Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

How does Cathy Song deal with family history in “Picture Bride” and related poems? What are some of the issues with which a young poet might have to grapple in her approach to this family history?

Women and their activities recur frequently in Song’s poetry. How does she portray these women, and what is the significance of their activities in Song’s poems? Would you argue that she is a feminist poet?

What is ethnicity, and what kind of impact does it have on Song’s attempts to explore her personal experiences and transform them into works of art that appeal to a broad audience? In what ways can the poet deal with ethnicity differently and maintain her integrity as a person and an artist?

What kind of conflicting values does “Sunworshippers” exemplify? How does the poet resolve those conflicts? Is the resolution satisfactory?

What does the term “ghost” refer to, and how does Song reshape the meaning of this term in the poem “Ghost”? What can Americans on the mainland learn from this poem?

What role does the figure of the mother play in Song’s poetry? Does she expand or does she limit the poet’s literary imagination?

What role does art play in Song’s poetry?

Without categorizing in facile terms such as “Asian American” or “Hawaiian,” how would you characterize Song’s lyrical voice?