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October 28, 2007

Mapping an allness

I realize now that most pictures of lightning really do resemble forks. Tiny bolts spring out from one large one. However, my initial drawing of it resembling supply and demand curves still holds true for me. In fact, it has enhanced my understanding of the poem and has given it more depth. Every supply and demand curve is drawn on an axis of price (vertical) and quantity (horizontal). To me, the quantity is labeled as the lightning bolt. Its supply increases when more ignorance (price) increases. Ignorance is also related to the temperature of a lightning bolt. An increase in heat can cause the level of intensity of the bolt to rise. Heat can also be associated with an increase in feeling, or anger. In the poem, ignorance and carelessness from the "inadvertent fingers" is the cause of the forks (lightning) dropping from the tables (clouds).

Directly below the supply curve is a demand curve in which price and quantity are labeled as the same. In this case, lightning becomes less desirable when the price (ignorance) increases. Also, with ignorance, heat and the temperature of the bolt rises, and when it does, it becomes less worth it to drop a fork and therefore consume the lightning. Although the outlook on lightning is negative in the poem, this perspective can still be challenged by the positive things lightning may provide. For instance, in certain moments, people's worlds are lit up, and it gives them the ability to "see" things that they may have not seen before. So, when less heat or anger, and ignorance is required, the demand for lightning will increase and we'll drop a fork.

Posted by pbali at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2007

Mapping of the Lightning

When I think of the lightning in Emily Dickinson's poem I see multiple beautiful yellow bolts shaped like forks--this is what the poem is implying. When I draw it out, I can't help but see upward sloping supply curves and downward sloping demand curves connected together to form one big bolt of lightning. It is striking to see it displayed in this way. I am not sure why I see it this way, but I may have been in an economics mode as I began doing this english assignment. Going from econ to english can feel like a drastic change at times, but this poem has somehow drawn the two together for me momentarily. My perception of the lightning could change at anytime. But right now, the lightning is a composition of yellow supply and demand curves.

Posted by pbali at 06:03 PM | Comments (1)

October 21, 2007

Mapping of "The Lightning is a Yellow Fork" by Emily Dickinson

The Lightning is a yellow Fork
From Tables in the sky
By inadvertent fingers dropt
The awful Cutlery

Of mansions never quite disclosed
And never quite concealed
The Apparatus of the Dark
To ignorance revealed.

While working on the mapping of this poem I began to think about the importance of the metaphor being used in the first line. What makes the lightning a yellow fork? When I began to think about the color yellow, I immediately thought of the Coldplay song called "Yellow." It has widened my perception of the color yellow, its uses, and significance. My next assignment will be to think about why it might be falling from the sky, and who the "inadvertent fingers" might belong to.

Posted by pbali at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)

"Valentine for Ernest Mann" by Naomi Shihab Nye

You can't order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, "I'll take two"
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn't understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

--This poem maps the origin of poetry itself. The eyes of the skunk, shoes, shadows, etc. become landmarks on the map. To travel to these places means to find, quite possibly, a poem.

Posted by pbali at 02:34 PM | Comments (2)

October 07, 2007

Role of a Poet

A few weeks ago, we talked about the role of the poet. I think people write for many reasons, but I believe that the finished product, for almost all writers, is a result of their need to express something. This form of expression can be geared towards an audience, and it can also be solely for the self. Some write to communicate an idea, a feeling, to someone else, but I also believe that many write to liberate themselves without having the need to communicate to an audience. So, writing can be what may seem like a selfish act, but also a generous one.

However, I do believe that most writers begin their work without having an audience in mind. The writer doesn’t find an audience, an audience finds the writer. That is, as readers, we take on the responsibility of finding works that move us or inspire us to keep reading. The writer cannot do this for us; we must let it happen ourselves. I think this is one of the biggest yet subtle differences between the roles of a writer and reader. Both embark on separate journeys. They are separate because each has a different sense of time. For instance, the reader may experience a poem within a single moment, but the writer knows it as something else. She knows the evolution of it, and therefore interprets it as something else. I don’t believe the poet intentionally “takes us somewhere else;” I believe the reader takes himself “somewhere else.” The poem is what triggers this movement. But once it triggers, the reader unknowingly moves, or goes elsewhere. What is neat to me is that while the poet investigates and makes a product out of her inquiry (role of the writer), the reader can move through the product in multiple ways and basically in any way he likes. He can go places without being told where to go (role of the reader).

Posted by pbali at 11:56 PM | Comments (2)

October 01, 2007

Linear vs. Non-linear poems

The progression of “The Epic of Gilgamesh” seems to be more linear than non-linear. The roundness of the first line: “He who has seen everything, I will make known (?) to the lands. I will teach (?) about him who experienced all things,” sets the epic up for the possibility that the idea of Gilgamesh and everything he embodies will expand. Only what follows is a pattern of forwardness. The poem takes you in one direction, and in this sense, is quite linear. From the beginning to the end, we read about his heroic deeds. The poem works to define him through one perspective.

On the other hand, “The Red Wheelbarrow” by Williams Carlos Williams, follows a non-linear path. There is a lot of ambiguity when thinking about the significance of the red wheelbarrow. The poem feels like an unfinished thought, and because of that, the reader is left with many questions. There is no defined center, and in the end, we are back at where we started: the red wheelbarrow. In all its roundness, we have come full circle. Therefore, the visual linearity of the poem is not reflective of the arrangement of the idea of the poem. The idea that “so much depends” on the red wheelbarrow gives the poem a very round shape.

Posted by pbali at 01:34 AM | Comments (1)


The word collection evokes many senses for me. I think of things and even people coming together from different groups to compose a whole. They come from various subcategories to form one bigger category. Their place of origin may be the same but each is still unique so that when you look at each component you can recognize difference.

At the moment, I am thinking of my chakra bracelet. Each bead is representative, and like a metaphor for one of the seven chakras. They form into a multicolored circular pattern around my wrist; each bead I’d like to think, plays an important role in keeping me balanced. That is, as these beads are joined into a collection, they serve a larger purpose.

A few weeks ago, the bracelet somehow broke on my way out of class. I didn’t know what had happened until I saw tiny splashes of color shoot up into the air. One of my friends jokingly said she thought skittles were being sprayed from my arm. Some beads fell into the crevices of the ground and some I have no idea where they wound up. Before I struggled to recapture the beads I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful pattern they made on the cement. They had fallen off the string to which they had been attached for two years and to see them as separate and individual felt unfamiliar. I viewed them in their pre-collection form; their loose and linear form. The roundness was gone. I had just witnessed them changing shape, and I couldn’t help but feel saddened by their sudden transformation.

Posted by pbali at 01:19 AM | Comments (0)