Posts Tagged ‘though my errors and wrecks lie about me’

Some Final Notes

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
  • This blog will close for graded work on Saturday, April 27, at midnight.   Except for your final paper and presentation, no work will be accepted for grading after this time.
  • Your final paper should be submitted to me ELECTRONICALLY (note that this is a change), as an email attachment or google docs link, not one minute later than NOON on Tuesday, April 30.  My comments and your grade will be returned to you by email.
  • Our final exam presentations will be on Tuesday, April 30.  We will start at 9:00 a.m. rather than at 8:30 a.m.

Malekghassemi – Assignment B (2) – Critical Article Review

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Isun Malekghassemi / Dr. Mara Scanlon / ENGL 458 / 18 April 2013

The Separation of Lyric from Long Poem for the Sake of Theory

            In “Jorie Graham’s Subversive Poetics: Appetites of Mind, Empire-building, and the Spaces of Lyric Performativity,” Mary S. Strine analyzes the final lyric in Jorie Graham’s The End of Beauty “Imperialism” using postcolonial theory. Strine has a Ph.D. in Speech Communication from the University of Mary Washington (’72) and currently teaches Communication at the University of Utah. She has nine graduate students working on their Doctor of Philosophy dissertations under her. Strine separates her article into three distinct sections. Before I get to those sections though, I want to speak to Strine’s suggestion that Graham wants to

Sustain the self-knowledge and insights gained through imaginative engagement with the material world in accord with the romantic view of poetic language, while … de-center[ing] those insights so as to critically reveal their political entailments in relations of power and knowledge in accord with postcolonial thought. (4)

I have to say that this is problematic for me. I can believe that Graham wants to “sustain” modernist thought using romantic language while “de-center”-ing the insights one gains from doing that. I can believe that Graham reflects on power. But I can hardly believe that Graham’s intentions for The End of Beauty as a whole have much to do with political anything. This reminds me of our class discussion on whether a long poem can be read as separate lyrics, and the lyrics still maintain their integrity. In this case, Strine takes “Imperialism” out of context. I am not surprised. Most of her publications focus on cultural and intercultural texts, and performativity; of course “Imperialism” would attract her.

Strine begins “Poetic Language and the Epistemic Grounds of Lyric Encounter,” her first section, by explaining that postcolonial theorists analyze language in regard to “mastery and control over others” (4). She hones in on the theorist Edward Said’s books Orientalism (1978) and Culture and Imperialism (1993) to elaborate on postcolonial theory. Strine argues that Graham uses postcolonial theory to portray the struggle of power between different perceptions of selfhood – one of internal language requiring translation for the external world and one of understanding between the two using language.  Strine has still failed to convince me that “Imperialism” represents how one can attain much from reading The End of Beauty in a postcolonial fashion. I do agree that Graham does use language indicating a struggle between two ideas.

A bolded “Poetic Form, Lyric Performativity, and the Postcolonial Imperative” marks Strine’s next section, in which she suggests that Graham exemplifies postcolonial language in “her discussion of the challenges and possibilities of the poetic form” (6). Strine argues that Graham desires to master language to create closure while also wanting to use her poetry as a forum for discourse. The difficulty in aligning these is visible in “Imperialism,” Strine claims, saying that Graham at once invites openness to, and commands control of, meaning and new experiences. Strine states that Graham’s “poetic epistemology… relies on the processes of lyric performativity to advance and deepen her own and her reader’s experiential understanding of self and other and the interpenetrating worlds they share” (10). Strine is forcing a reading of “Imperialism” and Graham that is not fruitful. Yes, there is conflict in Graham’s writing – but if that indicates postcolonialism, then is every conflict of power actually postcolonial at its core? This is more a close reading of one of modernism’s main goals: to form a link between to opposing things, to try and fix something that feels unhinged. Graham is not creating a dogfight between ideas; she is attempting to reconcile of two seemingly dichotomous things, mastery and free discussion.

Strine’s ultimate section “Reader Positionality, Lyric Performativity, and the Public World” deals with the audience’s role in Graham’s poetry. Strine states that Graham is sensitive to the role that her readers play as an audience and that Graham uses this to “[inform] the forward motion of her poetry” (10). Strine argues that by speaking directly to her readers in her poetry, Graham entices her reader into actively participating so that they can complete her poetry. To conclude this section, Strine says that Graham’s performativity encourages her audience to include their experience in their reading while also creating an environment where readers can become aware of “the construction of self and society” (12). This section, I can get behind. Graham clearly desires an active reader for her lyrics – I believe the blanks, questions, and the breaking of the poetic wall demonstrate this. This is not directly related to her thesis, but Strine also quotes Graham’s editorial introduction of The Best American Poetry 1990 right before her final paragraph. String quotes the section in which Graham says poetry has this role of renewing language for each generation.

To conclude, Strine reiterates that Graham’s “subversive lyrics, exemplified in ‘Imperialism’” nurtures a forum for discussion of “fresh ways [to know] self and world, [and] self and other” (12). From Strine’s abstract, I was expecting more on the acts of knowing and naming in Graham. The article is not uninteresting, but I cannot use it to relate to our class discussion except for the fact that Strine separates a lyric from its home long poem to analyze it; this is a practice I disapprove of. I expected my mind to be blown from this article, and it was not. [881]

Strine, Mary S. “Jorie Graham’s Subversive Poetics: Appetites of Mind, Empire-building, and the Spaces of Lyric Performativity.” Text and Performance Quarterly 25.1 (January 2005): 3-13.

(Note: I read it from a PDF file, thus the print MLA citation. I found this article on Humanities International Complete if anybody wanted to know!)

Variation on a Theme That Doesn’t Belong to Me

Monday, April 1st, 2013

This is just to say

 

I am working on

the annotated bib

that was due

last Thursday

 

and that

you were definitely

hoping

to receive

 

Forgive me

I am swamped

So worried

and so overnight

 

(I am sure others can relate to this… although, you all probably have gotten your work done already and are looking at this in utter disdain and disgust for my tardiness. It’s okay. I don’t mind. I’m just trying to be optimistic. FIGHT THE POWER.)

Malekghassemi – SupLongPoem – Four Quartets

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Isun Malekghassemi

ENGL 458 – ALP

Dr. Mara Scanlon

March 18, 2013

T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and the Genre of the Long Poem

T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets (1943) are misnamed, fantastically structured, and deeply thematic. An easier read than his The Waste Land (1922), Four Quartets portrays a shift towards positivity in Eliot’s life – five or so years after he wrote The Waste Land, Eliot joined the Anglican Church and religion transformed him and his writing (“T.S.”). It amazes me that the same man could write these two separate long poems because of how different they are atmospherically, and because of how well they each maintain value to the discussion of genre that is so important to the existence of long poems.

The title of Four Quartets, first off, is a misnomer. There are four separate “quartets”, yes; however, the “quartets” are really “quintets”. Each quartet has five distinct sections marked by roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, V) which are each approximately equal in length and substance to their peer sections. For example, each I section serves a similar purpose in each poem: to give an over-arching theme that will surely be of importance.  To continue, as a discussion on structure, each II section (except for in “Quartet No. 3”) begins with a structured form of lyric, be it multiple stanzas or a single longer one, that has a rhyme scheme and more-or-less a similar line length until there is a clear shift in style to a freer, lengthier structure. The III sections essentially do the exact opposite – they begin with longer, freer verses, and then they gain structure within their last stanza or so. Each IV section is a two or three stanza blurb (except for “Quartet No. 2” which has five stanzas) of strictly adhered to rhyme scheme and metre. The V sections are reminiscent of the I sections – again, over-arching themes with profound thoughts that both conclude and introduce subjects that, respectfully, have been mentioned and will be mentioned.

One of Eliot’s themes is that time exists concurrently. According to his biography at nobelprize.org, “for Eliot, tradition is a living organism comprising past and present in constant mutual interaction.” In his Four Quartets, the reader can recognize this idea of “time past and time future / What might have been and what has been / Point[ing] to one end, which is always present” (46-8 “Quartet No. 1”). This thought is a variation on one of two quotes, both by Heraclitus (fl. c. 500) that Eliot shares on the first page of his long poem: “The way upward and the way downward are the same.” Eliot argues, mostly in “Quartet No. 1”, that this configuration of time is a liberating one. “Time past and time future / Allow but a little consciousness” (84-5 “Quartet No. 1”). He continues,

“To be conscious is not to be in time

But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,

The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,

The moment in the draughty church at smokefall

Be remembered; involved with past and future.

Only through time time is conquered.”

(86-91 “Quartet No. 1”)

Time as an artificial construction is a limiting factor of man that man can “conquer” if only man combines the two of “time future” and “time past” into the present. On the subject of time, he begins section V of “Quartet No. 1” with “Words move, music moves / Only in time; but that which is only living / Can only die,” and he continues to another major theme in his poem: the meaning of existence (1-2).

This is where Eliot begins to discuss words through palimpsestical thinking, something which the genre of “Long Poems” tends to do quite a lot. Eliot says in lines 151 to 155 in his first quartet:

“… Words strain,

Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,

Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,

Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,

Will not stay still.”

Words get meanings layered on top of them, constantly, whether they are actively being used or their resonance is still in the air. Their usage and the silence that follows have a “co-existence” in which “the end precedes the beginning, / And the end and the beginning were always there / Before the beginning and after the end. / And all is always now” (147-51, “Quartet No 1.”). The meaning of a single word, always changing because it has been used in the past, but also always existing in the present being used, and also when it will be used next – all of these possibilities in one word.

Eliot brings up this theme of slippery words that “will not stay still” in section II of “Quartet No. 2” also. He has a structured lyric with metre and rhyme scheme, but then turns right around and criticizes what he just wrote in his next stanza. “That was a way of putting it – ” he begins in line 69, “not very satisfactory: / A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion, / Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle / With words and meanings. The poetry does not matter.” I don’t know what could be a more clear demonstration of rebellion against the lyric form than outright calling it old-fashioned. He does not want poetry to be a way to show off your metaphorical prowess, but rather a true form of communication in which there is no “intolerable wrestle / With words and meanings.” Eliot is criticizing the reasons why poetry is written. He says that there is

“… only a limited value

In the knowledge derived from experience.

The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,

For the pattern is new in every moment

And every moment is a new and shocking

Valuation of all we have been” (82-88)

and because of this poetry cannot be written as prescriptive, ever – but that is how poetry has been used in the past. “The only wisdom we can hope to acquire,” Eliot states in lines 98-9, “Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.” And that is the only lesson we can learn from the past or from poetry written to an audience.

Eliot’s writing in this long poem considers a number of major themes that we have spoken about in class, and reveals a more personal Eliot as opposed to the cruder poet we were introduced to in The Wasteland. Four Quartets proves to be representative of “the long poem” in Eliot’s regard of word meaning, attention to poetic structure, and palimpsestical relationships.

Graham, Daniel W., “Heraclitus”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2011/entries/heraclitus/>.

“T.S. Eliot – Biography”. Nobelprize.org. 18 Mar 2013 http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1948/eliot-bio.html

This is the site I actually got the poem from: https://www2.bc.edu/john-g-boylan/files/fourquartets.pdf but because I can’t find out how to cite it, I’m going to cite another version of the poem:

Eliot, T. S. Four Quartets. New York: Harcourt, Brace and, 1943. Print.

Due Dates

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Your Reading Report on a Supplementary Long Poem is NOW due no later than 4:00 on Monday, March 18.

The directions for your Annotated Bibliography, which is due HARD COPY on Thursday, March 28, are now posted under the new tab called Final Projects.

What Happened in Class Today?!

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

I know I missed! I’m very sad that I did. I have read Heidi’s bridge to the blog and am about to comment on it, too. But please, people, tell me what we talked about!! I want to know!

Triple Goddess

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Last Tuesday I mentioned the representation of “the three goddesses” that Trilogy reminded me of in its first book. Dr. Scanlon entrusted me with taking this to the blog, so here I go – late as ever (seems to be a terrible pattern engulfing my life nowadays) – to explain the idea of the Triple Goddess. So, I’m going to start in modern day neopaganism and wiccanism and I will work my way back into history. I think that will be the coolest way for me to go about doing this.

The symbol above is a representation of the Maiden/Virgin, Mother, and Crone. In order, respectfully, there is a waxing moon representing enchantment and birth, a full moon representing fertility and power, and a waning moon representing death and wisdom. These are figures seem to have come from the three goddesses of the moon from Greek mythology – Artemis (virgin goddess of the hunt), Selene (mother), and Hecate (a wise old witch).

Hecate was also involved in another triple goddess formation when she became involved with Demeter’s search for Persephone when the young girl was abducted to the Underworld. Hecate helped to commence the search, and once the deal was struck, accompanied Persephone down to Hades annually. Hecate – Older woman or crone. Demeter – Mother. Persephone – Maiden.

Hecate on her own was/is also represented by three separate figures that combine to create a unified figure. She is a goddess of the Underworld responsible for witchcraft and darkness. On her own, she already has the three “phases” of the moon mentioned in today’s modern day neopaganist and wiccan religions – facing three different directions, Hecate is symbolic of three different natures of Woman. She is not only the goddess associated with darkness and witchcraft, but childbirth, protection, and motherhood, despite being a virgin goddess.

Hecate was also something of an equivalent to Isis in Egyptian myth.

BUT continuing the importance of the Triple Goddess –

the ever-mentioned Astarte in our poem also had her very own place in a 3xGoddess formation. With Qudshu (Qetesh/Athirat/Asherah) as the mother figure (sexual pleasure and fertility), and Anat as the maiden (virgin goddess of war), Astarte played the crone (representative of divinity, reproductive power of nature, and war) kind of combining the maiden and the mother into one. She was almost directly adapted into Aphrodite – her Phoenecian association with the “star” Venus stuck with her. Wikiepedia says that Astarte was also “one of the Canaanite deities whom the Israelites must abhor.” If only I knew more about the Bible…

Anyway – that’s the gist of it. Now that I’ve read the entire poem, I actually think I see a way that this idea of a triple goddess can be connected to the poem. But it is indeed far-fetched.

This is definitely a poem that I am going to wish we could spend forever on, but as it is, I know I’ll just have to come back to it later and get to know it just a little bit better. It’s so wonderful and full of gumph!

Scoobeedoopadiddilydeebadoobadeebabebopmop

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

A couple things: I am really excited to focus more on the poem and what’s on the page in in our reading of Hughes as opposed to the genre theory and macro analysis of the Long Poem. I know the cloud analysis is important, but I really like looking at what the landscape is doing to so I’m super ready for that 🙂

Secondly, I wanted to say a bit about why I read Dream Boogie the way I did. I already explained the optimistic spin on it, but this is about why I read it at a quicker pace. It has to do with the voices that I said I heard in this poette (poette? a smaller poem that is part of a bigger poem? I just made it up… but I think I like it. So yes, poette). — Something I learned doing the musical last semester, is that people fight for the right to talk. Even if you are having a conversation with your closest friend and you aren’t clamoring to interrupt each other, you still have a response to what your friend is saying and are waiting to say it. As soon as your friend is done talking, don’t you jump right in and speak your piece? (Unless, of course, you generally take longer to think about what you’re going to say, but I think you understand where I’m going with this.) That’s how Professor Stull would tell us to talk to one another on stage – there are no lulls, there is action. People want to be heard.

I believe this can be tied into the way I see the “titles” of the poettes, too. Motivic in function, but sequential(?) in an inner-ear understanding of things… at least to me. Different topics, ideas, or thoughts, all trying to follow as soon as possible the topic, idea, or thought that came before it.

I also want to post later about titles I like, and to shed some light on the meaning of certain things that I don’t believe are common knowledge – jargon and this and that – to see if I can help, even if it’s just a surface definition of things. BUT, for now that’s all I have time for… I’m very excited to spend time on this poem! 🙂

Unreal City

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

In the mentions of the Unreal City… the first time, the line directly afterwards puts the city at dawn. … the second time, the line directly afterwards puts the city at noon. … the final time, “Unreal City” comes after a list of famous ancient cities, however about ten lines later there is mention of moonlight.

Does this remind anybody else of that riddle, “What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?”

Another part that reminds me of this riddle are lines 28-9: “Your shadow at morning striding behind you / Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;” Could the Unreal City just be all the world that has come before us? There is a painting that this reminds me of, although I can’t remember what it was called and I can’t find it online… So, I’m going to ask one of my old Governor’s school teachers for the name of it and I’ll try and upload it soon. Anyway… Food for thought that I’ve been chewing on for some time now… food I can’t quite figure out!

Assessments Tab

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

I added a new tab above that will take you to a page of assessment rubrics for our various assignments.  The JumpStart and Bridge assessments have been moved here, and I’ve also just added the rubric for the critical article summary/analysis.  The one for reading reports on supplementary long poems is forthcoming but will also be on this page eventually.