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angewina_naguen

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The HSC English Poetry Thread
« on: December 11, 2018, 10:46:09 pm »
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Hey, everyone!

I was thinking of ways to make an ongoing series of resources for the new syllabus and decided that nothing would bring me greater excitement than to do a focus thread on Poetry in the HSC ;D For my HSC, I studied poets Robert Gray and Sylvia Plath for Advanced and Extension 1 English respectively. I also did Extension 2 English and chose to compose a suite of poems for my Major Work. Poetry was always my favourite form to read and write so it was an eventful and highly enjoyable experience to immerse myself in poetic literature during the HSC. Throughout the year, I was able to gain a new understanding and appreciation for the form which I would like to share with you all  :) ;D

The prescribed poets for 2019 are as follows:
Spoiler
Common Module
Rosemary Dobson
Kenneth Slessor

Standard
Adam Aitken, Kim Chen Boey and Michelle Cahill
Ali Cobby Eckermann
Robert Gray
Oodgeroo Noonuccal

Advanced
John Donne
TS Eliot
Ted Hughes
John Keats
David Malouf
Sylvia Plath

Extension 1
Eileen Chong
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Emily Dickinson
Seamus Heaney
Tracy K Smith
William Wordsworth

In this thread, I will be providing a variety of different resources, ranging from tips and tricks to approach poetry to deconstructing an array of poems in the English syllabuses for Standard, Advanced and Extension 1.  I aim to cover different poetic techniques, how to identify, analyse and gain meaning from them and how to articulate your interpretations in formal writing. I also intend to explore a variety of potential related texts for the modules that may require further reading and some recommendations in general for your own interest  ;D I'll be starting my posts once the HSC results are finally out (and out of the way  ::)) so feel free to provide any suggestions on what content you would like resources for and if there's anything in particular that you would like to request in this thread   8)

Toodles,

Angelina  :)
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 10:48:03 pm by angewina_naguen »
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Re: The HSC English Poetry Thread
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2018, 07:35:08 pm »
0
Hey, everyone!

I was thinking of ways to make an ongoing series of resources for the new syllabus and decided that nothing would bring me greater excitement than to do a focus thread on Poetry in the HSC ;D For my HSC, I studied poets Robert Gray and Sylvia Plath for Advanced and Extension 1 English respectively. I also did Extension 2 English and chose to compose a suite of poems for my Major Work. Poetry was always my favourite form to read and write so it was an eventful and highly enjoyable experience to immerse myself in poetic literature during the HSC. Throughout the year, I was able to gain a new understanding and appreciation for the form which I would like to share with you all  :) ;D

The prescribed poets for 2019 are as follows:
Spoiler
Common Module
Rosemary Dobson
Kenneth Slessor

Standard
Adam Aitken, Kim Chen Boey and Michelle Cahill
Ali Cobby Eckermann
Robert Gray
Oodgeroo Noonuccal

Advanced
John Donne
TS Eliot
Ted Hughes
John Keats
David Malouf
Sylvia Plath

Extension 1
Eileen Chong
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Emily Dickinson
Seamus Heaney
Tracy K Smith
William Wordsworth

In this thread, I will be providing a variety of different resources, ranging from tips and tricks to approach poetry to deconstructing an array of poems in the English syllabuses for Standard, Advanced and Extension 1.  I aim to cover different poetic techniques, how to identify, analyse and gain meaning from them and how to articulate your interpretations in formal writing. I also intend to explore a variety of potential related texts for the modules that may require further reading and some recommendations in general for your own interest  ;D I'll be starting my posts once the HSC results are finally out (and out of the way  ::)) so feel free to provide any suggestions on what content you would like resources for and if there's anything in particular that you would like to request in this thread   8)

Toodles,

Angelina  :)

angewina_naguen

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Re: The HSC English Poetry Thread
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2018, 09:57:08 pm »
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Resource 1- Techniques

Poetic Devices

Common literary techniques that can be framed around the poetic form
Alliteration- the use of identical initial consonant or vowel sounds to stress syllables.
Assonance- the rhyming of vowels alone.
Connotation- the suggested meaning of a word in the context of a text.
Consonance- the duplication of consonant sounds only. 
Hyperbole- exaggerated statements or claims as emphasis in poetic expression.
Imagery- visually descriptive or figurative language, employed in poetry to
Metaphor- a thing regarded as representative of something else.
Personification- the deliberate possession of human qualities as a means to poetically assign concepts and characteristics to objects.
Repetition- the recurrence of the same words or phrases to effectively reiterate an idea or concept.
Simile- a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid.
Symbolism- the use of symbols to represent poetic ideas or qualities.
Tone- the voice conveyed through the choice of words, or the viewpoint of a poet and/or persona on a particular subject

Poetry-specific techniques
Accent- stress placed on individual syllables to indicate the intensity of its pronunciation.
Analysed rhyme- four rhyming end words, each word rhyming assonantally with one of the other words and consonantally with another; an example would be “home...tone...rhyme...mime.”
Clashing accents- the juxtaposition of two strongly stressed syllables that has a strong marked effect.
Caesura- a brief pause; can be marked with a space by the typesetter. 
Endstopping- when a strong punctuation mark is employed to conclude a line such as the period, question mark, exclamation mark, colon, semi colon, hyphen or comma.
Enjambment- when a line concludes without a punctuation mark to allow the reader to continue reading without a pause; is a key expressive resource in poetry.
Eye rhyme- the rhyming of two syllables where vowels pronounced differently are spelled the same and so used as rhyme.
Homophonic rhyme- rhyming words that have identical sounds but different connotations based on the context of the line.
Identical rhyme-  the rhyming of a word with itself.
Interlinear internal rhyme- rhyme between words not in end position.
Internal rhyme- the presence of rhyming words within a line rather than at the end; often employed to insist phonic echo and hence, is reserved for emphasis.
Line- a unit comprised of words that can be examined in isolation as a “stepping stone” for the poem.
Meter- auditory stimuli in the form of a pattern that the audience hears and thereafter expects to continue hearing (with only some variations) throughout the work.
Off rhyme or slant rhyme- rhyming words with similarities of sound; particularly in favour from the recent revival of metered and rhymed poetry.
Free verse- poetry without a regularly recurring numerical principle in its rhythmic construction.
Refrain- a returning word, line or stanza repeated verbatim at regular intervals throughout a poem.
Rhyme scheme- sequences that govern the joint interaction of the stanzas and the periodic recurrence of rhymes; assigned with letters that are repeated every time the same rhyming sounds recur.
Rhythm- the pattern of accents in time (measured motion) where the ear is able to hear a recurrent sequence of accents at predictable intervals.
Verseform- a poem with a fixed number of lines and rhyme scheme.

Examples And Analysis

Rather than nitpicking every single technique that there is in a quote and deconstructing them individually, a good response would integrate them to create a form-based analysis. I have provided examples of how I conducted this with three of the prescribed poets in Standard, Advanced and Extension 1 English. In the following resources, I will explain how to apply them specifically to each module.

Module B Standard- Close Study of Literature
Robert Gray's Journey: The North Coast
"Down these slopes move, as a nude descends a staircase,/ slender white gum trees"
The end-stop, signalled by the comma after "staircase", enables the fluid simulation of "these slopes" descending and an enjambment to the next line. In portraying the sensuality of the "white gum trees", the connotations of "slender" and "nude" suggest an intimate and animated environment which compels the persona to further investigate into its landscape.

Module A Advanced- Textual Conversations
Sylvia Plath's Daddy
 "I began to talk like a Jew./ I think I may well be a Jew."
Identical rhyme is positioned at the end of these two lines to emphasise the persona's transition from likening herself to a Jew, to embodying herself as one. This shift in her cultural identification is facilitated through the contrast of the simile and the metaphor she utilises respectively.

Elective 4 Extension 1- Literary Mindscapes
Emily Dickinson's I felt a Funeral, in my Brain (340)
"Kept treading - treading -"
Dickinson's repetition of the "treading" action indicates the perpetual movement of the titular "funeral, in (her) brain." From the syntactical placement of the hyphens to generate pauses and stresses, the poet accentuates its impact with a truncated rhythm.

Why should you analyse techniques with the poetic form at the forefront?

Techniques are the basis of literature and our responses to the writing we study in English. Within any text, a generous amount of techniques can be identified and utilised as evidence for our arguments which presents a predicament- what are the best techniques to use?

My advice is to pick techniques that are significant to your interpretation of the text and that best communicate to your marker that you have an informed judgement on the nature of the text, as well as its content. I am a huge advocate for choosing form-based techniques, or techniques with the form framed around them, when approaching analysis in English because they demonstrate that the student recognises the importance of form to the construction of meaning and ideas in texts. Whilst this does not guarantee a higher mark, as it all comes down to how effectively the student expresses and justifies their evidence, it does elevate the quality of the response and allows for a more refined engagement with the text.

Note: Definitions retrieved from Alfred Corn's The Poem's Heartbeat- A Manual on Prosody.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 11:32:13 am by angewina_naguen »
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angewina_naguen

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Re: The HSC English Poetry Thread
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2019, 08:16:15 pm »
+4
Resource 2- Seeing the Unseen

Poetry in the Unseen Section

It is common for there to be a poem of some kind in the unseen section for the English exam. To some, this can be a relief knowing that there will at least be one short and simple text to gain easy marks from. To others, like myself during the HSC, this can be a point of concern because analysing poetry under exam conditions is significantly more difficult than doing it at the comfort of your own desk. Regardless of how you may feel about the unseen section, I have conjured up some original HSC exam-style questions to give you an idea of what you may come across and recommended ways to approach them. I hope to make more in the year and compile a huge list of them.

Sample Questions

Explain how personification has been employed in Text 1 to represent human motivations. (3 marks)

April Halprin Wayland's Big Dreams
Text 1
The scruffy house cat
aches to fly—
she dreams all day of
wings and sky!

So tonight
she climbs the ladder,
mounts a platform,
nothing matters

except to catch
a thin trapeze
then hold on tight
with grace and ease.

She swings herself
by both front paws
then somersaults
to wild applause

of kitchen mice,
who, though dizzy,
encourage Cat,
to keep her busy.

How has personal identity been explored as an aspect of the human experience in this poem? (4 marks)

Emily Dickinson's I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Text 2
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog – 
To tell one’s name – the livelong June – 
To an admiring Bog!

Analyse how the poet's use of language constructs a cultural discussion on individual and collective human experiences. (6 marks)
Langston Hughes' Mother to Son
Text 3
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.


Recommended Ways to Approach Them

During Reading Time

I cannot stress the importance of making the best use of your reading time during the HSC. It is particularly important in English that you make the most of it because you are allocated the most time you will get in any exam. This is largely for you to be able to gauge the order you might want to do the paper and any strategies you might need to revise in order to effectively maximise your performance in each question.

During the reading time, I would strongly advise reading the questions before you commence reading the texts. This will give you the right direction for interpreting each of the unseen texts in particular. There are key elements in each question and it is imperative that you identify them before you start reading the texts.

Once you have made a mental note of what you need to look for, read through each text. If you are a slower reader, I would suggest to read the shorter texts or the texts with the lower mark allocations first in order to maximise your time with the longer texts and more demanding questions. I had a text in one of my assessments that had a completely different meaning at the end of the story extract to where I had read up to. I still got the marks for it but not full because of that. This is why I would highly recommend reading each text properly, only skimming if you glance up at the clock and realise that you are running out of time.

 Deconstructing Each Question

Explain how personification has been employed in this poem to represent human motivations. (3 marks)

This question is surprisingly straightforward and I made it that way because although 3 mark questions may be less likely in the new syllabus, I am sure there will be at least one question in this year (or in future years) that should be a no-brainer. That still will not completely easy to do though. This is how I would approach a question that is clear in what it asks you to use and what answer you should respond with.

- With three mark questions, it would be a good idea to structure it as if it were a mini body paragraph in an essay. Have a thesis statement and brief explanation of it in response to the question, present relevant textual evidence, analyse them independently and finalise your response in a concluding sentence. I would suggest two techniques to demonstrate your ability to identify them and interpret them on the spot which is a nice segway to the next point.

- Consider the technique provided in the question and other techniques that might enhance its use. Personification has been specified as the technique in which you need to provide as evidence for human motivations in Wayland’s poem. It was chosen for a reason; it is the most significant and easily identified technique in the poem and therefore, should be your immediate go to. That takes half of the stress away from you having to find techniques but a higher level response would integrate other supporting techniques with personification that enable it to shine in the text. For example, the house cat is personified to have the titular “big dreams” that humans motivations are driven by. This is an example of personification. You also have “then somersaults/ to wild applause” utilising synaesthesia to combine a visual feat with an auditory reception of encouragement for these “big dreams”, further personifying the cat’s movement to be dynamic and behaviour to resemble a human’s. This shows that you recognise that personification as a technique is effective both in isolation and in tandem other language forms and features in the text.

- The key for a text that is quite short, comprehensive and straightforward is to trust yourself and not overthink. Locating a more complex technique will not give you more marks than having two simple and well-analysed ones. Once you have found them, write the response and move on. You can come back to the question later if you have time and add more if need be. You would want to spend more time on the other questions which have higher mark allocations and increase your chances of success.

How has personal identity been explored as an aspect of the human experience in this poem? (4 marks)

Other than having a higher mark allocation by one, this question does not have a specified technique which does make it more difficult than the previous question. However, this one is broader and allows you to choose what interpretation you wish to convey to the marker. For this style of question, I would approach it as follows.

- Four mark questions for me are similar to three mark questions structurally but I would usually have one more technique and analysis just in case. I would once again have a thesis statement and explanation in response to the question, three solid pieces of textual evidence that correlate to one another, analysis on these techniques and a concluding sentence that synthesises your findings. In my next resource, I will give more information on how I would approach a comparison-based question which I predict will emerge only in 4 mark questions or higher. 

- Identify what perspective the poet has on personal identity and allow that to shape the rest of your response. Personal identity has definitely been explored but what the marker is hoping you to bring in is a unique and clear perspective. You might see this as an act of rebellion against social norms and expectations in a private setting. You might see this as simply an identity crisis and how personal acceptance in the human experience might result in a diminishing of an individual’s self-value. Either way, they can be correct so long as you backup your perspective well.

- With questions about personal identity or similar ideas, I would highly recommend choosing techniques that create the persona’s voice. Personal pronouns and first or second person narration are the easiest to use and pinpoint, relating directly to personal identity and how the persona has explored it in the poem. Other techniques that can relate to the persona’s voice in this poem include exclamation marks, rhetorical questions and hyphens which pace, colour and contour the voice and allow readers to register the declarations the poet is making on personal identity. 

- This poem is very short but it has distinguishable stylistic features that you can immediately recognise in terms of its structure and use of punctuation. Poetry under exam conditions is a really visual experience. If the poet uses quatrains and there is a distinct rhyming pattern, use that as a technique. If the poet has chosen a free verse structure but has repetition throughout it, use that as a technique. Note the techniques that you instantly can respond to and see in the text. If you have more time, try and find more techniques that might couple well with them and add to your response then.

Analyse how the poet's use of language constructs a cultural discussion on individual and collective human experiences. (6 marks)

Now we are treading into more in-depth responses territory with a 6 mark question that has the key word “analyse.” I hardly saw 6 mark question in my unseen section but the new syllabus is gearing towards more critical, on-the-spot responses that are longer and more demanding. I doubt that they would select a poem that is too short for a 6 marker and so I have a slightly lengthier poem in comparison to the previous ones for this question.

- 6 mark questions are tricky and with only one text to work with, coming up with a structure to follow can be slightly challenging. What I would recommend is having an introductory paragraph with two sentences firstly to address the “use of language” part and the “individual and collective human experiences” parts respectively. This can deconstruct the question easier for you and give you some direction. I would then have two mini bodies with two techniques per paragraph, analysis and synthesis at the end of each one. The two elements I would centralise these paragraphs around would be “individual” human experiences and “collective” human experiences accordingly in the second. Finally, I would have two concluding sentences that tie it all together and reiterate the response.

- I would approach this question chronologically and analyse in the order of the poem’s "discussion." This can allow you to trace the changes in mood, atmosphere and tone more effectively. Being able to note these will demonstrate your attention to detail and that you have engaged with the poem holistically, as opposed to simply scanning through and taking random techniques as you see them. You are also able to identify recurring patterns in the poem easier such as the use of anaphora or elision to generate African-American slang, which brings me to my next point.

- Although a technique has not been specified, “use of language” suggests you scrutinise the poet’s style of writing and any relevant language forms or features that contribute towards that. For example, one of the more distinct techniques involves the contractions and elisions for “I’se been a-climbin’ on”, creating the persona’s colloquial speech and an authentic accent as a result. One paragraph could be dedicated to this unique persona construction through colloquialism to convey the struggles of an individual and the other could be on the significance of the “crystal stair” metaphor and how techniques such as anaphora or rhythm have assisted in illustrating the truncated nature of the collective, African-American human experience.

- As for a general tip for poems that ask for something you may not entirely feel clarified about, I would encourage you to safely assume in your responses. If you had no idea that Hughes was an African-American poet, you could refer to the persona as a member of a cultural minority and use your evidence to show the markers how this was suggested to you. This ensures you address the question and still remain culturally sensitive throughout your response.

Once my schedule frees up, I will provide sample answers to them to make all of this easier to understand. I will be happy to take any responses from the class of 2019 if they come in and will provide feedback on them individually. I will also present some unlikely, but still possible, curveballs that might be thrown and how you may tackle them in the following resource. Until next time!  8)

« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 08:20:26 pm by angewina_naguen »
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-ATAR-
97.50

-UNI 2019-2022-
Bachelor of Music (Music Education) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music