Not a Beautiful Little Fool

Hi guys! I just want to start and say thank you to those who read my found poem, especially to those who took time to comment! I really did enjoy this assignment.

I choose this page out of The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, to do my found poem on. If you’re familiar with the novel, you are aware of Daisy Buchanan’s hopes for her daughter. In her conversation with her cousin, Nick, she states, “I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool” (21). I personally believe that women are born to be so much more than this. Daisy believes that ignorance is bliss; she wants her daughter to grow up in a perfect world, unaware of the hardships she is facing in society. However, with this attitude, Daisy is prohibiting her daughter from becoming a stronger woman in society. In order to overcome boundaries, we must not be ignorant to the issues and hardships around us. The original page is rather degrading to women, boiling them down to be “beautiful little fool[s]” (21). The world has changed since this novel was written (based in the 1920s), and for the better. Slowly but surely, womens’ voices are gaining more power in society.

I wanted to embrace the idea of Daisy’s daughter being empowered and defying societal odds, rather than just being a beautiful toy in soicety. I focused on turning this page around, and enjoyed doing so. This poem is created to give Daisy’s daughter a powerful voice. I believe that women are born in this world to be powerful and force a greater change in society, which is why I focus on how she will show the world this success. Women are advancing in society, thus gaining a voice and defying odds. The line, “Her voice had been a trick of some sort,” portrays the idea that the daughter is ‘tricking’ this ancient idea that men have the upper hand in society. Her voice is acting as a trick because she is able to speak and gain a sense of self in this world. I tried to create a poem that was the exact opposite of the original passage in order to juxtapose these two ideas of how women are portrayed in society.

Sapphire: The Speaker of the House

Hi all, although this event took place a little while ago, I feel it is necessary to discuss! I attended Sapphire’s reading on April 4th, in Jacobus Lounge.

Walking into this event, I did not know what to expect. I knew of Sapphire and her talents, but was unaware of her powerful voice and strength. For those of you who don’t know, Sapphire is the author of 2 best selling novels, Push and The Kid. Push was adapted into Precious, the movie, which received 2 academy awards. Her work is well known world-wide, as it has been translated into at least 13 languages. Her voice is a prominent one in literature, but it’s also well needed, as she gives voice to the people that are set aside to be invisible. She never holds back in her writing. Her work is so intimate, as her characters draw us in to their realities. Sapphire urges us to look at the harsh truths experienced. Sapphires voice is moving, with the ability to affect all who reads. Her voice is crucial. She pushes us to examine our own ideas and preconceptions, so we’re left with the heavy emotions she evokes in us within her writing. Simply put. Sapphire is a captivating writer, and speaker. You cannot help but keep every ounce of your attention on her as she reads. Watching her speak is like witnessing the pain she has seen and experienced within others all over again. I recall her slamming her fists on the podium, just ready to burst. I can honestly say that I am so grateful to have experienced this power up close in personal, and I am lucky that Cortland granted me this experience. If you were unable to attend, I strongly suggest you buy her novels, so you can experience some of this power as well.

I would like to focus on her reading of “Speaker Of The House.” The poem is not necessarily about Dennis Hassett (the longest speaker of the house) but refers to him multiple times. For those of you who don’t know, Hasset went to prison for sexually abusing the young boys that had been entrusted in his care when he was a wrestling coach. This poem is for the victims of this abuse, who were greatly affected by Dennis Hassett. The poem evokes a great amount of anger within me, as it discusses how the abuse impacted the abused boys. Sapphire takes the persona of these young boys, saying that they feel “I’m nothing, watching you on T.V…” These boys are left broken as this man continued to have power of them and their bodies, years after the abuse stopped. One victim in particular was unable to get job, left broken over the abuse. Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality that victims of sexual abuse face every day.

Another important message I gained from Sapphire’s reading/ Q&A was to read and write every single day. When asked how she found time to write, Sapphire expressed that no matter what, or how busy she gets, she finds time to write. Now unfortunately, I have never been able to section out a specific time to focus on my writing. However, since this reading, I have been writing at night before bed, whether it be a simple poem about the day or how I’m feeling, or my thoughts compiled in to a few pages of my journal! I’ve found that if you make a priority, it will get done!

Overall, I cannot express how happy I am to have experienced the strength of Sapphire. During this reading, Sapphire was the “speaker of the house,” and had her audience captivated throughout.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post!

Connection to Color

Claudia Rankine immediately introduces her audience to a personal anecdote of her youth. Ofen in literature, readers find it very hard to connect to something they have never experienced, yet Rankine makes this objective easy to obtain. She gets very personal with her readers, taking them to a memory that greatly impacted her life, and continues to even years after its occurrence. It is normal to wonder why we are getting thrown into this story. It is also common to think about the reasoning behind Rankine’s direct address to the audience.

In the story, Citizen, Rankine makes multiple references to the audience. She does this by introducing the idea of “you”. By doing so, Rankine is pulling us all in, thus forcing us to connect. I use “force” because without this aggressive nature, many would not even consider relating to the life of the author. Rankine wants us to see life through the experiences that she has overcome. She places us in the middle of her anecdotes, throwing us into a world that many of us would not know. This then opens up a new door of interpretation and understanding.  The use of the pronoun “you” is rather ambiguous. Rankine does not know the audience, yet she involves them in her story regardless of their race or gender; it can be applied to anyone. But to me, that is simply her point; it doesn’t matter your race nor gender, but only that YOU understand the string of stories coming from years of experienced racism. Rankine wants the readers to realize the harsh effects this reality had, and still has, on her everyday life.

The color of her skin has separated her from other children throughout her childhood. Even as a young girl, Rankine would experience backhanded remarks. At 12 years old, she is told that she “[has] features like a white person” by another young (white) girl in her class (5) As a child, Rankine does not know how to interpret this, so sadly enough, she understands it as a thank you in return for letting this girl cheat off of her test (5). 12 years old… these are the things running through the minds of a 12 year white girl. And Claudia, naive and unable to detect the blatant racism, received this as a thank you. Racism is not innate, it is taught. Another example is when a young girl tries to take ownership of the seats on the plane, stating, “these are our seats” while the look on her face gives way to how she really feels– she really does not want to sit next to an African American woman on the plane (12). The mother, clearly sensing her daughter’s uncomfort, does not correct her actions, but condones them by saying that she’ll “sit in the middle” so that her daughter doesn’t have to sit next to this woman (12).

Through these narrated experiences, Rankine uses the pronoun “you” to create a variety of emotional experiences in the reader as they interpret the story. How did you feel when reading this opening stories? How did you react to Rankine’s direct address? More importantly, what emotions does it pull out of the reader? Is it anger, or maybe even disgust? Rankine throws “you” into her experiences because she wants the reader to feel the discomfort she experiences on a daily basis. She wants this to provoke an uncomforting feeling. If this in fact does happen, Rankine succeeds in her goal of forcing the reader to connect to experiences. These introductory stories are supposed to provoke an uneasy feeling. If you look at these stories and scowl in disgust, Rankine has done her job in making you a part of her experiences.