Blog#9- Poem #4 A Wildcard


We lay in pieces hacked by the Gaje

mind, heart , and now body.

Awaken the owl and listen for its call

death is our new life and revenge shall be ours.


Forging ahead we pursue our murderers

compasionless, inspired by their own

heartlessness in action and in word.

Each day fear resided in our dead hearts

but now rekindled by the life of death

We pursue our tormentors.


Dressed in white we approach their homes

match lid, ready to set fire, is this not what is deserved:

an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life?


…but wait, this is not the Romani way but rather

that of the Gaje, driven by hate

never forgiveness or love, will we become them?


We turn around, heading home because

even in death our heart will live on,

guiding our people, the strong and unbreakable


For this poem, the wildcard, I wanted to draw upon Romani traditions and spirit. Firstly I had our recent reading of the Gypsy Folktale’s “The Death Encampment” fresh on my mind and as a result chose to focus on Romani traditions surrounding death. Secondly I wanted to embody some of the anger that I anticipate many Romani feel as a result of the poor treatment that they have endured. Most importantly I wanted to convey the lack of retribution and vengeance in response to this poor treatment and ensuing anger. From what we have learned this semester, I feel that the Roma are not a hateful people. In Romani culture, “belief in the supernatural is fundamental,” something I conveyed by narrating the poem via the dead (Patrin). In addition, fear of retribution for wrong-doings surrounds the death of family or friends. The dead in the poem seek vengeance on those who have killed, not only their culture, but have also killed Romani in unforgiving and uncompassionate murderous ways.

I included several elements of tradition concerning the dead or the soon to be dead. For instance, I include the call of the owl which is considered a sign of impending sickness or death. The ghosts dress in white which was traditionally one of the “colors worn by mourners” symbolizing “purity, protection…and good luck”(Patrin). It is interesting that this parallels the understanding of white in Gaje culture, but is instead worn at weddings instead of funerals because of our different beliefs concerning the dead.

While I consider all of these elements fascinating, what I feel is most important about the poem that I chose to write, is the ending. Instead of taking vengeance on those who have wronged them, the ghosts choose to turn around and return home. I wanted to create a contrast between Romani treatment and Romani response, one that makes them better- survivors of a sort- preserving their culture and traditions through un-halting persecution.



 “The Patrin Web Journal – Romani (Gypsy) Death Rituals and Customs.” The Patrin Web Journal – Romani (Gypsy) Death Rituals and Customs. The Patrin Web Journal, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. <;.


Blog # 9: Proverbs

Every culture contains its own well known proverbs, Romani culture included, which represent the wisdom preserved by its ethnic groups. The proverbs are often applicable to anyone and various situations, although each culture’s proverbs have developed from different perspectives. One Romani proverb which particularly drew my attention goes as follows “You can’t hide a cat in a sack, its claws will show themselves (through it)” (Hancock 145). Translated, this means that “the truth will eventually reveal itself” no matter how hard one tries to hide it (Hancock 145). The Roma have centuries of persecution around the world and endured the harsh results of stereotypes, which I believe makes this proverb particularly remarkable. The proverb serves a method of encouraging people to live honest lives, because despite one’s efforts, the truth will eventually come out. The beauty of using the cat and the bag, is the slyness of the cat, which will often sneak up when one may predict it least.

I consider the Romani faith in truth and justice to be remarkable when they have been privy to experiencing so little of it from outside cultures. This proverb demonstrates the value that Romani culture attributes to the truth and it also demonstrates the faith that they have that one day they will not be persecuted. This is a phrase that will ring true for almost anyone, it is general wisdom that the truth will often prevail, but it is the fact that a people who have experienced so much hardship can continue to have faith in truth and justice. This proverb works against harmful stereotypes that have often been thrown at the Romani. Among these stereotypes is the Gypsy thief stereotype- honest people are not thieves, unless driven to crime by desperation. Based on my research during our research paper, I learned that justice and honesty are taken especially seriously in Romani culture and they have their own justice system.


Works Cited:

Hancock, Ian. We Are the Romani People = Ame Sam E Rromane Džene. Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire, 2002. Print.

Blog #8: A Painting by David Zaafra


Picture from

The piece of art that I chose to write my poem on is a piece entitled “Juana de los Castaneros,” by David Zaafra. I chose this piece because of the emotion that is conveyed by the drawing. I was most drawn to this piece of art because of the emotions conveyed in the face of the subject. I felt that the emotions that are most strongly conveyed by the piece are wisdom, sadness, and strength- all of which I try to convey in my poem. The different values that are used suggest an older, wiser woman rather than any precisely placed wrinkles. Her closed eyes, open mouth, and tilted head tell of painful experiences that she has overcome. Her dark open mouth is what convinces me most that she has lived a difficult life and takes away from any possible serenity.

The piece is drawn in charcoal which automatically gives the piece a wide range of values, from the darkness of her hair and her agape mouth, to the lighter shades of grey found in her nose, forehead, and chin. I interpreted the shades of darkness to represent the trials that the woman has overcome, while the lighter shades indicate the strength that remains for whatever trials await her future. It is interesting that the artist chose not to shade her lips any lighter than the black hole that is her mouth. I interpret this to mean that her words may be perceived as insignificant. The different values used in the drawing emphasize parts of the subject’s eyes.

The use of charcoal also creates a unique texture that in turn creates a sense of movement in the drawing. In the information supplied about the painting there is a note that informs the viewer that the subject is associated with Flamenco dancing, I doubt that it is mere coincidence that the artist drew in a medium that conveys movement. The proportion of the subject on the page is important because it draws the viewers’ focus towards each detail of her face.


Works Cited: 

Blog #7: Analysis of “Eleven Laments”

            The poem that I chose to use as inspiration for my first poem is José Heredia Maya’s “Eleven Laments” because it is an expression of what poetry is in my eyes. I feel that poetry is a vehicle for the expression of both thoughts and experience. The poem that I have chosen expresses feelings of despair, lust, desire, sadness, and a sense of loss of oneself, but ultimately resurrection. It is about desire, most likely the speaker’s desire for a woman, but grieves due to her inability to commit. The speaker lusts for a woman begging that she not make him “choose between my mother and your room,”- he seems to be experiencing a moral dilemma.

            This poem contains several religious references.  In the seventh stanza, lines 1-2, the poet writes “everyone up to the apostle / Saint Peter has been in your bed” (20-21). I interpret this reference to indicate not only the number of men that that woman sleeps with, but also the power of the men. I base this interpretation on the fact that Saint Peter is considered the first pope of the Catholic Church. The next biblical reference is in tenth stanza:

               “Although you know I carry a cloth

                so you can bury your head.

                And I know God grants an autopsy

                but no burial when you’re dead ”

referring in the second half of the stanza to the idea that God’s judgment awaits those who die (28-31). Although the religious reference is not overt, I think that the speaker is referring to when Jesus wipes his face on Veronica’s veil before being crucified. The final stanza refers to a “fallen man” who is then lifted by the speakers light which acts as “air under his wings” could also be interpreted as a religious reference (32, 35). Nature is used as a recurring symbol throughout the poem as well, which I draw on in my own poem. In this particular poem I see it as a symbol for the untamable, very similar to the woman described in the poem. Overall, the tone of the poem is lamenting. The religious references way indicate the speaker experiences some guilt because of the way that he lusts after this woman- it’s practically sinful!


Works Cited

Heredia, José Maya. “Eleven Laments.” The Roads of the Roma: a PEN anthology of Gypsy writers. Ed. Ian Hancock, Siobhan Dowd, Rajko Djurić. Great Britain: University of Hertfordshire Press, 1998. 38-39. Print 

‘Machismo’ in Clip from Movie: Angelo My Love

In the beginning of this clip from the movie Angelo My Love, the young boy’s attitude towards both the young girl and his mother is an example how the ‘macho’ attitude is instilled in boys from a young age. The young boy in the clip responds to both the young girl and his mother in the same repugnant manner. He attempts to be in control of the situations and wants to be the “boss” of both women. This demonstrates the fact that qualities that today’s society consider masculine and macho are instilled at a very young age. Part of growing up in today’s society includes learning our gender roles and understanding social cues. Angelo- the young boy- is taking his social cues from the men that surround him and has learned to imitate their domineering behavior. Although he does not exhibit any explicitly violent behavior towards anyone in this clip, he does slam the door at the end, frustrated with his mother’s attempt to control her son.

This clip contains a cast all Romani characters, something that is rarely seen. The movie captures its audience by offering a glimpse into the world of a Romani family; it is capitalizing on the mystery that surrounds Gypsy life and traditions. As a result it would seem accurate to say that the characters are necessarily Gypsy. If the characters were not Romani, would producers be able to convince the audience that this young boy is allowed to roam New York City throughout the day, not attend school, and largely do as he pleases? Producers rely on the stereotype of the ‘free Gypsy’ in order to allow the plot to unravel. Without this preconceived notion of the ‘free Gypsy’, even this short scene would not be able to function; it subjects even this young boy the stereotype of “the Gypsy as [a] romantic figure” (Hancock). Angelo’s machismo attitude makes him seem more independent and mature, which makes him both necessarily Gypsy and necessarily macho.


Hancock, Ian. “The Origin and the Function of the Gypsy Image in Children’s Literature.”RADOC. RADOC, 2007. Web. 05 Feb. 2014. <;.

Visual Please in the Hunchback of Notre Dame Clip

In the article Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, the author, Laura Mulvey psychoanalyzes film from a sexual perspective. More specifically she looks at two different ways that film aims to fulfill male sexual fantasy. The article is broken down into two main concepts. The first of the two topics to be discussed is “the Scopophilic instinct,” which is the erotic pleasure of watching someone in an objectified and sexualized manner (Mulvey 18). The second topic discussed is a cinematographic manipulation of ego in a sexualized way; it encourages identification with the virulent character. The first of these topics is applicable to this clip from the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame.        

In the well-known movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the main character Esmeralda performs a provocative dance for a male audience. The Hunchback crouches near the stage watching intently in fascination, until Esmeralda notices him. As soon as she initiates contact, acknowledging that she knows that he is fascinated, he hides his face. Although the Hunchback is the weakest of the male characters, he is still in a greater position of power as the viewer rather than the entertainer. In this clip she functions as an “erotic object for the characters within the screen story, and as [an] erotic object for the spectator[s]” within the audience (Mulvey 10). His scopophylic enjoyment of the dance is used as a method of masculinizing the Hunchback, a step in the direction of becoming a full human male- this is only made possible by Esmeralda’s sexualization. The director chooses to “freeze the flow of action in…erotic contemplation” at this particular moment as Esmeralda becomes an object of sexual desire; her sexuality becoming more important than her humanity (Mulvey 10). These private moments are an essential cinematographic technique which allows the audience to feel as though they are a part of the special moment without being seen.

Work Cited

Disney’s The Huntchback of Notre Dame. Prod. Walt Disney. Disney, 1996. DVD.

Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Screen 16.3 (1975): 6-18. Print.


Tropes and the Function of Romani Characters in Film and Literature

The Smurfette Principle is a particular kind of trope seen in movies, tv shows and media. This Principle occurs when there is only one female character surrounded by a group of men; this low ratio of women to men does not accurately depict the ratio of women to men in the general population. The Smurfette Principle is not only found in adult programming, but often occurs in programming aimed at children as well. The character that these single female persons portray is usually fashioned around a stereotype. Other times the female is simply an imitation of the males that surround her. As much as I hate to admit it, one of my favorite shows fulfills both of these criteria. Originally, the only female character that appeared regularly was Penny. Penny is portrayed as a big-boobed, dumb blonde whose looks are really her only attractive quality- a stereotype. When two more female characters were added, they were merely added as female counterparts to two of the main male characters. Tokenism is a broader term where the cast is dominated by characters from a majority and there is a single character representing a minority (whether it be a gender minority, ethnic minority, etc.).   

“Necessarily gypsy” is a term coined by Ian Hancock which refers to the fact that in a large amount of literature “gypsy” is a master status or main identifier rather than just a characteristic. This identity determines the character’s actions in the movie and often includes either the romanticized stereotype of Romani life or the criminal stereotype. These portrayals are especially problematic when they are seen in children’s literature. Our imagination and knowledge is largely based on what we learn early in life. If we learn and accept these stereotypes early in life, we are less likely to learn the truth and correct our perception of Romani life and people. The representation of Romani in children’s literature plays an important role in ending the cyclical repetition of stereotypes and misunderstanding.  



Hancock, Ian. “The Origin and the Function of the Gypsy Image in Children’s Literature.”RADOC. RADOC, 2007. Web. 05 Feb. 2014. <