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A.2 Alone - Grace Nichols

from the collection 'The Fat Black Woman's Poems'
by

Paul Houlihan

on 7 June 2016

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Transcript of A.2 Alone - Grace Nichols

Poem by Grace Nichols
A2 Literature

Alone
Part 1
Part 3
Grace Nichols
"The fat black woman
sits alone
gathering
gathering
into herself
onto herself
soft stone
woman moan"
Part 2
"the fat black woman
sits alone
gathering
gathering
into herself
onto herself
drift dome
river foam"
"the fat black woman
sits alone
gathering
gathering
into herself
onto herself
gathering gathering
gathering gathering
gathering gathering

silence
Audience/Purpose
Targeting Girls with low self -esteem or who overthink
Written from the point of view of someone who is going through the a self conscious stage.
Nichols, being acclaimed as a feminist writer, tries to express the heavy thoughts that can sometimes go through a girl's head.
Though the poem is written from a third-person point of view, one is able to access the thoughts as a first-person due to the fact that the figure of the Fat Black Woman can be seen to be universalized.
The line "woman moan" (8) allows readers to undestand that she is targeting a female audience.
Born in Guyana
Taught at the University of Guyana before moving to UK at the age of 27
Her first collection "I is a Long-Memoried Women" won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize
Guyanese folk tales, American myths and South American civilizations have influenced her.
She also writes Children's poems and her poems can often be both humourous and playful
Sometimes classified as a feminist writer.
She sometimes uses Caribbean English - a type of dialect
Much of her poetry are social commentaries
mostly concerned with issues such as social displacement/immigration, multiculturalism, diversity and women's rights.
In "Fat Black Women's Poems" Nichols addresses issues of a Black women living in a Western World, surrounded by Western Values and confronted by the oppressive ideal of Western beauty.
Alone
The fat black woman (1)
sits alone
gathering
gathering
into herself (5)
onto herself
soft stone
woman moan
the fat black woman
sits alone (10)
gathering
gathering
into herself
onto herself
drift dome (15)
river foam
the fat black woman
sits alone
gathering
gathering (20)
into herself
onto herself
gathering gathering
gathering gathering
gathering gathering (25)

silence
The poem obviously states that "[t]he fat black women" is sitting alone, leading readers to believe she is "gathering" her thoughts.
Nichols refers to this figure as "[t]he fat black woman" (line 1).
When it talks about "into herself"(line 5) and "onto herself" (line 6), one can assume that her thoughts are pouring "into herself" and may be about her which is why they would carry weight "onto [her]" (line 6) like carrying a "soft stone" can eventually become heavy as it collects and leads readers to believe the line "woman moan"(line 7) refers to how a woman copes with the heaviness of the thoughts
Alliteration can be found in line 6: "
s
oft
s
tone"
Line 4 & 5 and "herself" found in line 6 and 7 represent repetition
"soft stone" (line 7) is a metaphor
"wom
an
mo
an
" (line 8) and " in
to
" (line 5) "on
to
" (line 6) are instances of rhyme
This time Nichols makes the thoughts appear more clouded by comparing them to a "river['s] foam"(line 16)
Line 9-14 includes much hypnotic repetition from lines 1-6.
"
d
rift
d
ome" (line 15)

is alliteration
"river foam" gives of the image (imagery) that her thoughts are clouded and messy.
Here, Nichols once again repeats the previous lines setting the scene of the poem. The word silence not only stands out because its middle and spaced from the rest of the poem, but because the repetition before creates a sense of messiness and disorder suggesting a whirlwind of thoughts. Once the reader is able to reach the word silence, its almost as if they hit a peace of mind.
Once again repetition can be seen from line 17-23
In particular "gathering gathering" (line 23) is repeated three times
Content/Theme
In the poem "the fat black women" (1) is literally sitting alone and thinking, gathering her thoughts until she reaches release and silence.

The theme of the poem is the heaviness of thoughts, this is most prevalent in the line "soft stone".
Structure
The way Nichols structure the poem allows reader to follow the flow of the poem. For example :
"gathering gathering
gathering gathering
gathering gathering

silence" (23-26)

The structure of this phrase first brings out an intense feeling and mood to the poem, as readers are caught up with the gathering as its is repeated many times, but once the silence is read its drags the reader out of the mess and brings peace to the poem.
The lack of phrases and spaces between verse also allows an on going flow of the poem.
Full transcript