Search This Blog

Saturday, September 22, 2012

CEP 818 How do I love thee (one step at a time): Perceiving

In this class, I have chosen the topic of social inequality and injustice. For this assignment, I'm going to share with you what this topic "sounds" like and perhaps "feels" like by using a poem. Then, I'm going to "re-image" what the poem represents.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou
The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

This poem invokes various feelings for the reader. The use of visual words can create images in our minds. When I read the poem over and over I found that my images changed. What does the poem smell like? Taste like? Look like? Sound like? Feel like? The words on the page don't smell, taste, sound or feel like anything. They look like words. What does social injustice smell like? Perhaps it smells like the homeless man on the street. It might taste bitter (figuratively). It may sound like a person crying or a bird singing (happily or sadly). It could feel cold or lonely like the inside of a prison cell for a wrongly convicted person. It may look like a caged bird.

The photos I chose in the prezi below illustrate some of the words and emotions in the poem. Having a visual vocabulary to go along with the poem can help the reader think about the meaning of the poem. Does the caged bird "sing" because it’s happy? Is the caged bird trying to find the "good" in being caged? Is the "free" bird really free? What does freedom look like? How is a caged bird like social inequality? Are the impoverished like the caged bird? Some may feel like they are caged going to an office everyday and looking out the window at people walking by wishing they were "free" to be out there as well. 

People can have varied perceptions about paintings, poems, pictures, events and even words. Perceiving a topic differently can help students make a connection to the material and also foster creativity.  I enjoyed the activity for several reasons. It helped me to think of different ways to present a lesson about poetry. It also caused me to dive deeper into the topic of social inequality in general. I think these activities are not only helpful in thinking of how to design lessons on a new level  but also in generating ideas on how students will make connections with topics and activities that they can do.  The thought processed this activity took me on was much different than I have ever had on the topic of social inequality and considering I have taken at least 10 sociology courses I would say that is pretty significant. I can only imagine what impact it would have on other students. 

As I moved along in the activity I considered how others would re-image the poem. If I asked students to do a presentation like I did choosing photographs specifically to illustrate the poem would their photos be entirely different? What would happen if I asked them to take their own photos to illustrate the poem and present it? The results would most likely show their level of understanding of the poem itself but also it may reveal something about their own world view.

You know when you have an "ah-ha" moment? With all the talk in the media regarding voting id laws and social inequality, it came to me.

I overlapped an image of cage bars on top of a piece of propaganda showing the paradox many voters are experiencing suddenly before a presidential election. Many people feel the new voter id laws are social inequality at its worst and they are "singing" about it. They feel "caged" because it is a law being implemented by government who has control over the people. They feel as though they are standing on the graves of dreams because their right to vote has been taken away from them-them being specific demographics like the elderly, blacks, students, impoverished, etc. The "free" bird would be those in other demographics-the rich, white, typically middle age male who naturally would have a driver's license no matter what because their demographic relies much more on one than other demographics. If the laws go through, the caged bird would have his wings clip and his feet tied-by laws passed intentionally to cage him. This, I believe, represents the poem well visually with an analogy.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed your pictures you chose to represent the poem. Those, along with your analogy solidify and re-purpose the idea of what "cage bird" means. Thank you for sharing.