Writing on Women Writers

A site for college students to write about women writers.


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The Thread of Time

Having Jamaican American poet Shara McCallum as a guest speaker got me to thinking about a lot of things. These thoughts lead me to a reflective place; I wondered, how do people change as time goes on? And does time change the type of people we are? There is no certain answer for these questions, I know, but in works like that of Shara McCallum we can see the stages and changes that individuals go through. In a personal blog post McCallum says, “In retelling stories (personal, communal, and national), we are often searching for the thread between events of the past and ideas of who we are in the present and who we might become in future.” This quote developed a sort of project for me, and I chose to go back through the books of poetry that McCallum has published and find a thread like she mentioned in her blog.

image.phpMcCallum circa 1999  mccallum008shara2 McCallum-present day

(google images)

In her first collection of poems entitled “The Water Between Us”, McCallum draws from the experiences of her childhood, specifically, her relationship with her parents and feelings of displacement after leaving Jamaica. One of her poems called “Jamaica, October 18, 1972” reads:

                                                                   Jamaica, October 18, 1972

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You tell me about the rickety truck:
your ride in back among goats or cows–
some animal I can’t name now–
the water coming down your legs,
my father beside you, strumming
a slow melody of darkened skies

and winter trees he only dreamed
on his guitar. The night was cool.
That detail you rely on each time
the story is told: the one story

                                                                   your memory serves us better
than my own. I doubt even that night

                                                             you considered me, as I lay inside you,
preparing to be born. So many nights
after it would be the same.

                                                                   You do not rememer anything,
you say, so clearly as that trip:
animal smells, guitar straining for sound,
the water between us becoming a river.

(referenced from link on ANGEL page)

In her third collection of poetry, McCallum revisits the idea of motherhood and parental relationships; however this time, she writes from the opposite perspective: that of a mother. An excerpt from “The Book of Mothers” reads,

“I did not hear or could not listen, I barely knew you when you called.

Now when it’s too late I want to tell you I am a mother

and think I understand something more of grief’s depths.

I am a mother like but also not like you.

My friend (may I call you this in death?) my child’s throat I lean toward to kiss.”

motherhood-2        motherhood_3

From both of these poems, the reader gets a sense of dissatisfaction from McCallum when it comes to her own mother. In “Jamaica” she implies that her mother does not consider her, and makes the point by referencing the first day the neglect began: her birth. Years later, in her poem about motherhood, McCallum makes another reference to her own mother by saying she is “like but also not like” her, and chooses to kiss her child’s throat instead of what her mother might have done in her childhood. It is this idea that represents the ‘thread’ that McCallum mentioned in her blog. The relationship that she had with her mother, whether it be dysfunctional or not, had an impact on her development and her future role as a mother. The psychology behind mother-daughter relationships and their affect on individuals is another interesting topic that I’d like to explore future. There is so much information on this topic to choose from, but I found this video by psychotherapist, Rosjke Hasseldine discussing the importance of mother-daughter relationships. (Try to ignore the unpside-down book slip up haha!).

It might be a minor detail, but I found this visible transition from child to mother through writing really interesting.I also really enjoyed getting to talk to a real, life author about their poetry in class; we should do that more often when possible!


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A Temporary Matter

jhumpa-lahiri

A Temporary Matter by Jhumpa Lahiri is a very emotional story. It stood it from all the other readings we have read during class. Also, it’s a story we all can relate in a way because it’s very modern. I can’t say we all know what it’s like to lose a child but I think we can all relate when you lose interest in someone or regaining a relationship with someone. The couple seem like the average couple that were going through some problems but then the story took a twist when the reader found out that the couple also lost a baby.

couple-arguing

I think when the power goes off for the few days they have to literally confront each other with what has been going between them. Usually the dark covers everyone’s problems but with them just having candles light the room, they are showing that they are still in the dark about what they are seeing but the light represents a confession coming out.

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“”What’s all this?” Shoba said when she came downstairs. Her hair was wrapped in a thick white towel. She undid the towel and draped it over a chair, allowing her hair, damp and dark, to fall across her back. As she walked absently toward the stove she took out a few tangles with her fingers. She wore a clean pair of sweatpants, a T-shirt, an old flannel robe. Her stomach was flat again, her waist narrow before the flare of her hips, the belt of the robe tied in a floppy knot.”

This paragraphs describes how Shukumar see Shoba for the first time like in a new perspective. He sees how pretty she actually is even if she is in just sweat pants. It’s a warming moment because he’s so use to seeing her just either walking out the door or only brief in the morning. But he sees as the woman he fell in love with. He sees her how gorgeous she is when she is all cleaned up and such.

The part that I think brings every thing together was when Shukumar finally confessed what their baby looked like after the baby passed away, “”Our baby was a boy,” he said. “His skin was more red than brown. He had black hair on his head. He weighed almost five pounds. His fingers were curled shut, just like yours in the night.”” The nights the power was out they would confess certain things and on the last night, he tells how the baby looked like and she becomes emotional of it because they never talked about it and she never knew what their future child could have looked like.

The story is emotional and the ending when she admits how she got a new apartment is unexpected. A very modern story that people can relate too and could feel the emotions with each paragraph.


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Beth Brant also known as Degonwadonti belongs to the Turtle Clan which is a Bay of Quinte Mohawk from the Theyindenaga reserve in Deseronto, Ontario. Brant grew up in Detroit,  Michigan were she married and had three daughters. After divorcing her husband, Brant decided to write.

brant01                          TurtleClan

In Brant’s writing she often refers to the white assimilation  that occurred in the 1890’s. In her story, A Long Story Brant discusses the removal of thousands of Native American children from their home,

“It has been two days since they came and took the children away. My body is greatly chilled. All our blankets have been used to bring me warmth. The women keep the fire blazing. The men sit. They talk among themselves. We are frightened by this sudden child-stealing……It is good for them, the agent said. It will make them civilized, the agent said. I do not know civilized” (834).

During the 1870’s the Protestant Church was thought to have lost control of the Native Americans. The Government therefore thought to put into a new act that would help them gain control of this type of culture that they were not familiar with. The Americans put together a Reform Policy that was used to help “civilize” Native Americans but suppressing their culture and communities. The Policy therefore often discouraged any act of participating in their previous culture, for fear that it would disrupt the cohesive process.

The Dawes Act followed, the Reform Policy between the years of 1887 and 1933.  A US philanthropist once stated , “safely guided from the night of barbarism into the fair dawn of Christian civilization”.  This quote helps to explain the idea that the Native Americans should have to speak English American, be of the Christian faith, and basically act and dress in American ways. Because of the Dawes Act, most of the land was split up into plots and were sold to US citizens.

220px-Indian_Land_for_Sale                 chiefjoe

By assimilation cultures, Americans were hoping to create a melting pot of different cultures together. But realistically Americans were more interested in the idea of having just people all become Americans and be a part of the American culture of being white and partake in Christianity.

chieft joeee

Going back to Brant’s idea, Brant uses the oppression of the Native Americans in her story, A Long Story. Brant discusses two different women from different time periods. As stated earlier, Brant uses a heterosexual Native American woman point of view when discussing the assimilation that is decided for her. The other woman Brant discusses is the a homosexual female who’s family is being oppressed because they are not the culture norm,

“He took her hand and pulled her to the car. The look in his eyes of triumph. It was a contest to him. I know he will teach he to hate us. He will!” (840).

For the reader, Brant provides a moving story that allows for connections between two different cultures that have faced oppression because they are not of what is accepted of them. Brant is an excellent writer to strives to get her message across but achieves so much more.

“When I use the enemy’s language to hold onto my strength as a Mohawk lesbian writer, I use it as my own instrument of power in this long, long battle against racism.” -Beth Brant (from her essay “From The Inside Looking At You” in Writing as Witness: Essay and Talk)

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The Story of Eve

Many women characters throughout the bible do not have a voice. Many of their voices are hidden by many of the male voices. One example of this would be in the story of Adam and Eve

To sum up the story God created a man out of clay and placed in him in this beautiful garden. He was not allowed to eat the apple from the tree in the center of the garden. When god saw that he was lonely he created Eve. Eve and Adam loved each other’s company and decided to take a walk into the center of the garden. Eve decides to eat the fruit God forbid them to eat because a snake (otherwise known as Satan) convinces her to do so.  Adam then joins in. God tells them that a Messiah will come and Restore their relationship with Him due to their sin.

Throughout the entire story we hear all about Adam and how he was so great.  Eve was referred to as Adam’s helper she never had a voice. Not until Paula Gun Allen decided to give her one.

In her poem Eve the Fox she talks of Eve and how she feels her thoughts of the events were.  She talks of how strong and sly she was. It talks of how Eve had two characteristics of snakes. It said

“She was serpent wise and snake foolish,”

This goes to show that she was strong yet had a little weakness as well.

This poem gives the impression that Eve was proud of what she was doing. That she was not biting in the apple but the lovely “flesh” of Adam.

“she sighed inside and wiggled deliciously

while he bit deep into the white fleshy”

Another idea that the poem brought out was that Adam and Eve were embracing the fact that they were naked. In the original story they cover themselves with leaves and run and hide. In the poem however they embrace it and continue to eat the apple and enjoy everything about the moment.

“of his sweat, the strong center of his

muscled arms, she worshipped the dark hair

that fell over his chest in waves.

And together riding the current of this

altogether new knowing they had found,

they bit and chewed, bit and chewed.”

Overall the poem helps shine a light on a different aspect. We can see how interpretations of various events can be made.

Below is a reading of Adam and Eve from the bible.

 


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Culture Shock

Oodgeroo of the tribe Noonuccal (formerly known as Kath Walker) is Australia’s best known poet for her indigenous people. Her publication of “We Are Going” in 1964 was her first collection described as “pure propaganda–to make people sit up and take notice” (1021). This author’s style includes a little bit of irony, humor, and challenging racism. Much like many of the indigenous women writers, nature and animals play a huge role in writing. Animals and culture tend to bring the Aboriginal culture together and make it what it is.

~We Are Going~

They came in to the little town

A semi-naked band subdued and silent

All that remained of their tribe.

They came here to the place of their old bora ground

Where now the many white men hurry about like ants.

Notice of the estate agent reads: ‘Rubbish May Be Tipped Here’.

Now it half covers the traces of the old bora ring.

‘We are as strangers here now, but the white tribe are the strangers.

We belong here, we are of the old ways.

We are the corroboree and the bora ground,

We are the old ceremonies, the laws of the elders.

We are the wonder tales of Dream Time, the tribal legends told.

We are the past, the hunts and the laughing games, the wandering camp fires.

We are the lightening bolt over Gaphembah Hill

Quick and terrible,

And the Thunderer after him, that loud fellow.

We are the quiet daybreak paling the dark lagoon.

We are the shadow-ghosts creeping back as the camp fires burn low.

We are nature and the past, all the old ways

Gone now and scattered.

The scrubs are gone, the hunting and the laughter.

The eagle is gone, the emu and the kangaroo are gone from this place.

The bora ring is gone.

The corroboree is gone.

And we are going.’ (Walker, 1022)

The last five lines are something that should be looked at. The fact that the author is implying that without the scrubs, hunting, eagle, emu, kangaroo, and the bora ring, the rest is all going as well. Without the nature and animals around than the people than too have to leave and are gone. Walker uses some good metaphors in this poem. For example, the white men are represented to be “like ants” because they were hurried to them and much like ants, the white men come in large groups and scattered eventually. The bora ring in this poem is essential. The ring represents the Black civilization. The ring is what the Aboriginal culture had come for and seeing that the ring is gone, there is no more purpose for the people as well.

Native Americans believe that all animals are sacred and should be an offering of spirituality. To express their gratitude, Native Americans thank their animals for giving them their food, clothing, and shelter. They also praise nature such as the clouds for bringing them rain.

The Aboriginal Culture lives throughout Australia. Currently, there are 300,000 Aboriginals which only makes up about 1.5% of the Australian population. The hallmark of Aboriginal culture is “to be one with nature.” In traditional belief systems, the Aboriginals view nature as a Christian would worship God.

The legacy of racism runs deep within Oodergeroo Noonuccal writing. In some places, thankfully, settlers treated Aboriginals like civilized people but unfortunately this was not always the case. Certain instances of genocides were sometimes practiced and ironically, this heightened the awareness of these people and their existing culture.

In the 1950’s Aboriginal children were sometimes taken from their families and brought into foster families who are non-aboriginals. This was thought to benefit both the children, their natural parents, and foster parents. This was known as the “Stolen Generation” which only became a widespread movement into the 1990’s. In contrast to President Clinton’s apology to black slavery, the Australian government has yet to make a formal apology over this Stolen Generation.

Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) centralizes her writing based on her indigenous people and their culture. With the use of what she has experienced and the natural world around her, she brings the reader of her poem “We Are Going” into her experiences.


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Shara McCallum – Poems to Convey History

In class, we skyped with poet Shara McCallum, and she talked to us about her life history, the history of Jamaica, and her inspiration for writing.

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Photo of McCallum sourced from here.

Many poets write to express their emotions and reactions to their personal lives. McCallum does this as well as writes about the general history of Jamaica.

In her poem Psalm For Kingston, she writes:

City where power cuts left everyone in sudden dark,
    where the kerosene lamp’s blue fame wavered on kitchen walls,
        where empty bellies could not be filled,
    where no eggs, no milk, no beef today echoed
In shantytowns, around corners, down alleyways

This section and the entirety of this poem capture McCallum’s opinions of what Jamaica was like when she was young. In reading her poems, one is able to feel a more emotional connection to the history than they would from a textbook. It is one thing to read, “Jamaica endured hard times,” but it is another to read, “they paid weekly dues, saving for our passages back to Africa.”

In this video at around 9:30, McCallum explains to the interviewer that she writes about things to “say what’s unsayable.” In saying this, she essentially means that for her, writing is a way to both get out her feelings and to explain topics that may be taboo or uncomfortable to discuss.

A video of Kingston, Jamaica (where she was born) in 1972.

McCallum is able to write her poetry in a way that is generally easy to understand but also covers historical topics. She has said about writing:

“Poetry links us to each other and to the human experience. The precise use of language, the diligence and attentiveness poetry needs, makes it inherently meditative. It requires that we slow down and pay attention to our surroundings and to one another.”

(Quoted from this page)


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“A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri

152744__jhumpa_lLahiriProfile

Jhumpa Lahiri is an Indian American women writer whom authored both a novel and several highly acclaimed short story collections. Lahiri’s short story “A Temporary Matter” first appeared in The New Yorker and was later included in her collection of short stories Interpreter of Maladies which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999. The stories are centered around the assimilation and the integration of Indian and Indian American in the United States while sustaining their Indian culture. According to Noele Brada-Williams of San Jose State University, “Lahiri’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work features diverse and unrelated characters, a variety of narrative styles, and no common locale. Indeed, the text even transcends national boundaries, being set in both India and the United States. However, a deeper look reveals the intricate use of pattern and motif to bind the stories together, including the recurring themes of the barriers to opportunities for human communication; community, including marital, extra marital, and parent-child relationships; and the dichotomy of care and neglect” (Noelle Brada-Williams). “A Temporary Matter” presents the failing marriage of the American Indian couple Shukumar and Shoma, six months after Shoma’s miscarriage. Lahiri utilizes quiet details and signifiers to illuminate the destruction of the couple’s marriage. Lahiri limits the story to Shukumar’s third-person point of view to convey Shoba’s character to the audience.

Lahiri provides the reader with quiet details throughout her story to gradually convey the couple’s failing marriage to the reader. When the story first begins, the reader senses uncomfortable tension between the couple through limited conversation with each other. When Shoba and Shukumar discuss the scheduled power outage, Shoba states, “But they should do this sort of thing during the day.” Shoba immediately responds with, “When I’m here, you mean,” (Jhumpa Lahiri). Through this brief dialogue, the reader recognizes the repressed tension between the characters. Instead of addressing the miscarriage, Shukumar conveys his emotions by focusing on the minor or insignificant details of their lives. For instance, when Shoba reminds Shukumar of his upcoming dentist appointment, “He ran his tongue over the tops of his teeth; he’d forgotten to brush them that morning. It wasn’t the first time. He hadn’t left the house at all that day, or the day before. The more Shoba stayed out, the more she began putting in extra hours at work and taking on additional projects, the more he wanted to stay in, not even leaving to get the mail, or to buy fruit or wine at the stores by the trolley stop” (Jhumpa Lahiri). Shukumar’s lethargic attention towards the minor details masks his deep distress over the loss of his child and the distance between him and Shoba.

As the story gains momentum, Lahiri quietly shows the reader how estranged Shoba and Shukumar’s relationship has become. Lahiri wrote, “But nothing was pushing Shukumar. Instead he thought of how he and Shoba had become experts at avoiding each other in their three-bedroom house, spending as much time on separate floors as possible. He thought of how he no longer looked forward to weekends, when she sat for hours on the sofa with her colored pencils and her files, so that he feared that putting on a record in his own house might be rude. He thought of how long it had been since she looked into his eyes and smiled, or whispered his name on those rare occasions they still reached for each other’s bodies before sleeping” (Jhumpa Lahiri). Lahiri depicts a deeply forlorn picture of the couple’s mannerisms towards each other. Through her word choice, Lahiri quietly illuminates Shoba and Shukumar’s marital issues are potentially unrepairable. According to the American Journal of Public Health, “Depressive symptoms are markedly increased in the early weeks following miscarriage. This effect is substantially modified by number of living children, length of gestation at loss, and attitude toward pregnancy” (R. Neugebauer). Although both Shoba and Shukumar felt deeply depressed after Shoba’s miscarriage, the emotional strain for Shoba was almost unbearable.

“At some point in the evening she visited him. When he heard her approach he would put away his novel and begin typing sentences. She would rest her hands on his shoulders and stare with him into the blue glow of the computer screen. “Don’t work too hard,” she would say after a minute or two, and head off to bed. It was the one time in the day she sought him out, and yet he’d come to dread it. He knew it was something she forced herself to do” (Jhumpa Lahiri). The power outage was a brief moment in which the couple reconciled and reflected upon their relationship together. The couple confide in each other, confessing their intimate intrigues and disappointments in each other, breaking the silence and bringing them closer to each other. When the power went out, the couple felt that they could discard their masks confide in one another. Shukumar believed that their evenings together had saved their marriage, however, the power outages were merely a temporary respite to the pain the estranged couple felt.

In Lahiri’s short story, Shoba illuminates more strength than her husband. While Shukumar was in his sixth year of graduate school working on his dissertation, Shoba worked as a copyeditor, providing for both her and her husband. Also, Shoba approached her husband with the idea to share her intimate thoughts with him, taking control of the evenings they spent together under the candlelight. Finally, when the power was turned back on, Shoba turned on the lights and announced, “I’ve been looking for an apartment and I’ve found one,”  concluding the game and their marriage. (Jhumpa Lahiri). Throughout Lahiri’s short story, Shoba illuminated strength over her husband. Although both Shukumar and Shoba realized that their relationship was unreconcilable, Shukumar was unable to approach his wife. Instead, Shukumar hid behind the insignificant details of their lives together. Ultimately, Shoba assumed the initiative to end their relationship and move on.

The temporary matter in Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story could not salvage the Shukmar and Shoba’s marriage. “A Temporary Matter” by Lahiri illuminates the struggle to overcome the loss of a child. Lahiri utilizes quiet details to enhance and drive her story.

In 2011, Lahiri visited the University at Buffalo as a guest speaker for the universities’ Distinguished Speakers Series. I have provided a clip below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pP33tPFw47E

Works Cited:

Brada-Williams, Noelle. “Reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies” as a Short Story Cycle.” MELUS 29.3/4 (2004): 451-64. Print.

Neugebauer, R., et al. “Determinants of Depressive Symptoms in the Early Weeks After Miscarriage.” American Journal of Public Health 82.10 (1992): 1332-9. Print.


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The A word – Sexton dares to write about Abortion

anne-sexton

Being  a remarkable confessional poet, Anne Sexton is most famous for her works on controversial subjects such as depression, suicidal tendencies, abortion, sexuality, addiction, and the female body.

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“Much of Anne Sexton’s poetry is autobiographical and concentrates on her deeply personal feelings, especially anguish. In particular, many of her poems record her battles with mental illness” (Poetry Foundation).

In Sexton’s poem, “The Abortion” (532).  the speaker begins with the abrupt and painfully accurate line, stating “Somebody who should have been born is gone.”  The bluntly reminds the reader, yes, the person who undergoes this procedure does infant realize exactly what they are doing.

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The voice of the speaker then proceeds to write with imagery, describing a beautiful landscape, with “Blue Mountains, where Pennsylvania humps on endlessly, wearing like a crayoned cat, its green hair.”

Smack dab in the middle of the poem, The speaker writes again, “Somebody who should have born is gone,” almost symbolizing how in the midst of the beautiful and serene moments of life, one will remember what had happened to them- A horrible and constant reminder.

The speaker continues to describe their surroundings, “The grass bristly and stout as chives,” but then goes into the mind of the speaker, “and me wondering when the ground would break/ and me wondering how anything fragle survives,” obviously refering to the fetus that they had aborted, again, another horrible reminder of they pregnancy that they lost.

Within the seventh stanza, the speaker introdudes the character “Rumpelstiltskin,” the fiction character within in a childhood fable. This introduction of the character helps the reader remember, that “Somebody who should have been born is gone,” would eventually have been a child who would have heard stories involving this character. This play on emotions helps strentgthen the  grave impact on the reader.

The last stanza of the poem breaks out of the imagery and speaks to the audience about the abortion. Sexton writes,

“Yes, Woman, such logic will lead

to loss without death. Or say what you meant,

you coward….this baby that I bleed.” (533).

“lead to loss without death” describes the rationale that an abortion leads to loss of a pregnancy, but it does not cause death, because there was never life to take a away. The speaker seems to be condemning them selves, almost yelling, “Or say what you mean,” telling themselves to say what they mean to say, rather than sugar coating it to make themselves feel better. The speaker understands that this action had to be done, by use of the word “logic”, but the anger and harshness leads the reader to believe the remorse of the speaker.

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What is a Mother?

A woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth. 

This is one definition of a mother. Though people all over have their own definitions this one comes close to the universal meaning. In Gwendolyn Brooks‘s, “the mother” the reader finds a definition that is much different but still all in all the same in the truth of “giving birth”.

“Abortions will not let you forget.

You remember the children you got that you didn’t get,

The damp small pulps with a little or no hair,

The singers and workers that never handled the air…”(808).

Brooks highlights the burden of abortion and the feelings that brew in the mind. Small pulps nit even yet a formed human being soon becomes a singer or a worker. The reader meets a mother that never had the chance to experience the life that was created inside of her. Yet the definition of a mother is a woman who has given birth to a child or children. Even the title allows the reader to understand relationship of this mother to her children. Though these children never had the opportunity of living with a voice of their own, this mother hears it.

“I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim

killed children…”(808)

Brooks allows the reader to see that motherhood, no matter what form it is in, is still a title that every mother will hold. Though a woman may never see her child born, or may have a stillborn, or give up their child or children, they are no less attached, they are no less affected.

A woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth. 

 This is one definition of what a mother is. Yet Brooks gives the reader a look into the thoughts of a woman who never did give birth to her child or children. A woman who felt sorrow and pain for her loss children.

“If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,

Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate…” (808)

A woman who is a mother.

What is a mother? A woman who creates life, can nurture or stop it, makes choices for the better of her seed, feels what her children feel even when they are apart, makes choices for her own good; a woman who is first of all, human. Brooks shows the reader a woman who is human, who feels no less than any woman who has kept her child or children, and feels no less of a bond than if her children had become that singer or worker. Brooks presents the reader with a woman who loves and have loved her seeds.

“Believe me, I loved you all.

Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you

All” (808).


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Sharon Olds Stepping Outside the Box

Sharon Olds

Sharon Olds is a very unique person. She is a contemporary American poet and is very well-known for her poems for a particular reason. She writes poems about very controversial issues. She writes about poems that deal with child abuse, rape, sexual desire, incest, and maternal love.

Olds first started writing in the 80’s. One example of a poem written in The Year. This can be found on page 559 in our book. To sum up the poem it is a flashback told by a little girl. She talks of a year when a girl in her class was found murdered and raped.

“…was the year they found her body in the hills,

in a shallow grave, naked, white as

mushroom, partially decomposed,

raped, murdered, the girl from my class.” (pg. 559)

She also goes on to talk about how her mother wanted to leave their father and how risky it was. They wanted to make  sure they were far away so the father could not find them. It talked of the suffering she had to deal with. It also stated at the end that the girl had something in common with those from the Holocaust.

“It had happened to six million.

And there was another word that was not

for the six million, but was a word for me

and for many others. I was:

a survivor.”

She was strong and a survivor. She had to suffer what many children today do. Children around the world suffer from abusive parents. One statistics states that nearly 3.6 million cases of child abuse are made every year in the United States.  There are more statistics but this one sinks in the most.

Olds wrote this in a time period where such topics were not written about. She talked of other serious issues as well. In 1993 she wrote, in my opinion one of her most controversial poems. This poem deals with a 12-year-old girls being raped.

“They chased her and her friend through the woods

and caught them in a small clearing, broken

random bracken, a couple of old mattresses,

the dry ochre of foam rubber,

as if the place had been prepared.

The thin one with black hair

started raping her best friend,

the blond one stood above her,” (pg. 560)

This poem continues on in more detail about what the men actually did to the little girls. As a woman I found this very hard to read and that is in present day when the topic of rape is more common. I imagine that when this poem came out (1993) it was a lot more controversial. Rape is still an issue in today’s society. There are even statistics of rapes that have occurred.

Olds today continues to write about controversial issues. She tends to also write about funny aspects as well. In the video we hear her read poems that contain topics many people don’t usually write poems about.

Once when Olds was interviewed and asked about her writing she stated “’I think that my work is easy to understand because I am not a thinker. I am not a…How can I put it? I write the way I perceive, I guess. It’s not really simple, I don’t think, but it’s about ordinary things—feeling about things, about people. I’m not an intellectual. I’m not an abstract thinker. And I’m interested in ordinary life.” She added that she is “not asking a poem to carry a lot of rocks in its pockets. Just being an ordinary observer and liver and feeler and letting the experience get through you onto the notebook with the pen, through the arm, out of the body, onto the page, without distortion.’”

This is a very inspiring quote and can help future writers. Overall Sharon Olds is responsible to bringing to light issues people do not want to talk about. I believe her poems will continue to be relevant many years down the road. The issues she brings up will continue to be controversial no matter how many years have passed.