Today’s #WCW guest blogger is Stephanie DeCosta. Here’s her post for her February writer-crush, Mari Evans.
I was introduced to Mari Evans in college; I read “Where Have You Gone” for the first time when I was a single, 19 year-old living at home. Instantly, I had two thoughts:
- I liked her simple, colloquial style and pictured her living in Chicago in some swanky apartment listening to jazz on an old record player.
- I had no sympathy for her—I wanted to tell her “Get over him! He’s a loser!”
My, how life experience does change one’s point of view.
Since that first reading so much “life” has happened: being completely blind-sided by someone I thought was my soul-mate, falling breathlessly in love with someone who finally treasured me, creating new life for whom I would battle bloody death to protect, hurting so badly over a loss I felt I’d have to keep my hands pressed to my chest for eternity for fear my heart would fall out.
And now I read that poem again. With new eyes…
Where Have You Gone
Where have you gone
with your confident
your crooked smile
why did you leave
when you took your
are you aware that
went the sun
and what few stars
where have you gone
with your confident
crooked smile the
in one pocket and
in another . . .
This time, I have two thoughts:
- Her style is not “simple”, but rather—sparse. She has nothing left to give. Not even her words. I picture her living in a small, rented house that she was promised would be “temporary.” Her jazz records still play, but now they skip due to the cracks that appeared over time.
- I ache for her. Leaving her was not just leaving her, but everything he had with her as well—children, memories, plans, responsibilities. One person can have a huge and lasting impact on another person’s life.
This is the power and beauty of poetry/literature: although the words never change, we constantly do, therefore it will always yield new reactions. This is why we need to read it.
– Mari Evans
- Have students write poetry responses to “Where Have You Gone” from various points of view. For example, how would a young daughter respond to this poem? What would an elderly white man say in response?
- Have students write an imitation poem: a poem on a topic of their choice but one that imitates the style and structure of “Where Have You Gone.”
- Have students find a song that connects to the poem and write a compare/contrast or expository pieces citing lines from the poem and song for support.
- Have students, in verbal or written format, respond to her above quote.
- Have students discuss the poem in Socratic Seminar
- Have students, in verbal or written format, respond to the painting below by Annie Lee entitled “Blue Monday” (LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTIST)
- Have students discuss the painting in Socratic Seminar
- Have students use the painting as the inspiration for an original poem