Discussion: poetry: characters and styles

Poetry is a language translated by the reader. Discernable sentiments and messages rise to the top as you may consider and reconsider the more obscure or “hidden” meanings surrounding the words on the page. You have the opportunity in this week’s Discussion to deconstruct the complexity of Shange’s work through the exploration of a character from her poem while exploring qualities and styles of poetry.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Read and listen to each of the Shange poems linked in this week’s Learning Resources. Listen carefully to the voices and words of the different characters. Choose one of the female characters from the five included poems. For these poems, the characters include: Lady in Yellow, Lady in Orange, Lady in Blue, Lady in Red, and Lady in Purple.
  • What aspects of the character you chose are readily apparent? What are you most curious about regarding this character that is not directly apparent?
  • Consider references to formal and/or non-formal education that you identify in association with the character you chose and/or other characters in these five poems? For example, how does Shange communicate a character’s sense of knowledge of herself or an issue? In what ways do the women educate one another?
  • Review examples of poetry from this course to get a sense of the range of styles of poetry. For example, consider the style of Rita Dove’s poem from Week 4 and review a sample of poems from websites provided in this week’s Optional Resources.

With these thoughts in mind:

By Day 3

Post  a 2- to 3-paragraph description of the character you selected from Shange’s poem, including her emotional and physical self. Explain how this character represents the concepts of expression, perspective, and social change. How is the style of poetry in Shange’s work different from other styles of poetry?

By Day 5

Respond  to at least one of your colleague’s postings in one or more of the following ways:

  • What insights into education does Shange’s work address?
  • Build on the ideas presented by your peer by expanding on or providing a new example of how concepts of expression, perspective, and social change are apparent through the character chosen.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note what you have learned and/or any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

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