Assassination by Don Lee(Haki Madhubuti) Background on the poet • Born Donald Luther Lee in Little Rock, Arkansas, the poet adopted the Swahili name Haki R. Madhubuti after traveling to Africa in 1974. As he shared in a 2006 interview, he sensed that “a new African name would help me in arriving at a final definition of self.” Haki means “justice” and Madhubuti means “precise, accurate, and dependable.” • He writes experimental, free-verse, politically charged poetry with a staccato rhythm - A series of short, sharp separate sounds. The title Assassination The act of assassinating someone. (killing or murdering a person) The title alone gives us an indication that the poem is about violence. This single word is emotive, powerful, brutal and commonly linked to the death of a politician. Assassination it was wild. the bullet hit high. (the throat-neck) &from everywhere: the motel, from under blushes and cars, from around corners and across streets, out of the garbage cans and from rat holes in the earth they came running. with guns drawn they came running toward the King-all of them fast and sure-as if the King was going to fire back. they came running, fast and sure, in the wrong direction. The king in the poem refers to Martin Luther King jnr. So just from the title and having read through the poem, we now know that the poem is about the chaos that followed the assassination(murder) of Martin Luther King Jnr. Layout • • • • • • • Format and structure Free verse poem. Irregular and chaotic. Staggered lines of different lengths. No neat stanza structure. Haphazard indents(lacking any obvious principal of organization). Erratic structure with single words on lines. Surprising punctuation. The purpose of this layout is to enhance the ideas of chaos, wildness and madness of the mood once the gunshot was fired and struck Martin Luther King Jnr. Tone • The tone is urgent, disassociated and disconnected. No capital letter. This heightens the tension as it seems as if it is a continuation of a sentence. ’it’ is neutral. alliteration Out of control it was wild. the bullet hit high. (the throat-neck) Connotation - vulnerability Describes the direction of the bullet and where the bullet penetrated MLK. This line is in parenthesis( ), with indentation and is on its own, this shows how shocking, violent and horrific the event was. Ampersand (the sign representing the conjunction &from everywhere Examples in the next few lines. and) – abbreviation for and, the motel, from under blushes and cars, contributes to disassociated from around corners and across streets, and urgent tone of the out of the garbage cans and from rat holes poem. in the earth Reminds the reader of a swarm of insects, claustrophobic sense of chaos and confusion. Negative connotation (derogatory terms) Ambiguous: not knowing who they are and their intentions. Adds to the chaos in the aftermath of the gun shot. Guns were now out and ready This is absurd, he cannot shoot back as he just got a bullet to the neck, he is down. they came running. with guns drawn they came running toward the King-all of them fast and sure-- Use of typography is evident here. Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make reading appealing, to convey a message or action etc. Here it specifically creates the rhythm of running footsteps. This is an example of staccato. King – Only capital letter, refers to Martin Luther King Jnr. Dashes – draws attention to the ability and the haste of the people. Creates a sense of urgency and speeds up the poem. as if the King-Repetition – they all came running People are running “toward the King” who was going to fire back. has just been shot – does not yet indicate that they are themselves assassins nor confirm that they are instead policeman. The repetition here emphasizes they came running, the urgency. fast and sure, / we are told that they are “fast and sure”, implying that they are competent in the and well trained. wrong This adds to the disjointed feeling and confusion. direction. Absurdity again! They should have run in the direction of the gunshot and not towards MLK. Assassination The use of typography in the poem as a whole. The disjointed typography helps create the urgent, disconnected and disassociated tone and the sense that the events are unfolding in real/live time. The fact that the lines are not aligned also emphasises the sudden fragmentary and confusing nature of the assassination. 3. Absurdities in the poem. 1. Citizens are not equally protected 2. Lack of commitment in finding the assassin Inevitability of death – reactions were in vain (because he died). Food for thought. The fact that the speaker emphasises that the police are running in the ‘wrong direction’ might suggest that they deliberately choose not to chase the assassin because they do not want to catch him. It was believed by MLK family that the government was involved in his assassination. Intention of the poem / message? Perhaps to expose the horror of the assassination, an emotive testimony of the uncertainty of time following his death. Answer the questions after you have made your notes on the poem. Remember to answer in full sentences! Pay attention to the mark allocation and elaborate by breaking the questions down to identify the task words and what is expected of you.