Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trifles by Susan Glaspell (Questions)

EXPLORATION OF THE TEXT

2. What clues lead the women to conclude that Minnie Wright killed her husband? 

 The clues are:-

- The ruined preserves fruits

- The left out load of bread

- The nervously sewn quilt

- Half clean/messy table

- The broken birdcage and the bird 

The first four clues indicate that Mrs. Wright/Minnie Wright was feeling uneasy. Take note that these clues are sign of unfinished task/chores/activity which could indicate Minnie Wright was having a psychological problem in her life or marriage. The text suggested that Minnie became unhappy with her marriage. She was once portrayed as a cheerful lady. 

"She [Minnie Wright]- come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself - real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and - fluttery. How - she - did - change."

The broken birdcage was a sign of force. The text suggested that the birdcage might be busted by John Wright. John Wright do not fancy things that sings and brought joy as indicated in the text hence explain his actions towards the birdcage and bird. The bird is the symbol of Minnie Wright's freedom and in a way her old self (joyful/have lovely singing voice). The death of her bird may indicates that a part of her was taken away and may be one of the causes of murder. 


3. How do the men differ from the women? from each other?

 The men in Trifles are portrayed as the antagonist of the story. The men characters looked down at the women. Make fun of the things the women have picked up, their poor homemaking skills and the things they talked about. They were to egoistic to take account of the women's discoveries as one of the possible evidences. The men overlooked the minor details or evidence that the women have found just by sitting in the kitchen where the men insist that there were nothing in the kitchen that would contribute to the investigation.

The women characters could relate emotionally towards Minnie Wright more than the men could. They see the little details or trifles as the title suggested as an important clue or hint. They could feel the sorrow Minnie Wright felt for example the feeling of "stillness" as experienced by Mrs. Peter where she has lost her child much like Minnie has lost her bird which is dear to both of these female characters.  Ironically, the women might have been portrayed as the "real investigator" in this play.

There are actually not much of a difference in the men characters in Trifles apart from their age. The Sheriff is describe as a middle-age man. As for the County Attorney, a much younger man. Their attitude or behavior are relatively the same - sexist towards women. Same can be said with Mr. Hale where he stated, "Well, women are used  to worrying about trifles.".


 4. What do the men discover? Why do they conclude "Nothing here but kitchen things"?

Most of the discoveries found by the men are through the statements of Mr. Hale the neighbor of John Wright which does not help much or anything with the case. Apart from that, they did discovered that the the piece of clothes are "knot" instead of "quilt" which too discovered by the women. What the men have missed is that, the term "knot" stated by the ladies may have been a clue on how the murder was carried out. 

The men are actually being sexist towards women when they concluded "Nothing here but kitchen things". It is a remark on women's ranking in the society as these "kitchen things" are usually associated with women (at least in this play). Much like the low ranking of the women in the men' s eyes, they "kitchen things" can be equalized to the women. This may also may be one of the reasons why the men overlooked the evidences that the women found in the kitchen.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Date with a Literary Scholar (Refaat Alareer)


 "You have to love poetry to write poetry" (Refaat Alareer, 2013)


With Mr Refaat Alareer (Guy in plain blue shirts) Photo by: Amy Amilia (Thanks!)


Today (21st October 2013) me and my classmates were fortunate enough to meet a Literary Scholar from Gaza, Palestine - Refaat Alreer. He produced some terrific poems mostly revolved on war that is happening in his hometown. Apart from being a poet (although he insisted that he is not much of a poet), he is also a lecturer in a university in Palestine. What can be concluded in his works are, he regularly used metaphors and simile in his works. His works are easy enough to understand and yet gives a huge impact to the audience.



"The are 5 universities in Palestine but usually we [the Palestinians] go to Egypt to further our studies" said Mr. Refaat. 

 
He started the meeting by introducing himself and gave a brief history about his hometown and the occupancy that is currently happening there. He mentioned that the occupation started roughly 100 years ago where before the then, Palestine consist of the Arabs and Jews. It all started when England wanted to give the Jews a piece of land and unfortunate enough, it is Palestine. In 1946 Israel occupied Palestine. Day by day, the land that was known as Palestine is occupied by the Israeli. As a result, the Palestinians are having difficulties traveling from one place to another in Palestine. They have to go through numerous checkpoints which took a long time where in Mr. Refaat experience, he waited for a month to go through from one checkpoint to another just to get to his destination. Below is a homemade video/documentary entitled "5 Broken Cameras" by Emad,  recommended by Mr. Refaat about the occupancy in Palestine.





Surely enough, the Palestinians had enough and started to fight back. Some with guns, some with rocks and of course with words or to be precised poetry and articles. Mr. Refaat is no exception. He was also drawn to write poetry in response to the occupancy. Mr Refaat mentioned that there are not much of male poets in Palestine. It seems like this matter has caught him in a way. He also ask himself and the class:- 

"Why women write more than men in Palestine?"


He also stated that most poets in Gaza were inspired by a young poet named Tamim Bargouti. Mr. Refaat was kind enough to recommend us (the students) with some of the best poets and their works. Below are some of them.

 Famous Poet (Arabic language)
- Mahmoud Darwish
- Tamim Bargouti 

Famous Poet (English language)
- Rafeef Ziadah (We Teach Life, Sir)
- Susan Abulhawa (Wala!*)
- Remi Kanazi


Mr. Refaat has encouraged us to write an online journal/blog and feel free to write anything that we feel into it. Listen to tracks and poetry recitals from any source including Youtube. Pay attention to our surroundings. Even the smallest thing could turn into a brilliant idea. Some people carry a small notebook everywhere there go just in case they 'stumble' upon an idea but of course, this is a 21st century time, using your smartphones is just as good. Although he is a lecturer, he also learned from his students. From what he had told us, I could see that he has a wonderful relationship with his students.

Mr. Refaat in 'action' :)


One of my favorite poems by Mr. Refaat Alareer is entitled "And We Live On.." . Apparently, it is also one of Mr. Refaat's favorites. Seeing that I love war poetry, I could see how I could relate to him considering all the war he has written and experinced. He mentioned that the reason he like this poem is because there are a lot of metaphors and similes in it.  Below is the poem:-


And We Live On.. (by Refaat Alareer)

And another day in Gaza

Another day in Palestine

A day in prison

And we live on

Despite Israel’s very much identified flying objects

That we see more than our family and friends

And despite Israel’s death sentences

Like lead

Cast upon the head

As we sleep

Like acid rain

Gnawing at our life

Clinging to it like a flea to a kitten

And stuffed in our throats

The moment we say ‘Amen’

To the prayers of old women and men

Despite Israel’s birds of death

Hovering only two meters from our breath

From our dreams and prayers

Blocking their ways to God.

Despite that.

We dream and pray,

Clinging to life even harder

Every time a dear one’s life

Is forcibly rooted up.

We live.

We live.

We do.


Source: http://lokmanhs.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/save-gaza-4.jpg


I must say, listening to the poem being recite by the very man who wrote it before my eyes gave me the goosebumps. Listening to his voice I could feel the 'power' of the poem considering it is written based on a true story not to mention the poet own experience. As said by Mr. Refaat, Palestinians are always haunted by the thought of death and this statement adds the imagery in my mind and it helped me see what he wanted me to see through his experience. Just like most of his poems, Mr. Refaat usually includes three elements in his poetry. They are:-

- Dialogue
- Performance/Drama
- Palestine (Of course) 


Other poems that you might be interested in written by Refaat Alreer are:-

- If I must die
- Over the Wall
- I am You
- Freshly Baked Souls

 Do visit Refaat Alreer's blog at: http://thisisgaza.wordpress.com/  



*a degrading word/expression used to address a boy




Friday, October 11, 2013

War Poems (WW1 to Contemporary)

War. Nothing is alien about it anymore. the word itself seems to be carved onto our lips as if it is cursed. As many poems are written in response to a certain historical events, war poems are no exception. A great number of poems have been written for the past decades significantly from WW1 until now. 

When talking about WW1 (1914-1918), Alfred Edward Salter Owen (1893-1918) may be considered as one of the most significant poets. Although Alfred Owen himself is a soldier, he latter found out that he is against war as what he saw was nothing but gruesome sights. His remarkable works entitled Dulce Et Decorum Est is about a speaker (presumably soldier) that shares his experience on the battlefield. The text suggested that nothing is normal on the battleground and seeing his comrades died in front of him is an unbearable thought.

Wilfred Owen (Picture source: http://www.tcs.cam.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Image-Estate-of-Wilfred-Owen.jpg)


Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

 

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

 

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

 

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

( Poem source: http://www.english.emory.edu/LostPoets/Dulce.html )

Other WW1 poets and their poem that you may be interested/considered:-

- Rupert Chawner Brooke (1887-1915) "Fragment"
- Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) "How to Die"
- William Noel Hodgson (1893-1916) "Before Action"
- Wilfred Gibson (1878-1962) "Back"

WW2 (1939-1945) also known as the Second World War that formed two sides which are The Allies and Axis. There a lot of poems written by both sides but just like most poems, they are also about how the soldiers wish the war would just stop as they had enough having bullets for breakfast everyday. One of the best WW2 poets is Keith Castellain Douglas (1920-1944) who died during the D-Day at Normandy. His poem entitled How to Kill is one of my personal favorites and also considered as one of the best poems of WW2.


Keith Douglas (Picture Source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6X4-twaiZGk/TteGuc9xRbI/AAAAAAAADMY/sAX7o6MLIvM/s400/keyesdouglas.jpg)


How to Kill

Under the parabola of a ball,
a child turning into a man,
I looked into the air too long.
The ball fell in my hand, it sang
in the closed fist: Open Open
Behold a gift designed to kill.

 

Now in my dial of glass appears
the soldier who is going to die.
He smiles, and moves about in ways
his mother knows, habits of his.
The wires touch his face: I cry
Now. Death, like a familiar, hears

 

And look, has made a man of dust
of a man of flesh. This sorcery
I do. Being damned, I am amused
to see the centre of love diffused
and the waves of love travel into vacancy.
How easy it is to make a ghost.

 

The weightless mosquito touches
Her tiny shadow on the stone,
and with how like, how infinite
a lightness, man and shadow meet.
They fuse. A shadow is a man
when the mosquito death approaches.

( Poem source: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/how-to-kill/ ) 

Other WW2 poets and their poem that you might considered:-

-  Sir Herbert Read (1893–1968) "To A Conscript Of 1940"
- Konstantin Simonov (1915-1979) "Wait for Me"
- Frank Gibbons "A Beach in France"

Contemporary War usually related to the wars happening in the Middle Eastern countries and some part of Africa such as the massacre in Nigeria. To me war has lost its value. Peace and salvation are no longer the objective but merely an excuse to satisfy ones desire and greed. Nevertheless, the poems written in this period is not to be taken lightly compared to the old days' (WW1-WW2). The poems still retain its value in expressing emotions as it supposed to in any poems. One poem that caught my intention is entitled Fiance in Afghanistan written by Abi Townsend. The poem suggested that the speaker wish the war will end soon and the speaker love one will return to her/him.


Fiancé in Afghanistan

Step by step they take great care,
Fear and frightened eyes red with despair,

Shock and horror to hear “Man Down”,
So many soldiers fall to the ground,

Yet one by one they struggle through,
Scared and thinking he may not pull through,

Soaring temperatures are rapidly rising,
Scarce special medics is not surprising,

With no mercy just bitter aggression,
Shooting the injured is the Taliban’s mission,

Please save our partners, family and friends,
Bring this war to its final end,

Our hero, our soldier, their brother, their friend,
Our honour is with you as you battle the end,

Back at home we will wait alone,
To hear you slightly on the phone,
 

Unsettled nights and shattered dreams,
Imaging all those nasty scenes,

R&R I hope is soon,
To have our candle lit dinner under the moon,

Come and gone now back to war,
To fight the Taliban and find their core,

Wrapping parcels and special gifts,
The happiness it brings and the joy it lifts,

To all the soldiers that made through the tour,
Solute to those with us no more,

No game or sport can compete,
The strength our soldiers go to defeat,

Queen or president the fact still remains,
Our soldiers out there is just insane.

(Poem source: http://www.warpoetry.co.uk/2011warpoetry.html)

Do consider these poets and their poem:- 

- Bill Mitton "Young Sons"
- John Bailey "Taking a Stand"
- Ibukun Babarinde "Elegy for Jos"

Friday, October 4, 2013

What is Poetry and Drama?



What is poetry?

Poetry is a form of literary art intended to express oneself in sense of emotions, thoughts, ideas or pretty much anything that could be expressed. What sets poetry apart from other forms of written arts is/are the stanza(s). It does not necessarily have to rhyme, it could be written in a free form even. Regardless, there are also well constructed forms of poetry. Below are some of the form and terms in poetry:-

Acrostic - The first letter of each line spells out a word, name, or phrase when read    vertically

Ballad - narrative song passed down orally

Ballade - consists of three eight-line stanzas and a four-line envoy, with a rhyme scheme of ababbcbc bebc

Couplet - A pair of rhyming lines

Elegy - Melancholy poem that laments the subject’s death but ends in consolation

Epic - A long poem that tells about heroism

Haiku - Three unrhymed lines in five, seven, and five syllables

Octave - An eight-line stanza or poem

Sonnet - A 14-line poem with a variable rhyme scheme

Stanza - A group of lines

For more form of poetry and poetry terms, do visit :-

Below is one of the earliest poems that I fell in love with. It was written by Konstantin Simonov entitled Wait for Me (1941) for his lover Valentina Serova when he was summoned to the battlefield in the WWII:-

 
Konstantin Simonov

to Valentina Serova

Wait for me, and I'll come back!
Wait with all you've got!
Wait, when dreary yellow rains
Tell you, you should not.
Wait when snow is falling fast,
Wait when summer's hot,
Wait when yesterdays are past,
Others are forgot.
Wait, when from that far-off place,
Letters don't arrive.
Wait, when those with whom you wait
Doubt if I'm alive.

Wait for me, and I'll come back!
Wait in patience yet
When they tell you off by heart
That you should forget.
Even when my dearest ones
Say that I am lost,
Even when my friends give up,
Sit and count the cost,
Drink a glass of bitter wine
To the fallen friend -
Wait! And do not drink with them!
Wait until the end!

Wait for me and I'll come back,
Dodging every fate!
"What a bit of luck!" they'll say,
Those that would not  wait.
They will never understand
How amidst the strife,
By your waiting for me, dear,
You had saved my life.
Only you and I will know
How you got me through.
Simply - you knew how to wait -
No one else but you.

Below are some of the best poems ever created throughout the history of mankind:-

- Beowulf by unknown (as the poem has been passed down orally and altered)
- Whoso list to hunt by Sir Thomas Wyatt
- When We Two Parted by Lord Byron
- To My Wife - With a Copy of My Poems by Oscar Wilde
- The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot
- The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- Success is Counted Sweetest by Emily Dickinson
- No Second Troy by William Butler Yeats
- All the World's a Stage by William Shakespeare
- The Nightingale by William Wordsworth 


What is Drama?

Drama is a performing art usually performed on stage by actors before the audience. The history could be traced back to the Greek which the term ‘Drama’ originated from. The term itself means ‘action’ which explains the performance on the stage. Some of the major dramas throughout the history are:-

- Hamlet by Shakespeare
- The Alchemist by Ben Jonson
- Doctor by Christopher Marlowe


 
Christopher Marlowe

There are various histories of drama coming from all around the world such as from Classic Greek, Asian drama, Classic Roman, Medieval, and probably the most noticeable during the Elizabethan and Jacobean era where Shakespeare arts were blooming.   Each of these dramas has their own unique and distinct features and elements.

There are a lot of forms of drama. Some of them are:-

Opera
Combination of theatre and music originated from the Greek and still being practised until now.

Pantomime
 A form of drama that emphasised on reminders, doing good deeds and such and using stock characters is usually the main ingredient in making this sort of drama.

Creative drama
A drama that focused on educational elements intended for children as the audience.