Themes In The Works Of Jamaal May And Sharon Olds

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Throughout the past couple of weeks we’ve read and analyzed the works of many poets, but Jamaal May and Sharon Olds were definitely the most interesting writers I noticed. May and Olds are both award-winning American poets with very different styles that made their work stand out among the rest. Later on I noticed despite the contrast in their styles two of their poems had a common theme. Jamaal May’s “There are Birds Here” and Sharon Olds’ “The Death of Marilyn Monroe” manipulate and rearrange structure, utilizing metaphors, imagery, and repetition to spread the message of the importance of breaking stereotypes of both nationality and unrealistic expectations.

There are many components to observe and discuss in May’s poem. Structurally
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Structurally this poem was also informal, not having an ABAB or ABBA rhythm, with four stanzas. During her times Marilyn Monroe was a public figure that was envied by women and fantasized by men. Monroe in her life and in this poem was a symbol of what the ideal American woman should look, talk, and think like. Olds uses this knowledge to actually break these expectations giving Monroe’s lifeless body an unflattering, somewhat casual description. Olds description was unembellished, describing Monroe’s “cold body” as “heavy as an iron” with open eyes and an open mouth and the shape of her breasts “flattened by gravity”. After all these ideas people had about Monroe Olds shows at the end of the day she was simply just another woman that passed away, and to remove those expectations and fantasies after Olds’ description was traumatizing to the EMTs. Which is another level of importance to why all the EMTs on the scene were men. As the poem progresses Olds tells the aftermath this had on each of these men: one of them spiraled into depression and impotence, the other began to dislike his work, and the last one was so mentally distraught by the situation simply listening to his wife breathing at night was

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