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Year 10 - Revising for your Poetry Exam

As part of your revision for the last three weeks before the exam, this post gives you some practice questions and exercises you can do as part of your revision.

First of all if you are struggling with analysis here is a post which talks you through the key stages. See this post before you move on. 


If you are unsure about the requirements of the exam then you should take a look at the two posts below:


In addition there is a great 2hr 40 minute Youtube video that covers each of the poems in detail. You can skip through for poems you are unsure of:


The link is HERE if you would rather watch in Youtube.

So what else do you need to consider?

You need to ensure you have the accurate skills and content to access your top band marks:

Content 

Points that answer the question
Choose an effective poem to compare to
3-4 Quotations per poem
Comparative connectives (Both similarities and differences)
Appropriate terminology and devices (don't get hung up on these though - your analysis is worth more marks.

Skills

Paraphrasing Quotations
Analysing Quotations
Evaluating Quotations
Effective Linking to the Question

Written Accuracy

A lot of the differences between the top bands come down to how your writing sounds so ensure you have.

A Formal Academic Register
Accurate Sentence Structures
Accurate Punctuation of Sentences
Accurate Spelling
Wide use of Language of the Expert (Terminology and Sophistication of Expression)

See HERE for tips on sounding like an expert.

Things you should be familiar with:

Forms of Poems

Dramatic Monologue
Elegy
Sonnet

Structural Terms

Stanza
Rhythm (Syllabic Pattern)
Rhyme
Enjambment
Caesura
Juxtaposition of Ideas

Devices

Simile
Metaphor
Alliteration
Extended Metaphor
Personification
Sibilance 
Imagery

You should also have prepared poems that you think link well - see HERE for a sheet.

Then comes actually sitting down to revise - how much, how often and what.

This post should help you with exam stress and revision:


Top candidates will be able to access their quotations quickly so they don't have to waste time searching and can get into the nuts and bolts of writing very quickly developing more points overall.

Create a list of 5 key quotations for each poem. These quotations should fit most questions.

Each year the examiner produces a report on how students performed in the exam. The post below summarises what the examiner says makes successful answers. Read this and make notes on what you should do.


Then practice writing.

I'd recommend an exam question each week for both papers. You can try any of the ones below.

How does the poet present the idea of isolation in 'The Hunchback in the Park' and another poem of your choice?

How does the poet present desperation in 'Give' and another poem of your choice?

How does the poet present identity in 'Singh Song' and another poem of your choice?

How does the poet present power in 'My Last Duchess and another poem of your choice?

How does the poet present the idea of characters who have choices in the poem Give and another poem of your choice?

Here is an unseen poem for you to tackle:

What is the poet's attitude to different classes and how does she present that attitude to the reader?

a song in the front yard

I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life.
I want a peek at the back
Where it’s rough and untended and hungry weed grows. 
A girl gets sick of a rose.

I want to go in the back yard now 
And maybe down the alley,
To where the charity children play. 
I want a good time today.

They do some wonderful things.
They have some wonderful fun.
My mother sneers, but I say it’s fine
How they don’t have to go in at quarter to nine. 
My mother, she tells me that Johnnie Mae 
Will grow up to be a bad woman.
That George’ll be taken to Jail soon or late
(On account of last winter he sold our back gate).

But I say it’s fine. Honest, I do.
And I’d like to be a bad woman, too,
And wear the brave stockings of night-black lace 
And strut down the streets with paint on my face. 
Gwendolyn Brooks


How does the poet present the idea of life in her poem?

The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life? 

Last of all, we all need a slice of luck in exams so prepare well and make your own luck.I wish you all the best!
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+ comments + 10 comments

Anonymous
8 May 2014 at 22:39

How does the poet present the idea of isolation in ‘The Hunchback in the Park’ and another poem of your choice?
In The Hunchback in the Park, the poet presents isolation through the use of symbolism to highlight the difficulties of being different to everyone else in society. This idea is shown by the image created where it emphasises that he ‘Slept at night in a dog kennel, but nobody chained him up.’ conveying that he is not wanted and is treated like an animal just because he is an outcast. Dylan Thomas uses the idea of the hunchback being caged up like a dog in his kennel, almost like he is imprisoned away from society. This also portrays that because he is an outcast he doesn’t even get the simple things in life like a bed to sleep in, and this is because society doesn’t care about him. Another idea of him being isolated is the ‘nobody chained him up’ which suggests that no-one even wants to go near him, whatever the cause may be, showing that people don’t even realise that they are isolating him from society, it’s just always been the stereotypical thing that if someone is different they get treated differently. Perhaps here, Thomas wanted to portray the fact that a lot of people are stereotyped in this society that we are living in, but just because they look or act different doesn’t mean they have to be treated in a different way and isolated as this is a difficult thing to have to face alone, so people need to open their eyes and accept that nobody is an outcast, they have just been outcast by the world around them.
In the poem ‘The Clown Punk’, the poet also presents the idea of isolation through the use of imagery and symbolism to show how differently people are treated just by how they look. This is shown when the clown punk is spotted by a family whilst ‘Driving through the shonky side of town’ and they laugh and joke about his appearance, however they also wince and scream at the sight of him which links to the title of the poem. Simon Armitage instantly shows isolation as the clown punk is seen in the side of town that is considered bad, dirty and somewhere that you wouldn’t want to go. The neologism ‘shonky’ is a mixture of the words ‘shady’ and ‘wonky’ highlighting that clown punk himself is seen as made up and not real in society’s eyes. This conveys that no-one wants to be near him because he is strange and almost like a villain cartoon character – entertaining to watch but in a mocking way. Armitage supposedly wanted to highlight the idea that people mock others and make fun of others because of the way they look and act, but even though they are entertaining to watch, they wouldn’t want to ever encounter them because of the consequences they may have to face, showing that people shouldn’t make assumptions and judgements and isolating someone before really getting to know them. - Kayley-May W.

9 May 2014 at 17:35

Feedback Kayley May

You show all the key skills here - with evaluation of ideas. Your writing is fluent but you do miss punctuating some words taken from the text in your evaluation of the Clown Punk. I'd like to see another paragraph analysing structure to show your full range of skills to the examiner. With that you would push your work into the top band. As it is you would gain 26 marks which would see you on your way to an A/A* depending on the results of your unseen poem

Anonymous
10 May 2014 at 21:23

How does the poet present the idea of life in her poem?

In the poem 'The Summer Day' Mary Oliver presents the idea of life as being ended to quickly by using rhetorical questions. Towards the end of the poem the narrator asks "Doesn't everything die at last,and too soon?" this suggests the realisation of how quickly death can emerge and the thought of not knowing how quickly it will come. The use of the words "doesn't everything" portrays they are questioning themselves about their own humidity and are wanting to feel more confident about dying. By the poet using rhetorical questions suggests the narrator feels insecure about her own emotions and feelings. I think the poet expands on this point when saying "and too soon?" this reflects they feel everything leaves them to quickly and that is how they are referencing the thought of death approaching things around them to quickly. By the narrator questioning herself conveys to the reader that her idea of life is seen to approach everything around her to quickly.

Ella Bewick

Anonymous
11 May 2014 at 13:47

How does the writer present the idea of isolation in 'the hunchback in the park's and another poem of your choice?
The writer present isolation in 'the hunchback in the park' through the use of symbolism, Dylan Thomas present the idea of the character being a 'solitary mister' this could suggest that the hunchback is alone and by himself and that's why he is describesed as a "solitary mister". Dylan Thomas carries on presenting the idea of isolation by suggesting the character is a outcast, the hunchback is presented as a animal and 'slept...in a dog kennel" this might show how the character is treated like an animal which suggest he is an outcast in society and locked away from the socity, it also highlights that the hunchback doesn't even get a bed but is put in a kennel. Then the elbarates writer suggests that the hunchback is made to feel like that's where he has to stay as "nobody chained him" this perhaps can highlight that the hunchback is feeling like that's his place, isolated from society and deserve to be treated like that, another interpretation is that people from society don't care about him and don't want to go near him to even chain him up as he is a chucked outside society and judged for being different.
In the poem "The clown punk" Armitage also uses symbolism and imagery to present isolation in the character. Armitage presents the idea of isolation through outcast and being different, he suggests that the character is different as "kids...wince and scream" when they see him, Armitage seems to highlight that children are scared of him because he is different and feared. But not only that but people laugh at him because he is different to an ideal society, "don't laugh" here the writer seems to be suggesting that people laugh at him even though they shouldn't, an altalternative interpretation is that the voice seems to feel disgusted that the clown punk is in his society and the voice doesn't think this is a laughing matter. The clown punk also seems to stand out as the "basket of washing that got up and walked" Here perhaps the writer has used symbolism to suggest people think he's style isn't what society wants and they see it as dirty clothes, this points out that the clown punk is judged for being different, treated like an outcast and isolated from the society.
Both Dylan Thomas and Simon Armitage explores the idea of being isolated by being treated and judged as an outcast, perhpas they are suggesting that even thought some dresses or looks different doesn't mean they are outcasts but mearlly theirsleves but we live in a society where you get judged for being yourselves or being born differently. Both writers seem to suggest its wrong to treat people like outcast because they are not your ideal person to an ideal society - Millena Silva


11 May 2014 at 18:26

Feedback Ella Bewick

Your skills here are of a really high level. What we need to do is increase the detail. That is probably enough to get you a low B or top C for the question but if you can add another paragraph focusing on structure and a final one focusing on just 1 word you should be able to develop A/A* marks

11 May 2014 at 18:30

Millena,

Your skills are secure here but we need to work on the structure of your answer. Every time you make a point about 1 poem you must compare immediately.

E,g

Dylan Thomas carries on presenting the idea of isolation by suggesting the character is a outcast, the hunchback is presented as a animal and 'slept...in a dog kennel" this might show how the character is treated like an animal which suggest he is an outcast in society and locked away from the socity, it also highlights that the hunchback doesn't even get a bed but is put in a kennel. Then the elbarates writer suggests that the hunchback is made to feel like that's where he has to stay as "nobody chained him" this perhaps can highlight that the hunchback is feeling like that's his place, isolated from society and deserve to be treated like that, another interpretation is that people from society don't care about him and don't want to go near him to even chain him up as he is a chucked outside society and judged for being different. Similarly In the poem "The clown punk" Armitage also uses symbolism and imagery to present isolation in the character. Armitage presents the idea of isolation through outcast and being different, he suggests that the character is different as "kids...wince and scream" when they see him, Armitage seems to highlight that children are scared of him because he is different and feared. But not only that but people laugh at him because he is different to an ideal society

Anonymous
12 May 2014 at 16:36

Dylan Thomas presents isolation in The Hunchback in the Park as something that is lonely using imagery. The hunchback is by himself in the park, ‘a solitary mister’. He is shown to be isolated and without anyone else around him although he is in a park which is full of people. ‘Solitary’ highlights that the Hunchback is friendless and lonely and that there is no one around him or at least nobody wants to acknowledge that he is there. Thomas begins to develop a character that is made lonely through his isolation. Imagery has been used successfully to develop this theme of isolation and loneliness.

Simon Armitage also uses imagery to convey isolation in the poem The Clown Punk. Isolation however is portrayed through looks in this poem. A man is driving home with two children in the back of his car when a man jumps onto his windscreen ‘every pixel of that man’s skin is shot through with indelible ink’. The tattoos on the ‘Clown Punk’ is one of the first things the man notices about him highlighting that looks are something that people will judge you from. ‘indelible ink’ implies that the man will forever be like that with his tattoos which will make him out casted as his is not like everybody else. Armitage explores the theme of how a person can be isolated due to their looks using imagery.

Thomas furthermore explores the theme of how isolation can conjure loneliness by using imagery. The Hunchback has ‘slept at night in a dog kennel But nobody chained him up’. the Hunchback was never ‘chained up’ might imply that he is always free to leave but he chooses to isolate himself because he has gotten so used to the lowliness in which he lives in that he would find it hard to interact with other people. The animalistic imagery of the ‘dog kennel’ and the chains portrays that the man is isolated from humans and that is made lonely by this as there is no one around him. Thomas expands on his last idea that a character is made lonely through isolation by clearly using animalistic imagery.


Gwendolyn Brooks uses rhyme in the poem A Song in the Front Yard to convey immaturity. The fact that every last two lines rhyme on each stanza rhymes present the childish immature idea. Furthermore the whole of the last stanza rhymes again presenting the voice’s immaturity and unknowing of the adult subject she is talking of.
Gwendolyn Brooks also uses symbolism to present the idea of the voice wanting to explore more than just the world she already knows. The young girl in the poem is wanting to play in the back yard of her house yet she is only been allowed to be in the front ‘I want to peek at the back Where it’s rough and untended’. Perhaps the poet is using symbolism of the ‘back’ yard to convey a less sheltered life than the girl has lived so far. ‘rough and untended’ highlight vicious and even dangerous connotations to the ‘back’ yard and the life that the girl has been sheltered from. Here Brooks explores the idea of the ‘back’ yard being a life that the voice has not known but is curious about and would like to explore. Brooks does this by successfully but subtly using symbolism.
Freya Sumner (sorry if you already have this i'm not sure if it went through)

Anonymous
12 May 2014 at 17:43

Sir, how would go about of answering "How does the poet present identity in 'Singh Song' and another poem of your choice?" I started with " The writer presents identity in 'Singh Song' through idiolect. Nagra uses words like "ver yoo bin" to show that the voice is from a different country. This perhaps shows that he has a different identity." but i do not know what to do to develop my answer. is idiolect a good device to use or should i use a different device for the question? help!
- Millena Silva

12 May 2014 at 21:03

Feedback Freya -

I'd like you to develop another comparison to The Hunchback in the Park and if you had the time to push for a third comparative section to ensure depth of detail. The overall sophistication of your writing would improve by varying the openings of your sentences. Try starting your sentences with subordinate clauses to add fluency.

This would get you around 26/36.

Section B

This is a strong piece. I'd like to see you make a point before the 'rough and untended' quotations but this is a lot more fluent because of the variation of your sentences. This would get you 16/18 marks.

42/54 A / A* borderline

12 May 2014 at 21:06

Feedback Millena

Idiolect is a good device to use but remember to have an 'as' point before you mention a device

e.g.

The writer presents identity as ... in Singh Song! through idiolect. This then gives you something stronger to link your analysis to rather than 'different identity. Think about what the reader may think of someone using idiolect or what that might say about their character.

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