Thursday, May 17, 2012


A rewrite of (parts of because oh my gosh this poem is long) Walt Whitman’s “A Song of Myself” using straightforward, modern language, thus stripping it of virtually everything that makes it pretty and poetic but also making it hella easier to understand (I hope).

(Page 1)
I think I’m awesome,
And you and I think the same things
Because we are the same.

I hang around and try to be myself,
I work and relax when I want to… watching a blade of grass.

Everything in the world seems tainted with manmade artifacts,
And while I am familiar with and enjoy these things
I will not let them cloud my mind.

The earth is pure, nothing artificial about it,
It is a part of me and I love it.
I will go into the woods and take all my clothes off
Because I want to touch nature as much as possible.

When I go I am immersed in nature,
I inhale the air around me, taking in nature and exhaling myself.
I become like the world around me.

Do you ever stop to think about the earth and the land?
Why do you try so hard to read,
To understand and analyze poetry?

You just stopped and took a look around you, you’d understand where poetry comes from.
You would stop taking things for granted, stop relying on my interpretations,
You would figure it out for yourself.

I know what everyone is saying, about beginnings and endings
But I don’t talk about any of that.

Everything is balanced,
There is the best and the worst in the world
And that is what makes it wonderful.

I have been very blessed by God,
And all the things around me, the people I meet and the things I surround myself with come and go from my life
But that does not mean that they are me.

Relax with me in the grass, and stop holding back your thoughts,
You don’t need to sing or come up with some elaborate speech,
I just want to hear your natural voice.

We will lie together, bead to toes, top to bottom and
Be completely together in nature.

This makes me happy, and I know that all people are
My brothers and sisters.

A child brought me grass and asked what it was,
But I didn’t know either, because it is more than just grass.

It could represent my character, or a gift from God,
Or I could say that grass is the child of the earth.

But the grass could also come from graves, because it grows over where we bury our dead, the men that could have been my friends if I had met them, and the children who died too young.

I wish I could understand the messages of the dead.
What do you think happens to people when they die?

I think that they are still alive somewhere
Since things still grow above them. The cycle of life goes on.

And if you think you are lucky to have been born, I tell you
You are also lucky to die, because you help to carry on the cycle.

(Page 7)
A runaway slave showed up at my house,
I saw that he was hurt and tired, so I let him inside and took care of him,
Treated his wounds and gave him clothes, and let him stay for the week it
Took for him to recover enough to move one.
He sat next to me, and my gun stayed in the corner to protect him if the need arose.

A woman watched twenty-eight men bathe in a river.
She hides behind the blinds of the window,
And imagines herself among them, free and happy.

(Page 9)
I love nature and the men who work in it,
The farmers, ranchers, sailors, woodsmen,
I could spend all my time with them and never be tired of it.

(Page 12)
Everything is where it is supposed to be.

And yet, and I am not the first to think this,
Whatever doesn’t belong to you is worthless,
And whatever doesn’t effect everything is worthless,
And things that are not questions or answers are worthless.

This is just the way things are.

It’s like the band that plays after a battle has finished.
But I don’t just want music for the winners, but the losers, too.

Do you think that you have to win all battles?
There’s nothing wrong with being defeated.
You put just as much passion into the battles you lose as the ones you win.

I will play the loudest and happiest music for the dead.
Cheers to the fallen!
The unknown heroes are just as good as the well-known.

This is the food for the soul, and it is for everyone.
Good or bad, I wont turn anyone away.
Everyone is invited, and all will be equal.

Do you think I have an ulterior motive?
Cause I do, just like the rain and the rocks.

Are you surprised?
Do I surprise you more than the sun and the trees?

I am telling secrets,
Perhaps not to everyone, but to you.

Who are all these people?
How do I receive life from eating beef, dead cow?

What are we, anyway? All that is mine is balanced by yours,
Otherwise you’ve been wasting your time listening to me.

I don’t complain about the usual things,
How time flies, and the world is dirty
And how basically life sucks and then you die.

Complaining is for the weak, and I don’t conform with the rest of the world.
I do what I want.

I see myself in others, myself exactly.
So when I praise or chide myself, I am also doing the same to them.

And I know that I am solid and stable,
And all the meetings in the universe come to me,
And it is my job to understand it.

I know that I am immortal because of this writing.
I will not fade away or be forgotten.

But I am fine just existing,
Whether the whole world knows of me
Or no one knows of me,
I am happy just being alive.

But there is one person aware of my existence, and that is me.,
And no matter how long it takes for me to come to my own,
I am happy either way.

I write poetry to stimulate your body
And your mind.

I experience the best feelings and the worst pains,
The best I make a part of me, and the worst I turn into a new language,
The language of poetry.

I write poetry for everyone, man and woman.

(Page 17)
Walt Whitman, an American who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty,
Imperfect and human, all food, drink, and sex,
Doesn’t fool himself into thinking he is better or worse than anyone else.

Get rid of all this crap separating us!

If you treat someone else badly, you are doing the same to me. Everything ultimately will come back to me.
And what I say and do comes back to you.

I am talking about ultimate equality.

I speak for everyone, even the people you would think of as deserving of a voice,
The deformed, the prostitutes,
All those you think of as lesser.

I will not be silent.

I think that being human and hungering for something is a good thing.
You need to go and experience the wonders of the world.

I am so human, so in touch with nature, that I can touch things and make them holy. My arm-pits smell better than prayer,
And my head holds more than churches.

(Page 21)
I am ratted out by traitors,
But I talk like a crazy person, I’ve lost my mind, so I am the greatest traitor.
I came to this cliff on my own, brought here by my own hands.

Stupid need to touch! That is the cause of all of my problems, because I just wanted to touch everything. Was it too much to ask, for it to leave me for awhile?

And now I’ll be paying for these mistakes forever.

Everything has some grain of truth to it.
They can’t force it or fight it.
But even the little things seem big to me.

(Page 22)
I wouldn’t mind living with animals for awhile.
They’re so calm and independent.
Sometimes I spend half a day just watching them.

Animals don’t complain about everything,
Or cry about the past,
Or bore me talking about the things they have to do.
Animals are happy with what they have, not driven by greed,
they don’t submit to strangers who lived ages ago,
and they aren’t working to constantly change the world.

Animals show that they care, and I’m okay with that.
I can see myself in them, parts of my nature.

I don’t know how that happened,
Maybe I was among the animals a long time ago left some part of myself behind,
While I kept moving and changing,
Picking up and leaving behind various traits,
Finding the ones that work best with me and keeping them.

There is a stallion, beautiful and with all the most desirable features,
I ride him and he is just as happy as I am to race around before returning.

The partnership only lasts a moment before I ditch the stallion because I don’t need him.
He’s fast, but I am still changing, growing, evolving, so I still outpace him.

Swift wind! Space! My Soul! I was totally right,
When I was chilling in the grass,
And laying alone in bed, and walking on the beach at night.

There is nothing to tie me down,
I will move and travel with my ideas,
Never settling down.

(Page 35)
The least wanted of people will live on in me,
We survive through each other
Because we are the same.

I know I’m vain,
I know I talk big but I’m not going to stop.

My words ask questions and point out things you might forget about.
Like this book, you might think about me, the author, but what about the printer and the assistant?
There are so many things that you forget about, the people in the background,
You think of the item instead of the meaning, the idea instead of the people.
That’s bad! Don’t forget those precious things!

(Page 37)
So now let me be blunt… stand up.

I don’t care about the things that you already know, I want you to come with me to discover new things.

You know the clock tells time, but what does forever tell?

Forever is never ending. There have been countless years before this one, and there will be countless more after.
We are not the beginning or the end.

People have changed the world,
And people will continue changing the world.

I’m not saying one time is better or worse than another,
They are all equal, just like us.

(Page 43)
Do you get it yet?
It’s not about chaos or death, it’s about patterns and life and happiness.

I have explored the past and present enough, I am tired of it,
So now I will live forever in the future.

Do you have something to say?
Just say it, no one else will know and I’ll be dead and gone soon enough.

Was that a contradiction?
(Saying I will die right after saying I will live forever).
Yeah, well, I am a complex person.

(Page 44)
I will die quietly and become a part of nature.

When I am buried my body will help the grass grow,
So if you want to find me just look to the earth.

You wont realize it’s me,
But I’ll help you out anyway,
Make you healthy and happy.

And don’t worry if you can’t find me,
Keep looking,
I am waiting for you.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Woody Guthrie

I think there are a lot of ways that art can weave itself into politics. If nothing else, art is all about expression and interpretation, which is something that is certainly shared with politics. With Guthrie and Whitman, they explore the idea of equality simply through the way they share their craft. Because neither is exclusive with their art, anyone can read/ listen to their work and experience it. It's a level playing field in a way. And I personally have never found much of a difference between music and poetry. I have always believed that music is just poetry with melody.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Allen and Whitman

So, there were several similarities I noticed between these two poets. Stylistically, they both wrote in free verse, which gave them more freedom to write the lines how they saw fit. Also, they both wrote a bit... risky? I can't think of a good word, but Whitman wrote about the runaway slave during a very heated time, and Ginsberg was pretty gritty with his writing (cuss words, etc.) which I think made them both quite brave. They were willing to speak about what they believed in despite the fact that their way of doing so had the potential to be received badly. So, yeah. Props to them.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Hey guys! Probably should have made an effort to get in touch with you all earlier, or stayed after class today, but I definitely forgot which group I was in until I got home and checked. ...oops... (Yeah, I fail at life...sorry!)

Anyway, we are apparently presenting in class next Thursday! Sooo... any plans?
(Also, if anyone wanted to move this to email instead of commenting here, just let me know your email addresses. I just put this in a post cause I didn't know any other way for us to all talk in the same place.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wilting Flowers

Reading through the 9/11 poems, my attention was drawn to "Late, There was an Island"(A Poem Cycle) by Meena Alexander for a few reasons. Mostly, because I felt it shared a common theme with Whitman's poem: nature. Death is an interesting theme in poetry, because it is something that you experience indirectly (I'm pretty sure no one reads a poem and goes "Oh yeah that reminds me of when I died"). You experience death through the loss of something outside yourself, a friend, family member, loved one, etc. I think tying it in to nature (lilacs with Whitman and linden trees for Alexander) helps give a more concrete visual while also serving as a subtle reminder that death is a part of nature.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The More You Learn...

When we were first told of this project expansion, I though of several possible directions. None of them good.

I debated about expanding the "Youtubing Whitman" project, since my first video was quite lackluster due to illness. In my head, I thought it would be fun/ interesting to act out and film a passage from "Leaves of Grass" twice: Once reciting it as written, and once in a modernized version, to give another way of looking at the message Whitman was trying to get across. Then I remembered how technologically inclined I am (not). So that idea got thrown away (and out here into the interspace for anyone who wants to snatch it. Feel free).

Then in class, we started discussing graphic novels. I am actually interested in pursuing a career in the comic arts, so my ears definitely perked at this. Admittedly my current skills limit my ability to produce a full graphic novel, but the idea of incorporating art was still intriguing.

So, after much deliberation, I sort of want to illustrate the relationships between Whitman and his peers (think family tree style), with perhaps some side notes (bullet points and whatnot) with corresponding pictures, just to really get the point across.

From this point, I mostly need to gather up my willpower to actually sit down and research. Once I have the information written down where I can see it all in one place and arrange as I see fit, I don't think it should be too hard. I really just want to show how much writers are a part of each others' life and work, whether it be intentional or not.

SO. Let's see how this works out...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tweet-a-Week VII: Peter Doyle

Well, Peter Doyle appears to have a bit of an incomplete biography, so parts of his life are fuzzy. BUT, we do know that he had a very important place in Whitman's life.

Doyle was a streetcar conductor in Washington DC who met Whitman in 1865. Their friendship grew instantly, quickly turning into a romantic relationship which lasted up until Whitman's death in 1892. There relationship is unexpected for several reasons, including the fact that Whitman was Doyle's elder by 24 years, and that Doyle possessed only a rudimentary education compared to Whitman's high level of literacy. However, Whitman felt more comfortable with the "working man", which was certainly the class that Doyle belonged to. The young man also ultimately assisted Whitman in the creation of his Lincoln sketches, having been present at the president's assassination. But I suppose the most important thing is that Doyle and Whitman were simply there for each other as companions, providing the emotional intimacy that all people require.