In Bronx Masquerade, Raul Ramirez writes a poem called “Zorro” and uses the shape of a “Z” as the actual shape of his poem. (You can reread this poem in the novel on page 22.). If you know anything about Zorro, you know that the Z-shaped slash of his sword is one of his defining characteristics, his “calling card” of sorts. Before he leaves any fight, he always leaves his mark - his "Z." In the poem, Raul tells us that he is struggling to be his true self all the time. He plays a role (much like the comic book character he admires), but ultimately he is still masked. Identity issues are at the heart of his poem.
Examining Concrete Poetry
We will examine several famous concrete/visual poems. Be able to discuss how the shape helps convey the intent of the poem. You may want to think back to your TP-CASTT strategy to help you analyze the poems. The page references apply to the silver bound literature books in my room; however, you can also search and find these poems online.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
- What does the poem look like on the page?
- What is the poem about?
- What is the relationship of its shape to its meaning?
- Describe the poem’s progression of ideas, images, and/or emotions. How is logic/meaning/story created?
- How does typography (where words are on the page either isolated or grouped) emphasize various words or phrases? What is the effect of such emphasis?
- Describe important figurative language in the poem (symbol, metaphor, simile, imagery, etc.). How does it fit the shape and or meaning/intent of the poem?
Assignment: Write your own concrete poem.
Write your own poem in which the shape you choose relates to the meaning you want to express. You can certainly use "Zorro" from Bronx Masquerade as a model and write a poem in which you illuminate a nickname you have. If you choose to do this, you may also start the same way with: "Call me ___." However, you can also approach it differently and write about a subject other than yourself, using the example poems we examined as models. Ultimately the point is to express (poetic) meaning in a visual way.
- Your poem can be handwritten or word-processed (but it does need to be submitted in hard-copy form).
- I will ask you to share these poems.
- Refer to the class calendar for due dates.