Thursday, July 19, 2007

Post #99: Freedom Sestinas

My second year of Literary Arts at Carver was spent studying the different forms of poetry and the different disciplines of other genres of writing such as scriptwriting and fiction.

I hate(d) scriptwriting. I feel so confined by all the rules; the format alone is enough to make someone like me (the messy, piles of paper and clothes on the floor type of gal) go insane. I ultimately allowed myself to soak up enough of the formatting to get an A on my final presentation but to this day, if you ask me how many spaces are needed from the indentation of the left in order to begin a character's dialogue as opposed to the fade-in opening description...yeah, well, you've shit outta luck buddy.

But what I hated even more were sonnets...iambic pentameters were the Desert Storm of my sophomore year. You went in thinking you'd only be there for a little bit (because how hard is it to rhyme some words?) and blinked only to realize you had been sucked into a Shakespearean vortex of hell - iambic pentameter beats throbbing in your eardrums - your nightmares surrounding you with clouds of triolets, couplets, stanzas, quatrains all suspended in the air ramming into the side of your head with their perfect rhythmic structures, their deliberate forms and rhyme schemes. Once in a while shocking you into resilence with a volta here and there.

Just when I began a deathly suffocation into the further restrictive poetic forms, Mrs. BBB threw us all a curve ball: the sestina.

"The sestina is said to have been invented by the troubadour poet Arnaut
Daniel. It was widely used by his followers, as well as by Dante and
Petrarch in Italy. The word troubadour comes from the Provencal word
trobar, meaning "to find" or "to invent in verse." The troubadours were
travelling French poet-musicians, some of them noblemen or
crusader-knights, who flourished from the end of the eleventh century
through the thirteenth century."

-from "The Handbook of Poetic Forms"

I fell in love. NO iambic pentameters. NO rhyming words. Freedom. FREEDOM in
poetic form.

So without further ado:


At night my birthmother's spirit teaches me her language
and most times my tongue twists itself into knots, other times it dances
over the rhythm of the words. This is when I become one with my culture
and spill my worries into the "yah" and "yo" endings of
the Korean proverbs my birthmother tries to teach me. And
I pray that if the words posess me enough they will make me beautiful.

It is from my birthmother's womb that I first prayed to be beautiful
like her. To have hair like hers, so soft and smooth like the language
that poured from her lips to soothe me at night. I frustrate and
chide myself for being unable to remember the songs she sang so I might dance
as she did in fine Hanbok silks, fans flutering against her gentle face to songs of
hope - that each step might help me remember more of the culture.

I was forced to leave behind in that tiny village in Seoul where culture
runs through the market streets and invades the air with the beautiful
sounds of the Han street drums. My blood rushes to these sounds in search of
finding myself locked in the beat and the shouts of the language
filling my ears. Maybe with them will come whispers that I can dance
too; forgetting that my legs were not fit for dancing and

stomping my lame foot as hard as I can on solids ground, my heart and
soul will pour into this world. Into these people that are my culture
and are the closest I get to breathing my mother's scent and dancing
with her in the streets. I hope I look somewhat beautiful
for my birthmother when we clutch hand-in-hand, and share secrets in our language
that I can finally understand. Like how both our legs seem to be made of

the devil posts stuck in the mud outside each village. And of
how our eyes close when we lift our lips to smile and
she will tell me why the lnie in my palm stops halfway. Her language
is now mine as well. I no longer doubt that this is my culture
or that my body, with my small eyes and devil post legs, is anything less than beautiful
compared to hers. I admire how we both look in the light as we dance.

I want to be like my birthmother, and own her hps when she dances
so gracefully, shifting her weight from side to side in hopes of
catching a glimpse from my father whose eyes are just as beautiful
as hers. I wish to be there when he takes her in his arms and
they remind me how much I am a part of this culture
because I now share these secrets, share their blood, in our language.

And this is how I dream for it to end; hangul pouring from my lips so that my child may dance
to the rhythm of the culture that I learned of from the soils of my beautiful home country
and the soils of my birth.

1 comment:

goosey said...

Dang, girl, you still remember all that shit. It's amazing how many brain cells you DIDN'T kill, haha, if u know what I mean...