Monthly Archives: August 2011

The X in My Name – Francisco X. Alarcon

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X, marks the spot

Chapter 14 talks about Personal Identity and poetry, we learn that despite the myth that all authors write about themselves, some actually do. And those aspects of their life that they share are vivid, and significant.

One of the most unique and personal things about a person is his/her signature, and his/her name. A person’s name is embedded in everything they do, from the day they are born until the day that they die. And with that so is their signature, they use it get money, send a note, sign a contract. Some of the most essential aspects of life would not exist without a signature. The poem The X in My Name  by Francisco X. Alarcon, speaks about the importance of value, and one’s self. As I stated earlier, Chapter 14 talks about personal identity and how many times poets write their poetry based on their own expierneces and lives. In order to best understand this poem by Francisco X. Alarcon, I decided to do a little bit of research on him. It turns out that Alarcon is not only an award winning poet, but he is also a teacher at the University of California, Davis. He has won quite an extensive list of awards, such as 1993  American Book Award, the 1993 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award, the 1984 Chicano Literary Prize, Fred Cody Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association (BABRA), the 1997 Pura Belpré Honor Award by the American Library Association, the National Parenting Publications Gold Medal, the 2002 Pura Belpré Honor Award, Danforth and Fulbright fellowships, and the 1998 Carlos Pellicer-Robert Frost Poetry Honor Award by the Third Binational Border Poetry Contest, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. Being such a proclaimed writer, I feel that a poem of this degree probably isn’t talking much about his life now, but a personal account of what it took to get to where he is.

The X in my name is a short poem that goes like this:

The X in my name

“the poor signature of my illiterate and peasant self

giving away all rights in a deceptive contract for life”

This poem by Alarcon, goes deep into his past, from this poem I imagined an uneducated man, who is coming to a new place, where he is misunderstood and he is confused. Trying to do what is best for his family, he has set out on this journey to become someone else, someone who can provide, and someone who will be able to mesh with this new culture he is faced again. At the same time, this man is trying to make sure he can still withhold his morals and teachings and to be true to himself and his family. The contract that is talked about in this poem, could be his acceptance to enter a new country, his acceptance to begin working, he is signing on a peice of paper that really he has not a clue what it is saying. This man is signing himself away to people, he leaves himself vulnerable and readily available to be taken advantage of.

I’m not sure but from the background I have learned of Alarcon, I would sat that he was raised in a rich Hispanic community with a ton of flavor of culture and family. This community, much like the the man in the poem, may have been quite uneducated and in a rural area of the world. Being a minority myself, I feel that Alarcon has written this poem as a way to show those he cares about that he has accomplished a lot through his struggle and battle he has overcome it and became something he is quite proud of. In a way it shows that despite mistakes he may have made along the way, and how he may still be penalized for them, he has overcome and conquered his dreams.

Quite literally, I think that the X in his name represents, the need to blend into the new culture of which he was exposed to. A middle name, that really may not mean much to him, but could be something that was vital in order for him to get the job, or to sign the contract. The X may be representative of his struggle and his triumph.

WEBSITE USED FOR BACKGROUND INFORMATION: http://www.poetrymagazine.com/archives/2003/May03/alarcon.htm

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I Shall Paint My Nails Red- Carole Satyamurti

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Red Sunrise

 

Red is the color of fire and sunrise and rage and love and passion and beauty. Red is the color of blood, it is the rush of an emergency vehicle, the lust of passion for another person, the look in your eyes when you are angry, and red yes it is the subject of this poem. It is a change from the ordinary, a vibrant, powerful color, red streams through our veins and even throughout the world.

Carole Satyamurti wrote the poem, I shall paint my nails red. And it goes as follows,

I Shall Paint My Nails Red

Because of a bit of color is a public service.

Because I am proud of my hands.

Because it will remind me I’m a woman.

Because I will look like a survivor.

Because I can admire them in the mirror.

Because my daughter will say ugh.

Because my lover will be surprisesd.

Because it is quickyer than dyeing my hair.

Because it is a ten-minute moratorium.

Because it is reversible.

The color red inflicts so many different emotions and meanings and I think that is what Carole Satyamurti was trying to do with this poem. While it is written completely in free verse, you find yourself awaiting the next because, you want to know another reason her nails are painted red. Each reason is different than the one after and I think that this is because Satyamurti is trying to show how red can inflict all of these different emotions and how different character or different people can fit into each role. Proud of my hands, shows self confidence, a model or someone vein perhaps? You can even look at it as someone who has written many books or a famous seamstress they work with their hands often. I look like a survivor, I loved and let love then I moved on, or I was in a fire and  I came out a live. Whatever the reason the red symbolizes hope. American Red Cross perhaps? Because my daughter will say ugh? This one might be for a mother who is trying to please her daughter but knows that no matter what, her daughter will not think she is cool? All of the lines say something else and speak out to someone else but the last line relates to all. Because it is reversible. there are a lot of things in life that are irreversible, permanent if you may. But the last line allows us to relate for a change. It gives us the opporutnity to be one and show our flaws. It shows that each and every person is human and they are still able to make mistakes.

Robert Frost – Desert Places

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Loneliness

Desert Places by Robert Frost speaks of an author’s loneliness that he is seeing wherever he goes, even with a little bit of hope, he confides in his own personal sense of isolation. Through each stanza the story unfolds and we learn more of the absolute desertion that the author feels.

First Stanza: This first stanza talks about something happening fast, a fast blending, a rapid falling, a swift downfall into the dark loneliness. The first line illustrates this,

“Snow falling and night fallin fast, oh, fast…”

Frost finds a blend between the snow and the night, together the two obsoletes create a vast and empty space where the narrator finds himself to be in his life thus far. By saying,

“In a field a looked into going past,”

Frost is implying that despite being able to see that both the snow and the night are falling, the covering of the field resembles the covering of loneliness of his life. The weeds and stubble that he talks about in the last night, are the bits of hope that are still peaking out but in the long run, they will be covered soon. the narrator has entered a downward fall into this desolte place and even with a bit of hope, there is no coming back.

Second Stanza: To me, this stanza serves as the key to  a lock. It serves to show the reader that the narrator has accepted that they woods have or own the fields, and even something inanimate like the woods own, is something the narrator cannot own. This stanza alludes to the longing depression and sadness that narrator feels.

Third Stanza:

And lonely as it is that loneliness will be more lonely ere it will be less –“

This stanza uses three different variations of the word lonely, clearly by now if you haven’t picked it up Frost want’s you to know that this poem is a sad one. It is not of happy images but instead it is a desperate cry for help. Things will get worse before they have the chance to get better. As loneliness has covered the narrators life, he will not able to anything just like the falling snow, he is expressionless as expressed in the lines:

“A blanker whiteness of benighted snow

With no expression, nothing to express.”

Fourth Stanza: This stanza is my favortie because to me it is the narrator’s fight back to reality. He says,

“They cannot scare me with their empty spaces.”

While there are so many things that may keep him afraid the way he feels on the inside will fight off all of the external empty spaces.But his internal empty spaces now those are where the porblem lies. He is unable to fight off the way he feels on the inside as he expresses in the last two lines,

“I have it in me so much nearer home

To scare myself with my own desert places.”

 

This poem to me speaks of the the struggles one has within themselves and with the outside world. The difference is having the courage and determination to beat both the struggle on the outside and most importantly to overcome the struggle on the inside.