Perspective Writing/Reading in Poetry

So recently I’ve been in the planning stages of my Great Day presentation and in doing so I’ve believe I have found another source for poetry; what I’m speaking of is perspective. Almost every human being has the innate ability to look at an object and/or idea and perceive it’s meaning or description as something else. For example, while writing, two people may look at an apple for inspiration; one person sees the apple as just an apple and writes their poem about an apple; however, the other person might see the apple as a symbol of knowledge and write their poem about knowledge. Without giving too much of my planning for great day away, I believe that perception of ideas/meaning of objects has to do with a plethora of different factors, which include: faith, education, and medical reasons to name a few. I say medical reasons because for instance, I am colorblind and therefore perceive colors differently than others. I perceive colors in my poetry by describing what color should look like, and not what actual color it is. Look out at Great Day for my presentation! 🙂

Repressed memories?

In my past blog post “Home Depot by Brian Turner,” I talked about poetry being able to draw out repressed memories. After doing some digging, I found that the memory I was describing as repressed could be argued that it wasn’t actually a repressed one. The reason being around what a repressed memory actually is. A repressed memory is actually a psychological phenomenon, in which a person’s brain suppresses a traumatic moment because it is too much to handle. This phenomenon occurs mostly in adults that were abused as children. The trauma of their childhood was too much for their brain at the time and it could not handle the stress of it, therefore, their brains acted as if the event never happened. However, as their minds aged memories events that could not be processed are now able to be processed and their memory of the event comes to the surface. The memory that I described in my past blog post wasn’t a repressed memory, but a memory that slipped into my deep subconscious. 

Now, I am no psych major and trying to make sense of all this seriously gave me a brain aneurysm. So please forgive me psych majors, if I butchered this concept. In my research though, I found an article on the effect of poetry on your brain and learned some interesting things. The article bases it’s content off a study done by the University of Exeter to figure out the effect of poetry on the brain. I found that music and poetry affect your brain the same way; both stimulate the right hemisphere of the brain and is responsible for joy and thrill. I also found out and this is the big one- that while reading their favorite poetry, the area of the volunteer’s brain that is responsible for memory “lights up.” While I don’t know what the volunteers were thinking of, I believe I experienced what they experienced while reading At Lowe’s Home Improvement Center. Reading that piece: activated my deep subconscious, made my brain make a connection that was not in my immediate thought, and caused me to actually relate to something that I had forgotten I related to- that just amazes me… Reading a poem- words on paper caused all that to occur in my brain.

Here, Bullet

In this week’s blog post, I was gonna talk about a point I brought up in my previous one. In which poetry and writing has the ability to bring forward suppressed memories. However, my copy of Here, Bullet by Brian Turner came in and wow, I’m loving it. So I thought I would take this blog post and talk about it so far. Right now, I am little more than half-way done with the collection and I can’t stop reading it. The themes of the collection follows: the emotional turmoil of both American soldiers and Iraqi fighters during the conflict in Iraq, how the fighting affect Iraqi citizens, how American soldiers are viewed in Iraq and many more. Turner switches POV in this collection between American soldiers, Iraqi fighters, and Iraqi citizens. Poems such as What Every Soldier Should Know and Two Stories Down are two of the many that show the reality of war. The first poem mentioned has the narrator presumably an older vetran speaking to younger men. He tells them some of the customs of the Iraqi people, but also intertwines threats that they should be aware of while on patrol. The second poem mentioned shows the brutalness of combat and I would hate to spoil it because it has a “oh damn” moment in it. One of my favorite poems so far though is called Ashbah The poem’s title means “Ghost” and it follows the dead of both sides as they struggle to find their way back home. I believe it is Turner’s ability to have such elegant brutality in his poems that make them so effective. I encourage everyone to give it a read.

If you want to give it a read, just ask me in class and I’ll let you borrow it 🙂

Home Depot by Brian Turner

During one of our past classes, Professor Smith referenced a poem by Brian Turner called Home Depot. After he mentioned it and the themes that surrounding the poem, such as a soldier’s PTSD and dealing with it in public, I was very intrigued. After that class, I spent a good hour and a half looking for Brian Turner’s Home Depot yet could not find it. Of course, it is when I gave up looking for it that Professor Smith emailed the class saying the title wasn’t Home Depot, instead it was called At Lowe’s Home Improvement Center. It was very humorous and I guess I can’t blame him for mixing up two very similar hardware stores. That aside, when I was finally able to read Brian Turner’s poem, I was blown away. I have never read a poem that has described combat PTSD is such a manner before and I was completely taken aback by it. I come from a military family, although my father didn’t serve, both my grandfathers and their fathers served in the military. My one grandfather, whom I was close to served in the Vietnam War. When I was around seven years old, my grandfather brought me to a Dunkin Donuts to get a jelly doughnut. It was our usual tradition to get one after my day at school. When we entered the building it was business as usual. We waited in line and my grandfather held my hand cracking some jokes. Suddenly, a loud crash came from the back room. I don’t know if it was a pan or something falling, but it made a pretty loud noise. My grandfather squeezed my hand and he looked straight ahead with a gaze that still make my hairs stand on edge today. I asked what was wrong, but he didn’t answer. After a few minutes, he snapped out of it and continued on like nothing had happened. I never had the courage to ask him what had happened, but over the years I pieced it together; I assumed that the noise triggered memories from the war. After reading At Lowe’s Home improvement Center, I was immediately drawn back to that memory. Keep in mind I had not thought about this for years and honestly didn’t even remember it till I read this poem. This brings me to a point that I would like to explore more in the future, that poetry has the power to cause repressed memories to rise to the surface. I believe that poetry is it’s strongest when it is able to draw on locked memories; to shatter the mold that would keep emotions hidden away. Anyway, I definitely look forward to developing this idea more and reading more of Brian Turner’s work. His collection Here, Bullet should be arriving in a few days!

Looking Towards Prose for Inspiration

While the recommended blog post this week was supposed to explore our beginnings in writing poetry, I believe that I covered that sufficiently in my last post. Instead I would like to deviate from the path a bit and talk about a novel whose imagery I try to model the imagery in my poetry after. The novel which I refer to is “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. The novel’s author writes interactions between characters in a minimalistic style, choosing to forgo quotation marks and keeping the dialogue brief. Instead, McCarthy focuses more on the imagery of the novel. Emphasis is put on the environment in the novel and how the Hell wrought apocalyptic scenery  United States is one of the main driving forces for the story. 

For those that haven’t read “The Road,” here is a quick summary I put together: The Road takes place in the barren United States in the near future after an unknown apocalyptic event ravages the world. The reader follows an unnamed father and son as they make their way across the US. They are trying to reach the coast, where they believe they can find some semblance of safety.Their journey is filled with a bleak and dark landscape; woven together with grotesque scenes of other survivors that depict the descent of the rest of humanity into madness. Along the way the father questions his own humanity and whether or not he wants to raise his son in this new cruel and decrepit world.

The Road is a truly fascinating read and it draws readers into the pages. Mainly due to the imagery that it establishes. One of my favorite passages in this novel is:

“She was gone and the coldness of it was her final gift. She would do it with a flake of  obsidian. He’d taught her himself. Sharper than steel. The edge an atom thick. And she was right. There was no argument. The hundred nights they’d sat up debating the pros and cons of self destruction with the earnestness of philosophers chained to a madhouse wall.”

It’s passages like these that make me excited to write. The way McCarthy is able to show the events of a suicide is crude,but is masterfully done in the “show, don’t tell” art. Language such as “The edge an atom thick” or “the coldness of it was her final gift” just jolts my metaphoric phrase library in my head awake. If anyone is looking for a good, but heart wrenching read, I implore you to give this novel a read. 

Trigger warning: This novel does contain grotesque violence between human and human, Human and animal and Implications of slavery, suicide and rape. 

The Start of my Writing and my Evolution

If someone were to ask me “what poets do you draw inspiration from while writing?” I wouldn’t have the slightest idea on how to answer. Truth be told, I don’t follow or read many other poet’s works (though quite honestly I should). As for sources, at the time of me taking this course I am currently going through a shift in my my main inspiration for writing. I began writing about five years ago. Originally, I used poetry as a coping mechanism to deal with the death of my uncle. His death sent me down a spiral that I couldn’t seem to climb back up from. In my early poetry, I used my uncle’s death as a catalyst to explore my deepest emotions. Fear, loss, anger, and angst were a few of the emotions I drew on. For many years I wrote by drawing on these emotions, however, over the course of last semester, I decided to put my uncle’s memory to rest. I am now currently on a journey to explore new avenues of inspiration. My latest works of poetry have been results of me expanding my horizons. I have recently written poems that draw on my love of music and my feelings towards my colorblindness. In fact, I have delved deep into my colorblindness; in which both I explore its effect on life in a positive light. I have also recently begun looking at other poets works, in order to further develop my own form. In my last poem about color blindness, “ Red-Green, Blue-Purple: Ode to colorblindness,” I took inspiration from Aisha Sharif’s poetry. I hope to continue to look for more sources of poetry and inspiration to make my own.