Monday, February 28, 2011

Blog #5 March 1,2011

The play Our Country’s Good demonstrates the struggles that are associated with being separated with reality. The play’s theme of love and jealousy can be compared to the writings of Fleur Adcock’s “The Video”, Theodore Roethke’s, “My Papa’s Waltz,” and Peters Meinke’s “Untitled”. Incorporating “hard labor, famine, disease, and arbitrary brutality” the play highlights the feeling of dissociation with society.

In the poem “The Video,” Ceri was ignored by her parents since the birth of her younger sister. Having other priorities, she was forced to wait for the attention of her parents. Even when her mother recovered from the pregnancy Ceri noticed how her mother was now “twice as busy”. At the end of the poem Ceri watching the video of her sister’s pregnancy demonstrates how she wished that things could return to what they were when she was a single child. This is similar to the play “Our Country’s Good” because throughout the production there is a constant depiction on how the character left their country for a good reason. Even with the constant loneliness and arbitrary brutality a spectator could see that it was because of their separation from reality that they were actually better understood. An example of this in the play was when Ralph referred to the prisoner’s in production as “ladies and gentlemen”. This is remarkable because even with the large amount of fights as well as thefts, Ralph sees the convicts in a humane way that no other person can realize. This is much how Ceri wishes to be seen and loved by her parents.

In the poem “My Papa’s Waltz,” the speaker portrays a graphic image of how a father treats his child. Stating that with “whiskey breath” his father abused his child, battering him “on one knuckle” and leaving his “right ear scraped” from a buckle. Even with this abuse the child still clings to the father’s shirt showing that no matter what his father did to him, the child just wanted to be loved. This can be compared to the play when Duckling professes her love for Harry as he grows more and more sick. What is so remarkable is that Duckling vows to love Harry even though she knows that Harry might have been responsible in killing Handy Barker, her previous lover. Duckling’s love for Harry despite what he did in the past is similar to the child’s love for his father.

In the last writing “Untitled,” the speaker is the child’s father. The father proclaims throughout the poem his regrets towards the child’s sorrows in which he caused. Not realizing how much he loved his child until it was too late; he believed that he killed not only the innocence but the beauty of his oldest child. The message of appreciation is also represented at the end of the play when before the production begins, the convicts plan to escape. It was Mary that persuaded the convicts to stay claiming that Ralph had done so much for them. Reciting the new prologue and referring to the convicts as “true patriots” the audience is able to see that there is good in everyone, even the father who had once hurt his child.

In conclusion, the relation between Timberlake Wertenbaker’s, Our County’s Good and the poems shows the feeling associated with being dissociated with society. Realizing the potential of the abused, each writing demonstrates that everyone has a right to viewed as an equal.

Post 3.1.11

In “The Video”, Fleur Adcock approaches the feelings of a child shunted aside for a newborn sibling in a playful way; the poem features Ceri and her newest sibling, Laura, as well as their parents and the effect Laura’s birth has on the family dynamic. Ceri receives less attention than she is normally used to, as usually happens when a new baby arrives, and this is described in several instances in the poem, such as during the birth itself when Ceri’s dad tells her to “move over a bit.” It also reveals her mother to be “twice as busy”, leaving Ceri alone to play the tape of Laura’s birth in reverse, symbolically pushing her back into her mother as an expression of desire to return to the way things were before Laura arrived.

“My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, on the other hand, details the experiences of a boy whose father comes home incredibly intoxicated and waltzes him to bed. The experience does not sound immediately abusive, if not uncomfortable, but through use of inherently negative diction in phrases such as “hung on like death”, the poem takes on an overall negative tone. The disapproval of the mother and casual tone of the son’s narration indicate that this event is a common occurrence in the household, though it seems that the father genuinely means well and simply wants to dance with his son before tucking him in. The description of his hands “caked hard by dirt” indicates a difficult physical career, one that most likely drives him to drink, though he loves his family.

While the first two poems we reviewed had cases of parents who didn’t realize their actions were harmful towards their children, “untitled” by Peter Meinke hails from the opposite end of the spectrum, and is a father’s lengthy apology to his son for all wrongdoings. He takes each time he has hurt his son personally and fully blames himself, though certain points in the poem indicate it was very much unintentional. When he says his son is “going on II”, it seems to indicate the son himself is having a child, and he offers this apology as an example of how parenting should be executed and the opportunity to succeed where he perceives that he failed.

For the event this week, I attended the Evergreen Players’ production of Our Good Country, which involved a crew of soldiers effectively attempting to “parent” convicts in a colony in Australia. Seeing as the colony in itself was a punishment, the convicts could be unruly, and were prone to immorality; adding to these already stressful conditions, no supply ships had come in a while, and unless another came within a few months, they would run out of food and other necessities. After virtually ignoring the need for a cohesive camp, just as Ceri’s parents felt no need to make sure Ceri still felt like part of the family, one officer suggested a play to keep the prisoners occupied and bring the camp together under the value of entertainment. The officers were usually more of the father figures depicted in “My Papa’s Waltz”; drunk, disorderly, and prone to roughing the colonists up, however unintentional. This one officer and his goal of uniting the camp under a play most resembled the father narrator of “untitled”, as he struggled to show the prisoners that, despite the example of the other guards and what may have happened in the past in the camp, he cared about the convicts and their well-being.

Blog #5

The three poems for this week were “The Video”, “My Papa’s Waltz”, and “Untitled” and all of them seem to revolve around the theme of family. As the reader delves deeper into the meanings of the poem, they can see the theme of family is more specifically the relationship between parent and child or sibling to sibling.

Fleur Adcock’s “The Video” is about the birth of a younger sibling to a family of three. The first stanza shows the actual birth of the child and the second one is after and when the older sister, Ceri rewatches the birth. The lines “She watched Laura come out, and then,/in reverse, she made her go back in,” (lines 11-12) shows her desire for the life before the baby’s birth. As with any older child, there is jealousy and the longing for 100% of the attention of their parents.

In “My Papa’s Waltz” written by Theodore Roethke, the son has the full attention of his father as they are dancing or rather the father seems to be dragging his son along in a drunken dance. The father is so intoxicated that he is knocking into the kitchen shelf causing the plates to fall, which earns the mother’s disapproving look. The dance seems to hint at a slightly abusive relationship when the father is drunk, “You beat time on my head” (line 12). The form of the poem also indicates a waltz with each line having an iambic trimeter. The three stressed syllables support that the dance is a waltz because there are three beats in a waltz.

The final poem assigned was an untitled poem by Peter Meinke. In addition to being an apology to the speaker’s son, it also gives insight to an abusive relationship. The line, “and impatience your frail confidence forever” (line 10) shows the relationship between father and son was at the least an emotionally abusive one. There is a also a feeling of a physically abusive relationship too because the speaker describes the boy with “vulnerable eyes” (line 3) and “thin wrists” (line 5). In the poem the speaker wants his son’s forgiveness and wants his son to know that he was wrong to hurt him. Because the poem does not have a title, it may mean that the father knows there are no words to take back all of the hurt he has caused his son. This poem seems to be the beginning of the rebuilding of a relationship gone awry.

Last week at Care-A-Van when the group was starting to put away and distribute the extra remaining sandwiches, we were approached by a man who was unable to form words. He communicated with his hands and made grunting noises which we deciphered as he wanted more sandwiches. Usually after people receive their sandwich, drink and snack they leave or stand to the side, but this man continued to try to explain that he wanted more sandwiches. We typically do not hand out more than three sandwiches to each person, but since we were packing up we gave him more. Once he saw our hesitation, he pointed to a building across the street and pointed to himself and to two women (who were not related to him). Through interpretation and asking different yes or no questions we figured out that he the extra sandwiches were for his sick mother who lived in the building with him. He proceeded to put his hand on his forehead and salute and then point to an American flag on his sweatshirt. After another round of questioning we established he wanted us to know that we could trust him because he was a good American. When we were about to leave he gave us all a handshake of appreciation and while we were driving away he waved us goodbye.

In the car back to campus and in my dorm room, I thought about the man and his determination for extra sandwiches for his mother. As well as taking care of himself, he felt he had the responsibility of caring for his mother too. I think anyone in their right mind would feel guilty if they abandoned their parents or siblings in need no matter how bad the relationship is. He could have easily taken his three sandwiches for himself or he could have walked away without an explanation of who it was for. From our efforts to decipher his grunts and hand movements, I can barely imagine how frustrating it is to go through daily life without the ability to form words and how he has to shape relationships through other ways of communication.

Blog 3/1/11

On February 23rd, I went to the Library Auditorium to watch a 2-hour documentary called Waiting for Superman. The documentary followed a few low-income families from different areas of the United States and gave viewers an up-close look at the conditions of local school systems. I was absolutely shocked by some of the statements in this film. For example, 68% of inmates are high school dropouts. If you do the math, we could send each inmate to a private school with the amount of money that is spent to keep them in prison. Most people think that children from low-income families can’t learn, but the truth is, they can. If the right accountability is applied, you will get the results you need to. The proof was clear as I watched Anthony, Daisy, Francisco and Bianca excel when put in a stable, effective learning environment. The end of the documentary showed each child waiting with their parents to see if they had made the lottery for a spot at one of the best schools in their area. Watching them wait as a number after number was called truly broke my heart. Both the child, and their parents know that is they are not chosen the chance of them receiving a proper education is very unlikely. I have always been grateful for the life that my parents have provided my sisters and I, but I have never been as thankful as I was at this very moment. As soon as I got back to my room, I wrote my parents a letter, letting them know that I truly appreciate all that they have done for our family. Waiting for Superman was an extremely touching documentary and I highly advise everyone to take the time to see it.
“The Video”, written by Fleur Adock, is about a young girl Ceri who becomes jealous when her sister Laura is born. The poem is separated into two stanzas: the first describing the delivery room when Laura was being born, and the second is Ceri replaying the video of the birth. Rather than clearly stating that Ceri is jealous of the attention her new sister is receiving from her parents, it is hinted in the final two lines of the poem when she rewinds her sister’s birth. In Waiting for Superman, children and their parents anxiously wait as each lottery number is called. When there were suddenly no spots left and their number hadn’t been called, I could immediately see the sadness across their faces. Not only were they disappointed that they were not chosen, but they were jealous of the other kids who were chosen. Just like Ceri kept hoping that the birth of her baby sister would rewind, the kids wished that the lottery were rewound and a new number, their number, would be chosen. Although at first things may not be the way that we hoped, it is possible that it can turn into something wonderful. Anthony was put on the waiting list for the charter school, but he figured that there was no chance of a spot opening up. Just a few days after the lottery pick, the school called to give him the news that he will be attending the school. Given from my own experience of having two younger sisters, I know that even though it is hard for Ceri to get used to the idea of having a younger sibling, she will soon learn to love her sister and appreciate the new addition to her family.
“My Papa’s Waltz”, written by Theodore Roethke, tells the story of a boy living with his father who is an alcoholic. The poem is set up so it seems like they are dancing, but in reality it is the dance of the chaotic and disturbed environment that the boy lives in. The entire time the boy is holding onto his father: “But I hung on like death.” No matter how drunk his father is and no matter how physically hurt he may be, he continues to hold onto him as tight as he possibly can. The children in Waiting for Superman are unfortunately placed into poor school systems because of the areas that they live in. I was shocked by how driven the children were to learn and achieve their ideal future. Although they are aware that most of the kids in their school system do not graduate, they continue to work hard and hope for the best. In a way, the children hold onto the hope for a successful future just like the little boy holds onto the hope for a relationship with his father.
“(Untitled)”, written by Peter Meinke, is a free verse poem primarily from a father to his son. The father has abused his son over the years and has realized the physical and mental pain he has caused him. The father explains that he wishes he knew his son was so vulnerable. He wasn’t angry with his son; his son was there during his “ragings”, so unfortunately he was the one he took his anger out on. He is afraid that the mistakes he has made will possibly impact his son’s confidence: “I have scarred through weakness and impatience your frail confidence forever”. A child must be told and retold how beautiful they are and the potential that they have. Their parents play a large role in this, and Peters father hopes he can rebuild his sons confidence through this poem: “so I write this for life, for love, for you, my oldest son Peter, age 10.” The purpose of Peter not titling the poem may be because he is at a loss for words. He is unable to understand why he had treated his son the way he has and wished that he could take it back.

Blog 3/1/2011

Kevin Kelly

The theme of three poems that were assigned for reading this week were about family relationships and the different aspects of them. In all three poems, “The Video”, “My Papa’s Waltz” and “Untitled”, we see the love, neglect and disinterest in family relationships. Every family is different in dealing with how they treat their other family members and these poems perfectly illustrate that.

In “The Video”, the main character is Ceri, an only child who is watching her newborn sister being born. Her father tells her to move over so he can get a close up of the baby coming out. Finally when her sister is born and things are back to normal in her house, the mother is twice as busy as usual because she now has two kids. Ceri feels like she may be neglected in a way because her mother isn’t just paying attention to her anymore. Ceri watches the video of her sister born, and then puts it in reverse, making her sister go back in.

In my opinion “The Video” was very funny to me. It was something that I could relate to because I was the only child before my brother was born. I did notice that sometimes I didn’t get as much attention as I wanted but I learned to love my brother and spend time with him. I saw him as more as somebody to hang out with rather than just somebody that was taking my attention away from mom.

In “My Papa’s Waltz”, a father is dancing with his son after having too much to drink one night. As they are dancing around the kitchen he is singing to himself and knocking over everything in sight. He keeps dancing with his son but his soon keeps falling into his father’s belt buckle and scraping his ear. His father means him no harm because he is clearly drunk and eventually he dances his son off to bed.

My father was the same way when I was growing up (minus the drinking) but he was always as present as he could be in our lives. Even if that meant waking us up to give us dessert at 9pm when we were kids because he got home late. He was always around and still is always around when any of us ever need anything he will always be there at a drop of a hat.

The last poem that I read was “Untitled” by Peter Mienke. In the poem, the father is trying to apologize for all the wrong that he has done the son. I saw a strong sense of remorse on the father’s part, he seemed to have beaten Peter and was never really present in his life to help him out. It is evident that the father is sorry that he did all these horrible things to Peter.

After re-reading the poem I thought that maybe Peter could have written the poem from his father’s perspective. One particular line stuck out as interesting to me, “but now I see that no one knows that about himself, but must be told and retold until it takes hold.” Nobody may have known about Peter’s father abusing him and he feels that he needed to write from his father’s perspective to get out what he maybe wishes his father would say to him after all the years neglect he received.

The event I attended this week was the showing of “Our Country’s Good” by the Evergreen players at McManus Theater on Thursday February 24th. The play was about a
group of English convicts heading toward Australia on a prison boat in 1788. The first scene showed the hostility of the guards toward the prisoners as one of the characters, Sideways, is being beaten. The guards show no mercy toward the convicts and the convicts show their despair and fear of the guards.

As this is going on, the highest-ranking officers are introduced to the audience. They are the Governor Arthur Phillips, Judge David Collins, Captain Watkin Tench and a midshipman by the name of Harry Brewer. All three are debating the punishment that the convicts should be dealt for stealing. Judge Collins believes that no matter how minor or serious the crime, the law has been broken and therefore punishment must be dealt out. Harry Brewer and Captain Tench both sort of agree that the prisoners have no chance of becoming better people and hanging them wouldn’t really matter anyways. However Governor Phillips takes a more lightened approach to the situation, saying that they should be dealt with like regular people and not just prisoners.

At the end of their conversation, Phillips suggests that the convicts should put on a play for them. The play would try to help the convicts see the error in their ways and try to change themselves for the better of their own lives. Governor Phillips decides on the play “The Recruiting Officer.” The leaders of the ship (excluding Phillips) do not feel as if the convicts deserve to be in the play and are skeptical if given the chance they wont even participate.

The play goes on as one of the convicts Liz, is sentenced to be hanged. She is able to convince the officials that she should live because she is innocent of her crime of stealing. The play then goes on and we see a major reform in all the convicts as they now have higher aspirations for their life. The play works and the convicts feel relived that they now know what they want to do with their lives.

The poems and “Our Country’s Good” relate in one main way. The convicts were a family and they knew the only way that they could save their own lives was to work together. At the end they all feel connected and proud that by coming together and facing their problems together they could survive and do the things they wanted to do with their lives.

The Child in All of Us

Kelly Gajdzisz

Blog Entry 3/1/11

Through reading the three poems assigned for this week “The Video,” by Fleur Adcock, “My Papa’s Waltz,” written by Theodore Roethke, and “(Untitled)” by Peter Meinke I noticed a trend. The perspectives that each of the authors have relate of their own different experience. They give the readers awareness about the little things in childhoods that drastically effect their levels of happiness.

To begin with, “The Video” describes the sense being immature and naïve to the world as a child. When the author says in the first line “…Ceri watched,” the verb ‘to watch’ shows that she may be young at the time because she is in no way taking part of her mother giving birth and she is simply mesmerized by this event. She is baffled and maybe confused, which shows her immaturity. The last two lines of the poem, when the author describes her fascination by the way she watched the video over and over again. Ceri can be described as naïve, but I see that being a good thing because a young girl should be shocked with the miracle of birth. The world today has too many bad things in it that takes away children naïveté. Girls are having children in their early teenage years and reading this poem gives me a sigh of relief to know that there are still children out there who are baffled by childbirth. I believe that the author wanted to be humorous to show the shock of her sister being born because it is sweet and innocent of Ceri.

“My Papa’s Waltz,” offers a similar aspect of childhood happiness through a little boy and his father’s relationship. The happiness is felt by the mother when he says in a playful way, “My mother’s countenance could not unfrown itself,” because as much as she wanted to approve of the horseplay of her husband and son she tried to act motherly and not tolerate it. The boy could not get enough of his father, “Still clinging to your shirt.” It is nice to read something like this seeing a family happily enjoying an evening at home. Though some aspects arise in the poem that may relate of abuse and alcohol, I think the author only wrote it that way to remind the reader that those types of relationships are out there but it is not this one. He writes it in an upbeat rhythm, like a waltz, to give the perspective of happiness and enjoyment in this family.

In contrast to the two happier poems, “(Untitled)” gives a completely gloomy and upsetting perspective. The son is greatly depicted physically and mentally so the author could in fact be the son. I believe that the speaker is writing this letter from his father’s point of view saying what kind of apology he would want to hear. The structure of this poem has few capitalizations and periods, which adds to the flow of the letter. He says after he tells him he is beautiful and fair, “Now I see that no one knows that about himself, but must be told until it takes hold.” In his way he is saying don’t do to your son what I did to you, tell him he is beautiful and you love him. Unlike the other poems this one talks about the abusive relationships and the hurt. In his own way the author wrote this for all of readers who have been hurt physically in anyway to hear an apology. The title is (Untitled) because this letter can be addressed to any of those abused children out there in the world.

Family Matters

Fleur Adcock is the poet of “The Video.” She brings a sense of humor to poetry, a literary form that is often assumed to be very serious. This particular poem recounts the birth of her younger sister, Laura. Her dad had videotaped the event, and all the while the middle sister, Ceri, was excited by the action. The thought of having a new little sister excited her. But when Laura is born, Ceri is no longer the center of the attention. She watches the video in reverse so she can see Laura go back into her mom.

Theodore Roethke wrote the poem, “My Papa’s Waltz”. The speaker in the poem talks about his abusive, alcoholic father. He describes his constant vying for his father’s love and the abuse he receives as a waltz. Roethke uses an alternating abab rhyme scheme to emphasize the continuous dance between the two.

The final poem this week is “(Untitled)” by Peter Meinke. This poem also describes an abusive relationship between father and son. In contrast to the previous, the father is apologizing to his son for abusing him. He feels guilty for shattering the self confidence of a beautiful boy he loves so much for no reason other than his own impatience.

The three poems share a theme of family relations. Family members tend to have mixed feelings about each other. They have an unbreakable love for each other, but can often express it in critical ways. Ceri in a moment of selfishness wishes her sister were never born. Roethke’s loves his father but fears him and his blows. Meinke shows his love for his son by getting easily frustrated with him. All three poems encourage family members to express their feelings for each other in the current moment, as they feel them. Telling someone you love them can build their self-esteem and create stronger relationships.

Event Blog

This past week I was assigned to read three poems and attend an event hosted by Loyola. The poems I read were: “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, “(Untitled)” by Peter Meinke and “The Video” by Fleur Adcock. These poems all have a similar theme as they relate back to the importance of families and the interactions between them in different situations. The event I attended this week, the viewing of the movie: “Waiting for Superman” by Davis Guggenheim, also relates to the poems in regards to families and the interactions between them.

The first poem I read was “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, this poem like the title states takes on the rhythm of that in a waltz. The waltz, being a slow rhythmically dance is portrayed by the style of this poem, it rhymes every other line and has a slow feeling when read out loud, like a waltz does. This poem goes on to describe the dance done by a farther seemingly a worker and a drinker by the descriptions given by the author and the son who I believe to be the narrator. The son describes the dance between his father and himself to his own bed describing the relationship they had between farther and son, their family.

The second poem I read was by Peter Meinke, which is untitled. This poem doesn’t seem to have a rhyme scheme but every few lines rhyme like “fair” and “hair”. The poems confusing rhyme scheme I feel like relates to the poem itself as it is confusing and seems to deal a lot with regret and remorse. It seems as though the narrator who is the farther of the ten-year-old boy, Peter, is very upset and regrets a lot about how he raised his child and wants to be forgiven by it which is why he addresses the poem for life so that one day he hopes his son will understand. This relates to the importance of love in a family and how influential it can be on someone’s life.

“The Video” by Fleur Adcock is a free verse poem that also relates to family and there interactions, this one with a negative tone though. This poem describes the character Ceri, and her jealousy towards her younger sisters birth, by rewinding a video putting her back into the body, taking her out of this life. This shows the interaction of the family with a rivalry between siblings. The interactions here show that although she does love her as a sister she is just jealous because Ceri is getting less attention and she wants to change that, as shown by her rewinding the tape.

The event I attended this week was the viewing of “Waiting for Superman” a documentary based on the American public school system in poorer places. The documentary mainly focused on a few students and there dreams that are being destroyed by teachers that are not willing to work hard and go out of there way to make sure the kids get as good of an education as possible. One scene I remember vividly was when one of the mothers from Harlem, Nakia, was being interviewed and she described how that no matter how many jobs she needs to have she will get enough money to put her daughter through college. This epitomizes the common theme running through all the poems of families and how there interactions affect one another normally for the better.

The readings and events this week all touched on the same common theme of families and their interactions about how they affect one another, from love to jealousy to remorse and regret, but in the end it is obvious and clear that love is the defining factor out of all of them. No matter what situation is ,these pieces of art all show that family strength and the love you get out of it is greater than anything else.

Waiting for Superman event

The three poems for this week all have a common theme in family. Each of the poets deal with a different aspect of family life and the relationships that are built and affected by family. Meinke, Roethke, and Adock all focus on some form of parent-child relationship. At the same time they address an issue that is present between the two parties and how it affects the relationship that each couple has.
Throughout Peter Meinke's “(Untitled)” he speaks about a father delivering an apology to his son and trying to mend a relationship that had been destroyed. He describes the physical and emotional abuse that has been part of him and his son's relationship. The speaker is able to demonstrate this sorrow and apology through the tone that is used in the poem. He claims that the reason he abused Peter was because he was “there to be hurt and because...” he “...thought you knew you were beautiful...” The father took his anger out on his son assuming his son would understand. The reasoning behind the poem can be seen in lines 21-22, “I write this for life, for love, for you...” Through the use of an apologetic tone and descriptive language it can be seen that the speaker truly loves his son and is deeply sorry for what he has done.
Theodore Roethke's “My Papa's Waltz” is also about a father-son relationship that experiences trouble. The poem speaks about a father and a son dancing playfully at the end of the night. Even though the father is drunk the son still loves his father and continues to dance. The playfulness in the poem is evident through the form. The four stanzas give the appearance and form of the waltz, but at the same time, a waltz that is rather sloppy and not professional. By giving that appearance the poet has allowed the reader to understand the state that the father is in. Along with the form the rhyme scheme gives the structure of the dance as well.
The last poem read provides a different aspect of family life, sibling rivalry and the jealousy that occurs between siblings. While reading the poem the reader encounters the birth of a newborn daughter. As a result of that birth, the eldest daughter naturally experienced jealousy because the attention was not focused on her and her Mom was now “twice as busy” presumably with her new sister Laura. The last few lines in the poem truly show the feelings that the eldest daughter has. In lines 11-12 the daughter “watched Laura come out, and then, in reverse, she made her go back in.” This last line gives the reader the perspective that Ceri is very interested with her new sister but at the same time she is envious of the amount of attention that Laura is receiving and she is not. It appears that she wants her sister to “go back in.”
The event that I attended this week was the viewing of the film Waiting for Superman. It was a phenomenal film that followed a few families experiencing troubles in the educational system. It is such an amazing and crazy issue that is present in the world today. Today many children do not have the opportunity to experience a great or even decent education that other children of the nation can. As a education major I felt that I am in this for a reason. That I am here to make a change in the world when I become a teacher. Not only does this event relate to the Jesuit education as a whole but it relates to the three poems that were read for this week.
Relationships are built in families but they are also built outside of the family. It is clear that the relationship between certain teachers and students is not there. The film Waiting for Superman portrayed teachers that really have no desire to teach children and would rather just be sitting there and doing nothing. After seeing that movie it made me want to build a relationship with my students when I become a teacher. I want them to be able to trust me and I want to be able to trust them. That is a quality that many of the teachers in the movie did not exemplify. The children had a lack of trust and as a result they lacked the education they needed. I also do not want children to be jealous of other children. They should not be jealous like the child in “The Video”, meaning they shouldn't be jealous that other children are getting a much better education or are getting an education in general. I feel this way because all children should be a getting an education and not just going to school but getting a good education by someone who cares about them.

Blog #5-- March 1st 2011

This week’s poems were centered around the importance of family and how there can be a struggle to maintain peace within a household. This theme is illustrated in “(Untitled)” by Peter Meinke, “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, and “The Video” by Fleur Adcock. “(Untitled)” illustrates a father’s disappointment he feels in how he treats his eleven year old son, “My Papa’s Waltz” demonstrates the affect of alcohol consumption by parents on their children, and “The Video” by Fleur Adcock shows how something joyful, such as the birth of a second child, can be harmful for other children.

Meinke in his poem “(Untitled)” uses vivid imagery to share the disappointment he feels about how he raised his son, Peter. For example, he uses phrases such as “large and vulnerable eyes” and “pale freckled back/ bent in defeat” to illustrate the innocence his son has in response to his father’s violent actions (3, 5-6). The use of the word vulnerable and defeat prove that it is not the son’s fault that the speaker abuses him. Meinke furthers this use of imagery to describe his son before he was abused. He states that he was “beautiful and fair” to show that he no longer is the happy, loving son that he was before he was abused (13). The tones of these words also demonstrates the author’s disapproval for his actions against his son. The author chose to use phrases such as “scarred through weakness” to prove that he is ashamed how he abused his son and his desires to try to help his son, and himself, become better individuals (8). Through imagery and tone, the author allows the reader to picture a speaker who is humiliated of his abuse towards his son and his desperate desire to better their relationship.

Roethke in his poem “My Papa’s Waltz” uses rhyme and imagery to illustrate a complex relationship a son has with his alcoholic father. The rhyme scheme of this poem illustrates a dance—in each stanza the rhyme scheme is abab, which in my opinion resembles a dance. This dance however, is not safe for the son. The author uses phrases such as “but I hung on like death” and “you beat time on my head” to illustrate that although the image of a father dancing with son could be a positive, the dance this son does is dangerous for him (4, 13). The use of the words death and beat illustrate that this romp that the father and son perform around the kitchen is dangerous for the son. However, this poem illustrates that even though his father’s alcoholism is a danger, he still loves him, which can be seen through the title. The author uses the word papa instead of father because it has a more loving tone. Roethke’s poem, through literary elements, illustrate how complex the relationship with father and son can be when there are issues such as alcoholism poisoning the relationship.

Adcock’s poem “The Video” uses word choice to illustrate a girl’s jealousy that she has at the birth of her younger sister. For example she uses the phrases “she watched Laura come out, and then/ in reverse, she made her go back in” (11-12). This illustrates that Ceri was very resentful of the birth of her sister and wished that she could be an only child again. The author also uses phrases such as “move over a bit” to illustrate the child’s feeling of inferiority to the birth of her younger sister (4). The tone of all of these phrases demonstrates the speaker’s desires to return to life before her younger sister was born. Through tone and word choice, Adcock illustrates a great challenge a family has in dealing with the birth of another child.

I feel that by volunteering every week at Guilford Middle Elementary School, I am more aware of family issues and struggles that everyone, including myself face. Each week I, along with two of our classmates, help out Mr. Ted Smith, a social studies teacher who coaches the National Academic League as well as tutoring students after school. Many of these students have family issues at home and I feel that by tutoring these kids, I can somehow make a difference in their day, even if its helping them solve a math problem. Though we all have issues in our lives, it’s the positive aspects of life that make it worth living. Last week when I was helping one student out with his homework, I felt so much satisfaction every time he was excited that he got a problem correct. By helping other people, we can improve not only their lives but our own.

Event Blog

This week we were assigned three poems: “The Video” by Fleur Adcock, “Untitled” by Peter Meinke and “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke. Each of these poems focus on some aspect of family life, mostly parent-child relationships. This past weekend I attended the Evergreen Production of “Our Country’s Good.” Although there are no direct connections with family, one can still form an indirect connection to family through the strong connections between characters.

Fleur Adcock grasps the idea of a jealous child after there is a new addition to the family in his poem “The Video.” The poem is in free verse and I would say takes many liberties in it’s writing. Adcock expresses the jealousy of a child through a child’s actions. The narrator watches this video of her younger sister being born and pleasantly rewinds the video making it seem as if the birth never occurred. The narrator is angered by all the action that new born is getting and is not use to the feeling of not being center of attention. This can be seen in Our Country’s Good when Mary outshines Dabby during the casting of the play. Throughout their time together Dabby has always been Mary’s mentor and now Dabby is being put in the back seat. All through the play Dabby is constantly throwing out little hints in the air to Mary that she should have her part. Eventually Dabby accepts the fact that she is not going to get Mary’s part, just as the reader can assume that the narrator will get over this jealousy.

“Untitled” written by Peter Meinke touches upon the remorse of a parent who feels as if they have “failed” their child. The father thinks that he has hurt his child emotionally and he sees the pain in his child. The poem is his apology to his son and you can tell that he sincerely means it through his words and deep regret. This compares to the scene In Our Country’s Good where Duckling, who has rejected Harry’s love numerous times, cradles his dead body and begs for forgiveness because in reality she has always loved him. Due to the fact that she never showed it, she is in a state of regret and remorse for the remainder of the play, similar to the feelings of the father.

“My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke is a tragic tale of a son who yearns for his fathers love and is being pushed away by his father’s alcoholism. The son is clinging to the father hoping to get an instance of attention from his father. The poem, unlike the previous poem, narrates the hard feelings of the son. Duckling, as stated before, is constantly rejecting Harry and before he passes away he “clings” to her just as this boy to his father. Harry watches over Duckling and yells at her for her wrong doings, just as the boy watched over his father’s bad habit of drinking.

These poems open the eyes of reader to realize that actions have effects on other people.

Blog #5

In Fleur Adcock’s poem, The Video, the reader encounters great meaning within the small amount of words present in the poem. The little girl Ceri who watched her little sister Laura come into the world, watches the video in reverse and sees her little sister reenter her mother. This is significant in the poem because it reveals the jealousy and emotion that many older siblings have for new born children. Because a baby is a lot of work to take care of, usually the older siblings become second to the needs of the baby. The reader assumes that this is how Ceri feels. We are led to believe that the mother, who is now twice as busy with her newborn child, has pushed Ceri aside and now Ceri wishes her sister was back inside her mother. In Roethke’s poem, My Papa’s Waltz the speaker also deals with problems with his parents. In this poem the speaker is abused by his father. His father, who is seemingly an alcoholic, beats him day and night. The speaker uses the analogy of a waltz to describe the common situation that he and his father constantly find themselves in. I thought that the (abab) rhyme scheme was an interesting choice for this poem. It perfectly characterizes the battle between the boy and his father through the back and forth nature of the rhyme. It is as if each line is an attack by either the boy or his father; but in the end no one wins because they keep on waltzing. The last poem aslo deals with the problems between a father and his son. In Meinke’s poem (Untitled) the father is apologizing to his son, who he has scarred through his abuse over the years. His son who he describes as “frail forever” had been hurt by his father through his “ragings.” The speaker believes that he has killed his son’s confidence in life because he never told him how beautiful or loving he was. He writes this letter as an apology to his son for failing as a father. He wants to restore the beauty in his son that he believes that he effectively killed. In each of these poems, the speaker deals with a problem with his/her parents. These poems allow me to see how lucky I am to have the parents that I do. They love and care for me unconditionally. I know this because of their actions and also because they tell me every day. It is hard for me to relate to stories of such pain and suffering as the poems we have just read because I have never experienced anything like the events seen in the poems. I can only imagine what it feels like to question your parents love for you. Even though I read these stories, I can never truly relate to stories of distaste for parents and I am happy to admit this.

Family Dynamics and Service Blog

Today’s three poems all have an overlying theme of family issues, dynamics, and relationships. Each poem has a different approach to describing how certain events have large impacts on a child’s life. Through service, I have also realized how a child’s life can be greatly impacted by an adult or parent, or even an older student, like us!

In “The Video” by Fleur Adcock, the speaker describes how her family has changed since the birth of her sibling and how that has changed her relationship with her mother. In “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, the speaker describes a broken family dynamic because of his father’s actions and how the love he has for his father will go unchanged no matter what. In “(Untitled)” by Peter Meinke, the speaker describes his love for his son, despite how he has acted and caused his son to feel in the past. “(Untitled)” is different than the other two poems because in this case, the speaker is the father talking about his own actions and how they affected his son, unlike the other two poems, where the speakers are children talking about their relationships with their parents. Each poem has the speaker owning up to their true feelings about their family and how they wish things could change and be different. The speaker in “The Video” wishes that her mother would give her more attention, instead of being so busy with her new baby sister. This emotion is common for first-born children, and often times, they act out in order to seek attention. However, this speaker acts differently. She just watches the video and lets it rewind, as if completely erasing her existence all together. In “My Papa’s Waltz”, the speaker is a son who realizes he is losing the attention of his father due to his alcoholism. However, unlike the speaker in “The Video”, the son refuses to let go of his father’s shirt and clings to his shirt “like death” in order to get his attention. This speaker is more attentive in getting the attention of his parent, which shows that he is also more outspoken about his feelings in general, as is his father. In the third poem for Tuesday’s class, “(Untitled)”, the speaker is the father addressing his son, which is showing that the father is aware of the mistakes he has made after witnessing his son’s sadness and actions towards him. In this poem, the speaker’s actions are full of sorrow and apology, which is what both speakers in the previous two poems were aiming towards receiving from their parents in the first place. The speaker realizes his own mistakes and how they have affected his son, noticing the “large and vulnerable eyes/have glazed in pain at my ragings” (line 3-4). This is significant because the speaker is going through a change. In the other two poems, neither speaker, nor parents are undergoing any change. The speakers in the other poems are aware of what change they want to see in their parents, but their parents do not change.

Through service, I am becoming a role model for the students at Guilford Elementary Middle School. Their teachers, administrators, and parents are already role models to most students in the school. Through interacting with Mr. Ted Smith, who is our supervisor for service learning and a social studies teacher for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade, I can see what an impact he has on his students’ lives. Students work very hard in his class and Mr. Smith earns their respect. When they are disrespectful, he disciplines them just as any of their parents would, if not even more. I realized that for some of these kids, Mr. Smith might even serve as a father figure. In the last week that we went, multiple students stayed after school just to help Mr. Smith clean up around the classroom. He rewarded them, but eventually the students were hanging out in the classroom talking and asking Mr. Smith about his day as we were helping Mr. Smith grade papers. I realized that the students’ behavior in the classroom and at home may have changed because of how Mr. Smith treats his students in class. It made me wonder how the students felt about their own parents and whether they respected them the say way they respected Mr. Smith. I also wondered how each of the parents felt about Mr. Smith and his role in their son or daughter’s lives. I think it is important for all students to have good role models, especially their parents, older siblings, or even teachers By having role models in the home and at school, it allows each student to grow and develop into mature adults. As I leave Guilford each day, I think about how I may have affected a student’s life or what I can do about myself to reach out to the other students. By the end of the semester, I hope that the students can look up to me as a mentor and ask for help about school, or even talk to me as a friend and ask for advice. In this way, I think that my service last week related to the poems because each student and each speaker desires a role model in their life.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

3rd Event Blog - The Importance of Family

Each of the poems for this week’s reading, along with the event that I attended, “Building Community: Creating Educational Equality For All Students” focus on the importance of lovingly raising children. Each poem takes a different perspective on the relationship between family members, sometimes father-son, and in “The Video”, mother-daughter. The educational speech that I attended also focused on educational reform for all children and students. As the authors develop the importance of a strong family relationship, it is important that we learn from their works.

In Peter Meinke’s poem, “(Untitled)”, the speaker is remorseful and feels empathetic towards his son who he has been too rough with and battered both physically and emotionally. The speaker shows his sorrow and apologetic attitude by dedicating this poem lovingly to the son that he has hurt. He also shows how much he truly cares about his son in lines 13-15, “I thought you knew / you were beautiful and fair / your bright eyes and hair,” and shows that he is sorry for taking for granted his child’s self esteem (or lack thereof). The genuineness of this apology and poem is evident by the speaker’s vulnerability in admitting his mistakes and his exclamation of love and compliments for his son.

Theodore Roethke’s poem, “My Papa’s Waltz”, although at first a seemingly horrid depiction of abuse is, on close inspection, describes the dance of a young boy and his father as they playfully, yet rambunctiously end their evening. The rhythm of the poem mimics that of a waltz and rhymes loosely, depicting the sloppiness of the dance. Throughout the dance, the speaker, as a child, is cooperative the entire time with his drunken father, showing that the poem is not about abuse, although “Papa” is careless and rough. The sense of dancing and playfulness is culminated as the father waltzes the boy up to bed as they’re locked in embrace.

In the poem, “The Video”, by Fleur Adcock, it is evident that the speaker’s younger sister, Ceri, is jealous of the attention that their mother is giving their newborn sister, Laura. There is foreshadowing in the first stanza that the parents pay less attention to Ceri than Laura when in line 4 the dad says “ ‘Move over a bit,’” to Ceri as she stands in the way of the recording of her younger sister’s birth. The mother, in the second stanza, is seen to be, “twice as busy,” (9) now that Laura is born and Ceri is left alone. Ceri’s jealousy is seen in the last few lines of the poem where she plays the recording of Laura’s birth backwards, indicating that she wishes she were never born.

Dr. Hill’s speech on creating educational equality for children relates well with the theme of family in this week’s readings. Although Dr. Hill focused primarily on the financial and structural educational reform needed to give all children an equal chance at becoming successful and staying out of jail, he stressed the role that families play in raising children for education and success. Dr. Hill stressed Martin Luther King’s ideals of community and equality. Beginning in the home, with loving parents, children must be loved and taught well in order to keep them off the streets, out of jail, and focused on school and their potential. Relating to Peter Meinke’s poem, “(Untitled)”, Dr. Hill stressed the importance of self esteem, self worth, and giving children and students the resources they need to reach their dreams.

The relationships we have with our parents is important not only to our emotional and physical well being, as seen in the poems, but is also critical for our success in the real world, as seen by Dr. Hill. This integration of family life and “real life” is an essential link that needs to be present in order for the greater well being of children, and everyone. Cura Personalis stresses the need for the care of the entire person. Every child needs to be cared for. By loving them, they are given the tools needed for their success as a person.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Anthony Mahfood

February 14, 2011

Understanding Literature

Dr. Ellis


In the poem “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hopkins is upset that men are not respecting God’s wishes. He goes on to say that as the generations continue they are following in the same footsteps as before. As the poem continues it is clear that Hopkins believes that society is taking away the spiritual connection between people and their God. Towards the end the mood changes for the better when he says that God will forgive and this is not the end. He finished the poem with an exclamation mark and then bright wings; this gives hope and finishes the poem on a positive note.

In the poem “Happiness” by Jane Hirshfield it is clear that she believes that God gave us nature to teach us how to act. For instance, in the Bible he gave Adam and Eve the garden but he used nature and the snake/devil to test them. She believes that all happiness comes from nature and that if we follow God’s rules then we will be happy forever.

The short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor is a very cruel story and portrays the evil of men and also the stubbornness. In the story a family plans on traveling to Florida for their vacation even after they have been warned that there are killers on the loose. However, they are stubborn and still decide to go. On their way there, they crash and are captured by the Misfits, a group of killers who take them all into separate parts of the woods. They are all killed immediately but the grandma manages to bargain her way by talking about God. However in the end but as she tried to touch and console the man, he kills her.

These stories all relate because they all speak about sinning. God gave us this earth to live on to praise and glorify him, but to often we disobey His commandments. This week I did not go to my community service because it hasn’t started yet but I did go to Connecticut to see my best friend Greg Kelly. Greg is really sick with a heart condition. Greg Kelly was a student at Loyola and also my best friend, I roomed with Greg for two years at boarding school. Father Jack also came along with a few other of Greg’s friends. We had a house mass for Greg’s recovery and spent time with him talking and making jokes with him and just being there for him. We were there to brighten his outlook on a bleak situation and let him know that things will get better. I found this appropriate to relate with the poems and short story because just as in the short story in on second you can be dead so you need to make every moment count. In the poem “Happiness”, Jane shows the life that God wants us to live and in the poem “God’s Grandeur”, Hopkins show the life that many people are living that needs to change.

Blog 4

Kelly Gajdzisz

Blog 4

February 14, 2010

A few years ago, my friend was getting her Gold Award for Girl Scouts and I participated in a “Fun Fair” she organized, in a town next to mine for under privileged children and their families. I thought I was just helping my friend out by putting tattoos on little kids and giving out candy, but I was in fact was helping an entire community. My small-secluded world that consisted of my academics, social life, and sports was opened up to an entire different part of life. I saw the part of life that most people don’t see or choose to ignore because it is so horrible and upsetting. Luckily I found this part of life when I was young so that I could work to help and change it.

It was a scorching summer day and all of our friends gathered in a small side yard of a church located in run down neighbor hood- Plainfield where poverty was prevalent. It is directly located next to my middle-class-well-off-town, Scotch Plains. I remember leaving work early that day so I could get there on time. Surprisingly, it took me less than 10 minutes when I had expected it to take a lot longer. This baffled me because as I was driving, my town that has large properties with furnished homes disappeared with a blink of an eye and abandoned-broken-windowed houses were popping up everywhere. Without even meeting any of the city folk I could already tell that even though this place was ten minutes from my house, it was yet so far from home.

I was a confused 17-years-old and I was naive to the world. I thought that God had this wonderful plan for everyone and kept every little child warm in their bed safe in their home, just like I was every night. This relates to the poem we read this week God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I believe in the power of God’s greatness and his presence that he can do wonderful things for all of the inhabitants of the world. I started to become angry with Him when I saw the state of this town, I doubted His power and ability to make every thing good. I did not realize that my friends and I were His greatness. For that day, He sent all of my friends and me to help make part of this town better. Even if we made one child smile for 10 minutes it would be better than not having them smile at all. In the poem the author may be referring to a dove, “World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.” The fun fair that day was filled with doves, making all families laugh and smile, so even if it was for just a second, they could forget the misfortunes of their lives and see the Grandeur of God.

After arriving, I parked my car and subconsciously made sure I locked it…twice. I did that because I wanted my car and my belongings to be safe. I think back and I don’t see why I felt superior to the people of that city just because I had nice belongings. I was lost and flawed and a confused teenager that had just as little direction in life as these people. This relates to the story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” Flannery O’Connor because the grandmother in the story feels superior to everyone else. She wears her pretty hat and dress proudly during travel comparing herself to her poorly dressed daughter in law because she wants to feel better than her, more superior. Before she dies she realizes she is flawed like everyone else and that is how I felt when in this town. I am not perfect, I live off of my parents and that car technically isn’t even mine. Though the city folk of this town have different imperfections and issues I felt as though I finally realized I have flaws just like them.

During the fair, I felt a sense of inner joy because I saw how much fun the families were having. One mother was crying because she saw how happy her child was having just playing a beanbag toss with my friends and me. This in a way relates to the poem Happiness, by Jane Hirshfield because everyone has their own version of happiness. The littlest things made the children so happy and the parents even happier because they saw the joy inside their children.

Decisions and Morality in Christianity and Our World: Week 4 Event Blog

            On Monday, February 14, I attended a lecture given by corporate lawyer Andrea Giampetro-Meyer, J.D. entitled: The Deepwater Horizion and the Normalization of Deviance. Walking in to the fourth floor programming room, I was unsure about what the lecture would actually discuss, and tired after a long day was therefore uninterested regardless. However, when it became clear that the lecture would answer some of the lingering questions about this summer’s catastrophic British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, my ears perked up. By the end of that hour long lecture, I had learned more about the events surrounding the BP oil spill than I had from watching hour upon hour of news footage over the summer.
            In her presentation, Giampetro referenced author Diane Vaughan who wrote The Challenger Launch Decision and explored what events went askew or what procedures were carried out incorrectly leading up to the Challenger space craft disaster in which the entire crew on board the carrier perished. Vaughan expected to find misconduct from NASA, but after a year and a half of research, she found nothing. NASA had followed corporate procedures precisely. Therefore, she delved further into such procedures to question whether or not such guidelines were strict enough if they could allow an error of this magnitude. She concluded that mistakes such as the Challenger disaster are not quick accidents, but have a long incubation period and are ultimately inevitable.
            We were shown a 15 minute clip from a PBS Frontline special on the BP oil spill, and similar themes emerged. Signals of a possible problem were either weak, misinterpreted, or missed entirely. BP CEO Tony Hayward at the time came in to his position pledging enhanced safety precautions in the company, as BP had a devastating oil spill off the coast of Alaska in 2006, and even formed a new safety committee within the company. However, that progressive idea was stifled and almost rendered useless when coupled with the pressure Hayward felt to cut spending within the company. BP saved over $2 million just on the Deep Water Horizon well alone by skimping on or in some cases omitting necessary reinforcements to secure and reinforce the well. This made the spill completely inevitable. In this case, industry standards were not followed, and BP faced the biggest liability suit in corporate history.
            This lecture made me think a great deal about the decisions we make and the morality behind those decisions. It was not one big decision made by one person which caused the oil spill in the Gulf, but a series of smaller judgmental errors by many people in the company. Often such mistakes are made by people who are so blinded by their vision that they are incapable of seeing the lack of morality in their actions. Such is the case in Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. The character of the Grandmother tells the Misfit to pray but when she is put on the spot does not seem to know how to pray herself. She preaches about praying and being a Christian and has a blind acceptance of God. However, the Misfit questions God and instead lives by his own moral code to which he adheres for the duration of the story. In a perverse sense, the Misfit emerges from the work almost as the moral voice despite having been responsible for the numerous deaths.
            Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “God’s Grandeur” implies that we as humans have disobeyed God and that his magnificence created all of the natural resources in the world only for “Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; / And all is smeared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; / And wears a man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil,” (5-7). He states that we are depleting God’s world with our greed and ambition, which relates very closely to some of the points brought up in the lecture on the BP oil spill.
            In Jane Hirshfield’s piece “Happiness”, she uses aside and personification to relay the message that we should be kind to all creatures on the earth, and that we should try to learn from every person and experience in our lives. The patron saint of animals and the environment, Saint Francis of Assisi above all encouraged respect for the world around us, and in the diction of Hirshfield's poem she intimates through folklore about him that all living things are connected. If we do not extrapolate important values, morals and messages from our experiences and our surroundings, she implies that "Hopelessness, Desperateness, [and] Loneliness," are waiting in the wings to try and corrupt us (20). When I first sat down to write this week's reflection, I lamented that none of the poems or my activity seemed at all connected, but I am shocked by how much they are. These three works and last year's BP oil spill disaster all come down to the strength or weakness of our morals and by extension the decisions that those morals allow us to make. 

February 14

On Thursday, February 10th, I attended Gioia’s poem reading at the student center. He has written three poem books and will be a professor of poetry and public culture as of fall 2011. As a traditional poet, Gioia uses his poems as a way of remembering and preserving memories. He expressed that poetry is a very “odd art at the moment.” Although poetry is peculiar at the moment, there is not one single culture where anthropologists have been unable to find the existence of poetry. The poem comes from the writer’s expression of speech, hearing, and rhythm. Behind whichever technique the writer may use lays a unique description of who they are, where they come from, and where they hope to go.
Before Gioia began to read, he emphasized the significance of beauty. He described it as temporary and divided ones reaction to beauty into three steps. The first step is stopping, and as you see the display of beauty in front of you, everything suddenly slows down. The second is absorbing the pleasure that we have gained by witnessing the beauty. Third, is by having this experience, we begin to see something about it that we normally would not have known or could have easily forgotten. Lastly, it is gone.
The idea of poetry, especially for Gioia, is to capture that second and third phase and to put it all on paper in a way that can also satisfy others. The problem with today’s technology and media is that it cuts off culture from the beauty of art, so they stuff themselves with things that temporarily satisfy, but don’t make a deep enough connection. If one where to find relation with a poem, they may allow it to address them in a way that they could see things that others normally would not see.
After attending the Gioia event, I was able to make a connection to the readings this week: Happiness, God’s Grandeur, and “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” In Happiness, Jane Hirshfield pinpoints the many gifts that God has to offer in life and how one must embrace those gifts in order to be fulfilled with happiness. Throughout the poem, we see the authors struggle to find happiness by her use of the terms hopelessness, desperateness, and loneliness. By incorporating this negativity, she is sharing that she too has had a hard time finding happiness and it is a process that for some, can be more difficult than for others. Once she is able to grasp happiness, she holds onto it and applies it to everyday life. This poem reminded me of Gioias idea of finding that inner beauty, in this case happiness, and embracing it in some form rather than just throwing it away.
In God’s Grandeur, by Gerard Manley Hopkins, not only the powerful presence of God is portrayed, but also the dismay of the speaker in reaction to men who refuse to appreciate the life that God has provided them with. Instead of embracing Gods authority, they have chosen to abuse it. The form of an Italian Sonnet mirrors the speakers thought process. While the speaker is confused as to how not everyone could embody the grace of God each and everyday, he is able to assure himself that while others fail to do so, he will stay true to what he believes. Although I was unable to sense the incorporation of faith and God in Gioia’s poems, his idea of embracing beauty into everyday life is similar to the speakers idea of embracing God in everyday life because to him, faith and the presence of God is what’s beautiful.
In “A Good Man Is Hard to Find, written by Flannery O’Connor, A family goes on a trip to Tennessee, end up in an encounter with fugitives, and sadly in the end are killed. In this story, the grandma actually reminded me of Gioia. While at the reading, I was captured by his emotion and hand gestures, and as I read this story, I couldn’t help but see the grandma with just as much enthusiasm and ability to capture ones attention as Gioia had. Throughout the short story, there is an interest in what makes a “good man”. Even though the grandma is anticipating running into the Misfits the entire time talking about all of the harm that they are capable of causing, but when she is actually face to face with the man, she begins to tell him all of the good that he is capable of. This proves that although someone may not have the best past, there is always time to change. Similar to this idea, Gioia promotes that while we may be stuck in the lifestyle of “stuffing ourselves with things that will only temporarily satisfy,” there is always time to change this lifestyle by grasping the beauty that passes through everyday life.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Blog #4- February 15th 2011

By going to a Jesuit University, we as students strive to see the best not only in other individuals, but in nature and in life itself. In Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “God’s Grandeur,” and Jane Hirshfield’s “Happiness” these works strive to illustrate the magnificence of life and all creatures. In “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” the grandmother, even though she knows the Misfit is going to kill her family, tries to reason with him and convince him he is deep down a good person. “God’s Grandeur” demonstrates the greatness one can obtain by simply believing in the Lord. Also, “Happiness” exemplifies the pleasure we as humans can gain if we see the positive side of nature.

In Flannery O’Connor’s short story, the Grandmother, after leading her family onto a deserted road in search of a house she remembers from her childhood, hopes that the Misfit will not kill her family. She tells him “I know you’re a good man at heart. I can look at you and tell” (1005). Instead of expecting him to ruthlessly kill the family, she has hope that in the core of his being he is inherently good. Although in end of the story the entire family ultimately is slain, by thinking about the best in people she prolongs being killed by a sociopath. This was the opposite for her son, who is killed first by the Misfit because he is unable to try to see any positive attributes in the killer.

Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “God’s Grandeur” illustrates the magnificence of the Lord in all objects, including nature. It is seen when the speaker states “It will flame out, like shining from shook foil/ It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil” (2-3). This phrase illustrates that even objects that are not considered beautiful, such as the oil, have a higher purpose and have beauty in functionality. This poem demonstrates further that having Faith allows individuals to be more connected to the world and their surroundings. These viewpoints are also demonstrated in Jane’ Hirshfiled’s “Happiness.” This poem illustrates that all creatures can be seen as magnificent if we as humans take the time to appreciate nature for its worth.

These themes in the works we had to read this week are very applicable to my volunteer work. Last week I started volunteering at Guilford Middle Elementary School, tutoring members of the academic quiz team. Even though I was there for several hours, after leaving I felt like I had accomplished so much. A requirement for a class turned into a love for volunteering that I know I am going to enjoy attending every week. After reading these works, I felt that optimism was a central theme in all three--- with hope the world seems to become a better place.

Week 4

This week, all three readings talked about the different roles of God in the world. The three authors shed light about how they feel God affects both man and nature. In all three stories, God is thought to play a very prominent part in the world.

The poem “God’s Grandeur” is a poem that reflects the importance of God in the world. Gerard Manley Hopkins writes about how the signs of God’s work are clearly shown through mankind, but for some reason, man tries to deny it. Hopkins compares God to oil and to the sun. He says how the marks of God are everywhere and man shuts in out.

Jane Hirshfield explains God’s role through nature in her poem”Happiness.” She references stories about St. Francis to show how God uses wildlife to teach us. Hirshfield shows the reader how a deeper happiness can be found naturally in the world around us. She defines happiness as living in harmony with nature.

It was slightly harder to figure out the message that Flannery O’Conner was trying to get across in his story “A Good Man is Hard To Find.” The grandmother was not strong in her convictions until her life was threatened. Only when she feared death did she truly show her faith. The Misfit says that if people feared for their lives every second they would make better Christians. I feel that the point that Flannery O’Conner is trying to make is that we need to be good Christians our whole lives, and to live every day like it is our last. If we wait till the end to repent, we will not lead as good lives.

This week I met with the service coordinator at Higher Learning. I am very excited to begin my sessions. The program is very hands on, and it seems like I will be able to make a great impact on the children that I will be working with. This service reminds me of the readings because it is a natural passing of knowledge. As a student, I feel that I will be able to reach out to the children and form deeper bonds then they would have with a teacher. They will feel more comfortable talking to me because I am more or a peer than their teachers. Also, a lot of the children in the program dream of being able to go to a college, so they may look up to me and ask me advice and steps necessary to get there. While at service, I will spend a great deal of time with my three scholars. Over the course of the semester, I hope that they learn to trust me and think of me as a friend so that I can do everything in my power to help them with their academics.

The readings this made me think a great deal about the role of God in my daily life. I tend not to think about how there is a higher power clearly showing itself through nature. I would not go so far as to say that I deny the existence of a God, but I do look to science with all of my questions. I feel like the things that we have not yet answered will eventually be answered. The legends about St. Francis do not teach us about happiness nearly as well as a doctor could explain chemical imbalances that cause depression.

Blog 4

The two poems, “Happiness” by Jane Hirshfield and “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins and Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” have the theme of nature and how resources are used. They all revolve around how important nature is to the world and use different things to correspond it. While participating in Care-A-Van, I see first hand how much some people can use the resources others throw away or take for granted.

The poem, “Happiness” is a poem about the qualities and traits of a good person Saint Francis learned from animals. He discusses that he learned about fierceness from wolves and fearlessness from birds. Upon reading the poem in more depth, readers can see that he personifies Hopelessness, Desperatelessness, Loneliness and Anger stating, “Nor could he forget those other companions, /the shifting, ethereal, shapeless” (lines 18-19). These attributes are relatable to people and without them one has not experienced the full meaning of life.

The people Care-A-Van serves are most likely experiencing or have experienced all of the “companions” the speaker of Hirshfield’s poem writes about. It is a depressing thought that people in this world today face hopelessness, desperatelessness, loneliness and anger. As humans have evolved from animals, it is only natural for us to receive and display animal instincts in extreme situations.

In the poem, “God’s Grandeur”, the speaker first seems to urge people to have more respect for nature and appreciate the world God created. After closer examination, the first half of the poem discusses how man has negatively affected the world and its resources, “Generations have trod, have trod, have trod…/And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil” (lines 5 & 7). The advancement of technology has allowed us to obtain more of the earth’s precious resources in a faster amount of time, therefore depleting the limited supply. The second part of the poem seems to describe the beauty people are missing. He stresses the argument of appreciating God’s creations and using resources more wisely. The speaker tries to persuade readers to take some time out of their day to enjoy nature and use resources more scarcely.

Last semester when I started to participate in Care-A-Van, I was happy to hear Starbucks donated the leftover desserts and sweets to CCSJ so we could bag and distribute them along with the sandwiches we had made. I always feel guilty and ashamed when I throw away uneaten food knowing someone would be more than happy to eat that food. The amount of goods Starbucks donates to us is insane and thinking about how much eatable food is thrown out at Boulder almost disgusts me.

Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is about a family who decides to take a ride trip even after a dangerous criminal is on the loose. One of themes is nature. Although it is not easy to find, it is subtly shown through the grandmother. While the family is occupied by their activities, the grandmother looks out of the car window and seems atuned to the outside and nature, “She pointed out interesting details of the scenery…The children were reading comic magazines and their mother had gone back to sleep” (O’Connor 999). In the car, the family sleeps and reads comic books, which slightly resembles modern generations. Older generations tended to spend more time outdoors and with family, as technology and new individual games were not as popular. The author urges readers to be spend quality time with family and to be as observant and attentive to nature as the grandmother.

Week 4 Event Blog

Last week I attended an event that featured a solider from the Iraq War. His name was Eric Alva and he was speaking on behalf of his experiences in life. Sergeant Eric Alva is most famously known as the first soldier to be wounded in the Iraq War. He lost his right leg after stepping on a landmine. Despite this adversity he faced, he also faced another challenge. The Sergeant is also a gay American. The United States Army from its very beginning has always had a policy called the “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” rule. This policy related to homosexuals in the army. It was taboo to think about and even worse to ask about. The Army has always frowned upon sexual misconduct within its ranks but none of the incidents that have occurred have ever been shown media light.

Sergeant Alva considered this to be prejudice toward homosexuals, especially in the army. He was very strong in his argument that homosexuals no matter where they are in the world deserve the same rights as everybody else. We are all Americans and there is nothing that should hold us back from having our god given human rights. To see the passion and intensity with which the Sergeant spoke was very moving and I could see this is something that he was ready to dedicate his entire life to.

In this weeks readings I found the central theme to be God’s love for us. The three readings, which were Happiness by Jane Hirshfield, God’s Grandeur by Gerard Hopkins and A good man is hard to find by Flannery O’Connor. All of the readings dealt with the controversial issue of God’s existence and purpose in our lives. All of authors challenge the reader to comprehend and analyze the meaning of their works in terms of what God is trying to communicate to us.

In the poem Happiness Jane Hirshfield talks about the animals of the earth. She refers in the second line to St. Francis, who is the patron saint of animals. She writes of how every animal in the world in happy in some way shape or form just for being on this earth. One of the lines that I considered the most interesting was “Even the baleened plankton full immersed in their fate-for what else might happiness be than to be porous, opened, rinsed through by the beings and things.” Hirshfield says that even the plankton who know that one day they will die or be eaten by something higher in the food chain are still happy to be living and to have lived a life thanks to God. Her main point I believe is that if an animal is happy to be living why shouldn’t we be?

In the second poem God’s Grandeur by Gerard Hopkins was easy to interpret. Hopkins starts with the first line saying, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” I analyzed this as meaning that the world is powered by God’s greatness and love. As the poem goes on Hopkins then diverts to a more serious issue. He is disgusted that generations upon generations of man have trod all over God’s earth without showing a sign of respect to him. The second stanza of the poem then shows the authors hope because no matter how disrespectful man is to God, the beauty and delight of nature always exists.

A good man is hard to find by Flannery O’Connor was my favorite out of this weeks readings. In the story a family, which includes an obsessive and worrisome grandmother, are going on a vacation to Florida. As they are driving the grandmother states that she remembers an old abandoned house somewhere near where they are. The children scream and beg their father to take them. After yelling for a while he finally decides to go. The road is dirt and rocky and soon enough they crash and flip their car over. Nobody is injured by then a black car approaches the family slowly. Three men get out and all are brandishing guns. The grandmother recognizes the leader as the Misfit, a man who is on the run from escaping from a Federal Prison. The grandmother begins to have a talk with the man about his relationship with God and Jesus. The misfit says that he never had a relationship with God and there isn’t any use of religion. Although the grandmother tries to convince him otherwise, he reverts to his evil nature and kills the entire family just to take their clothes and tires for himself. This piece of literature showed that in today’s society a good man is actually hard to find. People think of themselves before other human beings.

My event this week and the readings strongly related to each other. Although Sergeant Alva faced adversity when he lost his leg and publicly announced his homosexuality, we are all God’s people. God loves everybody and everything in this world no matter who they are. Even though the Misfit was a horrible person, something inside him knows that what he did was wrong. Understanding how God works and realizing our faith can truly make us happy in this life and the next.

Realization at UMMC

It is another week at the hospital. I walked through the revolving doors and arrived at our desk. As usual, I wrote down the client’s name from the referral sheet and proceeded to her room. I knocked and opened the door softly. Lying on the bed was this young woman. Next to her bed were her boyfriend, her brother, and her new born daughter, Jakiaya.

I began by introducing myself that I am from Health Leads, a non profit organization housed in the University of Maryland Medical Center; that I obtained their information from the social worker, Catherine, and I am here to help them with appropriate resources they need after birth. The client nodded her head and she seemed rather sedated. While I was speaking, her brother left and her boyfriend stared directly at the TV.

Next, I took out my pen and started with my intake, that is, gathering as much as information about her as possible. One difficulty Health Leads volunteers face at the hospital is losing contact with clients once they leave the hospital. Therefore, I must obtain all her information now. I asked her questions by following the categories on the intake sheet.

“Your name please”

“Janae Gunez”


“Your date of birth please”

“February 1st, 1992”

I paused. Suddenly my hand became numb, unable to maneuver the pen in my hand. I tried hard to resist the temptation to look at her face. I tried hard to hide the expression on my face. I tried hard to not judge her; all to no avail. My widened eyes, awkward standing, and deep breathes definitely betrayed me. Yet, she, still lying in the same position, still looking rather sedated, still talking to me with her chapped mouth, did not notice the changes in me. Yet, in my head, I am screaming “how could this be? She is younger than me! She has a day old daughter. She is still in school! Why does she have to confirm to the stereotypes I see on TV?!” By no means was I disappointed at her. I was disappointed at myself; for judging her, for not giving her a second chance. The fact her boyfriend was younger than me did not help either. I proceeded to finish the entire intake sheet and promised her that I would be back in a bit to give her appropriate paper works.

That two minute work from her room back to my desk seemed like an eternity. I cannot help but wondering whether or not she saw my reaction to her answer. As I thought more of it, I became increasingly disappointed at myself. Yes she is younger than me. Yes she already has a child. Yes she is still in school. Yes she is the stereotype I see on TV. So what? Did I not promise myself that I will not judge. Did I not learn from Ms. Johnson last week that stereotype has its basis but not everyone is like that? Most importantly that is why I am here: to serve urban impoverished and marginalized women in Baltimore City. Even more so, she trusted me! I feel so guilty. It makes me feel sick to the stomach even just thinking about it. She trusted me with her whole heart. She entrusted me her needs and her new born. She gave me her personal information. For God’s sake she gave me her social security number! Never for a second did she hesitate to give me her personal information, yet I am the one who is making judgments. If she does not have a problem, then why should I, an outsider?

This incidence reminded me of the Shakespearean poem, My Mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun. Just like the speaker in the poem, my client is not trying to hide anything or attempting make herself ought to be someone whom she is not. She is brutally honest, sincere, and open about her life. I, on the other hand, look like the other men in the poem. I tried to cover up for the so called mistake in her life, even though she has absolutely no problem with it. She accepts her life and I, as an outsider, must also do so. It is only when I can overcome my judgment of her that I may proceed to help her. I said I would not judge anyone, yet I broke my own promise. I feel small in front of her even though I am two years older than her. She may have to receive resource information from me. But I have so much to learn from her.