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Camouflaging the Chimera by Yusef Komunyakaa

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Transcript of Camouflaging the Chimera by Yusef Komunyakaa

Important writers
Definition of Chimera
Vietnam War was the longest war in American history (58,000 soldiers killed and more than 300,000 injured)
1000s left disabled
Vietnam War highly influential
Featured in movies, videogames, music, literature, television
Some movies: Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, and Apocalypse Now
Vietnam War
We tied branches to our helmets.
We painted our faces & rifles
with mud from a riverbank,

blades of grass hung from the pockets
of our tiger suits.
Analysis
Themes:
Black general experience
rural Southern life before the Civil Rights time period
his experience as a soldier(correspondent on the front lines) during the Vietnam War
Books/poems
Copacetic
1984, dealt boyhood and early manhood "I Apologize For the Eyes in My Head"
Dien Cai Dau
1988 (means crazy in Vietnamese, what the Vietnamese called the American soldiers) written 14 years after his tour of service "Facing It"
Neon Vernacular
1993 of the South and its culture, of blacks living in a white world, of war in Southeast Asia, of cities pulsing to the blues and jazz
Komunyakaa's work
Born April 29, 1947
eldest of 5 children of a carpenter
Grew up in Bogalusa, Louisiana before and during the Civil Rights movement
Served in the US army from 1968-1971
Seved 1 tour of duty during the Vietnam War in S. Vietnam
Worked as a specialist for the military newspaper
Southern Cross,
covering stories, interviewing soldiers, and publishing articles on Vietnamese history
Earned a Bronze Star
Began writing in 1973
Yusef Komunyakaa
Tim O'Brien
The Things They Carried
Joan Didion "Taps over Pearl Harbor"
Joseph Heller
Catch-22
Randall Jenner "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner
Kurt Vonnegut "Adam" and
Slaughterhouse Five

Greek mythology: monstrous, fire-breathing creature comprised of 3 animals
Depicted as a lion, with the head of a goat arising from its back and a tail ending in a snake's head
What does chimera mean now?
Modern def: anything composed of disparate parts or perceived as widely imaginative or implausible
Disparate: essentially different in kind, not allowing comparison
Camouflaging the Chimera by Yusef Komunyakaa
From 1941-1975
What events happened or were occurring during this time?
WW 2
Vietnam War (1st war to be televised)
Korean War
Cold War
Characteristics of Era:
Literature that resulted from era dealt with

the effects of the
major wars of that time (WW 2 and Vietnam War)
Themes deal with not only the physical effects of these both wars but also the psychological effects
Literary Era: Remembering the Wars
We tied branches to our helmets.
We painted our faces & rifles
with mud from a riverbank,

blades of grass hung from the pockets
of our tiger suits. We wove
ourselves into the terrain,
content to be a hummingbird’s target.

We hugged bamboo & leaned
against a breeze off the river,
slow-dragging with ghosts

from Saigon to Bangkok,
with women left in doorways
reaching in from America.
We aimed at dark-hearted songbirds.

In our way station of shadows
rock apes tried to blow our cover,
throwing stones at the sunset. Chameleons

crawled our spines, changing from day
to night: green to gold,
gold to black. But we waited
till the moon touched metal,

till something almost broke
inside us. VC struggled
with the hillside, like black silk

wrestling iron through grass.
We weren’t there. The river ran
through our bones. Small animals took refuge
against our bodies; we held our breath,

ready to spring the L-shaped
ambush, as a world revolved
under each man’s eyelid.
Camouflaging the Chimera (1988)
We wove
ourselves into the terrain,
content to be a hummingbird’s target.

We hugged bamboo & leaned
against a breeze off the river,
slow-dragging with ghosts

from Saigon to Bangkok,
with women left in doorways
reaching in from America.
We weren’t there. The river ran
through our bones. Small animals took refuge
against our bodies; we held our breath,

ready to spring the L-shaped
ambush, as a world revolved
under each man’s eyelid.
We aimed at dark-hearted songbirds.

In our way station of shadows
rock apes tried to blow our cover,
throwing stones at the sunset.

Chameleons

crawled our spines, changing from day
to night: green to gold,
gold to black.
But we waited
till the moon touched metal,

till something almost broke
inside us. VC struggled
with the hillside, like black silk

wrestling iron through grass.
Themes/Techniques
Themes
Experience of Vietnam War
Nature
Effects of War
These are but a few themes can you guys name more?
Techinques:
Imagery
Metaphors
What other techniques are used in this poem?

What is the tone of this poem?
Full transcript