Thursday, February 16, 2006

Y11:Pre- and Post-1914 Poetry for the English Literature
GCSE Examination: An Introduction for Students

Q: Didn’t we do poetry when we did the Other Cultures stuff; Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan and all that?

A: Yes, but that was for the English Language examination. This is for English Literature.

Q: How important is it to know these poems?

A: Very important. Your response to the poetry question is worth 40% of the total marks for Literature. Look at it like this:

Literature marks breakdown:
Coursework: 30%
Exam Paper Section A (Of Mice and Men or other text): 30%
Exam Paper Section B (poetry question): 40%

Q: What is the poetry question like?

There will be a choice of three questions, from which you choose one.
Each question will name a particular poem.
This named poem could be one by the four modern poets (Gillian Clarke, Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy, Simon Armitage) or one of the pre-1914 poems.
The four modern poets are divided into two pairs: Seamus Heaney and Gillian Clarke; Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage.
Each question will ask you to look at four poems altogether: one from each of the modern poet pairs (one each by Heaney and Clarke, for example) and two pre-1914 poems. One of these will be the poem named in the question you have chosen.
The four poems will have a common theme or subject or some shared feature of approach, style or structure- for example, poems spoken by a character as monologues.

Example question for English Literature Section B- Poetry

How do the poets in the Anthology look at nature? Write about Seamus Heaney’s Death of a Naturalist, one poem by Gillian Clarke and two poems from the pre-1914 bank. Write about:
· what the poets describe
· the poets’ attitude to nature
· how the poets use language, structure and other effects to bring out what they’re saying

If you were answering this question you would have to choose one suitable poem by Gillian Clarke and two from the pre-1914 poetry bank. Obviously, the Heaney poem is named in the question- it’s the named poem. Good choices for the other poems would be:
-Gillian Clarke: A Difficult Birth, Easter 1998, The Field Mouse or October (they all touch on the theme of nature).
-Pre-1914 bank: lots to choose from, but, for example, you could have Alfred Tennyson’s The Eagle and Gerard Manley Hopkin’s Inversnaid.

Q: How do I choose the poems and put them together?

A: The example given above should help. Basically, you have to find three poems that go well with the named poem in the question. In class, I'll give some ideas for linking themes, subjects or approaches. The examiners might use one of these to set a question, but they might not.


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