Wordle for six poems listed on the site
We used Google Ngrams to determine if Cofer’s themes, subjects, and shifts in focus of her poems was consistent with global trends. We began with a small sampling of data from the poems that we focused on, taking one subject, and two themes. One of the themes that we analyzed was used significantly in Cofer’s early work and not as frequently in her later poems. Another theme was used more frequently in her later poems, yet was also commonly used in her early poems. The following is what we discovered.
From 2000 to 2004, in the years right before Cofer wrote “And Goya Said,” the frequency of which Goya appeared in books increased. In 2007, the year that Cofer published Goya, the prevalence of Goya as a subject in books was at an all time low from the previous 16 years.
We traced the use of the word mother, or its equivalents, through both the early and late poems. What we found was that in her early poems, written from 1987 to 1997, the word mother appears frequently in the corpus that we analyzed. The use of this word fell significantly in her work from 2000-2010. Wondering if this was a phenomenon on a larger scale, we traced the use of the words mother, mothers, maternal, etc. We found that on a larger scale, the use of the word mother and its equivalents actually increased from the 1987-1997 decade to the 2000-2010 decade, which is not analogous with Cofer’s work.
Love is a theme that can be found throughout Cofer’s work, in both the early and late poems, however her use of the word love (and similar words like lover, etc) increases significantly in the later poems. This increase corresponds with an overall increase in the use of the word love in books. Love as a theme in books remained relatively static from 1980 to 2000 but started to steadily increase from 2000-2010. In the Distant Reading section, we speculated that this was because of Cofer’s personal growth and experiences with love but she could be simply a part of a global phenomenon that was taking place.