Blank Space

For my found poem I focused on the song “Breathe me” by Sia. This song is about feeling neglected, constantly worried, and anxious. It also seems to be a story of self harm and hardships. While actually listening it seems very real to be Sia. The first time I heard this song was when I watched the movie Cyberbully, where a teenage girl becomes a victim of bullying on and off line and starts having suicidal thoughts.This isn’t a song I chose because I could relate on a personal level but more because one day on my way home from class this song came on the radio and hearing it and really thinking about it made me also think of the book ZONG that we have been reading in class.

If you weren’t looking at my found poem and just listening to this song there is a few things to think about. One is throughout the whole song the piano in the back stays basically constant throughout the whole song. One effect that this has on the lyrics is it makes the listener focus in more on the words in the song rather than what is going on in the background. Another is every once in awhile a few other instruments will come into play and this seems to be for dramatic effect. While listening to Sia sing you can hear a lot of emotions in her voice. Emotions like sadness, hurt, anger, loneliness. This is one of the things that made me think of the book Zong. I can relate this to the book because of while just reading the poems I didn’t understand the emotions, until hearing the reading. When I heard the reading that was when it I could really understand and relate to the emotions and feelings of the author. Another factor that I could relate to the book is the speed of the song and the words in the song. While listening it is very slow it seems like while shes singing the words are spaced out and purposely drawn out. This is very similar to in Zong and the way the words are spaced out on the page and the way words are broken up into bits and pieces. When actually creating my found poem I tried to make it as relatable to the book as possible. I took the lyrics of the song and read them over and over again. After that I listened to the song a few times while reading the lyrics. The next thing I did was I wrote down the lyrics. I spaced out each word, just like in Zong. this seemed to be effective because this song seems like somebody is taking long breaths, almost like they are drowning much like in Zong. Also the white space is where they feel most alone and most broken and the words are where they are trying to ask for help.  I wrote some of the words smaller than others and I made other words larger and darker. The words that I made larger and darker are words that I found most powerful. These words are where I thought the author of the song is calling out for help, and showing their weakness. Also these words can all be put together and make up some of the lyrics that are repeated in the song; “Be my friend, hold me. Wrap me up, unfold me, I am small, I’m needy. Warm me up”.  Another aspect of the song that I used when making my found poem was the title of the song which is also used in the lyrics repeated in the chorus. These lyrics are “Breathe me”, I placed each one of these words in the corner of the page completely spaced out. The effect I was going for here was again with the call for help, struggle to breathe. Where the words are that is where the author is calling for help and the white space is the place where they are “drowning” and the place where they are most alone.

Use of the word “YOU”: Citizen An American Lyric

In the last section of the book, Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine one word that is commonly referred to is the word “you”. The definition of you is used to refer to the person or people the speaker is addressing. With this we can assume that the author, Rankine, wants the reader to be put in the position of the “minority”. Giving us the thoughts and feelings to get through the mission of everyday racism. In the quote, “Nobody notices, only you’ve known, you’re not sick, not crazy, not angry, not sad- It’s just this, you’re injured” (Rankine 145); I get the understanding that when she says “you’re injured” she is speaking about the physical, psychological, and emotional instability these people endured. Evidence that may support this is “The worst injury is feeling you don’t belong so much to you-” (Rankine 146). By what Rankine is saying by this is even though you are a person and know you are, others see you’re skin color and race as second class citizens.

One the final page of the book there is a close up picture and the zoomed out picture. In the close up view, you see a black leg with chains, birds, and fish swimming. The chained leg symbolizes the hardships and struggles that African American culture has faced. Whereas, the birds and fish all symbolize freedom; the freedom to go where ever they would like without judgement and struggles. As one looks at the expanded or zoomed out view there’s more to the picture that can be interpreted. In the background you see a ship which could have two meanings. The first meaning is freedom; the freedom to sail the open sea without restrictions or consequences. The second can be taken another way where they were brought over on ships and taken in as slaves. The beginning of lost rights, hardships, struggles, and finally barriers along the way. These symbols made the saying second class citizens come more into picture.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Looking more closely at the two pictures in the end of the book. What do you think are the symbols the author is trying to get across the reader’s mind?
  1. The word “you” is used heavily in the second half of the reading. What do you think the word “you” is being interpreted as? After understanding the use of the word “you”, do you feel that you were put in the position of the author was?

Brooke Sweeney

Hi class! My name is Brooke and I am in the Early Childhood Education program. I am a transfer junior coming from Tompkins Cortland Community College where I graduated with my associates degree. I am from a very small town outside of Cortland called McGraw, my graduating class was only about 30-40 people. Along with going to school I work at Aldi after classes and on the weekends so on my free time I enjoy to just simply relax at home. Nice to meet you all and best of luck this semester!