April 2011

Salty beach shores flood the sand, back and forth. The smell of low tide fills the summer air. Let’s go. Go to that heavenly place that lies among the horizon. Sun shines bright. Yellow, orange, pink. Isn’t it funny how things change. Cooler packed up, ice surrounding the cold beverages. Wine, water, beer, everything just right for a summer night. Let’s go. Bags packed towels under arms tight. Humidity is lifted from the air like a sheet ripped off in the middle of the night. Engine starts up, water flashes every which way. Load up. Get on. Let’s sail Long Island together. Let’s go now.

In 1987, at the age of 45, Lyn Hejinian published My Life, a long poem made up of 45 sections of 45 sentences each.  In these posts, students write one section of their Lives, Hejinian-style.  How does a poetics of constraint and restraint create a poetry of expansion and experimentation?  Read on…

Darcy Colleen, Darcy Colleen, Darcy Colleen. It means you’re evil. You should be a lawyer or an actress. Like spun gold. You need to buy a new filter to put between your brain and your mouth. It was hard keeping it a secret, congratulations. Calm down. You’re very independent, which is how I wanted you to be- I never want you to be stuck in a situation because you don’t know how to live for yourself. Slow down. A moment, we’re having a moment. I’ll stand by you. Our conversations mean so much to me, the fact that you want to know me and my life. Sometimes I just can’t figure you out. The time of your life. I’m so proud of you. Continue to listen to your heart. Ski club moments. How are you so good at keeping secrets. Doodle.

Born on an island, but not the coast. Neighborhoods, nothing else. Little boxes on the hilltops and they’re all made out of ticky tacky; almost but not quite. Everyone was Jewish, competitive in nature. Who had the biggest house, car, most kids? If you’ve never been, you’ve never experienced anything like it. I promise. This is Roslyn, where our superintendents steal millions from the kids. If you don’t go to a name brand school, you’re a nobody. Greg Goldman; the first kid from Roslyn to go to Dickinson College in over 5 years. Farleigh Dickinson? No, just Dickinson, it’s in Pennsylvania not New Jersey. “I normally only recommend that school to girls,” my guidance counselor says. When I go back, I realize why I chose to escape that atmosphere. A fake, a sham, a front to impress others. If a tree falls and nobody hears it, did the tree actually fall? Absolutely not. I don’t completely regret it. They made me realize, uncovered the blinds. Those who live through the eyes of others never live to see the light of day.

The alarms ringing, the birds chirping. Rays of sun barely rolling over the crescent of the trees, houses, buildings lining the horizon. How good the water feels on a face in the morning. 21 now, feeling 41.  How long can you remember a dream? Only minutes for me. 45 yawns fill the room. 45 sore, tired, sweaty college kids leave another room where the “clanking” of metal weights are heard, seen. Judgement is a very negative attribute. Especially when someone does nothing wrong, has done nothing wrong. Never will. What could work well next? Shall we ask a judge? No, no need for that, when you can just think for yourself. I throw a check, and the guy drops the ball. I throw a check, another guy dodges and shoots. Misses. But, funny how two things always never repeat themselves. Cheering and screams can be heard across the field, all around. First time beating every team in our conference. First time hosting our school’s conference playoffs. So, I ask again, after all of this, after all of these “firsts,” what could work well next?

Born to two, but after 3 years of life, I was living with one. Two years later another saw life and shared the single parent home with me. What a great start. I saw many things, many tears at such a fragile age. Somehow it made me stronger. Strong enough to withstand just about anything thrown at me. In and out of my life he came, the person who helped create me, who was supposed to help mold a young man. I learned of his hispanic roots, so I embraced them, along with those of the one person who was raising me on her own. I matured, yet still felt and saw a lot of pain and anguish, caused by those who didn’t care. I made it my business to accel at everything I did. Always the best athlete, always one of the top of my class, and always best at whatever I could wrap my hands around. Yet there was something missing. I got calls, maybe every couple of years, and then he’d disappear again. He never saw the awards, the smiles, the tears, or the recognition I got for all I had achieved. I separated myself, and soon realized I had done it all, without him. I achieved it all with the help of those two in my house, the two who I eventually learned looked up to me.

Brought home one day, small and weak in her arms. A helpless, youthful face gazes back at me. A yawn, a stretch and then a stumble once put on the ground. Learning to walk without falling, then running. She grows and changes right before my eyes. From Cape Cod to Northern Maine, her world  view widens. Vivacious and clumsy, she brings a smile to everyones face. Her almond eyes glinting with life. “Surgery,” he says. “Nothing too serious, minor.” She isn’t fixed.  A cast after the surgery, limits the once unlimited girl. Slowing down little by little. Her body starting to creak more and more, age wearing upon her face. Her eyes are sad now, seeking help. “It’s what we owe her,” he told us. Her eyes seek comfort. With one last wag of her tail, she leaves.

Clocks change from old to new.  Time goes tick and then tock, in an out that is what makes the world go round.  Memory is never complete. The first memory comes after the age of three but before the age of four. While the last memory has yet to come and the memories in between are vague and fuzzy.  A dream never dies instead the details are tweaked until the overall scheme has changed into another dream, another fantasy that wants to be fulfilled.  An archaeologist excavating the pyramids slowly warps into a runway in the middle of Paris and then into the head of a museum. Dreams are never sure.  They change until one thinks up is down and down is left.  A White Rabbit! Wonderland is a very real place within our heads and it changes year after year warping until we cannot distinguish what is fantasy.  Another year equals another birthday and then another year to wait. 18 soon to be 19 – a royal birthday is coming. Kings and Queens dressed in their finery, parading themselves around the room bestowing their grandeur on the undeserving eyes of the people all for me. A special birthday present has never been more appreciated, filled with glittering jewels, and church bells. A royal Birthday is coming – 18 soon to be 19. Queen Victoria. It has a nice ring to it. Don’t you think?

Coventry, Connecticut. Memories flooded with sea greens and blue hues. Days go by quickly, too quickly. Water skiing. Grandma smoking cigarettes and joking with the children running around town. Chocolate ice cream dribbling down chins. Titanic. Biking around the drive cheering and racing to the finish line. Days go by quickly, too quickly. Peach Fuzz. Relaxing on the boat, joking and laughing with friends and family. Newspaper. The smell of gasoline lingers in the afternoon air. Dive deep into the water, gathering mussels and searching for mermaids. Days go by quickly, too quickly.

At first they’re dancing. Improvisation, aka “doing your thang”. I laid in the grass waiting to get up and go. Eventually, they all go out alone to return changed. The fear of not sharing an experience was creeping in. “He may be too close minded,” they said. I know myself too well for that. Finally alone in the grass, I take my time. I am secluded and why no longer matters. I wonder if I am ready and run. Faster and faster never out of breath, though at times I disregarded logic. We chatted together with strangers who joined us. And the night air was sublime, as original as we were. I had so many questions that I couldn’t move my mouth fast enough. But when it came to answers, I could only speculate. We moved so fast that each moment became a memory before we could experience it. We were the color of summer. At last, I could only sit in awe as a feeling of refreshment washed over me.

I want to look at Sag Harbor through a Critical Race Theory lens, more specifically DuBois’ idea of double consciousness. I don’t want to use a racial definition of double consciousness, rather to use double consciousness to understand the dual nature of identity in the novel. Benji views himself with contradicting perspectives throughout most of the novel; for instance, he wants to be considered his own person, yet he still (nostalgically) views himself as half of Benji-n-Reggie.

Sag Harbor was especially interesting to me because of how prominent the issue of race was and the theme of identity. What interested me most however was the idea of a post racial society. It made me think about race and society  in a way I hadn’t before. From the beginning I thought there was no way we lived in a post racial society but as I learned more, I understood why people might think that way. However, I think I will argue the same idea in my paper and am looking forward to delving more into the ideas of both society and further more, that of a post-racial society.

For my essay I will be using Sag Harbor. I will be focusing on the paradox of black boys with beach houses and how that affects their understanding of how the world views them and how they view each other. In Gate’s essay, he advocates for the creation of an African critical lens that would allow literature to be judged by something other than European standards. In Sag Harbor, this African critical lens almost manifests in the all African American community of Sag Harbor. However, where Gates works to separate race, Whitehead works to at times eliminate it (though of course not completely as race is still a major theme in the novel). Whitehead does this especially in the last chapter which focuses more on Benji’s teenage mind. Whitehead also uses a lot of humor while Gates is very serious. As of now, I’m still exploring these themes but my paper will definitively use Gates’ essay and focus on the last chapter of Sag Harbor.

For my second paper topic, I will either be writing on Sylvia Plath’s Ariel through a feminist lens of motherhood or arguing that Plath is present in her own work and not a separate entity as The Death of The Auhtor theory states. 

For both theories, I will be using two to three poems:

The first poem will be “Morning Song”

The second poem will be “Ariel”

And the third poem is still undecided.

For my second paper topic, I am almost certain I am going to write about Sag Harbor, specifically the chapter titled “Breathing Tips of Great American Beatboxers” because of the clear and apparent themes of duality and coming of age expressed throughout the chapter. I have already begun brainstorming my thesis and introduction paragraph due next week, and I think I can easily correlate the critical race theory essay with the themes of the chapter. I am not sure which specific theory of the critical race to use for the paper, but I will of course figure this out before I start writing early next week.

I am writing my essay on Sag Harbor and would like to focus on the term “out” and its numerous meanings. Whitehead opens the novel with discussing how the residents of Sag Harbor come out for the summer, which changes for each family, including Elena. However that is only one definition of the word out in this novel. Out also indicates Benji’s double life of dealing with his family while also protecting their reputation and making sure the neighborhood doesn’t understand the marital issues. Out is also significant because it represents Benji’s coming of age and growing into himself. There are numerous definitions of “out” throughout the novel and I am not sure which critical theory I would like to apply this too but I am considering double consciousness-how does Benji deal with his nerdy life and his cool reputation, and how does he deal with his family problems and reputation throughout the novel as emphasized by the word out?

I thought that Whitehead’s visit was boring and he brought nothing interesting to the table. His lack of enthusiasm was profound, and it was very apparent that the only reason he came to Dickinson was probably because we paid him an absurd amount of money. APRIL FOOLS! (hah, bad joke? sorry!)

Considering I have the “advantage” of being able to write my reaction a week after Whitehead visited, I think that I may have less of an impulse reaction and more of a longer lasting reaction. What I mean by this, is that after all the hype simmered down, I can now think about the one thing that really stuck with me from Whitehead’s visit to class and his “performance” in ATS. The main aspect of his personality and aura that resonated with me is the type of humor and sarcasm that he uses: always. His general tone and demeanor was not like any that I had ever really experienced and makes me wonder what the personalities of authors of other books and works we’ve read are like. Overall, I thought that his visit was very insightful and incredibly entertaining.

For the second paper we are writing, I definitely want to write about Sag Harbor. I’ve yet to sit down and figure out exactly which theory papers I will use, but I highly anticipate that Gates’ work will be somewhere along, if not, exactly right on with what I want to elaborate on. I really want to examine the use of language throughout the book, specifically in the interactions that the kids have amongst themselves and counter that with the interactions they have with their parents.

The work I chose to write my paper on is Sag Harbor. The approach I will be using will be the critical race theory. I have not decided which specific theory to use but I will decide after examining all of them. The reason I am doing Sag Harbor is because I really enjoyed his novel and his visit. I also was very interested in reading his style, which as we talked about in class, was certainly unique because the novel did not have a plot. One thing I am thinking of focusing on is the stereotypes of “black attitudes,” towards society and black and white people. This was seen throughout the novel with Nick’s character, the watermelon scene, the haircut and when the tourists arrive to see the concert at the end of the summer. I think these examples would provide a useful analysis along with the critical race theory.  Another thing I plan to write about is Benji’s insight on “attitudes,” as a 15 year old boy growing up in Sag Harbor, as well as in a prominently white prep school in New York City. Throughout the novel he is very concerned about his appearance and his persona towards other people, making sure that he looks cool and in. The critical race theory will be useful for this example because it will explore the essence of stereotypes, how influential they are on people, and how influential they are on society as a whole. I am excited to write my paper on this topic because the novel is one that I really enjoyed and the approach is one I am not too familiar with, so I am eager to find out more about that as well.