Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Question Breakdown

This is a cross-post from my Relationships blog; I thought it might be helpful to know how to tackle each question. My timings are slightly amended from 2 years ago!

Unseen Question - 45 mins

  • Write a 2 sentence introduction: What is the poem about? On a deeper level, what's it really about?
  • I suggest 2 paragraphs on language (minimum 2 quotes in each) - PQCDQCD is a good structure to follow!
  • Write a minimum of one paragraph on structure - This could cover rhyme, rhythm, stanza lengths, enjambment, organisation of the text...
  • Write a short conclusion - one sentence should be fine.

Question 2a - 25 to 30 mins

  • Write a 1 or 2 sentence introdiction.
  • Write 3 PQCDs
  • For an A*, add an "on the other hand" sentence to each paragraph.
  • Write a short conclusion - one sentence should be fine.

Question 2b i or ii - 30 to 35 mins

Now it is essential here that you realise that you must only answer one of the question options given to you for 2b! Either compare the two poems they give you or choose one of your own to compare with it.
  • Write a 2 sentence introduction, mentioning the two poems and what general thing they have in common
  • 3 paragraphs structured as follows:
  1. POINT about both poems
  2. QUOTE from poem 1
  3. COMMENT/DEVELOP on poem 1
  4. CONNECTIVE then QUOTE from poem 2
  5. COMMENT/DEVELOP on poem 2
  6. Then have a linking sentence which concludes how they are similar or different
  • Short conclusion at the end - Try and make a really clever comment here about what they have in common or differences.
Post any questions below!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Possible Poetry Questions!

As I was going through past exam questions for my Year 11s on the 'Relationships' part of the anthology, I thought I'd pop a list of the named poems in C&C from previous years. So here they are!

The poem named in past questions for 2a is the one underlined and the suggested comparison poem from 2b(i) is in brackets:

Half Caste (& Parade's End)
Invasion (& O What is That Sound)
Our Sharpeville (& Belfast Confetti)
Conscientious Objector (& Your Dad Did What?)

Which means that the poems which haven't yet appeared on the exam are...

The Class Game
Cousin Kate
The Drum
August 6, 1945

All poems except Hitcher have a link to a previous blog post on it, so give them a click and get revising!

Miss D

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Long awaited update

Apologies to all those who have been commenting over the past few months. I have not been teaching poetry this year and so the blog has slipped into neglect. Hopefully, all comments have been responded to now.

I just wanted to share this wonderful link with you -

It is chock-full of resources to help you understand the poems, including videos. I hope it helps!

Miss D

P.S. As of next year, I will no longer be teaching Clashes and Collisions. I will be setting up a blog for the 'Relationships' part of the Anthology soon, but as for this blog, I will no longer be updating it. Please feel free to use it as a revision tool, but remember - all comments and insights are my own and should not be re-published or copied without my permission.


Thursday, 16 June 2011

Last Minute Tips

Just in case you've forgotten, here's the timings for tomorrow's paper:
Unseen - 45 mins
Anthology part A - 30 mins
Anthology comparison question - 30 mins. 
STICK TO THESE TIMES - Do not run over!

In the unseen question, spend around 15 minutes analysing. Ensure that you focus on the STRUCTURE as well as language. Try to also pick out examples of rhyme and rhythm.
You should then write your answer up in 3 main paragraphs (not including intro and conclusion). Try to pick a different feature for each paragraph - e.g. structure, language, rhyme/rhythm, tone, techniques.

Anthology part A requires you to write on ONE POEM, focusing on how the writer presents their ideas and attitudes. Ensure you mention the WRITER in your answer, use quotes and EXPLAIN which techniques have been used and WHY.
Again, use the 3 paragraph structure, focusing on a different feature/technique in each paragraph.

Anthology part B (comparative - pick one of 2) requires you to write on TWO POEMS, one of them being the poem from part A. Do not only pick out the similarities and differences - you need to EXPLAIN how the EFFECTS of these are similar or different. E.g. Two poems may both use metaphors, but how are these effective in different ways?
Once again, use the 3 paragraph structure, focusing on comparing a different feature/technique in each paragraph.

Use connectives in Part B; show the examiner you are comparing!
Look through your poems one last time and think about the three paragraphs you would write if it comes up in Anthology Part A - what features stand out?
Get an early night!

Best of luck, everyone -See you tomorrow for celebratory cake!

Miss D :)

Monday, 13 June 2011

August 6, 1945

It's been a while since we went through this one, but your notes should be complete. Here's a reminder of the ideas YOU came up with!

The effect of nature imagery:
“Dry tune” reflects the hot, musty weather. Perhaps it makes the pilot dehydrated which is why his mouth is dry.
The colour of “apricot ice” evokes a sense of fire. Apricots also introduce the theme of opposites; take for instance the soft, sweet flesh and hard stone in the centre.
“Drizzle” is dreary but not powerful – This shows the insignificance of nature.
Connotations of “scarlet” are roses/romance, danger and blood.
“Mermaid’s tail”, “salamanders” and “lizards” prompt images of scaliness from both mythological and natural sources. The latter suggests that the victims’ skin has gone scaly or shiny from their stripped skin.
The use of “mother” suggests that Mother Nature is ‘late’ and powerless to stop the effects of the bomb.
The people of Hiroshima are seen as “ladybirds”, which reduces them to a small, helpless level. “Ladybirds” also describes how the victims are red with blood and raw skin, but dotted with black from the ash and dirt. It is a metaphor for their skin, which is an important theme in this poem. “Ladybirds” is indented as there is a sense of emptiness, loss and loneliness at the poem’s conclusion. The links to the nursery rhyme suggest that one one level, the pilot sees the bombing as a meaningless, trivial act, but reflects the ending, where his deed hits him – there are dark undertones to the rhyme (“your house is on fire and your children have gone”).
The character of the pilot:
“Whistling” suggests that the pilot is calm and laid back. However, the “dry tune” suggests that he is a serious person – perhaps he is whistling to calm himself?
“Laugh and tremble” creates a sense of mockery, suggesting that the pilot does not take the act seriously. 
“The whole blooming sky” is written in a colloquial style and refers to western imagery. This highlights how different and brash he is in comparison to the Japanese. “Blooming” links into the image of flowers – to him, this could be an attractive sight.
The releasing of the bomb is linked to the slightly suggestive (well, for the 1950s!) image of Marilyn Monroe flashing her knickers - Perhaps the pilot experiences some form of fulfilment and release that can be likened to sexual actions.
The final stanza suggests that the pilot cannot help but be haunted by his actions, thus showing that he is not entirely heartless and two-dimensional.
The writer’s view/attitude:
Western images such as “apricot ice” and “Marilyn” show that the pilot think that it is a good, or ‘sweet’ ending to the war – the Americans are imposing their culture upon Japan, almost as if they are ‘branding’ the bomb site with pride.
The term “forever” shows that the Americans’ actions are irreversible and has a serious tone; the pilot clearly is not taking this word seriously by matching it with trivial images of celebrity.
The writer builds a vivid picture of how horrific the effects of the bomb were and the idea of ‘living in fire’.
The word ‘mother’ could refer to the plane’s name or the mothers of the victim. The writer highlights the protective role of mothers, therefore showing the irony that the destructive plane was named ‘Enola Gay’.

The writer uses enjambement throughout, and does not use rhyme. This gives a slow, 'serious' feel to the poem, as heavy rhythms and rhyme are traditionally associated with 'jolly' and upbeat poetry. The poem is broken into stanzas of irregular lengths - each dealing with slightly different aspect of the event: The flight, Western imagery, nature, physical damage, the emotional burden, the legacy of the event ("dreams"). This irregularity could represent the rubble of Hiroshima, lacking in order and neatness. 
See above for notes on the indentation of 'ladybirds'.

I hope this makes sense - leave me a comment if anything confuses you!

Miss D :)

Exposure - Wilfred Owen

Hi guys,

Thanks for a fab lesson today - I loved hearing your ideas and it's lovely to see how far you've all come :)

I thought I'd throw together a few notes on Exposure as I know it's one you all struggle on quite a bit. Hopefully, after reading this, all will become clear!

Owen's ideas and attitudes (italics added to pick out specific words to analyse)
In war, the real enemy is nature or the elements ("pale flakes with fingering stealth come feeling for our faces").
War can kill a man in a spiritual, if not a physical way ("Slowly our ghosts drag home")
War can lead to a loss of faith in God/God is responsible for the suffering caused by nature ("Tonight, His frost will fasten on this mud and us").

This poem is loaded with personification, and personifies the weather and nature as an army of assassins. The first image that we are given is of the "merciless iced winds that knive us". 'Merciless' suggests that the wind is vindictive and without compassion, whilst 'knive' is a violent action, implying that it is an attacker inflicting pain. From the outset, the 'personality' of the weather is established as an enemy.
In stanza three, Owen writes of "Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army". By personifying 'dawn' or nature as a woman, Owen is pointing out that 'Mother Nature' has turned against them, and that the maternal, compassionate image of a woman has been subverted. In this poem, Owen is definitely using subversion to show how war defies expectations and unexpected enemies attack. 

Despite portraying the conditions of war as vicious, Owen's language is quite soft on the ear, being abundant with sibilance and repeated 'f' sounds (e.g. "flowing flakes that flock"). The use of delicate sounding words could be to show how the weather can be a silent or covert assassin, which seems innocent compared to artillery. Indeed, think about a snow scene - it is attractive and often peaceful. Owen is highlighting that this weather has two very different sides depending on the context, and highlights both by contrasting soft sounds with violent images ("ranks on shivering ranks of grey").

The five line stanzas are constant throughout, using half rhyme to form a ABBAC rhyme scheme. What is interesting in this poem is the fifth line - it defies our expectations when reading it. A reader would either expect the stanza to finish at the end of the fourth line, or to continue after the end of the shortened fifth line. By extending beyond the fourth, Owen could be showing that war is dragged out longer than is expected. Indeed, the ellipses (...) indicate long missing periods of nothingness, where the events are too empty to be written into the poem. This enhances the impression of time being drawn out. However, the fifth line being shortened creates an alternative effect of the stanza being cut off too early. Is this representative of life being cut short? Alternatively, you could argue that Owen wishes these lines to stand out, as they contain the poem's key ideas ("But nothing happens"). Indeed, this particular phrase is of paramount importance in developing the key themes of the poem, which is why Owen repeats this sentiment several times. Furthermore, the poem ends with this statement, thus showing how the poem has come full circle, and although the soldiers in the poem are implied to be dead ("The burying party... pause over half known faces. All their eyes are ice.") the same vicious cycle will entrap fresh recruits.

  • Can you pick out any effective language choices?
  • Why does Owen use the phrase "black with snow"?
TTFN! Miss D :)

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Belfast Confetti - Ciaran Carson

This poem is about an individual's experience of conflict within Belfast - between the people in the ship yard and the police. Carson's speaker is caught in the middle of this.

Carson uses an extended metaphor of punctuation throughout the poem, replacing the physical elements of violence with a variety of punctuation marks. Punctuation marks have a variety of connotations. For example...

  • Exclamations - surprise, shouting, panic.
  • Asterisk - something that is ungrammatical, breaks in narrative, an omission.
  • Hypen - linking words, adding in extra information (changing direction perhaps?)
  • Full stops/colons - separating information, pauses. 
  • Question marks - uncertainty, confusion, demanding answers.
Interestingly, the poem ends on the phrase 'a fusillade of question-marks', meaning that the final image in the reader's head is that of uncertainty and confusion. Perhaps this suggests that the fate of Belfast is open and as yet undecided.

No matter what the language (with a few exceptions), punctuation is the constant factor. Think about learning French with the lovely Miss Elphick - although the words are different, the punctuation follows the same rules, doesn't it? Therefore, punctuation can be seen as the one thing which will remain when a language is lost or changes. Carson himself admits that this poem has the theme of language loss at the core of it. The conflict stems from the issue of national identity, which is closely linked to language. After all, language is one of the few things that makes us English. This theme is enforced by the 'fount of broken type' - imagine a fountain that spews out letters instead of water droplets. This breaking down of words into their composite parts reflects the breaking down of language and scattering it in all directions, arguably never to be put back together.

The structure of the poem is that of two stanzas. However, look at how the poem is laid out on the page. Although the lines are of equal length, the final part of each line runs onto the line below. Think about the way your eye travels - it zips back and forth across the page. This could reflect the speaker's own experience of running through the city, looking left to right constantly, searching for a way out.

The confusion portrayed by the punctuation in the first stanza is continued by the image of the 'labyrinth' in stanza two.  It seems as if the city has been purposefully shaped to mislead or test the people within it. The most famous labyrinth is of course that of 'Theseus and the Minotaur' - is Carson purposefully leading us to this image to imagine the sacrifice of young men and women, led to their doom? Is he saying that like the myth, Ireland needs a hero to end the suffering?

The imagery created through the road names is also significant: "Balaclava, Raglan, Inkerman, Odessa Street... Crimea Street". By naming the streets after famous military conflict, it is suggested that the notion of conflict is embedded into the city and into Belfast culture itself. Carson is clearly treating this conflict as historically significant as the named events. Furthermore, "Dead end again" implies repetition through 'again' - just as the speaker is stuck in Belfast, is Ireland stuck in a cycle of conflict?

Questions to consider:
  • What is the effect of the (non-existent) rhyme scheme?
  • Why are there a series of questions in the second stanza?