Your first school• Discuss with a partner what you remember about the first school you ever went to.• What was it like? And what did it seem like to you back then? Have you seen it since? How has it changed? How do you feel about it now that you think of it?
GET FLIRTY!!!F 1. Focus on the form of the poem , looking at the structure, punctuation, line lengths and the arrangement of the poem’s stanzas. How do these features add interest and meaning to the poem? Also examine the arrangements of the words, phrases and sentences in the poem. 2. Examine the language used in the poem, looking at the meaning ofL words and whether they have negative or positive connotations. 3. Look at the techniques, imagery and poetic language that has beenI used? How do these techniques bring out the main themes and ideas in the poem? 4. How does the poet make use of rhyme, repetition and rhythm? WhyR does he do this? 5. What are the poet’s main ideas that he brings out in the poem and how does he do this? Explain the feelings that the poet conveys throughoutT the poem. Describe the poet’s attitude to his subject. Does this change as the poem progresses? Carefully examine the tone throughout the poem and find vocabulary to back up your discussion.Y 6. How do you react to this poem? Does it bring any particular thoughts to mind? Which poems would you compare this one with?
Brief backgroundwww.bookcouncil.org.nz Go to for a full biography.No New Zealand poet so consistently defied expectations as AllenCurnow. Over his long and deeply influential career, Curnow traverseda huge terrain of poetic voices and concerns, and won many awardsand other forms of recognition. He was made a CBE in 1986 andreceived the Order of New Zealand in 1990, and was awarded the A.W.Reed Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2000 Montana New ZealandBook Awards. In his Collected Poems 1933–73, Curnow wrote: ‘I had toget past the severities, not to say rigidities, of our New Zealand anti-myth: away from questions which present themselves as public andanswerable, towards the questions which are always private andunanswerable.’ A critic and anthologiser of New Zealandpoetry, Curnow’s observations throughout his lifetime shaped thedirection and debates — often controversial — about poetry in thiscountry
BiographyCurnow was born in Timaru, New Zealand, on June 17, 1911. His father, Tremayne MunroCurnow, a fourth-generation New Zealander, was an Anglican clergyman who publishedlight verse in the local newspaper; his mother, Jessamine Towler (Gambling) Curnow, wasborn in England and could trace her ancestry to the Romantic poet George Crabbe.Educated at the universities of Canterbury and Auckland, Curnow studied to be an Anglicanpriest in 1931-33 before becoming a journalist. Curnows first collection of poems, Valley ofDecision (1933), reflects his crisis of religious vocation. In 1935, Caxton Press publishedCurnows Three Poems and the short manifesto Poetry and Language. He married ElizabethLeCren in 1936, with whom he had two sons and a daughter. During the years of WWII,Curnow worked for the Caxton Press, wrote a verse play, The Axe (1949), and edited aseminal anthology, A Book of New Zealand Verse, 1923-45 (1945), which provided the firstsubstantial representation and coherent analysis of New Zealand poetry. In 1949, a grantallowed Curnow to travel to London, where he spent a week with Dylan Thomas andworked for the News Chronicle and the BBC. In 1951, Curnow, now recognized as one ofNew Zealands leading writers, joined the staff of the English Department at the Universityof Auckland, a position he held for twenty-five years. In the 1950s and 1960s, Curnow hada public dispute with poets Louis Johnson and James K. Baxter, who took issue with hisreviews of their work and with his second anthology, The Penguin Book of New ZealandVerse (1960), which they deemed too narrowly nationalistic in its scope. In 1965, Curnowdivorced Elizabeth and married Jenifer Tole. A prolific writer, Curnow published into hisnineties—his last book, The Bells of Saint Babels (2001), was published the year of hisdeath at age 90. Throughout Curnows long and distinguished career, he received manyawards, including the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry on six occasions, theCommonwealth Poetry Prize in 1988, the Queens Gold Medal for Poetry in 1989, theCholmondley Award in 1992, and the A. W. Reed Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Hewas knighted in 1986 and appointed to the Order of New Zealand in 1990.
Major WorksA humane optimism and a particularity of place and time run through Curnows poeticcareer. Valley of Decision reflects a concern with spirituality that remains centralthroughout his writing. Enemies: Poems 1934-36 (1937), Not in Narrow Seas(1939), Island and Time (1941), and Sailing or Drowning (1943) reveal a developingmodernist poetry and a consciousness of New Zealands landscape, history, and situationas a small island nation in a wider world that was at war. Some poems from this periodinclude “The Unhistoric Story,” “The Victim,” and “Landfall in Unknown Seas,” whichdevelop what Curnow terms “the anti-myth” about the discovery of New Zealand byEuropeans. As Curnows work became less preoccupied with history and nationalidentity and moved toward personal and universal themes in the 1940s and 1950s, italso became less stylistically formal and more conversational. As he wrote in CollectedPoems, 1933-73 (1974): “I had to get past the severities, not to say rigidities, of NewZealands anti-myth, away from questions which present themselves as public andanswerable, toward questions which are always private and unanswerable.”Trees, Effigies, Moving Objects (1972) and An Incorrigible Music (1979) featurecolloquial, imagistic, and idiomatic language that juxtapose Lone Kauri Road andKarekare Beach with Washington, D.C. in the 1960s and Italy in the fifteenth century.Family history figures prominently in the title poem of An Abominable Temper, andOther Poems (1973), in which the poet creates a portrait of his great-great-grandfather.In the 1980s and 1990s, Curnow began drawing upon childhood incidents, especially inThe Loop in Lone Kauri Road: Poems, 1983-85 (1986), Continuum: New and LaterPoems, 1972-1988 (1988), and Early Days Yet: New and Collected Poems, 1941-1997(1997). Between poems with Karekare settings and the poems with childhoodCanterbury settings an elaborate pattern of contrasts and oppositions is implicitlyestablished: youth and age, south and north, Canterbury and Auckland, east andwest, Pacific and Tasman, plains and bush. In Selected Poems, 1940-1989 (1990), Curnowreplaced the chronological arrangement of earlier collections with broadly thematicsequences in order to make a single poem that spanned his poetic lifetime.
Critical ReceptionIn his long and distinguished career, Curnow received many awards and is regardedas one of New Zealands finest poets. Chris Wallace-Crabbe praises Curnows laterpoetry for its “excited intelligence” and “its joy in rootedness,” while Trevor James,lauding the “sense of unity and interrelatedness” of the seemingly disparate poemsin An Incorrigible Music, finds that the “submerged urgency” of those poems“makes them a moving testament to a mind which is chillingly honest andcourageous.” As early as 1963, C. K. Stead wrote of A Small Room with LargeWindows (1962): “Mr. Curnows poetry has already achieved the fullness andcoherence of a major work. Each new poem has been, not merely an addition to,but an extension and enrichment of what preceded it: the early poems areenlarged by their successors; the later gain in significance as their connexions withthe earlier are established.” Although some critics have found Curnow to be coldand abstract—an “intensely cerebral poet”—he has been most criticized for hisvision of a national literature as represented in his anthologies of New Zealandpoetry. In the 1960s, the Wellington group of poets, lead by Louis Johnson andJames K. Baxter, criticized Curnows anthologies as too prescriptively nationalistic;in the late 1960s and early 1970s, poets affiliated with the journal Freed, who wereinfluenced by the Beats and Black Mountain poets, lambasted Curnows poetry ashegemonic and conservative, and more recently feminist and Maori critics havesuggested that Curnows modernist, primarily European, male vision of a nationalliterature is exclusionary and out-of-date. Despite the datedness of theanthologies, as C. K. Stead noted in 1989, Curnow “has been a major voice at everystage of his career, knowing what he is about, moving at his own pace, inventive,unpredictable, writing poetry which strikes me, as it has done serially over theyears, as unsurpassed by the work of any other poet at present writing in English.”
The SIFT method to analyseand revise poems.Specify the subject matter and sense of the poem through a brief summaryInform us of the intention of the poet and his/her main ideas overallFocus on the form ( structure/punctuation) and the feelings conveyed ( poet’s attitude/tone used) and how this highlights the main ideasTell us about the techniques, imagery and poetic language that show the ways ideas are presented
Close Reading Questions• Comment on the language techniques and how they further the ideas. Use the TEAR chart and identify 10 techniques.• Explain how the rhyme scheme furthers the poets ideas.• Why does the poet refer heavily to the “Pinus” and why use the botanical term rather than the common “pine”?• Comment on “O sweet antiquity!” and what it means in the poem.• Explain the poet’s changing perspectives on the school.• What’s the effect of the use of listing in lines 3 and 11.• What if the last stanza was omitted, how would the meaning and tone of the poem change?• What if the poet’s tone had only been positive about the school?
TEAR chartTechnique Example Analysis Relevance (so, what?)
Analyse this… In the list of statements about the poem, you are to provide evidence (or more evidence) and a comprehensive explanation of the point being made. Do this for: 10 statements = Good 13 statements = Very good 17 statements = Excellent
Analysis of Country School1. In this poem Country School, the persona (who might be Allen Curnow himself) pays a visit to his old school and takes a nostalgic walk down memory lane recalling his childhood. As this poem reminisces, the persona seems to realize that things are not as bad as they seemed before.2. A consideration of aging is evident.3. The tone of the persona sways between enthusiastic and apathetic.4. In this poem, the persona describes a country school that seems to be in a dilapidated condition.5. The vivid image drawn by the alliterative phrase Paint all peeled supports the fact that the school is deteriorating.6. With the alliterative phrase tufts topping, one is able to picture a country school with Pinus tufts on the roof ridge, an image of a typical country school.7. The colloquial word dunny evokes a distinctly rural New Zealand image conjuring up the past.8. Girls squeal skipping presents a familiar auditory and visual picture of primary school.
Analysis of Country School1. Several sound effects help describe what the persona is thinking.2. The tripping and abrupt r sounds in “rank, … roof-ridge” punctuated with the alliteration of ‘t’ in the second stanza have an awkward effect like someone learning to speak.3. “Nor’west” is colloquial and leads into the simile about a ‘gale’ like waves breaking over a ‘reef’. How does this contrast with the use of ‘Pinus’?4. The 2nd stanza is crammed full of imagery which flow together in an integrated way, linking them and helping form a broad and busy reflection of the country school.5. The b sounds in bargeboard, weatherboard and gibbet belfry calls attention to the detailed observation of building materials and structures creating a vivid image.6. Allen Curnow has employed parallelism as well as repetition in order to draw links in this poem. The parallel comparison of How small; how sad, reinforces how the persona is recalling his days back in school.7. The passing of time and the diminishing of his memory suggests he is aging for the very doors that seemed huge as a kid are rather small.8. The persona refers to himself as a third person and this is deduced through the repetition of the word you. The persona is having difficulty reconnecting with his old school or his old self that he feels more comfortable referring to himself in third person.9. Use of the pronoun ‘you’ does help to include readers in his recollection and prompt their own memories of school.
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