Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Power of Words

One of the major underlying themes of Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric is the inherent power that words have, and the effect that the subtleties of day-to-day interaction can wear down at one, specifically in the case of black Americans with regard to micro- and macroaggressions. In many of the poems featured in her anthology, Rankine demonstrates these effects by detailing small daily occurrences as well as the negative effects they have on the unnamed protagonist that ties them all together. This theme is demonstrated in the following excerpt:
The wrong words enter your day like a bad egg in your mouth and puke runs down your blouse, a dampness drawing your stomach in toward your rib cage. When you look around only you remain. Your own disgust at what you smell, what you feel, doesn’t bring you to your feet, not right away, because gathering energy has become its own task, needing its own argument. You are reminded of a conversation you had recently, comparing the merits of sentences constructed implicitly with “yes, and” rather than “yes, but.” You and your friend decided that “yes, and” attested to a life with no turnoff, no alternative routes: you pull yourself to standing, soon enough the blouse is rinsed, it’s another week, the blouse is beneath your sweater, against your skin, and you smell good.
First, we're given a vivid sensory image of how it feels to experience these frequent bouts of disrespect and/or ignorance towards you. The nauseous words used recreate the feeling in the reader: one of unease and discomfort in one's current state, followed by disgust at oneself and a feeling of isolation. Because of the frequency of the microaggressions described, rebounding from them has become an effortful process that is hard to recover from. In this case, words have the power to bring one down emotionally and psychologically.
Subsequently, words are used to reelevate oneself to a state of comfort and confidence in oneself. Even small changes in word usage, like from "yes, but" to "yes, and" are representative of something deeply significant: decisiveness and commitment to one's ideas, which, in turn, leads to self-esteem. From simply remembering this, the subject of the excerpt pulls herself up again and returns back to her confident self.
What do you think? To what extent does the power of words affect us in day-to-day life? What other instances does Rankine write about where this theme appears?


Citizen by Claudia Rankine isn't the type of book that I would in my free time, but it did interest me in a couple ways. In one of the poems, there is a racial profiling situation between a neighbor and the speaker's friend. The neighbor assumes that the "menacing black man" pacing in front of the speaker's house is not the "nice young man" he had met before. The speaker and her husband call the friend that they had babysitting at their home and he confirms that he is that man. By that time you could already hear the police sirens in the background because the neighbor had called the police on suspicions. Then the speaker does this:
"Feeling somewhat responsible for the actions of your neighbor, you clumsily tell your friend that next time he wants to talk on the phone he should just go in the backyard. He looks at you a long minute before saying he can speak on the phone wherever he wants. Yes, of course, you say. Yes, of course."
 It brings a new meaning of black people should be able to do things without being blamed or accused. It's unbelievable that he couldn't talk on the phone without almost being arrested just because from far away he looked like a "menacing black man" who was casing a house talking to himself. In what world would it finally be okay for him, a "nice young man" to be able to do simple things without the possibility of him going to jail. That's s world that I would want to live in.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Chemical Attraction

Chemical by Jack Garratt was released in his album Synthesiac April 13, 2015. Jack Garratt was still an underrated indie singer/songwriter at the time. Lately, he has made more pop-like music. Chemical was one of his songs that stuck with me. The song starts off like this:

My love is overdone, selfish and domineering
It won’t sit up on the shelf
So don’t try to reason with my love
My love is powerful, ruthless and unforgiving
It won’t think beyond itself
So don’t try to reason with my love
And when you pray, he will not answer
Although you may hear voices on your mind
They won’t be kind

He is personifying his love almost as if it was an actual person. He could possibly be talking about himself or someone he knew to be as similar as his "love". He goes on to give it a sort of masculine vibe:

My love is chemical, shallow and chauvinistic
It’s an arrogant display
So don’t try to reason with my love
And when you pray, he will not answer
I know this for I ask him all the time
To reassure my mind

He uses the words chauvinistic and arrogant which are commonly used for men. This personification and use of diction makes this song as clever as a poem. Some may even call it a poem itself... Not really but the point is that it's poetic in a way for someone to self-reflect on their love by comparing it, in a way, to themselves.

Sexism in Poetry

Poetry emerged in western society as language matured and intellectuals rose above the laity of everyday life. Poetry was originally used to describe beauty and utilized elaborate rhyme schemes and poetic devises to achieve such a goal. At this point in history poets were men, and as such the subject of their poems tended to be women or love as was seen in sonnets from 17th and 18th centuries. Later as metaphysical poems gained popularity, the tone of the poems shifted from love to lust as men used beautiful conceits to try to attract the attention and sexual favors of women. However the sweet sentiment of the victorian sonnets did not transfer to the metaphysical poems which have a purpose to seduce rather woo.

This language of seduction is seen in lines like, "My vegetable love should grow / Vaster than empire, and more slow" (11-12) from Andrew Marvell's To his Coy Mistress. These are two generic examples of the beautiful examples used by poets to attempt to display the love they hold for certain women. However when this love is unrequited or refuted the tone changes to scrutiny as seen in Marvell's writing, "then worms shall try / That long preserv'd virginity, / And your quaint honor turn to dust, and into ash all my lust" (27-30). This statement is sexist is multiple ways, on the surface because the speaker shames his "love" for not giving her virginity to him, instead of accepting her choice. Additionally he claims that his lust will turn to ash, but he never acknowledges his audiences possible lust or the societal constraints holding his audience back from achieving her love.

There are similar instances of sexism, particularly unrequited love being met with shame and degrading insult, through out metaphysical poetry. One that I find especially interesting is in A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning by Johne Donne. It exhibits instances of sincere love, "But we by a love so much refined, / That ourselves know not what it is, / Inter-assured of the mind, / Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss." (17-20), however it also has sexist trappings, unlike those seen in most metaphysical poetry. This poem states that sincere love can surpass physical distances, however it simply accepts that the man must travel while the woman is left at home to pin for her absent partner.

Both of these poems demonstrate sexist ideas from the time they were written, some more bluntly than others, however this does not mean the poems should be avoided or their ideas danced around. It is important to read such works of literature to better understand the history of the time periods they are from. And although they're meanings or phrases can be offensive it does not make the language any less beautiful or sincere. I believe writings such as these should continue to be taught with the asterisks of the time period they are from and the time period we are in.

Monday, December 18, 2017


I'm not usually a huge poetry person, with the exception of a few books, it's something I could take or leave. This book is most definitely the exception. Claudia Rankine writes beautifully while each story or poem also contains substance and speaks the truth to underhanded racism and how that then impacts those affected.

One of my favorite stories/poems is: "You wait at the bar of the restaurant for a friend, and a man, wanting to make conversation, nursing something, takes out his phone to show you a picture of his wife. You say, bridge that she is, that she is beautiful. She is, he says, beautiful and black, like you" (78).

This struck me in two ways. Firstly, this man is basically saying "lucky you, you're actually pretty while being black," which says that he thinks there are few black people that deviate from the norm of being ugly. He's saying that his wife and her are unique and break the barriers. That is wrong in so many ways and unfortunately, isn't the first time I've heard something like that. I remember being in the bathroom last year and overhearing three girls converse about another girl they were trying to justify that they were better over. "I mean she's pretty for being black." It was like they were tossing her pity points for being pretty considering her race. It's unfortunate that even in a pretty "liberal" or "accepting" community, there are people out there that think like that.

Going back to the quote, the second thing I took away from it is that it's almost like he's trying to prove to her that he's not racist. Like, "look at my wife, she's black so therefor I can't be racist." I've heard this same argument among friends, "She can't be racist, she's attracted to black guys." Okay and? It's not a get-out-of-jail free card. Just because you have a black friend or are sexually attracted to people of color, you're not automatically exempt from being racist.

Citizen Post- Invisibility

"You never really speak except for the time she makes a request and later when she tells you you smell good and have features more like a white person. You assume she thinks she is thanking you for letting her cheat and feels better cheating from almost white person.

Sister Evelyn never figured out your arrangement perhaps because you never turn around to copy Mary Catherine’s answers. Sister Evelyn must think these two girls think a lot of like or cares less about cheating and more about humiliation or she never actually saw you sitting there."

I think that this is one of the most poetic and profound sections of this book. Racism is such a deeply rooted issue that it has slithered into the classroom, without teachers even thinking twice about who they should care about, and who they should pay attention to. The explanation behind this passage is that the teacher doesn't seem to care about their cheating. But when she thinks further about why the teacher may not care, she realizes that the teacher would never believe that the white girl is cheating off of the black girl. The teacher doesn't even think about the black students and how smart they might be, and would never think that the white student, might be cheating off them, so she would never consider it, or think about looking out for it. 

This sets a tone for how much of her childhood has been. She isn't seen as being equal value as other white children, and constantly is finding another example of people who view her as less than. Why couldn't she be viewed as smart? Why was is assumed that she must not work hard or is intelligent just because she is black? Throughout this story, she gives countless other examples of other people of color who experience the same equality struggle, including celebrities or professional athletes like Serena Williams. This could show that no matter what position in society, some will still value people of color as less than. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Is This Gospel?

"This Is Gospel" is one of the most popular songs off Panic! At The Disco's Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die album. This highly personal song, whose lyrics stayed hidden on band member Brendon Urie's hard drive for months before he let anyone else read them, was written in direct reference to major issues in his life: fellow bandmate Spencer Smith's pill addiction and alcoholism, and Urie's subsequent worry about the future of their friendship and the band as a whole. The song's title and lyrics also take noticeable cues from Urie's Mormon upbringing (which he no longer identifies with, now citing music as his religion instead). Although the song was not written for universal relatability and deals with the specific contention between the two band members, the lyrics still resonate with many listeners dealing with similar issues.

The song opens:
This is gospel for the fallen onesLocked away in permanent slumberAssembling their philosophies
From pieces of broken memories
The repetition of the words, "This is gospel," throughout the song already establish a spiritual tone. Words like "permanent slumber," "fallen ones," and "philosophies" are reminiscent of ideas such as death and transcendence. "Gospel" is also defined as something regarded as true, or a doctrine of prime importance; thus, the song is presented as a rallying call to those who are struggling.

The first two lines establish a double meaning: while the "fallen ones locked away in permanent slumber" could be in reference to the dead, the "slumber" could be interpreted in a metaphorical sense, referring to dark times in one's life (more specifically, Smith's battle with addiction).
Oh, this is the beat of my heart, this is the beat of my heart [2x]
The repetition of the lines, "This is the beat of my heart," establish that the song is truly being spoken from the writer's heart. They give an image of laying bare one's vulnerability and humanity. Contrasting from the previous lines, they act as a sort of resurrection in which the speaker reminds himself that he is still alive.
Their gnashing teeth and criminal tongues conspire against the odds
But they haven’t seen the best of us yet
This one I'm far less sure about the meaning. "Gnashing teeth" and "criminal tongues" are harsh words with strong consonance, establishing an "us vs. them" dynamic between an underdog, who "conspires against the odds," and another, likely unforgiving party. Of course, the "they haven't seen the best of us yet" line instills a sense of hope and desire to fight through hard times.
If you love me let me goIf you love me let me go‘Cause these words are knives and often leave scarsThe fear of falling apartAnd truth be told, I never was yoursThe fear, the fear of falling apart
Brendon Urie's voice when singing these lines is both raw and breathtaking. According to Urie, these lines flip between his and Smith's points of view. This chorus establishes an emotional battle of sorts, in which both sides are getting hurt. The comparison between words and knives that leave scars, as well as the fear of falling apart, give the feeling that this is a figurative war of words intensified by the fear of vulnerability and allowing oneself to be hurt by another.
This is gospel for the vagabonds,Ne'er-do-wells and insufferable bastardsConfessing their apostasiesLed away by imperfect impostors
Once again, the lyrics serve as a call to action to those who have been looked down upon (names like "ne'er-do-wells" and "insufferable bastards" are not usually self-granted, after all). An apostasy is an abandonment of previous loyalty, usually meant in a religious sense. The imagery of these lines paints a picture of an outcast seeking guidance.
Don’t try to sleep through the end of the worldAnd bury me alive'Cause I won’t give up without a fight
The act of "sleeping through the end of the world" could be interpreted as trying to ignore one's problems and responsibilities, while the one being buried alive is the one who is trying to help the other person. In these lines, the speaker professes that he will not give up on the other, no matter what it may take.
Now excuse me while I go cry.

The Judge

The song I am analyzing is The Judge by Twenty-One Pilots. It is on the album Blurryface. Blurryface is a character the band made up that represents their insecurities. In this song, Blurryface seems to be the dark, egotistical side of the singer, and the song is asking for forgiveness of Blurryface from "the Judge." He knows things he has done are wrong, but he wants to be forgiven, "set free".

At the beginning of the song he says, "When the leader of the bad guys sang/something soft and soaked in pain/I heard the echo from his secret hideaway." There are two major literary devices at play here. The first is imagery, it allows the listener to see the "leader of the bad guys" from a far outside perspective by using words like echo and hideaway. It seems to disconnect the singe from this bad guy, especially when later the singer says, "I don't know if this song is a surrender or a revel/I don't know if this one is about me or the devil," making it hard to discern whether the bad guy is himself or someone else. However, his repetition of "set me free" throughout the song puts it in perspective as part of himself. Therefore, this "leader of the bad guys" becomes a side of the singer that he is attached from and in no control over.

The other literary device in that first line of the first verse is paradox. The leader of the bad guys would be expected to be singing something harsh and angry, not "soft and soaked in pain." This paradox sets a tone of helplessness and despair on the song. The singer feels helpless over the loss of control over his ego. He feels despair at what he's done and wants forgiveness.

Finally, the line "and his four walls declared him insane" uses personification to develop this insanity and loss of control. Throughout the song there are hints of insanity, like the lines "three light are lit but the fourth one's out/I can tell because it's a bit darker than the last night's bout" which don't seem to make much sense either.

Music Poetry!

Shout out to all my College English sections. This playlist is looking good.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Swifter WetJet

"All Too Well" by Taylor Swift on the Red album (2012)

"All Too Well' heavily deals with a breakup in the recent past of the narrator and moves between remembering the past and analyzing how the past effects the present day. The song is in the first person perspective and the audience is the narrator's former significant other.
I walked through the door with you, the air was cold But something 'bout it felt like home somehow and I Left my scarf there at your sister's house And you've still got it in your drawer, even now Oh, your sweet disposition And my wide-eyed gaze We're singing in a car getting lost Upstate The autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place And I can picture it after all these days

The first verse deals mostly with the memory of the past and sets up the relationship. It appears that the relationship between the narrator and their former lover was a happy and comfortable one "but something 'bout it felt like home somehow". The first views discusses some of the ex-couple's favorite memories with each other and the narrator's fixation with the past "And I can picture it after all these days".
And I know it's long gone, and that magic's not here no more And I might be okay, but I'm not fine at all
The pre-chorus brings up the ending of the relationship and discusses how the past is in the past and cannot be repeated "And I know it's long gone, and that magic's not here no more". It also brings up how the narrator is still upset from the breakup and finds it hard to move on.

'Cause there we are again on that little town street You almost ran the red 'cause you were looking over at me Wind in my hair, I was there, I remember it all too well

The chorus than brings the audience back into the past and names some other memories between the couple. The second line "You almost ran the red 'cause you were thinking of me" plays with the perspective of the chorus that is mostly grounded in the past. These line almost seems like the narrator's former lover dealing with the breakup in their own way after the fact showing that both parties find it difficult to move on.
 Photo album on the counter Your cheeks were turning red You used to be a little kid with glasses in a twin-sized bed And your mother's telling stories 'bout you on the tee ball team You taught me about your past thinking your future was me
Verse 2 of the song is also in the past and is the memory of the narrators former love telling her about his past. The most powerful line of the song comes with "You taught me about your past thinking your future was me". The meaning of this line is that the former-couple never meant to breakup and fulling expected to be together in the future. This line continues the theme of playing with perspective (past v. present).
And I know it's long gone, and there was nothing else I could do And I forget about you long enough to forget why I needed to
The pre-chorus repeats it's with some slight modifications of the original. This pre-chorus deals more with the inevitable breakup between the two and and than jumps to the past where it shows the narrator as dealing with the question of rather its better to forget a painful memory or if it's better to remember and learn from the experience.
'Cause there we are again in the middle of the nightWe're dancing round the kitchen in the refrigerator lightDown the stairs, I was there, I remember it all too well, yeah
The chorus, again is set in the past with a new memory of the couple.
And maybe we got lost in translationMaybe I asked for too muchBut maybe this thing was a masterpiece'Till you tore it all upRunning scared, I was there, I remember it all too wellAnd you call me up again just to break me like a promiseSo casually cruel in the name of being honestI'm a crumpled up piece of paper lying here'Cause I remember it all, all, all... too well
The bridge changes the tone of the song from sad rememory to anger over the end of the relationship. The first few lines list the possible reasons for the end of the relationship each one getting more angry with the audience, cumulation with "But maybe this thing was a masterpiece 'till you tore it all up" blaming the end of the relationship on the other person. The later lines discuss the emotional damage the narrator experienced, "And you call me up again just to break me like a promise. So casually cruel in the name of being honest. I'm a crumpled up piece of paper lying here". These lines are the most emotional of the song showing the anger, sadness, and rejection experienced during and after the breakup of the relationship.
Time won't fly it's like I'm paralyzed by it I'd like to be my old self again But I'm still trying to find it After plaid shirt days and nights when you made me your own Now you mail back my things and I walk home alone But you keep my old scarf from that very first week'Cause it reminds you of innocence and it smells like me You can't get rid of it, 'cause you remember it all too well, yeah
Verse 3 deals with the reflection at the emotional event. These lines are clearer than the rest of the song and they are firmly grounded in the present, dealing with the aftermath of the breakup. It discusses her inability to move on from the past and to "be my own self again". As the verse moves on, it becomes clearer to the speaker that the relationship has been finalized, "Now you mail back my things and I walk home alone". The final lines of the song switches more towards her former lover's perspective, showing that he also cannot let go of her "But you keep my old scarf from the very first week" which connects to the line in the first verse "I left my scarf there at your sister's house". This connection provides a feeling of completion to the song.

Monday, December 11, 2017


The year of 2016 J. Cole a widely know American rapper released his fourth studio album entitled ¨ 4 Your Eyez Only¨ with a featured song Neighbors. In this song he is speaking about how prevalent racial profiling is even though it occurs more in certain areas then others. Which in turn inspired the song Neighbors specifically from a personal experience he had. During his time in Brooklyn for a tour he rented out a home that was raided by a SWAT team on the assumption, allegedly made by his ¨ wealthy white neighbors¨, that there were drugs being sold on the premises¨.  In reference to where he states in his song,
¨ So much for integration, don´t know what I was thinkin´ I´m  movin´ back to southside¨. 
The closing verse he uses would be the most striking line when he says,
¨ Black in a White man territory
Cops bust in with the army guns
No evidence of harm we done
Just a couple neighbors that assume we slang
Only time they see us we be on the news, in chains, damn¨.
Similar to what is stated in ¨  What is Poetry¨ , ¨ people have always been more successful at appreciating poetry than at defining it¨. In what J. Cole was doing with this song it can be seen as poetry because it can be appreciated through the fact that it is addressing a global issue that many races of people face though specifically African Americans regardless of social classes. Then it can be appreciated by those whom have been or currently experiencing the same situation.

The Devil's in the Details

The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" was released in 1968 on their 7th British studio album Beggars Banquet. The song was written by Mick Jagger alone, unlike most Stones songs which were written by Jagger and Keith Richards. Influences in the creation of the song included the French poet Baudelaire and The Master and Margarita, a novel by Bulgakov.  The song's rhythm is a samba rock and lyrics can be easily cast as poetry.

The song begins by presenting the listeners with the speaker of the song. His identity is not revealed explicitly until the end of the song, but it is rather easy to guess that the speak is the Devil. This specific speaker makes make the entire song much more interesting. The introduction is a good example:
Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
I've been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man's soul and faith 
Here we are given a description of the Devil that doesn't really fit with his traditional image. Instead of horns and torment, he is described and an old gentleman of wealth. The only reference to his evil is the idea of stealing souls. The personification of evil gets a new look from Jagger's pen.

For the rest of the song, the Devil takes us through world history and describing his perspective of famous events. He references the crucifixion of Jesus, the 1917 Russian revolution, World War Two,
European Religious Wars, and the assassinations of the Kennedys. For each event, he implicates himself with the evil side, however in the chorus he asks a difficult question:
Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game
The first part we've already answered, and the Devil know it. The part is figuring out why he does it. A question that humans have been asking forever: Why does evil exist? The use of the word "game" is important because it refers to life itself as the Devil's game, but also refers to the religious idea of a trickster god. 

The last verse of the song offers the big twist, the volta if you will. It begins:
Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails, just call me Lucifer
Cause I'm in need of some restraint
Here the Devil argues that good and evil are a lot more similar than people think. This verse also builds on the idea that evil isn't some outside force but something that is inside all of us. The idea was first introduced in the third verse where all people are implicated in the death of the Kennedys.

Overall, the song deepens the experience of all human life through its exploration of the conflict between good and evil.

Loves me Naked

Ella Mai is a young upcoming artist who uses her angelic voice to draw young audiences in. Ella competed in the X factor as apart of  trio and ended up turning a trio into a solo career. Ella Mai has the ability to captivate an audience with her song writing, and she really impressed a lot of people with her recent EP.  She dropped 5 songs on her EP (which were all extremely impressive), but in particular Naked touches me. I've heard a lot of love songs, but this one makes me feel something.
Her chorus begins with this line.
"There's nothing I want more in this world, than somebody who loves me naked."

To be naked, is to be completely bare and open. I think a lot of people are incapable of loving people completely naked, or to be completely naked and to be loved; because that means to be vulnerable and let someone completely in on both sides.

"No matter how hard I try, I still runaway from love at the end of the night."

This line backs up my last statement, but being loved can be just as hard as loving. You want to run away from it, although it can be good for you.

I recommend everyone to listen to this EP, it's extremely personal, which I think is poetry. Poetry is about making an audience feel something, and Naked makes me feel something.


In 2016, Chance the Rapper released a song titled Blessings feature on his mixtape titled "Coloring Book".  Chance the Rapper is currently known as Chicago's most influential and well known rapper. Chance frequently incorporates gospel music into his raps which is what sets him apart from other rappers and makes his type of rap different. The song Blessings is one of the songs where Chance incorporates gospel beats and lyrics within his rap. Chance is a walking testimony that when you continue to do things in life recognizing God's role, you will receive many blessings. Chance says so himself in the hook of his song when he states

When the praises go up, the blessings come down

Since the song is titled Blessings, many of Chances' blessings were noted in his lyrics. A striking line in the first verse about one of his blessings was

 I don't make songs for free, I make 'em for freedom
 Don't believe in Kings, believe in the Kingdom

 This is powerful because Chance releases music for free and he isn't signed to a record label but he is still successful and is making an impact in his city and in the world. Not too many artists can make it big without being signed to a record label. Chance wants to send a message to his younger audience that you need to believe in yourself (the kingdom) and don't put all your trust in record labels (the kings) to bring you success. Chance the Rapper has music that possess deep, meaningful lyrics which is why he will continue to maintain a legacy in the rap industry.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

College Wahoo

On November 28, I completed and turned in all of my college applications! All the stress of making sure everything was organized and perfect was so tremendously draining; now all of that hard work is in the hands of another human being...a terrifying thought.

I watched my three older sisters go through the college process, and it seems the stress student's experience has increased with every year...which is kind of ironic, you would think it would be the other way around! I feel the electronic processes have added some malfunctions and glitches that leave student's in a frantic state, emailing counselors and admissions officers. I had a freak out about my ACT scores being sent out. I had to call and wait for 20 minutes to speak to an ACT representative, then I realized the reason why my scores weren't sending was because I put in a wrong number somewhere, something silly like that.

One thing that is freaking me out is knowing where to go. Yes it depends on where I get accepted and how much money I hopefully will receive, but what about where your heart is telling you to go? My sister's each easily found their perfect college match. I helped moved in and out each sister, for 6 years. Now it is finally my turn to be the one moving in. I have been waiting for this day since fourth grade when I helped my oldest sister Hannah move into her freshmen dorm room at the University of Illinois. Looking back, her room was in pretty poor condition...hopefully that has changed...but as only a nine year old, I recognized the pure happiness on her face. I just hope I am able to find the perfect match financially and physically!

College is a time to grow and develop your character and knowledge. A time for new and exciting experiences. To meet new people from all across the country and world, and form lasting relationships. The happiness on Hannah's face is something I cannot wait to enjoy. I am beyond ready for college.

La Vie En Rose

My song "La Vie En Rose," is a cover by Louis Armstrong, on his album called, Tribute to Edith Piaf. I chose Armstrong's version of the song because it was the only version I heard while growing up. My parents had danced to this song at their wedding, and always play it while we eat our Thanksgiving meal as a family.

The song was originally written post World War 2, in a time when people wished to see the world through "rose colored glasses" instead of reality. "La Vie En Rose" translates to, "Life in Pink" or "Life Through Rose-Tinted Glasses". In a time of destruction and depression, the song was meant to create a nurturing and loving atmosphere for suffering people through its poetic lyrics.

The song is a strong love song from the perspective of someone who only wanted to be with their lover, and ignore reality.

There is an abundant amount of figurative language in the song. The song starts off with:
Hold me close and hold me fast
The magic spell you cast
This is la vie en rose
Right off the bat, the speaker is directing the song to the person they love. Asking them to hold them and cast their magic spell over them. Obviously magic spells do not exist in real life, the speaker is comparing their love to a magic spell, and is therefore a metaphor. Through that spell can the speaker see life through their rose colored glasses, and truly enjoy life with their wholesome love. This theme is further portrayed in the next stanza:
When you press me to your heart
I'm in a world apart
A world where roses bloom
Again, just by physically being with their love, they are able to separate themselves from the destruction and sadness of the real world. The symbolism is displaying how powerful love is. It can help one through the challenges and hard ships life throws ones way.

There are only six stanzas in the song, repeated twice, so it is quite short. In the last two stanzas, the speaker uses hyperbole to truly demonstrate their devotion to their love:
Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be
La vie en rose
I thought that love was just a word
They sang about in songs I heard
It took your kisses to reveal
That I was wrong, and love is real
When the speaker asks for their lover's heart and soul, he/she uses such extremes to illuminate the true devotion of their love. They would put themselves in such a vulnerable position because they believe in their love, and want to see through the rose colored glasses of a loving life with them. The speaker uses another hyperbole when they say it took your kisses to reveal love is real. Meaning that they had not felt love before they met that person, had not experienced such a deep connection with another to see life through rose-colored glasses. To be happy.

I think "La Vie En Rose" is a great love song, that demonstrates love is a very powerful feeling that can help one live through the harsh realities of life.

Saturday, December 9, 2017


The Black Eye Peas, an american music group consist of the rappers,, Taboo, Fergie, and  "Where Is The Love", is on the music group 3rd album, Elephunk released in the summer of 2003. This song refers to the fight against racism that took place and is taking place in our country. It talks about kids being involved in gangs at young ages and caught up in things that should have been avoided. People are being killed from these wrong-doing decision that others make. The bible says: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. If you think about your relationships with others.. is it really love? "Where Is The Love," is also telling us that what this world that we live in is turning into without love, genuine love. The artist do a good job of listing all the awful things that have been happening in society, not to make us feel bad and guilty to open up awareness for those who are blind.

Just a year ago The Black Eyed Peas reunited to release a remake of the music video entitled #WHEREISTHELOVE ft The World, because we are not sure after all the tragedy's that occurred. Some of their celebrity friends were asking to participate. The video features war images, the migrant crisis, and protest across the U.S.


Strong lines:
"But if you only have love for your own rce
Then you only leave space to discriminate
And to discriminate only generates hate
And when you hate then you're bound to get irate
Racism is being expressed in violent and humiliating methods in today's society.

"As I'm getting older, y'all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin'
Selfishness got us followin' our wrong direction"

Materialism is getting even more common! Making money seems to be everyone's most important main goal.

"Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema"

The youth are easily influenced by the media. Leading to more criminal and violent acts in the long run.

Friday, December 8, 2017


"Burn", from the Hamilton soundtrack by Lin Manuel Miranda is sung by Eliza Schuyler-Hamilton after she finds out that her husband, Alexander Hamilton, had an affair with another married woman. Alexander, in order to keep his political career intact, writes the Reynolds Pamphlets, detailing his exploits with his mistress, and releases them to the public. Eliza reads the letters, and, unable to handle her grief and anger, burns both her copy of the Reynolds Pamphlets as well as the love letters Alexander wrote her before they were married, hence the name of the song- "Burn".
Obviously, the speaker is Eliza, the audience Alexander (as shown through her use of "you," addressing her husband). The meaning of the song is that Alexander made Eliza's world burn both in their love for each other, and with her hatred of him.
In the third stanza, she recalls the beginning.
"You and your words flooded my senses
Your sentences left me defenseless
You built me palaces out of paragraphs
You built cathedrals"
Her language builds a world with him in it, uses imagery and metaphor to illustrate the world he made her, her paradise, her everything. Then she switches to analyzing the new letters he published.
"You and your words obsessed with your legacy
Your sentences border on senseless
And you are paranoid in every paragraph
How they perceive you
You, you, you"
The use of repetition throughout the entire song of "you" is particularly striking because it emphasizes that in his act of self-preservation, in thinking about only himself, his actions had casualties. The final line contributes to the meaning because it subtly summarizes Eliza's grief and hatred in simple words.
"I hope that you burn"

The Lyrics Arn't Important

*I would like to preface this by saying that I believe the live version of this song found in the class Spotify does not do it poetic justice. In order to truly understand my forthcoming argument, I ask that you listen to the original version instead, which I stored here as a Google Drive MP3.*

The notion that poetry is about comprehending is misleading.

Aware that this is an asking us to evaluate the meaning of a poem's words, I then venture to question, what then makes song and music such a uniquely powerful medium of poetic expression? Like any powerful spoken word piece, music is poetry meant to be performed. Music is poetry meant to be felt and experienced as much, if not more, then it is meant to be read and understood for its language. Is it not then possible that, if a song is conveyed to the listener so powerfully, we can understand its emotion and meaning without even beginning to comprehending its lyrics at all? When a poem is able to tug at that hollow sorrow within us all, to convey the heartbreak of its words without the listener understanding a single one of them, it has achieved an emotional poetic resonance that transcends any language barrier that may stand between us and our experience of it.

In a display that can only be described as a heart-wrenching gutting of the soul, I dare you, the reader, to listen to Masayoshi Yamazaki´s 1997 single ¨One More Time, One More Chance¨ and feel absolutely nothing. Unless you speak Japanese you will not understand Yamazaki´s work, but even if you did I would ask you to listen to it as if you did not. Even without understanding the words, through how the song is so intimately and powerfully performed to us, it becomes evident that Yamazaki is revealing the deepest longings of his heart to the listener in its rawest form. Never before have I felt so strongly that a piece of poetry was created to be experienced rather than to be read or understood. It's an emotional display that trying to describe or evaluate simply does not do poetic justice. If you are at all skeptical as to the impact of the song's emotional weight, the revealing of the soul in its deliverance, and how the text on paper is simply not enough to understand this song's meaning, the best-supporting evidence I can provide is simply telling you to go experience it for yourself. Yamazaki's song shows us what it means to suffer, to lose our grip on something we hold dear, to be raw and unrestrained in presenting our emotions.

"One More Time, One More Chance" is a song of longing for lost love (as if the emotional carnage in Yamazaki's voice was not already enough to convey this to you). I now venture to analyze the song for its lyrics, but only out of requirement because I otherwise feel that it is completely unnecessary and beside the point, I am trying to make.
"Summer's memory is revolving
The sudden disappearance of heart beat"
The sense of longing in Yamazaki´s words, while more evident in the tone and bravo of his presentation of them, is pervasive. The ¨sudden disappearance of heart beat¨ alludes to a love and warmth so quickly lost to him. Memories of summers are nearly personified, circling the speaker, reminding him of what we assume to be a happier time. Using heartbeat" instead of "love" makes his loss feel more human, like he lost something more intimate to him then some short-lived love.

"If my wish is to be granted, please bring me to you right nowBetting and embracing everything To show you there's nothing else I can do"
The one wish of the speaker is to be with the one for whom the song is written. The "betting" and "embracing" comes off as a double meaning. The speaker longs for the embrace of the one he loves while struggling to embrace the thought that it may just be impossible. The idea of betting, of putting everything on the line to see the fulfillment of his final longing shows how this person means everything to him, the meaning and motivation to his life.
"Because the stars in the night sky seems like falling, I can't lie to myself
One more time, please don't' change the season
One more time to the time when we fool around"
This stanza is interesting. The only instances where Yamazaki uses English, like in the song's title itself, is for the phrase "One more time" and "One more chance". In addition, every time he uses one of those phrases in the song, it repeats itself in the next line. There is something heartbreaking in the way Yamazaki speaks these lines in English. The way he carries out the phrase, the way he ends the words "time" and "chance" with the quiver of a suffered man makes his longing for another chance,  with the person he sings of seem all the more genuine. The use of English in these instances in contrast to all the Japenese gives the impression that Yamazaki is pleading to some higher power to acknowledge his plea, someone, anyone who can understand his longing for one more chance, one more moment with the one he loves. The stars falling around him in the sky, the quiver in his voice, the use of English to reach absolutely anyone he can with his words suggest the speaker knows his plea is futile. It's heartbreaking yet, how hard he pleads none-the-less.

Before leaving you, I chose to conclude this post with a rather important piece of context to Yamakazi's song very much intentionally. I strongly recommend that if at this point, you haven't listened to the song yet yourself, you should do so before you continue to fully experience the revelation I am about to disclose.

Yamazaki wrote this song just weeks after losing his longtime girlfriend, his companion since childhood, the love of his life to the Kobe earthquake of 1995. If you listened to the song, I would bet such context doesn't come as much of a surprise to you. In ¨One More Time, One More Chance¨  Yamazaki vets the longing of his soul in a performance that requires you to listen to it to truly understand how powerful it is. Simply trying to describe the song does not do the emotions it conveys justice. The words we don't understand aren't important because the true poetry is in how he presents them. Because of how genuine the sorrow in his voice, how heartbreakingly real the sense of longing, how effervescent the sadness in his performance, it certainly did not surprise me.

Taylor Swift: Today's Pop Culture Poet

"Clean" by Taylor Swift appears on the multiplatinum Grammy Album of the Year 1989. Despite the image that the media and general public have crafted for her, and the constant belittling and patronizing attitude towards her and her work, Swift is a brilliant and incomparable songwriter, and her six albums, the first two of which were written in high school, at our same age or younger, have been the poetry books to my life, and the lives of so many others, for the past nine years.

Clean utilizes two main extended metaphors throughout its lyrics - water and alcohol, both conveyed in the title alone.

The drought was the very worst
When the flowers that we'd grown together died of thirst
It was months and months of back and forth
You're still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can't wear anymore
Hung my head as I lost the war
And the sky turned black like a perfect storm

The abundant metaphors and similes in the first verse alone paint a vivid picture for listeners or readers. The drought is a metaphor for the downfall of her relationship, and the flowers signify their good relationship, which was failing because it wasn't being taken care of or fueled. This introduces the water metaphor that will continue throughout the song. The wine-stained dress image begins the alcohol metaphor. She can't get rid of him, and he's still stuck in her mind even though their relationship is over and there's nothing to be done about it. Losing the war means losing both the relationship she fought for and the voice inside her pushing her to hold on, no matter how bad the relationship was. A perfect storm is a rare circumstance that produces drastic change - letting go changed her drastically. In just the first six lines, the audience develops such a strong visceral reaction to the feelings she's describing through her imagery.

Then, the chorus hits.

Rain came pouring down
When I was drowning, that's when I could finally breathe
And by morning, gone was any trace of you
I think I am finally clean

The rain and water imagery/metaphor is now in full force. Water is cleansing, and refreshing after the drought Swift previously described. In the midst of letting go of her past, she felt strong emotions (the rain/drowning) but they helped get a toxic ex out of her system and wash her clean.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, here comes verse two:

There was nothing left to do
When the butterflies turned to dust, they covered my whole room
So I punched a hole in the roof
Let the flood carry away all my pictures of you
The water filled my lungs
I screamed so loud, but no one heard a thing

The butterflies refer to the giddy, nervous excitement you feel in the beginning, honeymoon phase of a relationship, but for Swift, the butterflies are now gone. They're merely dust or fragile broken remnants that are consuming her life.  Punching a hole in the roof is a metaphor and hyperbole of an outburst of anger, leading to freedom. The water metaphor continues with the flood. Washing away the pictures signifies Swift finally being cleansed of painful memories and refusing to cling to the long gone good times. The water filling her lungs and screaming so loud lines could mean she was crying for help but it was going unnoticed, or it could mean that through all of the pain, she kept it together and maintained her cool in the face of endless publicity and media attention - the world, with a constant eye on her, couldn't even tell she was suffering.

And then the bridge comes at us, like a punch to the gut:

Ten months sober, I must admit
Just because you're clean don't mean you don't miss it
Ten months older, I won't give in
Now that I'm clean, I'm never gonna risk it

This bridge to end all bridges (it's even more incredible if you just listen to the song) ties up the alcohol metaphor perfectly, discussing the literal aches and withdrawals that come from becoming sober, but also meaning the aches and withdrawals that come from losing a relationship and moving on without it. Ten months has gone by since she let go of this person, and despite the withdrawals that she sometimes feels, she's not going to relapse. This entire song is showing us through vivid images and comparisons what grieving a lost love is like. There is no telling, nothing is straightforward or easy, but gets the point across so effectively. I feel the tightening in my lungs and the freedom of fresh air every time I listen to it.

Say what you want about Taylor Swift, but I could analyze any one of her songs like I just did, and I guarantee you will see how it's poetry. This song saved my life. It was exactly what I needed when I was going through the worst period of my life, and I honestly believe that I would not be the person I am today if I hadn't screamed the words to the song with 50,000 others at Soldier Field, tears streaming down my face. If you have a minute and want your heart to be broken and put back together all at the same time, watch the Clean tour speech. She gave a version of this speech at every show on her 1989 tour, and the iconic Clean speech is a Swiftie staple. I will cry every time.

I bet nobody read this far, but like, your loss.


About a year and a half ago, I was introduced to an artist named Kehlani. She is an extremely talented singer who originally was in a band called Poplyfe. When the group began to fall through, she split off and has been coming out with her own music since 2014. Her first big album came out in 2015, called "You Should be Here." Now I listen to apple music, and when in search for some new songs, I go to the apple radio, usually on the pop station, and just skip the songs I didn't want to listen to. When I first started doing this, This one song called "Alive" would maybe pop up on the radio, and I would always skip it, because I had listened to the first verse and didn't like how it sounded. Months later, I met a friend who was obsessed with this artist names Khelani. She introduced me to some of her favorites, which I kinda liked.

One day, I decided to look her up myself, after recognizing her voice and name in the Suicide Squad sound track with the song "Gansta." I discovered how many amazing songs that she had, and realized that that one song I absolutely hated a few months ago was hers, so I decided to listen to the whole song, and realized that it was actually a pretty cool song. I began to listen to all the song's on that album, "You Should be Here," and one song stuck with me more than the others. The second to last song on her album is a song called "Bright," and I think this song is one of the most poetic works of art she has ever made.

In the song, she tells the story of a little girl, young woman, little boy, and young man. In individual ways, they are are struggling to love themselves. The little girl doesn't like her hair, and how it curls, and when comparing herselve to other's that she finds pretty, she doesn't look like them. The young women is always reading magazines and thinking that she looks very different than her ideal woman. Kehlani says the girl is thinking "oh I've got all these curves, all this nerve, why can't I keep a man?" And Kehlani reassures her with "But baby girl, if you love yourself, you can." Then in the second verse, she talks about the little boy, who looks down at his shoes, knowing that they aren't very clean, and feeling that if he had cleaner shoes or more money, then he would be able to get a date. The young man is always working out, trying to look more muscular, or look a certain way saying,"You see those guys, they get all the girls, I just want to be like them." And then Kehlani again soothes by saying, "But baby boy, your spreading yourself thin."

Then when she hits the chorus, all she sings about is self love. "Can't nobody love somebody that do not love themselves. You are what you choose to be, it's not up to no one else. So be great, be kind, don't let them dim your light. Cause a man like the sun should always stay bright."

The message that she sends with song really hits me personally, along with many others who sometimes find it hard to love who they are, and these are the kinds of genius songs that I call poetry.


The song Praying by Kesha was the first single she released after four years. The powerful song gives listeners the experience of finally overcoming an abusive relationship. While the song is literally directed at her former producer, Dr. Luke, who tried to tear down her confidence and self worth so that he would have complete control over life, it speaks to anyone who has been in an abusive relationship.

Perpetrators for abusive relationships tear down the self-esteem of their partner so that they don’t think they deserve better. Kesha starts her song by singing about how she felt like nothing.

Well, you almost had me fooled
Told me that I was nothing without you

Kesha then goes on to describe the freeing feeling that escaping a relationship like this is.

I'm proud of who I am
No more monsters, I can breathe again

The use of the words monster and breathe in this line are multidimensional. The word Monster has a literal definition but also evokes the emotions of being scared and overpowered. Here, Kesha is referring to the abuser and the depression that she faced. The word breathe contrasts the emotions that she felt due to her “monsters” and shows the freeing feeling that those in abusive relationships feel when they finally realize their self worth and can escape.

While it is possible to read in books or online about how harmful abusive relationships can be, this song makes the listener feel the anger, power and freedom she is now allowed to feel.  This is poetry because it helps people in abusive relationships to know that they are worth more than they believe and that they will find the strength to move on.

And we both know all the truth I could tell

I'll just say this is "I wish you farewell"

Running on Reminiscences

"Blood Bank" was released on an EP of the same name by Bon Iver in 2009 following their first album. Justin Vernon, a native Wisconsin, folk singer-songwriter and founder of the band composed the EP. Although Vernon has been a part of many bands, Bon Iver is by far his most successful, the name of the band derives from the french greeting "Bon hiver" meaning good winter and the music they produce is commonly classified as indie folk or folktronica.

"Blood Bank" is the most conventional song on the EP, and one of my all-time favorites due to how the music sounds, however up until this assignment I had never really listened to the lyrics. The song is starts with a couple, narrated by the man, who meets for the first time at a blood bank while presumably donating blood. The couple starts talking and flirting when the woman makes a joke:
See look that's yours!Stacked on top with your brother'sSee how the resemble one anotherEven in their plastic little covers
Obviously all blood looks the same to the naked eye, so the primary purpose this line serves is to show the comfortable atmosphere between the two. However she also says the blood around his is his "brother's" possibly implying that we are all brothers. This is even more evident when it is revealed that we all have similar blood, bringing to mind the familiar maxim that 'we all bleed red'.
That secret that you knewBut don't know how to tellIt fucks with your honorAnd it teases your headBut you know that it's good girlBecause it's running you with red
In the next verse it is revealed that the woman is married as the relationship "fucks with your honor" and is secret. In the last line in the verse the narrator claims that despite her marriage the girl is relying on this relationship as the use of "red" relates back to blood demonstrating how the relationship is pumping blood in the woman's veins, keeping her going every day. Additionally in-between verses the narrator repeatedly states "I know it well." This and the woman not "knowing how to tell" creates a dichotomy between the narrator who knows what he wants and the woman who is conflicted between her marriage and more intimate relationship.

However it is in the following verse that the woman makes up her mind, the song goes "As a moon waned to crescent / We started to kiss." The moon waning symbolizes the end of the relationship and in the following verse the fate is sealed as the narrator says his final goodbye, "I'm in love with your honor / I'm in love with your cheeks" acknowledging how despite being rebuffed he respects her decision (her honor) and still finds her beautiful (her cheeks).

This song is poetry because it is constantly expanding the blood metaphor as a symbol of their relationship and it's prominence in their lives. Additionally the song follows the form of a sonnet as there is an issue throughout the majority of the poem, in this case their forbidden love, but ends with a resolution, in this case the woman claiming it could never be and the man imagining how things could have been.

Mr. Tambourine Man

Bob Dylan, along with countless other accolades, was recently (2016) awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Part of me wanted to pick something else because this song felt like a cop out, but I think it may not be as well known as I thought it was. Despite having a “unique” voice and basic guitar skills, Dylan managed to have an incredibly successful career and is known as one of the all time greats. If it weren’t for his lyrics, he would not be the artist we know him as today. One of my favorite songs, Mr. Tambourine Man (a part of his 1965 album Bringing it All Back Home), is also one Dylan’s most poetic.
Though I know that evenin’s empire has returned into sandVanished from my handLeft me blindly here to stand but still not sleepingMy weariness amazes me, I’m branded on my feetI have no one to meetAnd the ancient empty street’s too dead for dreaming
Dylan is clearly lost here, but the real question is why? Considering this album is in the post mortem of his best-selling album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, it could be interpreted as Dylan’s struggle with writing. Perhaps Dylan’s “evenin’s empire” is his past success and he’s struggling to write in its “ancient empty street’s.” Although, this interpretation is problematized by the following verse.
Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin’ shipMy senses have been stripped, my hands can’t feel to gripMy toes too numb to stepWait only for my boot heels to be wanderin’I’m ready to go anywhere, I’m ready for to fadeInto my own parade, cast your dancing spell my wayI promise to go under it
These lines suggest a different type of wandering. Here, Dylan’s talk about a “magic swirlin’ ship” and being “ready for to fade” make the listener feel like he’s talking about a trip off drugs. Though Dylan denies that the song’s meaning is about drugs, he reinforces this idea later in the song.
Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mindDown the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leavesThe haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beachFar from the twisted reach of crazy sorrowYes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving freeSilhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sandsWith all memory and fate driven deep beneath the wavesLet me forget about today until tomorrow
While the use of “smoke rings” ties back into the drug-themed second verse, I believe these lines distinguish and separate the song from drugs or writer’s block. Rather, I think Dylan is singing about his experience with time. I think the alliteration present in the whole song, but particularly the first verse (evenin’s empire and ancient empty streets), tie in to the fast smooth tempo of the song. Emblematic of the experience he’s writing about, he includes nuanced outbreaks like “but still not sleeping” and “too dead for dreaming”  that jut out against the otherwise silky rhythm.