I am an avid eclectic reader.
This is a series of class lecture by Professor Karen Karblener for the Modern Scholar. This series is on Walt Whitman 1819 to 1892. According to Karblener Whitman was beginning of American poetry and is often called the “father of free verse”. The teacher goes through Whitman’s life and his poetry. She brings up controversy regarding his sexual orientation, his politics as a liberal democrat, being banned in Boston, and his opposition to slavery. She says Whitman was educated only to elementary school but was a printer and a reader. She states he was not considered successful in his lifetime but his poetry became sought after in the 20th century. She reads from some of his poems and discusses them such as “Leaves of Grass”. Overall it is a good introduction to Whitman. I remember little of what we discussed about Whitman in high school so this audio book allowed me to have a good understanding of Whitman and his place in American poetry.
This is a book of 32 short poems divided into three parts published in 1978 written and read by Maya Angelou. I know Angelou is controversial and her books, plays and poems are banned in many places and like many great poets people either love her or hate her poems. I enjoy her poems not only for the story they tell and the optimism but the rhythm and rhyme. I have books of her poems but particularly enjoyed this audio book because of her beautiful voice reading her own poems. In this book I particularly like the poem “Willie” about her crippled uncle. I also enjoyed the working poems “One More Round” the man’s working poem and “Women’s Work” about women. The poems follow the even number stanzas in the eight stanza poem to create a refrain like those found in many work songs and are variations of many protest poems. Angelou wrote a play in 1976 about discrimination called “Still I Rise” the poem came from the play. It is one of my favorite poems. The opening of the poem is as follows:
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise
Comparing how she continuously rises herself up emotionally to stay strong just, like how the moon and sun rise every day no matter what happens. By repeating I rise it makes the words that much more powerful and makes it stand out emphasizing the message which is to stay strong and to never allow anything or anyone stop you from fighting and living strong. The main theme of the poem is discrimination. The poem teaches readers that all humans have strength that lies within us that can help to overcome any obstacle. There is rhyme every other line for most of the poem that immediately guides the reader though the poem I think I will keep this book permanently on my iPod so I listen to it whenever I am in the mood.