Loading presentation...

Present Remotely

Send the link below via email or IM

Copy

Present to your audience

Start remote presentation

  • Invited audience members will follow you as you navigate and present
  • People invited to a presentation do not need a Prezi account
  • This link expires 10 minutes after you close the presentation
  • A maximum of 30 users can follow your presentation
  • Learn more about this feature in our knowledge base article

Do you really want to delete this prezi?

Neither you, nor the coeditors you shared it with will be able to recover it again.

DeleteCancel

A Quest to Understand the Mind of Guest

No description
by

Najla Bhuiyan

on 30 April 2016

Comments (0)

Please log in to add your comment.

Report abuse

Transcript of A Quest to Understand the Mind of Guest

Interviewer
I see. That makes sense. Judging by your explanation, your writing choices seem clear and intentional. Yet many readers still aren’t convinced that your poem is as profound as you say. That is, until we realize that your poem seems like a series of conscious sequences during a dream. This is why you keep making seemingly nonsense associations and keep using the refrain “sleep is 20.” The depiction of these associations may be a form of self-psychoanalysis as you try to understand it all. Perhaps the entirety of 20 is all a dream in your head that you, like us, are trying to put into words. Would you say my claim is accurate or rubbish?

Barbara Guest
Yes, and my choice of the word droning was deliberate. It not only has multiple meanings, but evokes a sense of lethargy and tiredness. Doesn’t it?

Interviewer
I agree. Your abstract style is much like wandering, especially in your use of spaces. You use fragmented clusters of lines and seemingly random spaces. But I think that these spaces are not random, but instead add to the poem’s complexity.

A Quest to Understand the Mind of Guest

By Najla Bhuiyan
Barbara Guest
I’d say you’re leaving the literal and “wandering” closer to the intention of “20.” But I can’t answer your question, because it’s up to your interpretation. Nonetheless, good job.

Interviewer
I completely agree. I find this part very interesting: “Sequences / —I’ve got going a twenty-act drama / the theatre of the active / the critics are surely there / even the actors / even the flowers presented onstage / even the wild flowers picked by the wife of the goatherd / each morning early (while I sleep) / under the snow cone / of Sierra Nevada” (17-27). You mention the word sequences, and sequences make up your entire poem. That was definitely deliberate. The number 20 is also used in another way—to quantify the number of acts in the drama. This whole stanza is you going off on a tangent. You use associations to find your way back to the Sierra Nevada line. It’s just like the example you used with the train.
Interviewer
I’m starting to see what you mean. A herd of sheep under Sierra Nevada certainly does make me feel sleepy. Now I want to talk more about how language and the city are related.

Interviewer
And the flowers seem to be the most recurring: “Yellow caps like castanets / I reach into my bouquet / half-dreaming / and count twenty / yellow capped heads / flowers clicking twenty times” (28-33). The yellow caps of the flowers in the bouquet are like the yellow castanets. You say you are half-dreaming, perhaps to reference the fact that the whole poem is a dream. You count 20 flowers, again demonstrating how sleep is 20. You find a way to connect the yellow flowers from a drama performance to your beginning mention of flamenco dancers, by comparing the flowers to castanets. Again and again, you make the sequences tie together. You say the flowers click 20 times, but it’s clear you really mean the castanets. By doing this, you emphasize your theme of comparisons between different things by ultimately making them become one and the same. You make sure we understand the sequences and harmony in your poem.

Barbara Guest
That’s an interesting analysis. You take things literally. I’ll let you try again before I give you my response.
Interviewer
Hmm… I think the sentence “sleep is 20” is meant to evoke thoughts that stray from logical reasoning, since just the phrase alone doesn’t mean anything. How can sleep be a numerical value? I think your focus is more on word choice and the language, rather than the idea.

Barbara Guest
Precisely.
Barbara Guest
Certainly. The city is perhaps the only place that this poem truly belongs. So many unrelated things end up associating with one another. I’ll give you an example. A train scuffed my shoes. I wear two shoes. Two is the number of blocks left to walk to my destination. My destination is the train. I somehow started and ended at the train. There is so much going on in the city—so much art and machinery. One thing does in fact relate to another. New York City itself is the epitome of abstract. There is no way to clearly define it. Can it be constrained with a strict narrative? Another point I want to make is the concept of wandering. New Yorkers behave much like wanderers. They are always moving, and are always searching for their destination. My writing style invokes the sense of wandering. More specifically, it is seen in how my sparse and discursive rambling strays from a strict narrative.
Interviewer
This has been an eye-opening experience. Thank you for being here today.
Barbara Guest
My pleasure.
Barbara Guest
That was my goal. Sometimes I want to isolate sentences that belong in the same category because in my mind, the two are actually separate. Sometimes it takes up a lot of space, but I am actually very confined due to the selectivity of choosing words. Therefore, the spaced out writing looks like “freedom” but is not freedom at all. Sometimes the spaces are there to indicate that the reader could insert anything between those lines as long as they belong to the same subject of those lines.

Interviewer
The very first sentence of this poem is, “Sleep is 20 / remembering the insignificant flamenco dancer in Granada / who became important as you watched the mountain ridge / the dry hills” (1-8). I cannot help but wonder what a flamenco dancer has to do with mountain ridges. What was going through your mind when you felt that mountain ridges made a flamenco dancer become important? And how does this all relate to sleep? Perhaps the nature of ridges and how they form a long elevated crest is like a flamenco dancer’s movements, gliding and turning with elevated arms. And perhaps you were thinking of this correlation all while sleeping. Or maybe the mountain doesn’t correlate to the dancer at all, and you just so happened to think of the dancer while gazing upon a mountain ridge. How would you describe my attempt to understand it?
Barbara Guest
I’d say you’re on the right track.

Interviewer
Good evening. It is May 4th, 1975. I’m sitting here with poet Barbara Guest. Today we will be discussing her poem, “20.” This poem is a rather abstract explanation of the significance of the number 20, and Barbara attains this abstract expressionism by going off on tangents. This poem clearly does not having a strict narrative. Now, I’m going to ask the question that probably everyone is wondering. What does it mean?

Barbara Guest
It means a lot of things. Part of the charm is that it’s open to the reader's interpretation. I want to leave the answer to this question up to you. What do you think it means?

Interviewer
Thank you. You also state the line, “It’s more like 20 Madison Ave. buses / while I go droning away at my dream life” (14-15). This line references the city, like your concept of wandering. Your word choice of droning, could either mean humming or talking at length monotonously. Perhaps the humming of the bus during a commute lulled you to sleep and then you dreamt? Or maybe you spoke tirelessly about your dreams on a bus, and that made you tired? The 20 in this case is the address of the street where the buses belong.

Barbara Guest
Interesting. Objectively, there is no way of pinpointing what exactly I was trying to depict. I make associations that no one would think to make because, logically speaking, they don’t entirely make sense. But that’s the beauty of modern poetry. It is surreal and interactive; it makes you think about the word choice and the position of the words, and evokes a feeling even when you don’t entirely understand it.

Interviewer
Okay, how about this. When describing sleep you say, “it certainly isn’t twenty sheep / there weren’t that many in the herd / under the cold crest of Sierra Nevada” (11-13). Readers will mostly likely wonder why the number of sheep in Sierra Nevada has anything to do with sleep. But then a few lines later you add, “each morning early (while I sleep) / under the snow cone / of Sierra Nevada” (25-27). Clearly, you have slept beneath the mountains at Sierra Nevada? And this is why it translates as “sleep” to you? In conclusion, because there were not 20 sheep, this is not why sleep is 20.
Full transcript