Question 3

Using the internet or other source, learn about one of the authors whose poem(s) you read. Provide a little of this information, and develop a question about one of the poems using the information you learned. Wednesday

33 thoughts on “Question 3

  1. I was interested in finding out more information about the poet Dwight Okita. I wanted to find out more about his Japanese American background and if that is what inspires his writing. Reading is introduction on page 700 and also his website. He seems like a jack of many trades. He has a full time job being a writer/author and web designer. Like it says on page 700 and on his website it is his mother who is a big inspiration.

    Why did Okita make Denise so Americanized in this poem?

    1. What do you mean by “so Americanized”? Are you referring to the fact that she is “a white girl” in the poem? The name O’Conner is from Irish origin…

    2. I think that they made her so American to provide a frame of reference showing that those who we, at the time, thought could be our enemies were no different than any other American. I think it was also to show how ridiculous it was to consider that a small child, who only knew one world, could betray that world for one that she had no connection to.

  2. T.S. Elliot was a huge fan of Dante Alighieri, an Italian Renaissance Poet known for his work, Inferno. Therefore, there is no surprise that he begins one of his own poems with a quote from Dante’s work.
    When translated, it says “If I thought that my reply would be to someone who would ever return to earth, this flame would remain without further movement; but as no one has ever returned alive from this gulf, if what I hear is true, I can answer you with no fear of infamy.” This particular quote came from a character named Guido. This character was insecure about his transgressions and reasons for being in the 8th circle of Hell but felt comfortable telling Dante because he thought Dante was stuck there as well.
    What about Guido’s character in Inferno do you recognize in J. Alfred Prufrock’s character in T.S. Elliot’s poem?

  3. In her teenage years, Emily Dickinson was witness to a large scale religious revival. During this time, 46 of Dickinson’s peers made declarations of faith. While she wrote several letters stating her fascination with the concept of “finding her savior” she never made a formal declaration herself and only briefly made visits to church. The poem “Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church” doesn’t condemn religion, but rather condemns the established concept of a need to participate in an organized fashion. Do you think the views expressed in this poem could be the root of Dickinson’s reasoning for slipping into reclusiveness?

    1. I personally do not think it is the main thing that caused her reclusion, although I do believe it greatly added to it. She was what some might call highly introspective, she was plagued by a darker emotion. I believe that having been raised during this time of religious revival caused her much skepticism, thus proving your point; that her reclusion was merely formed by a knowledge or own personal views, along with deep skepticism.

  4. Dwight Okita is a Japanese American who lives in Chicago and has all of his life. His parents are both deceased, his father was a school teacher and his mother a bookkeeper and salesman. His mother spent four years in a concentration camp as a teenager. Okita is also a gay buddist that has written since he was in first grade because writing was hard for him. He began publishing in the first grade with the Luella Log.

    Was his poem “In Response to Executive Order 9066 All Americans of Japanese Descent Must Report to Relocation Centers” based on his mother’s life?

    1. At first before I read his short biography I didn’t really think so, But it makes since because that was before his time and it states his mother was a model for the following poem. Good question made me have to reread.

  5. Stevie Smith, whose real name is Florence Margaret Smith, was abandoned by her father at a young age and raised by her aunt when her mother fell ill. When she was five she developed tubercular peritonitis and was sent to a sanatorium near Broadstairs, Kent, and ended up staying there for three years. Being away from her mother made her depressed and she was fascinated by death and fear and that helped her write many of her poems. Reading “Not Waving but Drowning,” Do you think she wrote that as a cry for help like everyone saw her and thought she was fine but in fact she was drowning inside?

    1. I agree, this poem sounds like a cry (or a wave) for help. Her ninth line, “Oh, no no no, it was too cold always” could be interpreted as her life being cold without her parents or family around. Although she was only in the sanatorium until the age of eight, she most likely kept the feelings she felt there for use in her later work.

    2. That is a good point. Maybe Stevie related all of this to her emotions about her father going on long voyages and lived in abandonment as well. Stevie may have held all of her emotions inside, she may have saw herself drowning and crying for help in this poem.

  6. Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) left school and lived on her family homestead and filled several notebooks with poetry and letters. Emily’s work was not published until after she died. She was not concerned with publishing her work but she did share her poetry with close family and friends. She is well known for her use of syntax in her poetry. What is the theme of the poem, “He Put the Belt Around My Life”? How do you think “He” affects this person? Who do you think Emily is referring to when she says “He”?

  7. Stevie Smith, or Florence Margaret Smith, was constantly plagued by depression all of her life and was abandoned by her father, who went on long voyages and occasionally visited on 24 hour shore leave. Stevie often wrote of death as a welcome release from the torments of life. Do you think that “Not Waving but Drowning,” one of her most famous poems, may have been a way for her to come to terms with her abandonment issues brought about by her father?

    1. I think this is how she copes with her depression and feelings of loneliness, she pours all her emotions into her writings. This way of coping with grief is therapeutic for some people.

  8. Emily Dickenson (1830-1886) born to a prominant but not wealthy family, was a profound writer of over 1700 poems, even though she was nearly unheard of during her time, she is now considered one of America’s greatest poets. From childhood she was considered very bright and well behaved by almost everyone. During her teenage years though she lost one of her closest friends when she was just 14 which traumatized her. From that point on she began withdrawing from society. As the years went on she continued to loose people that she was closest to. Therefore withdrawing even more from society to the point that she was hardly ever seen and stayed secluded in the homestead.
    In “Faith is a Fine Invention” do you think that Emily is trying to merge religion and science?

    1. To me, it doesn’t exactly sound like she is trying to merge it together, but maybe she’s saying she prefers science over religion.

  9. Emily Dickinson lived in seclusion while she was tending to her mother who had fallen ill. It was during this time that Emily had done a lot of her writing. Scholars have suggested that Emily had suffered from depression and anxiety. Emily died of kidney disease. It was after Emily’s death that the most of her works were published. Her sister had found her books after her death. A full compilation of Emily’s works was published in 1955.

    Why is it that Emily did not have more of her works published while she was alive?

    1. I remember reading her poems in High School and how sad and sorrowful many of them sounded. In 1800’s of America, many women still felt the heavy weight of expected duties of how a woman should behave, almost like a servant. But early around the time that Emily was growing up I think (I forget the date) but American women were starting to feel like freedom of rights should to equel between men and women. I think since Emily was growing up during this radical shift of thinking that she felt confused and maybe even a little embarassed at her genius work that she might have not known the beauty of. Her poems could have just been fragmented pieces to a diary or journal type musings she wanted to keep personal and only at heavy urging did she finally publish some. Its merely speculation but I believe such a recluse of a person would behave in sort of way. There had to be some big reason why such work was kept from the publics eye if the author felt hesitant to share it due to her status as a woman trying to branch out in a world of men. Also I think the mystery behind her reasons has kept her poems alive to this day too.

  10. Dwight Okita is a busy man. He not only wrote poetry, but he also designs websites and writes novels. He is a gay, Japanese American Buddhist. He has his own website that shows some of his work, and if you click on the link to websites, he gives prices for how much he charges to design a website. His website was started out of the need of students looking him up. His dad fought in WWII and was a school teacher. His mother is his inspiration for many of his works.

    My question about the poem “In Response to Executive Order 9066…” is why did he write a poem about something his mother would have gone through?

    1. I think he wrote it to show that what his mother had to go through during the war was unjust because she was as american as all the other children her age. And what it most of felt like for a young child who had so many american friends, be shunned by them at such a confusing time, when she could of used her best friend for support.

      1. Good point, she was still an American, and suddenly getting treated differently from her best friend had to be hard.

  11. Emily Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830. She attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary for one year. Reverend Charles Wadsworth inspired her poetry. When he left for the West Coast, Dickinson was heart broken. She called Charles “my closest earthly friend.” By 1860, Dickinson insolated herself from the world.
    Does Dickinson revolve her poems around love after Charles had left? In “I’m Nobody! Who Are You?” does Dickinson use her emotions and relate that around her isolation thinking that she is nobody?

  12. Dwight Okita is a gay Japanese American Buddhist writer. Born in Chicago in 1958. He was first published when he was in the first grade. His parents were influential in his writings. His father served in WWII in the 442 Battalion, made up of japanese American soldiers. His mother was interned in a relocation camp for four years as a child.

    When reading the poem about the Americans of Japanese decent having to report to relocation centers made me wonder how they were treated? Did they hold grudges after they were released?

  13. Emily Dickinson, known for her macabre, skeptical, take on life was born in the year 1830, on December 10th. Growing up during a spiritual revival, the young Emily decided that the traditional take on religion was not meant for her, thus she grew tired, and skeptical. I’ve read many of Dickinson’s poems, because I relate to her skeptical, and slightly sullen view on things.
    I have read the poem “ He Put the Belt Around My Life” before, however prior to truly analyzing her and her work, I thought not much of it. Now that I’ve spent time upon it, I wonder in what she could be referring to. Could it be her lack of freedom as a female during that time period, or perhaps a literal person trying to be in control of her, and she felt as though he or she was constricting her rights?

    1. You have very interesting questions. I find the sullen way she writes somewhat sad but the cynicism I understand well. Growing up during a revival could be a very cool experience. Where did she grow up at?

  14. Theodore Roethke (1908-1963) was a poet in the 1940s. He had a sad upbringing as his father dies of cancer and then his uncle commited suicide when Theodore was 14. He went to the University of Michigan and in school he got his MA and BA in teaching and poetry. He is known as a bold but sensitive poet who writes from experience and the heart. Roethke suffered two mental breakdowns towards the end of his life and then passed away due to a heart attack in a friend’s swimming pool.
    In his poem “I Knew A Woman” he writes about his love for this women. It is a very sensual poem full of emotion. Was this women someone close to Roethke and what happened to make him write about her in such a passionate and alluring way? Was this perhaps his wife or possibly a mistress?

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