Saturday, August 24, 2013

Analysis of "Like Any Good American" by Brynn Saito

Original poem reprinted online here: "Like Any Good American" by Brynn Saito
Originally read: April 5, 2013
More information about the Poet: Brynn Saito







I think the message here is simple.  The title "Like Any Good American" refers to the actions of a country in the negative; however, by referring to the self "I" as a symbol of "America" then the political message of giving up to technology is buffered since the reference is to I, the plural disguised as a singular,  rather than the "American," the singular disguised as a plural. 

However, the technique is interesting.  The spacing and line-breaks bring a difference to the message, but not a reversal.  For example, the spacing in between phrases like "I give it my eardrums         I give it my longing" juxtapose the actual and the emotion.

But this is the huge note to this poem, that the breaks doesn't mean a break from the sentence structure.  Rather, the poem depends on the connections the line breaks make as sort of a implied connection.  So I'll go down each one:



  • "I give it my corneas / I give it my eardrum"  The plurality at the "giving" here versus the single receiving of filling the "longing."
  • "I give it my longing /  In return I get pictures"  The singular "fulfilling emotion" is returned with "pictures."
  • "an men flying / and women in big houses"  Difference in "gifts" regarding in this fulfilled state -- men have a sense of freedom but nothing to ground them, women have something to bind them but space to explore -- a juxtaposing image in multiple levels.
  • "blotting down tears / with tiny knuckles" the tears is more of an emotional impact, however, the adjective of tiny not only describes the size of the tears (possibly), but the size of the "knuckles" -- an unusual (but slight) part of the body which seems normal when the reality of the poem gives into the surreal entertainment.
  • "Sometimes my mother calls / and I don't answer"  This one is more blatant connection with the conjunction.  But this shows the decay of real connections, and the sacrifice of the self for entertainment.
  • "sings past the window / and summer air" construction (window) versus nature (air) in a sense -- all are disregarded.
  • "dripping with the scent / of human sweat" a switch away from the visual to the olfactory.  Note that human sweat refers to what?  What is seen in the television or is it the effects of what is happening to the speaker?
  • "I've given my skin / to the TV"  The actualization of the surreal.
  • "where the secrets / of my life" Kind of a cliche line but used in a different context.  This line doesn't work unless the whole line is present, "flesh by like ad space     for the coming season" and there's the pun of "season" as in nature, and "season" as in a time frame for a television series in which the series will be back next year ("season finale" versus "series finale")
Yet, with all this technique, the message is, as I wrote in the beginning, simple.  

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