Positive Feedback Loop

“Positive Feedback Loop”
Jorie Graham
•Grew up in a privileged family
•Professor at Harvard
The Poem
• A self-perpetuating disturbance to a
• Opening line disrupts readers’ everyday
• Varied line lengths
• Stream of consciousness (disorienting)
Big Ideas
• Global climate change & its effects
• An unfolding disaster in the earth’s marine
Lines 1-6
• Unusual visual arrangement in first two lines
• Enjambment (creates tension)
– Line 1 ends with “forget” – Line 2 “everything”
• Tipping point (scientific language in poetic
context) – a force exerted on a system
exceeds the resistance
– Overfishing of Atlantic Cod
• Alludes to past, present, and future
• Poem SEEMS to be set in future
Lines 7-19
• Calamity impending in ocean systems
• “silence that precedes” has already
Lines 19-49
• Shift with rhetorical question
– “Who is one when one calls oneself /
– Lack of human identity in absence of
familial ocean patterns
• Tone becomes almost humorous
• Shifts into stream-of-consciousness
internal monologue
Lines 49-72
• Worries about beauty perishing from
the earth
• Negative theology – higher power has
abandoned us
• Decides to wait patiently
Check yourself…
6. What event does Jorie Graham describe
in “Positive Feedback Loop”?
A. a marine environmental crisis
B. a continuous musical performance
C. a machine breaking down
D. a language dying out
E. a mathematician going insane
Check yourself…
8. Which of the following literary devices is
MOST prevalent in Jorie Graham’s “Positive
Feedback Loop”?
A. Anacrusis (extra syllables at start of a verse)
B. Enjambment (continuation of a sentence w/out a pause at
end of line)
C. Anaphora (repeating a series of words at the beginning of
successive phrases)
D. Alliteration (repeated consonant sound at beginnings of
E. Litote (understatement w/double negatives)

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