Equiano’s Playlist

By: Katherine Hernandez

Towards the beginning of the story; Equiano’s first trauma; being separated from him and his sister: Chapter 1 (Page 14)

I Like America & America Likes Me – The 1975

I Like America & America likes me encapsulates the first tragedy that Equiano faces perfectly. The song in itself speaks about the violence that many American’s specifically minorities face at the hands of capitalist people who can make a profit off of trauma. Which in Equiano’s case it is a very literal profit they can and do receive from him, they strip away a sense of innocence of him that the song represents perfectly in its mumbled jargon of emotional lyrics and synth-infused tune.

The Slave Boat: Chapter 3 (Page 22)

Freedom – Beyoncé

Freedom by Beyoncé is a song that tells a story in itself. The constant repetition of the word “freedom” in the song can be seen as a mantra for Equiano and his captivity. the song is not just about general freedom to a person it is a song written about the strife of minorities, more importantly, the dehumanization of slavery and the longing of freedom that every black person has felt, whether it be physical or mental; something that Equiano most definitely feels at this moment in time.

Realization That He Is Not A Free Man:

Everybody’s Watching Me (Uh-Oh) – The Neighbourhood

After Equiano is bought off to a family, he has the privilege of being educated through this familiarity and learning the “civil” ways to be this society. This causes the spell of double consciousness that he faces in the book, however upon once again getting onto a boat he has the daunting realization that he once again can be completely enslaved. His heart races and he realize what damnation he is living, this song by the neighbourhood exemplifies how despite the fact that Equiano has learned new mannerisms all eyes are still on him because of his race.

Equiano’s Travels: Chapter 13 (Page 127)

Islands – Young the Giant

Islands is a song that is somberly filled with vocals that make the listener feel as though they are on a voyage with the band on the way to discover something, perhaps even lose something. Which fits perfectly into the travels Equiano travels and meets the Musquito Indians. This song more entails what the journey there would feel like, filled with promise but still living with uncertainty.

Freedom: Chapter 14 (Page 137)

Life on the Nickel – Foster The People

Life on The Nickel by Foster The People elevates Equiano’s new found the freedom to the next level. The title in itself personifies how he literally had to buy his life through money. his freedom literally had to be bought and even then, he will never be a full member of society n matter how much he conforms because of his race. This song speaks about the lack of life one has to live when there is no vendetta in society that is set to make them fail.

The Undying Belief in Religion: Chapter 14 (Page 144)

Church – Aly & AJ

Church by Aly & AJ portrays the end of Equiano’s travels eloquently. Equiano has conformed to the religion of Catholicism and in fact some of the last thoughts he has had to do with the scripture. The song portrays how religion seems to forgive everything if you follow it, ignoring how hypocritical it can be, but much like the song says all you need is a little church to make the bad things go away.


Welcome to the modern telling of Equiano’s Travels in the form of a playlist. The focus was on what I believe are the most pivotal points in the novel and therefore I made a playlist that complements these scenes and chapter thus allowing the reader to imagine the contents of the book better. I believe that music often times allows us to make sense of things and gives a fresh perspective to situations. The songs provided will allow the reader to feel the intensity of each scene without having to directly read the book. I used the medium of music because we live in a generation where music is often used to make bold political statements are to engage audiences into feeling things that at times can be hard to say out loud. At the same time, music transcends generations. The mixture of music and novel is very helpful in my opinion. and twist to the classic novel.

Equiano’s Travels has many important scenes in the novel, but the reason I chose the scenes above is that I believe those are the scenes that showed the most change in Equiano. It ties of trauma that has scarred him and affected him the most. Moments in his life where you can physically see the turmoil he goes through his life. here he suffers and succeeds. Where the story makes its most progression. From the songs chosen to the transitions within the playlist all of it flows carefully with the novel, it provides a new way to look at the book and the story it holds. A mixture of the classic tale in a contemporary medium.

The songs were chosen, I believe do these scenes the most justice. They go hand in hand with the experiences that Equiano goes through, they tell his story in a couple of minutes something that is very hard to do. However, these songs encapsulate the essence of these pivotal points in the novel. The music transcends and this use of medium allows the modern generation to interact and form a connection with it that might otherwise not be achievable with the book alone.

The Harp Without a Tune

By: Katherine Hernandez

The harp is one of the most known universal symbols of Ireland. In today’s modern times it is known to grace the famous beer bottle of Guinness. However, The Harp has a long history with noble origins. It was regarded as a symbol for high society status musicians, in fact, it is said that The Harp was one of the only things that saved the Irish from being barbarians.  The poem The Harp of India by Henry Denrozio, however, takes a different approach to the noble status symbolization of the harp. In the poem, the harp is recognized as a symbol of social injustice rather as a symbol of nobility, a concept that isn’t introduced into Irish culture until the 19th Century. This causes a major shift in what we know as the symbolization of the harp. Denrozio uses the harp as a symbol for the loss of India under the British rule, a topic that is not touched on by the other poems. In fact, the harp here is used as a beacon of sorrow, right from the first line in which the author calls out to the harp asking it, “Why hang’st thou lonely on yon withered bough?” It is in the very first line in which the poet creates a tone of sorrow and longing for what once used to be, using the symbolism of an empty harp as an instrument that is so beautiful in sound and what now is considered a useless shell of what it once was. While the poem is a considered a traditional sonnet it has a different schema which furthermore shows how the poet made  consciousness choice of creating a different one and meter than what is considered to be traditional This could be to show how although he has British roots he still feels as though he is very much invested in his Indian culture and his heart aches for the suffering of India. While the significance of the harp in this poem might be different from one of the most symbolic characteristics of nobility it possesses it is still very important because the harp in itself is what gives the poem it’s life. The fact that the harp can no longer make its noise, it cannot be played shows how much the instrument is beloved and thus the lack of music brings great ailment to the poet, the symbolism to India uncanny.

The Land of “The Free”: America 2019

By: Katherine Hernandez

I have recreated the poem “England 1819” By Percey Shelley.


An orange goblin, ignorant, hateful, with a vendetta for supremacy;

Presenting no balance to a country who claimed to value “equality.”

Through dirty money, scare tactics, and rigged polls,

The voice of the people was stripped three winters ago.

The face of a nation that now is seen as an embarrassment,

To all who know its name;

Spewing hatred, erasing history with racist lies,

As people claw, crawl, weep and live cold desert nights

For a chance to a better life.

With horrid mocks toward all minorities,

And selfish attempts to engorge the lives of those who already live like royalty.

No semblance of Justice, Equality or Honesty;

A society that feeds off his toxic energy,

In times where it seems we must fear authority,

There will be a light that shines on the backs of those

who created this land off tooth and bone.

Lady Justice will blow the final horn,

And Lady Liberty will follow,

To guide all of us into the future,

Into a place where we can reclaim our Home

Into a better Tomorrow.




Finding the Romantic Silver Lining

By: Katherine Hernandez

The third painting, titled The Monk by the Sea, 1809, by Caspar David Friedrich, is one of the most famous paintings that has emerged from the Romantic period. This artwork represents many of the themes that are expressed during this period such as the portrayal of emotions, beauty in nature and the things that are beautifully unexplainable. One of the poems that resonate with the essence of this painting, in particular, is the poem Old Man Travelling by William Wordsworth. In the poem, the reader is invited to a world full of imagery that surrounds the old man, much like in the painting what engulfs the man is nature, rather than the man trying to make his peace in nature. One of the most interesting things about the painting I the fact that many people have different interpretations to it, just like poetry. Now, it is true that art is very subjective by nature, however there seems to be a distinction onto whether the man that is the painting is experiencing existentialism in the worst way possible or if the vastness of the world is what makes the painting so ambiguous and dark in the best way possible, just like in the poem.

In the poem, “[the] man does not move with pain but moves with thought.” Really emphasizes the feeling of ease that is dominating in the man’s demeanor. It shows cases ow despite his old age the sage wisdom that he carries from experiences is what keeps him going and what keeps his old heart at bay. This is also shown the poem explains how, “he is by nature led, to peace so perfect, that the young behold, with envy what the old man hardly feels.” This line allows us as readers to imagine the eased numbness that he carries with him in old age. By saying that nature is within him and that it is something to be envied it shows how the youth has yet a lot to live for and understand.

The most important stanzas in the poem however, I believe are the last ones in which the tone of the poem seems to change by the demeanor of the old man does not. It is here specifically where there is significant overlap when it comes to the terms of the painting. When the old man explains that his journey has led him to, “[his] son [who] is dying in an hospital.” He does not seem to quiver or show uneasiness at the idea of his son dying, which then creates the all circle of how the man understands that death is too a part of life, and much like the painting there is a sort of calmness in the overall pictures regardless of the fact that there are dark colors and eerier shadows, there is still some semblance of light that peaks through the shadows. There is a vast sea of the unknown that is at the full display to us and while to some of us, it might be an uneasy thing to grasp to others the grand vastness of it all brings peace through wisdom.


The New Wave of Romantic Poetry

By: Katherine Hernandez

To say that music is not a form of romantic poetry would be one of the greatest injustices to not only music but to poetry itself. For decades music has been used as a means to release emotions, express deep-rooted feelings for others and expose the world to love ballads and struggles we all seem to face in our lives. In fact, music can be deemed as one of the things that keep us alive, it is our modern form of storytelling. The purest form of romantic poetry to exist. R&B in itself is regarded as the expressing of feelings through rhythm and beat, it is the name itself. Iron Maiden’s take on the Romantic poem “The Rime of The Ancient Mariner” elevated the form of romanticism that is expressed in the poem.

Iron Maiden does an excellent way of portraying the rhyme and rhythm that is shown in the original poem. Through the use of instruments, the band is able to focus more on the feeling of dread that is expressed in the poem. They focus on the dark themes of death and loss and the way the Mariner suffered while telling his story, whole in the poem there is light use of comedy at times by the Coleridge, the song demonstrates the severity and the heaviness the poem actually carries.

Both of these works play off of each other, evoking the notion of the human experience of focusing and relying on the expressions of one’s own emotions. In fact, music, especially rock music in the ’60s through the ’80s had a huge emphasis on the anthropocentric. It is all about the way that the artist feels, the way in which everything feels as if it is “now or never” The poem demonstrates this perfectly because, despite the fact that there is a lot of characters involved in Coleridge romantic poem, the sole foci’s is the feeling the Mariner had throughout the retelling of his story. Iron Masinde is able to encompass that feeling towards its audience through the song because as a listener it feels as if you are listening to that story as well. The story of a man who suffers and wants the world to know.

Iron Maiden’s interpretation of this poem allows the romanticism era to remain alive. It showcases the emotions Coleridge was portraying and the lead singer is able to display them on a full screen. The music becomes the silver platter of the lyric’s in a way that the emotion is demonstrated in such a way that it helps bring the poem to life. While in the poem many of the death references used are for metaphorical reasons, the band uses these references as a way to demonstrate the darkness that the words carry and thus placing this dark imagery at the forefront of their song rendition.

Iron Maiden is a prime example of romantic poetry evolving through time. Music is societies modern way of placing emotions on full display, spewing of one’s experiences and questioning the world and all of its mishaps. The perfect concoction of romantic poetry and the heavy metal version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ breathes life into our new form of romantic poetry; music.

Equiano’s first-hand experience to whitewashing

By: Katherine Hernandez

In The Interesting Narrative written by Olaudah Equiano, Equiano includes many literary pieces by English writers that allow him to express his experience in life in a way that can reach the audience of the time. His narrative includes many writings that allow him to share his experience in a way that could be considered contemporary and even modern at the time. However, one must question whether the inclusivity of these writers is a way for him to ease his experience through the worlds of other or if it is done in order for his work to be appealing to the readers of his time. Was the inclusivity of these an approach to the white-washing he had to go through in order to be accepted into society? Was the use of English literary work the only way his writing would be taken seriously?


A clear example of this is in chapter 6: Hope and Despair, page 66 of my book version, in which in order for the pain he has gone through and will endure he must quote a poem by Thomas Day and John Bicknell, named The Dying Negro, in which the following stanzas are used,


“Where slaves are free, and men oppress no more.

Fool that I was, inur’d so long to pain,

To trust to hope, or dream of joy again.”


It is here that it shows how in order for Equiano’s pain from being forced onto a ship towards the West Indies he must be able to translate it through the work of English Literature. It is as if the pain that he feels for leaving his friends and venturing into the unknown makes him feel as yet another black man who has fallen into the grips of slavery. In order for Equiano’s to be accepted into society, he must conform to the white standard of living. This is a common theme seen throughout the novel, in which an order for him to be respected he constantly has to validate his actions and feelings through not only the use of English literature but also the use of the Catholicism through the bible which is also considered an important part of literature.

The way that Equiano was whitewashed into society is still seen to this day. Modern society refuses to fully acknowledge the culture of black people or any type of person of color and at times it is often seen that the strife’s people of color go through are not acknowledge unless a white person speaks out about them. Equiano’s use of English Literature in his writing allowed him to express his troubles in his personal narrative however it also shows the racism and whitewashing that happened to him and that still prevails today.

Pope Exposes Classic Literature

By: Katherine Hernandez

Image Three Was Chosen!

Alexander Pope, a man who was criticized harshly by those who we might pronounce as the professionals of classic literature. Pope has a unique way of demonstrating to his audience the way he feels towards such criticism of his work. He allows us to take a glimpse into his thoughts towards classic literature in his time through a specific piece of work called The Dunciad, in which through elements of satire, the reader is able to distinguish the type of mockery he uses to get his point across. You see, Pope not only uses his work to mock classic literature such as epic poems, but Pope also masters the heroic couplet which doing it, raining the ultimate f**k you to the critiques of his time.

There are many cartoons that show how Pope criticized English literature, in picture three specifically we can see how there is a stigma that is portrayed and stereotyped with those who have a career in what we know as “classical literature.” The life of these people is often seen as lavish but Pope refers to it as something completely opposite; it is about people who write about things they deem as important, almost like a panel of judges that has made rules for literature and how to do it correctly and if you do not follow these rules you work is anything but pristine. In his poem The Dunciad, there is any stanzas in which the mockery of such ways is shown, specifically in which “A fool receives a Laurel Crown..” because it portrays how the most mediocre stories get gifted honors and praise when in fact it doesn’t deserve it, much like in the cartoon. The image makes things seem much more lavish than they actually are.


“With-hold the pension, and set up the head; 36

Or vest dull Flatt’ry in the sacred Gown;

Or give from fool to fool the Laurel crown. 37

And (last and worst) with all the cant 38  of wit,

Without the soul, the Muse’s Hypocrit. [100]”



Take Bacon’s Utopia Away Swiftly

By: Katherine Hernandez

Jonathan Swift is known famously for using satire in the novel Gulliver’s Travels in order to convey the foolishness and hypocritical nature of the utopian society that is painted by Francis Bacon. Swift uses irony in Gulliver’s Travels in a very clever way; by depicting the obviously fictions adventures of Gulliver in a way that comes across to readers as perhaps a self-narrative he is able to capture the flawed philosophy of imperialism during his era in almost a seamless manner. What he demonstrates goes directly against the utopian ideology that Francis Bacon sheds light on. By mimicking what Bacon would consider a perfect society, Swift uses satire to shed light on a philosophy that is actually far from perfect and in fact could be held to a mockery considering the fact that during this time period the exact opposite was occurring during the process of colonization. The equality and abundance of food that is mentioned in The New Atlantis is actually the exact opposite of what is occurring in the world.


In Gulliver’s Travels a paragraph that demonstrates the irony that exists witch in the text reads as the following, “ I sworn and subscribed to the Articles with great Cheerfulness and Contentment, although some of them were not so honorable as I could have wished;…… Whereupon my Chains were immediately unlocked, and I was at full liberty.” (Part 1, Chapter 3, Page 44)


I found this quote especially ironic. Swift demonstrates how in Bacon’s Utopia, something as seamless as a disagreement between morals and cultures can come to an ultimate conclusion in which the parties may live amongst each other in harmony, however, Swift is very much aware how that is not occurring during his time. In fact, in the real world, there is a lack of regard for other cultures, for their rules and their ways of living. The Opposite of what happens in a reality takes place, however, in a utopian society the Cheerful and Contentment that is expressed may, in fact, be sincere and liberty shall be gifted to those that follow the ideal. However, in the real world that is not the case. Thus we are met with the use of irony and satire in Swift’s novel. It shows how Swift plants his feet firmly in the realistic ways people treat other people, which is in stark contrast to Francis Bacon, who believes in the good people can have towards one another and eventually a world that is built on compromise and equality for all, an ideology that Swift mocks throughout the novel.

An Ode To Mary

By: Katherine Hernandez

Mary, Mary, My Dear Mary


The way you think

Is awfully



The empathy that exists

In your heart

Is only shown

When you face strife


Kindheartedness that turns to ice

When your eyes

Fall on those

Who do no look the same as

You and I


We have done nothing to let them

Show us their potential

We have been



Mary, Mary, My Dear Mary


You use our God

For times of struggle

Rightfully so,

You have faced so much trouble


But we have left

The ones who care for the earth

Without any compassion

Faced down in a muddy puddle


Religion is no excuse

For the sadness that lives

In the souls

Of such people


They share

The same beating heart with us

They paid you for your work

While we broke their families and enslaved them first

Mary, Mary, My Dear Mary


Find it in your heart

To change your mind


Find it within your soul

To not be so cruel


Have a change of heart

And within yourself the spirit to



We are meant to coexist

And to live, love and survive

No matter how we look

What matters is what we carry inside


There Is No Power In Silence

By: Katherine Hernandez

There is a theme of whitewashing American history at the expense of the ego of eurocentric powers, and this is especially true when it comes to literature that is presented to society. And unfortunately, the whitewashing of historical events has led to the erasure of the struggles minorities face at the expense of colonization in North America. Topics of genocides and sexism are still prevalent in our society today, and this is due to the silencing of so many voices that occurred during the gentrification that took place in America.

The stereotype of indigenous people being barbarians comes to life in Mary Rowlandson’s narrative. A nation full of genocide towards indigenous people suddenly becomes the victim of its own atrocities when there is pillaging of a white community by indigenous people. Suddenly the acts of killing people for simply being is seen as an inhumane act of greatest proportions. And while it isn’t hard to sympathize with Mary and the circumstances she finds herself in, it is very hard to maintain that empathy for her when looking at things from an outside perspective. Mary faced hardships, that is true, with the death of her child, at the mercy of indigenous people, as a human with the capability to empathize with her, one very much does so. Mary is a mother and it isn’t very hard to feel the grief and strife she faces during those 11 weeks of the narrative she shares with us, however in a much larger perspective, does that mean that the genocides that are happening in America are only important when white people begin to face them? There is a double standard at play, in which the death of so many indigenous people is not taken into account.

There is again a theme of romanticism that envelops the story Mary shares with us; the pain and grief she goes through are not real until it solely happens to her. It is as if the eurocentric mindset does not permit the suffrages of minorities and instead paints them out to be less than of others (others being Europeans) The intolerance towards the indigenous people dehumanizes them and Mary’s narrative only pushes that vendetta further. Much like Dryden’s play The Indian Emperor, the identity of these indigenous people has stripped away and their sole purpose seems to revolve around the colonizers. Their stories are lost midst the eurocentric romanticism that is displayed. It is not just a genocide of indigenous groups, it’s genocide of their existence. Their voices are not given a platform thus muting out struggles during the era of colonization in America.