Sunday, July 24, 2011

Final Presentation

I chose to make my final presentation on Poetry of Witness. This was the most educational and surprising portion of the class for me. I attempted to summarize poetry of witness in a collage of notes, and give those of you who view this post some questions to think about when reading poems of witness. 

This was a screen shot of the Glog I made using Glogster. 

The link provided to to the original Glog post. I hope you enjoy it!

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Saturday, July 23, 2011


As I reflect on this last 8 weeks, I realize that I have learned some valuable skills. 

Going into the nursing field requires the ability to accurate report information, often times in writing. This course has helped me with punctuation, providing clear thoughts, and critically analyzing information. I also realize how important it will be to "get to the point," and refrain from adding unnecessary information.

The readings for this class were, mostly, enjoyable. The most moving piece of work, for me, was Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried." Most of the assigned chapters were well written, but most of all, his writing style was one I enjoyed. He kept things simple, while challenging the reader with very serious issues. Most of the poems under poetry of witness had the same effect. I enjoyed the fact that they were required readings, since these are not my normal genres of books. I felt like it helped me branch out on my reading and thinking styles.

The biggest challenge for me in this class was the types of readings that were required. I've never been big on poetry, and I've always had the "idea" that poetry should rhyme. When getting started with the poetry of witness pieces, I found it difficult to enjoy them. I also found it challenging to analyze them, and then write an essay about my opinion. I found that by reading the poems three or four times through helped me find a new meaning, or new opinion, each times. This was a very helpful technique.

My writing process has changed some since the beginning of this class. I love the phrase, "So what?" Every time I read it, or hear Mrs. Cline say it, it makes me laugh. I have, however, found that it such an important statement. So often, I find that I may write things that make sense to me, but when someone reads it, my voice wasn't clear. This has been added to my writing process; I'm constantly thinking, "So what?"

I found this website on writing quotes and thought it was another interesting way to view the writing process. I hope you enjoy it as well!

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Annotated Bibliography

Magruder, Kathryn M,M.P.H., PhD., and Derik E. Yeager M.B.S. "The Prevalence of PTSD

Across War Eras and the Effect of Deployment on PTSD: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis." Psychiatric Annals 39.8 (2009): 778,778-788. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 15 July 2011.

This journal article discusses the relationships between combat and non combat soldiers who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The article gives great analytical review of the data gathered from a research study including Vietnam War veterans, Gulf War veterans, and Iraq/Afghanistan War veterans. It shows the likelihood of those serving in combat for our country to develop PTSD. There is substantial difference between deployed and non deployed soldiers. 

Dula, Peter. "The Vietnam War and Theologies of Memory: Time and Eternity in the Far

Country." The Christian Century Dec 28 2010: 37,37-39. ProQuest Research Library.

Web. 15 July 2011 <>.

This is a review done on a book about the Vietnam War. Tim O'Brien is quoted in it, describing the "boredom" of war, but not in the normal sense of the word. It also does a fantastic job describing how the past is never really the past when speaking of a war veteran. It play a substantial part in the thesis of my paper showing that war truly changes the soldier on more than just a physical level. They are constantly stuck in the horrors of the past, and for all intents and purposes, it will continue to be their present.

Bremner, Douglas J,M.D., Southwick, Steven M, M.D., Darnell, Adam, M.D., and Charney,

Dennis S, M.D. “Chronic PTSD in Vietnam Combat Veterans: Course of Illness and Substance Abuse.” AM J Psychiatry 153:3 (March 1996): 369-374. Web. 15 July 2011.

My final source is another discusses the effects of PTSD. The journal article focuses on Vietnam War veterans. This shows the correlation between the amount of time a soldier spent in the war and when PTSD was acquired. It also shows the difference between types of military involvement and the amount of time before PTSD's onset.

I found an interesting site on Tim O'Brien and some of his quotes.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Necessity To Speak

     Both Hamill and Forche have very similar ideas when it comes to poetry of witness. Both views can be applied to the poems that I chose to analyze last week.

     Hamill says that people are responsible for all human issues, whether they directly involve you or not. He believes we must "name names" and be a voice for situations around us. Through poetry, we are able to share with others, and give witness to "human" issues. In "Charlie Howard's Descent" by Mark Doty, this absolutely rings true. Doty writes of his witness to the life of Charlie Howard, and gives evidence of the brutality and "human" issues surrounding homosexuals. "He's fallen for twenty three years,/ despite whatever awkwardness/ his flailing arms and legs assume/ he is beautiful." (Doty lines 33-36) is a perfect example of how we bear witness to an issue that will affect all mankind. Here, Doty shows the pain that Charlie has endured his entire life, and he speaks out; he gives Charlie a voice when Charlie no longer can do that for himself. This idea can also be applied to Bruce Weigl's poem "Song of Napalm." Weigl speaks of his witness to Vietnam; however, more than just the war itself, the actual victims of war. He speaks of the woman "Running from her village, napalm/ Stuck to her dress like jelly" (Weigl lines 25-26), and in doing so, does not allow himself, or anyone else, to forget. Weigl takes accountability for what he, presumably, has done and seen. He shares it with the world; he becomes "the vehicle used by poetry so it can touch us." (Hamill 550).

     Forche holds the same opinion as Hamill, by thinking that poetry is a form of truth. Through poetry of witness, the poet is able to tell their audience what is really happening in the world. The difference I found with the two opinions is that, Hamill believes that poetry can be about any issue, where Forche believes it to be about social issues. What I have witnessed suggest that poetry of witness is about witnessing an event, that often times has an underlying social issue. Both writers have great points of view, and I find that most of what each said rang true. Hamill had a more powerful and persuasive stance because of the issues he described, and how detailed they were. However, they were both insightful, and gave me a new outlook on poetry.

I thought this was a nice website that can help you work on your poetry, if you enjoy writing. The picture I chose is of poetry magnets. They are always fun to play around with on the refrigerator, and give you a subtle way to express you mood at any given time.

Works Cited

Doty, Mark. "Charlie Howard's Descent." Angelfire. 3 July 2011. Web.     /ca4/strawberry/descent.html

Weigl, Bruce. "Song of Napalm." Poetry Foundation. 3 July 2011. Web.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Poetry of Witness

"Charlie Howard's Descent"

Mark Doty's "Charlie Howard's Descent" is an emotionally captivating piece, exemplifying the unjust treatment and judgment of things society does not understand. Mark Doty writes about a man who's way of life is misunderstood, and therefore judged harshly by the community he lives in. "we learn to use the name/because they are there,/familiar furniture;faggot/was the bed he slept in, hard" (23-26) suggests reference to a homosexual man; however, there is much more to learn from this poem. I believe Doty is attempting to symbolize the common occurrence of fear of what we do not understand. Fear leads to violence, thus the evoking such situations to take place.  The ending lines "and blesses his killers/in the way that only the dead/can afford to forgive" (52-54) solidified the poem's meaning. Here it is shown that, though misunderstanding and judgmental acts took his life, the victim is able set aside blame, and forgive his attackers. He forgives their fear; a fear of what they cannot understand. 

"Song of Napalm"

Bruce Weigl's "Song of Napalm" represents the trauma and never ending pain that a Vietnam war  veteran must endure to their last day on this earth. The anguish a veteran may feel for his actions in the field is something a civilian cannot empathize with. This poem gives example to how war affects the people of this world, whichever side they may share. Weigl shares descriptive details of his visions, while showing us that in all truth, no side benefits from war. "We stood in the doorway watching horses/walk off lazily across the pasture's hill." (2-3) suggest he is standing next to someone he is comfortable with, in a different place and time than the war he recalls. Weigl writes "Trees scraped their voices into the wind, branches/Crisscrossed the sky like barbed wire/But you said they were only branches." (12-14) Later he writes, "But still the branches are wire/And the thunder is pounding mortar/Still I close my eyes and see the girl" (21-23) These two verses show me his physical body is not where his mind seems to be, like they have separated. One standing next to his love, and the other trapped in a world of screams. pain, suffering and terror. He ends his poem with a statement of truth, though a difficult one to accept. "And not your good love and not the rain-swept air/And not the jungle green/Pasture unfolding before us can deny it." (43-45) To conclude with such a statement shows the unforgettable event that is war.
I chose both poems because each had a significant meaning to me. My mother had a friend when she was young that was bound and thrown off a dock in Florida, with weights tied to his boots. The other because I used to work in a nursing facility for veterans. One of my favorite, and most interesting residents was a medic in the Vietnam war. He spoke many times of the blue bodies from Napalm, and was severely traumatized from it. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in. Hopefully that can change...

Works Cited 
Weigl, Bruce. Song of Napalm
Doty, Mark. Charlie Howard's Descent

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Summary Vs. Analysis

What exactly is the difference between a summary and an analysis, if any at all? The two are actually quite different from one another. Let us take a look at the two and see what we find.
A summary is a quick recap of the events of a story. While writing a summary, there is very little imagination or thought required. You are not examining the text, or looking beyond the superficial meaning of the story. You simply condense the story into a few short paragraphs or pages, and touch on the highlights. A summary is not something that can be argued with, it is not opinion, just fact. 

An analysis is an examination of the meaning behind the words of a story. During an analysis, you look deeper into each aspect of the story, and find “hidden meanings” or subliminal messages. An analysis may have a short summary included, so the audience understands what the analyst is claiming, but it is not the main focus of the analysis. Analyses can be argued with, and are based more on an opinion of the text. When a statement cannot be argued or disagreed with, it cannot be called an analysis, but instead a summary.

Here is a good link that explains summary vs. analysis. Obviously, this was used as a handout to writing students, so I thought it appropriate for this post. 

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