Cruising through the Emory yearbooks this year at MARBL left me impressed. While most of the photos continue to be displayed in black and white ink, I felt my cheeks turn rosy red every time I turned the page.
1974 inevitably was a year Emory students showed the most ease displaying acts of sexuality and bare skin. Page by page, clothing was slowly being removed, forgotten, until naked bodies were photographed streaking the Emory campus. What has happened since then? Acceptable social content seems to have regressed some compared to 1974. If we were to review this year’s yearbook, I’m sure to find drastic contrasts between images of then to today. I’m sure to find students lying in the quad, books in hand, but with full clothing. I’m also sure to find some exposure of skin but still covering the genitals and breasts. What was going on in 1974 year that compelled the students to show such liberty? They seem so free from judgment, media, and personal image.
On the concluding pages from this particular yearbook was a section devoted to poems composed by individual students. One poem was easily separated from the rest. “First Time” by Barry Marks, describes a heated moment. While the title seems obvious on the content, the poem itself can also be translated to first experiences of any and everything. “I put myself into you” Opens the poem up to the first heterosexual experience. Taken from a male point of view, the poem is both dominant and recessive at different points. This poem innocently enough, follows the transformation of a boy into manhood. How his submission of putting himself into girl was similar to how a “child sticks his finger into a tree.”
On the flip side, this poem also indirectly follows the transformation of a girl into womanhood. This idea, marked in blood, also is a major theme of this poem. Both of these adolescents linger in the joys of innocence.
Compared to the rest of the yearbook. I can say that this poem summarizes the intentions, transformations, and feelings of the students of Emory in 1974. I can relate each photo of nudity, student, and act to this poem: the transformation of young adults into college students and their epic moment together-heated and unafraid.
Tazam: what an interesting find (the poem). It seems somewhat cryptic with multiple possible meanings. Why do you think the author chose this approach rather than a more overt sexual approach, especially when juxtaposed with such overt demonstration of sexuality through nudity, etc.? And what do you think has changed at Emory that forty years ago folks were running around naked and now they are not? Or if they are the Emory Wheel isn’t posting it.
I was very surprised to find this poem and many others towards the end of the yearbook. I suppose that the author decided to write a poem in order to impact its readers in a more profound way. If he had just wrote a narrative about his first sexual experience, I don’t that it would have made such an impression on its readers nor would it have the capacity to hold multiple meanings. With a poem, there are so many ways that it can be interpreted and so may things that can be dissected from it. I think that an essay on his first experience would have diluted the encounter overall. If we factor in the events of this year and the diversity of the Emory students then this poem has the ability to relate to everyone and tie everyone to a common experience.