Monthly Archives: January 2018

ASA Student Gallery

Here are some creative samples of our English Comp 1 students’ writing. Please take a moment to comment–all writers enjoy feedback!

The first is a poem by Yolanda Core. One Sunday, somewhat spontaneously, our 9 a.m. class trekked uptown to the MET where the assignment was to walk through the galleries until an artwork reached out, pulled you in– then simply to listen.

Given the poem’s unique structure, the reader can feel this woman’s isolation, perhaps hear the wind outside the cottage, and sense the hope of a guest arriving to share this meal.

 

 

 

PEASANT WOMAN COOKING BY A FIREPLACE

As I sit on my stool,                                                                                          Thoughtless nights far from sight,                                                                                  As the days go by I try to survive,                                                                                  And no one around to talk to at night,                                                                    While making a fire close to midnight,                                                                          Cooking my meal in this gleaming night,                                                                  Cooking my meal to share this night,                                                                          thinking of someone soon to pass by,                                                                              But I’m still alone wondering why,                                                                              Still lonely and weary I will survive,                                                                                I know someday this night will end,                                                                            And I will no longer be depressed,                                                                                So as I continue to breathe  this air,                                                                              I will not fall, I will not break,                                                                                        It will be another day I sit in my shed,                                                                            a peaceful mind day by day,                                                                                      trying to survive so it will never end,                                                                        Back on my stool I sit again.

 

In the following literary analysis of “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Alan Poe, Anna Hajdo, draws some disturbing connections to own dark times. Looking at the drama of international politics, she compares the cunning of Montressor to Putin, and guess who plays the hapless Fortunato…

Keep your friends close and enemies closer. This powerful philosophy is a great tool to trick others, especially when held by a determined individual. Deception is a smart, yet unfair way to gain various advantages in life, such as money, power or revenge. The world of politics, great finances and marketing is based on playing, tricking others. Daily news and headlines bring various examples of the top public figures and institutions being deceived all the time. That brings to mind “The Cast of Amontillado”, a memorable story of two people, who seemingly were friends, but turned out to be the worst enemies. Following the news on a daily basis, I am truly concerned that this is also the case on the international political scene nowadays. The world leaders use the language of flattery to manipulate one another and poison each other’s minds. A perfect example of such would be the relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Sadly, the latter seems to be more cunning. Thus, the current American president resembles Fortunato and the Russian leader brings to mind Montresor.

The analogy between the two mentioned politicians and the characters of “The Cask of Amontillado” can be found at the very beginning, in their background. While Fortunato is a member of a rich and well-respected family with traditions, Montresor suffers financial difficulties and humiliation. Likewise, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin come from very distinctive environments. The former is a privileged man from a rich family, which helped him start his career as a wealthy businessman. Like Fortunato, he was raised in comfort and safety, which made him not realize many difficulties that ordinary people face. Everything was handled to him. Thus, he might very often not be aware of how desperate and determined people can be. On the other hand, Vladimir Putin was born to an ordinary family and raised in rough conditions of the Soviet Union. He had to fight his way to the top. He knows the costs of being in power and he will do everything to maintain it. Not only that, he wants to lead his country to becoming an empire again and it seems like nothing can stop him. Despite its enormous size and undeniable influence on the international political scene, Russia still faces poverty and hardships that are unfamiliar to the people of the United States. Likewise, Montresor’s family lost the greatness it once had, which hurt his ego so badly that he would do everything to defend his honor. Human’s desperation is a much greater power than money.

The resemblance between the country leaders and Poe’s characters goes further and it reveals itself in their personalities. Both sets of characters contain a loud, arrogant extravert and a silent, patient introvert with a hidden agenda. We meet Fortunato during a carnival celebration, when he is wearing a motley and drinks quite amounts of wine. He is enjoying his time, dancing to lively, loud music among people he considers his friends, unaware. Likewise, we meet Donald Trump as a politician during the election campaign, which can be easily compared to the carnival season. He is also wearing a costume, his oversized suit crowned with the red, power tie. He is a showman, who loves to appear in the media and to be praised by mobs. He is arrogant and self-confident, yet seems to be blinded by his self-love and drunk on flatter. On the other end of the spectrum, there is Vladimir Putin, a silent, lurking bear of the East. He carefully weighs his words whenever he speaks in public and he does not seem to be appealed by the media at all. He is discrete and focused. That brings to mind Montresor, who stays in the shadow and silently follows his mysterious agenda. Likewise, he does not wear a costume and stays serious despite his smile. Like Sun Tzu once wrote in “The Art of War”: “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

Finally, the most terrifying resemblance of the Trump-Putin relations to the ones from “The Cask of Amontillado” is the plot of events. The hidden agenda to compromise the opponent seems to be the underlying theme of both stories. Like Montresor used the rare wine to lure Fortunato into a trap, Putin does the same by using Trump’s biggest weakness, his hunger for flatter. Finding someone’s desire is the best way to manipulate the person. Montresor knew it well. “He had a weak point- this Fortunato- […] He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine”, he said. Likewise, Vladimir Putin seems to pour Donald Trump the wine he loves the most and the latter seems to be dizzy already. “He is a very colorful person, talented, without any doubt.” he said about Trump. The American president seems to be very pleased with all the compliments he receives from the Eastern leader. One of his public statements about Putin proves it perfectly: “I think he said some really nice things. He called me a genius.” Putin seems to know how to manipulate Trump to make him happy as a child, but I am not so sure if the opposite situation would be the case as well.

The analogy of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to Poe’s characters is symbolic, yet seems very accurate. One man seems to have a leverage over the other by knowing what his wine is. That kind of knowledge can be deadly, like the events of “The Cask of Amontillado” show. People in power especially should be aware of it as the consequences of their actions may affect millions of others. Putin lures Trump with flatter and promises of a fruitful cooperation. At this point Donald Trump has already entered the catacombs and tried some wine. How far he will follow Putin in the tangle of the dark corridors, we will see. Let’s hope the end of this story is less bleak than the one of “The Cask of Amontillado”.

The following is work of flash fiction by Luz Ramos that conveys a contemporary tale of entrapment and self-realization– all in about 400 words. Well-done, Luz.

It was a beautiful Saturday in May.  The birds were chirping.  She could smell the flowers blooming.  Here she was, standing in front of the church with her son, waiting for her husband to park.  It was her son’s big day, he was getting baptized.  Her husband finally arrived in his suit, handsome as always.  They went inside with the rest of the family.  The ceremony was beautiful and her son look so cute in his white suit.  They proceeded to the usual shin-ding, a reason for free food and drinks.  She was her usual self, serving and making everyone have a great time.  She look around while everyone was eating and drinking, different conversations, carrying on, which she wasn’t part of.  She didn’t fit in.  This wasn’t her home.  She felt like the maid but in a beautiful dress.  And there it was! She heard her voice, from across the room, her sarcastic laughter.  Her son’s grandmother.  Her mother-in-law.  God’s gift to earth, better said, God’s cruel joke to her.  Sweetie!, can you bring us more drinks?  She was  so oblivious.  God! Did she not know she was the daughter-in-law, her grandson’s mother.  Not the damn maid!  She was something else.  With her usual smile she approached her, of course, Margie, anything else? No darling, that will be all for now.  Under her breath she mumbled, you should be more sociable, darling.  That darling! was like a knife to her stomach.  What more did she want, with anger inside her, she smiled and apologized.  I’ll get those drinks. She walked away.  She went to her room to freshen-up.  She had her son in her arms.  As she looked in the mirror her son said, mommy are you ok?  Yes, sweetheart. She gave him a kiss.  He was her only reason.  She had a plan and she was going to see it through.  She looked around one last time with a smile, knowing, there was nothing there she would miss.  She joined the party again.  She saw her brother across the room, one look, he knew it was time.  She spotted her husband and approached him. Excuse me. sweetheart, can I have a word with you?  He smiled at her, in a sarcastic way.  She looked into his eyes and told him, we’re leaving.  I don’t want any problems or a scene, my brother has our bags and he’s taking us to the airport.  I’ll call you.