The Carp Poem by Terrance Hayes presents one of the most optimistic ways of viewing problems faced in society. The poem indicates the kind of problems the impoverished people undergo and the opportunities that are possible to come through obtaining knowledge. Terrance in the poem implies that poverty causes desperation, ignorance, and crime. The people involved in such malicious acts often end up in jail because they are trapped in an environment that cannot allow them to have an open mind to think. Life without knowledge brings desperation that consequently causes crimes to thrive. However, Hayes sheds light of hope to this situation by providing a window of hope that is achievable through education. The following are some of the critical assertions about optimism in Terrance Hayes’ Carp Poem.
Terrance begins by demonstrating a very desperate environment occupied by the less privileged individuals. Crime is the main vice for which the jail has been established in that place. Hayes reveals the situation right from the first stanze where he writes, “After parking below the spray paint caked in the granite grooves…” The visual imagery implied by the spray paint caked in granite shows that the environment is less advantaged, meaning that the people live in a very poor place with old vehicles which are not worthy for the first class citizens. The term “caked” in that statement implies a great vandalism happending in that environment. The defacement implied in this case indicates the suffering of people in that environment due to neglecting education and why they turn to crimes. Another sentence that is of great importance here is “men-size children stroll like shadows. The term strolling means that there is no work going on in that environment. The fact that there is no work means that the people will have to engage in other activities such as crime to help them make a living. The desperation presented in such situations are temporary because they are caused by ignorance which can be eliminated by acquiring knowledge.
A light of hope is seen because Hayes implies that the underprivilieged can be uplifted to gain knowledge and forsake criminal activities. The statement in the poem that goes, “the one hungry fish leaping on his sleeve that he later turned into bread..” shows that despite the challenges the people in this environment may be going through, there is hope that might arise miraculously as was the case of fich turning into a narrow loaf of bread (Hayes 3). Through getting knowledge, the underprivileged persons still have the opportunity to undergo positive reconstruction and development to better people. Some of the indicative means by which the author showed the gleams of optimism are the assertion that “the tiny rice balls and bread dropping into mouths” means that the acquisition of knowledge by the prisoners will enlighten them in the ways of life, teach them how to live with others and let them exercise their freedom to acquire whatever they wish.
In conclusion, the Carp Poem is one of its kind. It presents a glimpse of optimism in the midst of desperation. The poem describes underprivileged persons in an unfavorable environment with a jail. The people are lacking what to do and instead loiter around committing criminal activities. In the brink of desperation, Hayes creatively shows that there is opportunity for everyone to reconstruct their lives and live a better one if they accept knowledge and embrace its consequence. Therefore, the Carp Poem is a creatively written literary work embodying optimism in the mids of hopeless situations.
Hayes, Terrance. The Carp Poem. (2010).