Friday, October 13, 2023

An intense, emotional, angry “pile”, “ziploc”, or “hammer” in a poem by Terrance Hayes

This morning in class, we discussed the effect of the repetition of the opening words in the first three sentences of one of Terrance Hayes's "American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin": "Who cannot distinguish a blackbird from a raven / [...]. Who cannot distinguish an entrance / From a gate.  Who cannot distinguish swagger from snake." The students mentioned its intensity and its emotionality, as well as how it characterizes the speaker as someone who is angry. Asked to name this effect, three of the students suggested "a pile", "a ziploc" (in a very personal association), or "a hammer". Only then did we discuss the rhetorical figure's name, "anaphora". (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 13 October 2023)

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