Sep. 12 2022
The poem “Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglican Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Reservation” by Natalie Diaz is about the history of Native American and how they were treated and forced into reservations to take on the ways of the white men. What grasped my attention in this poem is how Diaz uses vivid imagery and words that evoke a range of emotions. The poem shows how the Native Americans felt when white men came to take their lands, thus evoking feelings of inferiority.
This poem shows the injustices experienced by Native Americans. Diaz uses symbolism to refer to white men as angels “Angels don’t come to the reservation” (Diaz, “Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Rezervation” line 1). Angels are usually regarded as helpful deities, and Native Americans thought white men came to save them. However, in this poem, the white men were responsible for the suffering and death of Native Americans. Diaz ties angels with death and warns against desiring the presence of angels in reservations.
This is an Abecedarian poem because it has twenty-six lines, and each line follows sequentially through the alphabet from A to Z. Acrostic poem are poems in which the first letter in each line spell out a word (Agarwal and Kann 1). This is a form of acrostic poetry because the first letter of the poem is A, Angel, and the first letter in the last line is Z, Zion, thus spelling out the entire alphabet in a rhyming way.
Diaz’s poem’s structure has important rhetoric and imagery elements that give the poem its meaning. Being an Abecedarian poem, Diaz used the style as a cunning way to point out injustices that Native Americans experience. Abecedarian poetry is generally regarded as playful poems, especially for children. Therefore, Diaz makes a joke that society cannot see how injustices are experienced by Native Americans even though it is as easy as reciting the alphabet ABC.
Another poem by Natalie Diaz is “American Arithmetic,” which portrays the effect of police brutality and racism in America. I selected this poem because of its structure and relevance in today’s society. Diaz uses anaphora “less than” (Diaz, “American Arithmetic” line 29-30). This emphasizes the theme of the unfair treatment of Native Americans. Through her word, she evokes feelings of frustration with racism.
Diaz uses the element of irony and forms poems that shine a light on those who are oppressed by society. she uses “angels “as an ironic symbol for white men (Diaz, “Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Rezervation” line 1 ) and “efficient country” to portray a county that does not treat everyone equally (Diaz, “American Arithmetic” line 4). Also, the poems are written in the first-person point of view, supporting her perspective of Native America. This is significant for social and political purposes since the native perspective is rarely heard and marginalized in American society (Jackson).
Diaz focuses her writing on the lives of Native Americans. Her poems are her ways of exploring social injustices and why she worries about these issues. Diaz crafts her poem from a personal narrative, thus allowing the readers to understand her thoughts and feelings about the issues pointed out. Although she focuses her writing on social issues, she stated in Pen Ten interview that her writings are not activism but just a practice field for her life.
I am a person who is passionate about listening and understanding the problem that people experience and usually try to help ways to help them. People daily go through hardships that make their life stressful and challenging. Through reading Diaz’s poems, I have understood the problems that affect Native Americans and how society contributes to their hardships. I believe that understanding society is the first step to solving social injustices.
Agarwal, Rajat, and Katharina Kann. “Acrostic Poem Generation.” ArXiv:2010.02239 [Cs], 5 Oct. 2020, arxiv.org/abs/2010.02239. Accessed 11 Sept. 2022.
Diaz, Natalie. “Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglican Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Reservation.” Poetry Foundation, 17 Apr. 2021, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/56353/abecedarian-requiring-further-examination-of-Anglican-seraphim-subjugation-of-a-wild-Indian-reservation.
Diaz, Natalie. “American Arithmetic.” Literary Hub, 5 Oct. 2018, lithub.com/american- arithmetic/.
Jackson, Jared. “The PEN Ten: An Interview with Natalie Diaz.” PEN America, 5 Mar. 2020, pen.org/the-pen-ten-an-interview-with-Natalie-Diaz/.