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Danielle Casciano


Table of Contents Shadow Narrative Part One Part One Reflection Part Two Part Two Reflection Final Reflection


Shadow Narrative Guilt in a Little Black Box I fingered the black velvet box in my hand. I opened it, closed it, and opened it again. I paced around my room. My lavender walls that my dad painted himself surrounded me, closing in. The vanity and matching dresser my mom spent hours picking out for me when I was thirteen. My bed neatly made with hospital corners that my mom made during breakfast. On the vanity, sat a glass picture frame engraved with the word “family”. In the frame was a picture of my parents and me in Tuscany, Italy. I was standing in the middle with both of my parents on either side, their arms wrapped around me. Guilt surged through my veins like lava. My stomach shook and sat in my throat. My palms held a layer of sweat and no matter how many times I wiped them, the sweat pool. My body temperature sky rocketed and plummeted. The back of my shirt soaked with sweat. My heart beat in every inch of my body. I stopped in front of my bedroom door, the black velvet box gripped tightly in my right hand. I turned the door knob, and my hand slipped from the sweat. I closed my eyes tilted my head back and took a deep breath. I slowly opened the door and saw my mom across the hall. She was wearing her favorite pink pajamas with my bleach stain on the right thigh. Her short brown hair tussled on top of her head. She glanced up and smiled at me and went back to organizing her purse. This was a weekly routine for her. I walked slowly down the hall way. I dropped the box on the floor and it split open. “Shit.” I mumbled to myself. I filled my lungs with air and exhaled. I came to the door of parent’s room and cracked it open. “Mom, are you busy?” my voice was shaking. “No of course not, birthday girl. What’s up?” She looked at me and smiled and continued to neatly organize her purse. My parent’s room is gigantic and only has a couple pieces of furniture lined with organized clutter. On the night stands there are two lamps and sitting underneath both is the picture of my family from my first trip to Disney world and my father holding me for the first


time in a pale blue hospital gown. I was all bloody, gross, and did not even look like a human yet but my father’s eyes glistened like I was the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. On their dresser were the plaques with the Virgin Mary and Jesus that I bought at the Vatican the first time I went to Italy by myself. Great, now God is watching me break my mother’s heart too, I thought. And sitting in between the plaques was the first Mother’s Day card my dad bought for her before I was born. “Do you want to go out to dinner tonight? You can pick the place. I heard there’s a nice Italian place over in Marlboro.” My mother didn’t even look up. The last thing I wanted was eye contact. “Yeah, Italian sounds fine.” I could feel the words boiling in the back of my throat. I kept swallowing but they sat there. Pushing the way to the front of my mouth. “I don’t like the earrings.” It spewed out of me like vomit. “What?” My mother’s eyes swelled. I could see the tears bagged behind her lids. “That’s okay; I can keep them until you’re older.” She took the black velvet box from my hand. Her touch seared my skin.


Part One: Content Translation Like mother like daughter The apple does not fall far from the tree A statement, that is true In many ways She passed down all of her best (and worst) qualities Strong wills butt heads like bulls Golden hearts exactly the same Confidence shines from both of us Like mother like daughter Her gift giving sprit Her desire to make me happy On the day that I became an adult The little black box With two small diamonds Glistened And I hated them. Like mother like daughter I knew how she would react Strong wills tire Golden hears beak Confidence diminishes I hand her back, that little black box She tilts her head A tear rolls down her cheek I cannot be mad, because Like mother like daughter, I would feel the same way


Part One Reflection In this content translation, I had to choose which parts of my narrative I wanted to express in my poem and establish rules to do so. Before writing, I reread my shadow narrative and wrote down key points or lines that stood out for me. I decided to concentrate on my central character in my narrative, my mother. I tried to characterize her personality and her habits and how they are very similar to mine. I also decided to keep the concept of the little black box, because I feel as if that represents the guilt I felt throughout my narrative and in my poem. One of the rules I established prior to my translation was the use of repetitive lines to express emotion, importance, and change. First, I repeated the line “like mother like daughter” to emphasize the similarity between me and my mother. I made this the title because I felt as if it was the most powerful line on the poem. I chose this as the title to give the reader an idea of the characters before reading the poem. I also chose to repeat but change and entire stanza, to show the emotional change that is also expressed in my narrative. I used this repetition to express that the narrator of the poem expected the change. Another rule I followed, was not to use casual language in my poem that I used in my narrative piece. In my narrative piece, I used words such as “mom” and “mommy” but in my poem I did not do so. I wanted to make the tone more serious than my narrative. When first starting this poem, I really struggled to pick out details. I went through my shadow narrative with a highlighter to highlight important parts. By the end of it, the whole


thing was highlighted. Needless to say, I scraped it. When I re-looked over my essay, I first tried not being so highlighter happy, and then I tried to see what in my narrative made the most significant change throughout. I decided to focus on character and I targeted my main character. I highlighted the important characterization lines as well as when the character changed in emotion, personality. A strong aspect of my narrative that I found was the similarities between me and my mother. Therefore, I decided to express this in my poem.


Part Two: Rhetorical Translation


Part Two Reflection When making this translation, I debated on whether I wanted this to be a text-based or image-based. I decided to make this an image-based translation to give way to the setting and timing of my narrative. I first wanted to use a black velvet box, but I realized that there is little to no text on this and I wanted to incorporate text to support my image. I decided to use a birthday cake because it incorporated both of the aspects I wanted to represent. One of the rhetorical decisions I made was coloring. I chose the effect on this picture to be dim and dark to emphasize the emotion. I also chose the color blue for the same reason. Another decision I made was the font. I debated using a robotic font to show seriousness and evoke a specific emotion. But I decided to use a more birthday cake- like font. In this translation, I wanted to use a longer sentence than just “Happy Birthday!� My reasoning behind this was evoking stress and anxiousness. The rhetorical decision I made, unlike my poem, was to only include feelings on this image. I did not use character, but only the feelings the narrator felt in my narrative piece. I feel as if in this translation, it would be easier and more effective to capture the emotion of my narrative. Characterization on this image would be too clustered and ineffective. Further, when making this translation I decided to use a culturally common item and language for my translation. Everyone in my target audience understands the concept of a birthday cake and what is normally written on one. In this translation, I wanted to take a spin


on that. Another rule I made in this translation was to use a lot of punctuation to make my sentence choppy. I made this decision because it added to the stressful and anxious emotion. It also broke it to make it more like a birthday cake saying.


Final Reflection: Goals one and four As a writer it is important to have a general knowledge of the writing process. This includes brainstorming, planning, writing, and revising. However, this is a very elementary process. Throughout this course, I was exposed to all parts of the process but in an individualized in recursive way. I was able to create my own writing process and emerge from this course as less planned and concrete writer, and a more creative and thoughtful writer. The first step I encountered in this class was figuring out why I even want to write in general. If I didn’t know this simple fact, why continue writing? I feel as if this is my first step in my personal writing process. In George Orwell’s “Why I Write”, he outlines the reasons why people write. First, before reading this piece I told myself “I write because I like too.” But once I saw all the internal and unspoken reasons behind writing, I tried to categorize myself. I soon realized, there are way too many parts of my reasoning that overlap Orwell’s ideas. I write to be clever and different but I also write to have an effect on my audience. And quite simply, I came to the conclusion that I write because it what I know and what I’m good at. But I also write for myself, to express my ideas, entice a reader, and vocalize my opinions. Secondly, I hated revision before this class. To the point where I simply avoided it and pretend it didn’t exist. But through the revisions of my shadow narrative, I realized revision is actually a huge part of my writing process and it needs to be. Through this class, I realized that revision is not just checking for grammar and spelling errors but it’s taking a piece and looking


at it in a new light. Through the shadow narrative revision, I was able to pick out what I needed and what I could throw away. I first did this by starting my essay from a turning point. This required me to dig through my piece and focus on the climax and the change in feeling. Next, I needed to make a 250 word sentence. Honestly, I got this assignment and wanted to cry. I thought no way could I make one sentence 250 words. But I sat down, took out the most important parts of my piece and make them into one connecting idea. In this course, I learned that revision is the development of important ideas in order to write a piece I was satisfied with and that a reader would enjoy. Before this class, I understood the basic conventions for writing in various genres. I knew how to write poems, narratives, non-fiction, etc. But throughout this course I was challenged to write in brand new genres and situations that quite frankly, made me uncomfortable. I realized that there are more than just the spoken genres of writing. A writing situation I was placed in that was very foreign to me was the concept of a shadow narrative. I was not supposed to write about something that happened to me that I was comfortable telling everyone. I was told to write about something I’ve been hiding. And this as a whole put me in a new writing situation and made me translate genres that I never had before. Simply, this entire portfolio I was forced to write in various translations that were brand new to me. This form of translation was discuss in Judith Ortiz Cofer’s “But Tell It Slant: From Poetry to Prose and Back Again” where she does exactly what the title says. This essay helped me realize that in order to make my first translation for this portfolio, I must find the key


elements in my piece. And also for my second translation, I had to do the same thing. But for both of these, I needed to focus on different aspects in order to make both translations effective. Another goal I achieved in this class was the ability to demonstrate the ability to use various devices in writing. For example, in my shadow narrative I used scene and character through dialogue in short descriptions. I modeled this after, “An Evening in April� where the author expressed their conventions on scene and character through short descriptions . She uses an excerpt about welfare to show the economic situation. Through the craft talk in this class, I also learned helpful devices to make my writing more concise and interesting. Overall in this class I emerged as a writer who is more conscious of their writing process and their writing skills. Through this class I learned how I work as a writer and how I write the best. And simply, I learned why I write. I also learned in this class the importance of revision. Many classes I have taken have emphasized this importance but never followed through on it. I developed a piece that I had to revise many times and it showed me firsthand how revision can develop and shape a work.

Final Portfolio: Danielle Casciano  

Writer's Mind MW 12:15

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