What do both of these poems say about the race in contemporary U.S.? What about throughout history?

Answer ALL of the following questions for the two poems. Be sure to use specific examples from the poems themselves:

 

1. Natasha Tretheway, “White Lies”:

Briefly sketch out the character of the narrator in the poem. Who is she? Where did she come from? What sort of position is she speaking from? What are the white lies, figuratively and literally, that the narrator tells? Also, what role does cleanliness play in the poem? Finally, analyze the following lines: “I could even/keep quiet, quiet as kept,/like the time a white girl said/(squeezing my hand), Now/we have three of us in this class.”

2. Jessica Care Moore, “My Caged Bird Don’t Sing”:

The narrator in the poem uses both imagery from the natural world (birds, twigs, mice, etc.) as well as pop culture references (Gilligan, Vanilla Ice, Run DMC, etc.) to get her message across. Why combine these two things? Also, what effect does the repetition of the following lines have: “My caged bird don’t sing/It cries/Stolen wings can’t fly”? Finally, what role do her ancestors play in the poem? And what do they have to do with the “drum beat/Heart beat/Drum beat/Heart beat”?

3. Finally, taken together, what do both of these poems say about the race in contemporary U.S.? What about throughout history?

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