Janice Mirikitani is a poet, dancer, and a community activist. She got her Bachelor degree in art from UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) according to poetryfoundation.org. Janice Mirikitani wrote four collections of poetry and she edited many literary anthologies, her mother got a divorce and re-married when Janice was young, so they went back home to rural Petaluma. Janice was five years old when she starts dealing with poverty, emotional isolation, and the trauma of sexual abuse by her own stepfather. I believe that one reason she joined women and family to help the poor and to share her experience according to encyclopedia.densho.org. This is a little bit of Janice Mirikitani background history.
“Suicide Note” is a poem written by Janice Mirikitani in 1942. The title of the poem gives the reader a hint of what is going on in the poem. Suicide means someone that is dealing with depression or other disorder and cannot find a way out. The only way to end the pain or the depression is to take their own life. “Suicide Note” is about an Asian American college student that jumped from her dormitory window. Her body was found two days later under a deep cover snow with suicide note of apology that she could get not a perfect four-point grade average. (Portable Literature)
The suicide note poem started with a repetition of a stanza “not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart” which tells the reader that the Asian American student has been hearing those words her entire life. this can create low self-esteem failure in school because she is under pressure from parents expectations. One thing that stood out to me is that every time that repetition of the stanza comes “not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough,” there is different level anger every time I read it. It’s like the percentage of a battery; they more charge it gets the angry I get. The reason I get so angry it because I can relate to what she is going through. I have heard from my family member’s mouths that I will never become anything in this life. “Not pretty enough, not smart enough” these words hurt more coming from family members.
Parents should encourage their children when feeling overwhelmed by school, grades or even assignments to remove pressure off their shoulder. It will show the parent cares about their children. “I’ve worked very hard/ if only I were a son” the reason she said that because a son in Asia will be able provide for the family and being a son means leadership responsibilities while a daughter is housewife according to asiasociety.org. Moreover, a son is easy the get a job faster than girls. The Asia American student switch she was a boy because maybe if she was a boy her parent will pay more attention through her, would have made a parent proud or less expectation through her. One way a student will succeed in school is pick a major they will want to do even if that career provides low income, but there is joy when doing that job and do not it the parent because everyone has something they love or passionate about in this life.
The line twenty-five the student is apologizing to her parent saying that task (assignment) come very hard. I see the “glacier” as a knife each failure she faces gets means she stabbed by a “glacier,” and if continued, it will kill. The bootprint is every disapproval she got from her parents. Trying to go back to see maybe if I do much better than last time. I will get their approval that I am doing something good. When she said “ice above my river,” I see “ice” as the pressure of the fear she is feeling inside her body or the disappoints, she is carried inside and “river” represent the Asia American student drowning in fear trying to prove to her parent that she good enough. In life everyone faces different struggle but we should not let those struggle overcome us. For example, if we are suffering from depression. we should ask for help like going to a therapy session will help to hear other people situation. if we keep listening to the negative word people might say it will drag us to the grave. I believe this line “it is snowing steadily/ surely not a good weather / for flying—this sparrow that is when she is planning to kill herself. Perfect day to jump out of my dormitory window that way I will have peace from my parent and this earth
In conclusion, suicide can be prevented if parents do not put any pressure on their child and if the parent actually connects with their children, they will know when something is wrong with their children. School can be stressful for students and if they are taking massive of class to finish school on time, but with the help of teachers and parents encourage the students where failing short will help to overcome the fear that I cannot do it. This poem impact society because some people make a funny joke, but they do not realize what they are seeing can hurt someone deeply that can go friend and family member. For example, beauty is not found by the appearance, but what is on the inside the heart and everyone is smart on something different. We can prevent suicide by showing more love, appreciate one another and encourage one another.