This may come off as a nonchalant rant, and I’m willing to accept the consequences of that (if any). I guess I could also say that due to the inevitable insanity I’ll feel when officially working on that particular essay that I’ll try not to talk about (muahaha), a little rant may be cathartic . This post primarily deals with the beginning of today’s class and the reaction I had when reading Yusef Komunyakaa’s “Facing It”.
The contrast between the blackness of a black man’s face disappearing through black granite is without a doubt poetic, and at least to me – purges racial intensity before fully becoming immersed within the memorial. That of course is my view of it (and a view that I hope is relatively close to Komunyakaa’s intention). Further imagery working within the lack of tears but instead a stone-like exterior, followed by a brief reprisal of eyes. Relating them to birds of prey seems rather appropriate when considering the time period for the memorial and that of the individual having seen granite. Then we’re revisited to the stone, thereby distancing the aforementioned intensity and refocuses to the primary intent behind this memorial – to be a memorial.
With all of that said, it may sound dangerously simple through face value, at least until the heavy number of names is provided for us. Even the idea of finding one’s own name is rather ominous. Although Komunyakaa himself is a Vietnam veteran, so I can (at least) try to imagine the weight that must be, having so many names listed – some of them likely friends or acquaintances, and that understandably shouldn’t require an explanation as to why. Of course, we are then given a conflicted image via Andrew Johnson, along with a rather violent yet-eloquent response to a lethal trap and those unfortunate enough to come across it. The following imagery of a woman’s blouse, the flashing brushstroke, and the wings of a red bird may very well be a light personification of the American flag as I see it, with Komunyakka’s eyes crossing paths with it. This idea is reinforced by the guise of a plane and a veteran sans one arm, whilst Komunyakka is essentially the window and the reflection of black granite leaves one perhaps overwhelmed, then shortly coming unto realization.
As for this relating back to class…I suppose it gives me a slight reprieve when being reminded of personal stories being valid in academic work. Admittedly, my thoughts on the matter have varied from empathetic to downright cynical. So in a way, I suppose this poem brings out the former in me, which is likely something I’ll need in regards to that particular essay.