Ingenuity Among the Dead

Thursday Verseday with Arlinda

T.S. Eliot once wrote “no poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead.” While the statement may seem slightly morbid, the notion of poets and artists drawing inspiration from the past is still very alive. As writers, we are constantly looking to the past: what has been written and what are we going to write? We twist the confines of the past to form new tales, retellings of old stories, and various adaptations of previous art.

Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” was published in 1849, and more recently it was used as the inspiration for Cassandra Claire’s newest edition to her fantasy series, The Dark Artifices: Lady Midnight. Poe’s poem portrayed the immense connection formed within love and felt even after that love is ripped away. In Poe’s poem, the speaker states, “And neither the angels in heaven above/ Nor the demons down under the sea/ Can ever dissever my soul from the soul/ Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE.” These lines became the basis for the mystery surrounding Cassandra Claire’s novel.

In Cassandra Claire’s novel The Dark Artifices: Lady Midnight, she plays on the elements of fantasy to create a world in which angel warriors called shadowhunters separated a warlock from his true love Annabel Lee, and buried her in a tomb in which he could only access in an underwater cave surrounded by demons. Edgar Allen Poe’s poem was incorporated into the novel as the explanation for the villain’s driving force throughout the story.


It has been over 150 years since Edgar Allen Poe’s “Annabel Lee” was published, and still it lives on in the works of authors such as Cassandra Claire. Although Poe died many years ago, his works are still appreciated and valued in literature today. We constantly find inspiration in works written by poets that have long since died, but the creativity they produced still lives on. As writers and artists, we look to the past to aid us in determining what we want for the future. Cassandra Claire became a best-selling author, as labeled by the New York Times, by finding ingenuity among the dead. Cassandra Claire has attained success through her innovating novels while incorporating works of the past with her brilliantly constructed fantasy fiction. Through authors such as Cassandra Claire, it becomes clear that we can broaden our imagination by looking to the past for inspiration. The next time you sit to write a poem, or create art, look to the past and find the work that will inspire you.

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj



The novel Night, by Elie Wiesel is a an account of Wiesel’s experience within the Nazi concentration camps during World War Two. He was fifteen years old when the Nazis came to his hometown of Sighet, Transylvania, and at his arrival in Auschwitz his mother and sister were killed, while he was forced into slave labor. Months later the Germans evacuated the camps, and forced any survivors on a death march, which very few survived (Wiesel being one of the few survivors) by the time the Americans arrived. Wiesel wrote the memoir and novel in order for him to remember his past, and the capability of humans to commit such heinous crimes , as those committed during the holocaust. The story is a relatively sad and dark one, with little to no faith or hope being found from Wiesel throughout the book, giving us a look into how dark the holocaust was. There was no light to be seen throughout his suffering. His depiction of his experience is important because it doesn’t allow the holocaust to be seen as anything else but horrific and tragic. For him to go back into such a dark past, and write about his memories, evokes the message of how important it is to remember and acknowledge the past no matter how hard or painful it is. Being unwilling to acknowledge the past can lead to forgetfulness, which can lead to past mistakes and tragic events to recur. Remembering allows us to learn and find a way to create a better future, with the memories of the past helping to keep us on the right track.


Lucid Sight

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Floetry Fridays with Nicole 

This week’s poem is called “Child” by Sylvia Plath. It is an endearing, but saddening poem about the realities that children face when they are newly entering the world. We all face this fear of sheltering those we love from the scary and disturbing truths of the things around us, especially those younger than we are. It can be quite painful to face the eyes of such an innocent mind and know that they will someday endure heartbreak, suffering, isolation, rejection, and crushed hopes and dreams. It is something that we wish to fill with blossoming flowers and warm summer days, so that the corrupt nature of this world never touches them. This poem is also relatable to all adults who find it hard to survive as a changing adult, while trying to stay attached to the colorful beauty around us that keeps us children at heart.

“Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing. /I want to fill it with the color and ducks,/The zoo of the new” starts off the poem and emphasizes an unstained eye. One not filled with color nor experience, but clear and ready to be filled with the gorgeous breath of all the world has to offer. All of us are born free of the sorrows that stay tattooed in our irises. It is not until we learn our morals and build our values that we then open doors to things that can entrap us, rather than expand our minds. Here the speaker is placing immense value on their willingness to share these revelations with these fragile and transparent eyes. However, the second part of this poem states “Not this troublous/Wringing of the hands, this dark/Ceiling without a star.” Which brings to the forefront, what is beyond the bright and peaceful things. The darkness that will engulf these eyes that the speaker cannot shield this young, small and unblemished soul from. That we as humans cannot control the sweet things from turning sour, no matter how much we try.

This poem was also written about two weeks before poet Sylvia Plath committed suicide, which leads to speculation that this was inspired by her baby son, and revealed hints of defeat in her inability to shield him from the pains or the world, or possibly herself. It is an incredibly powerful, but short piece of work that serves to some as her final thoughts of this dimmed universe within her mind. We all must protect and nurture our own eyes from the horrid nightmares that may end up haunting them, all while accepting them and finding a way to utilize that pain into strength. An innocent mind cannot be marked by what they have been taught cannot hurt them.

I Am: A Poem For Inspiration

Thursday Verseday with Arlinda

Sometimes we doubt ourselves; we realize that the world can be a scary place, and so we begin to fear what our place will be in the world. Life’s circumstances knock us down, and we may feel as though no positive end can be in sight. Will we be successful, or will we fail? Will we achieve the things we hope for in life? When I first began reading Obscura’s Spring 2011 edition, a particular poem by Miguel Arturo Nuñez entitled “I am” caught my eye.

The speaker of the poem begins by alluding to the hopelessness of a situation in life when stating, “I am a king without a throne/ Without a crown and a song/ In a castle left undone/ With walls not quite strong.” In these lines, the speaker conveys the emptiness experienced when it feels as though you have lost everything. Is there any hope for the king to regain the life he once had, or is he doomed to live in a crumbling castle forever?

While the beginning of the poem caught my attention, it is the end that truly inspired me with the words on the page. The speaker of the poem may have lost hope in the world, but in the end the speaker finds hope within himself. The speaker states, “I am the echo of a prayer/ A silhouette of hope/ The spirit of a slayer/ The steepness of a slope.” It is in these lines that the immensity of hope is conveyed to the readers. The speaker may have begun feeling hopeless, however in the end, the speaker realizes that even if he has lost all else in life, he has not lost himself. Regardless of the situations that life throws your way, you will always have the ability to be your own biggest supporter. Like the “steepness of a slope,” there are many degrees of elevation in life; sometimes you’ll fall and need to pick yourself back up, and other times you will feel as though you are on top of the world. Miguel Arturo Nuñez wrote the captivating poem “I am” in Obscura’s Spring 2011 edition, and I for one am glad I happened to come across the poem. Every now and then, we all need a little bit of encouragement and a reminder to have faith in ourselves.

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

Books. What Are They Good For? Absolutely Nothing.

I first read Fahrenheit 451 in my freshman year of high school. In my English class we were given the option to either read the physical copy of the book, or purchase it on our electronic devices and read it off the screen. Most of the kids looked up free versions of the text, in order to avoid the hassle of having to carry around the physical copy. I couldn’t help wondering, since when did books become burdens? When did it become normal to have your face in a screen almost 24/7? Were the days of physical books coming to an end?

The novel Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury explores the value of knowledge and the importance of having access to it. The novel was published in 1953, but was set in the future, a future in which the government controlled the people through propaganda and fear, and books are outlawed and burned. The protagonist of the novel is a fireman named Guy Montag, who enjoys his job very much. We know firemen to be people whose jobs comprises of putting down fires. Yet in this dystopian world, firemen start fires, burning down the houses that are known to hold the enemy: books. According to the government books were the cause of unhappiness and chaos, and through propaganda it has led its citizens to believe that books are evil and those who possess them are dangerous and eccentric. Montag in the beginning believes in the ideals of his government, but with the aid of two strangers who befriend him, he realizes the truth of the world in which he lives in, and realizes the value of books, or more importantly what they hold within. Montag realizes that the chaos and unhappiness which books were accused of causing, could be found in his everyday life, with his chaotic marriage and the unhappiness, which he felt. Montag’s realization of the truth motivates his desire to break away from the binds of society, and the fears which it feeds in order to keep people ignorant, and under control.

Though books symbolize intellect and rebellion within the story, I don’t believe Ray Bradbury believed that books are that important. In truth it’s what’s inside them that’s important, the knowledge that they carry, knowledge that provokes thought. In Fahrenheit 451, books are not some savior of mankind, but it’s the people who read them and carry their knowledge, who hold the hope for a greater future.

So at the end of the day whether you like the nostalgic feeling of holding a book, or the convenience of a tablet or iPhone, it doesn’t really matter. It’s the words, which matter, its what you gain from the writing, and the ideas and opinions birthed from the things you read. As long as the knowledge is passed along, it doesn’t matter what form it comes in.

-Gabrielle O’Connor

Statues May Crumble, But Words Remain


Thursday Verseday with Arlinda  


And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,

Look on my Works, ye Mighty and despair!

Nothing besides remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

(Percy Shelley, “Ozymandias” 9-14)


Percy Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias” is a phenomenal depiction of the power of words. In the poem, the speaker conveys the idea that the strength of a king will turn to ruins while the essence of words can be preserved throughout time. Although the statue of King Ozymandias had long since turned to “decay” that became both “boundless” and “bare” the words on the pedestal remained.

Art is timeless; it has no moment of expiration. Books are read and taught in school that span centuries, from hieroglyphics of ancient civilizations to current events in today’s media, and we learn from each text. This poem shows that although King Ozymandias may have been respected or feared based on the physicality of his being in life, it was not the statue of him that prompted the speaker of the poem to notice the king, but rather it was the words on the pedestal that brought alive the memory of a king who was no longer living.

Words are important. It is our words, our voice, which have the capability of inciting change within the world. Writers throughout time have left their legacy in the works they have written; poems, books, newspapers, stories passed down from generation to generation, these are the things that are still remembered centuries after their date of origin. Percy Shelley was a poet during England’s Romantic Era and his poem “Ozymandias” is still remembered today, not only for the excellent use of literary devices throughout the poem, but for the significance it attributes to the power and duration contained within written words. Our words are important, and more importantly, they can create an impact for generations to come. It is vital that each individual realize they hold the power to make their words meaningful.

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

An Optical Allure

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Floetry Fridays with Nicole

This week we look at a poem by Lucille Clifton called “homage to my hips”. It is a declaration of self-love and body positivity for women, in a society that can be sometimes be very judgmental and cruel. This poem supports the freedom to not allow women to be placed in a corner because their looks don’t fit the idealized perception of beauty. Clifton is taking control of her body and taking pride that she is a curvy woman, and there is an immense power in the stance she takes against those who think differently.

In a society that can seem somewhat very sexiest and misogynistic, a celebration of women from all cultures, ethnicity, colors, shapes and sizes is desperately needed. No one should feel like the way they look defines their talents, their personality, and their freedom to have a confidence that is untouchable. Clifton writes “these hips are mighty hips. /these hips are magic hips. / I have known them to put a spell on a man and spin him like a top!” which emphasizes the power of the individual, and the ability to seduce anyone with assertiveness.

Over the years with the heavy emergence of social media, many people have become ashamed and insecure of their bodies. This is in part due to the “picture-perfect” photos of celebrities and online figures that are airbrushed and photo-shopped, but praised and worshiped. It has become a society of false illusions and this is becoming more detrimental to the mindset of those who walk around believing they must look a certain way to appease people. It is why poems such as this are needed, because everyone should understand that beauty comes from within. It is not how big or small you are, but how you carry and appreciate yourself that will shine brighter than anything else. Regardless of how wide or small your body (or in this case, your hips) may be, carry them with grace and that will be the magic that will put a spell on anyone that comes in your path. Don’t be someone else’s mirage, be your own enchantment.