You love poetry! You know you do! If you’re pretending that you don’t, you clearly haven’t read enough poems!
Or perhaps you never knew exactly how to read poems. Well, this unit is all about that. How to read poems, how to discuss your opinions about them, how to explain exactly why you like them (or why you don’t, as – let’s face it – not everyone likes every poem ever written), and how to accept the fact that some poems will forever remain difficult, or even impossible, to understand.
You might even learn how to write about them, or even write one yourself – but let’s not mention writing yet, not when I’m trying to work up your enthusiasm.
So, to begin. Before we look at a poem, here are some ideas about how to talk about it. Keep these with you at all times; download them and stick them on your fridge, and keep them there for the duration of this unit. Let SPECS and SLIMS be your friends as you read some of the poems in this unit.
Finally, here are some poems. Use SPECS and SLIMS and prepare some comments on one or some of the poems below.
Poetry, like any type or genre of writing, uses several techniques that both readers and writers need to be aware of. You will know some of these already. If you are not sure of any of the techniques in the list below, take a look at the attached page for further information and examples.
Types of poem
As well as poetic techniques, there are different types of poems. It’s important to be aware of these – what they are and how they work – as some will appear in your Diploma Programme English courses. And anyway, some of them – incredibly – are fun.
At Diploma level, especially at Higher level, it is not enough to analyse one text; you have to compare two texts. In this, the most difficult part of this unit, we will try to compare poems. Here’s some basic information.
Below are two quite different ghost stories. What can you say about exactly how they differ?
And here are some poems to practise with.
The unit assessment involves analysing a poem of your choice. The method of analysis may be an essay, or it may be a presentation (in this case, both slides and notes will be assessed). Keep listening to find out which method is chosen.
Here are this year’s instructions.
See Veracross for details of deadlines.
The class of 2012 all chose poems to present to the rest of the class as the first part of their assessment. Here is a collection of those poems for you to read and, in some cases, treasure (!).
And these are the poems that the class of 2013 chose.
You might want to start your search for a poem in one of these two collections.
You will also be writing your own poetry as part of this course. You will choose one of the types of poem we looked at (above) and attempt your own version. Don’t be shy about it, as you will be sharing your poem(s) with the rest of the class in order to receive feedback, and to give feedback on others’ poems.
These poems are not assessed, but are a chance for you to learn to appreciate the difficulties involved in poem writing, and the fun involved in sharing work with peers.
Remember, the best of your poems will be published on the Purple Duck website. Click on the duck to find out more!
Many of the worksheets, poems and ideas above come from an excellent book:
Sadler, Hayllar, Powell (1986). Appreciating Poetry. Sydney: Macmillan Education Australia.
That’s the end of this unit. Now do you like poetry? Even just a little bit more than you did before? Comments below please…