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Clara Burghelea

Reading Response
February, 2nd 2017
EN 641 001

Dear Lydia,

I love this portrait of womanhood that points to different instances of becoming. On one hand, it

reads like a letter to the self, on the other hand, it is a manner of keeping record of those

moments that stand in time. I appreciate the structure that makes it easier to navigate and also

points to very separate age sequences. The middle, the age of twenty-eight, is where the moment

of introspection occurs and it takes the persona back in time but also has things projected into the

future. The poem is strikingly honest and suggests a full understanding of body and self alike.

The little details like “foam curlers” and the “Ruby Woo lipstick” give a genuine, distinctive

voice to the poem. I love the use of the second person that underlines the tone of self-addressed

note but at the same time, gives it a universal stance.

Clara Burghelea
Reading Response February, 2nd 2017
EN 641 001

Dear Michelle,

This is a very sensual poem that speaks of the hands as the object of desire. It is interesting how

both the title and the beginning of the poem speak of “hands”, yet in the poem, the pen and the

visual sensations take precedence. The pen is called “that unremarkable object”, yet its presence

is not accidental since a pen brings fingers to life in a different way than a cigarette or a lipstick,

for instance. To the persona, the pen comes to life touched by the fingers holding it, and the ink

that “rushes past the knuckles” is a metaphor for the flush of emotions. Words like “nestled”,

“cradle”, “blessed” which suggest a soothing sensation make an interesting contrast with

“manipulation”, “beggars” and “masters” which suggest teasing and power. The poem strikes

vivid imagery with the sensual, tactile and visual references. Great piece!
Clara Burghelea
Reading Response
February, 2nd 2017
EN 641 001

Dear Matt,

This poem has a very Kafkaesque tone. Instead of having a first-person narration of a man

waking up as a monstrous large insect, we have an outer observer pointing to the

metamorphosis/replacement of Sue Mitchell into/by a family of medium-sized alligators. The

tone is so natural and self-explanatory that the reader naturally accepts the conventions of the

narrative. I love the metaphor of addressing the question of identity in such a manner and the

poem’s invitation to ponder on empathy and how it feels walking into someone else’s shoes, as

scary as this might seem. I like how the poem slightly questions point of view and how

appearances are deceptive and how the persona does not take sides but rather acknowledges the

possibility of having been mistaken. I understand the “scales” reference in the title as a way of

measuring things but also pointing to the reptilian looks. Does “months” refer to the time frame

from the persona’s perspective, namely how long it took him/her to realize the Sue Mitchell


Great job!
Clara Burghelea
Reading Response
February, 2nd 2017
EN 641 001

Dear Sarah,

I love how this poem speaks of suffering in a beautiful way. Using a combination of scientific

and linguistic terms, the poem depicts the frail grandmother and what she means to the

granddaughter. I like the imagery of the poem in the way it tells the grandmother’s story by

drawing a fictional map over her scalp. The structure is visually flowing, following the fingertips

that go from forehead to the back of the head. Every inch of skin is connected to some memory

and it feels as if the granddaughter has somehow penetrated inside the skull, in the depth of the

memories. In paying homage to the grandmother, the granddaughter is acknowledging her

heritage and humanizing the disease, by making it personal and caring. Loved it!
Clara Burghelea
Reading Response
February, 2nd 2017
EN 641 001

Hi Choya,
This is a poem meant to get you in good spirits and looking forward to the day. I loved the

repetition of “so happy” and the unseen progression of the wish. Does the number of the “so

happy” lines in the poem point to a certain age? If so, it made me think of the candles on a

birthday cake, each of them a wish to make before blowing. I also liked how happiness was not

only about body or soul but also, about a higher purpose and it showed how the persona was

trying to find her place in the middle of things, stay there and be happy. I noticed the use of

contrasting words: little/big, internal/external, body/soul and I believe they point to the persona’s

hidden fear of any shadow spoiling happiness. All in all, I find it to be innocent and positive, like

a “to do list” for happiness, a universal one, yet with a very personal touch.

Great job!
Clara Burghelea
Reading Response
February, 2nd 2017
EN 641 001

Dear John,

I loved how the narrative of the poem took me by surprise. The “real, literal blood” in the

beginning only made sense at the end and this circular structure of the poem, where you moved

an invisible aerial camera over the community shower, the girl’s life and into her mind and heart,

really caught my eye. You have once again the ability of a director in the way you build up your

imagery. Also, the last sentence in the poem made me wonder whether it was the same girl,

namely her voice of reason, or it was someone else who listened to her tell the story or witnessed

the suicide attempt. I love poems that tell stories and make you think of the various

interpretations and facets of the narrative. I think you chose your words carefully and made some

interesting analogies such as the flash of stardom and that of the razor blade. At the same time,

you beautifully captured the feeling of helplessness of the girl and raised empathy in the reader.

Great job!
Clara Burghelea
Reading Response
February, 2nd 2017
EN 641 001

Dear Mike,

As usual, your poems are well-penned, so to speak. I like the way you play around with structure

and words, insinuating and suggesting, rather than plainly naming things. From the poem, I get

the Poet is equally concerned about his pen and collection and very much aware of their

importance. What is more interesting to me is the way you managed to capture such a small,

everyday moment and render its nuances in the poem, building its narrative arc. Also, it made me

wonder about the kinds of concerns and conversations people have when in such a private

moment. This is a level of self-awareness I aim at, as well as at the ability to capture life in its

rawest moments. Good one!

Clara Burghelea
Reading Response
February, 2nd 2017
EN 641 001

Dear Anna,

This is an honest, sweet prose poem on love. Love goes hand in hand with growing back hair in

small patches and I believe this is the true progression here. I like how you introduce this strong

woman by speaking of her as a child with ”honey blonde” curls, then a young high school

woman with “flowy blonde” hair and finally a mother going through a crucial moment in her life

and losing her “pixie length” hair to chemo. This is a brave poem that speaks of strong bonds on

one hand, but also about how we culturally feel toward this piece of our body. Much as hair is

gradually introduced and described up to the moment of complete loss, the small patches in the

final sentence are seen as a sign of hope.

Thank you for the courage of sharing this!