Recursion, Feedback, and Friction in Lucille Clifton’s “surely i am able to write poems”

surely i am able to write poems

celebrating grass and how the blue

in the sky can flow green or red

and the waters lean against the

chesapeake shore like a familiar

poems about nature and landscape

surely     but whenever i begin

“the trees wave their knotted branches

and…”     why

is there under that poem always

an other poem?

–– Lucille Clifton

Continue reading “Recursion, Feedback, and Friction in Lucille Clifton’s “surely i am able to write poems””

The Aftermath of a Threat and a Call to Action

It feels appropriately recursive that I end my time posting with the same topic that I started with: the topic of homelessness in Victor LaValle’s Big Machine. I predicted in my last post and in conversations with other people that the homeless people would play an important role in the unfolding events, and I was right.

Continue reading “The Aftermath of a Threat and a Call to Action”

Bloodchild and A Wrinkle in Time

Octavia Butler’s piece Bloodchild disarmed me when I first read it. The way that T’Gatoi would speak to the narrator was something that disturbed me, and the idea that the male narrator would end up carrying an egg for T’Gatoi, in a situation where the affirmative consent was unclear, frightened me deeply. What made the story more concrete in my head was the thesis that this story was not about slavery, but was drawing from an post-apacolyptic future where aliens landed on Earth and humanity had to negotiate with the aliens on Earth already. Bloodchild could be based in past events and conflicts, such as colonialism, but the vision is ultimately based in a future, a time far away from now.

Bloodchild is futuristic both in content and authorial vision, but throughout reading Bloodchild and Big Machine (which I have talked through in depth in the linked posts above), I have been thinking of the very first science fiction/fantasy novel that I read long ago. This novel is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle.

Continue reading “Bloodchild and A Wrinkle in Time”

Disarming the Audience

I said that my next post would continue the epic saga of homeless people in Victor LaValle’s Big Machine, but I think that post will percolate for a little while more while I write out this post. Percolate, or to bubble and warm up, is an SAT word that is a very useful word to know. The SAT, however, was a test created by upper-middle class white men to admit people with similar backgrounds into college. I will be talking about some of those examples in this next post.

In Imperceptible Mutabilities, Susan-Lori Parks uses a character called “The Naturalist” to serve as a narrator for the confusing plot. Instead of blending in, the character, with his white skin and holier-than-thou attitude, stands out amongst “them roaches” (Parks, 29) that he has been studying. This character archetype is incredibly familiar to many of us, and in my group, we discussed characters like…

Continue reading “Disarming the Audience”

A Threat and a Call to Action

If you are reading this post and recalling whether there was a post with a similar title to this, you are absolutely right. This post is a continuation of my previous post, which happened to be my first post on this blog. Like the fractals, the figure of the homeless person returns in full force to the pages of Big Machine, and this permutation of the homeless person rears its head in a unique way.

Continue reading “A Threat and a Call to Action”

A Response to Maria Papas’ Post “What Wall Are You On?”

I admit, Maria’s post “What Wall Are You On” piqued my interest because of the mention of the words “Queer Eye.” I’m a fan of this show because I enjoy seeing the Fab Five completely transform someone else’s life, especially someone who has not been taking care of themselves. Each Queer Eye episode is fairly formulaic, with a car ride, a brief description of the subject the Fab Five is making over, the Fab Five interacting with the subject and offering their advice, a party or reunion that’s planned for the “reveal” of the transformation, and the Fab Five cheering from their couch, watching their television screens.

Since I was able to sum up Queer Eye episodes in one (albeit long) sentence, I believe I can pinpoint a beginning, middle, and an end. Perhaps a transformation breaks up the recursive patterns of low self-esteem, low confidence, and insecurity. However, can transformation effectively conveyed in a format where there is a beginning, middle, or end, admittedly an evolution? Should a transformation need certain kinds of empirical proof (such as a weight loss, a haircut, a teeth fixing, a home renovation, a new job?) in order to be valid?  Continue reading “A Response to Maria Papas’ Post “What Wall Are You On?””

Empowerment in “How Could Anyone”

I have been going to a Lutheran leadership ministry for four summers. It is only a week long, but each time I go it feels like a year. One of ways in which I remember the ministry is by creating a playlist of some of the songs that we sing. Some of these songs include “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers, “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, and “How Could Anyone” by Libby Roderick.

Continue reading “Empowerment in “How Could Anyone””

A Tale of Two Tributes

When I was flipping through the anthology, I noticed in Ntozake Shange’s poem “my father is a retired magician” that in the speaker’s idolect, certain graphemes are omitted from words, even though they make certain sounds. The title of the poem allude’s to the speaker’s father, while the poem is also dedicated to Shange’s siblings Ifa, P. T., and Bisa. Within the poem, the words with omitted graphemes are smaller, common words, often recognized as sight words.

Continue reading “A Tale of Two Tributes”

The Rewards of Re-Reading

I’ve had the pleasure of reading selections of W.E.B Du Bois’ work The Souls of Black Folk three times, including as an assignment for this class. The most consistent element of my praise is how singular Du Bois’ voice is: it seems to reverberate in the historical context, in the philosophical context, in the literary context, and in the present day. I know of very few works, literary or otherwise, that have that wide of a reach.

Continue reading “The Rewards of Re-Reading”

A Threat or a Call to Action?

Throughout our class time we have discussed recursion in the grander sense: in major events such as life and death, seasons and the spin of fortune’s wheel. On the other hand, in the midst of these dense topics, I wonder where recursion occurs in the day to day. I wonder how the patterns that people fall into on a daily basis can be informed by a grander scale, and what the effects of that collision are like.

Continue reading “A Threat or a Call to Action?”