In 1987, Janice Mirikitani wrote and published a poem titled Suicide Note. The speaker of the poem, a female, Asian American college student who commits suicide after receiving slightly-less-than-perfect grades, gives repeated apologies to her parents and tells them exactly how she feels in a suicide note - one most probably addressed to them. In the poem, Mirikitani conveys a sad and somber mood while implementing an extended metaphor to compare the speaker to a bird.
“How many notes written…” (Mirikitani 1-2). This opening line of Mirikitani’s poem introduces many different questions and ideas one may have about the poem and also introduces the metaphor that will be used throughout the poem. When reading the first line, one may ask the questions: How many notes has the speaker written?, Has she thought of attempting suicide before?, Has she tried writing a suicide note before this and not known what to say?, Or has she just attempted writing the same note over and over again for this one suicide attempt and not known the words to use? These questions raise three ideas: either this is not her first suicide attempt, she cannot find the right words to include in her suicide note for her first and only suicide attempt, or a combination of both. The next lines to again suggest multiple suicide notes are lines 50-51: “... Notes shredded / drift like snow” (Mirikitani). These lines, though they again suggest multiple suicide notes, they mainly suggest that the speaker wrote them all in one sitting and then proceeded to tear them up as she found them not good enough. While the lines suggest this, they do not prove whether or not the speaker has previously made an attempt at suicide or at writing a suicide note, s...
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...s’ innermost thoughts and how she feels about them.
In the end the reader may be left with many interpretations of the poem depending upon their own personal experiences. One may be left with the idea that the speaker made a rash and unthought out decision in committing suicide; some may feel that while it was not the right way to go about handling their problems, the speaker was justified in her decision to commit as important people in her life were placing harsh judgments upon her; others may even believe that the decision to commit suicide was the speaker’s only choice. Though the author lays out the basic idea of the poem, it is ultimately left up to the reader to decide what a poem, or any work of literature for that matter, means. As long as their interpretation can be supported by evidence from the text, they are correct, regardless of another’s opinions.
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