This semester, we've read classics like Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises," Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men," and a handful of poems from the Harlem Renaissance, Southern Gothic stories, and some Carl Sandburg too. What was interesting is that while all these stories spanned from writers throughout a century and across the world, there were several major themes that threaded through all of them. For our end-of-semester project, we had to pick a theme and make a presentation to the class about how that theme runs through the various texts we've read, and why that theme was significant to 20th Century America.
I chose [bah budah bah!] dreaming, and only now as I was sitting at my laptop trying to think of some New Year's blessing, greeting, hello, whatever you may call it, did I realize that this connected perfectly with the theme of our blog! What better time to make a dream than at the beginning of a new year? (I really am always dreaming...it's dangerous when we travel because sometimes I get so caught up with this world inside my head that I am unaware of what's going on around me––native city folk aren't too patient.)
The "thesis," I guess you could call it, of my presentation is Langston Hughes' poem, "Harlem," (also known as "Dream Deferred"/"A Dream Deferred"). We analyzed the poem as a class, and I used this to help me connect each dream that Hughes describes in his poem to a dream that one of the characters we met this semester had. I found this cool Nike commercial that used a reading of the poem as a voiceover, but I put the words beneath it too, in case you're like me and have to read something to fully appreciate it.
What happens to a dream deferred?
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?