May Swenson Told It Slant

The underlying biographical honesty inherent in art is unveiled by May Swenson in her poem “The Truth Is Forced”. The reader is introduced to a poet who tells the reader that this poet’s desire is to “be honest in poetry” (Swenson 2), but the reader will learn rather more than this particular poet’s desire for honesty. The poet didn’t force honesty into the words, as the title of the poem seems to imply, the poet ends up telling the reader that this production of words has actually forced honesty into the poet. The poet is revealed to, “…you (all or any, eye to eye)” (45). Swenson made the point that consciously or not, poems like all art, are acts of self discovery.

The poet describes the abstract dilemma faced by any artist desiring absolute honesty yet a sense of seclusion, “…eye to eye, I lie / because I cannot bear to be conspicuous with the truth” (Swenson 3-5). A dilemma compounded by this particular poet’s reticent nature “I would be exposed. And I would be / possessed” (10-11). Beyond a simple self introduction, the poet has set up the prerequisite for a foundational idea. The poet is not a self-centered seeker of attention, not a proud circus act, nor an intentional performer at all. This poet is private and reserved. This poet is not writing with the conscious intention of being spread naked upon the frontal lobe of the reader. “Really I feel as if / one pair of eyes were a whole hive” (19-20). Bees collecting the nectar for their own devices as well as being quite capable of delivering a sting. The poet tells the reader, my business is mine and so it shall remain, thank you very much.

Yet the poet does have something to say and can avoid the stings: “…say in symbol, in riddle, / …under masks / of any feature, in the skins of any creature” (32-36). Obviously the poet is not planning to walk naked down the page and here describes the clothes the poet can wear. Poetic line provides a veil behind which the truth can and does lurk unabashedly and without shame. The wish to “become naked in poetry” (40), will be fulfilled, and much more comfortably behind the veil this poet recognizes and describes to the reader as being provided by the poetic art of words. The individuality of the poet remains absolutely present yet mysteriously obscured.

Alicia Ostriker makes note of this in her section of the book  Body My House : May Swenson’s Work and Life, in which she makes comparisons of the works of May Swenson and Walt Whitman, into which she brings Emily Dickinson, ““Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” with fear battling the yearning for disclosure” (Ostriker 46). Which we were set up for by “Both the reticence and the desire for candor that wrestle with each other in Swenson’s eroticism are hinted at “(45). She elaborates, “…the poet twists and turns all through the poem; the poem does not state something known, but discovers its truth in its process” (46). She enhances this perception based on Swenson’s lines, “Whether you are one or two or many / it is the same” (Swenson 18-19) “Truth, forced through symbols and riddles and finally the naked self, into the poem, revealed to the poet herself, is a burden borne and born” (Ostriker 46). The poet in this performance was not only exposed to “one or two or many” (Swenson 18), the poet was exposed to the poet, “tells me / and then you (all or any, eye to eye) my whole self, / the truth” (45-47) So the poet is “eye to eye” even on the page after all, and what the poet tells turns out not to be a lie.

On paper, canvas, marble, or the sonic vibrations spawned from the keys of a piano, in art the naked truth resides. It may well not be perceived, and misperception may be the artist’s intent, yet the truth is there.  May Swenson recognized this and exposed what many an artist fails to recognize and may resist telling. Whether by design or inherent nature, however covert, the artist is always revealed in the art.


Works cited

Ostriker, Alicia. “May Swenson: Whitman’s Daughter.” Body My House: May Swenson’s Work and Life. 2006. 40-54. All USU Press Publications. Book 16.  http:/

Swenson,  May. “The Truth Is Forced”.  Nature: Poems Old and New. Boston: Mariner Books, 2000. 11-12. print

A Raisin in the Shade of Human Nature


Often interpreted as a statement on racism, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun actually delivers a broad presentation of human nature, of which racism can be one possible aspect. Hansberry paints individual images of the stubborn inflexibility in the nature of her characters which is also central to the human condition in general, and is rarely overcome. Hansberry’s characters exemplify the human determination to justify and support one’s own behavior based on individual beliefs and interpretations of the world.

The beliefs and dreams seen here vary from that of Lena Younger’s (“Mama”), maternal, spiritual, house with a yard, and the anchor of family. Her daughter, Beneatha Younger, dreams of independence and rebels against her mother’s traditions, favoring a much more progressive, atheistic philosophy. Beneatha dreams of herself as a youthful adventurer who’ll one day be off to Africa, the land of her roots. In her brother Walter Younger, lies the very typical view of the masculine mastery of ones own destiny, a dream for which he is willing to risk everything. One of the play’s main antagonists, Karl Lindner, feels a loyalty to his neighbors, who happen to be, as is he, not black, like the Youngers, but white. The dreams and beliefs are as desperate and true to those who hold them as are the witchdoctor’s beads to the Bechuana. While the reader is not brought to an actual resolution, Hansberry delivers a series of very telling lessons on the individuality which burns within them all. The core differences and the challenge of overcoming them shines brightly from her stage.

Mama is driven by traditional beliefs, the strength and love of family and spirituality. At the core of Mama’s dream resides her God. Yet from her daughter Beneatha we hear, “It’s all a matter of ideas, and God is just one idea I don’t accept… I don’t believe in God… I get so tired of him getting all the credit for all the things the human race achieves through its own stubborn effort. There simply is not God! There is only Man, and it’s he who makes miracles!” (51)

This statement earns Beneatha an enthusiastic slap in the face from Mama. A slap which invokes from Beneatha not a change, rather a softly spoken, “…everybody thinks it’s alright for Mama to be a tyrant. But all the tyranny in the world will never put a God in the heavens” (52). Two closely linked people who absolutely love one another yet hold diametrically opposed beliefs as to the ultimate source of truth: for Mama it’s God, for Beneatha it’s man, for each it is equally the truth.

Racism, as obnoxious yet powerful a persuasion as has ever been devised, is demonstrated by one of the victims of that very conviction, Walter Younger, who utters to his wife, Ruth, as a result of his disappointment in seeing his own immediate dream of liquor store ownership slipping away, “Cause we all tied up in a race of people that don’t know how to do nothing but moan, pray and have babies” (87). Walter has obviously heard the white supremacist doctrine and here regurgitates it at his own black and pregnant wife. He sounds like a Kleagle for the Klan. But he’s really lashing out at his newly obvious lack of the mastery of his own family.

Karl Lindner is also sets up a justification of his own behavior when tells the Youngers, “…most of the trouble exist because people just don’t sit down and talk to each other. That we don’t try hard enough in this world to understand the other fellow’s problem. The other guy’s point of view” (116). He then makes this justification by pointing out that he’s actually looking for the younger’s best interest in suggesting a segregational alternative for them moving into a white neighborhood: “Negro families are happier when they live in their own communities” (118). Obviously Lindner is a racist, but does he know that? Does Lindner believe he can fool the Youngers? No, he is really fooling himself, “I sure hope you people know what you’re getting into” (149). Racism? Egocentrism? Benevolence? Has Lindner a dream? Certainly, yet his belief conceals the very lack of reason upon which it is grounded, and conceals it from himself.

Hansberry also shows the reader the possibility of conversion after the exchange during which Walter, as his son, Travis watches his father turn down Lindner’s offer. Mama, referring to Walter’s radical change of attitude says, “He finally come into his manhood today, didn’t he? Kind of like a rainbow after the rain…” (151). Mama believes that Walter has finally seen the light that she’s been aware of all along. The reader is not told whether it will last, but the possibility is certainly evident.

A Raisin in the Sun is the perfect example of a section of Hansberry’s work referred to by Olga Barrios in The intellectual Spear where she says Hansberry’s “concern with the human being went far beyond any barriers of color, race or culture” (Barrios 28). Hansberry has given us a portrayal of significantly varied beliefs, dreams, and behaviors and the logic used to justify them, to themselves and one another. Ultimately the tale ends up with no winners, no losers, no resolution, nor clear cut image of what the future holds. Yet Hansberry shows very clearly, human nature with its often irrational magnificence, portrayed in a light the typical audience might not have imagined, but Lorraine Hansberry did, and portrays it vividly.

Works cited

Barrios, Olga. The Intellectual Spear: Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs. Salamanca: Atlantis, 1996. Web. 24 Apr. 2112

Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Vintage Books. 1994. Print.

Egoteneoism Rules the World

We all believe what we want to believe. In the case of science, PC activism and commielibbery lives the belief that global warming is man made (typically by those horrible rich people who do it knowingly and for money), a large number of scientists make this claim and do indeed back it up with evidence. Those who members of this crowd refer to as “science deniers”, listen instead to the large number, thousands, (now including NASA scientists) who claim it is not man made and support their, apparent, “non-science” with scientific and historical evidence. I’m not a scientist but what I’ve seen leads me to fall into the “science denier” crowd. Not being afflicted with hatred of the wealthy/successful allows me to reflect on the situational evidence independently of emotional disturbance and the situational evidence points quite convincingly at climactic changes far more dramatic than we’re seeing now, repeating over and over again from time periods far before those damn Republicans were scientifically sparked into existence.

There are those who look at Alinsky as a “red hearing” I think they mean red herring, nevertheless one who doesn’t see Alinsky’s “teaching” in the concept of bringing down the wealthy, hasn’t read Alinsky’s work. It’s not so much the actual bringing down of the wealthy that Alinsky promoted, nor that Obuma is working on, as it is the old communist adage that “derision would cause community audiences to laugh at their opponents, rather than listen to what their opponents were saying”, what Obuma is working on, quite successfully is division of the “classes”. Long before Barack Obama used the rallying cry of “Hope and Change,” Alinsky used the themes of “hope and change” as code words for creating a socialist revolution in the United States. Alinsky argued that the “have-nots” should seek their middle class allies among the young. The middle class being in his vision the surest source of true power. “The organizer dedicated to changing the life of a particular community must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt oppression,” (Alinsky) Alinsky believed his desired “change” could only occur by convincing the middle class to side with him in their own destruction. This is all just the tip of the popsicle, for a good chilling of the soul read about Alinsky and look at what’s going on, not only in America, but world wide. Alinsky is not the ultimate dog behind all this but he states the philosophy as clearly as any I’m aware of and was indeed responsible for the seeds of derision planted in Obuma.

(Corsi, Jerome R. (2012-02-06). Saul Alinsky:The Evil Genius Behind Obama, is one of many good resources)

The result of this take from the rich and give to the poor philosophy can be seen quite clearly here in America which since the advent of LBJ’s “Great Society” has quite successfully created a “permanent urban underclass plagued by teenage pregnancy, unwed mothers, children that drop out of school, and unemployable adults who have dropped out of the labor force. Magnificent!

“We can neither settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules …no american company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas… in return, we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes… When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get a tax break I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference, like a senior  on a fixed income, or a student trying to get through school, or a family trying to make ends meet.” All said by the same man who administrated the largest increase in deficit BY FAR, in history, Barrack Hussein Obuma.  And why? I wonder. Alinsky would be smiling.

There are those who choose from the vast number of wealthy, the few (Obuma cronie Warren Buffet for example) who do indeed take advantage of the government, effectively stealing billions of dollars, the bank bailouts, the auto industry bailouts, corporate welfare.. all programs pushed by the great far share Obuma, and hold these few up as typical examples of the wealthy. What they are is not “typical” what they are is criminal, just like the poor, underclass, African American who mugs the neighbor lady to pay for his meth, the student who refuses to pay off his school loan and on and on. The end of the tale is easily and clearly seen, in spite of the criminal element, the rich pay OVER 80% of the cost of our military, schools, parks… This is not a debatable claim it is an easily verifiable fact. It is a sad fact that those miserable greedy, rich motherfuckers are paying most of the bill.

Charitable contributions? Charity is in the mind of the giver, and even if the contributor is mislead by religious zealots, which many are, examples of public donation for truly worthy causes (much of which comes from those very religious zealots, in spite of those who funnel the contributions into business ventures of their own (criminal) are in incredibly large number and the majority of the contributors are from the “right”, since the “left” believes government should take care of it, so I don’t have to. And if I choose to travel the criminal road the government will protect me from retribution.


Rock ‘n Bluegrass at Sofa’s Corner

Alrighty then, from the left, Jed, Homer, Bacon, Bart and unknown woman of mystery.

Caught performing at Sofa’s Corner in Garland Utah at a Benefit show for Dallas Nutt, who survived two tours in Iraq as a Marine, is an honor student at USU and works in the VA at USU. Dallas experienced two ruptured brain aneurisms. He came close to leaving this world but is doing much better now although still not out of the woods entirely. Homer arranged this magnificent event at which several bands performed and a marvelous amount of money was raised for a gentleman who deserved it!