Fresh Voices: Composition at Cal Poly

Article Title

Bonsai: A Way of Living


Amy Nguyen’s profile “Bonsai: A Way of Living” blends form and content effectively; the tone of the piece is as calming as the subject matter. She achieves this effect by using stylistic techniques: imagery, diction, and even punctuation.For example, notice how the words “harmony,” “flow,” and “energy” precede the image of Nguyen’s father meditating. She later describes her father bending down to work with the Bonsai. She writes, “his stance is like a person playing pool, the same facial expression . . .” Instead of merely stating that her father concentrates on his Bonsai, she uses a simile to show her readers how her father ponders each step carefully.

Nguyen also synthesizes the research about Bonsai’s history with her father’s perspective in order to reach her own conclusion. Rather than just writing an essay about her father, she focuses on the principles behind this ancient art practiced in modern American culture. She writes that “we can work with nature by enhancing it, but we cannot perfect it.” Do you agree? Does she make the essay meaningful to a larger audience by expanding the scope to include anyone who appreciates nature?