Blog 5-Stories on Trains

Using any one of Faulkner’s 15-character voices as a guide, create a paragraph in the voice of a character totally different to yourself. Think about people you might have overheard on the train or bus, or someone you might have seen randomly on a street corner. Invent their life, their consciousness in a paragraph. 

My head vibrates against the train window as the mechanical beast shifts in its tracks. The window is cool against my cheek. I shut my eyes and listen to the bustling commotion that takes place in the stomach of the train.

School children are laughing, happy that their school day has come to an end. People are taking phone calls. Two in English, two in Mandarin and one in Hindi. In the distance, I can hear a small child asking her mother how far away their stop is. “How many stops now mummy? Oh, is this ours? How do you say that, Syd-en-ham?”

I love people watching, especially on trains. Each person is like a novel. Each has their own unique story and each person is at a different chapter in their life. I take joy in guessing people’s stories and observing them in the present moment.

As I turn my attention back to the train carriage, I observe a young Asian girl face-timing her family. She seems happy to see them, but also sad. Though I cannot understand her language, I can read her expressions, and I wonder to myself what her story is.

I then spot a lady, I would say in her early 30’s, with a notepad and paper creating the most amazing sketch. She too is observing those around her. She sketches the exhausted businessmen that sit opposite her. One has his arms folded and head down, perhaps he is thinking more than sleeping. The other has his head back and nose in the air, like a pompous gentleman (which I’m sure he is).

The train pulls up to my stop and I take one last look at the array of stories that are seated in front of me. I wander off home, intrigued by what stories I’ll read tomorrow.


Google Images


Peer Review 3- Caitlin McCartney

Hi Caitlin,

I found your blog this week to be really inspiring.

Despite the fact you struggle to write poetry, you put yourself out there and made yourself vulnerable. I believe every great writer whether it’s Pound, Eliot or Cummings has had to push themselves out of their comfort zone in order to produce something amazing.

I will start with your poem. Though not long in length, I still found your poem was effective in expressing its message. I can see your passion and concern for the environment seep through the words of your poem as well as your desire for others to share the same view as you, “yet I wish the others wouldn’t let her go.”

The image attached to your blog was also a great inclusion. It allows the reader to think and to be appreciative of all the things that the planet provides for us.

I also enjoyed reading about Williams and Pound and the era in which they existed. You explain the era as a time “characterised by exploring the boundaries of what could or couldn’t be considered art, music, dance or poetry which lead to numerous new movements being formed.”

Your knowledge of American Literature is evident in your blog this week, as well as your understanding of the different language techniques adopted by different writers.


Well done!

The others…

Blog 4- The Lavish Language of Eliot

Select the one modernist poem or text that you found spoke to you most directly, analyse it and explain how the text moved you.

T.S Eliot’s poem The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock addresses the ideas of alienation and the inadequacy of language to explain existence. Eliot’s use of language to highlight these ideas is tragically beautiful. He is able to masterfully reflect the mundane activities of life through his use of vivid and uncomfortable language such as “like a patient etherised upon a table”. Though this line makes me feel rather uneasy, it also makes me appreciate the array of colorful language that Eliot was able to conjure up.

Though Eliot’s poetry is often nihilistic, it resonates with readers because it represents the internal struggle that all human beings face. Every person has questioned their purpose and their religious or spiritual beliefs. Every person knows what it feels like to be alone at some point or another. And every person has been in a situation where they weren’t able to find the words to articulate how they feel. Eliot’s poetry moves me because he touches upon what many tend to shy away from. He explains how life can often become clouded with questions and emotions while also highlighting the fragility of the soul. Through his masterful language and open and honest approach to writing, Eliot’s poetry has the power to move even mountains.

Please find an analysis of the main ideas from The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock below:


The metaphor of paralysis ‘like a patient etherised upon a table’ is closely aligned with other patterns of imagery that operate in the poem. Throughout the poem, there are images of restriction and entrapment which encompass more specific metaphors like the insect metaphor. All these reveal the persona’s own sense of entrapment and his inability to escape social mores and routines. The insect metaphor ‘And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,/When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall’ reveals the persona’s state of anguish. He sees himself as being painfully pinned by convention, controlled by external factors.

In the closing scenes of the poem, Prufrock lists out the pathetic questions that life now has to offer. Instead of the dramatic and dynamic ‘Do I dare disturb the universe’, which encompasses the great metaphysical questions of life ‘What is the meaning of life and how should I live fulfilled?’, it is replaced with ‘Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare eat a peach?’ The mermaids he hears singing are part of the closing sea imagery and represent all the sensual and instinctive longings that he desired in his life, but now states ‘I do not think they will sing to me’. Accepting his inability to act upon his desires he metaphorically drowns amongst the ‘human voices’ that he had criticised earlier in the poem, accepting the social roles that are comfortable yet alienating.

 Inadequacy of language to explain existence:

If the title suggests a potential happiness and involvement in life, it is immediately undercut by the epigraph from Dante’s Inferno. The imagery of hell parallels Prufrock’s own inner hell of isolation and lovelessness. Just as Guido is imprisoned in a flame, Prufrock’s inner self is imprisoned in a world where he cannot tell of his feelings and desires.

The form of the poem is fragmented in the sense that different scenes of his life are juxtaposed with no sequential fluidity. The opening stanza is set in the back streets of the irrefutable part of town and then is juxtaposed with an upper-middle-class cocktail set, ‘In the room the women come and go/Talking of Michelangelo’. The persona is actively engaged in the first stanza, walking the streets and is a part of the action. The second and third stanzas do not have his active presence but are rather his meditation on the world around him. There are certainly keywords and images that link the poem and form a narrative, but the effect is cinematic, with readers given juxtaposed scenes like in a film rather than a flowing conventional narrative. Many of the scenes are from everyday life, but his repression by social conventions are conveyed predominantly through metaphor and imagery. The journey promised in the opening line ‘Let us go then, you and I’ is not a physical journey to make ‘his visit’, but a journey into Prufrock’s mind, following his stream of thought as he agonizes over what he desires and of his inability to carry out any decisive action to achieve these desires.



Peer Review 2- Ethan Hua

Hi Ethan,

I just want to start by saying that this is one of the most entertaining blogs I have read and I really hope there is a sequel!

You have encapsulated what I image Donald and Boris to be like to a T. You have a great sense of humour and creativity and the way you paint Donald Trump and his use of hand gestures creates vivid imagery for the reader. I like the motif of his hands and how they start off as “a wet pancake flopping in the wind”, this was gross but great, and then you proceed to describe his hands as “performing their signature gesture as if he were up against a brick wall.” This was a really great line, it was clever and creative and the use of the pictures throughout your blog added that extra element of humour.

I also really liked your title of “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb”. It was a highly appropriate title that was fitting for the characters and once again added humour to your blog.

Well done Ethan!

“Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dumb”

Blog 3-The History of African-Americans

Does Alice Walker believe that the “Everyday Use” of the old quilts is protecting or destroying tradition? Remember from the Introduction that we are told that Alice Walker resembles each of the characters in her narrative.

The remarkable poem ‘Everyday use’ by Alice Walker was set in the late 60’s or early 70’s. “This was a time when African-Americans were struggling to define their personal identities in cultural terms.” Terms like “Negro” were slowly being removed from the vernacular and instead, were being replaced with “Black”. There was “Black power”, “Black Nationalism” and “Black Pride”. Many African-American individuals were looking to rediscover their African roots and were ready to discard and deny their American heritage, which was packed with stories of suffering and injustice. “In ‘Everyday Use’, Alice Walker argues that an African-American is both African and American and to deny the American side of one’s heritage is disrespectful to one’s ancestors and consequently, harmful to one’s self.” She used characters such as Mama, Dee (Wangero), and Maggie to illustrate this idea.

‘Everyday Use’ concentrates on the relationships between women from different generations and their lasting legacy, as symbolised in the quilts they fashion together. There is a powerful connection between the generations, yet Dee’s lack of understanding of her history shows how these relationships are vulnerable too. The bond shared by Aunt Dicie and Mama, the seamstresses who crafted the quilts is remarkably different from the bond between Maggie and Dee, sisters who barely interact with one another and who share almost nothing in common. Just as Dee struggles to comprehend the significance and legacy of her name which has been passed along through many generations, she also struggles to understand the significance of the quilts, which contain swatches of clothes once worn or owned by at least a century’s worth of ancestors.

“The quilts are pieces of living history, documents in fabric that chronicle the lives of the various generations and the trials, such as war and poverty, that they faced.” They also serve as a testament to the family’s history of pride and struggle. Due to the limitations placed on Mama by poverty and lack of schooling, she considers her personal history to be one of her greatest treasures, with her house containing an array of handicrafts given to her by her extended family. “Instead of receiving a financial inheritance from her ancestors, Mama has been given the quilts. For her, these objects have a value that Dee, despite professing her desire to care for and preserve the quilts, is unable to fathom.”

The reader is able to grasp the significance of the quilts and how they represent the bonds between family through the way the narrator describes the process of making the quilts:
“They had been pieced by Grandma Dee and then Big Dee and me had hung them on the quilt frames on the front porch and quilted them.” These quilts aren’t just the creation of one single individual labouring away—“quilting for the Johnson women is an activity that involves bringing different generations together, as the narrator had to co-operate with her sister and mother to create the quilts.”



Peer Review 1- Anna Castagnella

Anna, may I just begin by saying what a powerful blog you have written.

From your very first line, you had the reader hooked as you ask them to ponder what it means to live deliberately. I also liked your response to this question, it was thoughtful and emotional. I could tell before I read about your car accident that you were someone who had endured a traumatic experience that allowed you to truly appreciate what it means to be alive.

You incorporate the content we have learnt in class really well, and demonstrate a thorough knowledge of Thoreau and his ideas. I enjoyed reading your analysis on the line “when I came to die, discover that I had not lived” and I wholeheartedly agree with your interpretation.

I like how you speak about pondering existential ideas such as, “questioning the meaning of life” and “whether or not [you’re] even doing it right as if there is a correct way to live.” You connect well with your audience here as these are universal thoughts that every individual stumbles across at some point or another.

The line “You do not truly acknowledge the frailty of life until it is almost taken away from you” was a very frightening but captivating line and I thank you for sharing this scary journey with me. It allowed me to realise just how quickly life can be taken away and how you must cherish being alive every moment you have.

To conclude your blog, you encourage your audience to live a life they are proud of and I think this is a really lovely sentiment to end with.

Well done Anna!

Blog 2- Voice of Angels

The ideology of individualism is a common theme in Walt Whitman’s work. It is a concept that flourished in the U.S during the early 19th Century – “a democratic response to the new class of industrial wage-workers.” Whitman encouraged individuals to “exercise self-ownership and value original thought.” Throughout his poetry, we are able to witness his feelings on the importance of self-expression and non-conformity. It is these ideas that have inspired me to write my own poem on the constraints of society and one’s ability to break free from these shackles and realise the importance of self-expression.


I celebrate and sing myself

For I am the voice that they all wish to silence

The forest fire that burns behind my eyes

Cannot be tainted by your judgement

You tell me I cannot hum to the rhythm of originality

Because you believe that even the moon rises simply because the sun tells it so

And that the heavens cry because it is what mother instructed

And stars explode because they have shone too bright

You’re paralysed by the shame, judgement, and fear that arises from speaking out

But let me ask you one thing

Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?

Open your mind, before you open your lips

And allow yourself to be consumed in the beauty of free thought

And once you have conquered that, allow your tongue to tango with free speech

And once you hear the voice of angels

Your soul will be free!

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Blog 1- Why do we feel so free in Nature?

I want you to cast your mind back to the last time you truly felt free.

Where were you? What were you doing? And what did it feel like?

Were you standing on a vast stretch of beach, alone, with nothing but the wind whispering her calming melodies into your ears as you felt the sea salt hugging your skin?


Was it as a child, when you climbed the trees, among the ever-changing leaves? As you reached the top, you surveyed the land which felt as if it all belonged to you. At that moment you ruled the world, you were truly free.


I believe the reason we feel so free in Nature is because like humans, Nature is so incredibly diverse. In Nature, we do not feel judged for being different. Nature is so diverse in all her glory. We are surrounded by large trees and slim trees, short trees, and tall trees. In a sea of yellow flowers, you may spot a pink one, a mutation of its kind. However, in Nature, we do not say, “This is weird or wrong”, just because the flower is a different colour. We do not say, “What a fat tree that is”.


Instead, we exclaim “How Beautiful!” We appreciate the brilliance and diversity of Nature. Nature is so expansive and varies so greatly, yet it all manages to work together in such harmony. It is perhaps something humans can observe and learn from.

Today, our busy lifestyles are measured by deadlines, hours, minutes and seconds which seem to disappear before our very eyes. Clocks teach us to “abandon the natural rhythms of our bodies and the Earth and conform to a schedule rooted in our economic system.”

However, Nature demonstrates a healthier way of living.

Trees and plants grow s-l-o-w-l-y. Wombats graze calmly and all of Nature conducts itself at its natural pace. When in Nature, individuals allow themselves to lose their concept of time and adapt to the natural rhythm of Nature. As Emerson, himself said “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience”.

Whether you call her God, Gaia or Mother Earth, Nature allows us to be at one with this powerful and divine presence. It allows us to connect with our own spirit and the spirit of natural world. We feel as if we can truly begin to understand ourselves once we connect with our spirit. Emerson stated that “Nature always wear the colours of the spirit”. I believe this is the reason we feel so peaceful and happy in the presence of Nature. This is why Nature heals, as she allows us to find our soul, our purpose and our humanity, which allows us to live a life full of meaning and happiness.




Summative Entry

Studying the literature and culture of the Renaissance has amplified my understanding of what it is to be human.

What does it mean to be human? Is it our ability to empathise, to reason, or to plan? The fact we can understand humour or how we are consciously aware of our connectedness to the world and to one another?  It’s a question that has been pondered for centuries and a question I often wondered myself. It wasn’t until I delved into the wonderful world of Shakespeare and the Renaissance that I began to understand what it truly meant to be human.

I have always had a fond appreciation for the lavish language of Shakespeare. However, I thought it would be difficult to relate his writings to modern society. But by developing a more comprehensive understanding of the themes and issues that littered his writings and that surrounded the Renaissance era, I realise that they’re far more relevant than one could’ve imagined. War, love, and politics can be observed every day, whether it’s witnessed in person or on the news. Shakespeare presented love as intense, wonderful, unexplainable and absurd. The love between Bottom and Titania could be interpreted as a strange and somewhat unreasonable love. It highlights how individuals can be blinded by love or even the idea of it. Love is a vital aspect of what it means to be human. It is important to love and to be loved as it completes a natural void in the human heart. Companionship is essential as being with another person allows for love, thus filling the void.

I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about Shakespeare this semester. Being able to reflect on what I have learnt each week through blogging and peer reviewing has been incredible. My class members all share such unique and interesting thoughts that have allowed me to develop a greater appreciation for Shakespeare as I observe him through multiple perspectives. All the peer review feedback I received was extremely insightful and allowed me to continuously improve my writing, as well as give me a different perspective on the topic. My best blog, ‘The promise of a simple love’, highlights my passion for poetry. Being able to respond to the poem “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe was an absolute pleasure. By reflecting upon his poem and then writing my own, I was able to learn how to write in iambic tetrameter and how a poem can be musical with the right poetic devices such as internal rhyme, assonance, consonance, and alliteration.

Sonnet 146 was another piece of poetry that resonated with me. The idea that the body exists at the expense of the soul was a catalyst that formed many more ideas. It inspired me to write ‘Toxic‘, a piece about realising when to remove yourself from a destructive relationship and that existing purely to please someone else is not existing at all.

Choosing this module has allowed me to feel more confident in analysing and reading the works of Shakespeare. I am so grateful or all the experiences I’ve had in this unit such as seeing Shakespeare’s first folio, as well as visiting the Shakespeare room at State Library. I cannot thank Michael enough and I look forward to studying more enjoyable and engaging units in the future.

“Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”


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Peer Review 2- Greg Coustas

Kia ora Gregory, (this is hello in Maori)

May I just begin by saying what an interesting topic you have chosen to write about this week. I like how you have expanded your readings and have chosen to tackle something a little different.

As a girl with Kiwi roots, I really enjoyed reading about the Pop up Globe Buckingham Company and how they infused both modernism (speaking in Maori and slang) and traditionalism (all men on stage) into their performance. I like how you have delved into examining two different reviews and looked at both the positive and negative aspects of speaking in the traditional Maori tongue. This allows your reader to remain open-minded and to decide for themselves whether or not they would enjoy such a play.

I wholeheartedly agree with your comment about how readers who perhaps have never read or seen the play, would “miss out on the lyrical and carefully constructed poetry of the fairies.” I believe that there is a sense of magic created when the fairies speak, and perhaps this sense of magic may not be felt or interpreted by an audience member with limited knowledge of the play.

Nonetheless, your thorough review of this performance has me thinking I might purchase a ticket myself. Perhaps I’ll need to purchase a Maori-English dictionary first though…

Well Done!

Just be wary of spelling
Separate instead of seperate
Erratically instead of erraticaly
Positions instead of postion