Thursday, March 27, 2008


Dedication by Wole Soyinka
for Moremi, 1963

Earth will not share the rafter's envy; dung floors
Break, not the gecko's slight skin, but its fall
Taste this soil for death and plumb her deep for life

As this yam, wholly earthed, yet a living tuber
To the warmth of waters, earthed as springs
As roots of baobab, as the hearth.

The air will not deny you. Like a top
Spin you on the navel of the storm, for the hoe
That roots the forests plows a path for squirrels.

Be ageless as dark peat, but only that rain's
Fingers, not the feet of men, may wash you over.
Long wear the sun's shadow; run naked to the night.

Peppers green and red—child—your tongue arch
To scorpion tail, spit straight return to danger's threats
Yet coo with the brown pigeon, tendril dew between your lips.

Shield you like the flesh of palms, skyward held
Cuspids in thorn nesting, insealed as the heart of kernel—
A woman's flesh is oil—child, palm oil on your tongue

Is suppleness to life, and wine of this gourd
From self-same timeless run of runnels as refill
Your podlings, child, weaned from yours we embrace

Earth's honeyed milk, wine of the only rib.
Now roll your tongue in honey till your cheeks are
Swarming honeycombs—your world needs sweetening, child.

Camwood round the heart, chalk for flight
Of blemish—see? it dawns!—antimony beneath
Armpits like a goddess, and leave this taste

Long on your lips, of salt, that you may seek
None from tears. This, rain-water, is the gift
Of gods—drink of its purity, bear fruits in season.

Fruits then to your lips: haste to repay
The debt of birth. Yield man-tides like the sea
And ebbing, leave a meaning of the fossilled sands.

This poem is one of my favorites in its comparison of the natural and spiritual connection we all have with the earth. The imagery is so beautiful, and makes me feel as though I can almost taste the African setting he describes. It is just one of those beautiful literary pieces that touches every part of you at once.
As for the title relating to the poem, I think the whole story of the poem is about the life cycle, and the bringing of a child into this world. It starts with the consummation of the child, and then the birth into this world of the child, this miracle created by love. It is all a prayer almost to the earth, and a dedication to the child. It sort of relates our all being of the earth, and we will return to the earth again.
He uses many poetical devices throughout the poem, including metaphors and a ton of imagery. One instance that stands out in my mind of a strong metaphor was the line in which he says, "your tongue arch/ to scorpion tail. . ." This beautiful metaphor relates the tongue of a screaming baby at birth to a scorpion tail when it flicks in fear while feeling threatened. It gives us this sense of the child being born with a venomous tongue, that will later on give the parents trouble- as well as providing this image of a flailing tongue of a baby as it clears its lungs and wails in fear of being brought into this world so suddenly. There are tons of examples of imagery, including the moment when he says, "Earth's honeyed milk, wine of the only rib/ Now role your tongue in honey till your cheeks are/ Swarming honeycombs- your world needs sweetening child. . ." In this we get this imagery of taste and touch and sight all in one, making my mouth water at the thought. We can taste this sweet, rare nectar that brings life, and is made solely for that baby. They are of course speaking of breast milk, the sweetness made for that child alone. We can touch the honey as our tongues role in it, and are cheeks fill with honeycombs. Wole does a beautiful job in placing these one after another, but not over doing all the emotions at once. He slips them in, enticing you on by this luring scent the whole poem seems to produce. They give this poem such depth and feeling, pressing us to think what he means, and see these strange literal images that attack our senses, and give us the emotions Wale wants us to feel.
Tone in this poem is joy and wonderment by the birth of a child, and this spiratural journey all involved in it can feel. He connects this miracle of life to the earth, and its fruits that it births forth, as a woman bears a child. The tone is gentle, and connects us to the ground, as if to feel nature being every part of this birth, just as it is every part of any animal or plant birth. He creates this earthy and joyful tone in many of his words, such as baobab, roots, rain, plumb her deep for life, season, fruits, and embrace. All giving us this sense of warm earth joining to bring forth this joyful occasion.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Free Write: Conservation?

DISCLAIMER: This is a story I wrote in response to some recent news I heard six or so months ago. It is a VERY sad short story, and pretty violent.

Heart beat hammering, breath short, muscles aching. Bilo raced from the danger that closely pursued him, his mind in panicked flight as he tore through a thickly wooded hill. Gravity tugged at his lithe body as he plummeted down a steep drop of the hill, feet slipping underneath him on the loose soil. His feet thundered across the forest floor, stumbling over a stone or a dug-up root as he raced for safety. If he just made it back home, he thought desperately, he could be safe, his family would protect him. Escape was all that mattered right now. The danger neared, he could sense it. A shot rang out in the forest, and a bullet ricocheted past his ear, ending it's soar through the air with a bang into a hollow, dead tree. Bilo picked up his race into a lope as he veered in the direction of the lake. Maybe if he took cover in the water, he could escape this terrible evil that pursued him.

What had he done? He just wanted some food. The food had just been sitting around, without anyone to claim it, and just invited him in. When someone wanted to keep their food, they ate it. This food had just been sitting around, without anyone to claim it. It was all fair game for everyone else, seemingly with no owner. It was the way of the woods. All knew it. The hunter had first pick, then the scavengers, then the maggots and insects, and finally the earth and grass fed on its energy. If he gets caught by this angry predator, he'd be a part of that process too...

The lake came into view, and heart fluttered within Bilo's chest. If he got in the water, swimming across could be a safe and quick way of getting back to his family. He wasn't the best swimmer, and neglected to listen to Mrs. Miranai's instructions when he was younger, but no matter. Swimming was supposed to be a natural thing for almost everyone anyway; he'd make it. Another gun shot rang through the woods, but it was far from Bilo, and gave him some comfort of the distance between he and the angered thing that chased him.

Green eyes closed quickly as Bilo lunged from the earth into the frigid waters of Lake Bass. Fish shot in all directions at the sudden disruption in the water's calm surface. His feet paddled desperately in a doggy paddle as he attempted to remember all he had learned long ago. With relief he quickly picked it up, and paddled toward the opposite edge of the water, his head held high to keep water from his eyes and nose. He gasped noisily as he tried to swim faster, tasting the angry creature coming up on him. The animal would soon see Bilo and shoot him with his loud gun, just as his father had been killed before him.

The tall man skidded to a stop at the beach, cursing loudly under his breath as he watched Bilo swim off. He ran along the beach, determined to kill him, and be rid of this trouble. No one stole from him and got away with it. His pistol loaded and ready, he would finish Bilo, and his whole family off right then and there.

Bilo reached the other side, gasping for breath. He listened for a sign of the man, but heard nothing. With a bark of laughter he took of for home, his legs aching from the strain. He heard the voices of his wife, and the playing of his children, and quickened his pace. As soon as he came into view, the whole family greeted him warmly kissing him in excitement of his return. Miss Muranai smiled, her grey hair long and ragged, tangled in thick knots. "How was your swim?" she inquired, noticing the water dripping from a thoroughly drenched Bilo.
"Fine Muranai..." replied Bilo with a nod in her direction, "How were the kids? And Freida? Is my wife back from her walk yet?"
"I'm back," cooed Freida as she wandered toward Bilo, her brown eyes full of warmth.
"Daddy! Watch me tackle Mona!" cried Tela, his black haired daughter, tugging on him for attention.
"NO!" yelped Mona as she raced to get away from her sister. Bilo laughed warmly, glad to be free of the danger that had pursued him.

The howling laughter was enough for the farmer, a sly grin spreading across his face as he raced toward it. He would finish this business once and for all with this nosy, thieving family. He came to the spot in which they leisured about, hiding discretely behind a tree, his rifle ready.

Muranai smelled man first. She growled in response and stood up from her resting spot. Others who lounged about stood as well, including Bilo and Bilo's mother who rested under a tree. It was him. He had lead the evil man directly to his home. "Hurry! Run!" he barked, and turned to face the intruder.

The farmer knew exactly what to do, he stepped out and shot at the group as they attempted to scurry away. First he hit the old gray bitch who stood on a ledge. She had caused him trouble over the years, stealing sheep as Bilo had tried to today. Then, the farmer got the black one in the chest, his hair drenched from his swim earlier. Next were the two whelps, then the mother, her brown eyes full of panic. He finished them all- every last one. His eyes were still keen from long years of shooting practice, and wolf chasing. Slowly, he moved through the massacred, checking to make sure all were done. One of the pups still fidgeted, and he shot again mercilessly, ending its short life.

Finally, it was done. Picking up Freida by teh scruff he grinned. A new fur coat, and some meat for the dogs would be all this pretty bitch would live for. Wolves were better dead than alive these days, especially when they hunted his livestock the way they did. "Thank, God they changed the laws in hunting these sons-of-bitches," growled the farmer, "To think they used to be endangered. They could have been killed off long ago... Gotta love this government. Standing up for the little people, like us farmers...."
With his pistol slung over his shoulder, he turned, walking down the trail back home. He'd come back with the truck and then he'd see what he could do with the wolf pelts and meat. All and all, it had been a productive day on the farm. After all, they were just dumb animals anyway...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Writing and Reading

Since I was young I would make up stories in my head, and tell them to my parents perfectly every time. Once I learned to write, it just became worse and worse. Instead of doing assignments in third grade, I would write stories about an elephant who was lost in the woods, or a tiger who was adopted by a bird. Once I was even sent to the principle's office for not following directions and doing the assignment. I had instead been illustrating my story about a puppy who was lost and then adopted by a little girl named Katie. Often, I would tell my mom of all the secret worlds I found, like the city of trolls that lived under the school. Whenever I heard the rumble of the pipes under my feet in the girls bathroom, I would know it was a troll trying to get up through the toilets into our world. My mom would record my stories, and retells me all my ideas and imaginations that I created as a child. She never punished me for not doing my assignments, but instead writing or drawing, seeing it as a good thing that I knew how to express this creativity that I had.
Nowadays, I still have that over active imagination, and as other people in this class might know, its a hard thing to harnass. Espechially when I am bored in class, I have trouble not writing or working on stories. Often I read books under my desks, and get totally immersed in the novel I am reading. As some people become so into a television show they are watching, and can't hear others who are trying to get their attention- It unfortunately happens to me when I read or write.
I usually read novels, but on occasion I may enjoy a short story or poem. The thing is, I enjoy sort of going into other worlds when I read, and to do that, they need to be longer and more engaging. To me, poetry and short stories are too short for me to become emmersed in the story and for my mind to sort of enter the story and watch it happen. Thats also why I write more novels as well, because I get an idea, and only writing a few pages is far from enough for me to properly convey to an reader who might page through. On occasion, I will write a poem, espechially when I am in need of writing something more personal, and less full-on descriptive sorts of things.
90% of all I write is something I come up with on my own, rather than a school-assigned project. I just get ideas in my head, and I have to put them down or else they won't ever stop bothering me. Usually, the stories I work on never get finished, but its fun getting into the story and putting your ideas out there. In a way, its sort of become an addiction, and its gets to be hard to stop writing an idea once I start. Its the same with novels, I can't ever stop reading easily, and have to make myself set a good book down.
God, I am a nerd.
Whenever I do write, I sort of am intruiged by historical fiction, and realistic fiction sorts of novels... but mainly, I like fantasy-type stories. Mainly because I love the imagination that the writers put out there, and my mind just absorbs them like a sponge. I love just thinking of the possibilities, or "What if?" sort of ideas. Like, what if dinosaurs were brought back by scientists, and there was a theme park you could go and see them at? That is, of course, Jurrasic Park, one of my favorite novels and movies. When I read that book, it opened my eyes to the idea of dinosaurs coming back to this world, and the interaction between two very different species, dinosaurs and humans.
So, all in all, fantasy sort of novels are sort of my love in life. You definitely don't need a lover if you have a really good book to read or write. That's my guess.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Themes are incredibally important in writing. They are what holds a story together, just as they hold our lives together. I think everyone has at least one theme in their life. Whether its to succeed, or their need for money or love, all are themes that we incorporate in our lives. When a story doesn't have a theme, or a purpose, they lose their realism to most readers. They seem to be empty, and ever flowing, without a definite end. As humans I think we need to know and see that definite end in order to be comfortable with something. Our lives have a definite end eventually, and because of that we can be comfortable with the idea of one day passing on. We don't want to pass on of course, but we know its a reality, not just some flighty possibility. In a novel, when a writer places themes in their story, it gives it depth, and personality. You can see the writer's opinions, and ideas through them, and can become more engrossed in their characters and story. Without a meaning, or theme, we get bored, or lost.
When a theme is introduced into a story, the reader sees it. Whether its subconsciously as they turn the pages, oblivious to the writer's opinions sneaking in from between the lines; or consciously, as the reader searches for the meaning, and knowingly finds and absorbs it- there is a theme. This idea of the writers is what holds the novel together and presses the story foreward, spelling out the guidlines to the plot and purpose.
I guess i'm just rambling right now, but yeah. Themes are beyond important, and are one of my favorite things to find in novels.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Early Inspiration in Fantasia

Many, MANY works of art have inspired me throughout my life, varying from all different forms. From "The Baboon and Young," sculpture by Pablo Picasso as one of my favorites at a young age, to my very favorite movie, The Tenth Kingdom. Tons of novels I have read have inspired me as well, such as Huck Finn, To Kill A Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, The Giver, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, The Narnia Chronicals, or any book by Tamora Pierce. All of which have opened my eyes to new ideas and new ways of thinking. In each one a new "what if?" question arose within me and added new chapters to the expanse of my imagination. Songs and artists have changed my view on the world as well, such as System of a Down, Aesop Rock, The Beatles, Gotye, Sia, Tori Amos, Bjork, Bat for Lashes, Nirvana, The White Stripes, Muse, Led Zeppelin, and tons more. They all pried open my mind to new thoughts and ideas. All changing what is music and what sounds good in my eyes. I was raised of Gilbert and Sullivan, opera, various musicals, and of course classical. Ever since I was young my dad would play these in the car, and I would know every part by heart, singing along to every word. I would often beg to listen to classical though as we drove for long periods of time. I loved to use my imagination and watch the dinosaurs or fairies flying past my car and acting out a story in my mind.
But when I think back to what inspired me the most, it wasn't a painting or a song. As a child, what inspired me the most was the movie Fantasia. I would watch that movie every morning around 5 am, and then over and over for the whole day. I loved the classical music, and was familliar with it all, and I adored every imagination filled part of it. Mickey Mouse was of course one of my favorite characters in it, but it wasn't necessarily my favorite part.
From the beginning, when the visuals are based on the instruments, and the shapes, shadows and movements all depend on the music, I learned to possiblities of synchronizing music to stories, and would create a whole narrative of what the different shadows meant. I still remember all the stories I created with the different songs.
Next came the Nutcracker Suite, and the different pieces from the ballet being interpreted through fish, flowers, fairies, mushrooms, and leaves doing the dances and representing each season through their dances. The beautiful drawings and use of inanimate natural things to have personalities awoke something inside of me as well. I would often afterwards collect leaves and flowers and make them dance along to the music.
Then the Sorcerer's Apprentice which of course made me get excited and talk out loud to Mickey, warning him against using the Sorcerer's hat.
Then came the Rite of Spring, which was always one of my favorites as well. I guess they are all my favorites. Anyway, it always made me cry a ton when I saw the stegasaurus die at the hands of the T Rex. It identified this idea of good and evil, and to this day, when I think of the ideas of good and evil, those dinosaurs come to mind. I had trouble watching the part where the dinosaurs die in the desert, but I would watch it through, crying and humming along.
The Pastoral Symphony was by far my favorite with the flying horses, unicorns, cherubs, and centaurs. This was my very VERY favorite part, and changed me completely. I loved every moment of this part, and as I write this I can hear the instruments playing it. Oh, man was I obsessed with this part. I was inspired to draw as well because of this section, and have strived to learn to draw these characters since I was ten.
Then, of course, is La Gioconda: The Dance of Hours, with the alligators, ostriches, hippos and elephants attempting to all to ballet. I loved this one because of the romances between the alligator and the hippo, being a sucker for romance since I was two years old (according to my mother).
Last, but deffinitely not least, was the Night on Bald Mountain and Ave Maria score. Whenever I had friends over to watch it, they would get terrified at this part, but to me it was enthralling I loved every minute, and it opened my mind to the possibility of different faces of evil having a human emotions. I loved it all, and felt for the giant demon, Chernabog, who appeared, and was always sad when the villagers came with their lights and sang Ave Maria, though it was absolutely beautiful, and I would always cry.
Wow, this is getting really long again, and kind of boring. Oh well. I just loved that movie as kid and have developed to be what I am because of it. I guess its a sorta strange thing for a kid of three or four to be obsessed with, and to understand and feel with the characters.
If you didn't read this all here's the summary in a nutshell: My Inspiration since before I can remember = Fantasia.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Troubles in the World

What worries me the most? Well, there are a lot of things that worry me in this world. As teenagers of a country with somewhat of a unbiased network of accessing information, whether it be by news, telephone, and informational books and websites, we are exposed to many problems on our planet. But the most important problem with this world, in my opinion, is this human nature of insensitivity.
It is this distance between people that I believe is the basis of all problems in this world, either in the past of the present. Don't believe me? Look at slavery in England and the United States; The white people treated black people as if they weren't even human, more like scum. Some white people of that time even stated that "negros were not people" in their eyes. Where did this belief spawn from? How could it be possible for humans to do such atrocious things to one another? It is this insensitivity that was sprouted within them, that helped them to be unable to view these people as neighbors, or their own children, but more as cattle ready for the slaughter house. This ability to distance themselves from the reality of human lives being destroyed enabled them to do such terrible things.
More and more, I see people who are so unbelievably disconnected and insensitive to one another, that it makes my stomach churn. Today, there are genocides, and predjudices run rampid, whether they are racial, religious, cultural, economical, or social class predjudices. How could the Hutus of Rwanda massacre hundreds of thousands of Tutsi and Tutsi-sympatizing Hutus? It was the distance they placed between the two due to social standing based on 15th century social statuses. Just that difference allowed them to desensitize themselves from them, and treat the Tutsis as weeds rather than real humans.
Ever since I was little, I have always been obnoxiously sensitive to other people and their feelings, being in tune with the way they are thinking and responding without thinking about it. At the fourth of July parade, I would always make sure everyone else got candy first, and would cry when there was none left for me. I thought as a young girl, that people would share and give just like I loved to do. My parents had to explain to me that people tend to only do things for themselves in this world, and that I had some sort of sensitivity gift or something. Whatever it was they told me, I thought it was a crummy thing for me to have. It stopped me from getting candy! As a older person, I can appreciate this, and have become a pretty good listener, I hope, and maybe more in tune with others emotions and needs.
Though sensitivity comes more readily to some than others, I believe that as humans, we have the ability to open up to others. As more intelligent mammals, we are able to listen and look for people's emotions, and be able to walk in other people's shoes. It's a skill that is hard to tune up, but once it is there, it could be the best thing to happen to you. If just one person tries it, thats one more person to be able to relate to others, and just another step to world peace.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Honest Connection of Reading and Writing

In order to know about yourself, you must know about others. When a person really writes, they are speaking all the words their insides want to say, but their outsides refuse to let out. When you hear someone speak, you can hear what their concious is saying, what is appropriate, and what follows the rules. When one writes, they are saying what they feel, and what they aren't allowed to say by that lawful mind that society gave us. In true writing, the writer feels no remorse or guilt in what they put down, it just comes out in full unabashed honesty that is kept hidden from the rest of the world. When you write, it is just you and that piece of paper you are using, and no other third party to interefere, or edit your words. A true writer can speak honestly to themselves on their thoughts and beliefs, and can translate their thoughts to written words. There are a rare few people who can truely speak their heart as one can when they write, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and many other historical people. These rare sorts can feel their heart, and don't let society control their ideas.
What I mean by all of this, is that when one reads a really good novel, you can hear their heart speaking to you. You can feel their emotions and their opinions, whether they be right or wrong in your eyes. This honesty that we harvest through the reading of other people's works helps your own honest opinions grow and shape. Soon you begin to grow your own inner ideas that you don't dare share out loud. At the point where you can feel your heart flow onto the paper, without a care, that is true writing in my book. Clearly, one can see the connection between reading and writing, the hidden chain that connects all writings and writers together.
Maybe its just that writers are too cowardly to say things to people's faces? Or maybe its because writers want to share with more people at once, through just copying their opinions over and over through a published novel. One can never truely know for themselves unless they try to read and write....