Sunday, April 30, 2006

Comprehensive Exam #3: Jessie needs to work faster or she will be sitting in front of her computer forever.

My American lit. comp. is harder than I thought it would be. Actually, it's bordering on downright overwhelming. I'm attempting to discuss the arc of American literature, as it moves forward in time, in relation to the canon's evolution and its relation to Latina literature. I'm also trying to place Sandra Cisneros on a continuum of American women fiction writers that focus not only on gender but ethnicity, as well as discuss what other women writers helped open the door for Cisneros, and why her inclusion in the canon is appropriate and timely.

Say what??

Yeah, I'm still trying to sort it out, too. However, over the course of this semester, and through writing these comps (we need to do 3), I am learning something about myself and the way I write. I think and read and ingest and write small blurbs and think and read and ingest for a long, long time before I ever get anything real down on the page. Before I'm able to write the 5-6 pages necessary to pass the exam, I will have familiarized myself with the topic in at least 10 unnecessary, but profoundly interesting, directions. The last detour led me to mouthfuls of poetry that begged to be read out loud. Ahh, but at this point, I don't know if I'm moving forward or backwards.

Surprisingly, I'm enjoying the process--the reading, the learning, the trying to make sense of it all. Yes, it's all good and wonderful except for one thing: I'm working on a deadline! And my creative, Latina-literature-loving-self REFUSES to let me work any faster.

I've been sitting at this computer all day...and I've only written one paragraph. Honestly, ONE stinking paragraph! I just can't help but think how much fun this would be if I wasn't pressed for time to get it done. I feel my brain slowly emerging from the fogginess of not-yet-understanding. I catch momentary glimpses of what it is I have to say--POOF! And then it's gone. But hopefully, HOPEFULLY, the dam is about to burst. Hopefully the words are about to spill onto the paper soon. Either that or I'm gonna have to go to bed with only one paragraph on the page.

Ok--but at least I can say I've learned a lot. Ironically, that won't help me graduate. Sometimes I really envy linear thinking people--because then I'd probably already be done. But I'm definitely not one of them. Nope--definitely not.

Fine. One paragraph or not...I think it's time for bed. And instead of blundering on with my thoughts, I'll stop here and instead, fittingly, leave you with the second half of Ana Castillo's poem, "In My Country"...

i do not escape into my sleep.
Analysts are not made rich by
my discoveries therein. My
mother is not cursed for giving
birth. i am not made ashamed
for being.

In my world, i do not attend
conferences with academicians
who anthropologize my existence
dissect the simplicity of greed
and find the differences created
out of Babel interesting.

In my world
i am a poet
who can rejoice in the coming of
Halley's comet, the wonders
of Machu Picchu, and a sudden kiss.

In my world, i breathe clean air.
i don't anticipate nuclear war.
i speak all languages. i don't
negate aging, listen to myths
to explain my misery or create them.

In my world the poet sang loud
and clear and everyone heard
without recoiling. It was sweet
as harvest, sharp as tin, strong
as northern wind, and all had
a coat warm enough to bear it.



Natasjia said...

I bet your paragraph is better than my two-and-a-half sentences.

Endment said...

this is great ---
Thanks for sharing Ana Castillo's poem. Don't you simply love "her world"?

Endment said...

By the way - I had a lovely time at Ana Castillo's site

Jessie said...

Thanks for the heads up endment! I'll add her link to my post. What a lucky find!

Anonymous said...

Your research focus is simply fascinating to me for so many reasons. I love reading about your process. I'm simply wowed.

Jessie said...

since we'll both be moving to Mnpls. soon, i hope i'll get to meet you in person. i think we would have lots to talk about!