Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Extra Credit Poetry reading at Spill the Beans

I went to the extra credit reading not really knowing what to expect. I had no idea it would be so crowded and that so many Clemson students were so passionate about poetry. They had an introduction speaker explaining the idea of famous poets and had students read poetry from their super poet and then some of their own.
The first girl who read, read from Terrence Hayes. She explained that he used voice driven techniques throughout his poetry. This is something that I would not have noticed had she not mentioned it. As she read Avocado it was difficult for me to follow and I learned that I follow poetry better when I can visually see the literature in front of me. I also realized I had never been to a reading of literature. I was able to learn that each person can read a poem a different way and give it a different tone, meaning, and feel. The reader was passionate and had a soothing tone to her voice. She read it in a way that I was able to follow the conversation in the poem.
When she read her own poetry (Cyber Optimism, and then Spaceboy), I was able to easily pick on up the fact that she mimicked the way Hayes used conversation in his poem. This opened my eyes to the fact that poetry has no right or wrong answer. It can have conversation, rhyme, or simply tell a story. In addition, it can be very personal and have a specific meaning to the writer; whereas, the audience could not fully understand. This was evident in her reading of Cyber Optimism where I could not tell whether it was a true story about her family or simply a fictional piece.
I believe that is the beauty of poetry. It is a big mystery and allows all readers and audiences to attempt to find the true meaning.
I truly enjoyed listening to people passionately read poetry. I would never have the confidence to read a piece with such emotion and tone.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Week 14 Blog

While reading Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice, the story took a turn. I was expecting it to be a war story, or simply about the things offered in the title, but it was much more.

The relationship between the man and his father was very complex and perplexing. It was confusing, and I feel like I was able to understand it just about as well as the father and son. Due to their past history, it seems as if both didn't know how to interact with one another or where they stood in their relationship.

In the middle, where the son is recalling his father's story, I got a little lost. It was hard for me to transition from which time frame the narrator was speaking, as well as who was speaking. Maybe the author intended this confusion to imply the thought process of the son.

It was very intriguing to here the girl tell the son, "You're romanticizing his past, to make sense of the things you said he did to you." This paints a picture of the son and his father's relationship, as well as the idea that often we can not see our motives, but they are very clear from the outside looking in. When this was said to the son, this realization sent his mind spinning. He was able to search himself to find out what he truly wanted.

The quote, "Even then, my emotions operated like a system of levers and pulleys: just seeing him had sent them irreversibly into motion," is a perfect analogy that the author uses to show the relationship. Their love was not real for each other. It was forced, and confusing. The term family was simply a guideline that they had to follow.

The end of the story was confusing to me. When the son repeatedly said, "if I had known what I knew later," I was unsure whether this meant that the father in fact did not burn his writing, or whether this means the father had his son's interest at hand. I wish it was not left is such an unknown ending. And the final sentence he describes their relationship to a frozen river capable of being shattered by a stone. I feel as if this analogy can be taken in many forms. For example it could show mending of their relationship, or show how the son felt he had bonded with his father, but one mistake could ruin it all.

vocab: eddies-Move in a circular way.
congealed- Solidify or coagulate, esp. by cooling: "the blood had congealed into blobs".

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week 13 Blog

The theme of story telling was very apparent, and as the narrator explains, "Disbelief was permanently suspended, for nobody expected truth or information, just he pleasure of being in the story and, maybe, passing it off as their own. It was different in America: the incessant perpetuation of collective fantasies makes people crave the truth and nothing but the truth- reality is the fastest American commodity." This simple theme of story telling further enlightens the difference in America and other countries. Also, it shows how immigrants are able to view certain rituals. He also explained how Rora was the ideal story teller who could capture his audience and read whether to withhold information, balance suspense, or qualify his laughter.

One quote I found very interesting and insightful was when Brik says,  "A human face consists of other faces- the faces you inherited or picked up along the way, or the ones you simply made up- laid on top of each other in a messy superimposition." It seems such a different way of looking at the human face.

When Brik describes his wife as a "full-blooded American", it was interesting to see his description. It was filled of baseball, kindness, smiles, using "we", receiving a car for her 16th birthday, and wanting to make a difference. It seems to me that these are all good things, and things Americans should be proud of. I couldn't tell whether he was laughing at the matter, or being serious.

I found it much more difficult to follow the story of Lazarus than the story of Brik and Rora's travels. Perhaps the story of Lazarus was more difficult due to the names, and broken story line.

Brik is constantly bashing Christianity and faith, and it also seems as if he is curious and searching for some sort of faith of his own.

proclivities: A tendency to choose or do something regularly.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Week 12 Blog

When I saw the title Cowboy Chicken, I was extremely curious to see what the story could be about. As I read the title seemed obvious as to what it was about, but for some reason I was expecting something different. I found it so interesting to see the different outlooks on the "American way". It seemed to be so interesting how it was so divided.

For me, the food that Cowboy Chicken served was so normal to me, but for the Chinese it was so abnormal. This is such a simple concept but the way that Ha Jin wrote it made it much more interesting.

One thing I realized after I read it, is that although it was written in English, the characters spoke about how they didn't know english. They would speak in English and then say that they didn't know what it meant such as when Mr. Shapiro said, "Let me tell you, you are all terminated!" Later he had to have the word terminated written again so he could figure out the meaning. He then said that it was unnecessary to write the explanation mark, he understood.

They Chinese viewed the American way of business as new, interesting, and different. They wanted to take note and copy they way, although some opposed. I loved reading how they reacted to the buffet. They truly were amazed at the concept of the buffet. They gorged and stuffed their faces.

Capitalism is a common theme. "Everyone was infuriated, and even the two part-times couldn't stop cursing capitalism." It seemed to create anger in all Chinese.

gall- Bold, impudent behavior

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Week 11 Blog

While reading "Orbiting", it took me a while to be able to follow the story. It has a very different tone and style. It is almost as if some times when she is speaking she uses dialogue with quotations, and others she just fits it into the paragraph. It was really hard for me to pick up on the characters as well as dialogue. The short story almost seems like it is missing a few pages at the beginning where the story is introduced. As you read through the story it will randomly give background information when necessary, but can be confusing.

When Ro says, "How else will i know you are as beautiful as I think you are? I would not want an unprized woman," it really took me off guard. Rindy seemed completely fine with the situation, yet it doesn't seem like her personality to admire that remark. Earlier she spoke of how her mother and father view each other, and how her mother told to her to find a man. But the men she found did not seem like "keeepers" to me.

Transitions are slim to none throughout the story. It jumps quickly from scene to scene and at times I was unable to follow the order of events, or their meanings.

One scene that really stuck out to me is when she says, "I cringe as he spells his name. My parents are so parochial." I feel like this shows the different ethnicities, and how we all seem to have mindsets and stereotypes. Also, this simple line really develops the characters. A few lines later she says, "I make the kiss really sexy so they'll know I've slept with this man." It shows Renata is rebellious and not afraid to break the mold her parents often place people in. I have never thought of how men stand differently in different cultures, but I would love to know if this is true, and the meaning behind it.

The very end was written very well. It takes a turn of tone from nonchalant to in depth and meaningful. It says how Ro has come from a culture of hurt and pain as she describes the scars on his back. This whole comparison comes from Renata carving the turkey. As she carves the different parts, she relates them to different aspects of Ro.

parochial: Having a limited or narrow outlook or scope

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week 10 blog

On page 169 of The Same River Twice, it says, "Years ago, I'd left Kentucky and set into motion a pattern of repetitive exile that had ended by dropping me into a rapidly sinking swamp. I had entered the world to become a man and wound up truly caring about very little. Most of my life had been a sequence of halfhearted attempts at self-destruction." These few sentences really reveal the true insight into Chris's realization of what he had done. This entire memoir allows the reader to see all of his adventures while bouncing back and forth between present and past. It seems as though his character in the present is entirely different than the young man he talks about in the stories in past. The man who is traveling the United States seems immature and has no purpose in life, while the man whose wife is pregnant is thoughtful and full of emotion. The man in past seems to have no true feelings, and always seeks to avoid situations, whereas his present self realizes he must face hardships even though he may be scared.

On page 171 it says, "In the sudden rain I realized I was crying, utterly frustrated by my failure to be defeated." This one sentence seemed so bizarre to me, but after thought I realize this may of been what Chris was searching for all along: to be defeated. Throughout all of his adventures he avoided being defeated. It became a game. For example, while working as a waiter, he attempted to get fired, but instead he received more tips until finally he decided to qui- avoiding defeat. Each step of his journey he simply left and escaped before someone could defeat him. Even the hurricane could not get him. Instead of searching for success, I believe it is possible that he was searching for defeat before he finally started to live his life.

The end was so interesting when Chris finally said he was going to write a memoir, which led the reader into figuring out that this whole memoir was explaining why he was writing it.

narc: A federal agent or police officer who enforces the laws regarding illicit sale or use of drugs and narcotics.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

week 9 blog

In the second section of The Same River Twice, Chris Offutt's memoir took a bit of a turn. While reading, although I am not sure if it was intended or not, I feel like the second assigned section had a bit of a different tone and stories.

It is filled of fights and city hopping as well as constant struggle. The first section had a bit more of a funny tone, while this one is more to the point. There is more action as well as "story lines".

I found that Offutt patterns his chapters switching back and forth between past and present day, and it seems as if it is inevitable that these two will soon cross paths. I think the tone ever so slightly changed because in both present and past stories, Chris is growing up. He is maturing and learning more has he travels from city to city.

In his present chapters, his fear of being a father is clearly evident. He uses beautiful language, diction, and metaphors and similes to express his fear. He never clearly says, "I am scared." Instead, he constantly finds things in nature to represent his fear. His mind morphs his sight to all relate back to his coming child.

Offutt truly has a way of beautiful writing and his mind is so much more complex than he gives his self credit for as a young nomad. On page 68, "More and more, I depended on my journal. It was organic, I believed, even sentient. I came to regard the process of recording a lived life as the only material fit for writing. Somewhere in the Rockies, this shifted into a belief that the journal was my life, and the rest of existence only a fiction." This line shows the depth of Chris's mind. It was so interesting for me to see how he was doing such "low", "demeaning" jobs, yet his mind was far beyond his years. It was poetic, deep, and insightful.

Considering this is a memoir, it makes me question how much of this "story" is true. It seems bizarre for me to believe that all of these absurd things happened to a young man in such a short amount of time.

peleolithic:Of, relating to, or denoting the early phase of the Stone Age, lasting about 2.5 million years, when primitive stone implements were used.