Friday, November 6, 2015

Analysis of "Here" by Bill Knott

Original Analysis found here: Analysis of "Here" by Bill Knott"
Poem found here: "Here" by Bill Knott



Short poem, but it plays so well with opposites.  The first line, "it's dark in the asylums dayroom" is a continuation of the title.  What's so interesting about the line are two things.  First, there's the opposite of exceptions and language-- darkness in a day room, but also look at the space between the first line and the title: white space.  This white space seems like a darkness or a nothing which is a theme throughout this short poem.
"where the insane count me on their fingers'  I'm not sure what this lines mean.  It does add to the setting, and adds play to the ambiance.
"Though I still add up to nothing,"  Once again a play of language of expectations.  Now this is taken from the perspective of the insane to "here" -- the current.  But what does here mean?
"Therapeutically speaking."  That last jolt of a line makes it funny, but sad at the same time.  What if the white space and something is the breaking point of sanity.  Counting on something, but adding up to nothing.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Analysis of "Singlehanded" by Matt Salyer

Poem Found Here: "Singlehanded" by Matt Salyer


So I'm going to approach this a bit differently -- more reader response than new criticism.  So the first line, "Black apertures in a field of ghost," sets up a dark and creepy atmosphere and ambiance.  Not so much with the term, "field of ghost" but with black apertures which, "they come to me when the winter will be / their last." The noun is specific but the scene is so broad.  Also who is the speaker?  Why do these figures go to him?    What makes this poem wonderfully creepy is the language -- so specific, but so vague.  There's a play of suspension -- wanting to know more.

But the poem reads as though we're too late, "When we collapse, we collapse by the common law / of us."  What is this common law of us?  It's how the speaker is connected to this aperture.  Well the following images of separating the speaker from body parts kind of leads me to this direction

     [...]I do not peel the foil of cold from our stupor.
     I forgot the lame hocks, fine as you'd guess,
   
     and my jaw shovels a hum from the animal lung
     I face.

But note how the language is so tightly focused on individual parts and ideas -- peeling the foil, hocks, jaws shovels a hum from the animal lung.  So odd and intimate, but at the same time so creepy.

But the next line begets the intimacy with a sense of wrath, "If it were so easy to throw a horse down, / you would all do it; you would hold / their tantrums with a strap."  The semi-colon makes this line.  The action seems clarifies the situation -- the speaker taking care of a dying horse.  But it's not so simple as that.  It's how the speaker views the situation.  There's a sense of empowerment over death.  From the intimacy that the speaker has to the "you" unable to calm horses like the speaker.  It's a bit unnerving the point of view has and the authority he has.  It's because of the language -- the approach.
Starting all the way from the beginning the ambiance is continued through the language so even this line, "No one can tell how bold and lonesome / sies choose their falls or me,"could be taken as a line about how well this person does at his actions, but there's a false sense of comparison -- them or me.  This feels like there's something more than the situation which I don't know the answer to but I don't have to.

The lackadaisical end is the creepiest I've read in a long time.  It's the language:

     but I throw horses.
     What a burden, what a beast
     I've been.

Yes, I'll repeat myself and say it's the language -- the play on the idiom of beast of burden so the speaker gains those attributes.  But it's the short line of "I've been" which has the most power.  The self-awareness of actions and then putting a throwaway meaning behind them for the reader acknowledges the reader but, for the speaker, it seems like the horses, the intimacy, the anger -- is all just a game.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Analysis of "To Make A Dadist Poem" by Tristan Tzara

Poem found here:  "To Make A Dadist Poem"  by Tristan Tzara


This is a recipe to make a Dadist poem.  Simple as that.  Right?  Well, to look further into it is against the dadist mantra -- trying to be logical and reasonable about art.  But, ironically enough, the recipe style of this poem leads to a false of logic and reason with the exception of the outcome.

"Take a newspaper / Take some scissors / Choose from this paper an article the length you want to make your poem."  Note that when choosing the article, don't focus on content, focus on length -- no meaning, no focus.

"Cut out the article / Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them all in a bag."  Steps that lead one after the other where there are only words left.

"Shake gently" The adverb here makes me laugh because I think of this poem at this point as one about what's not being stated.  The meaning, the focus.  So to have a direction is out of place.   Also, thinking about shaking vigorously would be too out of place.

"Next take out each cutting after the other / Copy conscientiously in the order in which hey left the bag. / The poem will resemble you."  The comparison between what a poem means and what a person is -- a jumble of words -- not logical or reasonable, doesn't conform -- this is the outcome.

"And there you are -- an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though / unappreciated by the vulgar herd."  This is some entitlement language, but there's a sense of venom with the outcome as well to both being an "original" author and the "vulgar herd."

It's quite ironic that to be an original author, the author has to take text from others to create the work

It's quite ironic that the vulgar herd doesn't appreciate the artwork, as though appreciating the work would make the audience have charming sensibilities.

Such drawn out conclusions and black and white outcomes.  That's how a recipe works though.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Analysis of "Arrowhead" by Tasha Cotter

Poem Found Here: "Arrowhead" by Tasha Cotter



"To understanding the word enemy, imagine"  The first line proposes to the speaker that the understanding of "enemy" is what the poem is going to explore.  Note not the definition, since definition doesn't mean understanding.  It's where the audience has to experience vicariously in order to understand.  And at first the audience is imagining, "The buffalo grazing while listening / For the stir of men approaching/ The hill"

Note that the grammar in this part indicates that the men do or do not exists.  The focal point of the buffalo listening out mirrors our own expectations as readers for something out there that might attack us, "sharpened flint in their palms."

Then the poem shifts from the buffalo's perspective to the men -- imaginary men:

     Each of them, ready to die for the same

     Thing: the hush of a limestone cave,

     The rise and fall of sinking creeks.

The key to these is not the scenic objects the men would die for, rather the verb: "hush" and "rise and fall."  These verbs bring out a sense of the hunt -- the silence and the focus on movement, but are placed in the scenery as though to refocus the reasons from the enemies.

Then the switch to the second person which tries to, or maybe force, that the definition of this enemy also requires the understanding of killing, "You can almost understand killing / For your home because it's a place / That claims you and call you / Back."

So there's motive.

Motivation actually from the enemy to state what they are doing -- killing -- is for a home that always calls back.  Place.  And how flippantly the speaker, through all the setup, disregards the actual killing,

     [...]But what about the arrowhead?

     Instrument in hand, the buffalo

     Never stood a chance.

But it's the "Tiny monster" that draws me in.  I wonder what that means or more specifically what the tiny monster refers to.  Since it is singular, I'm assuming the term is demonizing the buffalo -- a tiny monster of no worth in order to keep place.

By the end of this poem, there's a sense of a moral to the exploration of the definition proposed in the beginning.   "Just when you think you know what / To expect, there lies the incredible / Surprise waiting for you to cross its path."  For me, this is more of a satire on the morality tale -- there isn't really a moral, just justification and belittlement.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Analysis of "The Day After My Father's Death" by Bill Knott

Original Analysis found here: Analysis of “The Day After My Father’s Death”"
Poem found here: "The Day After My Father's Death" by Bill Knott


There’s multiple things at play here: expectation, form, narrative, perspective.  The speaker as a child, who is in an orphanage, is told that his father has died, is placed into an office to grieve.  The child reads comic books as more of a distraction but comes around back to the situation.  And even though the poem reads as a narrative of the moment, the end has a slight acknowledgement of the speaker now.

The opening line of the poem, “It’s too complex to explain,” might seem a bit on the nose, but for me, it’s a refreshing continuation of the title, “The Day After My Father’s Death.”   The opening line doesn’t try to romanticize feelings or hyperbolize the situation — the speaker automatically tells the audience, it’s complicated — maybe the death, maybe the feelings, but the following lines, “but I was already in / the orphanage when dad died; ” adds a complex situation to another complex situation.

The next lines adds to the narrative but there’s an interesting way of looking at grief as well:

and so that day when I cried,
to keep the other children safe
from my infectious grief
they left me in lockdown

There’s a sense of hyperbole at play here through the term “infectious grief” and “lockdown”; however, after reading the poem a couple of times, these terms don’t feel out of place.  “Infectious grief” adds more sense of tragedy to the scene since the context is at an orphanage — it’s like the orphans playing out the same scene over again of losing everything; furthermore, the idea of lockdown seems like a prison term, but it isn’t far-fetched.  The speaker is in lockdown to hold back the grief from spilling over.

And this poem takes a turn to the reserved with the switch onto reading the comic books, “which they had confiscated / from us kids through the year.”  And it seems to distract the speaker, “and on through wiped tears / I pored quickly knowing.”  Note how there isn’t any focus on what comcs were read or any of the plot.  The comics serve as a numbing device from the reality of the situation when, “this was a one-time thing– / this quarantine would soon end–” Part of me thinks that this poem hinges on the idea on “one-time thing.”  Not only with comic books, but also the situation — it’s a one time thing losing a father.

But then again, there’s the comparison of what’s worst — losing the comic books at the age of kid or

worse than that I knew
that if a day ever did come
when I could obtain them,
gee, I’d be too old to read
them then, I’d be like him, dad.

Now this could reference the comc books — being able to read them at an old age, but the last lines are complex and the idea of “too old.”  Yes, to old to read comic books, but also too old to die the same age as the father (which I assume the father died young) or to old to “read” and rather “understand” or “look deeper” into the moment.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Analysis of "Poem (How I lost My Pen-Name)" by Bill Knott

Original Analysis found here: Analysis of "Poem (How I lost My Pen-Name)" by Bill Knott"
Poem found here: "Poem (How I lost My Pen-Name)" by Bill Knott


The pen-name serves as another identity focused on writing.  However the focus is on writing the pen name:

I wrote under a pen-name
One day I shook the pen trying to make the name come out
But no it’s
Like me prefers clinging to the inner calypso

What stands out in stanza is how erratic the line lengths are for this exposition.  Where is the focus?  The short line stating no?  Could it be the long action line.”  At this point I feel the speaker is trying too hard to show how sporadic the exposition is through the line lengths, but, in doing so, separates identities — the focus is on this pen-name as an identity.

So when the speaker tosses the pen to his “pet” the wastebasket with intentions for the name to come back to him, the shock is shown in individual lines, “But no again” “It stayed down.”  Realize that the focus on it staying down means that the pen-name is thrown away.  That the name pen-name is truly gone.  However, the seriousness of this revelation is tempered with the earlier line of “Names aren’t fit / For unhuman consumption.”

What is left them — the unhuman person when the pen-name, the personified writer is gone:

I don’t use a pen-name anymore
I don’t use a pen anymore
I don’t write anymore

The repetition adds to the slow realization that the other is lost and what is left is thought — thinking — expression trapped in a receptacle, “I just sit looking at the wastebasket / With this alert intelligent look on my face.”