By Aminat Barakhoeva
1) For just a second, imagine,
2) that you are an artist.
3) You must hand draw your story,
4) Building off from where you started.
5) Take out a pencil,
6) like a rock to fall back on,
7) used for all the planning and guidelines.
8) Grab some paint,
9) So bright that the sun looks dull
10) When compared to these shines
11) And don’t be afraid to mimic a reference,
12) But only ones you look up to;
13) ‘Cause even artists run out of ideas sometimes.
14) Don’t leave your sheet blank,
16) Create a work of art so beautiful
17) The sky looks dreary, when compared.
18) Don’t be afraid
19) to ask for help, when moving a stone;
20) Taking down the mossy garden walls,
21) Not even the models, can do it alone.
22) Don’t get discouraged,
23) If your paper started out wrinkled
24) Or you can’t quite find your paint,
25) Don’t be upset
26) When the elders tell you what you can’t create
27) And society only hands out complaints
28) Don’t give up
29) When the darkest parts in pen,
30) Only leave you confined
31) Or when there are faded pencil marks
32) From where you changed your mind
33) Because every bit of red, yellow, blue
34) Every folded corner and crease
35) Was made by you
36) And it’s a masterpiece.
37) Careful though, as a clock waits for nobody.
38) Do all you can on time,
39) Before they take and bury your pencils
40) Under where your name and date are signed.
Masterpiece by Aminat Barakhoeva is a free verse poem that discusses the importance of one’s identity and creativity. The poem starts off with the introduction to the extended metaphor that goes on throughout the entire poem, which is that the reader is an artist “drawing out”/living their life. This poem is written as if the poet, is talking to her readers about how they are the authors (or ‘artists’) of their own lives, which are represented as “stories’ (3). Lines 5-7 explain how you should sketch out the “guidelines” (the boring, but necessary parts) of your life with a metaphorical pencil; and the next lines, (8-10) talk about paint, which represents happiness and the good or ‘colorful’ parts of life, and so on.
Line 15 is a direct reference to the poem Mother to Son by Langston Hughes. It seems they also have similar themes too, as they are both about somebody inspiring others to live boldly.
Lines 18-21 talk about asking for help when you need it, and how taking down your “mossy garden walls” (Which is a direct reference to Praxis by Sharon Thesen) starts with one stone at a time.
There is lots of symbolism scattered around too, (like on the last stanza, “Before they bury your pencils, Under where your name and date were signed.” which shows that if “pencils” are what you use to draw life, then ‘burying’ them means ending your story; the second line could be referencing a grave.)
There is also hyperbole (9-10, 16-17), personification (27, 37), repetition (‘don’t’ do this, ‘don’t’ do that,) similes (6), double meanings ( on line 33, it says “every bit of red, yellow, blue” which are primary colors but also represent the three main emotions (mad, happy and sad)) and metaphors, everywhere. Aminat Barakhoeva managed to put something as complex as one’s identity and creatively turned it into an extended metaphor of art, answering what the consequences of not pursuing your own identity are in the process.