Of the four assigned poems there were apparent common themes described. In both “Queens, 1963” and “Theme for English B” the topic of race differences were portrayed while “Fork” and “this morning (for the girls of eastern high school)” emphasized the concept of fitting in and surviving high school.
Both “Queens, 1963” and “Theme for English B” are told about the differences and difficulties between the coping races of America. “Queens, 1963” describes immigrating to New York and the varying views people had about Jewish people and black people in particular. The poem vividly describes the terrible discrimination against colored people as the speaker notices the presence of cops in her neighborhood upon the arrival of a black family. There were also references to recognizable signs of the horrible hatred people had, such as the burning cross on the lawn. While in “Theme for English B” the speaker describes a writing assignment for English class. The speaker writes about being a twenty-two year old colored person living in the United States, and the only colored person in the class. The speaker describes how they are, in fact, the same as the others, including the teacher, giving the impression that the teacher is racist as well. The speaker explains that they are one in the same, that they are a part of each other, and that is what being American means. I found this extremely moving as it was published before the civil movement when our country was truly divided by race and what a horrible time period that was.
In contrast, the next two poems focused more on the concept of being an outcast. The poem, “Fork,” portrays a student in a writing class that is immediately told they will not succeed, that it was a lost cause. The speaker then communicates that the teacher favored others in the class over them because they maybe were not pretty enough or smart enough. This is an intriguing concept because usually when you hear about outcasts in high school it is that they are left out or put down by their peers, however, it is just as relevant that teachers tend to do the same, whether they do it consciously or not. Then in “this morning (for the girls of eastern high school)” a tall teenage colored girl is the speaker. She describes her emotions and surviving her way through high school while meeting her true self, or discovering whom she really is. In both poems, the speaker is originally uncomfortable with themselves, and believes what others think of them, but then they each come into their own in the conclusion.