Subjects for Other Conversations

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Categorized Poems from Subjects for other Conversations
In John Stigall’s book, Subjects for Other Conversations, all of the thirty-seven poems can be placed into one of five different categories. These categories include sadness, racism, happiness, sex, and religion.
Sadness, the first category, includes ten of the thirty seven poems. These poems express hate, anger, and depression about many things in life, from growing old to losing a child. These poems are “Poem on Turning Forty,” “Poem on Turning Forty-Five,” “Blues,” “Impromptu,” “Into the Life of This World,” “Some People,” “The Revenant,” “In the Bibleblack Air,” “Approaching,” and “Final Approach”. In Stigall’s poem, “Poem on Turning Forty,” he talks about how women aren’t as attracted to him now. And you can tell he’s depressed about growing old. The poem “Into the Life of This World,” talks about losing a child at birth. Stigall’s light use of words, such as perfect, calm, and silent agony, shows that this poem is full of intense emotions and sadness.
At thirty-three, too young to be sickened into the light, my father’s body-perfect, calm-forms a fetal curl about its silent agony. His eyes, suggestive

& articulate, explain. The light wanes II.

Silent, I refuse the firsts breaths (cradled in the light). My body- stillborn, calm, numb from the canal-appears deaf, dumb

See the physician & my mourning mother curl over me, warping my flesh, weeping, praying me into the life of this world (30)
The next category is racism. These three poems describe how racism still exists today. The poems show how hateful people can be towards someone of a different race. These poems are “December/ January,” “Brazil Nuts,” and “Up in Dixie”. In all three of these poems, Stigall never seems to show any anger. He just tells of his experiences in plain and simple terms. In “Brazil Nuts,” Stigall talks about how when he was a child, how he never questioned racism. But now as a man he doesn’t understand why racism hasn’t gone away.
When I was a Child
I understood as a child

I did not question as a child

I accepted as a child

But when I became a man

the old folks down south still call them Nigger Toes (39)
Four of Stigall’s thirty-seven poems can be put into the category happiness. These four poems are light and pleasant. They talk about things such as music, people and Stigall’s children. These poems are “This Sabbath Afternoon,” “No 3 Tanka,” “If the Past Ever Existed,” and “”101 West 123Rd Street”. In “This Sabbath Afternoon”, Stigall talks about watching his children playing.
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