The best I can wish for you is bad luck.

Mean, by Myriam Gurba, is an unabashed comedic recount of the author’s experience growing up in Southern California as a young mixed-race girl. She covers topics from sexual assault, racism, and sexism to reconciling her own sexuality from a young age, all in a tone of deadpan humor. Gurba’s writing style is a combination of poetry and short story prose, which allows her to say a lot in a short amount of space. The first two pages, the short story titled ‘Wisdom’ is an unexpected and brutal story of a rape and murder of a Mexican girl named Sophia Loren. The press described the scene as “the bludgeoning death of a transient in Oakley Park.” This description reduces her to transience and ignores her name. In Greek, Sophia means Wisdom; hence the title of this short story. All of the titles Myriam Gurba chose for her pieces have a significant connection to the message she is trying to relay in each piece, but they are not always clearly spelled out for the reader as it is in the opening story. Can you find a connection between the title of the short story and explain how it is correlated with the message of that particular story? Use quotes from the text to support your claim.

Her father being Polish and her mother Mexican, they each agree to speak to her in their native language as she grew up to help her learn to be bilingual at a young age. This can prove to be confusing for a young mind. She went into nursery school thinking they were all the same language. In the English language there are many words that have more than one meaning. The same is true in Spanish, some words mean different things depending on the context of the sentence, or placing an accent over one letter of the word instead of another can completely change its meaning. The author plays with this concept, jovially in the last paragraph of the short story, ‘English is Spanish.’ She uses Spanish words that have a different meaning if used in a different context and if the accent was not there or in a different place. For example “cómo estas?” translates to “how are you?” and “como éstas” translates to “like these.” Looking at the paragraph, there is a lot of humor which could be lost in translation if you are unfamiliar with the Spanish language. Luckily for me, I am taking Spanish 102 so I was able to translate it without too much difficulty.

“On my first day, yo hablé con mis nursery school maestras usando palabras como éstas because I assumed we all had the same words. I didn’t know I was spewing ciphers fed to me by a foreigner. I didn’t know Mexicans were Mexicans, a category some mistake for subhuman, a category my grandfather mistakes for divine. I thought of myself as a person, and I understood people. People were people, and people talked, and talking was for everyone. Today I understand that words are for everyjuan, but that not everyjuan is for every word, so please, dear reader, si no te molesta demasiado, pass me the metaphorical French fries as you whisper what you wish had been the first un-American words to pass through your uncorrupted lips.” (5)

This paragraph translated in English means:

“On my first day, I spoke with my nursery school teachers using words like these because I assumed we all had the same words. I didn’t know I was spewing ciphers fed to me by a foreigner. I didn’t know Mexicans were Mexicans, a category some mistake for subhuman, a category my grandfather mistakes for divine. I thought of myself as a person, and I understood people. People were people, and people talked, and talking was for everyone. Today I understand that words are for everyone, but that not everyone is for every word, so please, dear reader, if it doesn’t bother you too much, pass me the metaphorical French fries as you whisper what you wish had been the first un-American words to pass through your uncorrupted lips.” (5)

This paragraph, especially the final sentence, is a bit jarring and abrasive as she is directly addressing the reader in such a harsh tone. She also plays with the word ‘Everyone’ changing it, twice out of the three times it is used in the paragraph, to become ‘Everyjuan’ a play on the word to relate it back to Mexican culture.  Were there any other parts in the text that jumped out to you as humorous or caught you off guard, either playing with language or how the author made light of a dark situation?

Reflection:

All of the titles Myriam Gurba chose for her pieces have a significant connection to the message she is trying to relay in each piece, but they are not always clearly spelled out for the reader as it is in the opening story. Can you find a connection between the title of the short story and explain how it is correlated with the message of that particular story? Use quotes from the text to support your claim.

Were there any other parts in the text that jumped out to you as humorous or caught you off guard, either playing with language or how the author made light of a dark situation?

Mean: A Necessary Evil

Myriam Gubra’s mean is an autobiographical account of Gubra’s life growing up as a Mexican-Polish woman in the western U.S.A. Gubra tells stories that range from funny recollections of quirky neighbors to harrowing memories of sexual assault. Throughout the text, Gubra retains the same lighthearted, humorous tone. Gubra is personable, and while I became more invested in her life through reading the text, I began to get the feeling that I knew her personally at some point in my own life. This strange familiarity I found in Gubra made me pity her, especially when she talks about a classmate, Macaulay repeatedly molesting her in class. These feelings of pity are heightened as the attacks become more frequent and more severe. Every time it happens, I am left wondering why she didn’t take her father’s sagacious advice. Why didn’t she chose to be mean?  The advice is given when a young Gubra asks why bad things happen. Her father wisely responds: “Myriam, think of how boring life would be if nothing bad ever happened” (Gubra 16). This was great advice, the kind that lingers in the minds of children and stays with them, even when they have their own families. Although this advice was great, it wasn’t proactive. Sure, Myriam’s story about being groped in class is interesting and scary, but she would have been better off if she didn’t have that story to tell. Sometimes, bad things just happen, whether they be interesting or not, but I think the world can agree that we would all settle for a less interesting life of serenity.

Gubra has a fascinating interest in names and their meanings. This is evident throughout the text, she will name a peer or another significant individual, and then explain the meaning of their name. I only noticed it a few times, no more than two or three, but, nonetheless I thought it was interesting and it stuck with me. The first time is in the very beginning. After she tells the story of a young woman’s brutal rape and mutilation, she gives the meaning of her name, the name that sticks with her and haunts her. Gubra explains: “It appears many times in the Bible: Sophia. In Greek, sophia means wisdom” (Gubra 3).  Another instance of this attention to designation occurs when when she mentions a male classmate. Gubra writes: “One climber, Reymundo, in English, king of the world” (Gubra 14). This example isn’t as grim as the first, as Reymundo was just a daring classmate of hers. His name doesn’t seem to haunt her as Sophia’s does, but, despite this, she thought it was important enough to elaborate on, and this fact alone is intriguing. It left me wondering where she acquired this interest and why is it such a significant aspect of the text.

As Gubra tells stories of her life growing up in the western United States, we learn of the struggles she faced because of her racial identity. Some things were small, imitating the microaggressions we saw  in Claudia Rankine”s Citizen. An example of this occurs when she visits her white neighbors while her mother gives birth, she asks what they’re making for dinner, and the mother responds, cheerfully: “Since you’re visiting, Mexican” (Gubra 6) Although it wasn’t malicious or overtly racist, her decision to prepare her strange rendition of “Mexican food” was without a doubt racially motivated. Although this was a cringe inducing moment of the text, this moment pales in comparison to the blatant racism that Gubra faces at school. She is battered with racial slurs, she notices that white adults treat her differently than they do her white peers, and she is often made out to be the bad guy in race related situations. Gubra tells the story of an altercation between the white and hispanic students. Despite the fact that it was the white students who are berating the hispanic students with racial slurs and other terrible things, when the teachers gather all of the girls together to come to a solution, the outcome is ironic to say the least. Gubra calls the girls out on their racist antics, and they begin to cry. This action prompts the teacher to tell Gubra to apologize. Even after all of the harassment and the name calling, Gubra is the one being blamed. Just because a teacher emphasized with the faces that were more similar to their own, Gubra is told to apologize for defending herself. Although this is disappointing, it isn’t a surprise, these kinds of situations are just another aspect of day to day life for people of color.

Mean is an interesting and somewhat thrilling read, it makes me feel as if i was thumbing through the pages of a comic book, just without the illustrations. Gubra is like some kind of feminist superhero, and I look forward to continuing with her through the text on her coming of age journey.

Questions:

What is the significance of your own name?

Have you ever been in a situation where you were completely right and you still had to apologize? How did this make you feel?

Issue Brief

I chose my found poem on a brief of Trump’s executive order on refugees and travel ban. Without getting too political, I’m going to try and express why I chose this. Last year, when this order was released there was a lot of outrage among the people of the United States. I was one of those outraged citizens. As someone who was fortunate enough to grow up with a little more money than necessary, I was taught to always give and help when I can. I extend these beliefs to foreign policy in political terms. I have always believed–and will continue to–that if there is someone in need of help we should do everything in our power to aid them. To discriminate against seven countries in particular because there is a stereotype around the nationalities and religion amongst those people is inhumane. It’s dehumanizing the people in need of rescue from those countries. I decided to take this brief and turn the words into the reality of not what the United States is facing with immigrants and refugees, but what those who are denied entry to our country are facing back in their home country.

file:///Users/delaneykeenen/Downloads/Trump-EO-Refugees-TravelBan-FINAL.pdf

America’s Most Wanted: The Second Amendment

I chose to do my found poem on an article regarding the events that transpired at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.  A horrific day in history that seems to happen far too often nowadays.  It seems as if a tragedy like this event happens every other day and we’ve become so numb to these horrific murders.

My poem highlights the different aspects, both supposedly good and bad, that contributed to the killing.  Starting with religion, the poem begins the same as any major historical event begins.  One of my favorite quotes regarding religion comes from comedian Jon Stewart, “Religion. Its given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.” In world run by hate, the only justification that people have is faith.  The opposing word from religion is in fact Hate.  I wanted there to be a divide in designing my paper to show the many divisions of this country.  Within the poem it divides “good” terms and “bad” terms, however as a whole it represents the division within our political parties, religions, race, sexuality, genders, etc.  The words underneath Religion and Hate then tell the rest of the story that is American society.  The term “Jews” represents more than those who follow Judaism, but any minority group as well.  Minority groups are being labeled as “invaders”, humanity is injured, Police aren’t keeping us safe from firearms, Liberty comes with a gunshot/bullet, free expression to people means having a handgun collection,  law is relying on killing in order to punish those who kill,  and history of the United States is forever wounded by these horrible acts of violence.  The hate list then continues on much longer due to the representation of hate being the controlling factor of modern day society and it’s future.  In the bottom middle of my poem it shows 2 quotes for our President, of course not offering condolences, but instead stating it was a “terrible, terrible thing” and that an armed guard would have stopped the gunman.  I don’t know why he believes this considering if you add gasoline to a fire you get more fire. I conclude my poem with the number “11” representing the 11 humans who lost their lives in the Tree of Life massacre.  Take note that I said humans and not people, our government doesn’t view us as people.  Their bullets have proven that to us.

“Teachers more than athletes”

For my found poem I used an article called “Teachers should make more than athletes” written by a Kentucky Supreme Court justice,  Bill Cunningham. He discusses the inexcusable fact that athletes, that just play a game to provide entertainment to our country, make quadruple the amount of money teachers make in a year. I used a blackout method to manipulate his article into my poem because I wanted the changes to be dramatic. I also wanted to amplify the importance of the words that were not sketched out. There is one sentence in the poem that is crossed out in a light blue color. This sentence is very hard to read but is still somewhat legible. The sentence is, “Those who teach in special education these days deserve a Purple Heart and a pension.” If the words I tried to make stand out to the reader to persuade them to see the unfairness in the wage gap, I hoped this sentence would open their minds to this concept. My overall goal of this poem was to inform to those who have no knowledge of this event and to persuade those who know of the gap, to see the impact teacher have, and how important their services to our youth really is.  Also, I wanted the reader to understand, as a society, we have to begin to recognize their worth. In doing so, we can help teachers in any way we can whether that is buying a box of tissues for the semester or making sure the child is ready to go to school on time in the morning. We need to begin to recognize how important teachers really are.

http://www.kentuckynewera.com/web/opinion/article_e2217d43-f20c-5061-b918-dd0674ca5e75.html

Head in the Social Media Clouds

Most of us have experienced it

Social media can make us feel good about ourselves

But its air of substance is too often just an illusion

Some of us give ourselves too much credit in general

Admittedly, it is difficult for me to swallow,

As I am guilty of everything I have mentioned.

I chose to speak about an article called Head in the (Instagrammed) Clouds by Isabel H. Evans. This article is about how all of us are basically brain washed by social media. The author makes some good points about what social media is doing but is also targeting everyone like we have the same problems. Although social media can be addictive and time consuming, some people have made their careers off social media. Also, this article speaks about how Instagram distracts you from painfully boring situations as if it is a bad thing. Social media helping us out of these situations is not a bad thing, older people just have it in their minds that us younger people being on our phones is so bad for us. We are constantly told that social media is ruining our social skills because all we know is typing and not speaking to people in real life. I don’t think this is true because it really just depends on your personality and how you are raised. Social media does not affect your social skills or your ego in my opinion. Egotism is a common term used in this article. Just because some people care about likes on a post, doesn’t mean it eats them alive at night, it only matters for that certain moment and then is forgotten about. Social media is not mind controlling and is not changing our lives in a negative way. Although it affects everyone in different ways, it should not be looked at in a negative manner any more than a positive one.

One in a Million

For my found poem I decided to choose the widely controversial song, “One in a Million” by Guns N’ Roses. This song has provoked a large negative audience and caused the band to omit the song from many sets due to racist, homophobic, and anti-immigrant sentiments. The band said they will not change the lyrics because they want to maintain free speech and they believe people are just perceiving their feelings wrong. However, the words from the song, “immigrants and fagots they make no sense to me,” and, “that’s right get outta my way,” strongly suggest a hatred towards immigrants and homosexuals – adding to the controversy surrounding the song.

In my poem I decided to take parts of the lyrics and create a different meaning by turning the words of hatred into an immigrant’s dream of peace. I used the words to tell the story of how many immigrants came in chains (figuratively and literally) and tried to contribute to our country. The words, “we tried / to reach/ you,” are supposed to be the immigrant’s efforts to contribute to a new culture, although they are often underappreciated. To me, the words, “just / one in a million,” can mean an immigrant’s thoughts of surviving and being accepted in the United States. Finally, the end is about the immigrants’ dream of a more peaceful future.

 

You’re so …

For my found poem, I decided to dissect the song “Ur so Gay” by Katy Perry.   When I first heard this song, I could not believe how offensive it was.  It immediately came to my mind to use as a found poem because of its offensive lyrics and overall message.  I cut up the words from the first verse of the song and placed them at the top of my poem.  In the upper right section of the poem there are offensive terms Perry uses to characterize the subject of her song.  The upper left portion of the poem contains personal beliefs regarding what the speaker wants for the subject.  The speaker acts as a bully in this poem, calling out a gay person as inferior because of their differences.  The upper middle of the poem contains other offensive descriptions of what the speaker considers to be a gay person.  My found poem can be read in any direction.  It is meant for the reader to find meaning by reading vertically, horizontally, diagonally, or backwards.  It is up to the reader to understand these offensive terms in their own way.  No matter which way this poem is interpreted, it should always have the same theme of discrimination against gay people.

For the second half of the poem, I decided to focus on the central theme of calling out a gay person.  To the left, I arranged several statements of “You’re so gay” to hone in on how offensive this claim really is.  I believe the repetition implies how much discrimination gay people face and how difficult it is for them to be accepted by the majority of people.  In the center, I included many fragments of “you don’t even.”  This is meant to reflect the confusion of the speaker in understanding his or her subject.  It shows how many refuse to accept gays because of their inability to understand them.  To the right of the poem, I organized the terms “like” and “boys” in several different ways.  Once again, it is up to the reader to interpret these fragments and understand them in whichever ways they see fit.  The central message of my found poem is to highlight discrimination faced by members of the LGBTQ community and to help readers understand the struggles that they face.  

Molly: Both an An Agent of Evil and A Unattainable Dream

For my found poem, I was inspired by a song called “U.O.E.N.O” By Rocko featuring Rick Ross and Future. When this song was first released, there was a lot of controversy surrounding a line in the song that glorifies date rape. The simple fact that the artist assumed that it was okay to lightheartedly condone this violent behavior angers me. As a young woman in college, the fear that this could  happen to me is ever present. Music is highly influential on culture. This is both positive and negative, because while happy music may spread contagious bliss, violent music may incite violent behavior.

In analyzing the poem, I noticed some descriptive language and alliteration that had potential to transform a hideous line into a great story. In the song, Molly is used as slang to reference the substance that is sometimes used to drug an unknowing victim. In my poem, Molly is the name of a girl that the narrator is hopelessly in love with, she invades both his dreams and his reality. Instead of using  Molly to obtain and assault a woman, Molly the nae of a woman who is unattainable.

Link to the original lyrics: https://genius.com/Rocko-uoeno-lyrics

My found poem would not upload either, so here it is typed out ” escape from       the humdrum

remedy the despair       “Of Love

connect with one another.

cut through the isolation of      life.

‘move out

from house to pub to flat to café to house 

to the next

be

a human being with strong passions and good reasons,”

tear                   and remake

something new.”

love

strong

For my article, I decided to stray away from something political that would make me angry. I decided to look at the passing of British poet Judith Kazantzis. An overview of her work and life were described by the New York Times article, and this did make me sad because I have read some of her pieces of work for other classes and quite enjoyed them. Kazantzis was a woman who tried to empower other women, and later in life turned her focus on political issues. These two characteristics are important to me, so I tried to play off of those ideas and focus on connections. Plus, since we are making poems, I thought using an article about a poet was appropriate.

I tried to have the idea of connections come across with this poem. I think that in the world today it can be challenging to be reminded to treat others the way we want to be treated. There is so much hatred, discrimination, intolerance, and drama, that I wanted to emphasize on the idea that love and connections with friends and family are so important. Being “good to your neighbor” and loving unapologetically is something I try to live by everyday, and I wanted that to come through with this.