheless, during the periods that I did have time to submit posts, I feel that my posts helped me to refine some of my theories regarding life and drew my attention to topics that I hadn’t previously given much thought.  By far, my most favorite post is “Keep Following Your Dreams.”     

Although one can make an argument that my blog has essentially been a reflection of me, my desires, and what I deem valuable, I hope that you were able to find some of the selected poems and commentaries applicable to your own lives.  However, if not, I hope that you at least have enjoyed reading the poems and reading what I had to say about them. 

Furthermore, I hope that this blog has given you the opportunity to view poetry in a different light.  I hope you can see that there’s more to poems than just analyzing them according to their literary devices.  Poems can enhance our understanding of life, especially when they are viewed holistically.  If you had not known this before reading this blog, then I hope that I have convinced you to think differently about poetry from now on.  Poetry can essentially be fun, even for the non-poetry lovers! 

Lastly, I would like to thank all of you have who have followed this blog, read my posts, and left comments.  Your willingness to dedicate your time in reviewing and commenting on my work has meant so much to me.  I wish you all the best and much success in continuing life and learning its lessons.  However, before we part, I would like to leave you with a poem entitled “New Beginnings” written by Gertrude McClain.  I found the poem inspiring.  Hopefully, you will find the poem inspiring as well.  The poem reads:

New Beginnings by Gertrude B. McClain

It's only the beginning now
...a pathway yet unknown
At times the sound of other steps
...sometimes we walk alone

The best beginnings of our lives
May sometimes end in sorrow
But even on our darkest days
The sun will shine tomorrow.

So we must do our very best
Whatever life may bring
And look beyond the winter chill
To smell the breath of spring.

Into each life will always come
A time to start anew
A new beginning for each heart
As fresh as morning dew.

Although the cares of life are great
And hands are bowed so low
The storms of life will leave behind
The wonder of a rainbow.

The years will never take away
Our chance to start anew
It's only the beginning now
So dreams can still come true.

I hope you enjoyed the poem.  However, this time, instead of me giving my commentary, why don’t you try formulating your own?  What do you think the poem could teach us?

To read more poems written by contemporary women poets, please visit Contemporary Women Poets.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Seek Refuge in Nature

Hello everyone!  I hope that you have enjoyed reading my two previous posts.  Hopefully the poem that I share with you today will benefit you in some way.  The poem is entitled, “Exiled,” and is written by Edna St. Vincent Millay.  The poem reads:

Exiled by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Searching my heart for its true sorrow,
This is the thing I find to be:
That I am weary of words and people,
Sick of the city, wanting the sea;

Wanting the sticky, salty sweetness
Of the strong wind and shattered spray;
Wanting the loud sound and the soft sound
Of the big surf that breaks all day.

Always before about my dooryard,
Marking the reach of the winter sea,
Rooted in sand and dragging drift-wood,
Straggled the purple wild sweet-pea;

Always I climbed the wave at morning,
Shook the sand from my shoes at night,
That now am caught beneath great buildings,
Stricken with noise, confused with light.

If I could hear the green piles groaning
Under the windy wooden piers,
See once again the bobbing barrels,
And the black sticks that fence the weirs,

If I could see the weedy mussels
Crusting the wrecked and rotting hulls,
Hear once again the hungry crying
Overhead, of the wheeling gulls,

Feel once again the shanty straining
Under the turning of the tide,
Fear once again the rising freshet,
Dread the bell in the fog outside,—

I should be happy,—that was happy
All day long on the coast of Maine!
I have a need to hold and handle
Shells and anchors and ships again!

I should be happy, that am happy
Never at all since I came here.
I am too long away from water.
I have a need of water near.

I hope you enjoyed reading the poem.  Here is what I think it could teach us:

There are times in which we find ourselves suffering from some of life’s toughest blows.  Your spouse was in a terrible car accident.  The accident left your spouse on life support.  Doctors predict that your spouse will never recover; they recommend that you remove the support.  You contemplate this option, but you are clueless as to how you will be able to endure the pain and continue living.  You two had promised to spend the rest of your lives together.  Or perhaps, your adult child has just revealed to you his/her homosexuality.  You are having trouble digesting the news because it defeats much of what you morally believe.  Or maybe, you recently found out that you are pregnant.  It wasn’t planned.  You know that there’s no way you can care for a baby.  You grow scared.  What will you do? 

When life punches us with its fiercest blows, we often grow helpless and feel like exploding.  We wish we could just escape from it all, yet we feel as if there is nowhere to run.

However, Millay tells us that when the bludgeoning of life becomes unbearable, we can simply exile ourselves to nature.  She suggests that nature will comfort us from our deepest worries and will help us obtain peace.   

Therefore when life becomes brutal, we must quickly flee to one of nature’s many shelters, preferably one devoid of all humans and man-made objects, for such things could potentially inhibit our healing.  We shall go to one of nature’s beaches and let the seashells whisper to us their innocent secrets.  When the tides brush against the sandy shore, we must run into the foamy water and allow it to suck away our jittery nerves.  Or perhaps, we shall enter into one of nature’s forests.  Once there, we could rest against the towering trees, let the birds perform to us their sweetest songs, and allow the nearby ants to fascinate us with their busy activities.  Or, we could even travel deep into the godly mountains and let them woo us with their majestic beauty.  In being nature’s pampered guest, we can take a few seconds to clear our minds.  Release our frustrations.  Then, if we prefer, we can calmly begin to think things through.  However, if that begins to become too much, we can simply allow ourselves to just be. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don't Panic, Have Faith

Hello everyone!  I hope you are well.  Graduation is around the corner, and I must admit that I am rather nervous.  This morning, I was contemplating the things that I hope to do post-graduation.  I imagined the possibilities of me not accomplishing those goals and became a little discouraged.  Fortunately, however, while selecting a poem to present to you today, I came across a poem that brightened my mood and relieved my anxiety.  The poem is written by Mary Oliver and is entitled, “Little Summer Poem Touching the Subject of Faith.”  I hope that after reading it, you too find it uplifting. 

Little Summer Poem Touching the Subject of Faith by Mary Oliver

Every summer
I listen and look
under the sun's brass and even
into the moonlight, but I can't hear

anything, I can't see anything --
not the pale roots digging down, nor the green stalks muscling up,
nor the leaves
deepening their damp pleats,

nor the tassels making,
nor the shucks, nor the cobs.
And still,
every day,

the leafy fields
grow taller and thicker --
green gowns lofting up in the night,
showered with silk.

And so, every summer,
I fail as a witness, seeing nothing --
I am deaf too
to the tick of the leaves,

the tapping of downwardness from the banyan feet --
all of it
beyond any seeable proof, or hearable hum.

And, therefore, let the immeasurable come.
Let the unknowable touch the buckle of my spine.
Let the wind turn in the trees,
and the mystery hidden in the dirt
swing through the air.
How could I look at anything in this world
and tremble, and grip my hands over my heart?
What should I fear?

One morning
in the leafy green ocean
the honeycomb of the corn's beautiful body
is sure to be there.       

I hope you enjoyed reading the poem.  Here is what I think it could teach us:

Sometimes when we are faced with daunting situations we automatically imagine the worst-case scenario.  After months of studying, you are to take the MCAT in a few days.  You take a practice test and do poorly.  You predict that that you will perform similarly or even worse on test day.  Or, you are an attorney and will be defending a major case soon.  As the court date draws nearer, you start to doubt your preparedness.  Will you be able to convince the jury to vote in favor of your client?  What if the opposing attorney has gathered supporting evidence that will completely destroy your case?  Perhaps, you are accompanying a close relative to a doctor’s appointment.  Your relative, a cancer survivor, is visiting the oncologist to see if the cancer is still in remission.  While waiting to hear the results, you imagine, what if the cancer has returned?

When we imagine the worst-case scenario, we usually have an adverse physiological response.  Our heart beats faster, our breathing becomes heavier, our palms become sweaty, and we are on the verge of trembling, all signs that we are panicking.   

However, Oliver tells us that when frightening situations loom in our view, we should save ourselves the panic and not imagine the worst-case scenario.  Instead, she recommends that we simply have faith in knowing that things will work out. 

Thus, when we find ourselves facing that scary situation, we must remember to calm our nerves and think positively. Like Oliver had faith that things were growing although she could not see them grow, we must have faith that in the end things will work out, regardless of the outcome of our situation.  We must remind ourselves that although our situation may be within our control, the future, though unpredictable, will ultimately arrange things as they should be.  Therefore, we needn’t worry. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sing a Song of Freedom

Maya Angelou
Hello everyone!  I know that it has been a while since I wrote my last post, and I apologize for the period of inactivity.  My school work in other classes has required so much of my focus and time that I have not been able to submit posts.  However, I am now back and committed to posting.  To make up for time lost, I have decided to provide you with poems and commentary on a daily basis for the next few days up until this Friday, which is when all posts to this blog must be submitted. 

Today, I would like to share with you one of my favorite poems written by Maya Angelou, who is in my opinion the Queen of poetry.  It’s entitled, “I know why the caged bird sings.”  I hope you enjoy! 

I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps on the back
Of the wind and floats downstream
Till the current ends and dips his wing
In the orange suns rays
And dares to claim the sky.

But a BIRD that stalks down his narrow cage
Can seldom see through his bars of rage
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
Of things unknown but longed for still
And his tune is heard on the distant hill for
The caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
And the trade winds soft through
The sighing trees
And the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright
Lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged BIRD stands on the grave of dreams
His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with
A fearful trill of things unknown
But longed for still and his
Tune is heard on the distant hill
For the caged bird sings of freedom.

I hope you all enjoyed the poem.  Here’s what I think it could teach us:

There are moments in life in which we find ourselves trapped in unfavorable circumstances.  Have you ever found yourself in a certain situation that hindered you from being your true self?  Do you have a personal secret that you wish to tell but are afraid to do so in fear of other’s reactions?  Are you a college student living under the pressure of your parents to pursue a particular course of study and/or career path that you do not desire to follow?  Perhaps, you are dissatisfied with your job but can not quit because you are having trouble finding another one.      

Feeling trapped in undesirable circumstances can cause us to experience a range of emotions: sadness, frustration, and anger.  Like the caged bird in the poem, we are desperate and yearn to be free. 

In this poem, Angelou rather narrates her own personal experience of being trapped in an unfavorable circumstance.  When Angelou was a child, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend.  The boyfriend told her not to tell anyone, but Angelou eventually told her older brother, who later told the rest of their family.  The boyfriend was charged and found guilty, but he only spent one day in jail.  Four days after his release, he was found dead in an ally.  It was rumored that he had been kicked to death by Angelou’s uncles.  Angelou said that she felt responsible for his death; she felt that her voice had killed him.  As a result, Angelou describes that she became mute for the next five years.  However, she states that during those years of being trapped in guilt and muteness, she began to regain her freedom by finding an outlet in reading literature and participating in the arts.  Today, having established herself as a well-accomplished and widely acclaimed poet, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, stage and screen producer, director, performer, singer, and civil rights activist, Angelou consistently tells her story and encourages people to simply sing when they can not be freed.        

By singing, I believe Angelou to mean that we should find outlets to help us endure the pain of our entrapment.  She suggests that these outlets are also the means by which we regain our freedom. 

As the poem so eloquently suggests, when we find ourselves trapped in cages of undue circumstance, we must refuse to remain as the caged bird, for it is the free bird that has joy and peace.  We must press towards liberty and must belt out our freedom tune through outlets in writing, reading, singing, dancing, working, or any other special hobbies that we may posses.  But most importantly, we must find outlets within our heart and conscience.  No matter how much the pain of our entrapment may intensify, we must let our hearts continue to yearn for freedom.  We must let our thoughts continue to dream of freedom, for these outlets will not allow us to grow complacent towards our circumstances of turmoil.  They will remind us of our destined freedom, will refresh our courageous strength when it falters, and will encourage us to keep pressing.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Have Courage, Be Risky!

Hello everyone!  Happy Monday!  I know that it has been a while since I last updated this blog.  I was on vacation and couldn’t write new posts.  However, I am now back and have a lovely poem to share with you.  It’s entitled “Courage” and is written by Anne Sexton.  

Courage by Anne Sexton

It is in the small things we see it.
The child's first step,
as awesome as an earthquake.
The first time you rode a bike,
wallowing up the sidewalk.
The first spanking when your heart
went on a journey all alone.
When they called you crybaby
or poor or fatty or crazy
and made you into an alien,
you drank their acid
and concealed it.

if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
you did not do it with a banner,
you did it with only a hat to
comver your heart.
You did not fondle the weakness inside you
though it was there.
Your courage was a small coal
that you kept swallowing.
If your buddy saved you
and died himself in so doing,
then his courage was not courage,
it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.

if you have endured a great despair,
then you did it alone,
getting a transfusion from the fire,
picking the scabs off your heart,
then wringing it out like a sock.
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
you gave it a back rub
and then you covered it with a blanket
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.

when you face old age and its natural conclusion
your courage will still be shown in the little ways,
each spring will be a sword you'll sharpen,
those you love will live in a fever of love,
and you'll bargain with the calendar
and at the last moment
when death opens the back door
you'll put on your carpet slippers
and stride out.

I hope you enjoyed the poem.  Here is what I think it could teach us:

In life, occasionally we encounter situations in which our inner passions are associated with risks.  We may wish to pursue these passions; however, we are too afraid to do so because of the consequences that may result.   For example, you hate your current job and have been contemplating about making a career change that will cause you to loose a significant amount in pay.  You may wonder how the change will affect your family.  What will your friends and colleagues think?  Or, you may wish to attend a top-notch law school, but you have below-average credentials.  What if you apply and don’t get accepted?  Even though the consequences of pursing our passions may be daunting, we may still wish to pursue our passions.  However, we may feel that we lack the courage to do so.    

But, Sexton tells us that we all have the small amount of courage needed to pursue what we wish to do.  She recounts the numerous times that we have been courageous without even trying.  She suggests that we will even have courage until the day we die.  Therefore, we have the courage needed to pursue or risky passions.  As a result, we should stop thinking too hard and stop dwelling on the negative.  We must simply jump in and take the risks. 

I want to share with you one of my favorite quotes: “If you do something, there is a slim chance that it may work.  However, if you give up then you have decided on certain failure.”  I love that quote because it reminds me that I have to take risks in order to accomplish what I hope to achieve.  If I decide not to take risks, then I surely will not achieve my goals.     

We can not let the possible consequences of pursing our passions spook us.  If in the end after taking risks we encounter misfortune, we must remember to relax and breathe.  The misfortune will teach us valuable lessons and will soon pass over. However, if the risks we take are of much fortune, needless to say, we will be extremely happy with no regrets.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stop, Breathe, and Take a Break

Hello everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  This past week I was stressed-out.  Mid-terms and graduate-school applications had me pulling my hair.  Have you also been stressed-out lately? Well, maybe this poem, “How to Leave the World that Worships should” by Ros Barber, will help. 

How to Leave the World that Worships should by Ros Barber

Let faxes butter-curl on dusty shelves.
Let junkmail build its castles in the hush
of other people’s halls. Let deadlines burst
and flash like glorious fireworks somewhere else.
As hours go softly by, let others curse
the roads where distant drivers queue like sheep.
Let e-mails fly like panicked, tiny birds.
Let phones, unanswered, ring themselves to sleep.

Above, the sky unrolls its telegram,
immense and wordless, simply understood:
you’ve made your mark like birdtracks in the sand -
now make the air in your lungs your livelihood.
See how each wave arrives at last to heave
itself upon the beach and vanish. Breathe.

I hope you enjoyed the poem.  Here is what I believe Barber has to tell us:

Sometimes our lives become hectic.  We have numerous tasks to complete in little time.  We throw up our hands and scream, “Give me a break!”  However, our oversized-to-do lists tell us that we have no time for breaks.  Thus, we suck it up and keep on working, only to crash later down the road.   

But Barber tells us that when our tasks become plenty, we should stop, breathe, and take a break; for not doing so causes us to become stressed and prohibits us from doing our best.    

Therefore, when our tasks get out of hand, we must remember to take a break.  In addition, we must remember to actually enjoy our break and not worry about our tasks.  (Worrying about our tasks will not get them completed.  They will still be waiting for us once we return.  Thus, it’s ok for us to forget about them for a while.)  After our break, we will be able to return to our tasks with alertness and enthusiasm.      

So while you’re writing your 20-page paper for class, finishing a memo for work, or constructing the guest-list to your wedding, remember to stop, breathe, and take a break!  You will get your tasks completed.  Trust me, you will.  BUT! Don’t take a break for too long (I know, there’s always some catch isn’t it?).  Remember that our tasks can’t complete themselves (although if they could, that would be awesome).  Sadly, we are still the only ones who can finish them.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Be an Outcast!

Hello everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  This week I chose to focus on one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets: “Be Nobody’s Darling” by Alice Walker.

Author and poet, Alice Walker

Be Nobody’s Darling by Alice Walker   

Be nobody’s darling;
Be an outcast.
Take the contradictions
Of your life
And wrap around
You like shawl,
To parry stones
To keep you warm.

Watch the people succumb
To madness
With ample cheer;
Let them look askance at you
And you askance reply.

Be an outcast;
Be pleased to walk alone
Or line the crowded
River beds
With other impetuous

Make a merry gathering
On the bank
Where thousands perished
For brave hurt words
They said.

Be nobody’s darling;
Be an outcast.
Qualified to live
Among your dead.

I hope you enjoyed the poem and found its message inspiring.  Here is what I think it could teach us:

I would like to begin by asking you a question, and in answering this question, I ask that you be honest.  How many times do you jump on the bandwagon and follow the actions of the crowd?  Never?  Every now and then?  Sometimes?  Remember that you are to be honest.  Are you having a hard time arriving at an honest answer? If so, let me help you.  We jump on the bandwagon and follow the actions of the crowd more often than we realize.  For example, think about how frequently you have purchased clothing according to the latest fashion or have obtained technical gadgets because of their increasing popularity among others.  I know that I am guilty of following the crowd, and if you are honest with yourself, I believe that you will be guilty as well.  The truth is that we are humans, and as a social species, we are more inclined to follow the crowd.  However, is being a follower always beneficial? 

Although being a follower may provide us with the benefit of social acceptance, it prevents us from being outcasts.  You may ask, why should we be outcasts?  Allow me to give you three reasons:

First, being an outcast allows us to define our sense of self and enhances our self-esteem and confidence.  It allows us to channel your inner creativity and pursue our dreams and desires.

Second, being an outcast differentiates us from the bunch and makes us stand out among the masses.  This is helpful when we are applying for jobs or for school admissions, as most employers and admission representatives often consider the candidates who stand out the most within the applicant pool. 

Third, being an outcast allows us to make our mark on the world.  We can’t greatly impact the world by being followers, for in following others, we are drawn into the black pit of oblivion.  We essentially become nonentities.  History has shown that the most successful people on earth were those who dared to be different.   

Now that I have informed you about the benefits of being an outcast, you may have wondered why is it so difficult to be one.

I believe that we have difficulty in being outcasts simply because we are busily trying to live up to others' expectations.  How often have you altered your actions according to what others may have wanted you to do with your life? I know that I have many times.  We try to please those we love and are strongly connected to: our parents, friends, significant others, and anyone else who may be important to us.  Although it may seem like the greatest love we can offer, to sacrifice our desires for the desires of others, we must acknowledge that we are who we are and that we have an obligation to live our lives.  When we live our lives being who we are individually and uniquely, we are happier and freer.    

Walker advises us to be nobody’s darling and to not heed to the wishes of others.  She insists that we become the outcasts that we are naturally.  (We essentially are outcasts because we are all so distinctly different!)  We mustn’t allow people to change us into whom they think we should be. We are way too cool to be pounded and molded into something we are not.    

Now is the time to be the outcasts that we truly are.  From this moment forward, we shall live according to the ways we wish.  We will get that funky hairstyle we always wanted but didn’t get because we were too afraid of what others may think.  We will follow that dream that others discouraged us from pursuing.  We will be those walking contradictions.  If down the road, people are shocked by our actions, so what.  We will tell them that we are not like others.  We are outcasts and do not live according to others’ expectations.  We are who we are, unapologetically.    

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Keep Following Your Dreams

This poem was written by Karen Ravn.

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day everyone! This week I chose to focus on a poem entitled “For the Young Who Want To” by Marge Piercy.  Her words are below:

For the Young Who Want To by Marge Piercy

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.

Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don't have a baby,
call you a bum.

The reason people want M.F.A.'s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else's mannerisms

is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you're certified a dentist.

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.

This poem is targeted towards aspiring writers; however, I believe that its message can be applied to anyone who has hoped to fulfill a dream.  Here is what I think the poem could teach us: 

Take a minute and think about one of your biggest dreams.  Do you envision yourself receiving much recognition and many rewards if that dream were to come true? I believe that we each have a desire to do something great.  Motivated to follow our dreams, we eagerly take the initial steps, only to quickly realize that we lack the skills necessary to accomplish what we hope to achieve.  Therefore, as a result, we sometimes grow discouraged and stop striving to reach our goals. 

We often observe accomplished professionals doing or having done what we aspire to do and think that they are talented geniuses who do outstanding work.  We say to ourselves “why can’t I be more like them?”

However, we fail to recognize that what we hope to achieve will not come to term at the very beginning.  Our talent, our genius, and the greatness that we hope other people will  one day attribute to our work comes only after tons of terrible work, hard work, re-starts, patience, and persistence.  For example, if you’re an aspiring writer, your first manuscript may not exhibit a craft comparable to Toni Morrison’s books; or if you’re an amateur programmer, your first program codes may lack the sophistication of Microsoft software.  And that’s ok. 
Piercy tells us that in order to do what we hope to accomplish, we first have to get started and then remain working.  So what if your work stinks.  It’s fine.  Get from under the pressure of perfection.  Be messy.  Make some mistakes.  We only become really good at what we’re doing after much, much, much, much (and did I say much?) practice.      

Frida Kahlo’s first paintings probably began as simple scribbles on an easel.  Yao Ming probably missed his first 3-pointers.  Warren Buffett may have miscalculated some of his early investments.  Albert Einstein’s initial physical theories may have had a few inaccuracies.  (Do you catch my drift here?)  Those great people that we admire are really no different from us.  They too had to start from the very beginning and at one time found themselves in our shoes.     

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sweep Up Those Negative Thoughts

Last week, I forewarned all of you that I would limit the broad definition of life and perhaps narrow the scope of this blog.  I have chosen to do this by writing commentary on poems written by contemporary women poets.  This week, I have selected A New Broom by Witt Wittman:
A New Broom by Witt Wittmann

I bought a new broom today
and swept the cobwebs down,
A thick accumulation of dregs,
a mass of tangles and smut.
I whisked a conglomeration of dust
that forever stuck—inaccessible.
Lifted the rug under which was hidden
years of grime that
Made traversing treacherous
with things that trip you up.

I rolled that rug and cast it off
and pitched the whole mess out.
I bought a new broom today
and mucked about the house.

Gone are the indignities that cannot be untwined
from the unfulfilled goals and dreams,
Cleared the place of bitter resentments
secured with insecurities.
Shackling phobias, permanently pitched
with a flick of bristles strawy,
Dismal doubts and grubby grudges
all brushed not so effortlessly away.

I bought a new broom today 
and swept the corners of my brain.

I hope you enjoyed the poem!  Here’s my commentary on what I think it could teach us:

Accomplishing goals is indeed challenging.  During our climb towards achievement, we encounter numerous set backs and disappointments.  Often times, these set backs and disappointments impact the way we think and cloud our minds with negative thoughts of self-inadequacy that impede our self-motivation.  As a result, we sometimes temporarily stop striving to reach our goals.   

However, in order to jump back on track and once again go after our dreams, we must first take time to do some spring cleaning and cleanse our minds of all negative thoughts.  As Whittman suggests, we must buy a broom and clear away the cob webs of our insecurities, resentments, regrets, fears, and doubts. 

Once we have finished cleaning and can smell the sweet lemon scent of our squeaky clean minds, we will regain our self-motivation and will again be ready to tackle goal-achieving tasks.  Then, we can store away our brooms, because our negative thoughts will be long gone.  However, when our negative thoughts try to sneak up on us again, we shall have no worries; for our brooms will always be readily accessible, in the nearest closet, alert and dressed in armor, ready to perform cleaning duty once called.   

Monday, January 31, 2011

Welcome to The Poetics of Life’s Lessons!

Hello to all the poetry lovers out there! My name is Chelsea Jones, and I am a big fan of poetry.  I enjoy reading and thinking about poetry; however, I wouldn’t describe myself as a poetry critic, as I am not the one to strip poems to pieces and analyze every line of each stanza.  Although I believe that in order for one to appreciate a poem, he or she must be aware of its literary elements and interpret its meaning, I think that we oftentimes over analyze poems and ignore their primary function, which I believe is to teach us. In my opinion, we should focus more attention on the holistic meaning of a poem and how it impacts us instead of the miniature details and literary devices.  Poems, for me personally, have provided the basis by which I come to understand and interpret life.  

In this blog, my goal is to share with you some of my favorite poems and what I think they could teach us about life.  I am by no means a life expert, as I am fairly young (age 21) and have lived a rather normal life.  However, I frequently contemplate life and its wide array of topics and formulate my own theories on how people should approach and live life.  I often wonder to what extent my theories can be realized, and hopefully this blog will provide me with an answer.  

Once a week, I intend to provide you with brief commentary on one poem that I have selected.  Please note that my commentaries will simply stem from my own personal opinions and may not reflect what the author of a poem intended to convey.  At times my commentaries may include a poem analysis; however, the main objective of this blog isn’t to analyze poems but to reflect on what I think they could potentially teach us.        

I myself like to read what other writers think about various topics in order to create my own opinions on certain issues.  For those of you who like to do this as well, hopefully my selected poems and commentaries will allow you to form your own opinions about issues relating to life, rethink your previously held perceptions, and learn something that you didn’t once know. I intend for this blog to be bi-directional and a conversation between me the writer and you as readers.  So please, don’t hesitate to join this blog, read what I have written, and leave comments.  Perhaps, we can bounce ideas off of one another and simultaneously learn some of life’s lessons.  

Lastly, it’s important to inform you that this blog is essentially a class project.  I am currently taking a class called Digital Writing at Duke University, and the class is primarily focused on two questions: how to write effectively for the Internet and how technology has shaped and continues to shape the way we write today.   One of the main goals of the course is to create and maintain an idea-centered blog.  I have chosen to blog about some of life’s lessons as they can be interpreted from poems.  I realize that “life” is rather broad and may mean and include different things for various people.  Perhaps, in the near future I will limit this blog to pertain to only certain areas of life, such as relationships, self-confidence, dreams, etc, for clarity and topical purposes.  I have never blogged before, so I give you forewarning that this blog may drastically change as time progresses and more posts are added, thus I ask of your patience.  Nevertheless, I hope to provide you with some great poems and insightful commentary, and hope that you have as much fun reading this blog as I hope to have in writing it.