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"
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”
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.