Sorry, I'm a Cheese Stickler... (An Entry in the form of Prose)

Posted by Maddie on August 18, 2014 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (56)

Being at college has greatly reduced my exposure to cheese. Back home in Manhattan, I lived across the street from a gourmet cheese shop. After high school each day -- it literally was every day --I visited the cheese shop in search for a cheese I haven't tried (which was rare) or chose one of my old favorites that I was craving in class earlier that day. Whatever the cheese, I've always bought in small quantity, asking for roughly .225 to .25 pounds. I have a weird habit which drives my parents crazy. I like to finish cheese I buy the day of. This is why I ask for the minumum weight the cheese monger will cut for me. The cheese just tastes fresher! My refrigerator is not calibrated to optimize cheese freshness because it's busy keeping leftover meat fresh for tomorrow's dinner, which unfortunately makescheese firmer than it's supposed to be. If I really can't finish the entire wedge, then I have no choice to put it in the refrigerator. But, tomorrow then becomes a waiting game: I need the cheese to sit out at room temperature for roughly 30 minutes (longer for harder cheeses) so I can get the exact consistency I want. But, its always worth the wait. 

Between Walls by William Carlos Williams

Posted by Maddie on May 26, 2012 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (63)

In a KWH event in New York City held on Thursday, May 10th, Professor Al Filreis (UPenn) moderated a discussion on William Carlos Williams' "Between Walls." Indeed short, with each stanza carrying 3-5 words per, the entire room full of KWH supporters and alum analyzed the poem phrase by phrase. In "Between Walls," healing the self (hospital) is juxtaposed with harming the self (alcohol).

"Between Walls" reminded me of my English elective, "The Ache of Modernism" mainly because of the poem's title, "Between Walls," which conjures up wasteland imagery. It's funny that "Between Walls" is probably the shortest poem I've read and "The Wasteland" is probably the longest, yet the poems' touch on similar themes. In my modernism elective, I read T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland"; the overarching message I gathered from this long poem was that our self-destructive actions are not contained within the self. In “The Wasteland” Eliot glorifies Shakespearian women and denounces modern women, juxtaposing two self-destructive women— Hamlet’s Ophelia to Lil—to reveal that modernity is a culmination of our snowballing self-destructive actions. 

If you have read T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland," I hope you can see my train of thought and see how I analyzed Williams' "Between Walls."

 See my handwritten jots below.

The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot

Posted by Maddie on February 11, 2012 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (12)

In my English elective, The Ache of Modernism, we read a poem by T.S. Eliot, "The Wasteland." A link to the poem is below. Personally, this is probably one of the most difficult poems I've ever had to analyze. "The Wasteland" is separated into five parts, but each part of the poem struggles to find a balance between excess and scarcity. My favorite part of the poem is called II. The Game of Chess. Not only is this the portion of the poem that contains all of Eliot's Shakespearian references, it is about a women's relationship to man in comparision to a woman's relationship to man in Shakespeare. For example, Ophelia goes mad and commits suicide out of her rejection from Hamlet and Polonious by drowning herself. The women sitting on Cleopatra's throne is going mad being alone. She is paranoid. Eliot's references to Shakespeare reveals the relationship he has with modernity. In the time period "The Wasteland" was written, there was war between countries, and a lack of guidance and organization. He alludes to Shakespeare to reveal that good things are coming to an end, and that high brow literature is replaced with cheaper alternatives. Take a look at the poem for yourself, and let me know what you think!


Poetry By My Sister:

Posted by Maddie on January 28, 2012 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (3)

Beginning (After Anne Sexton) By Kristen G

Whale on the beach, you dinosaur,

What brought you smoothing into this dead harbor?

I watched as you passed through: from water to sand,

Crabs to their shedded shells.

The fluffy waters swept you onto the thirsty shore.

You dropped tears of rubies

To the end.

Now, the bloodstained stones remain.

The red sea now is a red river,

Leading back.

Now, as the sand sticks to your wet skin,

You catch more glitter.

Dickinson Before Dictionary: Proud New Book Owner

Posted by Maddie on December 7, 2011 at 10:50 PM Comments comments (6)

Proud to be the owner of ALL of Emily Dickinson's poems -- at least the owner of the 770 page book! -- my american heritage dictionary look less grand sitting on the bookshelf

Let's be honest here: Dickinson Comes Before Dictionary...Dictionary Comes Late... reminds me of Dickinson's "Victory Comes Late"

Best money I've ever spent... well it's a tie between this and a pound of Robiola Rocchetta. =]

A Chinese Poem: Mid-Autumn Festival (With Translation Below)

Posted by Maddie on November 29, 2011 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (1)

Inspired by the Chinese holiday. In Chinese, you cannot make characters "upper-case," so the personification Dickinson frequently uses, would not accurately be translated. Similarly, while I used alliteration in the Chinese version of the poem, those who cannot speak Chinese cannot catch the alliteration and homophones used here. 

Flash Poem: Reruns by Maddie G

Posted by Maddie on November 17, 2011 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (29)

Reruns by Maddie G

Forever is felt this way.

The drum regulates the rhythm

A thought in every beat

And reminder in repeat. 

 I can't help but feel like the sky.

Towering over a city of lights

Pierced by skyscrapers' grandeur;

Memories are the backdrop of 

My very own reality TV show.

A rerun disguised.

Probably the fate of my demise.

Chinese Poems by Kristen G (My sister was inspired by my flash poetry)

Posted by Maddie on November 15, 2011 at 10:50 PM Comments comments (6)









Friends come here,

Play with me.

We are happy,

It is fun.

Hello everybody.









The sun rises.

I go play in the park.

In the park there are trees.

In the trees, there are birds.

I say, “Hello.”










I woke up,

And ate breakfast.

Under the tree there are presents.

On the tree there are little lights.

The whole family goes to sleep.









The whole world has water.

I look out from my window,

And see a river.

In the river, there are red fish.

I feel at home.









Everyday I learn,

I learn a lot

School is in my head

I learn how to live.










There is a book on the desk.

I want to live in the book.

It’s pretty and happy.

I love the book’s people,

I love the book’s trees.

But, I can’t go.












The winter has gone home,

Now there are not cold winds.

I went outside to walk,

And saw a little tree.

Everyday I saw it,

Before there were no flowers,

Now there are white flowers.









I hear a song

Blowing in the wind.

The flowers sing songs,

Songs of reawakening.




没有绿树, 没有花.





I look up at the sky,

I think, “Today the world is sad.”

There are no green trees, no flowers.

Only ghosts.

Corpses are falling to the earth.









The wind has blown away children’s laughter.

Vultures circle my head.

A tear falls into the ocean,

I will find it when summer comes.







My hand is like a graveyard.

The lines of my palm tell the story of my past.





If You've Seen Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing...

Posted by Maddie on November 8, 2011 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (61)

...You may like this. For English class, my final term project could be anything. I could have used Google Sketch-Up to create a set design, I could have acted out a scene, or could've wrote a personal essay on a theme that strung through Othello, Much Ado, and The Merchant of Venice. Instead, I chose to analyze a film: my favorite of the three: Much Ado About Nothing. Perhaps it was the beautiful scenery that drew me in, or maybe Much Ado is just my favorite play. Whatever the reason may be, I chose Much Ado About Nothing (1993) to analyze the first scene of. I recommend you watch it and then read my analysis to see what my take of Branagh's director decisions. Here is the clip:

Shakespeare’ Much Ado About Nothing reveals that people have a tendency to create schemes to trick others, whether the victims are their friends or enemies, in order to take control of the situation. Of the five schemes in Much Ado, the three that determine the play’s fate are crafted by heroic characters, Don Pedro and the Friar, characters who have good intentions. While Shakespeare convinces us that good intentions return successful results, or that understanding human nature is crucial to fashioning successful plans, the first scene of Much Ado About Nothing (1993) illustrates the power of women through the song “Sigh No More, Ladies,” color, location, and biblical illusion, to change our basic assumption that good characters, like any fable, triumph in the end. While suggesting that Much Ado’s characters are divided into hero and villain is a safe assumption, Branagh chooses to risk commentary from Shakespearean purists to argue that successful schemes are determined not by ethics, but by gender, with female characters who decide the fate of the play. He highlights female superiority over men in Much Ado’s opening scene to have us think more deeply about the true tensions the play is centered around: good vs. evil or women vs. men. Branagh makes Beatrice the focal point of his film to strengthen the role of female characters in the play. Beatrice — a victim of being tricked into loving Benedick — teaches us to invest little emotion in men in her recitation of “Sigh No More, Ladies.” “Sigh No More, Ladies” is originally sung by Balthazar in Act 3 Scene 2, where Benedick is tricked into falling in love with Beatrice. The woeful song teaches a lesson directed at women from a woman, which makes the song’s message more genuine, serious, and personal, than having it sung by a man to men, as Shakespeare intended it. When sung by Balthazar, Don Pedro, Leonato, Claudio, and Benedick do not consider the song’s importance as more than a love song sung badly. However, Branagh has Beatrice directly recite the song instead of Balthezar in the first scene, is speaking about men as womens’ source of woe. Beatrice’s tone suggest her words are one of caution, telling women that they should distance themselves from misbehaving men in order to free us of our woes and overcome the male power that is exerted on us when our emotions are controlled by men. The lyrics are white words leaping across a black screen reveal Branagh’s desire to engage his audience with the lyrics personally and wants to engage his audience with the lyrics personally and come up with their own connection to Shakespeare’s words in the opening song “Sigh no more, Ladies” before bringing in his interpretation. After all, Branagh presents the medium to how we typically connect to Shakespeare and what we praise him for: his brilliant words. Branagh wants his movie to be accessible to everyone, and the opening of the movie displays this desire. He starts off with the recitation of Shakespeare’s words because he wants to draw a contrast to how he uses this song and how Shakespeare used this song. The fact that a woman sings this song in the beginning suggests that women set the standard for the direction of the play. The white font on black also emphasizes the seriousness and importance of this song, where there was not much importance in Shakespeare’s handling of the song. This song also appears in the film’s end credits, as well as Shakespeare’s original placement of the song in Act 3, Scene 2, when Benedick is being tricked into liking Beatrice. Thus, Branagh reveals that this song stages the movie’s themes, twists the plot in the middle, and is apparent during the final scene and rolling credits to reveal that women are the ultimate controllers of fate from the beginning to the end. Branagh also uses location to emphasize female power; location and scenery physically stages women looking down on men. In addition to the “Sigh No More, Ladies” song, the soldiers who arrive at Leonato’s home have a duty to yield to women. When Beatrice is angry at Claudio for ruining Hero’s reputation during the wedding, she gives Benedick an ultimatum: kill Claudio and keep her or do not kill Claudio and lose her. Also, when Hero is supposedly dead, Leonato makes Claudio indebted to him, making him create an epitaph, mourn for her, and to swear to marry Antonio’s daughter. Branagh uses setting to reveal this dominance of power that females have over men. The beautiful setting that the movie takes place is considered to be the official location for Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, which reveals that females have dominance over the villa. Branagh uses the element of height to reveal the power women have over men. He uses hills to elevate women and to have them looking down on men three instances in the first scene. After Beatrice’s line, “Not til a hot January,” the camera focuses on the men on horses galloping beneath them. Also, when the women are inside the house getting dressed, when Hero and a woman look out the window, the camera shifts downward to capture men on horses, still galloping beneath them. Lastly, when Claudio and Benedick are on ground level inside Leonato’s villa speaking about Hero, they are gazing up at Hero and Beatrice, who are standing on a balcony staring down at them. In addition to Branagh’s use of elevation, Branagh wants us to pay attention to color perhaps to mark the conventional heroes and villains; but more importantly, he wants to highlight the man who does not fall into either category, character Don Pedro. Don Pedro is neither a villain nor does he end in marriage because he does not end in a happy union with a woman. Not only did Branagh cast Don Pedro as a black character, his horse is the only one that is white, in comparison to everyone else’s dark brown and black horses. A removal of class distinction between the men galloping on horses supports Branagh’s view that men can be either heroes or villains, but their plan will not turn out successful, because women control the fate of our schemes anyway, not ethics. Conrade, Borachio, and Don John wear black collars and black leather pants, while the good men wear denim-colored pants and baby blue collars. However, Don Pedro is unique again, in that his collar is both black and blue and his pants are blue. By the lining of their collars, Branagh distinguishes Don Pedro from the other men, as well as the black collar of the villains and the blue collar of the heroes. When the film title appears on screen, “Much Ado About Nothing” shows up as the seven soldiers collectively pump their fists in the air and shout. The phrase “much ado about nothing” represents the powerlessness of men, and that men are “nothing” in terms of influencing the play’s final outcome. When Beatrice and Hero are involved in engineering plans to have their marriages work, they turn out to be successful; however, because Margaret did not know she was part of Don John’s plan to trick Claudio into thinking Hero was having an affair with Borachio, so the plan eventually fails, while the plans Beatrice and Hero are behind, succeed. Success may come for both villains and heroes, but the plans that are permanent are due to a presence of female control over schemes. Branagh’s presentation of the play portrays Don Pedro as a person who is neither happy nor sad at the end. He is the one hero who does not have someone to marry, which is why he is singled out through costume and does not end up happily at the play’s end. It may be that he asked Hero to marry him—even though he pretended to be Claudio—and that he also asked Beatrice to marry him, which she rejected. Although Don Pedro is portrayed as a hero, Branagh uses clothing to suggest that color does not symbolize good and bad, but the happiness the characters’ leave the movie with. He believes happiness is determined by marriage, the villains are punished, so they are wearing black, but Don Pedro fits neither of these categories, which is why color suggests that being involved with women allows us to have successful plans, which here is happiness. Much Ado alludes to The Bible’s story of Adam and Eve to reveal that women determine the fate of men, just as Eve convinced Adam to eat the forbidden apple. Along this parallel, the first person we see is Leonato with a color palette and paintbrush in hand, which is similar to God in behavior when he had control of how the world is seen and what he wants to bring to the world. Just as God starts with a blank canvas of darkness before his creations, so too does the movie; Branagh’s creation starts out black and eventually turns into a splendid luscious environment, with the painting as beautiful as reality. Painters are referenced in Much Ado, in a conversation between Borachio and Conrade before they are caught by the watchmen: “sometimes fashioning them like Pharaoh’s soldiers in the reechy painting…where his codpiece seems as massy as his club” (3.3.129-33). As I noted in my essay “Understanding Human Nature Gives People Power,” painters can manipulate peoples’ perception of others to their advantage by controlling the whole appearance of what they want the audience to see, which alludes to the power of God. When the hype of men and women interacting occurs when they are pampering and taking showers, both women and men are frolicking or laughing in water nude, with everyone next to each other. They seem unaware that they are naked and in very close proximity to one another. Rather they are laughing, joking, and playing in the water, with this scene portrayed as not sexual in any way, but as innocent. The innocence that comes from nudity in Much Ado conjures up parallels to Adam and Eve’s ignorance when they were unclothed and not ashamed until they ate an apple from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. Eve’s mistake determined the fate of the human race, which could explain why Branagh alludes to the story of creation in his innocent scenes of nudity to show that women have the final say in Much Ado’s finale, as Eve does with the human race. Branagh says, “I think that our job is to communicate to and to communicate to as many people who are to hear it and not just see it as some sort of elitist thing.” He rejects traditional beliefs that men are superior to women, by revealing that women have control over the fate of men because the tension that steers the play until the end are threads of gender confrontation, witty banter, fear, and hidden emotions that come from creating a human relationship. The reason for my risky explanation for director Branagh’s film choices is because I believe Branaugh was risky in his film choices to reflect what he understands about heartbreak and giving emotions away. Understanding human nature provides security, and being moral or villainous is decided by nature for us, for women, putting ourselves out there for men is risky. While the fate of women may be successful in romantic comedies, Branagh sees a dark undercurrent: women who put themselves out there may not receive the happy ending they see in romantic comedies. Branaugh connects his audience to black and white screen of streaming lyrics and slow melody to reach out to his female audience and let them know they are not alone; in fact, he is on the other end risking film choices to empower women, which may move away from Shakespeare’s original manuscript. Branagh tries to explain that women in the end are happy because they follow Balthezar’s “Sigh No More, Ladies” and have let go of the past and “converted all [their] sounds of woe.” Before venturing into a fairytale comedy where women will sing “Hey nonny, nonny” in spirits of joy, he sympathizes with his female audience and empowers them by making women the center of the play with the power to determine the fate of men.

Flash Poem: Empowerment by Maddie G

Posted by Maddie on November 7, 2011 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (3)

Empowerment by Maddie G

A third world is shattered

 But we wear 2D glasses.

We own mirrors in our homes too.

For the first time

I listened. I listened to

this motivational speaker

whose speech resonated with my hopes

but pulled it out in front to me, so I could see.

A third world is shattered

But we wear 2D glasses.

We own mirrors in our homes too.

For the first time, 

I noticed that this smile 

is a leap out of frustration 

and into change.

A third world is shattered

But we wear 2D glasses. 

We own mirrors in our homes too.

For the first time,

I feel that change is around us

People are doing

People are speaking 

People are hearing.

Alarm clocks have gone off

They are well into their second cup of coffee.

One person is enough.


A third world is shattered

And we wear 3D glasses--

This is what Innovation over time does.

We own mirrors in our homes three.

Inspired by a motivational speaker of , Seth, who spoke at our school today.

Flash Poem: Waiting By Maddie G

Posted by Maddie on November 6, 2011 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (1)


The lights

are blinding. 

A tug of war

pulling at the chest,

From the North and South poles

Falling a long way down

Or inching closer to the clouds--

The darkness is blinding:

A shot in the dark.

Knowing what's vertical, not horizontal.

A gun to the chest. 

A spinning compass, spinning questions, non-negotiable answers.

The answer lies in a directionless somewhere.

Just waiting to hear the echo of the trigger.

No edits, merely a stream of consciousness type of writing tonight--raw. Completed in 3 minutes. 


Maddie G

Flash Poem by Maddie G: The Physics of Motivation

Posted by Maddie on November 4, 2011 at 1:40 AM Comments comments (19)

The Physics of Motivation (Inspired by physics classes on friction and acceleration) Written in 3 minutes.

Tires create treds

Like she leaves a mark

On her path.

The added acceleration--

When no car is in sight: no cones, no traffic

Like the clench of a fist--

The tug of rope in war...

Just the grip of the tire to the ground.

Moving forward Pressing down Pushing back

Flash poetry is the best when you want to write a poem but you are tired enough that the idea of writing a long poem is unattainable. The best strategy (my personal strategy) is to write a poem at 2 am or later--the later the better-- and get images, themes, ideas, words all out onto a Flash poem. (notice that it is 1:40 am right now) Tomorrow morning, first thing when you wake up, revise, revise, revise. Add more if desired, cut words if necessary, and voila! You've got yourself a raw poem inspired by a flash poem. I find that I don't have much time to spare now that I'm in the midst of the college process. Here is how my poems still remain genuine, yet require less time. I encourage you to write a flash poem yourself, and use your seeds of spontaneous ideas and craft it into a masterpiece.

Let me know how this works for you! Comment below or email me at Looking foward to reading your flash poetry!


Flash Poem Inspired by Shakespeare's Macbeth

Posted by Maddie on November 2, 2011 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (8)

Shedding by Maddie G

Shedding secrets like washing hands.

Scrub between the webs of fingers--

Intricate webs of secrets do reveal

Another perspective that we do feel. 

Written in under 2 minutes.