Olive Seniors Decision To Abandon Poetic
According to freedictionary.com, poetics are having a quality or style characteristic of poetry, conventions are a widely used and accepted device or technique, as in drama, literature, or painting. So, placed together, poetic conventions would be characteristics or styles of poetry that are widely used and acceptable as devices or techniques. The Oxford dictionary defines detriment as harm or damage and abandon as to give up a practice completely. So the moot could be re-worded to be: Be it resolved that Olive Senior's decision to completely give up the practice of using styles of poetry that are widely used and accepted as devices and techniques were to the harm or damage of her work.Senior's decision to give up conventions were harmful to her work, in that her moving away from conventions made her work target to only a specific group of people, namely Caribbean people.
Conventions also make for better analysis which her poems lack. The lack of conventions causes her poem to lose their appeal and also makes her poems come out too literal and thus make it difficult to derive figurative meanings.Oliver Senior is a post colonial writer and also Caribbean by birthright. She therefore makes it her duty to bring forth all the issues, struggles and sufferings of Caribbean people under the colonization of the Europeans. She writes about issues that are common to the Caribbean people.
Her poems are written for the Caribbean audience and as such her dialect is Caribbean English and also Creole. While this is admirable of her, we cannot forget the fact that poetry should not be bounded to one people. Poetry should be universal and thus any person should be able to understand or at least appreciate the dialect or experiences related to in the poem.
A writer should write poetry bearing in mind that her audience is universal; her poems should communicate to all readers.In the poem 'Hurricane Story, 1988', a mother and by extension, a higgler, goes through a series of misfortunes due to the after effects of a hurricane, which destroyed her livelihood. In this poem Senior makes use of Creole terminologies. She uses words and phrases such as 'bend-down', 'junjo', 'ban her belly and bawl', 'Lwad!' and 'to raatid'. These words are common to the Caribbean society and Jamaica in particular.
A reader who is unaware of the Creole terminologies would not have gotten the full meaning of the poem and subsequently would have no idea of the struggles that this woman was facing. For example the phrase 'ban her belly and bawl', which would highlight the distress and pain this woman was experiencing at losing her livelihood. A non-West Indian would not have understood this and therefore would not thoroughly understand the poem, which would be to the detriment of Senior's work.
Also the 'banking between breasts' would not have been understood by some readers since the putting of money in ones breast for safe keeping is a Caribbean tradition. Therefore the fact that she mentions the mother's breast were shrivelling would have meant nothing to an ignorant reader and the whole essence of Senior trying to convey that the mother had lost everything would have been lost.The use of conventions makes for better and easier analysis since the reader would be aware of the specific devices to look for when analyzing the poem. Senior chooses to refrain from using conventions such as meters and rhymes. Her poems lack structure and where she uses symbols; they are not conventional symbols. As a post colonial writer her poems are a form of rebellion to the conventions she was taught.
So in rebelling she excludes a majority of the human population, writing for the Caribbean, on behalf of the Caribbean, and while this puts her in an admirable light in the Caribbean, it completely destroys her work outside of that geographical setting. The poem 'Hurricane Story, 1988', is the poem in which she utilises rhymes the most: 'Catch, match', 'talk, sidewalk', 'damp, decamp' and 'shrinking, thinking' to name a few. Here, a reader can easily identify the types or rhymes evident in her poems and her use of rhymes pulls the reader's attention to her poem, since there is rhythm and people generally respond to rhythm.In the poems 'Pineapple' and 'Meditation on Yellow', she uses non-convention symbols.
For example in 'Pineapple' the symbol pineapple symbolises the indigenous people and their diverse personalities. "With yayama, fruit of the Antilles we welcomed you to our shores," in contrast to, "...not knowing each headdress of spikes is slanted to harness the sun's explosion..." it shows their welcoming and hospitable side but also their warlike and defensive side. However, pineapple is also slang for the hand grenade. A person who doesn't understand the Caribbean symbolism of pineapple would not be thinking it referred to the people but more that she would be talking about a hand grenade; in which case the entire essence of the poem would be lost thus putting her work at a great disadvantage.
Also in the poem 'Meditation on Yellow', she uses yellow to symbolise a number of things such as innocence, "...child-like in the yellow dawn of our innocence..." here the colour yellow usually symbolic of the sun, is used to express the ignorance and naivety of the indigenous people. In another instance yellow represents the persona's frustrations and aggravations, "...our piss was exactly the same shade of yellow," here she uses yellow to suggest that something as inconsequential as urine is common between both race. Yellow in this poem also suggest suppression, "I want to feel mellow in that three o'clock yellow," when here the workers are forced to work when they would much rather be relaxing, this however is not the situation since they have people to tend to.
Since the symbol yellow here is not used in it conventional meaning, people ignorant of Caribbean history would be ignorant of the other various symbolism for yellow, which would again cause people to lose essence of Senior's work.Senior's move away from conventions subtracts the aesthetic pleasure that most conventional poems produce for readers. It also deprives readers of the opportunity to critically analyse her poems to their full effect due to the fact that her poems lack sufficient rhymes, structure, figures of speech and other writing techniques. Certainly people would gravitate towards more towards 'Hurricane Story, 1988' where she makes use of internal and end rhymes giving the poem rhythm and character.
In this poem she also uses alliterations, "...ban her belly and bawl...," expressing the woman's grief and sibilance such as, "Since the storm, things so tight her breast shrivel." However, in "Amazon Women" it seems to be more of a short story and less of a poem. Firstly since it a narrative, secondly she does not use stanzas, so she disregards poetic structures and meters. She implements no rhymes and though she implements a sufficient amount of metaphor other conventional devices such as similies are not used.All of these are also shown in "Hurricane Story, 1903" were it is also a narrative and there is an absence of stanzas and a more paragraph looking structure.
It is evident of her lack of poetic structure throughout both these poem, as you can follow Senior's thought process in the poem, which would be a more common occurrence in short stories. For example in "Amazon Women" she uses aposiopeses, "(you know how men stay)" and "(though I'm not sure I would want my girl raised by a band of women outlaws keeping company with jaguars)". These show the lack of structure in her poems as she often includes her thoughts, as it may seem, almost sub-consciously. Senior herself recognises in this poem how her lack of coordination has placed her at a disadvantage since here she ends up speaking not about what she truly intended, but the unparallel thoughts of her mind. "But you see my trial! I'm here gossiping about things I never meant to air for nobody could say I'm into scandal.
I wanted to tell of noble women..." She herself admits how her lack of conventions of following poetic structure has made her stray from what she wanted to talk about and her readers loosing the essence of what she really wanted to say thus demeaning her work.Senior's poems due to lack of poetic conventions can often come off as too literal. This is evident in "Hurricane Story, 1988" and "Amazon women." In these poems she omits the usage of similes and metaphors, replacing them with internal monologue and aposiopeses. This in turn again makes the poem more story-like. And due to lack of poetic devices there is nothing to compare to the situations in the poem thus the reader has no choice but to take what Senior says at face value. They are no given the chance to explore deeper meanings, since Senior gives no means in which to do that.It is our stance that due to rebellious refusal to adhere to poetic convention Senior's work has suffered as a result of it.
Firstly her poem could not be appreciated outside of the Caribbean, since people would not understand the dialect that she chooses to use. Her lack of conventions makes her poems harder to analysis and wrong impressions and assumptions maybe derived. So often her poems lose their appeal since people's attention is not grabbed by them due to a lack of rhymes and rhythm. And finally lack of conventional devises make her work too literal and makes it harder to derive deeper means.
It is with these points that we put forward that Olive Senior by moving away from conventions has indeed put her work at a great disadvantage, thus being a detriment to her work. We rest our case.
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