It was many years later when the quiet realization dawned on her.
It's over, her heart whispered.
~ reflection ~
Short poems are often overlooked when it comes to symbolism and literary devices. It is saddening to see that when you consider how much is being said in between the lines. Take the poem "Over" by Lang Leav for example. It is interwoven into her poetry collection titled "Sea of Strangers", which contain poems of love, loss, and life. Similar to how Rupi Kaur's format in her "Milk and Honey" poetry collection, Leav writes a personal narrative using short poems to deliver strong messages and themes. Specifically in "Over", Leav is able to deliver a complex overarching theme by using ambiguity in her subject, the repetition of the title and accompanying phrase "It's over", and the effective use of imagery to supplement her message of acceptance and release. It can be difficult to embody so many ideas into such a short poem, but looking at "Over", it becomes clear that Leav meant for the poem to feel slightly open ended. It is relatable because it is ambiguous. When looking through other works from the same collection, you can contextualize the poem and know she is talking about getting over a breakup. Though I would like to mention that there is a purpose that this poem is separated into a smaller poem, as opposed to interweaving it into another for a lengthier piece. The purpose being the simple reason of relatability. When read on its own, the poem can be adapted for a myriad of situations and reasons, allowing the poem to resonate more personally with more people. It's a message from the author to the reader, saying "it's okay to move on". You aren't told what from (that's subjective and relative to the reader), only that you don't need to hold on to pain. To take a breath and accept that what has passed, has passed. Looking closer at the diction of the work, "Over" repeats itself throughout the short piece, but its effective in the weight that it holds. As aforementioned, the poem being on its own allows for personal interpretation, therefore, the phrase "it's over" will hold the value you place into it. This value is a sentimental part the reader plays in the poem, and that sentimentality plays a strong part in the mood of the poem. It allows the reader to freely adapt it to their own lives. Taking the experience of the author and adapting it to their own story. It's really and interesting method to add complexity to a work without adding meaningless expletives. It's quite unique in it's succinct delivery, and effective in it's repetition to keep bringing back the feelings weaved into the poem by the reader. Similarly to the language on the syntax and diction of the work, Leav also adds in words to give the reader imagery associated with new beginnings or release, which are both present in her overall themes of the collection. The words "quiet" and "whispered" are both used to describe that subconscious trigger something soft and gentle. They're words used to imply comfort when juxtaposed to perhaps a feeling or memory that is hurtful or sad. Whatever it may be, that idea of release and the notion of knowing it's okay to move on are both eased into the poem because of the word use and the gentle feelings they carry with them. Additionally, to add onto the idea of new beginnings, you can attribute that common thread in this poem because of the use of the word "dawned" and the phrase "many years later". "Dawned" is a word often associated with beginning and starting again because of the instant image of the sunrise that comes to mind. It's a new day, or as the poem makes it seem, a new year. The timing of reading over this poem and the time of year this analysis is being written is funny in how coincidental it is. The new year has just begun, therefore at this point in time, this poem reads as being very relatable. This reliability is one of this poem's greatest strengths, and this lies mainly due to it's ambiguity. It allows it to be applicable to many situations and lives of the readers who come across it. The themes expressed in the piece and across the collection are of new beginnings, release, and acceptance. Those ideas can fully be realized because of the subtle and effective use of the poem's ambiguity to add complexity, using the repetition within the diction and syntax, and also using the imagery to paint a short, yet beautiful poem that can relate to anyone who reads it.
i do not want to have you to fill the empty parts of me i want to be full on my own i want to fill so complete i could light a whole city and then i want to have you cause the two of us combined could set it on fire
~ reflection ~
Self fulfillment can be a strange thing for many people. I personally have come across people who believe that the only way in life to build yourself up is by having others to it for you. Seeking recognition from others in order to feel valued and important. The poem "I Do Not Want to Have You" by Rupi Kaur from her "Milk and Honey" poetry collection goes into depth about a woman who believes in self fulfillment and self love before seeking love and fulfillment in others. I believe that the simplicity of the poem contributes to its overall impact on the reader. It's easily absorbed structure, conversational yet passionate tone, and straight forward ideas, come together to create a powerful poem on self love.
As a disclaimer before I go on, I have not read the entire collection of Kaur's "Milk and Honey" collection, and therefore, cannot discuss any over-arching themes or motifs. That being said, I believe that "I Do Not Want to Have You" is a strong enough poem to be analyzed on its own. One reason for that can be attributed to its simple, yet powerful deliverance of ideas through structure. To elaborate, I am talking about the short, single stanza that makes up the entire poem. The "and then" line that breaks up the stanza into halves allows for each idea presented to have separate associations. It's interesting that she doesn't fully separate the two halves to create two stanzas, but I also believe it contributes to the cohesiveness of the points she is making. One being that she doesn't want love until she can first learn to love herself. Then, later on, is married to the statement, once she has learned how to find satisfaction within herself, she can begin looking for another person to love. Simple ideas echoed by a simple structure.
The simplicity of this poem isn't a demerit. A poem isn't deemed good solely because you have to search for meaning. A poem becomes good when the ideas or argument presented within it is inquisitive and makes the reader consider the meaning of the text. This particular poem isn't necessarily difficult to find the meaning of. Kaur presents her thoughts in a very clear manner. This reflects the mindset one has after gaining experience and knowledge of what they are speaking on. While she doesn't go into any past experiences to draw on, she simply states "i do not want to have you/ to fill the empty parts of me/ i want to be full on my own". Straight to the point. Clear. Succinct. The hallmarks of a core belief. This clear delivery attributes to the thought that the author holds this thought so dearly that there is no need for any more words. I want to be my own person, then-- and only then-- will I be willing to find love in others. There is no point to wasting words like she would be wasting her time with half meaningful love.
Despite its short structure and simple thoughts, Kaur keeps the tone rather conversational and easy to absorb. Her language includes "i"s and using "you" and "me", as if it were a conversation with an unknown recipient. We can infer the speaker from this poem is Kaur herself, though I believe it is safe to assume that while the message is not going to anyone specific, it draws from past experiences that she had experienced in her life to draw her to these conclusions. It's tone helps readers to quickly understand what her stance is and then lead the reader to question how they feel. It goes straight into the questioning without having to first decipher and pull a meaning from the text. The poem's purpose isn't meant to pull details, it's mean to make a statement. A declaration. Casual, yet powerful and passionate.
Kaur's poem "I Do Not Want to Have You" is a short, yet powerful poem that declares that one, or at least Kaur herself, will value self love and fulfillment before she seeks it elsewhere. It's important because in this society that begs for acceptance in others, many forget that the person you first need to find acceptance from is yourself. The point of the poem isn't meant to be drawn out, it's meant to lead the reader to question how they feel from the start. Due to the simplicity, I believe that the poem is, while maintaining casual tones, a passionate declaration of self love.
Orchids Are Sprouting From the Floorboards By Kaveh Akbar
Orchids are sprouting from the floorboards. Orchids are gushing out from the faucets. The cat mews orchids from his mouth. His whiskers are also orchids. The grass is sprouting orchids. It is becoming mostly orchids. The trees are filled with orchids. The tire swing is twirling with orchids. The sunlight on the wet cement is a white orchid. The car tires leave a trail of orchids. A bouquet of orchids lifts from its tailpipe. Teenagers are texting each other pictures of orchids on their phones, which are also orchids. Old men in orchid pennyloafers furiously trade orchids. Mothers fill bottles with warm orchids to feed their infants, who are orchids themselves. Their coos are a kind of orchid. The clouds are all orchids. They are raining orchids. The walls are all orchids, the teapot is an orchid, the blank easel is an orchid and this cold is an orchid. Oh, Lydia, we miss you terribly.
~ reflection ~
A symbol of strength, beauty, luxury, and love, an orchid sprouts in all its glory. Within the poem "Orchids Are Sprouting From the Floorboards", author Kaveh Akbar uses the orchid's wide range of meanings to his advantage. In total, the word "orchid" (not including inside title) is used twenty-four times. It appears in almost all of the poem's twenty-five lines. Despite being quite clear to anyone who reads this poem, allow me to reemphasize the critical role this one word plays in this poem. It's important to understand what Akbar is really trying to say here. It's filled with layers of meaning. Each layer containing their own weight and importance. Allow me to clarify: the purpose is to first, indirectly tell the readers that the speaker of this poem is not thinking with a clear mind; secondly, Akbar wants to establish that the speaker is only addressing what they notice around them, until the end, when finally the speaker uses "we" for the first time; and lastly, the change in mood from the beginning to the end turns from places, people, and things usually associated with more positive descriptors to becoming places, people, and things that are associated with negative descriptors, before finally ending with the "Oh,/Lydia, we miss you terribly." line. With these three elements working together, "Orchids Are Sprouting From the Floorboards" tells the story of a person experiencing loss, and most likely, a death. In poetry, the author's use a number of diction and structural clues to give the reader hints about the intention of the work. This particular poem is no exception. The constant drift to the orchids show that the "Lydia" mentioned at the end of the poem was very close to the speaker, as one can infer that somehow the orchids and Lydia are related. As an aside, I believe that due to the symbolic nature of an orchid (and additionally, a white orchid), Lydia could have been perhaps a fiance or wife who has died. Despite who Lydia may have been, the thoughts brought on by the speaker are always drifting to her. Every orchid represents the thought of this Lydia, and combined with the somewhat somber yet affectionate tone Kaveh uses shows that the speaker has her on their mind constantly in reminiscence or perhaps mourning. Its as if each line is a thought slipping into the inevitable thought of Lydia. Take notice of the observations of the speaker. It sounds as if they are simply walking thought their day, yet everything that seems normal, turns and warps into the thought of Lydia. This internal suffering could be conveyed through the speaker actively trying to only notice what's happening around them rather than what's happening inside them. It's almost as if it's a kind of escapism, but the loss of Lydia is too much, so instead of bringing her name, it is easier for the speaker's thoughts to go instead to orchids. Whether because the orchids represented Lydia, she simply liked orchids, or maybe a little bit of both, it would only be known to the speaker themselves. Then, in the final line, the speaker finally addresses this neglected thought. The "Oh," acting as if the speaker is fed up with trying to pretend that they are not thinking of her. Instead, they outright proclaim that they "miss you terribly." in regards to Lydia. Yet, even still, the speaker refuses to use "I", still preferring to use language that does not seclude him. Meaning that the speaker does not feel strong enough yet to speak alone for themselves, so they use "we", which is not as personal. Kaveh does something quite clever in this poem, being that he uses adjectives and adverbs to give us clues to the mood of the speaker, which is what allows us, the reader, to understand the mindset of the speaker. Kaveh uses descriptions such as "sprouting" and "twirling" within only the first few lines of the poem. By the end, however, the tone shifts and the words become somber and depressing. Words such as "raining", "blank", and "cold". It feels distanced and sad. The mood of the speaker slowly shifts to something that even they cannot handle, eventually exclaiming "Oh,/Lydia, we miss you terribly." as if they could no longer bear that devolving feeling. It is all the speaker can do from imploding on themselves. It puts the reader in both a relatable and sympathetic mindset. The speaker clings to his orchids, desperate for any remnants of Lydia, and though quite sad, is also understandable. Therewithin lies the beauty of the poem: relating and addressing the struggles inside oneself, they can begin to accept their situation.
I read somewhere that meteor showers are almost always named after
the constellation from which they originate. It's funny, I think,
how even the universe is telling us that we can never get too far
from the place that created us. How there is always a streak of our past
trailing closely behind us like a smattering of obstinate memories.
Even when we enter a new atmosphere, become subsumed in flames, turn to dust,
lose ourselves in the wind, and scatter the surface of all that rests beneath us,
we bring a part of where we are from to every place we go.
~ reflection ~
A person is the culmination of experiences they have lived through. In the poem "Meteor Shower" by Clint Smith, the idea of having personal ties are like that of a meteor's tail. Whether they be a familial tie, a tie to your physical hometown, or ties to beliefs, Smith expresses that people will never travel too far from where they come from. In his "Counting Descent" poetry collection, he often refers to the past in reference to events of the present. In this particular poem, he states "How there is always a streak of our past/trailing closely behind us/like a smattering of obstinate memories." This quote is interesting in the way he uses such strong words to describe memories. Google.com defines "obstinate" to mean "stubbornly refusing to change one's opinion or chosen course of action, despite attempts to persuade one to do so." Therefore, one can assume that this "smattering" of memories are memories so deeply rooted in him that he would not be the same person without them. These lines give the impression that the memories that he's referring to aren't always good, but regardless of how he was feeling during the time, it become ingrained into his character. If he were referencing more happy memories than not, he would have used lighter language. Words like "array" or "collage". Both words imply something more pleasing to the imagination, rather than the idea of scenes associated with "smattering". Scenes like a child smattering paint or smattering a baseball with a bat. Messy. Broken. But the important part is the way he twists it to add a more bittersweet tone than a sad or angry one. This greatly paints the image of that reminiscent feeling people get when drawing on the past. I think that this is an important moment to mention the role diction plays in this poem. As aforementioned, the words like "obstinate" and "smattering" are examples. Though we can also look to his many uses of words associated with tailing and following. This I word choice by Smith is purposeful aboutwhich feelings he wants to convey. It's seen in nearly every stanza: this expression of following, or bring followed. “...after”, “...originate”, “...never get too far”, “...streak of our past”, “trailing closely behind us”, “we bring a part of where we are from/to every place we go.” The only stanzas that don't contain words associated with that idea are the sixth and seventh. This is where the poem shifts and twists the idea of never being able to derive from your origins, but now saying that that is not necessarily a bad thing. It's something that grounds you. Gives you a purpose. The idea that you need to know where you come from to know where you are going. I was drawn to this poem much more than the others mainly due to my ability to relate to it. Many of Smith's poems call upon events that I too had been through. Being the only ethnic girl in class or being pulled over by the cops. However, we differ in our experiences in reaction to those situations. Where he feels fear, anger, isolation, or other negative emotions, I never felt that. I stopped being able to relate. In "Meteor Shower" Smith changes his tone. This poem, unlike the others, feels nostalgic, almost comforting in the way that we, as people, draw from our experiences to shape who we become, and that's something everyone can relate to.
I look in the mirror. I see a girl. High school senior. Her frizzy brown hair lays an untamed heap around her head. Tufts tumbling over each other until they reach her shoulders. Tan. Scars along her hands from a cat too mischievous for her own good. These hands that create. They curl around the pencil, dragging graphite across the surface of a paper. Curl around the fingerboard of a violin. Curl around the cover of a book, gripped by its words. The stories revealing themselves a word at a time. She too creates stories with those hands. Her fingers splay across the letters of her keyboard. A craftsman. A creator. She sails by the wind of inspiration. Hoping one day it will carry her to a future where creatives thrive. This beautiful mess of culture. This single person. Peering through the other side of the glass. This girl is me. This girl is Cassandra.