Monday, May 19, 2008

Hiroshima: Beyond the Numbers (Jennifer Butts)


Throughout my education, I have always heard about the bombing of Hiroshima. Nagasaki was also mentioned; how could it not be? But, the overwhelming majority of classroom discussions involving atomic bombs revolved around Hiroshima. After 12 years in the public school system, maybe 6 of them discussing the bombings in depth, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what happened to these cities.

Scientifically, I knew what happened. When these bombs were dropped, they basically turned small amounts of mass into relatively huge amounts of energy. The amount of energy can be found by using perhaps the most famous equation in all of scientific and mathematical history: E=mc2, where E is the energy produced, m is the amount of mass converted to energy, and c is the speed of light. We all know that light travels pretty fast, so when you square that number and multiply it by another number, even if it is small, it will produce a very large number. It was always quite easy to perform the calculations, and I have done them several times, once even this year in my physics class. However, the calculation can not tell you how much damage was done. Sure, our history books can tell us that the cities were leveled. They can tell us how many people died instantly in the blast as well as how many suffered and died from injuries related to the blast. But these are simply numbers. Numbers have no emotional significance. Math is known as being a very cut and dry discipline; answers are right or wrong, there is no in-between.

Unfortunately, life is not so simple. The decision to drop the bomb and release that much energy could not have been made lightly. Unfortunately, the impact of this single decision has been diminished from years of talking about the bombing as a purely academic problem.

Until this class, I had never even heard of Hiroshima, by John Hersey, let alone read it. Reading the stories of those six survivors really presented a brand new side of an event that I have heard about in school for several years. This book told the stories of six people who survived the bombing of Hiroshima. These people were civilians; they were not directly associated with the war. In school, we were always told that the bombing was necessary to end the war. It is true that after the two bombs were dropped, the war ended very quickly. It seems like our textbooks wanted us to believe that our country took the appropriate action at the time, perhaps so that we do not grow up thinking that our country is a heartless killer. What we never really learned was the extent of the damage to individuals. We were told that the victims suffered from severe burns and radiation. It was also mentioned that it was difficult to treat such injuries because they came into existence with the atomic bomb. So, not only were these people devastated by the loss of their city, they suffered from injuries that even the best doctors did not know how to treat. The stories of the people in this book really brought depth to an event that I had always thought of as cut and dry: the United States dropped the bombs, and Japan surrendered, which brought an end to the war. I had never really ever given much thought to what the people directly affected by the decision of a single person, the president of the United States.

All of the people whose stories are told in Hiroshima suffered a great deal, but one story stood out beyond the others for me: the story of Miss Toshiko Sasaki. She had gone to work just as on any other day. However, it would be a day that changed her life forever. The actual blast caused a bookcase to fall on top of her and severely broke her leg. She was trapped underneath the wreckage for several hours, and when she finally was pulled out, she was left for two days without food or water. After being sent to several different hospitals, her leg finally healed. Unfortunately, it was three inches shorter than her right leg. This is just one example of the hardships suffered by survivors of the bombing. People like Miss Sasaki are generally considered the lucky ones because they survived. However, it could be argued that the survivors were, in fact, the unlucky ones. Life is precious, of course, but how special is it when you suffer for years because of the events of a single day, events that you had no control over. Would you consider yourself lucky if your country discriminated you because you survived? Hiroshima reveals that the people of Japan did not want to associate with the survivors, primarily because they were prone to bouts of weakness and it was uncertain what all of the long-term effects of the bomb were. Maybe the lucky ones were the ones who died instantly. They may have seen a bright light, but was just about it. If they felt any pain, it was minimal. Although they lost their lives, perhaps they were better off than the survivors who suffered for years and faced discrimination in the place they called home.

As I said before, this was my first time reading this book, and it really opened up a new facet of the bombing of Hiroshima. It really made me think about the horrific events of that day, and how so many people suffered because of the actions of a few people in power. Perhaps every person who possesses any kind of power should read this book just to be reminded of the effects their actions can have. Although atomic bombs are an extreme case, the stories certainly remind people that our actions can have consequences that severely affect others.

LIT160 Introduction to Literature--Spring 2008.

Posted with author's permission.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Smile of Accomplishment (Jennifer Butts)


Night descends upon the city. The moon rises higher and higher as if trying to get a better look upon the city's inhabitants. As night creeps on, there are still people out and about. Men sneaking behind their wives' backs, even some women sleeping around being unfaithful to their husbands. None of this is new to the moon, for she has risen night after night. She has seen many a betrayal, and often the fights that ensue. She has seen mothers tending their children, who can't sleep because of nightmares. The moon is rising, watching over her domain. Nothing seems out of place; everything is as it should be. But then something catches her eye. It is a mother, wandering about her kitchen, seeming to fret over her children.

Intrigued, the moon focuses on this one house. The woman inside has prepared a pitcher of milk and a plate of food for her children. Nothing particularly strange, until the bottle of sleeping pills is seen beside the pitcher. The woman has a handful of them, debating whether or not to put them in the milk. Drawing closer, the woman can be heard muttering to herself, arguing with herself about what should be done with her children.

"Should I take them with me?" the woman says. "I deserve death, it is all I want from my life now. I simply want to be released of the burden that has become my existence. But my children? They are young, with many years ahead. Perhaps they will find joy in a world where I found only sadness. But will they? Without a mother, will they be able to grow up and function in society? Perhaps it would be better if I just ended it for them tonight. It wouldn't be difficult, just give them sleeping pills in their milk, and when they have fallen asleep, keep them by the oven, letting them breathe the gas that will claim their mother's life. No! I can't. I will leave that up to my children. I cannot kill them. Taking my own life is one thing, taking my children's lives is murder. I will leave them the milk and food, and I will depart this world hoping that my children find more joy than I ever did."

The moon watches overhead. She watches the woman carefully set out the milk and plate of food for her children. Watches as the woman reenters the kitchen, placing a towel at the base of the door, taking great care to seal the crack as tightly as possible. The moon watches as she places her head inside, the smile of accomplishment on her face as she breathes deeply. She keeps sucking in the poisonous gas. Slowly but surely, soon the breathing is slow and calm. Her back rising ever so slowly and gently. All too soon, the breathing stops. The moon continues on her way now. Nothing more to see. The woman's family will find her, and bury her in the ground. This is nothing new to the moon, for she has seen much death. She has been watching over people since the beginning of their existence, suicide is nothing new.


Jennifer wrote this short piece in response to an essay question on a test:

Using the title “The Smile of Accomplishment,” rewrite Sylvia Plath’s poem “Edge” as a short story.

For your story, you should NOT create your own story, but simply rewrite Plath’s poem in story form. You may add details, of course, but they must be plausible within the parameters of the original poem and what you know about Plath’s life and death. NOTE: I am not looking at your creative writing ability here. I am looking at how you can extrapolate the future outcome of a character’s life based on textual clues offered in her current reality.


Interestingly, before setting pen to her exam booklet, Jennifer jotted down some notes on the poem Edge:

Lines 1-4:

Write from first person p.o.v.(I).

Smiles as she places her head in the oven, awaiting death to claim her, ending the misery.

Lines 5-8

Walked through life for 30 years. At 10, lost her father. At 20, failed to end her life. Not this time. Too much misery to go on. Melancholy consumed her life; no happiness to be found. She will not fail.

Line 8 ("We have come so far,/") was underlined, with this notation: 30 years, 20 w/o father. Line 8 ("it is over.") also underlined, with this notation: suicide/death

Lines 9-12

Should I take my children? Wouldn't be hard, just lock the door, a smidgen of sedative in the milk. I would feel no pain, but do they deserve it?

Lines 15-16

Turns on the gas, breathes deeply, inhaling the sickly sweet gas. She smiles...(top).

Lines 17-20

The moon, a silent onlooker. She has already seen much death. What is one more?


In order to fulfill the essay requirements for an exam (75 minutes total), Jennifer has written a fine derivative short story based on a poem; however, based on what I have seen here, I'm willing to bet that she could write her own original stories and do a very good job, indeed.


LIT160 Introduction to Literature--Spring 2008

Posted with permission

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Supporting Characters from "The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner"

For an in-class point-of-view exercise on Alan Sillitoe's "The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner," I gave students the following instructions:

You already know protagonist Smith's take on life, but what about supporting characters? We are about to find out, for each group will assume a first-person ("I") character point-of-view of a supporting character and write a one-page passage.

Your first-person passage must be supported by textual clues; thus, you can't just write any old thing and claim success. Your "guess" must have a basis in fact. Also, don't quote original dialogue from the novella; the idea is to understand the nuances of the text by creating LIKELY opinions of and ORIGINAL text from your character. Besides, nabbing existing text is the lazy way out, and I want you to stretch your intellectual capabilities.

----------Group 1: Smith's father

----------Group 2: Governor at Borstal

----------Group 3: The copper

----------Group 4: Mam

----------Group 5: Mam's "fancy-man"

Students read their passages in class.

Also, they were asked to designate a representative from their groups to post their passages in the comment section of this blog.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Creative Response to "No Name Woman" (Nichol Fake)

Alexis was sitting in the nursery of her church on Sunday morning. As she was watching the children play as she had every week for the last nine years she began to think back to her junior year in high school. She thought back to her friend Jessica. It was weird because over the years she rarely thought about those days. Jessica was such a distant memory it was almost as if she never knew her, but that day watching those kids and their reaction when their parents came to pick them up just hit her that day.

It was their junior year Jessica and Alexis were best friends. They had been joined at the hips since first grade. But as the year went on and Jessica began dating Brandon her time for Alexis seemed to be less and less. As the school year when on Alexis began to notice little changes in Jessica. Then a few months before school would be over she noticed that Jessica had been missing school a lot and when she was there she seemed to always be sick and going to the bathroom a lot. When she confronted Jessica she said it was just the flu. Then a few weeks later she noticed Jessica had not been to school in days, and the other kids in school were starting to talk. The rumor was that Jessica was pregnant and that she would not be back to school.

Alexis knew that in the small town they lived in, a girl being pregnant or even having sex before being married was looked down upon, especially when the girl was so young. In fact, this was the first time it had ever happened in their town. Alexis knew she had to found out the truth. She tried calling Jessica all weekend but her parents just kept saying she was not home and Alexis was too afraid to tell her parents why she needed to talk to Jessica so bad. So Monday Alexis decided she had to confront Brandon in school and find out what was going on. He told her that it was none of her business and that he had broke up with Jessica awhile ago.

Alexis knew the rumor had to be true. She was scared for her friend; she could only imagine what must be going through her head and what she was going through at home. She decided to stop by Jessica’s on her way home that day. When she arrived at Jessica’s she noticed that her car was not there and when her mother answered the door she said Jessica had gone to stay with her grandparents for awhile. Alexis asked her why and she just said “she needed to get away from this town and the people.” She continued to tell her that Jessica would be getting her GED while at her grandmother’s and they were not sure when and if she would be coming back.

All night Alexis kept replaying the day in her head. None of it made sense. If Jessica was going through all of this why didn’t she come to her? Why didn’t she let her try to help her through it all? She didn’t know what she could do, if anything. But she wanted to be there for her friend.

It was about a year later when Alexis got an email from Jessica. She was so surprised and a little upset that it took her so long to get in touch. But once she read the email she just felt sad for her friend. The email read:

Hi Alexis. I am sorry it has taken me so long to get in touch with you. As I am sure you have heard I had to leave school last year because I was pregnant. I just could not face the town and what they were saying about me. I could not stand looking at my parents and seeing nothing but disappointment on their faces and knowing I was the cause of it. They told me that I had to get rid of the baby, that there was no way I could keep the baby. They made sure I knew that if I kept the baby they would have nothing to do with me or the baby. They made sure I knew there was no way that I could ever take care of my child or give him/her the life they deserved. After listening to this every night I started to believe them. I felt like the only thing I could do was to have an abortion. So I told them I would move to my grandmother's, get my GED while I was there and have the abortion. I have to be honest; when I first got here I was hoping that my grandmother would not agree with them. That maybe by some chance she would not feel that I was some kind of embarrassment, that maybe she would help me to make a decision that was based on my feelings and not the opinions and feelings of others. But she felt the same. That a girl my age having a child and not being married was one of the worst sins a person could commit. So I finally gave in and put my feelings aside and went to the clinic here. I was not showing yet so no one in the town knew of my “condition” and still don’t. I was able to get my GED and I am starting my new life here. I work full time and I am attending the local community college. I moved out of my grandmother’s recently because even though I did what everyone wanted I could tell they had not forgotten and would not forgive me. I found a small apartment and I am doing well. I wanted to come to you in the beginning but I knew that you would be supportive and that would make it even harder for me to ignore the voice in my heart telling me to keep the baby. So I just had to distance myself from everything. I hope that you can understand. I know that you are not a supporter of abortion but hope that you can find it in your heart to someday forgive me for going through with it. I am sorry I was not a good friend to you and I pushed our friendship aside when Brandon and I got together.

Alexis found herself in tears as she finished reading the email and she was unsure what to write back. So she simply replied, “Jess, I hope you know that I would have been there for you. And I could never hold what you have been through against you. I am glad to hear you are doing better now. Keep in touch.”

That was the last time she had any communication with Jessica until that Sunday after church. Alexis was driving home from church with her own son in the back seat. As she looked back at him and thought about the other kids in the nursery it made her think about how her life would be if she had been in Jessica’s shoes. She thought about all the amazing times she had with her son and the wonderful feeling that motherhood gave her and it broke her heart to know that Jessica missed out on all of that because of the way people reacted to her when she was pregnant. So she sent Jessica another email to try and see how she was doing, but she never heard back from her. It was as if Jessica had just disappeared again.


Nicol Fake decided to respond to Maxine Hong Kingston's "No Name Woman," a non-fiction excerpt from The Woman Warrior (1976). Nicol decided to borrow an incident from this assigned work to write a piece (story) of her own.


LIT160 Introduction to Literature--Spring 2008

Posted with the author's permission.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Modern Girl: A Rewritten Work (Chelsea Rosenberger)

Never wash the colors with the whites; don’t throw your jeans in the dryer if you don’t want them to shrink; bleach is for whites only; don’t let the dishwasher make you lazy; keep a clean house, but not so clean that company feels unwanted; don’t lay in your bed without showering; wash your sheets every two weeks; if you use conditioner everyday it will make your hair look particularly greasy; always wash your hands before you eat; this is how you get blood out of a shirt; this is how you set the table; this is how you set up a doctors appointment; this is how you make Nanny’s infamous pound cake; this is how you get rid of ringworm—soak a penny in vinegar until it turns green, then tape it to the ringworm; this is how you keep a straight face when all you want to do is laugh; this is how you say “I love you” to a friend; this is how you say “I love you” to a lover; but I’m too young to be in love; tables are for glasses, not for asses; never put your feet up on the table—no one wants their food tasting like a foot; when wearing a dress, cross your legs, unless you want everyone to see your panties; always wear panties with a skirt or dress because if you don’t, you’re asking for it; don’t pour salt on a slug or feed a bird Alka-Seltzer; this is how you speak to a man; this is how a man should speak to you; this is how to cover your cough; this is how you check eggs to make sure they aren’t cracked; but what if they’re all cracked?; you mean to tell me you’re going to be the kind of woman who can’t find a good egg?


(Chelsea Rosenberger says, "I rewrote [Jamaica Kincaid's] 'Girl' because when I read the poem, I immediately pictured all of the little bits of advice my mother has shared with me over the years.")


LIT160 Introduction to Literature--Spring 2008

Posted with permission.

Poetic Response to "Hills Like White Elephants" (Meghan Daly)

Simple he says,
But what is simple?
He says it’s easy,
But how would he know?
A life in my hands,
And he says it’s simple.

The choice should be easy
Do I want it or no?

He says we’ll be happy,
But how does he know?
If I keep it he says that he’ll stay,
But I don’t believe him,
For if he would stay
He wouldn’t be trying
Trying so hard to get me to do this

Simple he says,
But what is simple?
Easy he says,
But how would he know?

The choice should be easy.
Do I want it or no?


Meghan says, "I did this from the point of view of the girl [Jig]. I figured that she is probably going through a lot trying to figure out whether or not she truly wants to abort the baby or if she wants to keep it. I also felt like the guy was saying anything to keep her happy while still trying to get her to go through with the abortion. I tried to incorporate that into my short poem when I said, 'If I keep it he says that he’ll stay,/ but I don’t believe him,/ for if he would stay he wouldn’t be trying,/ trying so hard to get me to do this.' I just felt like the girl needed more of a voice than the original author gave her so I wrote her this."


LIT160 Introduction to Literature--Spring 2008

Posted with permission.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Ballad of the Tenant (Dan, Clint, Evan)

Tenant, Tenant,

I've come for my money
I want my dough
You haven't paid me yet
So now I must spit this flow.

Tenant! Tenant!
Why you gotta front
You know I saw you on that corner
rollin' up that blunt.

Ten bucks is what you owe me
I want my ten bucks now
You say you don't know how you'll pay me!
I say you should figure it out how.

That's right I got your Eviction Notice
Damn right Ima cut off your heat
Oh you can't find your furniture
Try lookin' on the street.

Hell, yea, you gonna pay me
My point, you ain't gonna miss
'cause I'll put some lipstick on my fist
and throw you a kiss.

5-0! 5-0!
You'll never catch me, pig.
Ima run, son
I will never go down for this gig.

Police dogs
Echoes of the Gat

Cell Door Slams
Presses Print
Headlines Read

Shots Fired


Suspect Caught


Criminal in Jail


Justice Served

(Note: In a 30-minute in-class group project, Jennifer Semple Siegel's Introduction to Literature students were asked to rewrite Langston Hughes' 1951 "Ballad of the Landlord" from the landlord's perspective, while attempting to retain the original structure and cadence of the original poem. After reading their poems to the class, the students discussed how the shift in point of view changes the poetic perspective. The class also discussed how attitudes toward African Americans have changed and not changed since 1951.)

LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2008

Ballad of the Tenant (Chelsea Rosenberger and Ashley Clousher)

Tenant, tenant,
I know there is a leak
I called the roofing company
They'll be here next week.

Tenant, tenant,
You must give me time
I need money to fix these things
And you haven't given me a dime.

Ten bucks you owe me,
Ten bucks past due.
Do you think that's enough
to fix this house up brand new?

I don't want to evict you
I don't want you to be cold
I don't want you to come back
to see your furniture has been sold.

Blame me all you want
Keep cursing my name
Threaten to silence me
But my face you will not maim.

Police! Police!
Take this man away.
He's trying to force me out.
I have no place to stay!

This man is a liar
I wish not to kick him out
He threatened to hurt me
Don't listen to him shout.

Lock him up
Teach him something
He can't walk around owing money
And acting like it's nothing.


The tenant learned his lesson
To this he can attest.

(Note: In a 30-minute in-class group project, Jennifer Semple Siegel's Introduction to Literature students were asked to rewrite Langston Hughes' 1951 "Ballad of the Landlord" from the landlord's perspective, while attempting to retain the original structure and cadence of the original poem. After reading their poems to the class, the students discussed how the shift in point of view changes the poetic perspective. The class also discussed how attitudes toward African Americans have changed and not changed since 1951.)

LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2008

Ballad of the Tenant" (Group #3)

Dead beat, dead beat
Where is my rent
Are you telling me
it has been spent

Dead beat, dead beat
The money is due
You are late
and this is nothing new

Give me what you owe me
But keep this in mind
the rent is going up
the next time.

If you can't afford it
I'll kick you out fast,
out on the street
I'll throw your lazy ass

Don't give your complaints
I don't wanta hear it.
Your rent is more important
than doing all this shit.

Help me, help me
I didn't do anything wrong
This man is the bad one
He is the one that doesn't belong.

Don't treat me like an animal
Don't throw me out on the street
I deserve more than that
I'm not a dead beat.


(Note: In a 30-minute in-class group project, Jennifer Semple Siegel's Introduction to Literature students were asked to rewrite Langston Hughes' 1951 "Ballad of the Landlord" from the landlord's perspective, while attempting to retain the original structure and cadence of the original poem. After reading their poems to the class, the students discussed how the shift in point of view changes the poetic perspective. The class also discussed how attitudes toward African Americans have changed and not changed since 1951.)

LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2008

Ballad of the Tenant (Jessica Cunningham, Danielle Boyer, Shana Mallory)

Tenant, tenant,
Your house is just fine.
You call me every week
Stop calling my line.

Tenant, tenant,
It's not my fault your steps are broken.
You have parties every night
People call me because they are awoken.

You always pay late
Rent's never on time
Your checks always bounce
You're committing a crime.

What? You're reporting me to the state?
You're gonna try and end my career
Ha, that's funny,
but I have no fear.

No way! You're gonna treat me like this.
I work hard at my job
Treat me with respect
You are the slob.

Lawyer! Lawyer!
Come and try this man!
He's not keeping up with his end of the lease!
Put him in the can!

Gavels bang!
Bam! Bam! Bam!
Verdicts reached.

License revoked.
Headlines in press:

Bad Landlord.

Landlord Loses License.

Judge Gives Landlord Time in Jail.


(Note: In a 30-minute in-class group project, Jennifer Semple Siegel's Introduction to Literature students were asked to rewrite Langston Hughes' 1951 "Ballad of the Landlord" from the landlord's perspective, while attempting to retain the original structure and cadence of the original poem. After reading their poems to the class, the students discussed how the shift in point of view changes the poetic perspective. The class also discussed how attitudes toward African Americans have changed and not changed since 1951.)


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2008

Ballad of the Tenant (Jennifer Butts, Tasia Colbert, and Katie Fulbright)

Tenant, tenant,
You say your roof has sprung a leak,
I surely hope that you don't think
that I remember what you said last week.

Tenant, tenant,
You say your steps is broken down.
And yet when I come up myself.
You don't see me fall down.

Ten bucks you know you owe me.
Ten bucks you know is due.
So until I get those ten bucks,
the problems are up to you.

You know I can evict you.
I have access to your heat.
I can take your furniture
and sell it on the street.

Yeah, I'm talking high and mighty,
I'm gonna talk 'til it gets through,
You're not gonna lay a hand on me,
I'm gonna duck and dodge you.

Police! Police!
Help me keep my land.
He's trying to keep my furniture
and sell it to the white man.

Broken lights.
Water stains
What he said was true.

Broken stairs.
Frozen pipes.
I should have fixed it new.

New flyers say:
We have a vacant space
But if your word goes against me,
I'll put you in your place.


(Note: In a 30-minute in-class group project, Jennifer Semple Siegel's Introduction to Literature students were asked to rewrite Langston Hughes' 1951 "Ballad of the Landlord" from the landlord's perspective, while attempting to retain the original structure and cadence of the original poem. After reading their poems to the class, the students discussed how the shift in point of view changes the poetic perspective. The class also discussed how attitudes toward African Americans have changed and not changed since 1951.)


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Introducing Body Memoir Politic: Looking (A Play)

Body Memoir Politic:


A Play in Ten Scenes


Jennifer Semple Siegel

© 2008


One pill makes you larger

And one pill makes you small

And the ones that Mother gives you

Don’t do anything at all.

Go ask Alice

When she’s 10 feet tall.

–Grace Slick, “White Rabbit”

Go to the website.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

John Hersey's Hiroshima: Graphic Adaptation of Mrs. Nakamura's Experience (Emily Morris)


(Note: I have included a text transcript for each panel; however, if you wish, you may click onto to each page, and you will load a large and readable version of each page.)

Page One (Above)

Panel 1:

(Home of Mrs. Nakamura, widowed mother of three; 3/4 of a mile from center:)

MRS. NAKAMURA (Thinking.): Tearing his house down. What a shame--Soon he will have nowhere to live.

Panel 2:

AIR DRILL: Warning! Warning! Warning!

Panel 3:

MRS. NAKAMURA (Thinking about the night before, when she and her children had fled to Asano Park): Everyone is so tired. Maybe I can let them sleep this time.

Panel 4:

(Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura chose not to wake her three children that morning. They have been to the shelter many times in the past few days, and they were tired. It may have been this decision that saved their lives.)

Panel 5:

(Center Hiroshima during the explosion.)

Panel 6:

CRASH! Boom!


Panel 7:

TOSHIO: Mama, I'm scared.


YAEKO: (Sobbing.)

MRS. NAKAMURA: Hush, darlings! I don't know what happened--I think we need to get to safety, then ask questions. Don't cry--it'll be okay soon.

Panel 8:

(Before leaving for Asano Park, MRS. NAKAMURA chose to keep her only source of income safe. Her husband's old sewing machine was how she provided for her family. When this was all over, she would need to make money to feed her children.)

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Thinking as she tosses her sewing machine into the Water Reserve Tank.) This should be safe in here.

Page Two (Above)

Panel 1:

(Many neighborhoods had safe areas they were to retreat to if there was a bombing. MRS. NAKAMURA followed a neighbor through the wreckage of her community to Asano Park, outside of town.)

Welcome Asano Park

Panel 2:

MYEKO: I am so thirsty.

MRS. NAKAMURA: Here, sweetie, drink this.

YAEKO: I don't feel so good, Mama.

Panel 3:

(After drinking from the river, MRS NAKAMURA and her children became very ill and spent the next few days with stomach sickness. As they lay ill, many in the park lay dead or dying. Some seemed healthy one day and perished the next. The scene was horrific and no help ever came. MRS. NAKAMURA had to make a decision to move her children away from the park to a nearby shelter.)

Panel 4:

(Six days later [the Nakamuras] left the shelter [Novitiate] to stay with her sister-in-law.)

Panel 5:

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Crying.) I am so ashamed. I can not go anywhere looking like this. My hair is gone. I am a Bald Dreadful woman. UGLY! I am ugly. BALD!

Panel 6:

(MRS. NAKAMURA lost all her hair due to nuclear radiation exposure. Her youngest daughter had a cut on her arm that took months to heal. MRS. NAKAMURA could not afford a doctor's visit so they waited their sickness out and soon MRS. NAKAMURA was planning for their future. She had sent her brother to her old house to retrieve the sewing machine she had stored in the water tank. When he returned it was with bad news.)

Panel 7:

MRS. NAKAMURA: It's useless--This will never work again! It has completely rusted! What am I going to do now?

Panel 8:

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Thinking.) Please, God. Give me strength. I need money desperately. Please?

Panel 9:

BANK CLERK: (Handing money to MRS. NAKAMURA.) MRS. NAKAMURA, this is how much the bank has for you. Have a nice day.

Panel 10:

(At the Machine Repair shop.)

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Crying.) How much is this [sewing machine] worth?

OWNER OF SHOP: It's junk--all rust!

MRS. NAKAMURA (Still crying.) Please--whatever you can give me.

Panel 11:

(After selling everything she owned, MRS. NAKAMURA moved her family into a small wooden shack, their new home in Hiroshima. MRS. NAKAMURA scavenged for supplies and did all she could to provide for her family.)

Page Three (Above)

Panel 1:

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Thinking.) This has all been my bad luck. My fate, that I must accept. This suffering is my test of faith. I must survive. My children rely on me and only me.

Panel 2:

RADIO: ...Hiroshima Survivors, also known as Hibakusha... This just in. Our Government has just passed a new program providing health care options to all of our survivors...Please report to your closest agency to receive your card...

Panel 3:

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Handing someone a loaf of bread.) Your fresh loaf, Ma'am.

Panel 4:

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Handing someone a newspaper.) Your daily news, Sir.

Panel 5:

(Factory work: Moth ball belt)

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Holding a bowl of moth balls.) All good...Sir.

Panel 6:

(Although the Japanese Government provided assistance for their survivors, MRS. NAKAMURA's pride prohibited her from accepting any assistance for many years. She held many low paying jobs just to pay for food and rent. The long term effects of radiation made her have to take frequent resting periods throughout the day. In 1951 her family moved to a better home and she continued working at the Moth Ball factory until she retired.)

Panel 7:

(MRS. NAKAMURA's luck began to change. Life continued to happen. Things were changing all around her. The town eventually got rebuilt. MRS. NAKAMURA watched her children grow up. Eventually she began to accept Governmental services like health care and pension plans. It is noted that MRS. NAKAMURA completed her life one day at a time.)

(Her son got married...)



(MRS. NAKAMURA danced in a festival.)

Panel 8:

The End.


Emily Morris: I chose to pick only one of the main characters from John Hersey’s [account] and complete a graphic version of that [survivor’s] experience during the bomb drop on Hiroshima. The graphic version will be from the point of view of that [survivor] (first person) and contain only pertinent information to tell her story. The graphics will be selected based on the main events that tell the story of that [survivor] and the feelings or emotions that [she] must have felt during the bombing of Hiroshima and the aftermath. While I am aware that the [survivor] is Japanese and does not speak or even think in the same English context, I will need to summarize what I believe [she] felt in my terms.

Reflecting on the process. After completing the graphic representation of Mrs. Nakamura’s experience of the bombing of Hiroshima I feel a little less confident in my execution. It was difficult depicting everything in a graphic square without going overboard with pictures. I believe I chose the main events that Mrs. Nakamura went through; however, there were a few circumstances where I had to write a brief paragraph to place the readers where I needed them to be. This was a strip that spanned over many years; a lot of middle ground was tossed aside to illustrate only what was important. I’m not 100% positive that the reader would be able to pick up this graphic strip and know what really happened. Reading the stories of the Hibakusha (survivors) through a non-fiction account seems to me to be the best way to tell their stories.

I still enjoyed the challenge of completing this journal in a graphic version. It may not be perfect, but it was a good experience. I know now that I will not follow a career as a comic book artist.


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Fall 2007

Posted with author's permission.

What is Fail-Safe? (a Poem by Samantha Colandrea)

What does "fail-safe" even stand for?
To make sure everything goes right?
Is it to make sure in the worst situation?
That the plane will still take flight?
It began when a plane was spotted from Europe
The SAC declared it as a possible threat
But they are not allowed to proceed without orders
So they left it alone without fret
The SAC declared for an attack code
They created a bomber group made up of six
The orders are misunderstood because of the radar
And now it is too late for a fix
The thought of nuclear war
Causes Colonel to send out the crew
The six flights go toward Moscow
He did not know what else to do
Groteschele makes the suggestion
That the U.S. should begin
An attack to make the Soviets
Surrender and give in.
They made the attack look accidental
This was actually pretty cruel
Except they didn't think it through
And ran out of gas and fuel.

All six flights went down
And landed them in the sea
The pilots were all dead
And the other plane went free.

The Soviets make an agreement
With the President of the U.S.
They decline his request at first
But ended up saying yes.

The air defense shoots down two
Of the six planes unarmed
But the sixth plane should be left alone
Because it will do no harm.

Because of another disagreement
The sixth plane gets attacked
This was a mistake
That they weren't able to take back.

The President tries to tell Grady
That there is no war going on
Grady doesn't believe him
And sees it as a con.

They sent a plane to Moscow
To destroy the city for the "good"
Except this causes a bombing on New York
The Soviets would do what they could.

The moral of these attacks
Is that war is not worth fighting
It causes all the authorities to argue
When we all should be uniting.

(Samantha Colandrea responded to the book and film Fail-Safe by writing a poem about it.)


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Fall 2007

Published with author's permission.

J. Alfred Prufrock and His Women, A Character Study (Emily Morris)

Night time has ascended and a tall figure walks down a dark alley, the only visible light coming from small neon signs protruding from brick buildings like rainbows in the night sky. With the strong gusts of wind the sound of distant traffic and a few bums discussing politics on the corner blow through the alley. The smell of burnt garbage and urine stagnate in the air like a never lifting fog. This man walks with a quick pace and holds his chin tucked close to his chest, only lifting his eyes to read the signs as he passes through. There is a chill in his bones as with the darkness came the cold. He is a familiar sight in this alley coming here for the comfort he cannot achieve on the main streets of town. His mind races with fleeting thoughts of honesty and integrity, but his body continues to press him on through the night to find solace in the arms of his next lover.

As he approaches the familiar threshold he peers through the unstained portions of glass in the window pains. There is a warming sensation in his groin as he observes the ladies laughing with each other over a game of spades in the parlor. The brunette on the right laughs joyously as she apparently won the last hand. He watches her as her hair flows with the motion of her alabaster neck, laying softly on the bare shoulders and tickling her back. This one he knows as Sophia, she speaks with a soft accent of somewhere exotic a low sultry voice that pleases his ears. He has had her company many times and enjoys her immensely.

He enters the house that will shelter his aging bones for the evening. Cigarette smoke attempts to escape through the open door as the chilled October air threatens to follow him in. He hands his coat and hat over to the Madame of the house, her name is Chelsea and she is an everlasting beauty, with grace and money. Chelsea trains these girls in the house on how to be ladies to the men that come here, how to speak politely and listen with care when they choose to discuss their days. She teaches them the art of seduction that will warm the coldest heart. She shows them how to be tigresses in bed and how to make a polite exit when morning comes. Chelsea recognizes the man with a familiar smile and with one swift motion extends her hand for a greeting. He brushes his lips on the back of her hand and responds with a greeting regarding the change of seasons. Chelsea offers his most preferred drink and he accepts with a nod.

The man, once again locked onto Sophia approaches her as she deals the deck of cards to the ladies around the table. The arrangement for her company is made and Sophia excuses herself from the card table and locks her arm into the crook of his elbow they are approached by Chelsea bearing his drink, cheap gin and soda water with a wedge of lime hanging to the side of the glass. Chelsea approves the transaction and the two lovers ascend the stairs to the room where they will be spending the evening.

The man selects an overstuffed wing chair and props his feet on the stool set in front of it. Sophia moves across the room lighting candles for ambiance. He stares at his glass, swirls the ice around and takes another sip. Sophia moves toward him, locking his eyes with her sultry gaze as she moves closer, he can smell her perfume. She smells of exotic flowers and clean linen. Sophia bends down, exposing the crest of her breasts tucked tightly into her bodice. She loosens his laces and removes each shoe placing them side-by-side on the floor. Sophia moves to straddle the stool placing his feet in her lap. With her thumb she rubs circles into the soles of his feet. She politely asks him "What miraculous things did you accomplish today?" He returns his gaze to his glass and returns her question with a soft voice he says, "there will be time to discuss these things, now is not the time." Choosing silence instead of conversation Sophia continues rubbing his feet and humming a soft tune.

Sophia’s hands move up from his feet and begin a soft caress to the inside of his legs. Still maintaining silence he locks her gaze with his and enjoys the feeling of her womanly touch. Conflicting thoughts race through his mind. He accepts her touch, he craves what comes next, but how on earth can he continue to act this way. He recognizes his true age; he knows the inevitable truth of age. He has begun the downward step to death. His hair is thinning; his forehead shows the wrinkles where years of stern concentration and heated arguments have crossed his face. His eyes have lost luster and his teeth are yellow now from years of combating stress with tobacco.

The night progresses as usual, the physical desire quenched in a bed of tossed sheets and the smell of sweat. The sun has begun to rise; through the cracks in the window shade he can see the gray shades of morning. In all the years of coming here he does not speak to these women. How can he explain what he does during the day, when the light of the sun graces the sky, he is not the same man laying in this whore’s bed now. If they ever ask why he never took a bride, how can he explain the tragedy of loosing the only person he ever truly loved. How can he speak to these women, and why should he.

Through all the years of coming here he has known these women he has loved them all. He has felt their embrace and the warmth of their bodies. He recognizes the sound of their laughter he knows them well. He rises to his feet and begins dressing in last night’s clothes. His eyes travel over the view of Sophia’s body as he exits the room without any goodbyes or condolences. The other men are leaving now, and he spots one exiting the room up the hall. He asks himself, "am I any different then that man there, or the one still sleeping in the room over there? Am I any different, any better then them?" He toils with the idea of paying off his house account and never returning again. He may just be getting too old for this. Better yet he knows he is getting too old for this.

As he begins his walk home to his apartment on 5th street, he is angry with himself for allowing his physical urges to override his moral approach to life. He recognizes it is time for him to end this behavior, to accept his age, and to accept that every day draws him closer to death.

Will he return to the house? It’s left unsaid. Will he ever be truly happy with himself? That’s left un-read.

(Emily Morris' note: After reading this poem I analyzed the character or rather what I thought of the character. I broke down every section into an action of a rather undesirable man. I pictured a pitiful man, a man that takes his nights at a whorehouse. A man that during the day he portrays an honorable man a role model to society’s rights.)


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Fall 2007

Published with Permission

Sunday, December 09, 2007 -- New Blog Name!

This blog has a new name, which matches the new URL, containing, perhaps, a bit of wordplay.

Nothing else has changed; this blog will remain committed to publishing the creative work of college students (and others).

As a college instructor, I remain convinced that when one reads and absorbs good literature, one writes better, and this blog offers compelling proof.

Many of these student writers are not English or Writing majors--just college freshmen who are filling an elective slot.

Often, when college instructors expect quality work and thinking, students meet those expectations, and then some.

The best part: while my students often surprise me with their astute insights and creative talent, they mostly surprise themselves.

And THAT is what keeps me in the classroom!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A New Memoir

I have just completed a memoir titled I, Driven: memoir of a teen's involuntary commitment.

When I was 18, I was committed, against my will, to a mental institution, The Cherokee Mental Health Institute in Cherokee, Iowa, pictured in this post (I snapped this photo in 2004).

The institution is still in business, but has added a new twist to its business: incarcerating sex offenders.

I'm in the process of shopping the memoir around to agents and editors. For those of you who are writers, you know how difficult it is these days to gain the attention of the powers who decide what gets published. So I have decided to try something a bit different:

I have set up a web page with an open letter to agents and publishers regarding my memoir. I'm also going to try the old fashioned way, but the other night, as I was checking out a domaining blog, I got this brainstorm: why not find a generic domain name and put my promotional information on it?

Amazingly, some great generics having to do with memoir were available and just ready for the plucking (for cheap), so I grabbed several variations. For now, you can see how I have used one of them (I'm still a bit slow with creating web pages):

This domain name was parked on Sedo for less than 24 hours and received three browser type-in hits, so I decided to pull it and DO something with it--that's my goal for all my parked pages; I just need to find the time without devoting my entire life to creating web pages. But this one felt important (at least personally).

Don't be afraid to promote yourself and your artistic endeavors on your own blogs and web pages; it may be the only free advertising you will ever get.



Monday, May 21, 2007

A Letter to John Hersey Regarding Hiroshima (Sarah Moser)

(Note: In Jennifer Semple Siegel's Introduction to Literature class, students are offered the option of writing a letter to an author, dead or alive, to ask questions and comment on their works. Sarah Moser chose to write her letter to John Hersey, author of Hiroshima, a non-fiction/journalistic account of six people who survived the a-bomb in Hiroshima.)


Dear Mr. Hersey,

What made you decide to turn [The New Yorker] article into a book? How did you even come about writing the article in the first place? Was it your idea? How did putting a face on the [Hiroshima] victims make you feel? Were you proud to be able to do this or did you just feel sad and ashamed? (You had to talk to the very people that we knowingly dropped a bomb on and tried to kill.) How did it feel to have everyone in the country talking about the book and the accounts within it? Why was distribution discouraged in Japan? Were they against the book being made, or was it just to be sensitive to their feelings about the past? Was the American occupation government trying to protect their feelings and not make them relive the event? Did you form a bond with the six people in the book or was it merely a professional interviewing relationship? I don’t know that I could hear these stories and not become attached. How did you feel about the bomb being dropped? Did this change at all while you were writing the article? After meeting these six people and getting to know them, did you keep in touch? How did they feel about you personally? I just can’t imagine being friendly to someone from the country that tried to kill me.

I know I’m asking a lot of questions, but history intrigues me, and I want to understand what the feelings at the time were like for both parties.

How do you think the Cold War affected the release of your book? Do you think that it was positive or negative? Did you hope that your book might cause people to learn from their mistakes and be more wary of similar situations in the future? With the climate of the world during the Gulf War/Desert Storm, did your opinions on nuclear weapons change at all? Do you think that the world view, or at least the American view, on nuclear weapons has changed at all because of Hiroshima? Will there ever be a day that this devastation is unleashed again?

I think you did a wonderful job on this book. Following these individuals from beginning to end humanized what happened. It now serves to make younger generations understand the situation. I feel that this book was written just at the right time—long enough from the event that people could read it in a different perspective.

Thank you for doing such a good job!


Sarah Moser


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2007

Published with permission.

Janie Crawford Watches God and Children, a sequel (Joel Trimmer)

(NOTE: In Jennifer Semple Siegel's African-American Literature final exam, students were offered the option of writing a sequel to Zora Neale Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. Joel Trimmer wrote his sequel in about an hour.)


[After Tea Cake’s death] Janie [Crawford, Killicks, Starks, Woods] went back to working the General store, as she always had. Hezekiah was happy for her return. It was if while she was gone, nothing changed in Eatonville. The men still gathered on the porch to play checkers and argue over anything that could be argued. It seemed as though a replacement for Jody Starks was even in place. Every day that passed made Hezekial more and more like Jody. He even smoked his cigar the same. Janie watched as the young man mused. Jody was the most respected man in Eatonville before he died. He set her up for the wealth and prosperity that she now lived. She had made peace with him. So if Hezekial wanted to be another Jody Starks that was as good a man as any to emulate.

In the coming years, Janie spent a lot of time reflecting. She sat on the porch like one of the man. She even swapped stories time to time like she would at the muck. She thought about Tea-cake most often. Every day she thought about Tea-cake. He gave her the opportunity to be fine. Janie felt isolated for years until tea-cake came and set her free. Janie also went fishing, just like tea-cake taught her. She fished for hours thinking about that first night Tea-cake too her fishing…

In all the reflecting that she did, she discovered she had no regrets. When looking back on her life, she was satisfied. Not many people can say that about their life, and Janie truly believed it.

She still got scowls from all the women in town. Janie was through weaving bonnets and tying her hair up. She was happy in blue overalls and loose fitting dresses. She was beyond trying to accommodate others. The next chapter in her life was to be dedicated to Janie. Janie used all her experience and knowledge of the world and shared it. She was as influential and controversial as she ever was. Suitors came and went. Janie said she was off the market, but deep down, she knew she was powerless to deny love if it came to her. She would have to follow her own teachings. When the young children of Eatonville gathered on the porch of the general store, Janie always gave them a freezie-pop and a story. Their favorite was the story of the hurricane. She always told them to follow their love. She told them never to settle for anyone. Love would find them if they kept their eyes open. This kind of talk stirred up all kinds of fussing in Eatonville. Parents were scared because their kids kept talking, “Miss Janie this…”, or “Miss Janie that.” That was Janie, though, and the people knew she couldn’t be talked down. The Janie that returned to Eatonville was a proud, strong woman. For all the grumbling, the townspeople still respected her. They also feared her. They saw her as a loose cannon, and worse, their children loved Miss Janie. The townspeople were terrified their children would run off to the ocean first chance they got.

Janie wanted her story told. Telling these stories made her feel good. She wanted the children to know what they could be for themselves. Janie had also never had kids herself, so this was her way of passing on her legacy. She spoke about her passions and freedom and loving life. She became a grand mother figure for all the children in town. She was beloved by many, and respected by all.

LIT203 African-American Literature, Spring 2007

Published with permission.

Graphic Version of "August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains" (Andrew Herr)

Text: Follow the arrows.

Panel 1: Tick-tock, 7 o'clock! Time to get up!

Panel 2: Seven-nine, breakfast time, seven-nine!

Panel 3: Nine-fifteen, time to clean!

Panel 4: Five O'Clock!

Panel 5: Six O'clock!

Panel 6: Eight O'clock!

Panel 7: FIRE!! FIRE!! FIRE!! FIRE!!

Panel 8: Today is August 5, 2026!!

Artist/Writer's note:

This graphic version of Ray Bradbury's short story "August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains," coupled with some of the actual text, makes the reader to visualize the story line. The point of view changes when the reader reads the text, then looks at a picture of an actual house on fire. The shift from plain text to a text with visual representation makes the reader visualize what's going on in the story, the pictures acting as clues and reminders. The timeline style portrayed by the graphic version allows, in minor detail, for the reader to follow along during certain hours of the day as described in this piece of fiction.
LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2007
Published with permission.

What happens When We Grow Old? (Kate Updegrove)

(Note: In Jennifer Semple Siegel's Introduction to Literature class, students are offered the option of writing a creative response to a poem, story, or play. Kate Updegrove chose to write a poetic response to Langston Hughes' poem "Harlem.")


What happens when we grow old?

Does our memory shrink
like a dried up sponge?
Or create a colorful canvas ---
And then smudge.
Do we laugh the same?
Or develop a lion’s roar
With a big mane?

Maybe we don’t move
Like a sloth in the wild.

Or do we reminisce our lives as a child?


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2007

Published with permission.

The Game of War (Erin Collins)

(Note: In Jennifer Semple Siegel's Introduction to Literature class, students are offered the option of rewriting a story, poem, or play in another genre. Erin Collins chose to rewrite Tim O'Brien's short story "The Man I Killed" as a poem.)
the game of War

the face of a faceless man
staring back at me.
one eye shut
the other a hole,
looking deep into my soul

the face of a faceless man
haunts my dreams.
nose unbroken
hair clean and black,
glistening under the sun.

the face of a faceless man
I never did see.
his fingernails clean
skin smooth and freckly.

a butterfly rests
on the face of that man.
a man who is unknown to me.

what would have become,
should have become
of the man with no face?

a scholar or soldier?
teacher or lover?
maybe neither, maybe both.

all I knew
was what I saw:
the face of the faceless man.
fragile and beautiful
in life and in death.
LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2007
Published with permission.

I’m Not Afraid of the Coppers (a sequel by Ashley Stahle)

(Note: In Jennifer Semple Siegel's Introduction to Literature class, students were offered the option of writing a prequel or sequel to a short story. Ashley Stahle chose to write a sequel to Alan Sillitoe's novella The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner.)

Well, I pulled my big job about two weeks ago, and the coppers haven’t started closing in yet. While that doesn’t mean I am in the clear, it is most definitely a good sign. It makes me smile to think about how the Governor would react if he knew about this last pinch. I like to think it stings when people like him find out they can be wrong, that just maybe someone like me can knock `em off their high horses even for only a moment or two.

The money from this last job will keep me going for a while, at least until I find myself a new mark. I’ve already got something in mind, but I need more information on it before I can decide if it’s worth the risk. It’s not that I’m afraid of gettin’ nabbed by the rats again. I know they’ll get me sooner or later; I just want to enjoy what I can get until that happens. For now, my plan is to just keep on running, fast and hard, see how far I can get, you know? It’s funny how the Borstal made me faster than ever when you think about it. They were supposed to be reforming me for the honest life. Instead, they made me harder to catch.

I haven’t seen my ma in a long while. Sometimes I wonder how she and the younger ones are doing. I still think about me pa, too. I remember how he slaved away doin’ honest work for them and gettin’ nothing in return. They’ll never get me like that, not me. They may catch me, stop me for a while, but they’ll never own me. I’ve found my own way, and though it’s not without risk, I’m making it just fine. Better off now than I’d be if they got hold of me for good.
I hid my take from this last job good. Even if they suspect me, those coppers’ll have a tough time hookin’ me for it. They’re not too bright, you know. With the set-up I’ve got, I expect they’ll have more than their share of work cut out for them. And no matter how hard they sweat me, I’ll never give ‘em a thing. I’m no fool; I know their tricks by now. They don’t know mine, though, and that’s all the edge you need most of the time. If you can just outthink ‘em, you’re golden ‘cause coppers, they think you and me are stupid, too stupid to hide from them for long. They underestimate us, and between you and me, they’re not doing themselves only favors that way.


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2007

Published with permission.

Technology: Love or Hate Relationship? (Arielle Pringle)

(Note: In Jennifer Semple Siegel's Introduction to Literature final exam, students were offered the option of writing an essay that explored both the positive and negative aspects of technological advances. Writers were asked to use Ray Bradbury's "August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains" as a springboard. Arielle Pringle's piece is a first draft, written in about an hour.)

In the year of 2007, there are many technological advances that some people love and hate. Some advances in technology that we love is the cell phone and the computer. Others are TV and the DVD players. The negative impact that cell phones have today: they are a distraction to everyone. If the phone rings, then we jump to pick it up, or if we get a text message or voicemail, we hurry to either reply back to it or listen to it. We stop just to work with our cell phones anytime during the day. Just like in the story “August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains,” the house was a distraction for people. It made a lot of noise and it talked back to them (if anybody was in there). But a positive impact that the cell phone has made: it is a better way to get in touch with people. Also, the cell phone itself can do a lot of other things than just call out and receive calls. It can hold phone numbers so that you won’t have to carry around the usual address and phone book. It is also good to have when there is an emergency, but at the same time it may cause the emergency. Cell phones are both technology that people love and hate.

Another advance in technology that we have come to love and hate is the television and the advances in the screen look as well as the advances in the cable options. Back in the olden days, televisions were only in black and white and you could only get a few channels. But today television has advanced to have a bigger screen with better quality and look. There are now LCD screens and flat screens. Also, some people have the home theater system which makes your living room like a movie theater. The best movies are viewed in a home theater room. In 2007, we also can get over 500 channels, whereas back then there were only two. Satellite dishes are taking over. No more of the regular cable or the cable boxes; there has to be a dish sitting on top of your house in order for a person to be considered one of the best. That is also a negative look on today’s society with the advances in technology. People don’t look at your character or your integrity anymore; they judge you solely on what you have. If your house does not have at least one big screen in it, you are not qualified to be the best. My house has over 6 televisions in it, two of them being LCD 50” televisions. Does that make me a person of honor and integrity? Some people in this world would think so.

Other advances in technology that people would love and hate are the advances in home appliances. Now there are refrigerators that have the news and weather on them, washers and dryers that can sense how much water to use only by the size of the load of clothing, and microwaves that now grill and are convection ovens. These advances are great for some people but are a nightmare to others. Yes, to have these appliances in your house would be a big deal. To have a stainless steel, LG refrigerator with a big computer screen on the front would make your house nice. Also, to have the water and the ice on the door is an extra benefit. The high efficiency HEST washer and dryer are a big deal today, too. Being able to get rid of stains without even treating them before they go in is an extra benefit for some. Using less water in the load can save money as well. But what happens when the computer screen on the refrigerator breaks or the sensor on the washer goes bad? People are now wishing they would have the protection agreement at Sears. All the nice benefits of having these appliances are making the people love them, but as soon as it breaks down the people start to hate the fact they even considered changing their kitchen around. Having to go through the hassle of getting the parts to fix the appliance, then having a technician to come out to repair it is a whole other reason why people hate and love the advances in technology.

Yes, these advances are great for America and the world but it also creates problems that are unnecessary. Cell phones are a distraction to anyone, TV’s are over priced and home appliances are so advanced that it is taking place of another electronic in your house. People love to say and flaunt these advances in technology but they hate when something goes wrong. Then they have to worry about the consequences and the problems that come up. All the advances in technology have made a positive and negative impact on today’s society, as well as the society of tomorrow and other generations after the ones of 2007.


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2007

Published with permission.

So Muslims are Terrorizing Americans (Andrew Costanzo)

(Note: In Jennifer Semple Siegel's Introduction to Literature class, students are offered the option of writing a creative response to a poem, story, or play. Andrew Costanzo chose to write a poetic response to Jimmy Santiago Baca's poem "So Mexicans Are Taking Jobs from Americans.")


Are we? Do we come in
with tanks and guns and say:
Be afraid, terror has come?

Do you put down your weapons,
and concede to terror, and then
wage your war?

I hear we are terrorizing your country,
do we come in, voice high, and
while you are invading another country,
terrorize yours?

Even as you watch TV, and
See the terror that your bombs
and your soldiers have wrought
on the world, you can safely say,
we are taking down the terrorists.

So I look, I look for these
So-called terrorists.

Everywhere I turned, I looked,
Do you know what I saw?
American soldiers, American bombers.
And at the feet of these “heroes”
were thousands of dead.

I see all this and I, no, we,
are the terrorists? Through your
words of hate, thousands die
through terrorism, and it is not us

Turn and look in the mirror,
and you will see the face
of terrorism.


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2007

Published with permission

"I Stand Here Ironing," a poem (Adam Shurnitski)

(Note: In Jennifer Semple Siegel's Introduction to Literature class, students are offered the option of rewriting a story, poem, or play in another genre. Adam Shurnitski chose to rewrite Tillie Olsen's short story "I Stand here Ironing" as a poem. This writer has captured the female point of view--not always an easy shift for a writer of the opposite gender.)


The iron, heavy, I drag
Back and forth, back and forth.
The most wonderful gift, but
Timing is everything.

Two years, quickly pass,
She is a stranger to me,
But I have little time to notice.

She is my perfect child, oh,
To love her properly all over again!
She is alone, in the dark, scared.
I assure her that it will all be fine,
And as perfect as she is, never complains.

What price must I pay to win the love,
Of my so distant, sweet Emily.
Nothing I have done justifies,
My poor upbringing.

As I stand here ironing,
It hurts my soul, to drag,
Back and forth, the destructive
Iron. The iron which crushes my
Sweet child.

I was never there,
To ease her pain and sorrows.
I never saw her life escaping,
My loving touch. I merely saw
Myself, ironing, dragging slowly across
A wooden board.
She deserves more.


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2007

Published with permission.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I am the Slave Mother (Christy Torres)

(NOTE: In Jennifer Semple Siegel's African-American Literature class, students are offered the option of writing a personal essay, using an assigned literary piece as a springboard. Christy Torres chose "The Slave Mother," by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper as her springboard.)

His shrieks pierce the silence of the night. The rhythmic dance of inhales and exhales is disrupted. I can feel my mind slowly return to reality. My husband’s chest moves my hand slowly up and down. His breath continues its dance and he is oblivious to the cries shattering the night’s sleep. I force my eyes open and scan the dark room. My eyes stop on the clock, 3:42 a.m., its harsh fluorescent light mocks my loss of sleep.

I push away the covers and pull my hair up in a quick ponytail. I force myself to leave the warm haven of my bed and creep slowly to the adjourning room. He is crying hard, his breath catching in his throat before being forced out into the darkness. I open the door softly, and walk over to where he is sitting helplessly on the floor. I pick him up and look at his brother, still sleeping in his bed, undisturbed by his brother’s cries.

He lays his head on my shoulder and hiccups. I walk down the steps to the living room where I can rock him. As I rock him, I think about my life. The constant routine, the furious pace that leaves me exhausted, the never-ending cries that bombard my mind. I feel bitter. I am bitter because it was my sleep that was forfeited. I am rocking a toddler that is now asleep; however, one slight move, one break in the rhythmic rock and he will be awake and wailing.

Tomorrow is Tuesday. I have school. I dare look at the clock, the only light in the dark living room. 4:12 a.m....time is still mocking me. In less than three hours I need to be up and showered. I need to wake my daughter and get her ready for school. I need to wake up the boys, change them, get them dressed, and brush their hair and teeth. I need to feed them, make sure her backpack is in order, put socks and shoes on feet, push arms into coats and be out the door by eight. Drive to the bus stop, give a kiss good-bye, and drive to the babysitters, listening to “Crazy Car” three times on the way there. Pull in the driveway, unbuckle seat belts, put shoes back on wiggling toes, carry each boy on either side of my hips up the walkway, spill into the house, take off coats, smile as they run in screaming “Nana,” thanking God for the wonderful babysitter that I found. Kiss each one goodbye three times, and try to walk out the door while my youngest clings to my leg, not because he is upset but because he thinks the ride is fun.

Once I am finally out of the house I must drive back across town to school. I need to be at school by 9:30, and it is 9:12. I drive across town and for some reason “Crazy Car” is still playing…and being sung…I am in school all day until 3:15, and then I walk home. In the house by 3:25. My husband and boys are asleep, they will wake shortly. It is time to thaw dinner for my family. I must clean up the house, load the dish washer, and take out the trash, which should be deemed radioactive from the fumes being emitted from the diapers inside.

It is 3:40, time to get my daughter from the bus stop. She bounces off the bus, smiling. My heart swells at the sight of her smile. We walk home and she tells me that she needs my help with her math homework. We walk in the door and I can hear my sons awake and playing in their room. I close the front door and I hear, “Mommy, et me out my ooom, peezze.” I grab two diapers, wipes, and climb the stairs, open the door to two smiling beautiful faces. Pick them up, tickle them and change them one by one.

My husband wakes up and we all go downstairs. I make dinner; they play with toys that I must later pick up. We eat dinner, food is thrown on the floor despite my instructions to “Use your fork, eat pretty.” They once again play with my husband while I clean up the plates, cups, forks, and food scattered around the dining room.

The clock glares at me, I am racing against time, and it is 6:45. Time is competing with my children’s demands, and I am the one losing the battle. I gather PJ’s and draw the bath water, the boys get in the tub, my husband bathes them and I help my daughter with her homework. Their bath is over. I dress the boys for bed, get their sippy cups, read them a story and tuck them it. Three more kisses are given to each little boy, and to my delight I get six of my own.

I turn the bathwater back on and fill the tub for my daughter. She bathes, and gets dressed, and I tuck her in. She reads me a story and I kiss her, once, goodnight.

My husband is in bed. The clock on the nightstand mocks me still. It is 8:30. I kiss him goodnight, and he begins his dance with the night. I, on the other hand, go downstairs to clean up and tackle my homework.

I am frustrated, I am tired, and I am running on a constant cycle. I am a slave. A slave to time, a slave to professors, a slave to my husband, a slave to my work, a slave to the constant mess of toys and a slave to the gooey, sticky substance that is smudged between the pages of the book I am trying to read. But mostly, I am a slave to my children. I am a slave mother. As my mind leaves the day ahead and turns back to the rhythmic rocking and the sleeping two year old nestled in my arms, I wouldn’t want it any other way, even if it is 4:58 in the morning.

Author's Note

I chose to write a personal essay on “The Slave Mother.” This piece was extremely powerful to me and I believe that I reacted to in such a strong way because I couldn’t imagine losing a child despite the frustrations involved with motherhood. After thinking about the piece and reading it to myself at least a dozen times, and reading it to my husband twice, I knew that I wanted to write something related to this piece. I approached it a little differently because I can not relate to the exact emotions of having a child ripped away. I was unsure of what I wanted to write until my son woke up screaming the other night and I had to tend to him. I was frustrated because I wanted to sleep and as I rocked him I got more frustrated thinking about my life. Then I thought about the poem and knew that although I was in constant motion and was a “slave” to their needs, I couldn’t imagine losing one. I realize the time spent with them is a blessing no matter how tedious the task throughout the day is. I think the maternal instinct and emotional attachment in the poem is what connected me in such a strong way and enabled me to portray my own emotional attachment to my children in this piece.


LIT203 African-American Literature, Spring 2007

Published with permission

August 2026: The Day My World Collapsed (Sarah Moser)

(Note: In Jennifer Semple Siegel's Introduction to Literature class, students were offered the option of writing a prequel or sequel to a short story. Sarah Moser chose to write a prequel, from the point-of-view of the family dog, to Ray Bradbury's "August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains.")

I lay on my rug in front of the fireplace just waking up from a deep, dream-filled sleep. The day before had been full of intense activity and play. The prospect of what today might hold was almost too much to handle. I had even woken up to my feet furiously fluttering, as if running at high speed. After a brief stretch, I was ready to begin my routine. It always made me stop and stare, head cocked, when I moved away from my rug. The funny, little mice came out, buzzing furiously, while vacuuming up the hair I had left behind. In my younger days, I would bark at these interesting creatures, but now I just watch in amusement, day after day.

Walking over into the kitchen, I waited for the muffled voice I knew would come. Tick-tock, five o’clock, time to eat, time to eat, five o’clock! As if coming to greet me, a nook in the wall opened up to reveal a small robot Dalmatian carrying a miniature hose. It zipped out to my bowl and a stream of cold water majestically began to arc out of the nozzle. A minute passed and the Dalmatian, hose-in-hand, retreated into the wall it came from. The water tasted amazing! It always did, but today it seemed to dance on my tongue as I lapped it up. Almost on cue, three choices lit up on the screen behind my food dish and a new voice asked, “Turkey and gravy, Lamb and rice, or Beef and potatoes?” This was my favorite part of the day, until dinnertime any way. I pressed my nose to the Beef and Potatoes option and a robotic arm emerged clutching a can. A small saw buzzed in a circle around the top and the arm flipped over. The moist food glistened in my dish. Eat up, no time to waste, no time to waste, eat up! In a moment, the food was gone and my stomach was pleasantly full.

As I strolled back into the living room, a voice chirped again. Five-six, time to play, time to play, five-six! A bundle of toys appeared in the corner of the room; a rope, a few balls, and a bone. Normally, I would take turns playing with each of these toys until my family woke up. Today, however, all I wanted to do was go outside and play. After that fantastic dream, I was ready to run. One whine at the front door was all it took and I was free.

Outside, a breeze was blowing and the air was filled with familiar smells. The one that caught my attention was the scent of a rabbit. The hair on my back perked up and my eyes did a quick scan of the perimeter in search of my target. There it was! I darted over the hill and followed the speedy rabbit into the woods. Around bends and trees, carefully avoiding roots and rocks, my family should be up by now, but I persisted in my pursuit. Suddenly, as I ran through the winding creek a brilliant light seared my eyes.

The next thing I remember is waking up with half of my body in the creek, I didn’t know how long I had been unconscious, but my stomach told me I hadn’t eaten in awhile. My weak body struggled to get up. I felt nauseous, but sheer will-power kept me moving in the direction of home. The family must be worried!

What felt like a hurried pace was more of a slow crawl. As I came over the hill, I saw funny markings on the wall; however, my only thought was going inside to let my family know I was alive. Arriving at the door, a chill swept over my body and I let out a whimper. The door opened. I was feeling so weak that I barely even noticed the robot mice scurrying all around me. I hurried from room to room. What is going on? Where is everyone? I knew something was wrong, but the smell of breakfast lured me to the kitchen. The familiar scent was a small comfort. My family was gone and I frantically tried to think! The room started to get hazy and I felt myself spinning in circles. I fell to the ground and my last conscious thought was of my family and the hope that I might be with them once again.


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2007

Published with permission

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pursuit of Absence (Lindsay Klunk)

(Note: In Jennifer Semple Siegel's Introduction to Literature class, students are offered the option of writing a prequel or sequel of a poem, story, or play. Lindsay Klunk chose to write a prequel of Sylvia Plath's poem "Edge" as a stream-of-consciousness short short story.)

February 6th, 1963

My hands are tired from carrying out the tasks of yet another painstakingly long and meaningless day in this place that hardly deserves the name of home. A more suitable name might be “residence,” or “quarters." I stay under this roof, inside these four walls. I don’t live in this place. To say that I live would suggest that there is some life inside this shell of a body. There is no laughter or smiling faces in this place, at least not when I am present. It is late, but the night differs little from the day for me. My days blend together from the lack of sleep. My world is one of 24 hour periods of monotonous time followed by more 24 hour periods of monotonous time. This never changing process is too much to bear, mostly. The children sleep and I am torn. Shall I take them with me, or leave them behind? Surely no good mother would abandon her children. Would any good mother have kept them to suffer along side of her for as long as I have? Oh, the quandaries I face this night, and every night. For I have thought to go on with it every time the moon is full, or half, or absent, or anywhere in between. She is gone this night. Perhaps I will join her soon. And be absent. I do miss her lonely smile, her lonely eyes when she is not present. But she always returns, as do I. You see, on occasion I have gone beyond simply thinking of leaving. I have left. But something drags me back here, every time. The stillness of this night engulfs my body like an ocean. The darkness surrounds me as I drown in a sea of my own short comings. I have failed miserably at life, and I am unable to succeed, even in death. What a triumph it will be, what a glorious day when I take my final breath and God carries me home. Mother Earth will finally have had enough of me. She will breathe a sigh of relief to see me go on my way. This world will be at peace to be rid of me. And I will be at peace to be rid of her. She has shown me no hospitality. My heart aches at the thought of what could have been, things that should have been, but will never be. Guilt and regret claw and tear and rip at the very core of my being. My soul is weary, exhausted from the battle within. Will my soul sleep? Or will it be awakened with a new life, with new opportunities in a new place? One can only hope. Would an eternity of rest be so terrible? My thirty-one years have left me with little more than enough energy to pry my eyelids open when the alarm sounds at seven with that persistent and undying burst of ungodly noise. An eternity of rest might be refreshing. The children stir. What is left of my cold heart seems to be fighting its way towards the back of my throat. I have got to face it. I simply must take them with me if they wake. It will be my sign from God himself. He will make the decision. It is in His hands now.
Author's note

I attempted to take on the persona of the woman from the poem, while keeping Plath’s voice. I wrote this piece as a diary entry, which is why I chose not to separate it into paragraphs. It is more of a stream of consciousness piece, from the point of view of someone about to commit suicide. I intentionally jumped from one thought to another in an attempt to recreate the irrational thought process of someone who is so out of touch with logical thought. I realize that I took a risk in writing this way.
LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2007
Published with persmission