Lost in poetry… literally

Since elementary, I never was a big fan of poetry. I would groan at the thought of me having to write or read poems. Now into my 4th semester of college…. nothing has changed. I’m still not the biggest fan of poetry, but I have learned to appreciate it a lot more throughout these years. Reading through Buzzing Hemispheres by Urayoan Noel, there were many poems where I was left confused after reading them, but one poem that stuck out to me was towards the end of the novel.

“the crime of rhyme whatever stands for breath just making room rheum in the void making a number of hum-worthy sounds limning the sum of nerve and muscle these skeletons are learning the skill of slow dissolve against mortar they watch blood trickle behind the scenes fiscal transfusions the making of a holding pattern and behind the pattern the jittery jimmying of keys handheld or digital” (97, Noel).

This stuck out to me for a few reasons; one being, the author’s opinion on rhyming where it seems like he’s saying that rhyming is something that a poesit feels the need to do in order to create a nice tone to their poem.

The other reason would be the drastic change from talking about rhyming words to talking about blood and skeletons which I find it hard to competely process in my mind on what the author is trying to say.

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More often than not, I am confused by what exactly a poem is trying to say. I am sometimes thrown off trying to figure out the meaning behind a poem which is why I am not the biggest fan of poetry. I still appreciate those who can write or even read poetry and hope that one day I’ll be able to appreciate it more.


The Start of a Revolution

Probably the most striking part from the novel Utopia by Ahmed Khaled Towfik has to be the conclusion. For me, the way Khaled decided to end the novel should be looked at more carefully.

“I saw them there, advancing along the horizon. They were carrying torches and shouting in anger” (Khaled, 156).

From this quote, we could create an image in our mind of a crowd of angry people marching, fighting for a justice system… Does this sound familiar?

Nirappil, Fenit. “Youthful March for Our Lives.” The Washington Post, WP Company

Due to recent tragedies involving gun violence, there have been many movements rising demanding a change in the system. People of our society are fed up with innocent lives being taken away and came together as a community to fight for their voices to be heard and for actions to be taken.

“Thousands marched in liberal Los Angeles, closing off the downtown core for hours. More than 120 marched in Victorville, in a high-desert region more associated with conservative values. About 5,000 gathered in a park in Santa Ana. In each place, marchers demanded that lawmakers end the easy access to rapid-fire guns and take action against the everyday violence that plagues urban communities” (LA times).

The Others were constantly mistreated and were living in a society that seemed to be against them in every way. The Utopians seem to have no sympathy for the Others, as a matter of fact, it seems like they believe that the Others deserve the mistreatment, the poverty and the rape. When Alaa raped Gaber’s sister we could see how he feels about the Others, “You are less than us in every way. That’s how life is. You should just accept it. No one is capable of changing a thing…” (Khaled, 132). Utopians believe they deserve their rich, privileged life just like they believe the Others deserve their unpleasant lives. Khaled shows the readers that having a social hierarchy in today’s world could cause many problems that can result into a revolution.

Similarly to how the group of teenagers began their march towards better gun control, the Others marched their way towards Utopia to show their anger and frustration towards the way Utopians set up the unfair world they live in. Both groups strive for a better, unprejudiced society where the odds are not against them.

Ahmed Khaled Towfik is attempting to show his readers that a change must be made in this hierarchical system we live in today. The sooner we begin to make the change towards a humane society, the sooner we can stop these tragedies.

Boredom as Motivation?

The definition of utopia according to the dictionary is “an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect”, but after reading the novel Utopia by Ahmed Khaled Towfik I saw how their Utopian community was far from perfect.

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source: https://ashleysalgado181.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/utopia-vs-dystopia/

Although Utopia is described as a ‘perfect’ community, problems still arose for example; rape, stealing, extreme poverty, prostitution, murder and many others. As much as these problems still exist today, they became more horrendous in a world that was meant to be ideal.

Dehumanization is clearly seen throughtout this novel and is also one of the main themes. The question that comes up then is… how and WHY a community became so dehumanized when it is considered to be perfect?

One of the narrators, who introduced himself as Alaa, explains how boredom within Utopia is what drives people to act out.

“What can you do in this artificial paradise? You sleep, you take drugs, you eat until food makes you sick, you vomit until you can recover the enjoyment of eating, you have sex (it’s weird that you notice how boredom makes your sexual behavior aggressive and sadistic)” (9, Khaled).

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From this quote, Alaa tries to explain himself on why he is the way he is. He was born into a rich, perfect community who thinks they’re are better than the people outside of their Utopia. He explains how boredom is what made him behave inappropriately and made the population dehumanized. He also states how since everything is going so perfect in their community that it became too boring so the only way for them to enjoy themselves was to act out illegally.

To me, it surprises me how such a perfect neighborhood can have so many defiant teens who only have fun when they are high off of drugs or raping women. It just goes to show that what makes a good community isn’t the perfect image that everyone looks for in different areas, but instead it’s the people that make up the community. If the community is filled with misbehaved citizens who dehumanize their fellow neighbors, then in my eyes it is NOT a perfect place to live and definitely not a lifestyle I would want to live.

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What in Tarnation is up with Translation??

The beauty of language is that there are SO. MANY. We are able to communicate with one another and are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to easily learn a new language. But what if we try to communicate with someone who speaks a foreign language that you are not familiar with? Unfortunately, Google Translate is not the answer.


“Turn down for what” is a phrase used today that teenagers use to describe the act of having fun and getting wasted. Google translates it to “Reject what” in Spanish. Therefore, this translation was not accurate.

Translation has opened new doors to being able to take foreign language and rephrasing it into a language that we can understand. This is useful for looking at literature in other languages and translating it to a language other readers could understand. The problem with that is that each author thinks differently so their translations do not come out the same or there are certain words that simply do not have the same translation in other languages.

19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei 

                   Original Poem                                          Translation of each individual character

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             – Wang Wei                                                                                                 Source

C2AAMCLVQAESU6Z                 There is a book called Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei by Elliot Weinberger where Wang Wei writes in a literary Chinese that is no longer spoken today. Weinberger compares 19 different translations from different authors on the same poem and shows how difficult translation could be.

Behind every language there are unique cultures, traditions, and emotions that can not be completely translated to another language who doesn’t understand the true, accurate meanings behind the original words. As said above, each author thinks differently; one author’s interpretation of a poem can be completely different from another author’s, this causes translations to not always be exact.

Throughout the book there are examples of 19 different poems rephrasing Wang Wei, each of those poems were written by authors who used their own words to express their own perception after reading his poem.

Examples on how these different authors translated the same, original poem above.
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“Chinese poetry was based on the precise observation of physical world. Jenyns and other translators come from a tradition where the notion of verifying a poetic image would be silly, where the word ‘poetic’ itself is synonymous with ‘dreamy'” (13, Weinberger).
 Weinberger explains how there is a difference in emotion in the poem that Soame Jenyns translated because of their culture. Traditionally, Chinese are very respectful and connected with nature whereas, in other cultures nature doesn’t seem to have such a great impact as it does in Chinese poetry. 

Even though translation was pretty talked down upon throughout this blog, it is still helpful and useful. It has helped us understand other cultures and to take a look at their literature, but we should continue to improve translations so that we could better connect with each other.