Deborah Shteierman

  • I really like that Rankine and Hughes are put into conversation in this post, and I agree that they share a connection. However, another poet that came to mind as I was reading this excerpt is Stein. Two instances where this came across is when Rankine writes, “You are you even before you/grow into understanding you/are not anyone, worthless,/ not…[Read more]

  • The first question that Rachel is asking here is quite interesting. In “The Idea of Ancestry,” Knight focuses more on the traditional meaning of “ancestry”- meaning, your lineage and who has preceded you in your family. However, in “Skinhead,” Smith totally ignores his familial ancestry and instead, he adopts America as his “ancestry.” Smith…[Read more]

  • In “North American Time,” Rich presents an interesting problem: the misconstruing of words. She states, “Everything we write will be used against us or against those we love,” and she doesn’t place much emphasis on the benefits of the written word. However, one thing that is interesting is that despite the seeming pitfalls of expressing oneself…[Read more]

  • “[T]o recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before you speechless and intelligent and shaking with / shame, rejected yet confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his n […]

    • I agree with Deborah that these lines contain a self disclosure from Ginsburg. I liked her view especially that “Ginsberg writes, the speaker is standing before the audience (the “you”) and “confessing out the soul,” …this is in line with what Ginsberg is indeed doing in this poem- he is confessing, he is revealing himself.” I think Ginsburg is letting us in on a secret that is why he was “shaking with shame” because of his embarrassment maybe he is about to tell us something he did and regrets.

    • I’m not sure I can bring clear, textual evidence, but we had discussed in class that this poem was revolutionary in terms of bringing the issue of homosexuality out in the open in an otherwise conservative, conformist society. Perhaps the lack of recognizable meter and breaking away from previously used forms that Deborah mentioned is indicative of Ginsburg’s larger breaks with society at large. Agree that these final lines are self disclosure, but the “you” is not the reader, but a much greater entity.

    • I agree with Deborah and really love the point she made with the first part of the poem consistently containing “who”, and suddenly this line starts with a different beginning, showing that we should “pay close attention here and focus on what is being said.” It does seem that Allen Ginsberg shows self disclosure when he says he feels “rejected”, which could connect to his homosexuality or his unusual way of writing. The word “shame”, seems to be telling that perhaps he’s a bit ashamed with him being so off track with how society is run in his time. Also, the word “naked” is a way of saying that nothing is hidden and that Ginsberg is showing who he truly is.

    • I agree with Deborah that in these lines Ginsburg appears to be baring his soul in some sort of confession. Ginsburg seems to be confessing something to us, the audience. He tells us that he is coming to “stand before you speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet confessing out the soul”. It is interesting that Ginsburg seems to be speaking about himself but he never speaks in the first person, rather, he uses the second person to relate this to his whole generation.

    • Like Deborah pointed out, I agree about the ideal of “Self-disclosure”. I agree with her observation about how the poem “recreates what prose has meant until now.” However, I believe in starting the line off with “to” (1) that Ginsberg is hear trying to explain the reasoning behind explaining of the circumstances of all of “Whos” in the poem. Deborah observes “Ginsberg writes the speaker is standing before the audience (the “you”).” In addressing the “you” and stating the condition of the Who being “speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame, rejected;” Ginsberg shows how vulnerable the “beautiful minds” (as referred to in the first line of the first section) are and yet they are still willing to “confess out the soul” in order to say “what might be left to say in the time come after death.” In simpler terms, Ginsberg uses the descriptions of their conditions in order to warn about the future.

    • The ending of Part I is definitely confusing, although this might just be because I don’t understand a lot of the references that Ginsburg makes. While reading the poem I did notice the series of “who” that repeat at the beginning of the line, and did exactly what Deborah points out when she says, “By Ginsberg breaking away from the pattern, he makes us pay close attention here and focus on what is being said.” That being said, he is talking about different people that may or may not include himself. I think that if he includes himself in the “who,” then he is saying that he feels horrible that he “betrayed” the “regular” ways to write poetry, since we can see in this poem that this is definitely different from the usual poetic form that was written.

    • In this poem I’m not sure that the you is the reader but a more general audience. This audience could be people who were in the anti-gay movement or simply people who were not on board with Ginsberg’s redefining the way prose is written. In any event this section is definitely a disclosure of personal information on the part of Ginsberg and this is him standing before us in judgement speechless.

    • Like most people commented I didn’t know exactly what the words mean. I do notice however that the word “Time” is uppercase, and when Ginsberg refers to “o the rhythm of thought in his naked and endless head” the he is Time. In some ways Ginsberg is lamenting the fact that time exists, and while time itself is endless, Ginsberg’s time on earth is not, and neither is his howl.

    • One could argue that the entire poem is a reflection of Ginsberg; all art, in some form, is a projection of the artist, intentional or otherwise. There could be elements of Ginsberg in every “verse,” as well there should be. However, I’d have to side with Conor on his stance that Ginsberg, while of course reflecting on his own state, speaks more so for the masses than strictly for himself. This can be illustrated through the unconventional structure and provocative content, that which American poetry had not seen prior, which is resembles in writing the social movement of the next decade.

    • There is, without a doubt, a grave sense of “self” in Ginsburg’s poem. Although it is hidden via the many observational flaws pointed out through the various “who”s mentioned, there is still a self. In all that he sees he also feels, and that is himself. His reactions and his descriptions become the self portrayed. The part that Deborah entails in her blog post represents with a type of recollection and presentation of everything preceding it. All of Ginsburg’s lines that begun with “who” were representative of the “shame” and sense of being “rejected” that he felt. So in all I agree with Deborah’s point that there is a sense of self disclosure, and it can be said, informally, that Ginsburg was merely throwing in his two cents out there when he took this turn with “Howl.” The line “with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years” serves as a summary as everyone and everything he has seen is that poem of life and that is parallel to those thousand years. He also ends with a period; finally this “rant” is over.

    • I like how Deborah describes how she reacted to the last few lines of the poem, that they are the point “when the reader tunes back to the poem because until this point Ginsberg seemed to be on some sort of rant.” I felt the same way when I read the poem – I kind of skimmed the first few pages because the lines seemed so repetitive, as if Ginsberg really was just trying to vent his frustrations with society. Once I got to these last few lines, I tuned back in, because it seemed like he finally had something else to say. I don’t agree, however, that Ginsberg seems to “lose his steam.” On the contrary, I think he made one point in the first few pages, and now he’s ready to move on to the next. His rant is over, and he now wants to introduce a new idea.

    • To a certain extent I feel that there is some sense of self-disclosure. However, it’s much more complex than just self-disclosure. There seems to be a much greater, more vastly spread, and ambiguous “You” in this poem. It is not just referring to him or the reader. It is a universal “You”. There are so much important outside information that really affects the context of the poem and deepens its meaning. After World War II, the American generation had changed dramatically. There are aspects of the poem where I feel are more personal to Ginsberg. In particular, his allusion to the nuclear war and hydrogen bomb during the war (“the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox…”). This could have definitely been a reference to his own life, and experiences when he felt lonely or poor. The homosexuality in the poem is also a reflection of Ginsberg, so it could be argued that there is a huge portion of him in the poem.

    • Throughout Part I, Ginsberg is describing the unfortunate deterioration of the greatest minds of his generation. While he keeps a uniform structure throughout a majority of the work by beginning each line with “who”, he breaks this structure toward the end of the work. I agree that Ginsberg does so in order to draw attention to those lines. He describes himself as “speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame”. Perhaps this is meant to imply that he carries knowledge in his soul that may be able to help his comrades. However, because he is “speechless”, he is unable to share his wisdom; thus causing him to feel ashamed. Additionally, his use of the word “recreate” in reference to human language and syntax is interesting. It implies that he is merely able to mimic English and unable o convey the full meaning of its words. It serves to provide a degree of separations between him and the greatest minds of his generation.

  • The second question that you ask here is very interesting. I hadn’t thought of it initially, but in truth, Hughes is right on point when he says Americans will feel “ashamed,” as that is indeed in line with how I feel after reading this poem. Hughes clearly addresses ALL of America as rejecting the blacks. He doesn’t say “white people,” he says…[Read more]

  • In contrast to the other Dickinson poems that were in the assigned reading, this poem does not come across as especially harsh or sorrowful. Where the other poems contain a lot of what I view as sharp language and […]

    • I would very seriously like to compare the meaning of the fly to an episode of Breaking Bad. In the episode, Walter, the science-teacher turned meth cook is distracted by a fly in an otherwise clean laboratory. He is transfixed by the fly as the world around him turns into chaos. The fly frequently returns as a harbinger of death. I am not sure I entirely agree that this poem is not sorrowful. I think the lightheartedness of the fly is simply a cover for the darkness contained in this poem. It is hiding something else. It is hiding the details of the sorrow of death, when as the speaker lays dying she chooses to be transfixed by the fly rather than truly accept reality. Perhaps this how she so non-nonchalantly says “when I died,” because she is absorbed by this insignificant fly and sets aside deeper questions.

    • Breaking Bad has tons of Walt Whitman references. I know, not Dickinson, but the two poets play with similar themes of death. Perhaps the fly in the show is a reference to Dickinson that no one has uncovered? This blog post discusses Whitman and Walt’s obsession with flies more: https://filmrascal.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/breaking-bad-and-walter-whites-song-of-myself/

    • Something I initially noticed when reading his poem out loud was Dickinson’s rhyming pattern. Words like “room” and “storm” or “fly” and “died” did not rhyme smoothly on my tongue when reading them, and I think that that’s an important thing to note. Dickinson was probably using this technique to create some sort of tension for the reader. The poem described a scene that was very different from any poem that I’ve ever read. In this quiet, silent atmosphere the speaker hears the buzz of a fly while on her deathbed. I found it to be a very sad scene in the poem, especially when reading the description of those preparing and crying around her deathbed. It is also a scene that is very relatable if anyone has ever experienced the loss of someone, and how difficult that can be. In my opinion, the dashes serve as a transition. Each time a dash is introduced, some aspect of the poem drops. For example, “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –“. The dashes are dramatic and represent a change in tone. They create important pauses with a specific meaning.

    • In my opinion, the fly is meant to represent the many distractions of life. Rather than using her final moments to enjoy the company of her loved ones and marvel at her life, the speaker becomes so distracted by this fly. The narrator keeps noticing him fly around the room. Dickinson means for the fly to represent the manner in which people constantly get distracted, even in some of the most monumental moments of their lives. Additionally, the dashes in the poem cause the reader to read the piece in a halting manner because they must constantly pause for the dashes. However, the erratic placement of the dashes also mimics the fluctuating flight path that is characteristic of flies. This choice of syntax is meant to add another layer of complexity to the poem, thus emphasizing the importance of the fly and his distracting nature in the narrator’s final moments

  • Deborah Shteierman became a registered member 2 years, 9 months ago