Reading Response #5

Select one of the assigned readings this week (either  Kooser  chapters or  Poetry Pack #2), and post a 500-word response below. Be sure to also make a comment on a classmate's response for full credit.

19 thoughts on “Reading Response #5

  1. Tometria Jackson

    When I was a child, I thought all poems were supposed to rhyme and that is what made a good poet. Authors like Dr. Seuss were my favorite because they had the amazing ability to cleverly rhyme every sentence. As I grew older, I have since learned that there is so much more to writing in this genre. There are many types of poems, and they seem to be avenues that are used to express thoughts and emotions without the necessity of building a complete story around them.

    Sylvia Plath’s poem Daddy was a tough read for me, and one of the reasons why I don’t enjoy reading poetry. Her poem is a mishmash of her turbulent feelings surrounding her relationship with her father who either died, or abandoned her when she was ten. Plath seems to be in a lot of pain over her shattered childhood and absent parent. The symbology she uses in that poem is disjointed–I don’t know the story behind her emotions, and so I can’t understand the meaning of the images she presents. She provides no context; If her father died of cancer, I would interpret her writing as anger rooted in grief. If Plath’s father was an abusive alcoholic, I could understand the dark imagery she used.
    I don’t know the meaning behind the references to Hitler, Germany, and concentration camps. Is this the heritage of her father? Was he anti-Semitic? There were too many unanswered questions for me to be able to understand this poem. I also found Plath’s use of nonsensical terms oddly out of place. Gobbledygoo? Really? Maybe if I heard this poem read by someone who could tap into the raw feelings behind Plath’s writing I would have a different opinion.

    Nick Lantz’s The Year We Blew up the Whale was like reading a year’s worth of headlines from the local paper of a small, dysfunctional town. No reason is given for why these stories have been linked together, and I was left without any way of understanding what the author was trying to convey. I wish there had been an introductory paragraph that explained why these particular events were selected by Lantz. Another thing I didn’t understand was Lantz’s sentence and paragraph structure. I tried reading his poem with the pauses indicated by the punctuation, and still…nothing.

    The type of poetry presented in this pack is a mystery to me and I don’t understand the appeal. Am I missing some hidden beauty that is evident to those who hold these poets in awe? Is my approach to reading these poems too straight forward and I need to be more nuanced? Perhaps my reading tastes can be compared to a diner who just wants a good steak versus a seven-course meal at a five-star restaurant.

    My love of reading has lead me to many authors and many different works–some of them poems. When it comes to reading for pleasure, I’m willing to give anything a try for a few paragraphs. By then, I have a pretty good idea of its content and I’ll make my decision on whether to continue reading or not. Although I didn’t really care for the writing style of Plath and Lantz, I do appreciate the opportunity to read some of their works.

    1. Lilia Lundquist


      I also had difficulty following along with Sylvia Plath’s poem. That kind of writing is so intimate, it is odd being pulled into someone’s world that you consider a stranger. I also relate to how you associate poetry with rhyming. I think that is what I have mostly been exposed to but, I have found I enjoy it so much more when you have to make your own interpretation to it rather than following along with no thought.

    2. Kelsey

      I totally agree about thinking all poems should rhyme! I think thats why writing poetry is so intimidating to me. I think we had a lot of the same thoughts on Plath’s poem. It was dark, but after thinking about it, I think I enjoyed all of her references.

  2. Lilia Lundquist

    After reading this week’s poetry packet, I am beginning to think most poets thrive off traumatic or mournful events. Both Sylvia Plath and Nick Lantz describe incidents that were full of emotional and physical pain. Between the two I enjoyed Lantz more, it was a series of unfortunate events all woven together. The introduction concerning the riot was a soft start to the events that followed. It reminded me of living in Texas and how riled up people would get over their team losing. I have never seen a sports riot in person, but I can imagine the anger fueled behind them. I also found a strange connection with the misfortunate fishing company. My father used to work on a crabbing boat, and I have had numerous friends work as fisherman. I remember during a slow season, one of my friends had called to tell me how he was about ready to burn down their boat out of frustration.
    The remainder of the poem slowly became darker and darker. The woman who falls into a deep depression and turns to hoarding as her outlet. The few lines of detail gave me a mental picture as to what it would be like to walk through her hallways. I can envision what she is like, almost hermit like. It is at this point in the poem where I start to fall into the pit that is being dug. This poem ultimately reminded me of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, I felt like there was no happy ending coming.
    I enjoyed the traumatic events described in an odd way, I found them rather thought provoking. I think you can build more off negative emotions than the opposite. I tried to put myself in each of the unfortunate soul’s positions. I found that the man who cut off his tongue had the most material to build off. That depicted a man truly struggling emotionally and willing to face physical pain to ease the burden of his loss, and the guilt he might have felt.
    While I found myself enjoying both Plath’s and Lantz’s poems, I thought Lantz’s was significantly easier to follow along with. He didn’t try to tell his stories in a riddle but instead gave them in a short and “sweet” way. I felt as though he was more worried about his audience finding the correlation between the events, then building their own perceptions. While Plath, told her own, very intimate story. I have never got into her writing and lacked any previous knowledge of her style. This made it difficult for me to understand what was going on. None the less, I enjoyed trying to decode it for a minute. I understood there was a broken relationship present between her father and her. It seemed as though she admired a man her whole life who never gave her the time of day. Then when he was dead, she was willing to admit his faults and her ignorance. This was a level of dark similar to Lantz, only more personal.

    1. Tometria Jackson

      Plath’s poem was extremely personal; perhaps to the degree that only those who truly know her can unlock the meaning to ‘Daddy’. This type of poetry is probably like a kind of therapy for the writers of it, and those who have experienced traumatic events in their lives. The poems in this week’s pack have zero appeal for me. When I read, I guess I’m looking for entertainment. I want to escape my everyday world for a few moments, not leap into a pit of despair!

    2. Benjamin Hayward

      I skipped the poetry packet. After reading your response, I’m glad I did. I chose the comment on the books almost the whole time for the reason I can avoid poetry. Writing about someone who gives rules and feedback instructions on poetry is easier than trying to interpret someone else’s work. Even now, I still have no use for poetry.

  3. Benjamin Hayward

    Kooser starts this reading about writing from memory, using the imagination as the source material. Focusing on an event and items can allow you to reconstruct a scene, a memory from your past. It is these memories that will allow you to access your inner poet, by tapping into your senses. What did you see, hear and feel are some simple questions that will allow you to start writing.

    Some of Kooser’s examples have went over my head. Until he mentioned it, I did not see any word combinations as important. The poem Parents uses words referencing light, and what it can mean. Using broken clouds to show the passage of time, light and life, death and darkness, doesn’t stick out as meaning anything to me. Say wat you mean. Mean what you say. Poetry does not do that. It is subject to interpretation.

    Kooser does teach a lesson from this poem when using the word again. Use a word, just one, to clarify repetition and little details that can be understood. How does explaining an idea further support your poem? Think of it as you have to write a poem, but you have a word count limit.

    I think anecdotes are not good for poems, for they seem to ignore this. I see the writing and I think the poet just moved a paragraph around. The Envoy starts with a rat and a snake in a room, hiding when in the presence of a human, then ends with something that is long-legged and thirsty, covered with foreign dust. I do not see how he got from point A to B. Look at The Hayfork. It looks like it was written as a proper paragraph, then broken up so that it could be called poetry, but is lazy writing. What Kooser says is great poetry, I do not see it. What Kooser calls poetry in Chapter 9 I don’t how. I’m trying not to hate poetry, but I do. I still feel no need for it, I will put forth my best effort, because a good grade is required to pass this class.

    Kooser has good advice in chapter ten, giving us rules and ideas on how to best use nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. I liked reading Night Train, not only for the more active writing, but it doesn’t look like it was a paragraph turned into a poem. I recognize it as a sestina. It is deceptive because it is 3 line paragraphs, but together, it is 6 lines, each ending in one of 6 words, but never before the other 5 are used. This kind of poetry I like, because I can actually apply what I am learning, see the technique and how it is applied to tell the story.

    Kooser writes towards the end of the book about figurative language, with a focus on similes and metaphors. He does a really good job explaining them, the differences, and how to make the more defined. With my writing style, I think I would use metaphors more than similes, because they use more adverbs, adjectives, and linking verbs. This book is practical, it has taught me about poems, writing them, rules to make them effective. I am still not going to willingly read and write poetry.

    1. Kait

      Yes, I really liked the chapter where Kooser says to write from your memories, write down everything and then pick out the details you want like going shopping. That part was a nice way to get a poem draft started. The way he was referencing light was a little confusing, but it sounded beautiful to me. I agree with you about recognizing sestinas, how you can see how the same words recurring, but having a new meaning each time its introduced after the other 5 which is pretty cool. I think I’d feel more confident using similes because of the straight-forwardness that comes with it, but like Kooser says their just two different styles and to pick the one that appeals to you the most.
      Kooser’s way of explaining about how to interpret poems and how to write them are clear at times, but he lost me also a few times. I am interested in writing music which can be a form of poetry so I am interested in writing poetry, but I too am not interested in reading poetry. It was very intriguing to feel like challenging my reading skills and learning more about a subject I’m not that confident in.

  4. Kelsey

    Sylvia Plath’s poem “Daddy” was the type of poem that reminds me why I don’t normally like poetry, but also why poetry draws me in and makes me think. She uses dark imagery to describe her father and his death and compares him to Nazi soldiers. I found myself having to really think about what she meant and why her dad seemed so evil to her. Did she grow up during the holocaust? Do her roots come from German ancestry? This is why I feel that I don’t enjoy poetry, yet I like it because it makes me think. I like to have all the background information in a story and you just don’t get that with most poems so they are open for interpretation. I think it just drives me crazy not knowing what the poet really meant to say, or questioning myself entirely when I think I know the meaning of something. To me, I think that Plath was describing an abusive father and finding the similarities in the bruteness of her father and a Nazi soldier. She says that she began to think and act like a Jew, meaning maybe that she lived in terror and felt like she was imprisoned in her home, similar to being imprisoned in a concentration camp. However, she also talks about trying to kill herself at twenty to get back to him, which makes it sound as if I am interpreting it wrong and she actually misses him, but I think it could also be a reference that even after his death, he still had control over her thinking. She also describes killing a vampire who drank her blood for seven years, which I am assuming is a reference to an abusive relationship with a man who treated her like her father did. In the last line she says “Daddy, Daddy, I’m through” which I think means that she is writing this as a cleansing goodbye to them both.
    The second poem, by Nick Lantz was a little harder for me to understand. It describes a really bad year for a town and all the bad things that happened to various people in the town in just that year. Then it talks about a whale washing up on the beach and how they believe they have to blow it up, because it was the cause of the bad luck? Or maybe that it will end the bad luck. I’m thinking it must be some sort of belief that has cultural ties or roots to the town. The ending is simple, just stating that they need more dynamite because their explosives only blew a hole in the whale. I took this to mean that most things in life don’t have underlying meanings or that superstitions aren’t real. It was like the town was looking for answers in this ritual and when it didn’t go as planned they continued looking for a meaning as to why, but the answer is simple. All that is needed is more dynamite.

    1. Angela Rodriguez

      Reading the poem “Daddy” left me feeling the exact same way. It is hard to read what she is saying, which makes interoperation extremely frustrating. I am also very interested in your personal interpretation of the poem. Specifically, the line that she described killing a vampire that drank her blood for 7 years. That line was confusing to me, but your point on an abusive romantic relationship gives clarification to that line. I also like your interpretation to the poem about the exploding whale. I didn’t think of superstitions as the reason why they would blow up the whale and it makes sense. I believed that they blew the whale up as a way to relieve anger but, I think that the superstition would make more sense.. I think you’re a lot better at interoperating poetry then you think you are!

  5. Delaney E Reece

    I am slightly ashamed to admit that for the first half of our book for the section I had a very hard time getting into it. It seems like everything I read was very intuitive, and that most of what he was going over was confirming assumptions. I’m really grateful to have gotten to the second half of the book where I feel like I’m learning new things about how to refine possible work.
    I have always considered myself, and my family would agree to being a dramatic person. And that’s one of the things I really like about poetry, I always have written it in a very dramatic fashion. I really value how Kooser Both puts an emphasis on the importance of some drama, and tells the reader to scale back. This is something that I for sure needed to hear as my work was off the handles with adjectives, sentiment, and ridiculous metaphor. Most importantly I like that his focus is on making poetry so accessible and understandable. I have found myself with goosebumps all over my legs and arms when reading the selection of poetry he provides. These poems within the book are not particularly dramatic, but they have a dramatic impact and I envy it. his description of and examples of how to scale back sentiment while still leaving the reader with goosebumps makes me so excited I can hardly put it to words.
    At the beginning he talked about how many times a poem might go through revision, which makes sense given how short poems often are. now that the book has moved on to actually constructing a poem my favorite Focus was on the chapter “controlling effects through careful choices”.
    This part really relates to the revising process, and gives me personally a drive to edit and revise every single word. To make sure that every piece of a poem works. I think this also relates to the cost and effect that he mentioned earlier, you have to make careful choices for every single word and analyze the cost and effect of all of those choices. Because of this, it makes complete sense that it would take weeks or months and countless revisions to reach a final product of a poem.
    More than anything else every single time I sit down to do this week’s reading, I found myself wanting to put the book down and going right poems, which is very counterproductive for completing a reading assignment, but very useful when writing poetry is necessary. With all of this in mind, I also love how readable the book is, and that even though it is informative and meant to teach a lesson it is funny and tells small stories throughout.
    This book, and the book and works we’ve read previously have only made me more excited to complete the rest of the reading for this course as there really is so much value in them.

    1. Courtney Kisner

      I also enjoy poetry for its ability to be dramatic, in a short and sweet kind of way. Poetry really does need to go through a lot of revision, which I think is something that people don’t think about. There’s a lot of weight placed on each word, so it’s as if each word needs to have a purpose. That’s great Kooser’s book inspired you to break away and write poetry! That could be helpful too, because as you were writing you could use what Kooser was teaching us in his book and apply it to your new, fresh work.

  6. Angela Rodriguez

    The poems in this week’s poetry pack were similar because they both were written with feelings of anger and disappointment. These poems were easier to understand, but I am once again frustrated as I cannot fully interpret the poems.

    In the poem “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath, it was easy to tell that the girl narrating the poem was feeling conflicted after her father’s death. She says that her father is a Nazi and that her mother is a Jew. I believe that this was literal and that she was feeling angry and confused as a Jew whose father was a Nazi. This created a hatred towards her father this why she mentions how he has a fat black heart and the fear she had towards her father. This poem expresses this girls anger, fear and confusion around her father’s death. Her poem shows the raw pain that she feels from the character and reputation that her father held.

    The poem by Nick Lantz, “The Year we Blew up the Whale,” was my favorite poem from the week. This poem captured a year full of unlucky events. It seems like the citizens in this town had faced a lot of problems that year and their solution was blowing up this already dead, beached whale. It wasn’t only the solution for getting rid of the dead beached whale, it was also the solution to their own problem. I liked this poem, because it depicted many different people in the towns emotions and hardships. The problems were big and small, yet they all made an impact. The town was able to take all this anger out on this beached whale. These individuals knew that the exploding whale would cause chunks to rain over the town, but it was a means of taking their anger out, so they didn’t care.

    1. nmfleming

      I agree I found this week’s poems to be easier to understand than last weeks poems. To me I think they were easier to understand was because they were set up differently Nik Lantz’s poem was broken after every two lines and contained punctuation compared to last weeks poems.

  7. nmfleming

    When I saw the title Nik Lantz’s poem, I thought of mine friend from Barrow who was telling me about how they make tiny bombs that they attach to the harpoons, so when they get the whale it explodes a little to kill the whale. That was why I chose to talk about Nik Lantz’s poem because it seemed familiar to me, even though I’ve never killed a whale before. Before I read the poem, I thought the whole thing was going to be this story about some boy who was trying to blow up a whale in Oregon but was unsuccessful. However, that is not what this poem about, at the end it talks about a whale that washed up shore, but the poem begins by talking about a football game that happened that year in Florence, Oregon. The poem continues to talk about things that also that years, leading up that day the whale washed up on shore. Compared to how last week’s poems were set up is why different than how this one is set up. Nik Lantz’s poem has a break after two lines compared to after fourteen lines. In my opinion I like how Nik Lantz’s poem is set up to me it is easier to read and understand. In Nik Lantz’s poem there is also punctuation which is why I think it is easier for me to read than just reading fourteen lines right after another.

  8. Kait

    The poetry pack this week is so full of detail, the story behind both poems seemed dark to me. My interpretation to Sylvia Plath’s poem Daddy is a woman who grew up poor with an abusive German father who left and made her feel like a Jewish person? Next she wondered where her relatives from her German dad’s family came from and only met heartache and tried to commit suicide to follow in his footsteps, but failed by saying “But they pulled me out of the sack. And stuck me together with glue”. Then she ended up finding love saying “I do” and shut out her past, so “The voices can’t worm through”. At the end of the story, she’s describing that she’s free from her dark past. The almost rhymes and the many similes made the poem so interesting to read. The way she describes whats going on around the woman and the people in her life is so amazing.
    The Year We Blew Up The Whale by Nick Lantz to me was about a small riot starting at a community which was the beginning chain of bad events. Each was its own level of hurt like the boy who missed the kicks in the game or the woman who died alone and her son cut himself because of it. All of the stories are glimpses of bad news to end with everyone in the community involved in one case of bad news, the year they blew up the whale which they were scarcely fathomed by due to the past bad news that they all went through. This poem really shows how a string of bad news affects a community.
    Even though this poetry was a little sad, they both had me absorbed to the last lines to know what happens to the character. I don’t have much experience with poetry, but it was nice to recognize the different kinds of poetry that Ted Kooser was talking about in his book like using similes and not telling the poem in full anecdotes.

  9. Courtney Kisner

    While reading “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath, I could feel the emotion practically seeping through. What I noticed first, was the rhyming at the ends of the lines, somewhat sporadically. The whole piece seemed to make sense, while also being confusing, contradicting, and messy…and I think that was the point. The overarching concept that Plath constructed was important, but so were the bits and pieces that sewed it all together. The author’s detachment from her father bleeds through when she said she looked for him, but then found herself becoming like a Jew (who were obviously looked down upon during World War II). She looked down on herself. I feel as though Plath felt her lack of a relationship with her father caused some insecurities in her identity, where she wasn’t sure where she “belonged”. The problem I saw there is that she felt she had to belong somewhere in the first place. Platt created a lot of good imagery, like when she talked about him standing at the blackboard and about the shape of his chin. Near the end of the poem she describes how she married someone she felt may have been similar to her father. It’s as if she is mad at her father for never being there as she grew up–it’s as if she is choosing to express her anger instead of her sadness.

    “The Year We Blew Up the Whale,” started off so slowly, and it was entirely unexpected when the poem went so deep so fast. I liked this quality. That nonchalant, no-big-deal kind of feel it had to it. I loved how all of the lines ran together, emphasizing the cruelty in a sardonic way. The author took things like hoarding to reveal the inner issues people face, showing that the hoarding was only an effect–that there was a reason. It’s as if Lantz worked inside out. Instead of describing the hoarding, he first bluntly revealed the issue and then let it unfold. I’m not sure if Lantz wanted for the whale to be a metaphor for the issues that wash onto shore, and the need to dig to see “why” or what the thing (the issue/the whale) was composed of, but it kind of works to see it that way. The community that Lantz describes seems numb from the close-to-home tragedies occurring, that blowing up a whale looks like something light–even though it’s not. Going back to the hoarding description, that image was perfect. The house was practically “distended”, as it tried to hold too much…too much pain in the shape of things and objects. I could see myself coming back to this piece for some motivation in the future. I am a big fan of Bukowski and his dark, twisted poetry, and this tasted a bit like his work…in some ways.

    1. Brenden Couch

      After I was able to understand it from an event by event standpoint, I do agree the confusing way it was written was not only very emotive but I believe it served to emphasize her many views and life tragedies. Thanks for your input

  10. Brenden Couch

    With “Daddy”, I had to look up and research about Sylvia Plath, her life, and had to find alternate analysis to understand. In most places the poem made references to things, places, details, that are no longer are well known. The poem is dark, very dark and has some regional references that us in the United States may have a hard time understanding. I cannot say that I enjoy poems that are not written as universally translatable. She writes about being under her father’s influence for 30 years. It goes on to describe the events that essentially ended her fathers life, diabetes and amputation of a gangrene limb, things of which the reader could not reasonably understand without significant help. I, much like a few classmates, do not enjoy decoding poetry whose meanings have been lost to time.

    The second poem, “The Year We Blew Up the Whale – Florence, OR” – by Nick Lantz , was admittedly more relatable. I kind of see it as a manifestation of ridiculous things humans do for ridiculous reasons. It makes sense then how the end is so abrupt, it goes from a newscast style to a matter a fact, this is why we decided to do something nuts. I can relate to this myself. I know in part that the violence is increasing but not by as much as the news portrays. It just happens that their is more news coverage world wide and it makes the world seem a raging fiery inferno of turmoil death and violence and public mood reflects issues that receive the most attention, it is very sensationalized.

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