Sunday, January 29, 2017

Caught by Surprise: How I Taught Myself to Write by Genevieve Maalouf

Genevieve Maloouf and her grandmother Genevieve

Learning how to learn was something I had to discover. Without it, I would not have learned how to write in my own voice. Like most of my peers, I entered my first college composition class at odds with, yet clinging to, the five-paragraph formula (say what you’re about to say, say it, then tell us you told us). I delivered little of my own views and nothing in terms of a personal style or level of persuasion. To be kind to my high school English teachers, their writing prompts did not inspire my imagination. Hence, told over and over I was a bad writer, I agreed.  Until now.

Nevertheless, my first essay, the worst of the four I would write over the fifteen weeks, was not very imaginative. Despite the solve-it-your-own-way originality of the “problem-posing” Freire-esque assignment---convince the class that your classmate is an asset to us---I approached it with a predictable, pre-fabricated, fill-in-the-blanks mindset driven by fear. I was accidentally blessed to have two student interviewees because I got so much better in the second interview, though I would make plenty of mistakes in grammar and punctuation in each essay that I would soon learn to self-correct. Worse than the mistakes, I was not yet the author. I had no author-ity for I did not witness my experience of these peers; I merely reported data. Consequently, I uncovered only three of the four hidden challenges in Essay 1: how to ease out of one’s comfort zone, build real rapport with a peer and develop confident interview skills. The final challenge, to celebrate the gifts and talents of one’s peer in persuasive paragraphs, remained obscure. Yes, my people skills helped open a floodgate of material for rapport came easily; the SWOT approach framed the interview most efficiently; both students poured out so much candid, enthusiastic information which I dutifully recorded. However, I could not fit it all into the restrictions of the five-paragraph container I was still focused on (along with the grade) at the expense of engaging readers. Until Essay 2.

Essay 2’s challenge was to increase our people skills by moving the interview from peers to adult service providers at the university and celebrate their service and talents in persuasive paragraphs. I feel proud to have broken out of my comfort zone about approaching adults who I admire, and my interview skills and level of rapport deepened. I enjoyed the chance to write on something I had so positive an experience of. I interviewed a student and a "real adult" who worked behind the desk at the library. Now I was no longer reporting or repeating facts; I was digesting and shaping them into a point of view.  Although the essay persuaded, it did not evoke my subject’s true colors. I still lacked the finesse to stimulate the reader’s imagination.  Until I got the hang of the journal.

Although I initially resisted it, the daily journal assignment birthed my critical skills, and from an increased confidence in analyzing data, I grew more creative. Five times a week I sat down and wrote a summary of the class sessions and the week’s readings that was chronological, complete and evocative followed by a critique of the subject matter. Walking the tree-lined path from dormitory to classroom to class, I recalled that I had last written a journal back in seventh grade, and that I never volunteered to read aloud in the systematic chaos that was my high school because unless one’s opinion was the teacher’s opinion in a higher pitched voice, it was wrong. I told myself that college was going to be different. I was going to attain confidence in myself and improve my writing. So when the second class began, a number of my peers volunteered to read their journals, and I, too, raised my hand. I would have preferred to read third of fourth, but called on first, I had no choice. I read slowly and uncertainly. Everyone responded positively and no one gave criticisms, but I knew my classmates were too polite. KP, on the other hand, still very supportive, brought to my attention the flaws in the journal entry and the missing pieces in chronology and critical analysis. Even though I was shaken up by reading my writing aloud followed by feeling sheepish for misjudging the assignment, this proved to be the first of many discoveries. Determined to write the journal that KP was aiming for, I wanted to have at least one entry I could feel proud of. This meant completely letting go of my fears in self-expression and in reading to others. To my surprise, that didn’t take very long to achieve. I read aloud from my journals, and the responses got better and better. Such positive feedback caused me to take the assignment more seriously. It was the first time I ever felt confident in anything I wrote. Nevertheless, I still had something missing. Then, eureka: My sixth journal entry was the breakthrough! Perhaps because of my constant practice and/or the astute feedback from others, I had managed to weave evocation, chronology and completeness with a critical appraisal that cited exact examples. I got inside my listeners’ heads and stimulated their memories and imaginations while persuading them to see it my way. KP and the class bragged all over it. The individual pieces came together in a new Gestalt. I could not believe I had finally written a complete entry in which every word worked. Later, I realized that the journal’s 75 summary-critique assignments incrementally helped me organize my thoughts and feelings into a coherent whole. However, I was unable to produce this in a hand-in assignment. Until Essay 3.

Essay 3 involved writing in response to six readings that focused on the contradictions and malfeasance of the American university industry. I became aware of how each author demonstrated a distinctive voice, whether comical, provocative, confrontational, metaphorical, urgent or indicting. I proved to myself I could get readers to understand my perspective and form an opinion of their own. I also grew a lot better in quoting from these sources to support my own thesis. Clearly, the learning challenge in Essay 3 was to translate the SWOT mindset of an astute interviewer into that of an astute reader of essays. It gave me my greatest opportunity to develop rhetorical strength: anticipating the counter-argument to back up my own argument. By interpreting the antithesis to my point of view, I learned how to reduce its impact and give the reader a wider, more inclusive perspective. I was really digesting data and synthesizing ideas. Nevertheless, I had not yet grown fully into my writing voice. Until Essay 4.

The wide range of the seven writers I read challenged many issues regarding my sense of personal identity. For example, convinced that the way to create an identity that stood out against social conformity was to detach and separate oneself from society, I became confused when Alan Watts claimed that we should leave our egos behind us and come to the realization that we are all bounded together.  I felt this view contradicted Emerson and Thoreau, but then I gave it more thought.  Transcendentalism never stated we had to dispatch ourselves from society, only that we shouldn’t feel compelled to conform but to follow our own drummer.  Both Martin Luther King Jr. and Walt Whitman celebrated a cosmic sense of identity that brought to the surface my own small mind and helped me grow into a more open person. Plato furthered challenged me to break out of my shell of ignorance and caused me to question how I see the world.  After reading his cave allegory I was left in a state of contemplation and shock. Frederick Douglass toppled the greatest impediment I could face: going against social laws and norms. His determination to learn how to read and write shaped his identity into a leader who refused to give up.  The biggest way to go against a conforming society, though, is acceptance of oneself, which Gloria Anzaldua had proved when talking about her childhood struggles.  Her standing up for her Hispanic heritage and sexuality in a society that shamed her for both gave her the identity most people strive for: being proud and independent from society’s beliefs. This notion returned me to King’s proactive message that society stands stronger when we all express our identity without fear and Whitman’s message that nature is the puzzle we all fit into. When I caught on that we live in a multi-dimensional world, I felt like a new person. At first I had been left with shattered ideas, but when I finished reading all of them, my shattered pieces glued back together into a new understanding. By not being afraid to confront data that threatened my outlook, I found my writing voice.

Learning is an amazing gift that only some of us fully understand.  Most people only focus on the grade, but I learned that the grade doesn’t reflect on how one learns.  To quote my greatest inspiration: “Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor.  Instead of communicating the teacher issues communiqués and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize and repeat,” (Friere, 1). This class has taught me how to learn.


Fortunately, my search for who I am did not end when this class did. My initial goal in college was to devote my life to my favorite form of expression, that is, music specifically from the Romantic era, which has always been a “go to” when I needed to just be me. How could I not spend the rest of my life studying music of the composers who inspired me? As it turns out, one need not to major in music to do so. I found my music major status put me in the company of hyper-competitive students who were willing to sabotage each other to boost themselves, an unhealthy environment for those who want to learn for the sake of learning. Math, on the other hand, has a different atmosphere: everybody encourages learning together because what better way to learn than from each other? This couldn’t be a better fit for me, especially because my passion for math is just as strong as my passion for music. Although majoring in music injured my appetite for it, majoring in math enhanced it. Not to say that one major is superior to another, but rather, they gear towards opposites. My favorite consequence of the switch was finding another puzzle piece to who I am and what it means to be me.

Works Cited

Anzaldua, Gloria. “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” Web.

Douglas, Fredrick. “Learning to Read and Write,” Web.

King, Martin Luther. “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Web.

Plato. “The Allegory of the Cave,” Web.

Watts, Alan. “The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are,” Web.

Whitman, Walt. “Song of Myself,” Web.

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Visionary Gateway for American and World Poetics: The Museum of American Poetics, by David Cope

Jim Cohn

In what can only be called an heroic effort on behalf of poetry, Jim Cohn has built, repeatedly expanded and tweaked an enormous database in American Poetry traditions and individual authors, and as the vision grew, the World Poetics of which we are all a part—and he has done this largely alone over eighteen years, using his own funds and research time to build this monument to poetry.  At last count, The Museum of American Poetics (MAP) contained 1272 exhibits—individual links and pages in twenty different collections, an astounding task for a database handled by a single curator (see Appendix for breakdown of collections and exhibits).   The MAP website grew from its initial emphasis on Beat and Postbeat poetries, developing as an online database for poets, researchers, students, and those looking for new directions in the art.  He first developed the site ( as a result of a vision that came to him after Allen Ginsberg died in 1997, in which he foresaw an encyclopedic webpage where poets might find representation on the net. Jim later convened a meeting at the West End Café in Boulder with Randy Roark, Joe Richey, Thom Peters, and Sue Rhynhart; Thom Peters  suggested the words that became the MAP slogan: “The Poetry of the Future is Opening Its Doors.” This became a guiding principle for the page. Jim recalls, “it was a play on John Ashbery's famous line ‘The Academy of the Future is Opening Its Doors,’” a quote he first encountered in Ted Berrigan’s “Sonnet 62.”  True to his own collaborative spirit, he then wrote to other poets, asking how they would envision such a page. Almost all were then neophytes in the possibilities of the net and some—myself included—misunderstood the scope of the project he had envisioned, but the project got off the ground and flourished.  He notes that:

MAP went live in January 1998. . . . The site at that time, and ever since, was captured by Internet Archive, and it really is a matter of beginning to work on the architecture of the site and graphics development as much as it was a matter of content.  It was a brave new world back then.

A Pattern of Organic Growth

One can trace the entire phenomenal growth of MAP from its skeletal beginnings in December of 1998 to the current 2017 page via the page’s Wayback Machine, which captures and retains every change in the site, date by date, over 18 years of continuous development (see The initial page featured Jim’s poetry magazine, Napalm Health Spa, as an online journal, beginning with the digitized contents of the 1990-1997 print versions of the journal, and extending from 1998-2015 in an annual upload that usually featured works by twenty-two to thirty-eight poets, a robust group featuring mostly Beat, Postbeat, “outrider,” poets from many diverse backgrounds, including forays into newer territory, as in the work done by Chinese scholar Zhang Ziqing with Vernon Frazer, Jim, and myself, among others.  The long run of the magazine ended with three major issues, each of them a formidable anthology:  the 2013 Long Poem Masterpieces of the Postbeats, featuring the works of 53 poets; the 2014 Heart Sons and Daughters of Allen Ginsberg issue, with 63 poets, many of them represented by large selections of their work; and the 2015 Anne Waldman:  Keeping the World Safe for Poetry issue, which had 71 major entries.   The annual Spa would be a formidable task for any editor or curator, but it was only one of the many areas that Jim developed for the website. 

MAP, 1998

That initial 1998 page also featured the American Poet Greats Lecture Series, a Boulder series featuring poets and former students of Naropa Institute’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics lecturing on elder poets that moved them.  There was also an Exhibits section which included submission guidelines for exhibits, and a variety of mostly Beat-influenced or Beat pages, as well as exhibits by the Academy of American Poets.  The Floating Muse Bookstore presented books on sale largely by Beat, Postbeat, and New York school poets, and the Poetry Links page had twenty-three key links to poetry and poetics which expand the vision into the larger domains of American poetry.  The original MAP page, then, begins with a vision of outrider, beat, and postbeat poetry, but already shows a desire to develop a broader scope of American poetry in its first, foundational architecture.

MAP, 2002

In the following years, Jim would make major graphics changes to the homepage, moving from the original black background with blue and blue/white lettering to the rectangles in orange, pink, and chartreuse over a light blue or green background (2002-2005).

MAP, 2006

2006 saw a major change to an attractive collage featuring poets, designs, graphic acrobats, and an encircled number 5 reminiscent of William Carlos Williams’s famed Great Figure.  In this incarnation, one had to enter through this collage (E N T E R) to a more elaborate collage on the next page, which also featured links to the contents of the site. 

MAP, 2009

A more simplified approach came in 2009:   a white background, photo of poets, a mission statement and a double columned set of contents. This approach lasted until 2015, when an expressionistic background in light moss green with scrape marks and white swipes replaced the white page; the mission statement was removed and placed in an "About Us" link at the top of the page, and the contents become more prominent. 

MAP, 2015

Through all of these changes, there were also incremental—sometimes massive—changes to the contents themselves; the website became a poetics of sustained organic growth.  2006 saw a great expansion of individual poets’ pages, with poetics organized by categories:  ethnic or cultural or racial groupings: Latino/a, Middle Eastern American poets, African American Poezee, Asian-Pacific American poets, and Native American Words Between Worlds, The Sexuals, Troubadours, Daughters of Stein, Invisible Empires of Beatitude, and Golden Bodies.  There were also Digital Vistas and Magnificent Rainbow:  Kids Form Poems, and the introduction of a larger group of online readings.  The inclusion of categories such as these has persisted throughout the rest of MAP’s history; in 2010, for example, Jim divided the exhibits into three major categories, beginning with International Exhibits, including both Old Globe Masterminds, 20th Century International Bards, and Today’s World Voices.  This move more directly connected American poetry with the rest of the world, avoided what he called “America First Mind,” and it opened another door to understanding poet greats “outside our borders as well as back in time.”  The Exhibits were divided into two other categories that year, too:  Diversity Exhibits as those above given their own space, and Medium Exhibits (Poets and Painters, Publishers). 

The second decade of this century saw further division in 2011:  Transmissions was developed with two categories:  Legacy Transmissions, involving cultural and poetics statements by elders, “emancipating countercultural knowledge” left behind for those to come, and the Postbeat Poets Activist Scholarship page, a gathering of then-younger poets’ musing on poetics, their lives, their visions, as seen in statements, interviews, speeches and essays.  This decade involved many other changes, too:  more multimedia poetics, as in the introduction of the MAP Channel Youtube Poetry Videos (2012) and the 2015 film additions to the Medium Exhibits.  These include two collections.  First, Beat Generation Films displays a fine collection of legendary films, ranging from Pull My Daisy and Dutchman to The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg and The Poetry Deal:  A Film with Diane di Prima, and many others.  The second group, Postbeat Generation Films, includes  Dylan’s Don’t Look Back, The United States of Poetry, Before Night Falls, Piñero, The Poetry of Wang Ping, An Evening with Nikki Giovanni, The Last Waltz, Anne Waldman’s Makeup on Empty Space, and Straight Outta Compton, with an extensive group of interviews, short readings, talks, etc. from other leading lights of this younger group.  Finally, 2015 saw the development of a link to the new Facebook MAP page, giving yet another portal for poets, scholars, students and those lovers of singing speech and visionary dreams.

The Guest Curators and the Latest Great Expansion

Perhaps the largest change to the site came between 2015-2017, when Jim asked seven guest curators to suggest additions to several major categories, expanding the collections of pages by  individual poets in each—a necessary periodic task, given the growing and changing landscape of contemporary poets.  Thus, the great Chinese-American poet Wang Ping took on Asian and Pacific American Shapeshifters, I (David Cope) handled the Euro-American Shapeshifters, Andy Clausen and Pamela Twining made significant additions to the Invisible Empires of Beatitude, Ali Zarrin made us all aware of newer and overlooked poets among Middle Eastern American Poets, and Dave Roskos and Ingrid Swanberg made significant additions to the list of Publishers who have shepherded outrider and gifted indie poets into print.  2016 also saw the establishment of a Google Custom Search option on the homepage, which will make the search for an individual poet’s work a matter of entering the name of the poet.

Coda:  Into the Future

At this point, Jim has taken a break from further work on the page.  His funds are barely sufficient to maintain it, and he has occasionally expressed a wish to sell it to a university library page or a college page which could maintain it for poets to come.  MAP is organized in a distinctly different manner from college archives and their finding aids:  it is strictly an online archive which, through its search option, makes finding those poets’ pages archived here quickly accessible, and its Wayback Machine makes tracking the growth of the page a matter of clicking on dates.  This last option is important, given that the site is dedicated to a major significant time in American poetics, the period of wars and freedom movements from the Beats and Vietnam until today’s Syrian and other conflicts—one in which experimentation was continuous and political and equality-based activism was a part of one’s work.  In all of its incarnations, the MAP page serves as an exemplary model for DIY special collection digital archiving which in some ways complements the physical library and its special collections archives, and if some library or institution were to take it on, the task would be to give it a presence on a special collections page for poetry, and to continue expanding it and maintaining it.  Big task in a time when such institutions are in the middle of retrenching and reinventing themselves to keep up with the yearly revolutions in communication! 

As is, the site does present the architecture for many kinds of indie sites, both large and small—one could envision sites devoted to a given scene, to a certain kind of poetics.  Imagine, for example, the best of digitized readings by poets under 30, a site exploring the writing of many kinds of poetic song lyrics, etc.—any of these could include search engines, a Wayback Machine, changing graphics and newer forms of media and multimedia presentations, and god knows what else.  Many of these sites are out there, but the question is whether they are open to field-broadening suggestions, aware of the depth and breadth of the chosen presentations in their fields, prepared to continually take on new voices and new movements over the long haul.  Jim has done that throughout his history as a curator, engaging in big conversations with potential collaborators and fellow travelers as a way to be as inclusive and comprehensive as possible.  This is a major part of his genius.

MAP is, of course, a tribute to one poet’s love of his art, of a major lifelong commitment to expanding the varieties of expression available in the art, of dedication to the many poetries of diversity.  The individual webpages themselves vary from fully developed pages useful to graduate and undergraduate students, to Wikipedia pages that can serve high schoolers and freshman or sophomore undergrads.  Poets of all stripes may encounter new brothers and sisters in the art, expand their awareness of what their poetry might imply as a mode of expression, and grow to appreciate those writing through adversity.  Whatever comes of this website in the years to come, Jim deserves enormous thanks for this sustained effort in the American Grain of our poetics.  Kudos—and if you have lots of honestly earned funds, send them to Jim so that this great page may live on without being turned.  

Jimmy and Isabella


Individual exhibit counts as of July 2016

Old Globe Masterminds - 113

20th Century International - 95

African American Poezee - 132

American Indians Words Between Worlds -51

Asian-Pacific Verse Beings - 61

Daughters of Stein - 44

EuroAmerican Shapeshifters - 62

Ghost Rangers of the Wild - 70

Invisible Empires of Beatitude - 113

Latino/a Web Heads - 59

Middle Eastern American Poets - 47

Pioneer Masters - 50

Postbeat Era - 77

The Sexuals - 44

Audio Exhibit - 21

Beat Generation Films - 47

Postbeat Generation Films - 85

Magnificent Rainbow - 18

Poets & Painters - 26

Publishers - 57

Total # items in all of exhibits = 1272

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Becoming a Student Entrepreneur: I Have No IdeaHub Where to Start by Jordan Orpia

What is an entrepreneur and what does it take to be one? Entrepreneurs are commonly believed to be brilliant individuals who understand how to start companies through their ideas. Truthfully, these aspiring entrepreneurs are unaware of where to begin, but are “passionate about their idea and willing to take a risk” (Goldsmith). For one to create a company, or further oneself in the general world of business, requires connections, mentors and experience. Where would one look for those mentors? Where would one gain that experience? Where would one find these connections? The Hofstra University IdeaHub is the answer to these questions.

Located in Room 246 on the second floor of the Axinn Library, the recently established IdeaHub is a collaborative laboratory for students interested in entrepreneurship and seeking mentorship to develop their business ideas. It is the home of the Center for Entrepreneurship and all entrepreneurially-focused student organizations on campus. The Center for Entrepreneurship’s objective is “to provide Hofstra University’s students, faculty, staff and alumni with the skills and training necessary to become accomplished entrepreneurs” (Goldsmith). They provide an incubator, which helps a startup company survive and grow through the difficult and vulnerable early stages of development. In addition, there are Entrepreneurs-in-Residence who are experienced entrepreneurs, investors and corporate executives readily available by appointment for startup company advice. As a declared Entrepreneurship major entering Hofstra University, I am thankful to have discovered this valuable resource early on.

Upon my arrival at Hofstra University, I was clueless about how I could become a real entrepreneur, due to the new and unfamiliar environment. I began joining many student organizations on campus, in search of the connections I needed to further my skills. One day my suite mate received an email about the first Hofstra University Start-Ups club meeting and invited me to attend. The email stated the meeting’s location would be held at the IdeaHub and gave exact directions of how to find it. I remember walking toward the elevators in front of the library café, taking the elevator up to the second floor, exiting the elevator and turning right, walking down the hall and approaching “Honors College” in big gold letters and finally seeing the name IdeaHub on the glass door to our right. Nervous of what was to come and unknowing if the individuals in the room were fully established entrepreneurs, my suite mate and I entered. I instantly felt at ease and welcomed into the entrepreneurship community when we were greeted warmly by the students. At the meeting, I discovered that not everyone attending was a business major, confirming that entrepreneurship is open to anyone, regardless of major.

Sharon Goldsmith, the Director of Operations for the Center for Entrepreneurship, gave advice for those who thought about being an entrepreneur but do not know if they want to. She said, “Come to the IdeaHub and hang out with student entrepreneurs because the best way to realize your potential is to get out there and start having conversations about your ideas” (Goldsmith). I interviewed a couple of students on campus about their aspirations and their strengths and weaknesses for achieving their goal. A Biology major, Trevor Hunter, expressed that someday he wants to start his own veterinary practice. I asked about what aspects he knows and what he needs if he were to create the company now. Trevor understands and “learns through [his] work experience how to actually care for the animals…[he] would not know the business end, like legalities, accounting, and other back end aspects” (Hunter), which is the IdeaHub’s expertise. They offer one help through each step of the business process, finding potential legalities, determining how much capital one would require and how to gain traction. Like Trevor, Monica Boretsky, a Business Management major and Dance minor, has ideas for starting up her own business: a dance studio in her hometown. I asked what connections and knowledge she has currently if she were to create it now. Monica “has the dance portion of the business covered because it is [her] passion… but [she] has not thought of the other aspects, especially when it comes to numbers, as well as branding and real estate” (Boretsky). I noticed my interviewees have a problem that many aspiring entrepreneurs have; they understand the front end, the service or product they provide, but do not understand the business back end. The IdeaHub can help them find the team they need to overcome these business obstacles and become real entrepreneurs. In the end, every business idea can be accomplished if one surrounds oneself with the appropriate connections and mentors.

Even if one does not aspire to own or start a business, one still has to work and that usually means getting hired by a company someday. The IdeaHub is a “great resource to be able to talk to other aspiring entrepreneurs; you might get inspired and feel brave enough to take the leap of faith to start your own project or you might be able to join another entrepreneur’s team and gain the experience you will need without having to forward yourself” (Goldsmith). No matter what major one is or what idea one has, we advise them to take the first leap of faith and explore the world of entrepreneurship at the IdeaHub where everyone is welcome.

Works Cited

        Boretsky, Monica. Personal interview. 1 Nov. 2016.

Goldsmith, Sharon. Personal interview. 31 Oct. 2016.

Hunter, Trevor. Personal interview. 1 Nov. 2016.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Music as the Language of the Heart and Savior of Speech: A Review of WALKABOUT by Isabelle Sasso

A French writer and romantic poet, Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869), once said, “Music is the language of the heart; it commences where speech ends” (par. 2). Imagine Lamartine’s statement and how it applies to film. Picture the average film critic. He/she watches a film and analyzes the camera shots, the costumes, the actors and actresses, and most importantly, the dialogue and film script. Most film critics may also pay attention to the musical score, but only after they have looked through the script. In his 1971 film Walkabout, Nicolas Roeg challenges the traditional assumption that a film should be centered on its script. Edward Bond, the screenwriter for Walkabout, wrote a script that was only 14 pages long. One might question where audience members are supposed to draw the meaning of the film from if there is so little dialogue. If Lamartine was alive today and saw Roeg’s film, he and I would argue the answer is heard in John Barry’s musical score.

Through the wistful and eerie melodies of Barry’s compositions, Walkabout tells the story of a young girl, played by Jenny Agutter, and her loss of childhood innocence during her “walkabout” in the Australian outback. In the words of Agutter herself, “John Barry’s score evokes perfectly a sense of childhood yearning, a time gone forever” (Agutter 7). Additionally, the titles of Barry’s compositions offer further support for the events that occur in the film that ultimately lead to the death of the girl’s adolescence. The songs communicate to the audience the film’s meaning through eliciting many different emotions and moods. Courtesy of the City of Prague Philharmonic and conductor Nic Raine, many of the musical elements can be analyzed to help with a deeper understanding of the way the compositions contribute to the film’s overall meaning.

The young girl in this film, only 14 years old, has to cope with the suicide of her insane father, and look after her younger brother as they are stranded and struggling to survive in the Australian outback. John Barry’s titles for songs coincide with the events that occur throughout the movie. For example, when the two siblings are stranded by their father after he shoots at his son, puts a gun to his head and lights their car on fire, Barry includes a song with a fitting title: “Stranded.” This piece incorporates a melody in the lower range of the flute, paired with jarring phrases coming from the horn section. It also brings in short passages from the Stockhausen chorus. There are open chords within the different voices that spark a sense of wonder and confusion among the audience which match many of the same feelings that the two siblings are experiencing. There is also a winding, stirring melody within the upper string section and on vibes—with both hard and soft mallets—that gives the audience a sense of tension and urgency. It plays after the father commits suicide and the girl grabs items from their picnic while trying to distract her brother from this dreadful sight. In this scene, the girl is forced to take control of the situation and make split-second decisions. This is the first moment we see her assuming a more responsible, “grown-up” role, since she protects her brother from seeing their dead father next to a car engulfed in flames. She then further assures him when he asks questions. For example, when he asks, “Do you know where you’re going?,” she responds, “Yes, of course” (Roeg 00:17).

As the film progresses, the girl is seen as more of a caretaker for her little brother. When they decide to settle down for the night, she tries to stay strong for her brother. She avoids his constant questioning, like “It’s getting dark, isn’t it?” In response to the statement that they may stay in the outback all night, the boy says, “But we didn’t bring any blankets.” His older sister refuses to admit defeat and show how scared and unsure she may be in this situation, so she responds “I don’t think I’m quite tired yet” (Roeg 00:13). When they finally start to sleep, Barry includes a very unique song, “Night in the Outback.” In this, there are instruments, specifically the flute, that mimic some of the animals in the outback. There are passages when the flute is heard flutter tonguing, and it sounds like a flying insect. The vibes also have a short, creeping melody that is quiet and heard periodically, as if an animal or being is softly walking through the shadows of the outback. Also in this composition, the Stockhausen melodies travel in half steps, where the music sounds like it is building, creating yet again, a sense of tension and uneasiness as the two siblings are seen sleeping alone in the outback. The scene that Barry’s music sets along with Roeg’s camera shots of the girl throwing the can down the rocks, and the close-ups of each of the siblings faces while in the dark outback conveys to the audience the ability of the girl to simultaneously adapt to a different environment and look after her brother.

Further into the movie, the two siblings are shown walking through the outback, in the scorching sun, past wide open spaces and over huge sand dunes. In this montage, Barry plays “Survival Test” and “The Journey,” where many triumphant, yet melancholy, horn melodies can be heard. What is also remarkable about this song is the combination of African drums and busy background music in the melodic instruments. This rhythmic ostinato within sections of this piece conveys a sense of determination among the two siblings to get back to civilization as they blindly navigate the outback. This will to return home is especially seen within the girl. She urges her little brother to keep walking and opts to give him piggy-back rides when he complains of being tired. The bustling instruments in the background, I believe, serve as a symbol of her unending thoughts and worries related to reaching civilization again. Throughout the movie, even when the two siblings meet the Aboriginal boy, the girl is consistently adamant about finding a way back home. She even goes so far as to reject an emotional or sexual relationship with the boy, so that, when the time comes, she can swiftly exit the outback and re-assimilate into the “cultured” world without worrying what she has left behind.

This brings me to another one of Barry’s works. This key composition plays during a defining moment for the girl. In John Kenneth Muir’s critique of Walkabout, he references the “unspoken—and forbidden—romantic love,” the Aboriginal boy develops for the girl (Muir par. 13). The Aborigine boy approaches the girl while she is shirtless and performs a fertility dance, or dance of courtship. Barry’s music, “The Deserted Settlement/The Final Dance,” plays behind the dance, which lasts overnight. There are many minor intervals in the beginning, which then lead into a mesmerizing flute solo. As the song progresses, it is difficult to tell what time signature the piece is in. There are two competing melodies happening, and it is unclear which is supposed to be dominant. Additionally, there is a didgeridoo in the background playing a floating melody.

I took this competition of melodies and the didgeridoo as showing the difference in Aboriginal and English culture, and how the girl is not mature enough to appreciate a culture different from hers. The girl is confused, and possibly frightened, as to why the boy has his face painted and is performing this very long dance outside the abandoned house they are in. Here, she gets an even more intimate experience with the Aboriginal culture. While she is baffled by the boy’s actions, what she does after the dance, subtly shows her appreciation of the boy. As Muir states, “when the lovestruck Aborigine launches into a courtship dance before the English girl, she coolly and silently rejects him,” which leads to his suicide (Muir par. 14). As the two siblings find the boy hanging from a tree, the girl kindly brushes off an insect from his chest, and they continue on their way to the road they had heard about in pursuit of civilized beings. This act of brushing away the bug is small, but compared to when she was constantly rejecting the boy before his death, her action shows some maturity and appreciation for him and his culture. This reentry into the civil world may seem abrupt because the siblings leave the Aboriginal boy hanging from a tree and don’t seem to give it a second thought. However, years later, Roeg shows us the girl reflecting back on her experience.

As the girl, now much more grown up and a married woman, has a conversation with her businessman husband who has just come home from work, her thoughts wander back to her time in the outback. The film cuts to a scene where she is seen with the Aboriginal boy, and her younger brother; they are all swimming. They appear very content, and have meaningful, yet playful interactions with each other. As the girl thinks back to a time where her life was much simpler and she was blissfully innocent, John Barry’s main musical theme for Walkabout is played. The melody in the strings and winds cascades over the rich chords in the low brass and the dinky, neat harpsichord chord progression. This main theme beautifully captures the nostalgic feeling that the girl experiences as she looks back on the time the trio swam together. The huge interval jumps and non-linear pattern that Barry chooses for the melody furthers Roeg’s point that the girl’s experience on her walkabout was the start of her losing her innocence. As the main theme plays yet again, for the third or fourth time since the beginning of the movie, the audience can conclude that Barry and Roeg want to reinforce this childhood yearning through repetition of this theme.

John Barry’s score plays a crucial in Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout, since much of the meaning of the film cannot, alone, be drawn from the sparse dialogue. Only through a close analysis of Barry’s compositions, in part with Bond’s storyline and Roeg’s purposeful style, does the audience understand that the film is about a loss of the girl’s innocence on her walkabout. Barry’s music conveys those nostalgic and yearning feelings for childhood through artful orchestration, and hypnotic melodies that push and pull the audience’s emotions. Additionally, the angelic voices of Stockhausen remind both the characters in the film and the viewers that the film deals with the issue of the death of a girl’s adolescence; a meaning that is bigger than the script and is obtained from much more than actors reciting words written on paper.

Works Cited

Agutter, Jenny. "Walkabout." Jenny Agutter: Memories of Walkabout. Jenny Agutter, 21 Sept.    2015. Web. 09 Mar. 2016.

"Alphonse De Lamartine." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Jan. 2016. Web. 09 Mar. 2016.

Muir, John Kenneth. "John Kenneth Muir's Reflections on Cult Movies and Classic TV" :            CULT MOVIE REVIEW: Walkabout (1971)., 15 Jan. 2011. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.

"Music Quotes and Sayings." Music Quotes and Sayings. Quote Garden, 05 Mar. 2016. Web. 09

Mar. 2016.

Ruhlmann, William. "AllMusic Review." AllMusic. AllMusic, 2016. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.

Roeg, Nicolas. Walkabout. Perf. Jenny Agutter, David Gulpilil, and Luc Roeg. Twentieth Century Fox, 1971. Film.

"Soundtracks." IMDb., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.

"Walkabout." IMDb., n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2016.

"WALKABOUT." YouTube. YouTube: City of Prague Philharmonic, 08 Nov. 2014. Web. 06     Mar. 2016.

"Walkabout | Research (1971)." YouTube. YouTube: Avid Films, 10 Jan. 2016. Web. 16 Feb.       2016.

Musical Terminology for the Musically Uneducated: An “if-needed” Supplement to “Music as the Language of the Heart and Savior of Speech”

Open chords: The structure of chords depends on the style of music—i.e. jazz or classical—but the basic form is the root of the chord (do), the third (mi), and the fifth (sol), and sometimes the seventh or ninth if you’re playing jazz. Basic open chords may consist of just the root and fifth, leaving an uneasy and empty feeling when heard.

Upper string section: constitutes the first and second violin, and it could be argued the violas (but in the music world, everyone hates on the viola.)

Vibes: The vibraphone. It is a percussion instrument with two rows of metal bars each tuned and set to a specific pitch. It is set up much like a piano, and when hit with mallets, creates a vibrating sound.

Hard vs. Soft mallets: Hard mallets have a much “harder” or more alarming timber, since they are typically made of out hard materials like hard plastic, or wood. Soft mallets are also used on vibraphones or marimbas, and have a much “softer” tone. They usually are made out of rubber or other soft materials that will bounce easily on the metal and vibrate well.

Flutter tonguing: Typically used by flute players, it is an act of blowing air as normal when playing, but instead of tonguing normally, the musician “rolls” their R’s or flutters their tongue. Barry most likely uses this technique so that is creates an illusion of a flying insect.

Half steps: A half steps constitutes, for example, moving from a white key to a black key on the piano, or moving up from a C to a C# or down that way. A half step is also heard in the Jaws theme.

Ostinato: a motif or phrase that persistently repeats in the same musical style (i.e. same rhythm, voice or pitch.)

Minor: Opposite of major; these intervals and keys are not pleasant sounding. They sound crunchy, tense, or sad.

Time signature: Tells the meter the song is in (triple or duple), and how many beats per measure there are. A time signature is set up like a fraction; the top number tells how many beats are in each measure, and the bottom number tells what kind of note gets the beat. For example, common time or 4/4 time, means that there are 4 beats in every measure, and the quarter note gets the beat.

Harpsichord: An instrument that is almost like a piano, but when a key is pressed, a string is plucked. It creates this very harsh tone. This instrument was used a lot in the Baroque period (approx. 1600-1750). 

Interval: An interval refers to the amount of distance between notes. If we look at a scale, the distance between the first note of the scale and the last note is an octave (a Perfect 8th). The distance between the first and second note is a 2nd, between the first and fifth note would be a 5th, between the first and seventh note would be a 7th, and so on and so forth. Intervals come in the form of perfect (unisons, fifths and octaves), major and minor, or augmented (the distance made bigger between the notes) or diminished (the distance made smaller between notes).