Remember high school English class? I’m sure we’ve all had that high school (or college) experience of being assigned schoolwork that consisted of reading a work of literature and then analyzing it. “What does this chapter say about the role of women in society during the 1940’s?” and perhaps “what is the author saying about capitalism here?” (Fun side-note for literature peeps: if you want to read a short story through a Marxist lens, try my short story on Amazon).
When assigned these questions for homework, where to begin searching for answers? We can’t ask Victor Hugo or Herman Melville what they were trying to say about gender roles or the working class, because they aren’t around anymore. And, a lot of the time, I’m sure many of us would say it felt like we were making things up just to get the homework out of the way. It begs the question – for analysis, is there really a CORRECT analysis for any given project? Or is it fine to stop at mere speculation, as long as we provide the correct number of citations to back our claim?
You, or anyone else, I’m sure, has had that difficult moment in their lives when they are asked to analyze a literary piece for a school project – whether that be a novel, short story, essay, or poem – and find themselves in a very suddenly-constructed DIY writer’s block. Who knows WHY the author said what they said? Who knows what themes they were attempting to convey? The author isn’t around (or alive) to explain their writing process to you, and so you are left to your own devices.
It’s much easier for me to analyze my own writing, however. Below is a poem of mine I wrote recently. Go ahead in read it and hopefully the meaning I was trying to portray is hidden in there somewhere. After the poem I’ll breakdown my writing process – why I chose the words I did, random rhyming patterns, and methods of symbolism and metaphor I utilized throughout to convey a central idea or theme. In the end, I hope this breakdown process helps you understand analytical techniques when reading poetry in general. Hopefully it gives you some food for thought on your next poem/story/screenplay as well!
It’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure to see a musical in movie theaters – especially a broadway-adaption. Besides, I thought, as I walked into the theater, it’s Lin Manuel Miranda, isn’t it? Didn’t he do a show called Hamilton or something and it was like really really good? (I’m a huge fan of Hamilton).
I watched it, and overall didn’t much like it. Here’s my review I originally posted on Letterboxd.com:
For weeks I was stuck inside a writer’s orb. Commonly mistaken as a “writer’s block,” this writer’s orb was even more discomfiting. It was round – it was all around me. Whereas a writer’s block has distinct edges and sides marking the lines between your boundless creativity and a lack thereof, a writer’s orb is hard to distinguish most of the time, and harder to solve. Defining the circumference of its constraints in an attempt to solve mental confabulation is a tedious and uncertain venture.
Writers tend to overcomplicate most writer’s blocks (or orbs, in my case). They sit upon the same old blank paper and think the same old blank thoughts. Breaking free from writers block, as in this case, is sometimes as simple as reading the works of other authors. For me, as I sat down to write about a rose (this was as far as I’d planned), I decided on a whim to emulate the rhyme scheme of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” For those unaquainted with this classic poem, let me share the beginning:
Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow.
– “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost
To make a short story shorter, I was intrigued by the rhyme scheme, having, myself, rarely executed an AABA rhyme scheme, so I created one about a rose. Yeah, yeah, there’s a lot of deeper meaning to it, and the rose is just a symbol, and there’s a ton of metaphor, blah blah blah. Don’t worry about all that. Here it is:
What beckons me from endless sleep,
When I am caught in slumber deep?
What power summons me awake,
When soft away doth silence creep?
What orphic spell around me flows,
Enfolds my being from head to toe?
What substance had my transient doom,
That, back to it, I’d ever go?
When clutcheth, I, this thorn-lined stem
The lights shine bright that were once dim,
The sun says “night be ever gone,”
As it jumps ‘round horizon’s rim.
Somehow this rose so strange and red
Appeared to me while I, in bed,
Dreamed of it in another world
At once did cease that pang of dread.
When picketh, I, that flower bright,
For soft and lov’ly was this sight,
It’s thorn did prick, my finger bled
My mind spun fast, from left to right.
I woke up in a pale haze
A temporal and well-lit daze,
A moon that I had never seen
Held fast my non-expiring gaze.
That’s it for now! As always, thanks again for stopping by, and be sure to check out my previous post!
One of my favorite accomplishments during the quarantine of 2020 was finally completing and publishing my very first book on Amazon. A work over two years in the making, this book is a psychological drama examining the psyche of a boy in the middle of a new and tumultuous emotional environment. Although it was a rather tedious process to format it precisely how Amazon desired it to be, I eventually published it as an eBook in June 2020, with cover design done by my sister. Paperback became available much later on in the year as I tried to figure out the rocket-science behind paperback formatting.
Being just 99 pages, my book, titled “Memories of Light,” is technically a novella, having the advantage of being easily readable in one sitting (even if you’re only semi-dedicated)!
Given that the story is written in first-person narration, from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy, this story is easily readable for ages 13 and beyond. However, due to heavy subject matter, I would only recommend for ages 16 and up.
Along with that brief introduction, here’s a brief synopsis:
“Ishmael needs to escape. It all began when they moved to the city…something about his new home doesn’t feel right. Strange things begin happening at his new school, and his mother becomes increasingly distant. As Ishmael attempts to determine why all this is happening, troubling visions of the future fill his mind, leading him to discover the truth; a truth he’s been trying to hide from for a long time. Reality and dreamworld become intertwined in this enigmatic story of relationship, emotion, and trauma.”
And there you have it. A psychological, intensely captivating book, with an original premise and unique storyline. I hope this inspires you to order one from Amazon at this very moment. If it does, be sure to leave a review and let me know what you think!