by Allen Ginsberg
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- How does Ginsberg's deliberate bad grammar contribute to the message of "America"? Or does it detract from it?
- Do you think the speaker's personal recollections and stories add to, or distract from, the poem's overall message? If so, how? If not, why not?
- Is the speaker more hopeful about the prospects for America's future? Or more pessimistic? How can you tell?
- Does this poem's focus on a past historical period, with all its historical references, make it less relevant to a modern audience? What might a modern audience still be able to take away from this poem?
- Based on his complaints and desires that we learn about in the poem, what, specifically, do you think the speaker plans on doing when he "[puts his] queer shoulder to the wheel"?
- Does the speaker of "America" remind you of anyone (politician, newsperson, a long-lost relative)?
- Double super bonus: Try to recreate your own section of "America" from the perspective of someone living today, as opposed to the 1950s.
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