Fit, Lean & Beautiful #61

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

The Acquisition of Devotion

Swami so and so has moved to California.  He has a dark coffee brown, shoulder length, wavy, fluffy hair, parted in the middle and warm, thoughtful, and caring brown eyes that sparkle, as if a tear were imminent. The Swami has set up a spiritual center in the middle of town, including yoga instruction and within a few years has acquired many disciples. 

The context for devotion is said to develop from three things:  1) when one gives good advice, 2) the quality of one’s teachings and or 3) one’s ideas, research, or writings. There may be other cases where one acquires Beatle-like mania, or Rockstar status or immense fame and acquires a great many fans, but this story speaks exclusively to the acquisition of devotion.

There are multicolored fast-paced changing traffic signals that run the tempo of New York City. With great desperation for peace, New York City could be the Yoga capital of the world.  There existed a popular small yoga center on the upper east side, where one teacher emerged as superior.  His ascension could be documented. Each student that arrived one of his yoga classes, ended as one of his disciples.  So much so, that when he moved to a new nearby yoga center, a few blocks north, his students as they heard of his departure and relocation, like a wave followed their teacher. 

What he had that was so special for students that made him so insanely popular in the city, he gave precise advice, his descriptions were precise and connected, he gives you exactly what you need in a moment.  You ask, he answers.  He had minimal work for maximum result. He had a style where the students held their poses for a specific amount of time to maximize the impact of the pose.  Even after some time, one realized that he had reshaped and sculpted their bodies, he had lifted their buttocks, he had aligned their spines.  In the new yoga center where the yoga teacher taught his students, they left drenched in sweat, feeling elated, limber and purified.  It became an ecstatic yoga feeling of elation, even one associated to him.  He came to have many followers of his teachings and their subsequent devotion.  Even other teachers fond of his style, became his disciples.   

He often wore a simple divine looking handkerchief or scarf tied to his balding head.  It came to spiritualize the way a turban or headwrap would.  Perhaps it placed emphasis on his head, and in some strange way on God, it may have comforted him or placed him within the spiritual context.  He looked like a gypsy or a pirate. Souls waited for his words. He was energetic and magnetic. 

Some students say, “the whole class had reached a plateau.”  He struggled to make sure everyone of his students graduated to an advanced level.  What could be deduced from this description is that devotion is not necessarily given to preachers or ministers casually, but is actually a thing of “teachers.”  Most often, one comes to “worship” when someone has touched their soul or imparted a great teaching, one may then be their master.  It is for masters, or for teachers-devotion.

Happy and Existential Birthday for Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu May 28, 1971

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

I am leaving 49 an activist.  I envision myself forming Political Action Committees or organizations to fight corruption and discrimination in the Michigan courts, legal system, and government.  For the first time in my life at 50, I wish to be an activist and change agent.  Problems that are not overcome in one moment are becoming apparent to me.  I heard a powerful lecture, from a curator at DIA to a non- profit leadership org for which I am a member, and he said something about polio, and when the need arises for the people to have the ability to erect an org to fight or problem solve. You cannot always rely on someone to care.  Sometimes your issue is not leaderships key platform.  Have you ever heard any of these presidents saying anything about American housing problems and collapsed economies?  No.  Do not wait for them. Sometimes, you fundraise, and drive money into an org and try to take systemic problems and break them into pieces.  What will it take?  What are measurable results?  Everyone needs to assume some kind of platform, org, non-profit, fundraiser, group, club, social science research etc.  These problems do not go away on their own.  It is up to each of us to feel powerful and join forces.  Sometimes the money for those problems can be driven into mine or your hands and solutions that you or I have created.  So, it is time to jump into school and just stay in school if you can.

Early in my life I assumed an identity as a humanitarian.  I felt humanitarianism was an “antidote,” and something that would effectively provide solutions.  It led me to not just fight racism but assume a position of health-to figure out what health is and make that the true goal.  I adopted things like diversity, equity and inclusion and became active in groups at jobs as well as racial affinity groups and collecting research to write on the subject. For me, diversity, equity, and inclusion are correctly positioned.

We are beautiful.  We are diverse.   “I choose the rainbow” became my campaign.  To choose us.  To arrive at the end of a struggle with a loving people.  You never know who your friends or allies may be.  I think it is important to campaign for health and even diversity and remember that not everyone chooses racism.

I went against “Black Lives Matter,” it is for me a low self esteem campaign.  Do you say, “white lives matter?” Are we supposed to be asking or campaigning to matter at all?  I do not believe in that campaign.  I found it insulting and even racist.  I bet a racist came up with it.  Some people just want anything to say and want black on the table.  I disagree with that.  I think campaigns must be respectful and well positioned to be effective.  I see language, TV, acting, music, denigrating the black reputation and pushes it into otherness.  I am seeing more and more what it takes to really be an intellectual player.  We must as a people use scholarships to cover our future bases.  Make sure that what is not had right now, will be in the next few years.  I hope that we can replace a lot of our lawyers and judges.  Scholarships are an active to way to fight.  Campaigns are also effective.  Yard signs and bumper stickers promoting health enlarge a people’s vision of who is out there and how they feel. 

In terms of knowledge, I have been researching books, words, writing etc.  It is within this research that I realized there is theory, then there are theories books, that support theory-which was a revelation for me.  One does not exist without the other.   You have to buttress in knowledge.  It made see books differently.  The other thing that became clear is when books have strong relevancy for an era or time, when they provide people with something they need.  Some book popularity made me realize that the nation has a ways to go in terms of knowledge, the less reputable or knowledgeable the books and their popularity, made me look down upon our current national status. 

What is clear to me now is all my above and beyond, all my independent study and all my actions will matter to my life in the future.  Even 5 minutes of exercise will impact my system.  In poetry I am finding that I must write a book, then code the book with stylistic information for each writing.  That one is not writing in a vacuum, but into a field and history where each poem has the potential to impact the whole field.  It may be, in fact, the first of its kind?  It may present content that is fresh and gift giving.

This birthday brought a new thick Spanish Dictionary, a book on Homeopathic remedies for my medical and healing library, and a Diana Hacker Writing Rules book.  I am still finding it worthy to adjust to the conventionalities of my field.  I am more and more fighting for a deeper professionalism in my presentation as I make submissions and “wheel and deal” in the publishing arena.  I got used to being approached and having existing writings, open all my doors.  I wonder sometimes if I should let my doors open on their own.  If when projects are ripe, and reputation is ripe, their doors will naturally open.  I am needing an agent, and I want to lead the right agents to myself.  I hear about old New York Times Dinosaurs being agents who can develop writings and that is what I am longing for.  I am longing to work with deep talent, that has a lot of care for the projects they work on.   Apparently, as I am being submitted for several awards, perhaps those doors will eventually pop open? 

I think this year I will work on getting into international markets. I appreciate the delicacy of poetic languages and cultures who show deep appreciation. I hope eventually to write in different languages but until then, there is translation.

“Long Poem” (a singing poem)

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Immigration, to ride the roller coaster, to get an ice cream, the addict

All lines long, all lines long, all lines long, all lines long!

To purchase the page turner, one without homework, the actor, the criminal

All lines long, all lines long, all lines long, all lines long!

The sage, the vows, the bible, the grocery

All lines long, all lines long, all lines long, all lines long!

Homer, the gossip, the lonely, the concert tickets

All lines long, all lines long, all lines long, all lines long!

Dad can you write me a letter, “yes, my dad sends me money, I am a student”

Hey no cutting, hey! hey! I said no cuts!

The lines were too long, she left Dairy Queen for McDonalds

He paraded her around an artist’s den, the lines were so long

Long, long, long,   long, long, long,  long, long, long,   long, long, long- LONG!

A long, so long, a long, so long, a long, so long, a long, so long,  slong!

Oh wood block printer! Oh, oh, oh, wood block printer!

He hoisted his trunk to my fornacula.

Long, long, long,   long, long, long,  long, long, long,   long, long, long- LONG!

A long, so long, a long, so long, a long, so long, a long so long,  slong!

Raison d’etre

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

The “reason to be” of a product or idea.

How something, particularly legal, can be based on “rationale,” or evidence, which becomes intelligent once justified and therefore “truth,” then is subsequently believed.  It is “raison d’etre” or “reasoning” that uses a technique such as “rationale” which informs how it is transferred into a knowledge status or belief status.  It is the process from which something abstract will use information to mold a kind of truth, from where there is nothing.  It is how something, either, comes to exist as in the case of  an artwork, or how something comes to be accepted as truth or considered factual. It also relates to how things such as “justified true belief” or “JTB” are considered knowledge.  Raison d’etre is a kind of gateway to knowledge and a kind of birthing into existence.  It may use things like because of here, there.  It is to exist based on criterion.  There are guiding forces in raison d’etre. It is the cracking down in design.  It may be evidentiary, as if via persuasion, one may arrive at clear points directed towards a thesis. 

Excerpt from “Sago Palm” By Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Learn From Everything

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

There was a man, “Little Jinn,”  he wished to be “all knowing”

He told me, “Learn from everything”

Learn off things, from things

Learn off things like books, art, classes, articles, journals, magazines, practice etc.

Even aggressively learn, to become an aggressive learner

To be in the mindset, that from this, you may learn something

Or ascertain what may be learned, extracted, or analyzed

To graduate your thought

To keep graduating your thought throughout your life in the pursuit of genius as a formula

To volley in dynamic conversations

The development of inferential writing

To arrive to conclusions, the germ of something

Like Heraclitus an early Greek Philosopher

Asking questions to grow smarter in an earlier time

He felt it was not the gathering, but the understanding

Your analysis, your questioning, your scaffolding

Are part of the basis of your genius

To do it often is genius, as was the practice of early thinkers

Excerpt from Sago Palm due out sometime in 2023

Up to Snuff #136: Allegorical, Parody & Satire, sub themes

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Allegorical-Expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and action of truths or generalizations about human existence.

Parody-A literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule.

Satire-A literary work holding up vices and follies to ridicule or scorn, trenchant wit, irony or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly.

Up to Snuff #134: Book list Literary Theory & books that support theory #1

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Literary Theory will need a scaffolding of supporting books

Upon which all of one’s analysis will have a basis

Or connection

Upon which to stand

Some books will be relevant to specifically this target of support

Wordsworth, William. “Preface to Lyrical Ballads.” Famous Prefaces.,

Plato Republic

Aristotle, “Poetics”

Victor Shklovsky

Roman Jakobson

Victor Erlich  Russian Formalism History-Doctrine

Yuri Tynyanov

John Crowe Ransom  The New Criticism

I.A. Richards

William Empson

T.S. Eliot

Allen Tate

Cleanth Brooks

R.S. Crane   Critics and Criticism:  Ancient and Modern

Elder Olson

Norman Maclean

W.R. Keast

Wayne C. Booth   The Rhetoric of Fiction

Sigmund Freud

Carl Jung  Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Maud Bodkin   Archetypal Patterns in Poetry

Bettina Knapp   Music, Archetype and the Writer

Richard Sugg  Jungian Literary Criticism

Peter Rabinowitz   Before Reading

Stanley Fish   Is there a text in this class?  The Authority of Interpretive Communities

Elizabeth Freund  The Return of the Reader, Reader-Response Criticism

Norman Holland   The Dynamics of Literary Response, 1968

Louise Rosenblatt

Wolfgang Iser, The Implied Reader, The Implied Reader:  Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett, 1974

Hans Robert Jauss


Immanual Kant

Rene Descartes

John Locke

Friedrich Nietzsche

Ihab Hassan The Dismemberment of Orpheus


John Fowles The French Lieutenant’s Woman

Naked Lunch William S. Burroughs

Roland Barthes

Gargantua and Pantegruel

Deleuze and Guattari   Rhizome

Jean-Francois Lyotard  The Postmodern Condition

Michele Foucault The Foccault Reader

Stephen Toulmin Cosmopolis

Martin Heidegger  Basic Writings

Paul Cilliers   Complexity and Postmodernity

Post Modernity-  The Local/Global Context

Angela Carter-Burning your boats, stories for 1962-1993

Kathy Acker-  Blood and Guts in High School

Paul Auster-  City of Glass

Lynne Tillman- Haunted Houses

David Wojnarowicz-The Waterfront Journals

Charles Sanders Peirce

Ferdinand de Saussure   Course in General Linguistics

Claude Levi-Strauss  The Elementary Structure of Kinship, “The Structural Study of Myth”

Northrop Frye- Anatomy of Criticism:  Four Essays

Noam Chomsky Syntactic Structures, Aspects of the Theory of Syntax

Roland Bathes-Critical Essays, Mythologies

Umberto Eco-The Role of the Reader

Michel Foucault The Order of Things, The Archeology of Human Sciences

Clifford Geertz  The Interpretation of Cultures, Deep Play, Notes on the Balinese Cock Fight

Hayden White, Metahistory, The Politics of Historical Interpretation, Discipline and De-Sublimation

Stephen Greenblatt- Renaissance Self Fashioning:  From More to Shakepeare

Pierre Bourdieu- Outline of a Theory of Practice, Homo Academicus, The Field of Cultural Production

Luce Irigaray  Speculum of the Other Woman

Helene Cixous-The Laugh of the Medusa

Laura Mulvey-Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema

Michel Foucault-The History of Sexuality

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick-Epistemology of the Closet

Lee Edelman-Homographesis

Michael Warner

Judith Butler-Imitation and gender in subordination

Mary Wollstonecraft-A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Simone de Beauvoir-Le Deuxieme Sexe

Julia Kristeva-About Chinese Women

Elaine Showalter-A Literature of Their Own, Toward Feminist Poetics

Deborah E. McDowell, New Directions for Black Feminist Criticism

Alice Walker, In search of Our Mothers Gardens

Lillian S. Robinson, Treason Our Text, Feminist Challenges to the Literary Canon

Camille Paglia-Sexual Personae, The Androgyne in Literature and Art

Lois Tyson-Critical Theory Today- A User Friendly Guide

Daniel Defoe Robinson Crusoe

Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart

Ngugi wa Thiong’o-the River Between

Edward Said  Orientalism, Culture and Imperialism

Kamau Brathwaite, The History of the Voice

Gayatri Spivak, In Other Worlds, Essays in Cultural Politics

Dominick LaCapra-The Bounds of Race:  Perspectives on Hegemony and Resistance

Homi Bhabha-The Location of Culture

 Sembene Ousmane-God’s Bits of Wood

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala-Heat and Dust

Buchi Emecheta-The Joys of Motherhood

Keri Hulme-The bone People

Robertson Davies-What’s Bred in the bone

Kazuo Ishiguro-The remains of the day

Bharati Mukherjee-Jasmine

Jill Ker Conway-The Road from Coorain

Helena Norberg-Hodge- Ancient Futures:  Learning form Ladakh

Michael Ondaatje-The English Patient

Gita Mehta-A River Sutra

Arundhati Roy-The God of Small Things

Patrick Chamoiseau-Texaco

Lawrence Buell The Environmental Imagination:  Thoreau, Nature Writing and the Formation of American Culture

Charles Bressler-Literary an Introduction to Theory and Practice

Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm-The Ecocriticism Reader, Landmarks in Literary Ecology

Greg Garrard-Ecocriticism

Donna Haraway-A Cyborg Manifesto, Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century

ISLE-Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment (Journal)

Joseph Makus-The Comedy of Survival, Literary Ecology and a Play Ethic

Leo Marx-The Machine in the Garden, Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America

Raymond Williams-The Country and the City

Edward Abbey  Desert Solitaire

Appalachian Wilderness

The Monkey Wrench Gang

Mary Hunter Austin

The Land of Little Rain

Rachel Carson

Silent Spring

Aldo Leopold

A Sand Country Almanac and sketches Here and there

Johon Muir

A thousand mile walk to the gulf

Studies in the Sierra

Henry David Thoreau

Walden, or Life in the woods

Williams Wordworth

Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems

Lyrical Ballads, with Other Poems

Delgado, Richard and Jean Stefancic.  Critical Race Theory:  An introduction

Bell, Derrick, Who’s Afraid of Critical Race Theory

Crenshaw, Kimberle   et al. Critical Race Theory:  The Key Writings that Formed the Movement

Davis, Peggy  Law as Micoaggression

Gates, Henry Louis   The Signifying Monkey  A Theory of African American Literary Criticism

Harris, Cheryl  Whiteness as Property, Harvard Law Review 106.8 (1993)

Hooks, Bell  Feminist Theory, From the Margins to the Center

Lipsitz, George  The Possessive Investment in Whiteness, How white people profit from identity politics

Spillers, Hortense  Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe An American Grammar Book

Williams, Patricia   Seeing a Color blind Future:  the Paradox of Race

Contours of Ableism  by Fiona Kumari Campbell

Concerto for the Left Hand   By Michael Davidson

Enforcing Normalcy   Lennard J. Davis

The Birth of the Clinic and Madness and Civilization  Michel Foucault

Extraordinary Bodies and Staring, How we look,  Rosemarie Garland Thomson

Feminist, Queer, Crip   Alison Kafer

Bodies of Modernism  Maren Tova Linett

Narrative Prosthesis  and Cultural Locations of Disability  Sharon L. Snyder and David T. Mitchell

A Disability History of the United States  Kim Nielsen

Aesthetic Nervousness  Ato Quayson

Deafening Modernism  Rebecca Sanchez

Disability Aestehics and disability Theory  Tobin Siebers

The Question of Access  Tanya Titchkosky

Berube, Michael  Disability and Narrative

Davis, Lennard  Constructing Normalcy, The Bell Curve and the Invention of the Disabled Body in the Nineteenth Century  The Disabilities Studies Reader

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie   Integrating Disability, Transforming Feminist Theory, Disabilities Studies Reader

Mitchell, David and Sharon Snyder, Narrative Prosthesis:  Disability and Dependencies of Discourse, U of Michigan P, 2000

Shakespeare, Tom, The Social Model of Disability   The Disability Studies Reader

Karl Marx- Communist Manifesto

Das Kapital

Consciousness Derived From Material Conditions  from the German Ideology

On Greek Art in its time – from a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

Leon Trotsky-Literature and Revolution

Georg Lukacs-Ideology of Modernism

Walter Benjamin-The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Theodor Adorno

Louis Althusser-Reading Capital

Terry Eagleton-Marxism and Literary Criticism, Criticism and Ideology

Frederic Jameson-Marxism and Form, The Political Unconscious

Jurgen Habermas-The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity


Sandra Gilbert

Susan Gubers

Ezra Pound Poet Critic

I.A. Richards Practical Critic

William Empson’s 7 Types of Ambiguity

Yvor Winters the Morality of Poetry

Cleanth Brooks Robert Penn Warrens  Understanding Poetry

Allen Tates  Miss Early and the Bibliographer

John Crowe Ransoms The New Criticism

Cleanth Brooks The Well Wrought Urn

T.S. Eliot The Sacred Wood

William K. Wimsatt

Monroe Beardsleys the Intentional Fallacy

T.S. Eliot Wasteland

Animal Farm

The flame and the Flower

Kathleen E. Wood

The Great Gatsby

 Pride and Prejudice

Black Beauty

Treasure Island

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


The book theif Markus Zusak

Man’s Art Speigelman


All the light we can see Anthony Doerr

Mikhail Baktin

Franz Kafka

They Flee From one  Anne Boleyns

A Valediction Forbidding Mourning John Dome

Kepler Galileo

Werner Herzog

The New Criticism and Contemporary Literary Theory

Praising it New:  The Best of the New Criticism

Majorie Levinson  New Formalism and Analysis of Text First

Kenneth Burke et all Moral Readings

Reason and Emotion

R.P. Blackmer

William Wimsatt

Monroe Beardsley

I.A. Richards  What do they mean who do they know analysis

William Epson   7 Types of Ambiguity

Andrew Marvell

Understanding Poetry

Horation Ode

Cranwells Return from Ireland

Kafka Franz  The Metamorphosis

Frantz Fanon  Black Skin, White Masks

Angelo Ancheta

Andrew Hacker, Two Nations, Black and White Separate, Hostile, Unequal

Ishmael Reed,  O.J. Bias Black and White

Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil disorders

Gary Y. Okihiro, Margins and Mainstreams, Asians in American History and Culture

Frank H. Wu Neither Black nor white Asian Americans and Affirmative Action

Book Review: Poet Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art,” Complete Poems 1927-1979

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Poet Elizabeth Bishop wrote in “One Art,” a compelling poem where within the 19- line villanelle, she described loss or lost.  She utilized the form and instances of alliteration and assonance to embed or bury in the poem coded items such as beauty lost, or love lost or in the end how all life is lost.  Lost may be all these little codes, where like Shakespeare, the piece is full of pockets.  Alliteration and Assonance enable you to accent not only a word, but an idea.   Bishop’s use of alliteration and assonance enables one to hide or build within a piece a greater meaning. Close reading and un-coding, begins to unveil for the reader a dynamic structure. 

The poem is structured as ABA CBA ABA DBA ABA EBA A.  Villanelles are typically 19 lines, two rhymes throughout, five tercets, a quatrain, 1st, and 3rd tercet recurring and both repeated in the closing quatrain.    Line three demonstrates assonance with consonant sounds of “lost and loss.”  Line 7 demonstrates assonance with “farther and faster.”  Line 10 demonstrates alliteration, “look and last.” Line 13 demonstrates alliteration with “lost and lovely.” From this juncture it becomes evident that life may indicate a loss of beauty and a sub poem forms where not only sounds are illustrated but ideas are accented, and one may gather all the accents to form a sub theme. 

The poem ends with a quatrain and the end repetition, “though it may look like (write it!) like disaster.” I wondered at first, if it was about aging and even about losing one’s memory or having a kind of dementia. I think it is intended as a classic burial ground, typical of English sonnets and poets like Shakespeare.  It may reflect on the deep despair one experiences at the loss of their beauty when aging. It buries within itself this idea of loss or losing or now completely lost.  Loss and lost are played upon in the poem. 

I am not certain why it has title “One Art.” Perhaps it is to demonstrate the inherent power available in poetry or within the villanelle structure.  Perhaps it is to demonstrate how aging can be an art form as well.  Ms. Bishop wrote a wonderful and classic poem that showed off the villanelle structure.  Its imagery was that of curling tongues with the word lovely. The words master and disaster are played upon, which may suggest another kind of imagery of flux and out of control versus order and control.

Works Cited:

Bishop, Elizabeth, “One Art,” Complete Poems 1927-1979, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1979