2 Perspectives: 1 Event – an examination of 2 poems by Joy Nibbs

In Joy Nibb’s “Ramblings” she presents two poems side-by-side ‘A Vendor’s Complaint’ and ‘The Market’. These two poems, while they can stand alone, are best read together as they provide contrasting perspectives of the value of goods in a marketplace and contrasting value judgements of the people present therein.

In ‘A Vendor’s Complaint’ we hear a salesperson making their argument against bartering, their prices low enough,’

For six cents and not a nickel more…

With the denomination of currency cared about being a nickel, not the penny they so willingly drop to make a sale.

...”Just a nickel and this lovely bunch could be yours”…

The vendor complains about those too poor to buy, and how they provide free rice. How the poor and begging people break them down as they struggle under their debt to make their own ends meet, but they still end up finding a way to give more and more. The vendor speaks of children returning to no home and starving in the night. These people that they give to, that they try to get service in return to make it a fair trade.

The vendor then compares themselves to the beggars by doing this work in exchange for a fair trade in exchange for God to provide them with entrance to heaven once they die. The vendor believes that this trade should make them favored. It could be argued that this negates the acts because these are not acts of selflessness and instead are acts of trying to win favor.

By comparison, in ‘The Market’ we are introduced to one of the beggars, a starving child, Little Timmy, that runs to the stall and steals one of the vendor’s tomatoes. We observe that the market goers argue over that one cent difference of five cents versus six. The vendor is no longer as selfless as they view themselves, but neither are the patrons – they are rude, bickering, griping, snapping. Each arguing over what is “fair”.

A tomato stealthily slides off of the stall, almost unnoticed. The vendor shouts, “Thief!” angrily. The child dashes away, eating the tomato as quickly as he can and makes it away this time. This is all that child eats today. There’s an emphasis that this is survival of another day – there is no end game besides the day to day. As he returns to a cold alley, alone, nothing is left behind. Once the market empties, even after that tomato was consumed as a lost profit to the vendor, the market looks the same, but that child is still hungry, still cold, and still alone.

Yet, the last three lines leave the reader with the enigma that is the abstract concept of fairness.

A profit lost
A profit gained
In the market, it’s all just the same

What do you think? Did you enjoy reading about these poems? Would you like to see more poetry discussion? Feel free to leave a comment!

An Introduction to My Poetry Posts

Let’s talk about Poetry

First, I’m going to go off script. I’ve never reviewed a poetry book before and, honestly, I don’t want to treat this as a critique. I want to treat this as a chance to share this really cool connection I made with someone I’ll probably never meet. On the rare occasion I review these poetry books it’s for my own personal enjoyment only.

Poetry is the most subjective thing anyone can review. I struggled with my poetry classes in undergrad beyond the structure/mathematical parts. It all seemed pretentious. Interpretation? Analysis? Symbolism? As someone that writes poetry it made it so difficult for me to actually enjoy the process because we weren’t discussing anything! I wanted to take the class to read poetry and talk about poetry, not to learn what one person learned one person learned one person thought about this one poem that every person on this planet has read.

That’s where these posts come in.

Poetry is subjective, beautiful, and amazing. It is telling a story in the way music does, except with words. It is painting a picture in the mind’s eye.

It’s not for everyone and that’s okay. It’s one of the oldest art forms and arguably is one of the oldest forms of writing – before verse became more structured with punctuation.

I don’t know how often I will post poetry, but I hope you will enjoy them. My first couple posts will be on selections from two poetry collections:
“Ramblings” A Poetry Collection by Joy Nibbs and “I Hope This Reaches her Too” by r.h. Sin (To best enjoy these discussions, I recommend you purchase the books by following the links or take advantage of the access via Kindle eReader)