Essay by vuducvuong September 2006

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For as long as I can remember, I've loved to read: short stories, fiction, nonfiction sometimes, even philosophy if nothing else were available. This term I've been given more reading assignments than I can ever remember having to deal with. This term has been extra special because we studied no less than three types of literature: short stories, poetry, and drama.

While I was in high school, a short story was a book with less than three hundred pages. This term I learned that even though a short story may be only a few pages long, there are chapters of interpretation, ambiguity, and symbolism to understand. In "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, I found a story teeming with so much symbolism that I had to read the story twice before I understood half of it. In "Araby" by James Joyce, I learned to look deeper than just the surface of the original wording to find new meanings to the story.

Poetry, on the other hand, has been like a curse to me. I felt as if I were out of my depth when forced to read it. I could read the words, but comprehension was beyond me. Then, just last week I discovered poetry is indeed a foreign language. "I've always picked up languages easily," I thought. I then knew that all I had to do was translate the dead language of poetry into terms I could understand, then, with a blinding flash, comprehension dawned. E.E. Cummings is really just a dirty old man. Carlos Williams is a political activist, and Dylan Thomas is incredibly grief stricken about the loss of some loved one. The emotions of the poems were almost too overwhelming to deal with. Once I was told that as we evolve, so to does our language.