viernes, 9 de noviembre de 2012


What do you think about the  Atwood's poems I  reproduced in the handout? What is their intention?
Do you find them violent, repulsive, exaggerated, humorous? Do you find any aesthetic value in them.
Look at the poems from Power Politics: who is the "you"? Who is the "I"? Read "Notes Towards a Poem that Can Never Be Written"? Do you think that speaker in this poem has the right to speak for the victims?

2 comentarios:

  1. Most of Margaret Atwood´s poems included in the handout seem to deal with a grim, gloomy and harsh reality from which we cannot escape.

    Sometimes, brutality or a more gentle reality looks like a mirage, and then we start to question what is right in front of us. However, there are those who –because they do no want to get in trouble or had to protect themselves and their families- get involved with this brutality and pretend things are really different. On these occasions, she seems to “sympathize” with the tormentor or those around him/her: he or she becomes also a victim of the situation as they find it hard to run away from it. But, at the same time, -by not acting they degrade themselves and so they become as evil as the people “in charge”.

    Sometimes, the images and language used are crude, quite visual as well as frequently revolting. Violence and destruction are spinning around, no matter what place on earth, and it is like a devastating tornado leaving behind nothing but suffering and sorrow, cruelty and death or death in life (those who manage to survive have to cope with their dreadful experiences).

    In my opinion, she has a certain aim in mind: to stir the reader´s consciousness regarding the world around us: by realizing human brutality towards other human beings: all women, children and men, we must be able to react and take action so as to change things and also, she insists on the idea of people looking away from the evil caused by others or by oneself and pretending nothing is going wrong.

    Violence is represented in all areas of life and it seems very close in time to present-day issues, such as wars (tortures, the battlefield, the suffering and extermination of the population for no purpose, the role of politicians who don´t care at all about the citizens they “represent” or not) , the idea about women as mere objects and possessions at the mercy of men, as a “tool” to punish others –especially at war periods (we just have to think about the Balkans’ war or conflicts and fights for power or precious objects among many African tribes and African countries or in central America with the guerrilla ... This is not a new issue: it has always happened throughout history and as it is still present in many cultures, where women lack freedom to move about and are subject to men.

    Equally, I think the poet holds a very negative view regarding the way human beings behave towards others and not only this, she still remains quite positive –in my view- regarding the IMPOSSIBILITY for the human race to change. Or at least, it is seen as a quite remote option.

    Susana Pujades

  2. What she writes seems repulsive but, at the same time, it is just the way things happen to be. Atwood is quite crude in her depictions of torture and the way women are treated. However, that is the way it is, at least in some contexts so there is no exaggeration but telling about actual facts.

    Finally, the poet also writes about the importance of literature, poetry in her case- as a away to give voice to the oppressed: she contrasts the two opposing realities: countries where there is severe censorship and those where there is not freedom or speech and or thought and where you might be punished and devoid of voice if you happen to raise your thoughts and make them public.
    Regarding the use of the “I” and the “You” in the poems form “Power Politics”, I think the “I” could be the average citizen upon which all burdens are set while the “You” might be the representation of all politicians who are alien to the feelings of the common people and are proud of what they do even if that implies exploiting the people they rule or govern.

    As for “Notes Towards a Poem that Can Never Be Written”, in my view, there should be some kind of social conscience and awareness and this sometimes could be raised through different means. Victims of violence and repression–no matter their kind- should have a voice and writers, journalists, philosophers, thinkers and the like have a right, and even the moral obligation to act as the eyes, voice and mind of other human beings.

    Therefore, I believe Atwood acts rightly when playing the role of the witness of her own time as well as a remainder of the fact that reality is not the same everywhere: people´s minds and thoughts are frequently silenced so there is urgent need to give a voice to those who suffer as there might not be any other way for them to do such a thing. Thus, there is a kind of moral duty regarding poets to help raise awareness on the use of violence and abuse against those who are standing in a weak position.

    Susana Pujades