Postmodern Poetry Packet

Billy Collins
author of “Introduction to Poetry”

Billy Collins
author of “Marginalia”

Langston Hughes
author of “Theme for English B”

Amiri Baraka
author of “A Poem for Half-White College Students”

Amiri Baraka
author of “Biography”

Gwendolyn Brooks
author of “We Real Cool”

Langston Hughes
author of “Dream Boogie”

Langston Hughes
author of “Harlem”

Gwendolyn Brooks
author of “The Mother”

Sylvia Plath
author of “Daddy”

Elizabeth Bishop
author of “In the Waiting Room”

Langston Hughes
author of “Note on Commercial Theatre”

Amiri Baraka
author of “In Memory of Radio”

Billy Collins
author of “American Sonnet”

Nikki Giovanni
author of “Word Poem”

“Introduction to Poetry”
The speaker says that we have to work through the poem using our senses; it is very imagistic.

Two of the five metaphors he used for these senses were the color slide (sight) and the bee hive (sound).

I= literature teacher/poet
them= students/ poet readers
In “Introduction to Poetry”, who is I and who is them?

metafiction/metapoetry, distrust of author
Postmodern characteristics of “Introduction to Poetry”

Billy Collins
used to be poet laureate

modern; think they can find reason/absolute meaning in poem
“they” in “Introduction to Poetry” modern or postmodern and why?

postmodern; he just wants to play/interact/explore poem and admire it for what it is
“I” in “Introduction to Poetry” modern or postmodern and why?

it is a poem about poetry
How does “Introduction to Poetry” exemplify metafiction?

reader is “in” poem (water) and author is not (shore)
How does “Introduction to Poetry” exemplify distrust of author?

press an ear: we need to hear not see poem–listen to poem
hive: a lot going on inside, might not like what you read
“press an ear against its hive” significance in “Introduction to Poetry”?

we are mice in a maze when reading– we are lost and confused and searching for a way out (for an explanation)
How do the readers represent the mice in “I say drop a mouse into a poem and watch him probe his way out” in “Introduction to Poetry”?

don’t try to read too much into it– (but why would author just want them to skim it???); acknowledge the author
Significance of “I want them to water-ski / across the surface of a poem / waving at the author’s name on the shore” in “Introduction to Poetry”?

readers don’t enjoy–try to find meaning (modern) but author says to just enjoy it bc you can’t find meaning (PM)
Significance of “But all they want to do / is tie the poem to a chair with a rope / and torture a confession out of it // They begin beating it with a hose / to find out what it really means” in “Introduction to Poetry”?

metafiction, gives a new metaphorical taste of marginal writing
Postmodern characteristics of “Marginalia”

footprints are not lasting, they disappear; they are not ever in the water (poem), just annotate to let teacher know they read
Significance of “footprints” in “Marginalia” — “Students are more modest / needing to leave only their splayed footprints / along the shore of the page”

Pen markings show they read it and they understood what they were reading
Significance of “and reached for a pen if only to show / we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages” in “Marginalia”?

vessel=books–they don’t die, they are lasting
Significance of “anonymous men catching a ride into the future / on a vessel more lasting than themselves” in “Marginalia”?

she is different from others- reads and understands for pleasure
Significance of girl at end of “Marginalia” who wrote “Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love” in Catcher in the Rye

student, black, 22, born in Winston-Salem, NC, goes to college at Colombia
Speaker’s Characteristics in “Theme for English B”?

1951–before Civil Rights Era
When was “Theme for English B” written?

Instructor’s instructions in “Theme for English B” are _____.

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YMCA–used to be place of cheap housing; it is the place where speaker lives
What is “the Y” in “Theme for English B”?

Stream of consciousness, binary (black v. white–suggests they aren’t different, everyone is human), learning is dialogue not monologue
Postmodern characteristics of “Theme for English B”

can’t tell what race he is–deconstructed binary (humans are human, there is no better race)
What is significant about the speaker listing things he enjoys doing in “Theme for English B”?

instructor influenced his writing-can see whiteness in his black writing
Significance of “But it will be a part of you, instructor. / You are white – / yet a par of me, as I am a part of you.” in “Theme for English B”

postmodern view of education-learning is dialogue, not monologue
Significance of “As I learn from you, I guess you learn for me” in “Theme for English B”?

Will people be able to tell my race when they read this?
Significance of “So will my page be colored that I write” in “Theme for English B”?

America is melting pot; melting pot is a metaphor of America (America more like beef soup according to Loeffler – races contribute to each other )
Significance of “That’s American” in “Theme for English B”

racial identity of a person; the internal struggles when identifying who you are
Meaning of “A Poem for Half-White College Students”

“Biography” depicts a what?

series of descriptive phrases
“Biography” has a _______.

In “Biography”, what is makes the mud “sticky”

spectators; only exposed at night (Wolfmoon); KKK? (Bonnet)
Significance of “laughs/bonnets/wolfmoon/crazyteeth” in “Biography”?

child (watches his/her granddaddy’s hanging)
Speaker of “Biography” is a ____.

not specified
“Biography” speaker’s race?

tells who “we” are and where they are ((7 people or 7 o’clock?? idk))
Significance of “The Pool Players. / Seven at the Gold Shovel” in “We Real Cool”?

Beat Movement
Postmodern (and other) characteristics of “We Real Cool”

“Lurk late” and “Jazz June” in “We Real Cool” are examples of what?

internal rhymes
“We Real Cool” has ____.

Are they doing this because they are going to die soon or is their lifestyle leading them to death soon?
Question deviated from “We Real Cool”?

Did they skip school or did they drop out?
Significance of “We / Left school.” in “We Real Cool”?

Significance of “We / Lurk late.” in “We Real Cool”?

Beat movement
Postmodern characteristics of “Dream Boogie”

Last line of “Dream Boogie”

same author (Langston Hughes), written same year (1951), about “deferred” dreams
What is similar about “Dream Boogie” and “Harlem”?

imposed unanswered questions, entropy
Postmodern characteristics of “Harlem”

to put off
definition of deferred

~Last theory is an instant destruction (explosion), while everything above is slow decay
~Last theory is italicized to show difference
What is different about the last theory concerning what happens to deferred dreams compared to the prior 5 in “Harlem”?

dry up like raisin, fester and run like a sore, stink like rotten meat, crust and sugar over, sag like a heavy load
What are the slow decay theories of what happens to deferred dreams in “Harlem”?

First ones are not good, but there is activity, while the last decay theory has no activity, it simply exists and continues to constantly bother you
What is different about the second to last theory (last decay theory) concerning what happens to deferred dreams compared to the prior 4 in “Harlem”? (“Maybe it just sags/ like a heavy load.”)

slow decay with activity, slow decay with no activity, and instant destruction
What are the three “groups” of theories concerning what happens to deferred dreams in “Harlem”?

dream doesn’t disappear, it shrinks (and fades away from view?)
Significance of “Does it dry up/ like a raisin in the sun?” in “Harlem”

dreams get worse and then oozes
Significance of “Or fester like a sore-/ And then run?” in “Harlem”

dream gets more and more noticeable over time; stays as a constant reminder
Significance of “Does it stink like rotten meat” in “Harlem”

Main theme of “The Mother”

parent who had an abortion, parent, you in general
Who is “you” at first in “The Mother”?

aborted baby/babies
Who is “you” eventually in “The Mother”?

questioning if she thinks a fetus is human
What is speaker doing during the last part of “The Mother”?

Is she regretful or remorseful?
Question deviated from “The Mother”

Author is American, born in America
What is very strange about “Daddy”?

Speaker didn’t actually kill-probably means erase him from her memory/life
Significance of “Daddy, I have had to kill you” in “Daddy”

Dad was a professor
Significance of “You stand at the blackboard, Daddy” in “Daddy”

Nazi, devil (“Black man”), vampire
Three things speaker compares her Dad to in “Daddy”

so young to be so hateful
Significance of “I was ten when they buried you” in “Daddy”

Speaker doesn’t hate her dad???
Significance of “At twenty I tried to die/ And get back, back, back to you/ I thought even the bones would do” in “Daddy”

Aunt Consuelo, dentist’s waiting room, Worcester, Massachusetts
Who was the speaker’s aunt in “In the Waiting Room”, where were they, and in what city were they?

sees picture of hanged naked women and discovers it was her mouth that Aunt Consuelo’s voice came from
Why is narrator surprised halfway through “In the Waiting Room”?

6, turning 7 in 3 days
How old does the speaker say she is in “In the Waiting Room”?

thought of growing up freaks her out
one theory of the meaning of “In the Waiting Room”

black, singer/songwriter?
Speaker’s characteristics in “Note on Commercial Theater”

they stole HIS songs
Significance of “You’ve taken my blues and gone” in “Note of Commercial Theater”

Speaker saying they changed the songs in a bad way
Significance of “And you mix ’em with symphonies/ And you fixed ’em/ So they don’t sound like me” in “Note of Commercial Theater”

took his stuff and put him in stuff not about him
Significance of “You also took my spirituals and gone./ You put me in Macbeth and Carmen Jones/ And all kinds of Swing Mikados/ And in everything but what’s about me” in “Note of Commercial Theater”

Speaker’s hope for one day
Significance of “But someday somebody’ll/ Stand up and talk ’bout me,/ And write about me-/ Black and beautiful-/ And sing about me,/ And put on plays about me!” in “Note of Commercial Theater”

Speaker wants to fulfill his hope
Significance of “I reckon it’ll be/ Me myself// Yes, it’ll be me.” in “Note on Commercial Theater”

paradox (taking 2 dissimilar things and putting them together), binary (love/evol–related)
Postmodern characteristics of “In Memory of Radio”

binary (love/evol)
“An evil word it is, This love” in “In Memory of Radio”

14 lines, written in iambic pentameter (rhythm)

poem is not 14 lines like a sonnet
Irony in “American Sonnet”

irony (not 14 lines)
Postmodern characteristics of “American Sonnet”

meaningless letter on back of postcard (conventional=traditional, usual; Elizabethan=period of time when Queen Elizabeth I ruled/time of shakespeare; heliocentric=revolves around sun)
Significance of “We write on the back of a waterfall or lake,/ adding to the view a caption as conventional as an Elizabethan woman’s heliocentric eyes” in “American Sonnet”

there is little room on a postcard–metaphors of the shortness of what you can fit on a postcard
Significance of “but the picture postcard, a poem on vacation,/ that forces us to sing our songs in little rooms/ or pour our sentiments into measuring cups” in “American Sonnet”

rather be back home than be where he is in postcard
Significance of “and hide the wish that we were where you are” in “American Sonnet”

Is it a poem about a postcard (comparing them to poems) or is it a poem about American poetry (comparing them to postcards) ~~~juxtaposition (puts 2 things side by side and compares~~~~
Question deviated from “American Sonnet”

~strayed=deviate from the norm–uses words to describe being on a vacation
~a compression of what we feel=the smallness of what we feel
Significance of “and you will toss on the table this reversible display:/ a few square inches of where we have strayed/ and a compression of what we feel” in “American Sonnet”

experimentation with technique of writing
How is “Word Poem” postmodern without explaining what it means?

there are many ways to read it; it is the least clear of all the poems and the most postmodern of all poems
How is “Word Poem” unique?

deconstructed binary (destroying/becoming–not so opposite than you might think)
Postmodern characteristics of “Word Poem”

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Postmodern Poetry Packet. (2018, Jan 03). Retrieved from

Postmodern Poetry Packet
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