For my found poem assignment, I chose to use a hateful post on Facebook that is against transgender people. It poorly discusses the event of a tampon company offering non-gendered packaging. The author of the post uses “sensitive cry baby” in nearly every sentence and I found it comical because they are implying that transgender people are being sensitive cry babies over something as simple as a product, and yet the author of the post is actually the one making a huge deal out of it. I decided to use their own words against them.
The beginning of the poem is in red to signal the author’s nasty dialogue and in the end I switch to black where I cut them off and throw their own words in their face, proving that they are, in fact, the sensitive cry baby flipping out over a simple product. I felt extremely angry creating this because I don’t understand why people have to be so hateful (hence ripping the paper instead of cutting it). If you don’t agree with something, fine, but don’t actively seek out a way to attack innocent people. Also, “feminine” was capitalized in my poem to show that tampons are advertised as “female”. It has been this way throughout history, but history is changing and if a tampon company wants to show support for the lgbtq+ community, then that is something to be celebrated. No one is being forced to buy them. By all means, go spend your money on the frilly pink box that advertises periods as an incredible and happy experience! This activity made me see how powerful words can be. They do so much more than teach. They are able to create empathy and feelings of distress or fury. It’s fascinating to me and I thoroughly enjoyed creating this poem. It was a great outlet for my anger too. I felt a lot better after spending time ripping apart the words.
In this literary piece, Zong!, language is a subject that is brought up quite often. In school we are taught how to write and read. We must not use run ons, fragments, must have proper grammar and punctuation, but most of all, we must make sense. If we do not follow these rules, then we might appear uneducated.
Zong M. NourbeSe Philip challenges our ideas of language. He states that, “I deeply distrust this tool I work with— language.” (197) and goes on to explain that historical events are often changed or portrayed in a way that is not true, as with the case of Zong. The African slaves on the ship were not even written as people, but objects, chattel, property. Philip stresses the importance of grammar— how it can change a topic so drastically if used in the right way. If we were to look at the argument the captain made in his case, we can see that the murders of the slaves on Zong were discussed, but not in a way that was right. Language here has power.
The way that Philip talks about language makes it come alive. In the beginning of Zong! the words do not really make sense and we find out later that this was purposeful. Philip explains that he wrote the text in a way that he literally cut words up, used violence against them as was done to the slaves. They are strewn about the page, making the reader feel disoriented. To me, this was a beautiful point in this literary piece. Language is alive. It can be used in so many ways and even just a few words can represent a larger picture. The way the words were acting as the African slaves is a work of art. Sometimes it is a stronger statement to stray from formal ideals of writing. Instead of forming a poem in a typical line-by-line format, Philip manipulated the structure and therefore made his language so much more powerful.
- How did the way Philip set up his poem make you feel? (What thoughts went through your head as you read it?)
- Do you feel that language can have its own mind or do we (humans) give it one?