16 September 2011
An Analysis of Titles in “The Cunning Optimism of Language”
In the poem “The Cunning Optimism of Language” by Bob Hicok, we uncover a study of titles that are bestowed on us throughout our lives. Through annotation one may impart the usage and accumulation of titles, what they mean, how they affect the way that we may see ourselves or interpret our lives, and how these titles may even define us. We arrive at a sense of questioning as to whether one would ultimately want a title because, once assigned, there is an inevitable expectation to live up to. In the bestowal of a title does one lose a sense of oneself, relinquishing tiny details that we know to be true? The following analysis will expose the power of titles that we assume throughout our lives, and how that power may be relative to how we see ourselves and perceive our role in others’ lives.
Bob Hicok was born in Grand Ledge, Michigan in 1960 and is an Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg (Hicok). While he has been a writer of poetry for many years, before working as an English professor he worked as an automotive die designer and a computer system administrator (Academy of American Poets). Hicok’s works tend to “value speech and storytelling that revel in the material offered by pop culture, and that deny categories such as "academic" or "narrative" (Academy of American Poets). Throughout this poem, Hicok writes of seemingly familiar thoughts and ideas that, you might would recognize as being your own at one time or another. He does not however, allow the speaker to reveal much enthusiasm or excitement, but a quite wonderment or contemplation. Only at the end does one sense a change in the tone of the poem.
Hicock has the speaker begin his poem with a statement; an exact and succinct statement that reveals a first person point of view. He is telling a story and starts with: “She made me Overlord of the... [continues]
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