Sorry, I’m Not Superman – Mini-Inquiry Poetry Project

Flowers and Bullets

Sorry, I’m Not Superman

My mother says that I cannot save the world.

            The people are not my obligation.

She knows that my efforts will prove fruitless.

            But I know something too.


I know apathy like a cancer grows.

            (The tumour is the size of bullet holes.)

I know that I have to stand on my desk

            And scream out my pleas.


I pledge allegiance to the idea,

            The oh-so radical proposition,

That people are people, that love is love.

            That the future is ours.


My motivation is of love and hope,

            Humanity’s certain desire to create,

And the glimpse of something better than now.

            I will not be silent.


While the cellphones of the silenced still ring,

            When nothing is heard but bigotry, hate.

While there is still something I can, must do.

            While hope remains in light.


Free will will never been an illusion,

            Not if I have something to say ‘bout it.

Arcadia will decorate my fists,

            Ignorance is not bliss.


I know that I cannot save the whole world.

            But I can love it, and love it I do.

The bandages will be painted and bright,

            The scars flower-covered.




Sara Parker’s poem Sorry, I’m Not Superman relates to the themes of the power of an individual, and how one becomes motivated in the face of oppression or injustice. It is a semi-structured poem, formed in to seven quatrains, each with three lines of ten syllables and one line with six syllables. The title itself has a sarcastic undertone, symbolizing that it will be much more difficult for the author to disassemble the status quo, to “fight”, than it is for Superman to defeat his enemies. The poem itself is a call to action, a call for the reader to speak out and help destroy society’s apathy towards disaster.

Whirligig Final Project


“How can we train ourselves to look past the superficial?”

In Brent’s case, to look past the superficial, he had to completely distance himself from society. He had to escape from those who only saw the superficial, the tangible. Although, it was not Brent who made the decision to leave society. After the crash, he felt that he “was no longer of their kind and never would be,” (p. 36). Due to the way he thought people saw him, he distanced himself from people and society and focused on his own deeds. When Mrs. Zamora employs him to build the whirligigs, he travels the country completely alone, talking to virtually no one (“By now, he was accustomed to feeling separate from the other passengers. For them, the bus was an interlude. For him, it was home.” P. 64). By distancing himself from other people, he learned to appreciate the silence that nature offered him, and felt irritable in crowded place (At the bed-and-breakfast in Maine: “He preferred the less demanding social life of the bus and restaurants and motels. He’d have rather been out in the country as well, waking to the ocean instead of to the garbage truck below his window.” P. 116).This is actually a surprisingly popular method of training yourself to look past the tangible – meditation being the most common example. Many people prefer to meditate, if they do, outside and away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds.

This is actually a surprisingly popular method of training yourself to look past the tangible – meditation being the most common example. Many people prefer to meditate, if they do, outside and away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds.

However, in the case of Stephanie in the second chapter, it took a lot of peer pressure from her friend, Alexandra, and a glimmer of hope for her to see past the tangible. Originally, Stephanie was a very scientific, logical person who thought of Alexandra’s Wind Turbinesexpeditions as trifle. However, when Alexandra takes her on the guided imagery tour, Stephanie does not have patience until there is the hope that it just may happen; “Had her words lured a mate already? Impossible, I thought. I was still five-foot-one. But what else would bring someone to the point in that weather? Disbelieving, fearful, hopeful, I slowly turned my head and stared,” (p. 32). Alexandra had gone on a rant about the “power of the wind” (p. 26) , and although skeptical, Stephanie had had the courage to begin believing in the unseen forces, in the intangible, and it brought great things her way (Kyle – p. 32). As we already know, unadulterated hope is quite the force. Great, historical things happen because someone had hope that they could – they saw a better future. Take the Apollo NASA missions, for example. These missions came to be with not only the desire to stick on to the Soviets, but with a team of hopeful people who believed in what they were doing. Gene Cernan, commander of the last Apollo missions left the surface of the moon with the words “We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all of mankind.” Hope, belief, faith is quite the powerful, UNSEEN force, and it has brought the world great things.

Moving on…

Most people do, at some point, go through something that changes their viewpoint on their world and lets them see past the superficial. Most self-help books are all about a tragedy that the author has been through that helped them realize whatever it is they’re writing about. Personally, I went from being attached at the hip to my phone and constantly checking Instagram to having a wider view of the world after travelling to East Africa on a volunteer trip. It turns out living in a tent without plumbing or electricity for three weeks gives you a pretty solid perspective on Western society and how reliant we are on our material objects. For me, it took meeting people who live in extreme poverty, yet know that as long as they have their families, friends, and hope, they will survive to be able to appreciate the things I cannot see nor touch. Stephanie realized this with the help of Alexandra and pure, unadulterated hope, and Brent by leaving society as a whole and seeing a whole different side of the world he had never explored before.


Note: for the image dedicated to the second paragraph, I chose a photo of a wind turbine for two reasons. 1: It’s really difficult to find an image to represent unseen forces for pretty obvious reasons. I ended up with a lot of photos for a board game. 2: Wind turbines produce electricity, which keeps things moving forward and functioning. And although we cannot see individual atoms reacting to each other, we can see their effects and how they impact our lives. So even if we can’t see it, we know it’s there and we know it makes our lives easier, better. Hence, the turbines.



This Reminds Me Of…

Typewriter Series #1487

Typewriter Series 1487Whilst reading Whirligig, this poem came to mind, especially in the third chapter. Nature eventually plays a fairly large part in Brent’s journey, in that he begins to crave being a part of nature all the time. He chooses to camp instead of in hotels, prefers to be alone with just the earth around him and no people. His identity is “nurtured by nature” as the poem says; he grows as a person amongst the trees. Brent also avoids large cities at all costs, instead choosing to travel as close to the water as he can and leaving the city as soon as he can. He feels claustrophobic and fretful when surrounded by large buildings and many people, and chooses to go to the forest.

After the crash, before he went on the Whirligig Trip, Brent was almost a shell of a person. Feeling nothing, yet fragile. He didn’t interact with people, he showed remorse, but he was not living his life – possibly rightfully so, depends on your opinion. He felt identified by the crash and didn’t know what to do once he had been segregated as “different” more than ever before. He just was not living – until he went to nature. When he became independent from the expectations around him and felt comfortable in the forests he had seldom known, he started growing as a person and living.

Brent also sticks to coastal cities, which are (in)famous for being pretty eccentric. San Francisco is about as different from Chicago as it can possibly be. Where there is water, there is life and art and a sense of freedom that you just can’t find in the Mid-United States. I kind of want to recommend Vancouver as a place to visit for Brent…








“Brent felt he’d gained a glimpse of Olympus.” (p. 9) & “… settled on the peak the cyclist had told him was Mount Olympus. The home of the Greek gods, mused Brent. Hadn’t Hercules likewise performed his labours to cleanse himself of a crime?” (p.52)

OlympusThese two quotes feature the same allusion, yet they symbolize very different things. Just fifty pages in, we can see Brent has undergone character development, and the theme of self-identity is coming into view. Originally, Brent thought of Mount Olympus as the Land of the Popular Kids. His version of Paradise, of the ultimate reward, was to be considered cool. After the crash, after so many things are thrown violently into perspective, Olympus becomes nature. It becomes natural beauty, and he is not about to compare himself to the gods. Instead, he mentions Hercules, a mythical demigod, renowned for his strength, who had to perform his godly labours to pay for his misdeeds. Brent is essentially doing the same thing – performing assigned tasks to pay for his mistakes. As Brent had been originally comparing himself to the Popular Kids, such as Chad and Brianna – the “Gods” – he isn’t anymore. He isn’t even comparing himself to Hercules! He’s making connections from his situation to another, and sees himself as equal. It also might be deliberate that Brent references GREEK mythology, as Greek mythology is all about balance and justice, unlike Roman, which is more focused on getting ahead and more is better.


“… then confirmed this astonishing fact by naming every city he could remember on the four bus trips that brought him there, his geographical Genesis.” (p. 118)

In the Bible, Genesis is the book of creation, where everything started, where everything changed forever. Brent’s Genesis is written in his whirligigs, dotted around the country, each growing with more skill as Brent grows his identity. Before the crash, Brent Genesisadopted whatever personality he could, whichever he believed would make him fit in. Suddenly, his life had become defined by the crash, and while he sets out seeking redemption, he creates himself along the way. This quote, while about a journey, enforces the theme of identity.

Note: I chose the painting of God creating Adam because I think that it represents Brent creating himself, his identity. God is circumstance, he is Adam, he is developing an image of the world around him and of himself.


“He claimed one of the rockers, took out his harmonica, and began work on memorizing ‘My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean’. He now saw it for the lament it was.” (p. 75)

Ocean of RegretThe song Brent mentions is a song about wishing for someone who has long since passed, and regretting the way things played out. At this point in the novel, Brent is still feeling deep regret for his role in the crash and sorrow for Lea. The quote and the song represent half of the restorative justice theme, the path to achieving balance in the world. In the song, the singer speaks of troubles they have encountered. Things were good – Bonnie was there, his family was alive – until they weren’t. The song ends with the line “Now look at the shape I’m in.” It’s fitting for Brent, I think, because his life had been flipped upside down and sideways and he isn’t too sure where he fits anymore. However, unlike the song, Brent does not wish for things to go back to where they were. He regrets his life before and leading up to the crash, and is simply trying to build it up again. It is not until the end of the book when he feels comfortable entering society again, therefore this quote serves as an excellent symbol of the half-way point – the midway in the Hero’s Journey, in restorative justice, in reaching balance.

Note: The image attached to this is called “An Ocean of Regret”, and it’s by Nicholas Nicola. Searches for “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” gave me sheet music and cartoons – I like this one better. It’s dark, it’s about regret, it features a slight theme of connection, and they are heading into the great unknown. I think it does as good a job as any in symbolizing the song and reinforcing my point.


NOTE: Some of the images included in the presentation could not be uploaded to the edublog for various reasons, so I have attached the PPT below.


The Whirligig Connects Them All

Celtic KnotThe Celtic Knot: an image symbolizing the Celtic’s belief of inter-connectedness in life, eternity, and death. The Celtics believed that everything is connected in some way or another, that the universe is aligned just so that there is a balance of pain and joy, war and peace, life and death. They believed there is no life without death, peace without war, etc…

So far in Whirligig, we have encountered many themes. At the half-way point of this 133 page novel, Brent has been through a lot. Everything is set in motion when he attends a party, is publicly humiliated, and causes a car crush in a drunken, suicidal haze. While he suffers only minor injuries, he does kill a girl, Lea, who he later learns from her mother, was consistently spreading joy wherever she went. The mother of the murdered girl offers a depressed, isolated Brent a chance at restitution – he will go around the country and build whirligigs in the pursuit of his penance and spreading Lea’s positive spirit. Brent meets a few people on his journey and they greatly ameliorate his motivation for what he is doing. It’s why one of the main themes of the novel is interconnectedness, the ripple effect – Any actions someone does can influence the lives of others.

In Whirligig, we get to see how Brent’s actions and creations influence the lives of those he has and never will meet. For example, the Puerto-Rican street-sweeper sees a whirligig Brent inevitably builds and it effectively wraps up the man’s thoughts and worries about his life, answering the EQ “How do the actions of others influence our own lives?”.  Prior to seeing the whirligig, the man was in a state of confusion where there seemed to be a constant war going on and he could not figure out why. The man just could not find anything but wars around people, but then he sees the whirligig of a little wooden band, playing in harmony. It inspires him to go back home to his family, but he also talks about how people must work in groups, that there is a reason animals stick together. We rely on others, and there is a balance that must be achieved. This later influences Brent, out of pure coincidence, when he is almost robbed and understands “why animals travel in herds” (p. 66).

Also in Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Brent admires the stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair who form the Summer Triangle, but are also the brightest stars of their respective constellations. These constellations are connected to each other because of a certain set of phenomena that put them in line with each other, just as Brent is connected to all those in his karass, although he may not know it. Brent is connected to those who have influenced his life, but also to those lives that he has influenced by building the whirligigs. Because time and space aligned just right, all the characters we meet in the story are interconnected through the whirligigs and their lives are influenced.



(Ha. See what I did there, in that last sentence? Used wording from the EQ and applied it to the situations in the book and linked it to the theme. Clever, eh?)


Forgiveness – Whirligig Pre-Reading Assignment

Forgiveness is defined as “the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.”

According to the citation above, I am not a forgiving person.

However, I am not vengeful either.

There is never any glory in a personal tragedy. There is pain that threatens to consume you, and sometimes it does. It is unsteady hands and sleepless nights filled with thoughts of self-doubt and longing for what once was. It is anger spilling over the edges in loud fights, followed by heavy silences where everyone regrets what they have said because something terrible has happened and we should not be getting mad at each other. If anything, we should be mad at the person who has caused it.

Apparently these emotions go away when you “forgive”. But I’d have every right to be angry with the person who has wronged me or my loved ones.

There is a quote that accurately represents my thoughts on forgiveness, but possibly not in the way it reflects the opinions of others.

Forgiveness is my gift to you; moving on is my gift to myself.”

Forgiveness is something you do to, as the definition says, “wish the offender well”. But I wouldn’t want them to be well! I’d be angry because they have caused me pain and I would want revenge. However, I am smart enough to know that nothing good ever comes out of a lust for vengeance.

So I would move on, because that’s what life must do. However, that does not mean I need to forgive. I would not owe the offender the peace of mind in what they have done, but I would owe myself the opportunity to continue my life. So I would remain angry, because it is my right. But I would not let it stop me from moving on from the tragedy. And if that makes any sense, then I am glad. If it doesn’t, well, redemption never has either. It is messy, but it is life.

The Veldt Summative Assignment


A slam poem by Sara Parker

The birds used to sing.

All kinds of them.

Not just the little blue ones on the screen of an iPhone.

It was not a DING,

It was a song.

There were other songs too.

Ones that our mothers used to sing,

With their off-key voices and shy smiles as they looked down at us.

We didn’t hear the music through wires though,

And we didn’t buy them.


It was back when our parents still looked at us across the dinner table,

Instead of at the television that was supposed to entertain us.

When the best things in life were free because the expensive ones just weren’t worth it.

When we still did the dishes by hand and vacuumed the floors ourselves,

But we forged relationships in person,

Face – face instead of Face – Book.

We told people we liked them by holding their hand in public,

Instead of adding a pair of initials in an Instagram bio followed by a heart.


We lose touch with our friends because they’re all behind a screen,

And we suddenly feel special and different when we aren’t the ones texting.

It’s scary to look around the room and see everyone hunched over a phone,

To stretch up to look and hear your neck crack even if you’re only fifteen years old.

We can realize for a second that we live in a robotic world,

Where technology has us by the throat,

But then that ding takes our attention again.


Because in the land of the free we are nothing but slaves to Apple and Microsoft.

But hey – they promised to make our lives easier.

To “connect” us to our loved ones across the world by isolating ourselves from those next to us.

We let the Xbox raise our children,

And blame their fragile mental state when they seek out to find a real gun,

Instead of blaming the controller in their hands that is actually controlling them,

And weaving their little brains to ones and zeroes.


Maybe there are good intentions in technology.

Maybe we can make positive change using the Internet.

But a mother’s voice is not the same through Skype,

And I can’t hear the birds over all this noise.

Human RobotsOpen Our EyesAt Our PhonesLonely In A Crowd


Notes from the authour:

I think it might be slightly ironic that I wrote a poem about the hold technology has on us on a laptop.

Or maybe it’s not. Maybe that was my intention, to complain about technology but simultaneously use it for something that is not evil at all.

Either way, it’s open to interpretation, just like all literature. There are no right or wrong answers, but I beg of you to not take the poem at face value.

Building Understanding: Hubris

Which Essential Question(s) is addressed in this piece of literature? Content:

a)     What happens in the text/movie/Talk?

b)     What is the main message/theme?


How does the text answer the EQ(s)?

Answer in full sentences. Record relevant quotes and page numbers/lines if needed.

1.      Why is perserverance important in life?

2.      What is the relationship between humans and nature?





A man sets out into the wild, on a hunt , in the desperate pursuit of solitude. However, unfortunate circumstances begin to get the better of him, and he is thrown in a potentially fatal situation. The man has been thrown in this situation due to his own arrogance of his own abilities, and almost-blind determination may get him out. Pure chance proves to be game-changer, whether for the victory of man or nature, that changes on the story.

Theme: If one is arrogant, nature may get the advantage.


Both stories take place in a hostile environment (Ocean, no one around – Sea Devil, mountains of Alberta, winter – Mountain Journey), where nature is unforgiving and apathetic when man is suffering, on the brink of death. Both men have the determination to make it to their goal, the Sea Devil’s just wanting to survive while Dave Conroy wants to make it to the cabins. While their arrogance gets them in the situation in the first place, the situation that pits them against nature (vs manta ray and drowning – SD, vs the cold – MJ), it is determination that helps to get them out of it. Unfortunately, in the case of Conroy, he escapes the fight by dying, but determination got him to that point nonetheless. The man in the Sea Devil uses his perserverence to just keep himself above water (“The man had his lungs full of air, but when the stake snapped, he thought of expelling the air and inhaling the water so to have it finished quickly. But he did not do it.” pg. 39), until he is blessed with good luck (the arrival of the porpoise). However, David Conroy experiences bad luck again and again, and only finds more from mislead determination (“…called to his weary body to stop. But two hours of daylight remained, and he went on.” Pg. 92) Both stories show that perserverance is important in life because it helps the person carry on, and find the ending to their battle, whether it be victory or loss.


The Sea Devil and A Mountain Journey focus on man’s relationship with nature by showcasing man’s ignorance towards it. Both stories’ protagonists are men who believe themselves above nature, such as when both characters set out on their journeys alone, knowing full well of the danger that lays before them. However, nature bites back, yet it is only the fisherman that is humbled by the end. Dave Conroy goes out unprepared, alone, but with a heightened sense of self – he is much too confident in his own abilities. He himself states that “a man was a fool to travel alone in the mountains”, yet does not attribute this to himself because he believes himself to not be a fool. The man in The Sea Devil almost drowns at the hands (flaps?) of a manta ray, but once he is given salvation from that of nature (the porpoise), he survives and finally acknowledges that he is not stronger than the earth on which he resides (“He would do no more casting alone at night. No, not he.” Pg. 41). This can be linked back to why he survived, yet Conroy did not. The man knows he has himself to blame, so nature may have relinquished its hold. But Conroy does not believe he did anything wrong, and that is ultimately his undoing. Although these stories were written a while ago, many forms of media still attempt to answer this question, such as “MAN” by Steve Cutts. In this video, it shows a man walking through the history of the earth, and destroying everything in his path. It’s a shocking video, one that sparks outrage, initial denial, but then acceptance and hatred for the rest of the human race. One can link it back to The Sea Devil and A Mountain Journey by man’s blatant arrogance towards nature. All three characters are ignorant to their effect of nature. All three believe that they are greater than nature, and that results in their downfall. It is only the unnamed man in The Sea Devil that survives, as he is humbled by his near-death experience. All works show that when one is arrogant, and takes their Earth for granted, bad things will happen. All works suggest karma on nature’s part – that if man is arrogant, it is very possible that he will lose what he has received: life.

The Friday Everything Changed: Building Understanding

Which Essential Question(s) is addressed in this piece of literature? Content:

a)     What happens in the text/movie/Talk?

b)     What is the main message/theme?


How does the text answer the EQ?

Answer in full sentences. Record relevant quotes and page numbers/lines if needed.

When is it acceptable to challenge the values of society?


Why do people feel the need to conform to society and its expectations?


















Theme statement: If someone who firmly believes in their cause and finds the determination and courage to stand up, change will probably follow.

In FEC a question is posed that challenges society’s expectations, or lack thereof, of girls, and backlash ensues. A divide defines between the girls and the boys, and some of the girls begin to wonder if it was worth it challenging the values of society. The girls consider going back against the question, and pretending it never happened, thus almost conforming to society. The backlash sparks fear in those on the verge of change, but soon, the protagonist ends the feud effectively, and answers the question in favour of the (formerly) oppressed, providing them a privilege only previously granted to the boys.

When is it acceptable to challenge the values of society?

FEC attempts to answer this question throughout the course of the story. The story begins with someone challenging the values of society, but it is uncertain if whether or not is is acceptable. But for the characters in the story, the characters that the reader has an insight to, it feels right. They feel exhilarated to be going against the values of society (“so many bad feelings, and so many new feelings in the air”), and they hope that their goal will be realized. “But all their (the boys) bullying did was to keep us together,” the girls unite over a common goal, and it is proven to be a positive development: “for the first time, us girls found ourselves telling each other our troubles and even our thoughts without fear of being laughed at. And that was something new at our school.” (pg. 8) When their goal is realized (no quote inserted due to spoilers) it could have been questioned whether or not it was for the best. But based on how the girls feel throughout the story – united – the result is the desired.


Why do people feel the need to conform to society and its expectations?

The Friday Everything Changed answers this question partly with its setting. The story takes place in a small school, where all the students of any grade fit in one classroom. They hold tradition to a high standard (“The last hour of school on Friday afternoons was for Junior Red cross”, pg. 3), best exemplified by the water bucket carrying tradition that the story centers around. Therefore, it is easy to understand why the characters are hesitant to stray from their traditions. That is how it has always been, and the results of someone even suggesting to defy it are unknown, which leads to “why are we afraid of change?”. There is a need to conform to peers because that is what we’re used to, and are more or less comfortable (after finding out they can’t play softball: “If it hadn’t been for Doris Pomeroy, we would’ve broken rank right there and then.” Pg. 8) However, as one can see upon finishing the story, the girls fought the need to conform to the society they once knew, and begin their own.



The Mushrooms That Changed Everything (Coincidentally, on a Friday)

Mushrooms             Sylvia Plath

Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot’s in the door.


Mushrooms by Sylvia Plath is similar thematically to The Friday Everything Changed by the theme of the underdogs, the little ones. The poem speaks of the ones that no one thinks anything of, and how they make their ascent slowly. The story tells the tale of the students who everyone doubted, but over time, they unite and ascend to the top slowly (“soft fists insist on heaving the needles”) Both works explain the “underdogs”, those that have been oppressed, are making themselves noticed in due time (“Nobody sees us, stop us, betrays us. The small grains make room”). One could draw relations to the theme of female empowerment in both works, what with the quote “We are shelves, we are tables, we are meek”. Shelves and tables are necessary, but no one wishes for them. They are not strong – until they are. Until the “so many” rise above, slowly, without anyone noticing, and they “inherit the earth”. In the case of The Friday Everything Changed, the girls are there – they are necessary for softball. But once The Question is asked, the girls begin to rise to power. They unite, and the fight back. The boys notice, of course, but one day, everything changes. Miss Ralston puts her “foot in the door”, and the girls “inherit the earth”, or in this case, the bucket.