One thing that connects the poem Citizen by Claudi...
One thing that connects the poem Citizen by Claudia Rankine, and the poems that covered in Dreaming the Miracle: Three French Prose Poets
and Great American Prose Poems is
their use of prose, the writing style of the poets and literal skills that have
been included in the poems. They have utilized their poetry skills to cover
topics that can be termed as taboo, to some that are colloquial — another
similarity in their skill in diverting from the normal and fighting against the
beliefs and expectation of poetry regarding design and writing style. These
poems have absorbed the characteristics of traditional poems and incorporated
new forms, like the use of prose to create and discuss various subjects that
are important to society. This paper analyzes the poem Citizen by Claudia Rankine in comparison to two different contexts
of the Dreaming the Miracle: Three French
Prose Poets and Great American Prose
Poems by David Lehman.
The most significant relationship between Citizens and the poems covered in Dreaming the Miracle: Three French Prose
Poets and Great American Prose Poems
is their diversion from what is normally expected from a normal poet, in format
and description. While they have incorporated the use of figures of speech,
metaphors, imagery, and symbols, and other literacy skills that are necessary
for poetry, their interpretation of the same is quite different and unique.
They try to show and make readers reconsider the formed conceptions on poetry
and its literal form. The poems create an illogical atmosphere that doesn’t
necessarily include the traditional poetic ingredients of style. Ralph Waldo
Emerson, one of the poets covered in the Great
American Prose Poems is famous for his unique nature in writings. He is
known for his loose iambic meter and variable lines. Unlike the traditional
poetic nature that had a conservative nature in its content and expression, his
poem was described as organic and using a vernacular style. In his poem, "Woods, A Prose Sonnet" he writes
using old-fashioned slang that fits the classical nature of the poem. He
employs explicit prose to support his ideas, which were on nature. The poem Citizen was met with the same enthusiasm
as the poem by Emerson. The uniqueness of the poem arises not from the subject
matter, that is very common, but from the unique writing, and form used.
Rankine was successful in describing the experience of an African American in a
form that is tragic while at the same beautiful. She makes her work personal to
the readers by the constant use of you, "she tells you-you smell good and
has featured more like a white person" (Rankine 5).
The paper is also written in prose and uniquely includes images to mediate the
language and subject of the poem. The poems of the French are characterized by
a glimpse of realities of poetry that are disdained by mainstream
establishments of acceptable writing genres. In Dreaming the Miracle: Three French Prose Poets (Jacob, Brombert, and Ponge), we get a view
of their interpretation of familiar scenes through different literal skills
that would otherwise not be used in poems. The poetry genre used by these
writers tries to defy common definitions and instead "use of the demonic,
its willingness to locate the source of poetry” (Lehman 13).
The descriptions of events in the poems are intrinsic with
hidden meanings that require proper visualization and understanding of the
context to interpret properly. The word choice is specifically crafted to
produce works that precede the expectations of the readers. Comparing the Citizen with some of the poems in the
two collections, this is seen. Shadow—A
Parable by Edgar Poe culminates her style of writing with a surrealist
prose poem. Her focus on odd occurrences with a rhapsody of gloom, “Ye who read
are still among the living; but I who write shall have long since gone my way
into the region of shadows” (Lehman 28)
is the same hopelessness that is portrayed in Citizen when describing the past as a “life sentence, a blunt
instrument aimed at tomorrow” (Rankine 84).
Jean Follain, a French poet, covers the same but with a perfect balance between
semantic enigma and stylistic grace. His poems ponder over the limitations of
time and insignificance of the world every day through creating a melancholic
atmosphere and touching images that advance his abstraction and compression of
what is revolutionary. He depicts life as being a hodge-podge, a vanishing
moment that requires some mystery. The writing skills of these poets can best
be described with Lehman words. He calls the work of prose poems “dream
landscapes and journeys, visionary fragments, brilliant but discontinuous” (Lehman 17). They have an
uncanny means of developing scenes using personal and abstract terms that
define their true nature rather than reworking the beliefs of many. Their word
use can be described as a form of freedom from what was considered logic.
A recurring theme in citizen
is surrealism. The poem includes the art of ambiguity is a subtle manner that
disarms the readers. The poem covers a sensitive topic of racism and hence the
port is keen to create a scene that constructs a defense mechanism that can
help readers recognize the possibility that they are also racists. This theme
can be seen as a link between the American and French Prose poets. American
poets are more conservative and restricted by their culture, as compared to the
French. Though, they have been able to utilize the skill to describe illogical,
bizarre occurrences that occur in everyday life. Citizen has been creative with the poet using real images to
communicate to the readers. They offer a diverse form of interpretation, giving
the readers an image of the reluctance, dismissiveness, and fear that is
brought on by discussing hard topics like racism and black reality. It is this
same reason that French poet, Max Jacob included the surrealist manner in his
poems Breton Poèmes de Morvan le Gaëlique (1953) and La Défense de Tartufe
(1919). In La Défense de Tartufe he describes his experience of religion and
the unrelenting self-examination that followed his experience and hence leading
to his conversion into becoming a Roman Catholic. He described his fantasy
through verbal clowning to describe his fears of domination and beliefs about
heaven. He captures all the different moments of writing with epistolary
mimicry that protects the reader from any nuance that might be experienced
during the writing. This was common when the poet tried to describe the thing
that could be viewed as odd or perplexing. The main reason behind this use was
to help cover topics that were colloquial.
The prose poem is a unifying factor for Citizen and the poems covered in Dreaming the Miracle: Three French Prose Poets and Great American Prose Poems. Other than
that they share numerous features including the writing skill that has been
incorporated in developing these poems. There is a common theme of surrealism
that has been incorporated in some of the poems. The theme has been effective
in developing ideas that would seem as colloquial in the society. The poets
have been keen to use imagery, symbolism, and other literal skills to give
readers a chance to interpret the poems and develop their own beliefs and
understandings. They have found a unique way of developing their ideas and
presenting them in a way that elicits emotions and hence interesting to the
readers. Even in situations where the events are sad or tragic, they have been
able to create a scene that is both beautiful and tragic at the same time. They
have given the readers a chance to develop their own understanding of the
topics that they write about, by creating demonic scenes that are gruesome, and
at the same time beautiful. They have covered the hopelessness of the world
while at the same time defining the reasons why each moment is precious. The
standard and unifying factor of all these poems, regardless of being from
America or France, and Citizen by
Claudia Rankine is the use of poem critical skills. The intrinsic use of language, words and line
formation has not only made the poem successful in communicating but also in
ensuring the successful interpretation of the message.
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