By, Lisa Parker
· Born in Fauquier County, Virginia.
· Graduate of George Mason University
· MFA in Creative Writing from Penn State in 1998
· Splits her time between Virginia and NYC
1. What is the tone of the poem?
A: Informal tone, very conversational
2. How is this poem different from many other poems we have read?
A: It’s all one stanza due to the fact that it is conversational, and kind of like a story
3. Why after some of the lines is there a large space before the next line?
A: You linger on the last word, it gives you time to ponder what is going to come next and gives it a more dramatic effect.
4. In lines 2 and 7 what style of writing is present?
- In line 2 there is sat on the splintering slats
- In line 7 there is pushing its pink spikes
5. What kind of scene does the speaker set in the beginning of this poem?
A: a nice visual scene with their grandmother, just sitting on the porch snapping beans and looking out into the yard
6. In line 19 the speaker says “and as potent as a swig of strychnine.”
Strychnine is a highly toxic, colorless crystalline alkaloid used as a pesticide, particularly for killing small vertebrates such as birds and rodents. Strychnine causes muscular convulsions and eventually death through asphyxia. Why do you think she uses such a strong comparison?
A: What I got from this is that her grandmother is a very religious and well -read woman and the speaker wants her to know that the lessons that they learn are very STRONG just like strychnine.
7. How does the tone of the poem change throughout?
A: the speaker starts revealing her inner thoughts and they are very heart wrenching and depressing. She goes to a nice visual scene with her grandmother to her inner thoughts, almost like an aside, about her true thoughts.
8. Why didn’t the speaker tell the grandmother how they really felt about school and how does this connect to the song “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” that the grandmother was singing?
A: The speaker would then have to inform their grandmother that they in fact don’t like college at all and is having trouble adjusting to the college life. Also in terms of the grandmother singing the song about Jesus it is clear that she is a very religious person, which makes it hard for the speaker to tell the grandmother about their friends with nose rings who write about alcohol and sex.
9. What is the importance of the last line “It’s funny how things blow loose like that”?
A: The leaf blowing away on it’s own is a comparison to the college student and how they too must blow loose from their family and start learning how to fend for themselves.