In a general way, Wonderland explores the theme of alienation that has been central to this course. Dickman’s poetic vision, in my reading, resonates with many of the other poems I will give as handouts, notably “A Brief for the Defense,” a poem by Jack Gilbert that begins with the startling proclamation “Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere,” yet that concludes that “we must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.” This tension between suffering and happiness–or, in Wonderland, violence and beauty–will permeate much of the poetry we consider.
Option 1. Write a 3 page double-spaced essay that chooses two poems from Wonderland and analyze a specific theme, idea, or image between them. For instance, you might explore how the idea of “suffering” re-appears in Matthew Dickman’s poetry, or the notion of “innocence” or “love.”
Option 2. Write a 3 page double-spaced essay that analyzes how Jack Gilbert’s poem “A Brief for the Defense” typifies (or draws together) a number of the major themes of the class. In the poem, Gilbert confronts ideas that have been central to the conceptual landscape of this class: ideas like suffering, grief, acceptance, and beauty.
Option 3. Write a 3 page double-spaced essay that analyzes how Dave Eggers’ The Museum of Rain explores the ideas of memory, legacy, and meaning.