ENG1141 Sears FA2021

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  • Participation Activity, Session 4: Talking Back to Poetry
  • #74659

    Jennifer Sears

    See the instructions this discussion board on the To-Do List for Sept. 9:



    Nathaly Morocho

    1. “All this was for you, old woman. I wanted to write a poem that you would understand. what good is it to me if you can’t understand it? But you got to try hard”
    2. One question I have for the poet is how can the reader understand others and what can others understand the reader. What I’m saying is what can others learn from one’s perspective of life? This poet’s ideas remind me of something I might explore because I want to know and understand what others are going through. I found the quote interesting because you may never know what others are going through or what perspectives they have of others or something.


    Shayanna Nicholls

    I choose the line

    “…You don’t look Arab at all .Where do you get your blue eyes from, they are so beautiful, and must be somewhere in your bloodline ‘we’ must be this beautiful. Which parts of your ancestry do you owe us? Which parts have you stolen?”

    from the poem ‘(un)LEARNING my Name’ by Mohamed Hassan. Before that statement he mentions that he was white passing until mention of his own name and expresses that bargaining the 3rd stage of grief ( which is to mourn over a loss) is what the chosen statement was. Bargaining is really when a person is creating an exit for regret in my opinion where a person may argue ‘If only…’ and ‘ I should of…’ its the gateway to accepting the reality and after rejecting reality. So I find it interesting that he when narrating the thoughts of whomever is trying to categorize/identify him, would skip denial and anger (the first and second stages) as if the voice already knew he could not be white and instead was trying to convince him that he must be part white, because surely he did not look his assumed kind (Arab, he’s actually Egyptian) and was capable of being white passing. I would also like to mention the way he phrases his words is as if the person questioning his being is only aware that beauty only comes from one source and the follow up for him having to be part white is of course what did he steal what does he owe, despite history (and frankly British museums) telling a different tale.

    This greatly resonated with me because I also do not look like where I come from or the culture I claim and despite there being a large and present issue where people mistake ethnicity to be the same as race what stood out to me most was the fact that everything he looked like that was seen as ‘beautiful’: the blue of his eyes, the straightness of his hair, and the non bearded face which showed traits normally claimed to be attractive were henceforth, Eurocentric (ex. straight nose, light skin etc.). As if beauty or what was considered to be beauty in this context could only be found in the white race, it had to be in his bloodline, he must of course also have stolen some ‘white’ culture since he wasn’t claiming it to be his own/main culture. This leads me to ask the question “Do you then think that one’s ethnicity is then solely dependent on what or how they call themselves?”

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by Shayanna Nicholls. Reason: Punctuation


    1: “The language” from Creeley’s poem feels like a Shakespeare poem, the lines are as follows: “Locate I love you somewhere in teeth and eyes, bite it but”.
    This reminds me of the days of middle school and high school where we would read metaphor poems and make meaning of it.
    2 I have many questions but the most important one is, with a poem like this can it have a deeper meaning that has nothing to do with love? As a metaphor for life or a connection spiritually even though the word love is in it.
    This poet’s ideas remind me of something I might want to explore because I love stories; I was raised with much older people so I’m used to seeing everything as a metaphor. I feel like this is a great example of any metaphors. And another thing that catches my attention is how in the poem “ the language doesn’t have a lot of words and yet has a lot of definitions that can fit into the category, and that is what makes it a great poem.


    Kevin Ho

    “English is not my native tongue. The language I speak is bursting with blood, but they are all I have,” from “Dear White Girls in My Spanish Class” by Brown, Ariana. If this line would be on a sheet of paper, the experience of this poem would be different especially the passion and the tone. The line that I have chose doesn’t seem like a big deal when seen on paper, but Brown was able to speak with passionate effects. When hearing it through Brown, it feels much more serious and important, which of course this shouldn’t be taken as a joke. In Brown’s Spanish Class, the white girls would make humor out of the language that Brown would hold highly to, this doesn’t please Brown since the language is part of her blood. Spanish is the language that grandmother of Brown would speak.
    The speaker is Brown, Ariana and her audience are mainly pointed to the white girls in her Spanish class. Brown gave a back story about the history of the language of Spanish and about her grandmother being afraid of revealing the capability to speak Spanish. Brown spoke of these stories with passion and this end up rising the poem. The tone of Brown’s voice was serious and upset. This poem in the way I feel is trying to point out, to be respectful to other peoples native language and take it seriously. I understand the feeling of Brown, since I speak English and Mandarin. I am born in U.S. and so English is my native language, but even though I am born in U.S., having people make fun of Mandarin, I really found it disrespectful because that is the language of my parent and grandparent.


    1. “will I be more grateful for that
    than for any forward movement in any current political cause
    and will it have been worth it then
    Will it have been worth the long hours
    of not sleeping
    that produced little more than reams….
    Will I wish then that I had taken that job working at the bank.”

    These lines are taken from Stacey-Ann Chin’s “If Only Out Of Vanity.” These lines made me think how uncertain life can feel when you think about success on a tangible scale, your peers being the raters. I’d like to think passion, intelligence, and drive for political change isn’t just a symptom of the youth, or something we pick up to seem more down to earth, or a trope in your latest teen drama. The fight for revolutionary change is more than just appearances, it’s a way of being. I’d like to think that the revolutionary figures before us didn’t have it all figured out. I’m sure they felt the same fear and uncertainty about the future, but I also think success to them would’ve been any bit of change that made things easier for those who needed to lead next. Wondering how the world will view you when you’re all old and the essence of your passion all dried up… is indeed only in vanity.

    2. “What circumstances gave rise to the poem?” I think this poem brought to lights the challenges of the modern world. It’s hard to feel comfortable in one’s identity when the very society you live in condemns certain lifestyles, it can feel restrictive. A world where people were encouraged to be themselves, authentically, would be more peaceful.




    According to the segment of the spoken word the poem “Dear White Girls in My Spanish Class” by Ariana Brown is a very emotional poem. Ariana Brown is a Black Mexican American poet she grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and was born to a Black father who died when she was young and a Mexican mother with a grandmother who didn’t speak Spanish with her due to historic prejudice. Growing up Black with limited knowledge and comprehension of Spanish shaped her experiences and formed the foundation for a large part of her poetry. In this poem “Dear White Girls in My Spanish Class” she talks about how white students trivialized Spanish class as well as the colonial roots of the language and the prejudice endured by Mexicans who spoke Spanish in the U.S. including her grandmother. She started by stating “You are not special. You are the reason my grandmother feared her children would speak with accents. So Afraid, she buried her first language in the space between blood and bone because your grandparents wouldn’t let her make a home outside her body” here in this, the poet uses ‘you’ the poet is referring to the white Americans and she is expressing in this sentence what her grandmother would probably be feeling back then with Emptiness and pain in her heart.
    Similarly, I could relate my story to her poem where when I first came to the United States, I had an accent when I use to speak English, and most people would think or their first guess to which country, I’m from was Indian but sadly I’m from Pakistan and I was born Dubai. In Dubai most of the time I used to speak Urdu with my friends and a little bit of English with my teachers. My English was not perfect, but neither it was bad. So, when I came here it was mostly English, so I wasn’t that comfortable in opening up in English. So slowly and gradually I started talking in English and when I used to mess up my friends use to fix my English even it felt embarrassing and like a taunt that my English wasn’t good but sometimes, I wonder were they really helping me with my English, or they just didn’t like that I was a foreigner.



    “Tell me how does it feel to take a foreign language for fun…to owe your history nothing?” Brown, Ariana. Dear White Girls in My Spanish Class

    This quote I resonate with so much because I understand to many, Spanish class is a joke. In relation to this, for a long period in my life, I didn’t really speak Spanish and felt as if I was dumb because I couldn’t since I’m Latino. In a way I felt ashamed that I didn’t, not being able to talk to a certain family because of the barrier didn’t sit right with me during those times. Over time, however, I did learn and it has become very valuable to me in workspaces and such. I wish those who don’t come from Spanish-speaking backgrounds took the language more seriously in school. Some pronounce the words wrong on purpose and don’t care for it all.
    One question I would ask the poet is, how do we change the minds of those who disrespect the language? Speaking out for many is a struggle especially in situations like this because a lot of the people who do this are friends. Sometimes it’s even Latinos that push this behavior.


    According to the Dear White Girls in My Spanish Class by Brown “ I bet you thought this class would be easy, since Spanish is what poor brown people speak, right?” there is so much deep meaning hidden behind her poem which makes us readers think very carefully what she saying. Her word choice was very specific and inside her poem, she was telling us a story. Furthermore, she is asking a very specific question to a very specific group of people. She is sounds upsetting, where she is eager to get an answer to her own question which was deep inside her heart and was killing her for coming out. I could relate my story with her poem where, when I came to the USA as an immigrant with my family, I face so much harassment because of my accent. When even I used to speak English, people used to act like they don’t understand anything were laughing at me. they used to say “are you speaking English or something else” which was very embarrassing for me.

    According to the other poem The Red Wheelbarrow “so much depends upon” (line1-2) whereas a reader when I read this sentence first question that comes to my mind is what it depends on. The first sentence of this poem engages me to read the whole poem to get my question answer. I never read a poem like that where I read the first line and become completely engaged with the writer. I am saying that because I am feeling like I am the author of this poem and solving the mystery of what it depends upon. This poem is like whereas a reader we get the fill in the gaps based on our imagination and complete the poem.



    From Mohamad Hussan’s video “(un)LEARNING MY NAME”, he states “The first time I am mistaken for a white man I feel a rush of joy lurching from my gut. A relief I finally want a place today. A right to belong an invisibility of only for a moment. I’m asked what my name is and I flinch. The jig is up and caught in a lie Mohammad.”.

    This video truly dives deep into the authors perspective. With his word choice we can understand the feelings that he is trying to portray to us, the feelings of uncertainty and doubt when others call his name. One of the few questions that I have for the author is “What were the pros and cons of having a name that was pronounced differently due to language barriers?”. He stated that “She looks so much like us, you don’t look Arab at all”. With that specific line, a person who is deeply into their culture can be hurt. The author has always mispronounced how he stated his name for the convenience of others, while his mother would always pronounce it the correct way.



    “Spanish was given to my people at the end of a sword. Forced in our throats, gory sharpened under the colonizers eye. each rolled r is a red, wet finger print pointing me back to this. Spanish is not my native tongue. English is not my native tongue. The languages I speak are bursting with blood but they are all I have.” is the quote I chose from the poem “Dear White Girls in my Spanish Class”

    In this whole poem, you can see the deep hurting of the poet, which is a Hispanic woman who was clearly in American public high school, and had to take Spanish class with white people, and had to put up with white people making fun of her language. The audience is obviously for white girls, but I feel like another audience is white people in general, who think that the Spanish language is funny. The tone of the whole poem is very angry and hostile because she is clearly pissed about white people and their blatant disregard for Hispanic peoples feelings when practicing their language.
    these specific lines in this poem are refrencing wars against Hispanic peoples, as she says how Spanish isn’t even her native language, but was forced to use it because of lost wars that caused many deaths of Hispanic people. The poem does use figurative language, where she describes the wars her people were in where they were forced to use Spanish as their language. She uses personification in these lines, the examples are “The languages I speak are bursting with blood…” and “Each rolled r is a red, wet fingerprint…”. Languages cant burst with blood, and the rolled r sound cant have fingerprints, but these are used to create more meaning of anger and seriousness that the poet is speaking.


    Avida Sharma

    “Why are you here?
    I bet you thought this class would be easy, since Spanish is what poor brown people speak, right?
    Not something you actually have to try to understand, not fancy or sophisticated, not like French—the language you love over-pronouncing as if compensating for your basic American whiteness— you are not special”. Dear white girls by Ariana Brown

    I chose this poem to write about because it was something I’ve witnessed. I am not Hispanic, but I did take Spanish classes from middle school and throughout all of high school and I remember how disrespectful students were. I remember vividly how people did not want to put effort into learning a new language or even behaving to allow the teacher to teach those who actually cared to learn. When I was young, I myself did not want to learn a new language, I thought I would be made fun for trying to speak another language that was not my main one. Did I disrespect the teacher or my fellow students by mocking or belittling the language? No, I did my best to learn and try to get over the thoughts of being made fun of if I fumbled on speaking a second language. I wish young kids in high school could understand that making fun of and mocking another language is not funny and it makes them look foolish. If I had to ask this poet a question it would be, what do you think schools can do to help students understand the importance of having respect for other languages.


    Carolyn Cruz

    The quote I chose was

    ” Why are you here? I bet you thought this class will be easy, since Spanish is what poor brown people speak”
    also ” “Stumbling so hard, you laugh through entire sentences because my ancestors are a punchline and everything that comes out of your mouth is funny” from Dear White Girls in my Spanish Class by Ariana Brown.

    Ariana states how the “White Girls” downplayed Spanish class just as an easy class that they could take. She took offense to this due to the connection she had, coming from a family that descended from slaves. She just wanted to get closer to her background for her to know more about her past. She connected how it was funny to these white girls the accent used to pronounce words in Spanish where they will just get the term “Gringa” but she saw it as more than that because her grandmother feared her children having accents and how when you pronounce words wrong it is just funny but when its others its more serious and need to speak English. The language was more than just a language to her because she shows the cultural background that lead to her family being able to speak Spanish. The question that the speaker looks to answer and figure out is why are these girls here because to them is just an easy class that they will pass because this is not their language when to Ariana it means her whole background that she is still trying to figure out.



    The quote I chose was from Mohamed Hassan-(un)LEARNING MY NAME where he states in the beginning, “ The first time I am mistaken for a white man I feel a rush of joy lurching from my gut. A relief, I finally won a place today. A right to belong invisibility for only for a moment. I’m asked what my name is and I flinch. The jig is up, I am caught in a lie.”
    This video gives a representation of how he felt for his 19 years about his name. It’s almost as if he was confused and could not determine who he identifies as due to social stigma. I believe he has a unique name and should be really appreciative of the name his mother gave him and honor it rather than be ashamed or try to disregard it. It also makes me wonder the type of reactions he received when he told people his real name compared to the one his teacher forced upon him.



    1. “In those years when I am grateful
    I still have a good sturdy bladder
    that does not leak undigested prune juice
    onto diapers—no longer adorable
    will I be more grateful for that
    than for any forward movement in any current political cause
    and will it have been worth it then” from Stacey-ann chin’s “if only out of vanity”

    2. My question for Stacey-Ann would be, what was the inspiration or cause for this poem, especially since for a 2010 poem I truly believe it’s ahead of its time. Nowadays everything is so politically divisive, people are latching on to political movements and factions (on both sides) more than before, and I’m not sure if it was my young age at the time, or my inexperience with any of it or both, but 10 years ago political affiliation didn’t matter as far as I remember.

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