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Poetry Analysis Project

Garrett Hongo

This Guy

on 11 April 2011

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Transcript of Poetry Analysis Project

Garrett Hongo Poetry Analysis Project AP English Literature & Composition 12
Nelson Lu born in 1951 on Volcano, Hawai'i
Japanese-American poet

attended Pomona College and University of Michigan
received Master of Fine Arts Degree (MFA) in English from University of California at Irvine

currently Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Oregon at Eugene, where he directed the Program in Creative Writing from 1989 to 1993 Published 3 books of poetry:
(1982) Yellow Light
(1988) The River of Heaven
(1995) Volcano: A Memoir of Hawai'i Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets

finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry 2006 Oregon Book Award for Literary Nonfiction Hongo has received fellowships from: Guggenheim Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Rockefeller Foundation.
The Life Before born in Hawaii but moved to California with his family when he was six years old

attended a racially mixed high school

lived in Los Angeles in a working-class neighbourhood exposed to the urban street life and cultural alienation; difficulty finding a job as an American of Japanese descent influenced his poetry work "EruptionL Pu'u O'o"

"Four Chinatown Figures"

"The Pier") having been raised in Los Angeles, Hongo reconnects with his family's past through this book by recreating the Hawaii and California during the time of his father and grandfather

recalls the story of his quiet, philosophical father who contends with feelings of alienation and displacement.

Hongo identifies with these same feelings and uses his father's story to understand himself better Effect of Alienation on his Work most of his poetry expresses the bitterness of prejudice he experienced as a Japanese-American

addresses the trials and mistreatment of immigrants, including the forced internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II

also mentions the anti-Japanese sentiment that is still present today

since most of his poetry are based on history and from his own memory, his poems are usually anecdotal first-person narratives that are in the form of character studies Back to Volcano desired to return to Volcano, Hawai'i

along with his wife and infant son, Hongo settled in a cottage in the rain forest below the summit of the Kilauea Volcano

revisited the general store there that was once owned by his grandfather and reunited with old family friends began to reconnect with the human culture he was born into but was pulled away from at an early age
found his own culture where "nothing was without its meaning or its memories" (Garrett Hongo) explore the experiences of Asian-Americans in Anglo society Several works based on environments in his past: volcanoes of Hawai'i urban streets of Los Angeles California beach after the death of his father Hongo's Poetry The Legend (1988) Thank you for listening! A bit of background... poem written during unhappy state
struggling to find work as a graduate student in literature
watched television program on random street violence, which had a segment on an Asian man who was accidentally shot on the street but whose identity was treated as anonymous and unimportant
inspired Hongo to write "The Legend"
writing this poem was an influential moment in life for him because it led him to leave his graduate studies to write a book of poems Imagery Poetry Analysis Tone Theme Allusions uses detailed images to convey story
"In Chicago, it is snowing softly" (line 1)
"twilight of early evening" (line 3)
very skinny, dressed as one of the poor in rumpled suit pants and a plaid mackinaw, dingy and too large (lines 14-16)
"in the light array of foot traffic dappling the snow with fresh prints" (lines 36-37)

"I read about Descartes’ grand courage to doubt everything except his own miraculous existence and I feel so distinct from the wounded man lying on the concrete. I am ashamed" (line 38-43)
- René Descartes (1596–1650), a French philosopher associated with the European Enlightenment
- narrator feels "distinct" from the Asian man because he is philosophical and safe at home while the Asian man from working-class is shot and dies on the street
- however, the narrator is "ashamed of this privilege and feels pain for the dying man
"There’s a Rembrandt glow on his face" (line 9)
- the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669)
- the colour of the man's cheeks are compared to Rembrandt's paintings
- reveals the knowledge and cultural sophistication of the narrator
"opens the Fairlane’s back door" (line 19)
- car identified as a Ford Fairlane
- cars have names while pedestrians are anonymous
- superficial concerns in America during the period
"Let the weaver girl cross the bridge of heaven and take up his cold hands" (line 45)
- Heavenly Weaver Girl from old Chinese mythology
- the Asian man will finally receive love and acceptance in death (lines 1-10) - happy and tranquil
diction: softly, warm, flow

(line 11) - tone changes as "last flash of sunset blazes the storefronts and lit windows of the street -> ominous foreshadowing

(line 21) - "and turns, for an instant, toward the flurry of footsteps and cries of pedestrians" -> action intensifies

(line 30) - sense of pity and remorse

(line 38) - tone becomes more calm as narrator exposes his thoughts

(line 44) - tone changes one last time as narrator moves away from speaking about his thoughts to praying to the heavens for the dying Asian man the narrator knows what the Asian man is feeling but is not completely omniscient
"He is Asian, Thai or Vietnamese" (line 13) language focuses on external aspects but reveals internal state of the Asian man

"a wrinkled shopping bag full of neatly folded clothes...enjoys
the feel of warm laundry and crinkled paper" (lines 5-7)
comfortable and content

"flurry of footsteps and cries of pedestrians" (lines 22-23)
state of panic and confusion

"his cold hands" (line 46)
lonely until death Alienation/
Discrimination of immigrants in America Poet questions his own ethnic identity whether he is Japanese, Native Hawaiian, or American
"He is Asian, Thai or Vietnamese" (line 13)

mixing of Asian and Western cultures
references to "American Ford Fairlane" and "Chinese Weaver Girl" Asian man remains nameless throughout the entire poem

the city of Chicago is depicted as cold and dark
he is alone and lacks friendship and human contact

"The noises he makes are nothing to them" (line 34)
victim of random street violence but the crowd gathered does not understand his suffering
no individual comes forward to help or provide human warmth to the dying man on the cold night

"The boy has gone, lost in the light array of foot traffic" (lines 35-36)
murderer simply walks away, crime is ignored
justice will not be served for the Asian man
Full transcript