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POEM : THE LIVING

PHOTOGRAPH
BY : JACKIE KAY

My small grandmother is tall there,


straight-back, white broderie anglaise shirt,
pleated skirt, flat shoes, grey bun,
a kind, old smile round her eyes.
Her big hand holds mine,
white hand in black hand.
Her sharp blue eyes look her own death in the eye.
It was true after all that look.
My tall grandmother became small.
Her back round and hunched.
Her soup forgot to boil.
She went to the awful place grandmothers go.
Somewhere unknown, unthinkable.
But there she is still,
in the photo with me at three,
the crinkled smile is still living, breathing.

Background
Poet name : Jackie Kay
Born : Edinburg, Scotland in 1961
Notable works : The Adoption Papers
Awards : 1) Saltire Society Scottish First
Book Award (1991) 2) Somerset Maugham
Award (1994) 3) Guardian First Book
Award Fiction Prize
Occupation : A professor of creative
writing at Newcastle University.

Setting
Time : The poem was
written when the persona
has
grown up.
Place : At the family home.

Persona
1.The persona is the poet
herself.
2.She is looking at an old
photograph and is swept
away by memories of her
late grandmother.

Tone & Mood


Tone
Descriptive
Sad
Reminiscing

Mood
Sad
Reflective

Themes
1. Memorise are to be treasured
Looking at old photograph brings back
many treasured memories especially
those of family members.

2. Death is a part of life


Death is an inevitable part of life.
Ageing process affected the
grandmother until she eventually
passes away.

Moral Values
1. We must treasure our loved ones
while they are alive.
2. We must try to accept that death is
a part of life.
3. We must value the importance of
family relationships.

Literary Devices
1.Imagery
Imagery is the used of words
that enable the reader to
visualise a person or a scene.
In the first stanza, the poet
describes her grandmother in
the photograph so vividly that
the reader is able to imagine
what she looks like.

Literary Devices
2.Contrast
Contrast refer to the
differences between two
things.
In the first stanza, the poet
describes her grandmother
when she is strong and healthy.
In contrast, the second stanza
shows her getting older and

Contrast
First stanza
My small
grandmother is tall
there,
Straight-back, white
broderie anglaise
shirt,
Pleated skirt, flat
shoes, grey bun,
A kind, old smile
around her eyes.

Second stanza
My tall grandmother
become small.
Her back round and
hunched.
Her soup forgot to
boil.
She went to the awful
place grandmothers
go.

Literary Devices
3. Personafication
i. Her soup forgot to boil
Meaning : grandmother has
become
forgetful.
ii. The crinkled smile is still living,
breathing
Meaning : grandmothers smile
looks so alive in the photograph.

Literary Devices
4. Symbolism
Symbolism means the use of
objects, plants, or animals to
represent something else.
The photograph represent the
memories the persona has of her
late grandmother.

Literary Devices
5. Irony
Irony refers to the use of words to
mean something very different
from what they appear to be.
The irony is in the title itself. The
Living Photograph, which seems to
suggest that the grandmother is
still alive, in reality she is actually
dead.

Literary Devices
6. Foreshadowing
Foreshadowing means a warning
or indication of a future event.
Last line in the first stanza her
sharp blue eyes look her own
death in the eye foreshadows
what is to happen next. This prove
to be true because in the next
stanza, the grandmother dies.

Summary
The poem consists of ____________ lines. There are
_______ lines in stanza ____, _______ lines in stanza
____ and _____ lines in stanza _____. It is written in
____________ verse where there is no rhyme scheme.
The poet delivers the poem in narrative style using
the ____________ person point of view. The poem is
most
likely
based
on
the
poets
own
___________________. Thus the ________________ could
be the poet herself. In the poem, the persona is
looking at an old photograph of herself with her
_______________________. It brought back memories of
a specific time when her grandmother was alive and
well. Although, her grandmother has since
__________________________, when the persona looks

Practice 1
1. tall there

Symbol

2. white hand in black


hand

Metaphor

3. crinkled smile
4. still living
5. soup forgot to boil

Alliteration
(consonant)

Imagery

6. photo

Contrast

7. her sharp blue eyes look


her own death in the eye

Personafication

8. Straight-back, white
broderie anglaise shirt,
pleated skirt, flat shoes,

Assonance
diction

(vowel)

Practice 2
Phrases
1. tall there, straight
back
2. grey bun
3. white hand in black
hand
4. back round and
hunched
5. look death in the
eye

Meaning
a) A white person e.g.
an English man
with a black person
e.g. a Nigerian
b) But, contrary to
what you think ,
she is still alive.
c) An old person with
a bent back
d) A person with
height and has a
good posture
e) White greying hair
tied back like a bun
f) To accept the fact

Practice 3
Who wrote the poem?
_________________
To whom do you think the title of the
poem relate to?
________________________

Practice 4
Describe the personas grandmother:
Dressing what did she wear?
______________________________________
Physical appearance In verse 1, how did the
persona describe her grandmother?
______________________________________
Facial expression How did her grandmother look?
______________________________________
Eyes what colour were her eyes?
_____________________
What is the skin colour of the persona and
grandmother?
________________________________

Practice 6
Answer the following questions about
the photograph.
Who are in the photograph?
___________________________
How old was the persona when the
photograph was taken?
_____________________________

Practice 5
What happened to her grandmothers
physical appearance as she aged?
__________________________________________
_
How does the persona describe the other
world? How does this reflect the personas
perception of life after death?
__________________________________________
_

SPM Practices
In stanza 1, which words mean open
embroidery on white linen?
__________________________
Describe the grandmothers skirt and
shoes?
____________________________
Why do you think the grandmother
forgot to boil the soup?
_____________________________________

SPM Practices
look her own death in the eye.
Where do you think the persona was
when the grandmother passed away?
Provide a reason for your answer.
Where : ________________________
Reason : _________________________