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A different history


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A different history

  1. 1. Sujata Bhatt
  2. 2. About the poet... Sujata Bhatt's multicultural perspectives on language, culture, art and history surely originate in her own life experiences. Born in India in 1956, her mother tongue Gujerati, she has studied in Britain and the USA (at the famed Iowa Writers Workshop), taught in Canada, travelled widely, and now lives and works in Germany.
  3. 3. Brief Context “A Different History” explores the relationship between cultural identity and language. Bhatt was born in India in 1956, studied in the United Kingdom and United States, and lives now in Germany.
  4. 4. Listen to the audio recitation of “ A Different History”. different-history Think of the following questions: What is being compared in the poem? What is the attitudes towards books? Is there a change of mood in the poem?
  5. 5. Discussion  What is being compared in the poem? • Comparison is made between Greek and Indian gods: ‘[Pan] simply emigrated / to India’, and ‘Here [in India], the gods roam freely’.  What is the attitudes towards books? • Next the poem focuses on the reverential attitude towards books in a country where ‘every tree is sacred’.  Is there a change of mood in the poem? • A clear shift in mood comes at the start of the second section with the first rhetorical question which takes us to the heart of what the poem is about: ‘Which language / has not been the oppressor’s tongue?’
  6. 6. Your task... • Read the poem and underline any words that you find difficult or are unfamiliar with. • Consult a dictionary to find the meaning. • This will help you to further understand the poem.
  7. 7. The goddess plays a particularly significant role in the first stanza Greek God Pan Hindu God Sarasvati
  8. 8. Tone Listen to the poem again... Do you feel that a particular point has been clarified by the tone of voice in which Bhatt reads the poem?
  9. 9. Language Look more closely at the language of the first section (up until ‘from whose wood the paper was made’). How does Bhatt use words and phrases to convey how sacred trees and books are?
  10. 10. Poetic Techniques In pairs, try to find as many poetic techniques as you can in the poem. You have 5 minutes.
  11. 11. Repetition / Rhetorical Question • In pairs, read the poem again. • Consider the effects of the repetition of ‘a sin’ and ‘without’ in the first section • and of the rhetorical flourish ‘Which language…’ in the second section.
  12. 12. Mood / Tone • Consider more closely the different mood of the second section, exploring the precise effects of particular words that you find striking. • How do you think these lines should be read? Is the tone bitter or sad? Does the tone of voice change at any stage – and, if it does, why?
  13. 13. Metaphors • Consider the following metaphors: ‘tongue’ for language, and the soul ‘cropped / with a long scythe swooping out / of the conqueror’s face’. • Probe closely the meanings and effects of the underlined words. • How effective do you find the final two lines of the poem? Do you find anything amusing in the poem?
  14. 14. Themes What do you think are the common ideas found within this poem? • Identity and language • Time • Religion
  15. 15. Your Task... First: Write a short poem about your culture and Identity. Second: Compare and contrast your culture and Identity to that of Sujata Bhatts. The poems will be judged by teachers and the best poem will win a prize and be presented in Assembly.