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Diversifying GCSE poetry

Started by bgmnts, June 23, 2022, 11:51:19 AM

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bgmnts

Bit of a weird one, this. I suppose it's better to have a more diverse approach to poetry but why would you get rid of Wilfrid Owen? I feel like his work is quite important.

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/uk-news/2022/06/23/wilfred-owen-and-philip-larkins-gcse-removal-is-cultural-vandalism--zahawi/

Sebastian Cobb

I'd have probably chosen removal of someone other than Larkin because I quite like the dour cunt. I'm all for diversifying it though.

Ironically the only piece of poetry I can remember from the syllabus was John Agard's Half Caste.


willbo

I've always meant to get into classic poetry.

Flouncer

Quote from: Sebastian Cobb on June 23, 2022, 11:56:29 AMI'd have probably chosen removal of someone other than Larkin because I quite like the dour cunt. I'm all for diversifying it though.

Ironically the only piece of poetry I can remember from the syllabus was John Agard's Half Caste.


Yeah, I remember that from GCSE English Lit. There was a Benjamin Zephaniah piece too, so there was certainly some representation of black poets in the early 2000s. Larkin is the only poet I've ever read in any depth - The Whitsun Weddings is one of those rare things that seems to capture the human experience in a truly significant way - so it does seem a shame to remove him.

oggyraiding

The study of the GCSE poem anthology was the single biggest factor in fomenting my extreme hatred towards poetry.

idunnosomename

Larkin really was a racist cunt though so I can understand moving him off the syllabus


Sebastian Cobb

Quote from: idunnosomename on June 23, 2022, 12:16:45 PMLarkin really was a racist cunt though so I can understand moving him off the syllabus



I had no idea but reading that in isolation I assumed it was parodying a bigot, however a quick read of this suggests he was indeed a cunt and stopped going to cricket in the 80's because there was "too many fucking n******s about". So yeah, fair enough I guess.

https://socialistworker.co.uk/socialist-review-archive/philip-larkin-racist-bigot-and-poet/

this is really ruining that poem he did about having a wank in the middle of the afternoon or whatever

Sebastian Cobb

Quote from: oggyraiding on June 23, 2022, 12:14:34 PMThe study of the GCSE poem anthology was the single biggest factor in fomenting my extreme hatred towards poetry.

Yeah I found it mostly very boring and I think the fact Half Caste was memorable not just for the punchy title but also the fact it was written in patois made it stand out.

willbo

Quote from: dontpaintyourteeth on June 23, 2022, 12:25:12 PMthis is really ruining that poem he did about having a wank in the middle of the afternoon or whatever

Broken hearted to find this out about Pop Larkin, I won't be able to watch a single episode of Darling Buds of May again

idunnosomename

Yeah of course that little bit of doggerel in isolation looks ironic, but actually I think it's more hyperbolically provocative. Read the Andrew Motion's biography, doesnt shy away from his darker side inc his manipulative womanising.

His dad was a big Nazi fan in the 30s too which didnt help

JaDanketies

There was a massive "poems from another culture" section in that GCSE anthology book from 20 years ago. Oc I remember Half Caste, we saw him perform it, and Simon Armitage and Carol Ann Duffy and some other folks at a big lecture theatre with a bunch of other kids. I remember Simon Armitage had one about getting drunk after leaving your ill relative in a nursing home, that was dark.

Nice poem about kids playing under a burst water main I recall, too, from that poetry from other cultures section. It felt like we spent ages on it. I didn't mind it, maybe I had a good teacher (everyone called him a pedo), but I always willed myself to like English anyway cos I liked writing and wanted to do it as a job. Maybe there was one by that recently-dead Irish fella Seamus Heaney about digging in rural Ireland - that felt foreign to a Manc

I felt like loads of my education was exploring foreign cultures, but now that I look back on it it seems like it was shoehorned in sometimes. Literature is surely automatically global. But I can also see the value in everyone having some shared cultural knowledge about Shakespeare and Dickens etc

Theremin

Quote from: idunnosomename on June 23, 2022, 12:28:17 PMYeah of course that little bit of doggerel in isolation looks ironic, but actually I think it's more hyperbolically provocative. Read the Andrew Motion's biography, doesnt shy away from his darker side inc his manipulative womanising.

His dad was a big Nazi fan in the 30s too which didnt help

All put together, I'm starting to understand dumping him in favour of someone else now

wrec

Quote from: JaDanketies on June 23, 2022, 12:32:29 PMMaybe there was one by that recently-dead Irish fella Seamus Heaney about digging in rural Ireland - that felt foreign to a Manc

Digging with a PEN no less

dumping larkin makes sense, owen a lot less so

blake and keats are still there. stop crying

bgmnts

Quote from: Video Game Fan 2000 on June 23, 2022, 02:00:47 PMdumping larkin makes sense, owen a lot less so

blake and keats are still there. stop crying

We didn't get Blake or Keats, we only had Owen. So I suppose it hits home.

idunnosomename

I dont think theres any point in reading Blake if you don't look at in the context of his hand-printed books. For instance a lot of the songs of innocence and experience have their meanings completely subverted by their illustrations.

But he was a radical revolutionary and sternly anti-slavery, he wouldve loved Colston going in the harbour, so we should be thankful hes slipped through

Pink Gregory

Quote from: bgmnts on June 23, 2022, 03:00:35 PMWe didn't get Blake or Keats, we only had Owen. So I suppose it hits home.

don't think I had any of the three.  Owen might have been covered in history maybe?

It were all Seamus Heaney and Carol Ann Duffy when I were a lad

I do remember Half Caste, but that was pre-GCSE and done as part of a series of poems

bgmnts

Quote from: Pink Gregory on June 23, 2022, 03:23:59 PMdon't think I had any of the three.  Owen might have been covered in history maybe?

It were all Seamus Heaney and Carol Ann Duffy when I were a lad

I do remember Half Caste, but that was pre-GCSE and done as part of a series of poems

I vaguely remember Seamus Heaney being taught to us but obviously didn't care about it as I don't remember a line or anything. Dolce et decorum est I remember very vividly though and I think is a very important poem for kids to read.


As I said I am very supportive of this idea and it should have been done decades ago I just wish that particular poem didnt get substituted. Why cant kids just have their own choice?

Kankurette

We had Grace Nichols (not Even Tho', although I wish we'd done it), Sujata Bhatt and a South African poet in ours along with Half Caste. Nothing's Changed was the South African poem, it was one of my favourites.

Buelligan

Not sure poetry gives one solid fuck whether it's on a syllabus or not. 

Lemming

Most kids will just hate anything they're made to study in school anyway. Sylvia fucking Plath. Might have found her stuff very striking and moving if I'd come across it organically, but sat there in a dingy classroom with it pissing rain outside at half nine on a Tuesday morning, having to figure out exactly what her problem was, just drained any appeal or emotion out of it. See also: Brave New World, a book I almost definitely would have liked if I'd read it by choice, but which I ended up booting across the room calling a "bastard" after having it forced upon me by Sixth Form English.

We got Owen and Sassoon as well, but it was Year Seven or something. I think we were too young to really grapple with the sheer weight and trauma of what they were writing about, and so it just came across as a yet another boring instalment in the curriculum, running alongside the equally unimpactful WW1 module for History.

Quote from: Lemming on June 23, 2022, 04:43:21 PMMost kids will just hate anything they're made to study in school anyway. Sylvia fucking Plath. Might have found her stuff very striking and moving if I'd come across it organically, but sat there in a dingy classroom with it pissing rain outside at half nine on a Tuesday morning, having to figure out exactly what her problem was, just drained any appeal or emotion out of it. See also: Brave New World, a book I almost definitely would have liked if I'd read it by choice, but which I ended up booting across the room calling a "bastard" after having it forced upon me by Sixth Form English.

We got Owen and Sassoon as well, but I think we were too young to really grapple with the sheer weight and trauma of what they were writing about, and so it just came across as a yet another boring instalment in the curriculum, running alongside the equally unimpactful WW1 module for History.

Feel this way about The Handmaid's Tale, a very dry and one-note part of English literature A-Level for me but a book I'd have probably liked in any other context.

Zetetic

There's an edition of The Golden Notebook with an introduction by Lessing which mostly consists of her saying how much she hates people being forced to read her work. (I gave a copy of this to my partner who read this introduction, liked it a lot, and then refused to read the rest of the book.)

Buelligan


Pink Gregory

For the one book report (the British equivalent anyway) in year 9, we had a choice of Jane Eyre, Nineteen Eighty Four or a collection of Graham Greene short stories.

I know that the rare kid is precocious, but there's little chance of understanding those, thrust upon you without much context, is there?

Zetetic

Quote from: bgmnts on June 23, 2022, 03:35:29 PMDolce et decorum est I remember very vividly though and I think is a very important poem for kids to read.
At the same time there's something quite unsettling about how easily a certain body of highly-accessible war-is-horrifying work was assimilated into the canon of Great English Literature, without it really seeming to matter.

I'd be interested to know more about that process of assimilation, and Owen and Sassoon first started appearing in GCSE-type anthologies.

I read In Parenthesis in the last week or so. Sort of wish we'd done that at school, guided through it.

Sebastian Cobb

Quote from: Lemming on June 23, 2022, 04:43:21 PMBrave New World, a book I almost definitely would have liked if I'd read it by choice, but which I ended up booting across the room calling a "bastard" after having it forced upon me by Sixth Form English.


Didn't do Brave New World but I have copies of 1984 and The Wasp Factory because friends studied those, liked them and stole them in exchange for the one I was studying (Of Mice And Men). On the whole I agree with the core point - the syllabus can make good texts boring but some texts can still punch through that and captivate students too.

We weren't no clean shirts neither, we wore waterproof coats, smoked draw and listened to jungle in our dinner break.

dissolute ocelot

War poetry is apparently one of the few pieces of the English curriculum that most boys like. Not sure which 15 year olds Larkin appeals to: there is an emo quality to a lot of it but he's hardly unique in that.

Sebastian Cobb

I think it's too bluntly dour to be emo.