Posted: September 13th, 2023

“themself” by shelley jackson and “the making of the drum by kamau

A few questions (among many) on “Themself” that can be explored on this week’s discussion board: What are we truly saying when we claim to feel someone else’s pain? That we can imagine someone else’s pain? That we all overlap in certain areas?  Does weight-loss or weight-gain make us any “more” or “less” ourselves? Do we turn into mere “stuff” at the moment of death? Is there a “soul” separable from our bodies? If the singular pronoun “I” is appropriately lonely-looking, is there anything plural-looking about the words “we” or “us” or “them”?

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Some additional questions for the Brathwaite half of this week’s discussion: Why the double-use of the definite article “the” in the title? How is this different from “a making of a drum”? How many words does the word “drum” rhyme with and what do some of these words imply? What is the effect of breaking the poem into sections (skin, barrel, sticks) based on a drum’s material ingredients? How does it make sense to directly address a goat with a “Bless you” once it has already been killed? The word “bless” is rooted in an ancient word that means “to redden with blood”—how might this pertain to this poem?

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