The series of poems that I am working on are personal responses to different pieces in Monica Ong’s Silent Anatomies. After reading this book, I found that there was so much that I related to on a personal level; there were aspects that I came to understand about myself through reading and discussing her work. As a result, I decided to voice my own reflections and experiences in a way that does not mimic Ong’s style, but rather responds to it.
The purpose of my first poem is twofold: not only do I intend to show that silences can be better than words at times, but I also use the content of my poem to articulate my own experiences that may be similar to the narrator’s. Because after reading “The Onset” I wondered what the narrator may have to say, I use my poem to respond to that question with what I had to say. The experiences I describe are painful, but brutally honest, memories that I have. I use specific events from my life to show how my two worlds didn’t fit together, how my Pakistani world didn’t fit into the American, how I didn’t fit into the American world. It took time to realize where and how I fit, and I could not be more proud of where I come from now. Nevertheless, there is no denying that coming to love my origins came with many growing pains that non-first-generation Americans (most probably) did not face. I use these events, which I am not entirely proud of, to fill in the gap between the margins of the blank page that Ong puts forth. I do this not because I think her page is empty or lacking, but rather to show that silences can be important and, sometimes, better than words; there is power in Ong’s silence. It is a fervent take on “less is more.” It mutes the conversation of a painful memory; it doesn’t delete its existence, but it takes away the sadness and shame even for a moment. Her experiences may have been too painful to write about, too embarrassing, but this is just one of many interpretations of her piece.
My second poem is in response to Ong’s “Profunda Linguae,” as I substitute pieces of her poem with aspects of my own culture. I also add excerpts from an article on Bilingual Children Studies to add another dimension and level of commonality between my experiences and the narrator’s. The main purpose in this is to show that although the narrator and I have different cultures, there is common ground between us in that we are both first generation Americans, experiencing very similar circumstances as one another. The notes that are indented and unbolded are quotes from the article by Eugene Garcia, showing what one may consider to be the qualifications in order to be first-gen. In the non-indented and bolded lines, the quotes are directly from Ong’s piece and the unquoted words are pieces of my culture that I have either heard in my house or experienced first hand, such as some of the food references. The marriage of my culture and Ong’s words describe the use of the tongue in either forms of verbal communication or food, both of which are social functioning, which the last line explains as “the case for bilingual children.” It is also important to note that the theme is “bilingual” and not “bicultural” (even though evidence of two cultures is heavily prominent). The purpose for this distinction is to elaborate on the tongue, specifically, as a form of social interactions.
Falaknaz Chranya is a first-year student at Boston University. She likes psychology and Spanish, and she also enjoys painting and writing. She has absolutely no idea what she wants to major in, and because she doesn’t know where to take her life after graduation (career-wise), she has decided to take 1-2 years to travel the world doing community service projects. She has a big family in Atlanta, Georgia that she will not stop talking about once you give her the chance.