Poetry vs. Short Stories
Tonight, I went to the presentation by author Stephen Graham Jones. He is a fictional writer who mainly writes short stories and short novels. He read several of his works along with a few by other authors. The poems that we read this week for class are Mending Wall by Robert Frost, Learning to Read by Frances E. W. Harper, and Accident, Mass. Ave by Jill McDonough.
Mending Wall is about two neighbors who disagree on whether they should keep the wall between their properties or take it down. One of them wants to keep it and the other wants to take it down. The neighbor who wants to take it down does not understand why they need it because there are no cows to keep inside the fence. The other neighbor wants to keep it so he can have his privacy. This poem is about understanding differences and respecting your neighbors.
The second poem, Learning to Read is about slaves who were not allowed to be educated. The narrator of the poem ends up teaching herself how to read even though she is old and doesn’t have many years of living left. She does this because she believes that she has the right to be educated no matter what.
The third poem, Accident, Mass. Ave is about two people who get into a car accident. One lady rear ends the other. At first, the person who got hit is very mad and yells at the other lady. The other lady yells back, but then they both realize that neither car is damaged and the make amends. This poem is also about understanding other people and respecting them.
One of Jones' stories in particular relates to these poems. When he was reading his short story about being of Indian descent and living in the southern US, he talked about being different and having to pretend to be someone he wasn’t in order to fit in. Also, the people he interacted with did not have much insight as to what being an Indian really meant. They asked him if he knew about animal tracks, and called him “chief.” Each poem is about respecting your neighbors and understanding those around you. His story about being an outcast seemed like the one that connected the best. It seemed like the people he lived around did not understand or respect his culture. If they had made an effort to understand him, I think he would have been better off.