The year was 2005, the year of the Rooster, and it saw witness to Angela Merkel becoming the first woman chancellor of Germany, the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina on the southeast United States, the election of Pope Benedict XVI, and a british royal wedding. Pop Culture started its journey to what it is today, with the founding of YouTube, the video streaming website that has… well where else do people watch and post videos? 2005’s edition of Best American Poetry features a well crafted catalogue of poems that address social issues facing the world during 2005, a few poems about historical figures and events, and some contemporary poems that bear a proper representation of poetry from 2000(or so) and on. Both Phoebe Slaughter and David Kristof had the tremendous privilege of reading all 75 poems inside the year’s anthology and deciding on just three poems that they love and they think all high school seniors should read, comprehend ( or try to), and meditate on. The three they selected are “Adam and Eve’s Dog” by Richard Garcia, “For the Man Who Wrote C— on a Motel Bathroom Mirror” by David Wagoner, and “Seesaws” by Samuel Hazo. Each poem was picked for slight different reasons, but in general, the three poems each were designed for the reader to have an emotional response that either provoke the reader to find meaning and intelligence inside emotions or brings the reader’s focus to a problem using emotions.
Many people won’t understand “Adam and Eve’s Dog.” Many people will read the poem straight faced, and at the end say: “I don’t get it.” The lack of understanding and the potential accessibility gap does not come from the language or structure of the poem, the poem is written in prose, but arrives from the satire in the poem! This poem is somewhat like Benjamin Franklin’s satirical writing, if you have never read Franklin or do not understand the jokester, then this poem may be out of reach. Garcia turns the biblical creation story of Adam and Eve into an elaborate joke by adding a dog, Kelev, to the creation story. The presence of Kelev allows Garcia to add humor and reduce the whole biblical creation story to nothing but a good laugh: “The misinterpretations of this iconography gave birth to the legend of the forbidden fruit and the fall from grace. Actually, it was not an apple, but Kelev’s ball and Eve was about to throw it.” This short burst of satire, mixed in with the other satire Garcia uses, creates a funny poem that follows a millennial trend of satirizing world events, different beliefs and ideas, and important figures. “Adam and Eve’s Dog” is more than the satire, though, it is a poem that explores the shedding of past ideas and the recognizing of new ones, a thought-process needed to change the world before humans destroy each other. As the poem suggests, “now there were trees, and beneath their feet, there was a path.”
Unlike “Adam and Eve’s Dog,” “For a Man Who Wrote C— on a Motel Bathroom Mirror,” by David Wagoner, uses people’s emotional response of hearing a vulgar word to bring attention to the amount of hate in contemporary society. The “c-word” is never used in the poem except for the title; the whole poem is a play-by-play action of a man writing the word on a mirror after sleeping with a prostitute. The prostitute secretly saw him writing it, she was “wide-awake,” but never cleaned it up. She left it for others to see and to spread the word. Wagoner writes this poem with a very eerie and suggestive tone. He strips the word “c—” from the dictionary and throws in the reader’s face to show how only four letters can change what somebody is thinking about themselves and others. The reader can see how this word tears the woman’s world to dust and ash, and the reader is left with disgust for hate. This poem is very applicable to society right now in terms of how certain women are portrayed and looked at. “For a Man Who Wrote C— on a Motel Bathroom Mirror” is a fantastic poem because the poems displays how negative words negatively influence people to only pass on more hate, so the cycle of hate never ends.
Another poem that looks deeply into words is “Seesaws” by Samuel Hazo. Using declarative sentences fused with a comma, Hazo exemplifies important life lessons through his stanzas and shows the importance of the littles things. Each line is very ironic by the way it uses opposite. This leaves every line up to the reader’s interpretation, which is something that stands out with modern poetry. A line such as “the colder the snow, the greener thes spring”, shows exactly Hazo’s purpose. By this line he is telling the reader to be patient, that the good things will come with time and the harder it is to overcome something, the greater the outcome will be. The entire poem is composed of ideas like these and what one needs to think about in daily life. Another one, “the longer the life, the briefer the years”, shows that if one is to enjoy life to the fullest, it goes by faster. It seems to connect with appreciation and living in the moment.
All of these poems focus on ways to think about life and the prospect of the future. These poems stand out to us as ones that are great in all aspects and offer valuable lessons through hidden messages and words. “Adam and Eve’s Dog”, “For a Man Who Wrote C— on a Motel Bathroom Mirror”, and “Seesaws”, give the reader a chance to interpret the poem on their own while giving an insight of important lessons.