Bitesize Resourceshttp://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/poetryconflict/ Belfast ConfettiLearning ObjectiveTo learn how to identify key features of a poem anduse these to inform interpretations. AO1 (select and evaluate textual detail to illustrate and support interpretations) AO2 (explain how language, structure and form contribute to writers’ presentation of ideas and themes)
When do you see this? Belfast Confetti by Ciaran Carson Keyword Euphemism: A mild /Where is this? inoffensive word/phrase which replaces a more unpleasant or harsh one.
Ironic that ‘confetti’ Ironic use of the term usually symbolises a union ‘confetti’ that isof two people in love. Here associated with small pieces of metal celebration, subverted to symbolise ‘discord’ and a describe the debris from fracturing of society. the bomb Belfast Confetti Euphemism for miscellaneous The capital city of objects that wereNorthern Ireland where thrown during most of the ‘troubles’ street riots (nuts, took place bolts, nails etc)
The PoetPoet Ciaran Carson was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in1948. He suggests two influences on his poetry: his bilingualupbringing, and an unusual alertness to language. He showslanguage being used to enforce, to spy, and - broken into itsalmost meaningless constituent parts - to commit physicalviolence, when the bomb in Belfast Confetti is loaded withnot only ironmongery but "a fount of broken type."Violence, or its effects, often makes an appearance inCarsons poetry, whether this is found in historical warfare orthe more recent conflicts of Northern Ireland. Indeed,Carsons use of the street names of Belfast that allude tothese battles - "Balaclava, Raglan, Inkerman, Odessa Street" -underlines the violence of the Troubles.
The TroublesCarson was a young man in Belfast when the Troubles began in1969. ‘The Troubles’ refers to almost 30 years of violencebetween the Nationalists (mainly Roman Catholic) who wantedindependence from the UK and the unionists (mainlyProtestants) who believed in strengthening the political tiesbetween Northern Ireland and Britain. Armed paramilitarygroups, including the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA),made Belfast a terrifying place to live between 1969 and 1997and much of the violence took place around the ProtestantShankill Road and Catholic Falls Road areas. The Britishgovernment claimed that its forces were in Northern Irelandto keep law and order, but Irish republicans objected stronglyto the presence of the British soldiers.
Investigate and AnnotateIdentify the poet’s use of the features below and consider the intended/potential effect on the reader:1. Punctuation2. Structure3. Form4. Techniques5. Meaning6. What is the poem’s form, structure and meaning?
MeaningThe poem is written in the first person, giving a dramaticdescription of what it felt like to be caught up in the violentriots in Belfast in the 1970s. In the aftermath of an IRAbomb, there is chaos and the ‘riot squad’ moves in. In hisconfusion and terror the poet cannot find his way through themaze of Belfast streets that he usually knows so well. He’sstopped and interrogated by British soldiers, but is unable tocommunicate with them to answer their questions. Nothingmakes sense to him anymore.
Suddenly as the riot squad moved in it was raining exclamation marks,Nuts, bolts, nails, car-keys. A fount of broken type. And the explosionItself - an asterisk on the map. This hyphenated line, a burstThrown into themiddle of theaction, reflecting Use of liststhe persona’s conveys aexperience. sense of panic The whole poem is an This links to ‘next to of extended metaphor course’ as both poems show for the way that unusual variation of form, violent conflict language and use of punctuation. destroys language.
of rapid fire …I was trying to complete a sentence in my head, but it kept stuttering,All the alleyways and side streets blocked with stops and colons. Trying to escape but cannot. Suggests confusion, shock and disbelief. Fast paced/’urgent’ language contrasts with the careful use of language in ‘The Continual references Right Word’. to punctuation.
I know this labyrinth so well - Balaklava, Raglan, Inkerman, Odessa Street -Why can’t I escape?Every move is punctuated. Crimea Street. Dead end again. AmbiguityBelfaststreet names This links with ‘’next to of course’ as they both emphasise the pointlessness of conflict/war through creativity of punctuation and syntax.
A Saracen, Kremlin-2 mesh. Makrolon face-shields. Walkie- talkies. What isMy name? Where am I coming from? Where am I going? A fusillade of question-marks. Posing of questions suggests a lack of resolution or conclusion to the conflict This links to ‘The Right Word’ as both show doubt, use of language and the poets struggle to describe conflict. Both poets show concern with what role a poet can actually play in times where violence, not dialogue, is seen as a solution. The words that are their tools seem to fail them.
Key FeaturesStructure 2 stanzas- Stanza 1 = past tense; describes the violence and effects of being caught in the conflict.- Stanza 2 = present tense; brings the narrator back to what is happening and what he is experiencing.Form First Person Narrative and free verse poemLanguage Techniques enjambement, metaphor, extended metaphor, lists
Questions1. Explain the effect of irregular line lengths and incomplete sentences?2. Explain why you think the language changes from past to present between the 1st and 2nd stanza. Why has the poet done this?3. What does the speaker suggest about himself in the poem?
Further Questions1. Ciaran Carson states the importance of poetry telling a story. What is the story that he tells in this poem?2. What do you understand by the title of the poem? Is the title ironic?3. Consider the list of street names. Can you see any significance to their names?4. Consider the length of the lines of the poem and how they change. Why do you think Ciaran Carson writes in this style?5. What different emotions come across in the poem?6. How does Carson build up a sense of panic and claustrophobia?7. How is the craft of creating a poem mirrored in the events of the story of the poem?8. Why does the poem finish with three questions?