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Writing about poetry for IAS

Here is a basic structure you could use to ensure you cover all
the necessary points for the poetry question. You can play with
the layout of this structure.
I suggest a six-paragraph essay with an additional introduction
and conclusion.
The six paragraphs will be divided into three sections, with two
paragraphs per section.

Introduction:
-

Briefly introduce each of the poems and how you intend to


approach/interpret the theme.
How does each poem show the theme/issue referred to in the
question?

Section A: How both poems explore the themes in similar or different ways
through language?

Paragraph 1 Theme showed through use of language in poem 1


Paragraph 2 Theme showed through use of language in poem 2

Section B: How both poems explore the themes in similar or different ways
through imagery?

Paragraph 3 Theme showed through imagery in poem 1


Paragraph 4 Theme showed through imagery in poem 2

Section C: How both poems explore the themes in similar or different ways
through techniques?

Paragraph 5 Theme showed through other techniques in poem 1


Paragraph 6 Theme showed through other techniques in poem 2

Note: This section can be used to highlight the difference in the way your poems
present the themes through their use of different techniques.

Conclusion:
-

Briefly recap how each poem presented the theme


Link back to the question

Note: DO NOT introduce new information in your conclusion.

Basic structure of a paragraph

1. Topic

the aspect of the theme/issue youll focus on

2. Technique

the technique that is used to help show the theme/issue

3. Evidence

the quote(s) that shows the technique AND theme in the


poem

4. Meaning

what the meaning are the quote and evidence


suggesting
effect on reader can be looked at here

5. Compare to and contrast with other poem

what connection can be made to the other poem and


how is the treatment of the theme/issue similar or
different.

back to the theme/issue in the question

6. Link

Read at my example below.


(Sample Introduction)
Both Nagras Look we Have Coming to Dover! and OBriens Fantasia
on the theme of James Wright, highlight the social position of an often
ignored marginalized other in modern British communities. They show us
silent residents of a country that are denied their specific type of British
identity, and, thereby, are marginalized and reduced to the position of a
subordinate other. They do not fit into the traditional idea of what it
means to be British. While Nagra looks at the hidden and often vilified
Asian immigrant, OBrien looks at the ignored and largely forgotten
former miner.

(Sample Section B paragraphs)


Nagra and OBrien rely on natural imagery to convey their themes. The
immigrant in Look we Have Coming to Dover! goes about unclocked by
national eye, while we hardly hear the miner in OBriens poem. In
fact, Nagras entire poem is directed towards the iconic image of the
chalked Cliffs of Dover, which, for the speaker in the poem, is emblematic
of true Englishness. The imagery is poignant for the reader here, as we
see Nagras marginalized immigrant persona dream of being flecked by
the chalk of Britannia (the Cliffs) and, as a result, have his new English
residency, life and identity cemented and anointed by the iconic rock.
Similarly, in the mines of a Northern English mining town, OBrien presents
us with workers whose very identity is wedded to and embedded in the
stone and coal of the earth.
The more the miners sink slowly into the earth in Fantasia on the
theme of James Wright, the more assured they are of their identity and
place within English society. Their very culture (prints of Hedley's
Coming Home) is pasted to this rock as they descend. Unfortunately, the
rest of British/English society cannot see this determination of spirit or
their connection to the earth and stone. This national apathy and lack of
awareness can also be seen in the cushy come-and-go tourists who do
not see the immigrants arrival at or connection to the cliffs. In these two
poems, we see immigrants and miners treated differently and being
marginalized. But ironically, they are more connected to the natural heart
of Britain then those who marginalize them. They embody the rock and
foundation on which Britain was and will be built on. Though both
subjects inhabit different quiet or hidden parts of the British Isles, both
poets use imagery that finds it origins in nature, particularly rock to
underpin the endurance and presence of these subordinate and
marginalized others.

Discuss my paragraph with the Basic structure of a


paragraph with a partner.

Activity
Using a bullet point from the mark scheme for the
question below, write an answer based on the guide
in previous pages.
Question
Compare the ways in which poets explore challenging human
experiences in A Leisure Centre Is Also a Temple of Learning by Sue
Boyle and one other poem of your choice from Poems of the Decade:
An Anthology of the Forward Books of Poetry 2002-2011.
In
-

your answer, you should consider the following:


the poets development of themes
the poets use of language and imagery
the use of other poetic techniques.
(Total for Question 1 = 25
marks)

Mark Scheme

Checklist for poetry

Question to ask myself

for yes or X for


no

Do I have a topic to focus on?


Do I identify a technique?
Do I include relevant evidence?
Do I explain the meaning of the evidence and the
technique?
Do I connect my poems by comparing and
contrasting?
Do I link back to the question/theme/issue?
Bonus for higher grades:
Do I comment on the writers intended effects?
Do I use interesting vocabulary?
Have avoided repeating myself?
Have I used interesting transitions?
Have I embedded my quotations?

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