Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Poem #16

Resume' by Dorothy Parker

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

I really like this poem. I don't know anything about Dorothy Parker except I quote that I've read that is attributed to her: "I don't know anything about being a millionaire, but I bet I'd be darling at it." Isn't that a great quote? Don't we all feel that way? Given the chance to be filthy rich, wouldn't we be gracious and generous, darling yet down to earth?

One thing I like about the poem is the rhythm. It goes along at a happy little clip, contrary to the subject of the poem. And while subject is heavy, the end is hopeful.

My favorite thing about the poem though, is the title. At first, I skimmed over the title not letting it affect my reading of the poem. Without the title, the poem seems almost hopeful in its delivery. Don't go to all those dark places, just make the best of it. But, with the title, the reader is forced to reckon that the speaker of the poem has tried each of those things. Much the way an employee puts projects and undertakings on their resume', the speaker of the poem does the same in this poem.

This poem reminds me of a Langston Hughes poem I used when I taught middle school English. When we talked about the importance of titles, I'd use one of his poems. I'd write it on the board and cover the title up by taping up a sheet of paper. I'd ask the students to write about the poem for five minutes and we'd discuss. Then, I'd uncover the title and ask them to write again about the poem. Then, we'd discuss how our readings were changed by the title.

The calm,
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.

Read it and think about what the poem evokes for you. Then click on comments and read the title, seeing how that changes your reading of the poem.

Class dismissed.