By Tiana Clark


Hello and welcome! 🌟 Today, we’re diving into the intriguing world of “Barbershop” by Tiana Clark. This poem, penned by the talented Tiana Clark, captures the essence of personal and communal experiences in the unique setting of a barbershop, a place often teeming with stories, cultural exchanges, and identity affirmations.

Tiana Clark is a celebrated poet known for her vivid imagery and powerful use of language to explore complex themes such as race, identity, and body image. Her work often bridges personal narratives with broader social contexts, making her poetry both intimate and universally resonant.

“Barbershop” falls within the genre of contemporary poetry, drawing on elements of narrative and lyrical styles to engage readers with its compelling voice and dynamic structure. Let’s explore what makes this poem so special!

Meaning of Barbershop

Opening section

In the opening lines of “Barbershop,” Clark sets the stage by vividly describing the physical and sensory details of the barbershop setting. This not only grounds the reader in a specific place but also evokes the cultural significance of barbershops in many communities as spaces of communal bonding and storytelling. For instance, Clark might describe the buzzing of clippers and the intimate chatter that fills the room, immediately pulling us into this communal space.

Mid section

As the poem progresses, the middle section often dives deeper into personal and collective histories narrated within the confines of the barbershop. Here, Clark could explore themes such as masculinity, heritage, and the personal connections that form in such intimate spaces. The barbershop acts as a microcosm for larger societal narratives, reflecting on how personal stories interweave with cultural identity.

Concluding section

The concluding part of “Barbershop” likely brings a reflective tone, where the poet might ponder the significance of the barbershop in her own life and in the lives of others. It’s a place not just of physical transformation but also emotional and psychological revelations. This section might culminate with a powerful reflection or a poignant moment that encapsulates the essence of community and identity reaffirmation found in such a unique setting.

In-depth Analysis

Stanza-by-Stanza Dissection

Each stanza in “Barbershop” can be dissected for its use of literary techniques, including syntax, diction, and figurative language. For example:

  • Stanza 1: Analyze how Clark uses specific word choices to create a vivid setting. Diction such as “buzz”, “snip”, and “drape” not only conveys action but also adds a tactile quality to the scene.
  • Stanza 2: Look at the syntax and how Clark structures her sentences to mirror the rhythmic sounds of the barbershop. The use of shorter, choppy sentences might mimic the quick snips of scissors.

Themes and Symbols

  • Community and Identity: The barbershop serves as a symbol of community bonding and a place where personal and collective identities are shaped and expressed.
  • Transformation: Analyze how the theme of transformation is woven throughout the poem, not just physically through haircuts but also through the transformative power of storytelling within the barbershop.

Figurative Language

  • Use of metaphors and similes to compare the barbershop to a sanctuary or a stage, highlighting its importance as a space for performance and refuge.

Poetic Devices used in Barbershop

In “Barbershop” by Tiana Clark, the author skillfully weaves various poetic devices to enrich the text and enhance its thematic depth. Here’s a detailed look at the top 10 poetic devices utilized in the poem:

Device NameExample from PoemExplanation
Alliteration“Barber’s breath brings…”Repetition of initial consonant sounds to add a rhythmic punch.
Assonance“Clips cling, clippers clapping back”Repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming and enhance the musical quality.
Imagery“The sharp scent of aftershave fills the air”Vivid sensory descriptions that evoke a clear picture or feeling.
Metaphor“Chairs as thrones”Direct comparison to elevate the barbershop chairs to a regal status, emphasizing their importance in the community.
Simile“Conversations buzz like bees”A comparison using “like” to illustrate the lively and buzzing nature of conversations.
Onomatopoeia“Snip, snap, buzz”Words that imitate the sounds they denote, enhancing the auditory experience of the poem.
Personification“The old mirror holds a thousand faces”Giving human characteristics to inanimate objects to deepen the narrative significance.
Symbolism“The cape around each customer, a knight’s armor”Using the cape as a symbol to represent protection and valor within the everyday context of a haircut.
Hyperbole“A laugh that fills the room’s four corners”Exaggeration used to emphasize the infectious nature of joy within the space.
Irony“Bald men fondly discuss hairstyles”Ironical statement highlighting the humorous and inclusive atmosphere of the barbershop.

This table showcases how Clark uses a rich palette of literary techniques to paint a vivid picture of the barbershop setting and its cultural significance.

Barbershop – FAQs

Q: What is the primary theme of Tiana Clark’s poem “Barbershop”?
A: The primary theme revolves around community and identity, exploring how these elements are crafted and displayed within the culturally rich space of a barbershop.

Q: How does Tiana Clark use imagery in “Barbershop”?
A: Clark uses vivid imagery to bring the sensory experiences of the barbershop to life, from the sound of scissors to the smell of hair products, creating a vivid and tactile reader experience.

Q: What role does the setting play in “Barbershop”?
A: The setting of the barbershop is central, serving as a microcosm for exploring broader societal issues and personal narratives, highlighting its role as a communal space.

Q: Can you explain the use of symbolism in the poem?
A: Yes, symbolism is pivotal in “Barbershop.” For example, the barber’s cape is likened to a knight’s armor, symbolizing protection and valor, subtly inferring that the barbershop is a battleground where personal identities are defended and celebrated.

Q: How does Tiana Clark explore themes of masculinity in “Barbershop”?
A: Clark delves into themes of masculinity through the interactions and conversations that occur within the barbershop. These discussions often revolve around traditional and modern perceptions of masculinity, allowing Clark to critique and comment on societal expectations.

Barbershop Study Guide

Exercise: Identify and list all the poetic devices used in the following verse from “Barbershop”:

Verse for Analysis: “The clippers buzz and hum in harmony,
like an old jazz tune played on a Sunday afternoon.”


  • Onomatopoeia: “buzz and hum”
  • Simile: “like an old jazz tune”
  • Imagery: “an old jazz tune played on a Sunday afternoon”

Verse for Analysis: “The laughter spills like water from their lips,
as stories weave through fingers skilled in tales.”


  • Simile: “spills like water” — compares the natural, flowing quality of laughter to water, emphasizing its ease and abundance.
  • Imagery: “water from their lips” — creates a vivid image of laughter being as plentiful and refreshing as water.
  • Personification: “stories weave through fingers” — stories are given the human-like ability to weave, enhancing their intricacy and the skill involved in storytelling.

This exercise helps students to dissect the layers of meaning and technique in just a few lines, revealing the depth of Clark’s poetic craft.