Poetry Journal

Carpe Diem

03:40 AM AST, 23 Nov

As far as I have known by now, Carpe Diem basically means to enjoy the present without thinking or worrying about the future consequences.

For this I have chosen "We real cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks.

According to poets.org, "We Real Cool," might be the poets' single best-known poem, subjects a similarly representative experience to an intricate technical and thematic scrutiny, at once loving and critical. The poem is only twenty-four words long, including eight repetitions of the word "we."

According to Bartleby; a poetry repository, Not only do the first seven lines end with "we," but the penultimate words of each line in each stanza also rhyme (cool/school, late/straight, sin/gin, June/soon).

We Real Cool


The Pool Players.

Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We

Left school. We

Lurk late. We

Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We

Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We

Die soon.

An analysis by Andrew Spacy suggests that, it is a poem about the identity of a group of teenagers, black males, playing pool in the Golden Shovel. They are said to be black, like the poet Gwendolyn Brooks, but the poem could be about any group of rebellious youngsters anywhere, be they white or female.

From the summary we can see the poem goes on about cheerful teenagers having fun playing pool. The carpe diem here is that the poet is enjoying the time in present without having any other detail in the poem. What happens to the teenagers afterwards, that's not a part of the poem. The poem talks about how cool the present is and how the subjects are enjoying it.

Poet's Work

01:51 AM AST, 02 Nov

For this task, I have chosen the poet's craft of imagery from the poem Shirt by Robert Pinsky. The poem offers images of the workers in New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory; who later died in a horrific incident of fire. The poet uses imagery to reveal the semi-isolated days in a worker's life in detail, the extent of the horrific incident of fire and how the people who worked in that factory suffered an unimaginable death. I think the poet has used this craft to connect the readers with his poem at a different depth.

A detailed overview of the Shirtwaist factory workers is visualized in the following lines:

Gossiping over tea and noodles on their break

Or talking money or politics while one fitted

This armpiece with its overseam to the band

Upon reading these lines I get a vision within my mind showing these workers having chitchat between themselves just like we do in our college meal halls but in a dangerous site. I visualize people in dated outfits having small cups of tea and a big bowl of noodles (with chopsticks), talking about what is happening around the country with their peers who work the same dangerous job.

Of cuff I button at my wrist. The presser, the cutter,

The wringer, the mangle. The needle, the union,

The treadle, the bobbin. The code. The infamous blaze

In these lines, I portray the same people from the chitchat place working with heavy manual instruments to make shirts for mass consumption.

At the Triangle Factory in nineteen-eleven.

One hundred and forty-six died in the flames

On the ninth floor, no hydrants, no fire escapes--

The lines above show how terrible their working condition was. I can visualize old, open brick, dusty bricks surrounding a group of people who were indirectly forced to have faith in such employment to have a better life. They did have a chance in climbing the ladders toward a better future but little did they know the ladder would break halfway.

Protest & Play

01:15 AM AST, 16 Nov

For this week's writing prompt, I have chosen The Crowd at The Ball Game; a poem written by Willam Carlos Willams. This poem is interesting in the sense that it talks about one topic but focuses on something completely different yet so relatable. The poem is about the American baseball season but instead of talking about the game itself, Willam talks about the spectators.

The crowd at the ball game

is moved uniformly

by a spirit of uselessness

which delights them-

all the exciting detail

of the chase

and the escape, the error

the flash of genius-

all to no end save beauty

the eternal-

So in detail they, the crowd,

are beautiful

In these lines, Willam talks about his observation at the baseball game. How the crowd was moving uniformly but having a spirit that basically leads to nothing useful. Even though their spirit was as useless as pre-peeled bananas in plastic wrappers, everything about the game delighted them and they were very attentive to every detail of the players. William claims these observations as beautiful.

Moving back to the remaining poem:

"for this

to be warned against

saluted and defied-

It is alive, venomous"

"The flashy female with her

mother, gets it-

The Jew gets it straight- it

is deadly, terrifying-"

In the remaining lines of the poem, Willam gets worried and discovers the crowd in more detail. He observes the diversity of the event and finds discomfort in the abusive behaviour of the crowd towards certain people.

Protest in the City

02:06 AM AST, 09 Nov

For my pin of this week, I have chosen July in Washington by Robert Lowell. In this poem, the poet presents a regular month of July in Washington D.C. The title could be confusing with the state of Washington but for this instance, the poet wrote about the Capital of the United States of America. As the general assumption goes about the place being a host for the most "important" people of the nation; the poem does talks about that.

The stiff spokes of this wheel

touch the sore spots of the earth.

In these lines, Lowell denotes the place as the stiff spokes of this wheel. By using the "earth" he tries to indicate the world and describes the US capital as the center of the world as the wheel which has touched the sore spots of it.

On the Potomac, swan white

In this line, the poet talks about the White House as swan white on the Potomac.

Power launches keep breasting the sulphurous wave.

The poet points out that this place is not free from the poisonous wave; corruption.

The rest of the imagery in the poem suggests the place of the United States of America in the world and how it is taking itself out from its colonial past; as well as helping other nations from adapting to freedom hampering ideologies. It also shows the other sides of the capital e.g. corruption.

The poem also suggests that the states are at a point of decline from the golden era of the nation which probably suggests the 60s as that was the time when the states started having their marks on the world dominance and were on a head to head battle with the Soviet Union. The poet suggests that the country came out from the wilderness and there would be a new era where the states would revert back to that.

Yes, it does make sense to study the poetry of protest in a course on the poetry of the city because these poems stay as evidence of imperfection and let the future and their present see what cannot be seen from a view of the distance.

Comparing Painting & Poetry of the Great Migration

05:20 AM AST, 26 Oct

For my comparison I have chosen Kevin Young's poem "Thataway" and the image of "a chaotic crowd in a train station pushing toward three ticket windows marked CHICAGO, NEW YORK, and ST. LOUIS."

"Was walking. Was

walking & then waiting

for a train,"

In the first line of Thataway the poet tries to illustrate a situation of a train station in a first person view where someone waits for the train to arrive. In the image a busy train station can be observed from a first person point of view.

"the 12:40

to take us thataway.

(I got there early.)"

Here poet wants to show that they have arrived at their station early and specifies a time "12:40".

The image shows a huge crowd of coloured people; possibly migrants rushing towards three gates. The quote over the poem says "And the migrants kept coming". The image and this quote has an uncanny similarity between them. Both represent the situation of migrants.

"Jim swung from a tree

& the white folks crowded

the souvenir photo’s frame—

let his body blacken,

the extremities

shorn—not shed,

but skimmed off

so close it can be shaving


The poets talks about racially "white" folks "crowded" in the poem then puts it in a "souvenir photo's frame" according to me this gives me a hint that the poet tried to view the migration as a major takeover and making the possibly "white" "crowd" only in a frame; not in real life. The "let his body blacken" part might refer to the huge coloured crowd at the station and I can relate this with the huge coloured crowd in the image.

Structure & Form in “The New Colossus”

01:57 PM AST, 19 Oct

In this pin I am considering the structure and form of Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus" which was written as a Petrarchan (or Italian) sonnet: a fourteen-line poem, composed of an eight-line octave followed by a six-line sestet. The turn from the octave to the sestet is called the volta, and typically signals a shift in the poem (unit description).

"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land"

The first stanza in Lazaras' poem describes the Statue of Liberty in a dramatic way by comparing it to the Colossus at Rhodes; an ancient statue from Greece. The poem also used metaphorical language in order to personify The Statue of Liberty. She has also used logical contradiction to emphasize the personification of the statute.

Although Lazarus could have chosen any form for this poem, including, for instance, Whitmanian free verse but rather chose a sonnet for many reasons. I personally think as a sonnet is compressed and limited in words than other forms of it would have been easier at that era to print it as it required less ink and labor. A sonnet needs an intense amount of thinking and it is one of the most difficult form to use in poetry. Maybe Lazarus was trying to represent American thoughtfulness and capability on literary works in a superior way to her European counterparts. She might have also tried to portray how America is as a country; welcoming towards all cultures ,faiths and knowledge by using a form of poetry that is quite "foreign" to America as America had its own take on poetry with exceptional works such as Whitman's free verse.


06:20 PM AST, 11 Oct

I am selecting the poem Buick by Karl Shapiro to focus on and compare it to Walt Whitman's nineteenth-century poem, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry." Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Whitman is a poem about a man taking the Brooklyn ferry home from Manhattan at the end of a working day. Whitman's narrator begins the poem "seeing" the flood tide and the setting sun more clearly than his fellow passengers on the ferry; he regards the crowds as so removed from him that he cannot understand them (Poets.org, 1999):

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual

costumes, how curious you are to me.

On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that

cross, returning home, are more curious to me than

you suppose,

And you that shall cross from shore to shore years

hence are more to me, and more in my meditations,

that you might suppose.

On the other hand, Buick by Shapiro begins with a paradox:

As a sloop with a sweep of immaculate wing on her delicate spine

And a keel as steel as a root that holds in the sea as she leans,

Leaning and laughing, my warm-hearted beauty, you ride, you ride,

You tack on the curves with parabola speed and a kiss of goodbye,

Like a thoroughbred sloop, my new high-spirited spirit, my kiss.

The title implies that the poem is about a car but the speaker begins with an image of a sailboat (sloop).

This paradox in the beginning is similar in both poems. These two poems reflect the changes in the transportation medium in the urban history.

Reading for Form: Sonnets

I love how Claude McKay gives a clear image of what he is trying to portray with The Harlem Dancer. After reading through the sonnet I can sense of the characters and the scene he is trying to portray with "Youth" and "Young Prostitutes" . One of the things a sonnet must-have is a metrical pattern. The poem follows the traditional Shakespearian sonnet style with a rhyme scheme of A - B - A - B - C - D - C - D - E - F - E - F - G - G. The second line describes the subject they are viewing, a very attractive girl who is very good at what she does which he describes as "perfect"; the Harlem dancer. I have found repetition at line 12 and the word "Devoured" sort of gives the whole image a darker sense but this is a line where the poet tries to recreate the scenario again and I could find the volta or the turn at line 13 "But, looking at her falsely smiling face" which changes the scenario even more after the "devoir" at line 12. The whole scene was a happy and innocent youthful place in the beginning which started getting in a deeper and darker image in the end.

I have consulted this website named No Sweat Shakespeare for the guidelines of what a sonnet must have and it has made the work a lot easier for me to understand.


Ed. "How To Write a Sonnet: A Guide to Writing Your Own Sonnet." No Sweat Shakespeare, 16 Mar. 2017, https://www.nosweatshakespeare.com/sonnets/how-to-write-a-sonnet/.