Friday, March 21, 2008

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

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

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