Distinctively Visual Poetry

23 Jan

The HSC Standard English elective entitled Distinctively Visual requires students to locate and analyse a range of related texts which help them to understand how form, features and language create, affect interpretation and shape meaning in distinctively visual ways.

For many students, and less well read Standard English students in particular, finding related texts is quite difficult.  As such, I am compiling a list of poems which can be used by students who are studying, as a prescribed text, a text that is not a poem.  Each of the examples is accompanied by a short section of analysis.

  • Spelling Father‘ is a beautifully evocative Spoken Word poem by Marshall Jones.  Unlike films, such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, mean in a Spoken Word poem is a product of language, tone and pace.  ‘Spelling Father’ is no different.  In that poem, Jones’s words seemingly tumble into and trip over each other as they seek to convey an image of a mother who performs her own role and that of an absent father.  As the pace increases, a strong image of the always busy, always juggling mother is created; the words accentuate her burdens but also echo her capacity to continue functioning, supporting and nurturing.
  • If I should have a daughter‘ by Sarah Kay is another spectacular Spoken Word poem.  Unlike ‘Spelling Father’ where images are largely contingent on pace, Kay’s  images are reliant on language.  For example, she begins the poem by explain that is she “should have a daughter, instead of mum, she is going to call.. [Sarah] point B,” using this as a metaphor to explain the connection between mother and daughter.  This opening line forms the first half of a rhyme, with Sarah noting this will enable her daughter to “always find her way back to me.”  The rhyme reinforces the connection, assisting us (the responders) to visualise the certainty of the connection.
  • You Move Me‘ by Gina Loring is yet another phenomenally moving Spoken Word poem that engages with the themes of love and family.  In Loring’s poem, the visuals are created through similes and associations.  Indeed, Loring piles simile on top of simile on top of simile, building associations between emotions and famous figures in a bid to articulate the strength of her feelings.

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