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Ma Rainey

Ma Rainey


by Sterling Brown

Ma Rainey Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. How are music and poetry related? How are they related in this poem in particular? 
  2. What can music do that poetry can't? Is there anything this poem achieves that music can't?
  3. What is it about Ma Rainey that has these folks so excited? Do they really know anything about her? How can you tell?
  4. Who is our speaker? A fellow concert-goer? A fan of Ma Rainey? Someone completely different?
  5. What are the advantages or disadvantages of expressing emotions through stories and songs rather than saying what we feel in direct and clear language?
  6. Why do we go to see music performed in person when we can listen to it on an iPod? How do you think the speaker of the poem would answer that question?
  7. Why quote another guy from the concert? Why not just have section 4 be in the speaker's voice?

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