This is a weird week–one that straddles two topics: style & voice and dialogue!
I hope that our reading the various work of poets shows you a few things: one, that a poem can take multiple forms, and it doesn’t have to follow a structure, two, that the subject of a poem can be about the most mundane and global–sometimes at the same time, and, three, that writing poetry can be frustrating and exhilarating at the same time!
On to discussion of dialogue, AKA “hear the bones sing”!
Read the quote from the playwright Suzan-Lori Parks:
So much of African-American history has been unrecorded, dismembered, washed out, one of my tasks as a playwright is to … locate the ancestral burial ground, dig for bones, find bones, hear the bones sing, write it down.Suzan-Lori Parks
If you’ve ever read a play and then watched it live onstage (or onscreen), you’ll know that a play looks rather–well–boring, especially compared to watching it. It’s just a lot of conversation written with a bunch of indecipherable stage directions. It seems like a bunch of bleached bones–at first glance.
However, when you think about it, bones are pretty important. Without bones, we’d all be a pile of muscle, hair, cartilage, and organs. If you’ve ever broken a major bone, you know that you can be pretty incapacitated while it heals.
Dialogue is the “bones” of so many things–it’s one way we communicate, a way we attempt to share the deepest emotions and the most difficult ideas with the world around us. Parks says that her task as a playwright is to find the “bones” of Black people–a group that has been silenced for centuries by slavery, Jim Crow, and ongoing racism–and “hear the bones sing.” She wants to record the dialogue/bones and let them speak to the world.
This is a lot to digest, I know, which is why I encourage you to return to this and read this post more than once! Go to Week 12’s Assignment page and see what’s due this week!