Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Literary devices in LOVE CHANGES.

When I was 9 years old, my favorite author was Edgar Allan Poe. My favorite pieces were The Telltale Heart, Lenore, and The Raven. I read everything I could get my hands on and often was told to "put that book away" and go outside and play. In high school, we studied F. Scott Fitzgerald, Salinger, and Franz Kafka and read plays like The Glass Menagerie and Waiting for Godot. All were filled with literary devices.
I long to see that in African American Lit. Maybe that's why I love Zora and will stick with Toni Morrison till the end despite repeatedly doubting my own intelligence. And when I am done, close that book and think to myself, "Okay! I'm finished! I'm smart now."

So, in writing Love Changes, I wanted to bring literary elements to the prose BECAUSE the book is urban, about characters from the projects and/or living in the ghetto.
So many of us from the inner city grow up telling ghetto jokes and singing ghetto songs, thinking that we do not know proper English when in all actuality we have an excellent grasp of the language; we simply command it differently, and if I may add, in a more unique way.
Rhythm is in our blood. Unbeknownst to us, we speak in meter naturally. We praise the poetic genius of the Kanye(s) and Jay Z(s) when honestly, can any of us really remember the first rhyme WE ever spoke? More than likely, it was "Mommmmy, I  want some cannnndy!" And later we find ourselves playin' the dozens conjuring up humor, satyr, similes, metaphors, and hyperboles without ever realizing the depth of our command for these devices, because we are getting C(s) and D(s) in English. 

"Miss Mary Matt, Matt, Matt...all dressed in black, black, black...with silver buttons, buttons, buttons, all down her back, back back."

So, while the rest of the world is busy studying to learn how to do what we do naturally, we get stuck, thinking were are not smart, because we don't know that what we've been doing has a name, and we don't know what these devises are called.

Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds that creates internal rhyme within phrases or sentences; one of the building blocks of verse.

Example #1: Who knew the truth?
Example #2: "And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes."

-          "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe
Example #3: Because of a surge of adrenaline, this black woman forgot: she is not superhuman. So my adrenaline buzz wasn’t doing me a bit of good.
-          LOVE CHANGES by Eartha Watts-Hicks
Other literary devices include alliteration, consonance, onomatopoeia, allusion, imagery, foreshadowing, symbolism. For examples of these and other literary devices in African American literature, read any one of the titles by Toni Morrison, Zora Neil Hurston, Walter Mosley, Chris Abani, James Baldwin. For examples of these literary devices in urban fiction, read Love Changes by Eartha Watts-Hicks.

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