The poem “the originator” by LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs is an example of free-verse and a worthy representative of modern American popular culture. It is a part of her book “TwERK,” printed in 2013. The author’s origin from Harlem has probably influenced her literary style, introducing the signs of Hip Hop into her poetry. The way the poem is composed catches attention. It is not written in smooth lines but looks like a zig-zag in fact. This format gives the feeling of movement, thus making “the originator” melodic even when not read aloud.
The poem follows the structure of a villanelle; a short poem that originated in France. It has nineteen lines that rhyme in a particular order. It consists of five tercets and a final quatrain. The first and the third lines of the starting tercet are echoed throughout the poem.
The characteristic feature of this poetic work is enjambment. The thought is not limited to one line; it is running from one line to another, making the poem flow gently like a river:
“here’s the remedy for your chronic whiplash —
coming to you via triple ones on a mission —
pop a wheelie for originators of the flash.”
“the originator,” as the sample of free-verse, does not have a visible rhythm and does not follow the strict rules of the meter. The sentences are not capitalized, which provides the effect of non-stop reading. The major sentence structural elements, like subject or predicate, are often missing.
The use of contractions, colloquialisms, and even slang makes the poem difficult to read (check ya dial, b4 a fella, w/ a pinch, etc.). Still, this particular use of words gives the poem its unique character and reveals its soul. In its form, the verse is an appeal to the reader. It suggests a kind of algorithm to find “the remedy for your chronic whiplash.” A consequence of imperative sentences prompts what to do: “pop a wheelie for originators of the flash,” “grand to slam a party,” “ululate the call” etc.
This piece of poetry is free of cliché. The author’s style of writing and choice of words is unique. It makes her verses unusual and not easy to comprehend. It is not enough to read it once. You read it again and again, and as you read it, you start tracing the author’s thoughts. Nevertheless, you can never be sure that you understand it correctly. In fact, a word-for-word understanding of such a piece of writing is not necessary. It is not guidance but a hint, a row of thought-provoking images.
As for the connection with villanelle, the author herself mentions that she tried to penetrate the rules of the old European school and the old rhyme schemes through Hip Hop. Thus, being traditional in shape, the poem has a new essence.
With its unusual look, the absence of a distinct rhythm, and lack of traditional tropes, “the originator” is as imperfect, as the real world. In fact, the poem hints to us what our world could be like if it did not pretend to be “right.” It reveals the idea of otherness bordering with strangeness, which people usually reject. The concept is that looking for something different and learning from it is a proper purpose. One should not be scared when finding the difference. Moreover, we should be happy that the world we live in is so diverse because this is for good.