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Analysis of Two Def Jam Poetry Videos

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BC: Regardless of what society wants black women to act and live, she wants to do what she is interested in doing and lives by her interests. She wants to do things out of her own will and with no one telling her so. Jill Scott uses visual imagery when she pointed to herself throughout the entire poem, especially at the end. She uses symbolism because at the end of the poem, she spreads her arms out showing that she is not only talking about herself but every women and is breaking free from the chains that have been restricting women from being who they are and who they want to be.

FC: Analysis of Two Def Jam Poetry Videos

1: Many Def Jam poems touch on real life situations such as that, although much advancement have been made, urban societies still struggle for resources, unity and civility. The two videos that were chosen to be analyzed can both be found on the website: www.YouTube.com.

2: The first video is of Lamont Carey, and the poem is entitled: “I Can’t Read.” In this poem, Lamont describes the struggle of a little boy in the sixth grade who can not read. This boy is suffering inside and feels the need to play the role of the class clown when called upon in class so that he does not reveal his illiteracy. The little boy did not want anyone to know that he could not read, write, or spell. Lamont says “I can’t read, I can’t write, I can’t spell, and most of the time I don’t know my left from my right.” He describes how this boy only knows basketball and wants to only play basketball in life to get his family out of the ghetto. And, one day, the boy is told that he can not run again due to him breaking his knee playing basketball.

3: Because he only knew the game of basketball, it ruined him. With the telling of his injury, Lamont makes it clear that it was not just his knee that was shattered during that collision, but the hopes and dreams of his family, friends and community as well. With dreams of prosperity and fame gone, everyone from the teacher’s aide to the school board to his own parents, place the blame on everyone else but themselves. However, the fact still remains; the boy in the poem still can not read.

4: While telling his story, Lamont is using various forms of kinesthetic movement as when he imitates the movements of a basketball player dribbling down the court and shooting baskets. He also makes various hand gestures while talking, and point at random members of the audience, to illustrate a point, that we all are responsible for the education of our young children. Lamont also uses quite effectively the use of organic imagery to display the emotions of the young boy in the poem throughout the narration of his story. From describing his fear of humiliation in front of his peers, to his thirst for literacy, to his heartbreaking injury filled him with shame in disappointing those who looked to him for a better future, then later blamed him for his illiteracy.

5: Various figurative terms were used as well such as symbolism, when telling the story itself, since this boy represents more than just a single individual, yet all of those children in the school system that has been abandoned by their educators and others around them. One could also say that the telling of this story was in itself, a synecdoche. Using synecdoche, this story does not just simply tell a story of a young boy, but all young children who share similar stories, and have to go through life being illiterate despite having graduated from the school system.

6: The second video chosen is of Jill Scott’s “Nothing is For Nothing.” In this poem, she describes how black men or society, in general, tried to dictate black women to be “freaks,” or in other words, someone who has a creative sexual personality. As black women grow old and mature, they are no longer expected to solely satisfy men sexual but also to clean, cook, care for, and do the laundry. She talks about how women struggle in families to be someone they are not and enjoy it. The message is that one should know their self and be happy.

7: She also conveys the message of doing things because you want to do them and because you like to do those things, instead of doing it for other people. She ends the poem saying “the me that I see now, the me who holds all to herself and both hands and both feet, the me that must have love and give it, the me that brings more to the table than cookbooks and a wet hole, the me that is confident, and intelligent, and filled to the brim with respect for me, and a freak! ‘Cause that’s what I like! And, I like being what I like! And, what I like is all a part of what I am!” She is saying that she no longer wants to be and do what she is told to do or what is perceived but, she wants to do things because no one is telling her to do it and she enjoys doing it.

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  • By: Ruth G.
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  • Title: Analysis of Two Def Jam Poetry Videos
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