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Discussion 3/23

In Mary Ruefle’s poetry collection Trances of the Blast, it has been seen from the first line, of her first poem, “Everything that ever happened to me/ happened to somebody else first,” that her work is an exploration of the self, but more specifically writing about those moments that everyone has experienced in some way or another. For an example of this, we will look at her poem “The Day” (Page 23).

In doing this, she is establishing themes of birth, middle age, grief, happiness, etc. She presents the mundane experience with bizarre and wild ways of approaching the idea. When reading the poems that were selected for today, there are a few themes that are a focus of these poems. Looking at “Greeting My Dear Ghost” (Page 22), “Goodnight Irene” (Page 32), “Nite Nite” 34), and “Argot” (Page 42), what ideas has Ruefle strung throughout these poems? One idea that I see strung throughout these poems is the idea of darkness/night/shadows. There are an enormous number of examples of this, these are just four poems that I believe rely on this repeated theme. What is the effect of Ruefle streaming these ideas together in certain poems? She doesn’t have these central ideas as the focus of every poem. Is she creating a structural purpose, or is it only an understanding of the experiences she is writing about?

One last point that I hope to discuss is how Mary Ruefle has established the idea of the child in this poetry collection. One the themes that she addresses is growing up. As a result, there is a returning image of a child. How is Ruefle presenting the image of childhood in the poetry? What is an example of a poem that does this? One example is her poem, “New Morning” (Page 24). This is not an obvious example of how Ruefle has depicted childhood, but this is a poem that she is comparing herself to a “little animal.” Throughout the poem, there is a sense that the speaker is expressing a figure of wounded innocence, relating to the idea of trauma and the aftermath. Come prepared with other poems for examples of this.


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